Saturday, February 28, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

A happy dance was had in the main office when I returned from winter break to find this in my mailbox:

Character, Driven by David Lubar. 311p. Tor Teen/ A Tom Doherty Associates Book, March, 2016. 9780765316332.

From the back cover: With only one year left of high school, seventeen-year-old Cliff Sparks is desperate to "com of age"-a.k.a., lose his virginity. But he's never had much luck with girls. So when he falls for Jillian, a new classmate, at first sight, all he can do is worship her from afar. At the same time, Cliff has to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, since he's pretty sure his unemployed father plans to kick him out of the house the minute he turns eighteen. Time is running out. Cliff is at the edge on the verge, dangling-and holding on for dear life.

I enjoy David Lubar's work. I think Dunk was the first of his books I read. He writes novels and short story collections for middle grade and young adult audiences. He even has a Branches series for elementary readers. Humor and word-play are important elements in most of his work. 

I took a quick peek and had to force myself to close the book and put it in my tote since, 1. I was at work and had, you know, actual work to do and 2. I have three books that have to be read and reviewed before I sink my teeth into this one.

Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett. 306 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. March 31, 2015. 9780545299909.

Publisher synopsis: 
Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be . . . or who might have stolen them.

Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they've been matched with two new sleuths -- Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words . . . and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it's not just Mrs. Sharpe who's acting suspiciously -- there's a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

With pieces and players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery from the amazing Blue Balliett.

Geronimo Stilton: the hunt for the curious cheese by Geronimo Stilton. 224 p. Scholastic Inc., March 31, 2015. 9780545791519. 

Publisher synopsis: It's a curious case for Geronimo in this special edition adventure!
Rancid ricotta! Something strange was happening in New Mouse City. Rodents were suddenly getting sick with stomachaches, hiccups, and weird green warts -- and it seemed to be related to cheese! We mice eat a lot of cheese, so this was serious. My detective friend, Hercule Poirat, asked me to help him investigate. Could we solve this mystery and save our city?
BONUS! After the story, read an extra Mini Mystery adventure and jokes galore!

Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 32 p. Orchard Books/ Scholastic Inc., March 31, 9780545649292.

Publisher synopsis: Explore the world of such a little mouse--from the bestselling author of LITTLE BLUE TRUCK!
"And way down deep in the hole lives a mouse.
Such a little mouse,
with his smart gray coat,
with his ears pink as petals,
with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose."
With Alice Schertle's sweet descriptive language and touching illustrations from Stephanie Yue, a little mouse interacts with the world around him. Every season of the year, "such a little mouse" pops out of his hole and goes out to explore the wider world.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale)

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale) by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 21, 2015. 9781419715365. 

Publisher synopsis: Araminta Ross was born a slave in Delaware in the early 19th century. Slavery meant that her family could be ripped apart at any time, and that she could be put to work in dangerous places and for abusive people. But north of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery was illegal. If she could run away and make it north without being caught or killed, she’d be free. Facing enormous danger, Araminta made it, and once free, she changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Tubman spent the rest of her life helping slaves run away like she did, every time taking her life in her hands. Nathan Hale tells her incredible true-life story with the humor and sensitivity he’s shown in every one of the Hazardous Tales—perfect for reluctant readers and classroom discussions.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff) by L.Pichon. 351 p. Candlewick Press, May 16, 2015. 9780763674748.

Publisher synopsisMiddle-school comedian, homework dodger, rock-star wannabe, master doodler—Tom Gates is back with two more episodes full of visual humor and kid appeal.
No school for two whole weeks! Now Tom has plenty of time for the good stuff, like finding new ways (so many!) to annoy his big sister, Delia. Or watching TV and eating caramel candy. Or most important, band practice for DOGZOMBIES in his best friend Derek’s garage (while not encouraging Derek’s ’60s-music-crazed dad). All that stands between this band and rock greatness is, well, a song (besides "Delia’s a Weirdo"). And finding a drummer. And landing a gig. Will Tom let a killer toothache and pesky overdue homework get in his way?
That's what's new with me. I can't believe I didn't buy any books this week. What's new with you? 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Memes: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Book Beginnings is hosted bRose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. 311 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., February 24, 2015. 9780545819732.

Publisher synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, Twylla isn't exactly a member of the court.
She's the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla's fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla's been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the  queen.  
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
First line: Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the screams.

Page 56: This exchange is script for us; we play our roles by rote at each meeting. For someone who is revered in part for her voice, I don't have much chance to use mine, so coming here is a pleasure - a chance to talk, as well as sing - and the king is gentle and happy company when it's he and i. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Wonton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating.

Wonton and Chopstick: a dog and cat tale told in haiku by Lee Wardlaw. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 40 p. Henry Holt and Company, March 17, 2015. 9780805099874. 

Publisher synopsis: Won Ton has a happy life with his Boy, until…
Ears perk. Fur prickles.
Belly low, I creep…peek…FREEZE!
My eyes full of Doom.
A new puppy arrives, and nothing will be the same.
Told entirely in haiku and with plenty of catitude, the story of how Won Ton faces down the enemy is a fresh and funny twist on a familiar rivalry.
I absolutely adored Wonton, which was published in 2011 and am thrilled that he's back and thrilled that he's dealing with a dog.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Pen by Christopher Myers

My Pen by Christopher Myers. 32 p. Disney-Hyperion, March 10, 2015. 9781423103714. (Review from fng courtesy of publisher.)

A young boy celebrates his imagination, finds comfort in and expresses himself through his pen. 

When I heard this read aloud during the Midwinter Disney preview, I fell immediately in love. I glanced back at the table containing arcs and fngs; saw one fng of My Pen left, and scooted out of my seat to snap it up. Since then, I have reread it many times, slowly poring over the rich, intense images that flowed out of Christopher Myers' pen. 

The detailed pen and ink illustrations are at turns, rich, luscious, humorous and poignant. Is it just me, or does the giant in overalls bear a striking resemblance to his dad? I rushed to share it with not just the art teacher, but language arts teachers and the ELL teacher as well. I see many fine uses for this evocative and powerful story in classrooms and during story time. Not only will I need to purchase multiple copies for my library's collection, but it's my new gift book.

Myers always surprises me and this one is a delight.

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reveiws. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

The Rat with the Human Face by Tom Angleberger. (Pickwick Papers #2) 151 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 21, 2015. 9781419714894.

Publisher synopsis: Lyle Hertzog and his friends Marilla and Dave are the Qwikpick Adventure Society, three kids who seek out adventure in their seemingly quiet hometown of Crickenburg. On the hunt for their next big adventure—something to top the Fountain of Poop, if that’s even possible—the kids overhear a construction worker telling his buddies about a rat with a human face he saw in the basement of an old research facility. The decision is unanimous: the next adventure for the Qwikpick Society is on! But when their trip to find the rat doesn’t go quite as expected, the trio gets in big trouble. Will the second adventure for the Qwikpick Society also be their last?
This hilarious, highly original series, which so astutely captures the odd preoccupations of middle schoolers, will appeal to the many fans of the Origami Yoda series and such gross-out classics as How to Eat Fried Worms and Freckle Juice.

I must admit to being a tiny bit put off by the title. We'll see.


Fairest by Marissa Meyer. (The Lunar Chronicles) Unabridged audiobook on 6 compact discs. 6.5 hours. Read by Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio, January, 2015. 9781427258854.

This prequel to The Lunar Chronicles tells Levana's Story.

Gracefully Grayson by Amy Polonsky. 256 p. Disney-Hyperion, November, 2014. 9781423185277.

Publisher synopsis: What if who you are on the outside doesn't match who you are on the inside?
Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
Debut author Ami Polonsky's moving, beautifully-written novel about identity, self-esteem, and friendship shines with the strength of a young person's spirit and the enduring power of acceptance.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating. I learned of this title thanks to GReads' review.

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby. 304 p. HarperCollins Publishers, April 21, 2015. 9780062299437.

Publisher synopsis: In this unforgettable teen romance that fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti will devour, Quinn Sullivan falls for the recipient of her boyfriend's donated heart, forming an unexpected connection that will leave readers utterly breathless.

After Quinn's boyfriend, Trent, dies in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the fragments of her now-unrecognizable life. But whoever received Trent's heart has mysteriously remained silent. The essence of a person, Quinn has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent's, then in a way she still has a piece of him.

Risking everything to find peace once and for all, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she's falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she's lost . . . and all that remains at stake.

Okay, I'll be honest here. I've read a couple of these types of transplant "survivor" books and have not loved them. I can see how teens would but the authors never seemed to get the medical stuff right. Of course, this is coming from a former nurse. I so enjoyed Kirby's In Honor so I'm eager to see if she pulls it off.

I will tell you that I love the cover. The morphing from anatomically correct heart to valentine heart is very cool.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tombquest Book 1: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop

Tombquest Book 1: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop. 197 p. Scholastic Inc., January 27, 2015. 9780545723459. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Mixed-up Files (of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) eat Tombquest's dust. This new multi-platform series hits the ground running. I can't think of a middle grade novel that begins with the main character dying but there you have it. Alex Sennefer is living on borrowed time of a mysterious illness but his Egyptologist mother, who curates the Ancient Egypt section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will have none of that. She has found the Book of the Dead and intends on using it to save her son. Little does she realize exactly what she will unleash in doing so. She saves Alex when his doctors proclaim there is nothing more to be done. Alex doesn't get to spend too much time celebrating though because his mom disappears and creepy, mysterious things keep happening with the exhibit. Museum security and the police have no clue what they're up against. 

It is up to Alex and his best friend Ren, short for Renata, who is a genius and happens to be the daughter of the engineer in charge of well, everything at the museum, it seems, to find his mom. Of course, they need a bit of help from Dr. Todtman, a colleague of Alex's mom that Alex isn't certain he can trust. The two kids have nearly unlimited access to all parts of the museum. And, those parts they aren't allowed in? Let's just say they know their way around a few security codes. 

Terrifying jackal-headed villain? Check. Stinking mummies? Check. Stinging swarms of deadly scorpions? Check. A stench-filled trip through the museum's sewer system? Check. Exploration of unused subway stations? Check. Enough booby traps to stymie Indy? You get the idea. Fast-paced, funny, smart. I'm so glad the rest of these books are releasing quickly so I (and my kids) don't have long to wait for the next installment. In the meanwhile, fans can visit the Tombquest website to play games and explore.

Book 2: Amulet Keepers releases on April 28.
Book 3 releases August 25.
Book 4 releases January 5.
Book 5 releases March 29, 2016.

Thanks to Scholastic for this arc.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Smek for President! by Adam Rex. 251 p. Disney-Hyperion, February 10, 2015. 9781484709511.

Publisher synopsis: In this much anticipated sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip and J.Lo are back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure. And this time (and last time, and maybe next time), they want to make things right with the Boov.
After Tip and J.Lo banished the Gorg from Earth in a scheme involving the cloning of many, many cats, the pair is notorious-but not for their heroics. Instead, human Dan Landry has taken credit for conquering the Gorg, and the Boov blame J.Lo for ruining their colonization of the planet. Determined to clear his name, J.Lo and Tip pack into Slushious, a Chevy that J.Lo has engineered into a fairly operational spaceship, and head to New Boovworld, the aliens' new home on one of Saturn's moons.
But their welcome isn't quite as warm as Tip and J.Lo would have liked. J.Lo is dubbed Public Enemy Number One, and Captain Smek knows that capturing the alien is the only way he'll stand a chance in the Boovs' first-ever presidential election.
With the help of a friendly flying billboard named Bill, a journey through various garbage chutes, a bit of time travel, and a slew of hilarious Boovish accents, Tip and J.Lo must fight to set the record straight-and return home in once piece.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. 600 p. Random House Children's Books, March 10, 2015. 9780375866579. 

Publisher synopsis: Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways. 
As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny? 

Fluffy Bunnies 2: the schnoz of doom by Andrea Beaty. Illustrated by Dan Santat.183 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, March 17, 2015. 9781419710513.

Publisher synopsis: When film-loving twins Joules and Kevin Rockman left their summer camp, they thought their days of fighting evil bunnies from outer space were over. Surely there won’t be giant rabbits bent on world domination at their school, right? Wrong. Luckily, these bunnies aren’t FLUFFS (Fierce, Large, Ugly, and Ferocious Furballs)—sugar-addicted giant rabbits out to hypnotize and kill. Unluckily, they’re worse: the FOOFS (Fierce, Obnoxious, Odoriferous Furballs)—seemingly normal-size rabbits (with extra-large noses) out to take over the world! Can Joules and Kevin save themselves, and their school, from the Schnoz of Doom?

Seriously funny New York Times bestselling author Andrea Beaty raises the stakes in this sequel to her zany, pulpy sci-fi farce. And, not to use Famous Last Words, but with illustrations by the great Dan Santat (The Guild of Geniuses,Sidekicks), what could possibly go wrong?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Over in the Wetlands by Caroline Rose

Over in the Wetlands: a hurricane-on-the-Bayou story by Caroline Rose & Rob Dunleavey. 40 p. Random House Children's Books, July 14, 2015. 9780449810163.

Publisher synopsis: Publishing in time for the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here is a beautiful read-aloud about animal families preparing for an impending storm in their bayou habitat. 
Journey to the Louisiana wetlands and watch as all the animals of the bayou experience one of nature’s most dramatic and awe-inspiring events: a hurricane. The animals prepare—swimming for safer seas, finding cover in dens, and nestling their young close to protect them. During the height of the storm, even the trees react, cracking and moaning in the wind. At last, the hurricane yawns and rests, and animals come out to explore their world anew.

I must admit, when I first glimpsed this cover, I thought that Tom Yezerski was coming out a new book.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ALAMW Continued

I had every intention of blogging about the Youth Media Awards (YMA) immediately after the announcements, perhaps over a leisurely breakfast before I grabbed a cab to O'Hare for my afternoon flight home. But then, Sunday morning, I awakened to a text saying that my flight home had been cancelled and that my new flight, if I wanted to leave on Monday, was scheduled to fly to Omaha, then Newark 20 minutes later for an arrival time four hours later than my original flight. Does that make sense? Okay, still doable.

But now I had a layer of anxiety. When I am anxious, I have a hard time concentrating on other things. Add to that terrible sleep on Sunday night, due to a myriad of unpleasant mental and physical woes and, I knew whatever I tried to write on Monday morning would be just awful.

I decided to leave way early for the airport partly because my boarding pass to Omaha didn't print out and partly because I had a vague hope that I might be able to get on another flight. The roads were amazingly clear (Chicagoans know how to handle a snowstorm) and my cab ride was uneventful. O'Hare, on the other hand, was mobbed. No surprise there. I had plenty of time! The check-in area was one giant, snaking line, not one person seemed free to ask the question about my boarding pass without waiting on a long line, so I decided to hop on the security line, which was also very long. Not long after waiting, I happened to turn around and the line for security was incredible - like out the door to the curb - and I was glad I had arrived when I did. I had forgotten about my full water bottle but remembered and was able to dump the water without leaving the line. 

Once I finally cleared security, I found a Customer Service counter. No small surprise to see a huge line there. So I wandered the corridor looking at each gate to see if there was a gate agent. Gate agents are far and few between nowadays, they usually arrive at the gate just in time to board passengers, but I lucked out and found a very nice and accommodating agent who seemed happy to check the reason why my boarding pass didn't print.

Turns out that it didn't print because my flight to Newark was cancelled and rebooked for Tuesday! I didn't receive an email or a text about this change. I had classes booked on Tuesday! Oh gosh! She found a flight to Newark and put me on standby, then she found a flight to LaGuardia that had a seat. She sent me on my way advising me to check the board often for changes. I found the gate and found that my appetite had returned, so I grabbed a delicious panini and settled in to try and blog. There was free wi-fi, which surprised me, because O'Hare is so large and wi-fi is not free at Newark. (Or wasn't the last time I checked.) Unfortunately, each page I went to was blocked with a dire message that a hacker could be attempting to invade my computer. I couldn't find wi-fi to buy and suddenly, I was just exhausted. I propped myself on my bags and snoozed. 

I have no idea for how long, but I felt a bit better when I snapped awake. I checked the board and found that my gate had changed, so I moved to that gate. It was PACKED with people. Apparently, their flight to San Francisco was delayed because the plane had not arrived. I found a seat because everyone was standing, and people-watched. After a while, I checked the board and found the gate had moved again. I also saw that my flight to LaGuardia was cancelled! The standby flight was my only option. If I didn't get on, I'd be staying in Chicago. I already knew that there were no flights with seats available on Tuesday. Standby only. 

I decided to stand by the gate desk to nab the agent as soon as they arrived to find out where I was on the standby queue. Two men had the same idea. They were friends who were stuck when their flight from Jackson Hole got in to O'Hare Sunday night, but couldn't get out. They ended up staying at the airport Hilton for $500(!) and had all kinds of standby tickets lined up as well as seats on a flight to LaGuardia. While standing there, they learned that their confirmed flight had been cancelled as well.

Turns out, they were #1 and 2 on the standby list and I was 6. There was hope. Unfortunately, once the all-business agent arrived, we learned that United also had to get crew back to Newark, and they had priority, so the hope was slim. By now, I was wishing I had taken that 3PM flight to Omaha because at least I had a flight home on Tuesday! If I got stuck in Chicago, there was no flight and I wasn't looking forward to being on standby all day. I asked the two guys if they looked into training. They had. One train leaves at 6PM and takes 24 hours to get to NJ. Yikes!

Their smartphones kept dinging with updates and cancellations and they were busily checking this airline and than while I stood there resolving to get a stupid smartphone! 

I practiced my yoga breathing while I sat and waited. Everything was beyond my control. It would work out. The plane finally arrived, late, of course. Some crew had arrived. The two guys seemed to travel a lot and in first class no less, and belonged to some sky club, so they had their own PR type guy updating them fairly regularly. Not so the rest of us. But, they shared their info with me. It wasn't looking good. 

Nothing to do but wait.

The flight boarded. There was this moment of hilarity when a tiny little lady managed to board but it wasn't her flight. Apparently, she had missed her flight. She didn't speak much English and was understandably agitated. How she even got on the plane is a wonder. 

Long story not-so-short, I got the second to last seat. The last seat was given to a flight attendant who finally arrived. I mentally bowed to the travel gods and texted my husband. 

What a trip! And, I still haven't processed the awards. The wonderfully diverse award recipients. Stuff for another post as this one is already way too long. Thanks for hanging in with me.

Taking Stock - January 2015

I know I express surprise that the month is over each and every month but, come on! How can January be over? And I've logged in a paltry 19 books, already 12 books behind on Goodreads! 

Total posts: 27

Total books this month: 19

Total books this year: 19


Audio: 3

Debut: 0

The Good: Hey! I posted a fair amount this month. There were four WoW posts because there's lots that I'm looking forward to reading. And! I managed to review 12 books!

The Bad: see above - 12 books behind on Goodreads. Only 3 audios but, to be fair, Egg & Spoon, though delightful, was long.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got.

Well, I'm at ALA Midwinter and the opportunities to stack my shelves are endless! I need only take from any number of tables and stacks in the Exhibit Hall and ship them home. I learned that I can't possibly get to read all the books that I take at these events and, as hard as it is, am much more selective about what I take. I really feel a responsibility to read what I take. So I traveled hoping to get these and I did and all is well with the world.

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord. 184 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., May 26, 2015. 9780545700290.

Publisher synopsis: This powerful middle-grade novel from the Newbery Honor author of RULES explores a friendship between a small-town girl and the daughter of migrant workers.
When Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it's Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.
After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily's grandfather, and Salma's friendship transforms Lily's summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they'll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant-and possibly win?
Set amongst the blueberry barrens and by the sea, this is a gorgeous new novel by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord that tackles themes of prejudice and friendship, loss and love.

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry. 212 p. Disney-Hyperion, May 5, 2015. 9781484708491.

Publisher synopsis: In this hilarious novel, written in the voice of eighth-grader Wyatt Palmer, Dave Barry takes us on a class trip to Washington, DC. Wyatt, his best friend, Matt, and a few kids from Culver Middle School find themselves in a heap of trouble-not just with their teachers, who have long lost patience with them-but from several mysterious men they first meet on their flight to the nation's capital. In a fast-paced adventure with the monuments as a backdrop, the kids try to stay out of danger and out of the doghouse while trying to save the president from attack-or maybe not.

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. 352 p. Random House Children's Books, March 24, 2015. 9780375870774.

Publisher synopsis: Springtime is finally arriving on Gardam Street, and there are surprises in store for each member of the family.
Some surprises are just wonderful, like neighbor Nick Geiger coming home from war. And some are ridiculous, like Batty’s new dog-walking business. Batty is saving up her dog-walking money for an extra-special surprise for her family, which she plans to present on her upcoming birthday. But when some unwelcome surprises make themselves known, the best-laid plans fall apart.
That's the tip of the iceberg of what's new with me. What's new with you?

So, I'm in Chicago...

...attending ALA Midwinter. As usual, I've been running and running and not particularly organized. I'm not great about blogging while sitting in a session. I need to listen and watch. I'm going to try and reconstruct the highlights coherently.

I arrived Friday evening, couldn't find the shuttle service and opted for a taxi. My driver was a chatty guy and I didn't mind listening to him talk about his seven (!) kids - even when we came to nearly a complete stop in Friday night rush hour traffic INTO the city. That is, until he asked me what I do on Sundays. What? He wanted to know my relationship with God. Oh dear. I remained non-committal and listened to him expound with half an ear. Luckily, the traffic eased and I was soon at my hotel, the Hyatt McCormack. 

I figured I would stay at the convention center to save waiting for the shuttle in the Chicago cold. (Midwinter in Chicago?) Check-in went pretty quickly and I was able to register and zip over to the exhibits for a bit. I nabbed the last arc of the next Penderwicks book and procured Cynthia Lord's next novel, A Handful of Stars (Yay!).

I had two evening events that were happening at hotels uptown so I waited on the extremely long cab line with folks waiting to cab uptown for all their events. I thought the two parties were walking distance from each other but the cabbie said to take a cab and when the security guards at the first event couldn't really tell me with any certainty how to get there, I took a cab. Well. It was six blocks away. Sigh.

I had written the name of the hotel down but not the name of the room - just lobby level. When I asked the concierge where the party was, he said there was no such event and asked me if I was sure I had the right day. I was sure of the day because I had originally planned to work all day and take an evening flight but changed my mind when these invitations came and opted for an earlier flight. 

This is when I wish I had a Smartphone. I asked if he had a computer available for me to check my email. He did not. He let me try his, but email was blocked. I returned to my hotel. Sure enough, I was right but it was too late (and too expensive) to grab a cab and head back uptown. I really need to get a Smartphone.

I slept like a log for four hours, then woke hourly until 7:30. I tried to read the conference schedule in print and online. I find neither terribly user-friendly. I made a plan. I had an invitation to a Scholastic reception but couldn't find the email with the place and time, so the Scholastic booth was my first stop when the exhibits opened.

Sarah Weeks happened to be there and it was so lovely to meet her in person. 
Honey is one of my favorite mg novels of 2015 even though I read and reviewed it in December. Sarah kinda liked what I had to say about Honey and her newest picture book, Glamourpuss and blurbed me on her website along with heaps of praise from other review journals for these two swell books. I can't tell you what a thrill it was to see my words there. So, of course, this meeting was a fangirl moment. 

After selecting a few more arcs, I headed uptown to listen in during the Notable Recordings for a couple of hours. I have learned so much about listening from sitting in on these and the Amazing Audiobooks sessions over the last few years. I enjoy listening to the thoughtful comments on the committee members. I had read one or two of the books in the segment they were discussing. I wish I had the time to listen to them discuss the entire list.

Then I met Barb Langridge from She and I have been conference pals ever since we met at NCTE when it was in Boston. A few weeks ago, she had this brilliant idea to get a few of her reviewers together for lunch. It was fun to attach a face to names of reviewers who contribute to her site.

If you've never explored her website, please take a few moments and do so. It is truly a labor of love for her and something she funds herself. She is so articulate and warm and totally adores literature for children and those who read it as well as those who write it.

I ate entirely too much. I did not realize that it was restaurant week here in Chicago and opted for the three course lunch. I started with a delicious chopped (not really chopped) salad. And got full. This was followed by a yummy pulled pork sandwich, which I ate most of without the soft and delicious roll. Then there was the maple cheesecake topped with homemade whipped cream and caramelized pears to contend with. 

It's a good thing I walked to lunch and from lunch to the Hilton Chicago. The afternoon was devoted to listening in at the Amazing Audio discussion. 

I then walked back up to the Hyatt for the Scholastic art reception. I just love it when I get the chance to view original art from picture books. There was art from Glamourpuss (David Small) and Chasing Freedom (Michele Wood) and Ice Cream Summer (Peter Sis) and The Case for Loving (Sean Qualls). There were tasty finger foods to enjoy, people to meet and chat with. I finally got to meet Mr. Ed Spicer in person! The evening ended in an adjoining room to hear six authors perform reader's theaters of their upcoming novels. Then, of course, there was "the bag." That coveted, red Scholastic bag stuffed with goodies. Seven hard-covered books! I had already ordered copies of most of the titles, but that's okay. They will be popular enough in my library that the second copies will come in handy. Plus, I will have them for the dreaded "partnership reads." Honestly, my kids think I know which books I have doubles of and/ or think I have doubles of every book in the library!

I tried to recap the trip while sitting at the bar eating a salmon burger but got too sleepy. I hit the hay just before ten last night. I woke to find a text from United telling me that my flight out tomorrow is cancelled. This was sent at eleven last night. My only option for getting home tomorrow is to get on a flight to Omaha, lay over for a bunch of hours and fly into Newark at nine. Should be interesting. I have classes to teach on Tuesday morning.

It's snowing right now. Chicago is expecting 5 - 10" today. I'm glad I'm staying at the convention center today though I may venture out to the path by Lake Michigan for a look-see. Visibility out my hotel window is not great. 

Notable Books and BFYA (Best Fiction for Young Adults) discussions are on tap today. Oh, and a stop at the Post Office to mail my goodies home is on the agenda. I'd better keep a book or two out for the long layover. What are the odds I'll be spending Monday night in Omaha?