Saturday, July 14, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

For review:

The Assassination of Brangwian Spurge by M/T. Anderson. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 530 p. Candlewick Press, September 25, 2018.97807636982214.

Publisher synopsis: Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.

Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

Purchased: I was setting up this week's "Waiting on Wednesday" and realized that I never read book three! So I remedied that asap.

The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage. Mo & Dale Mystery #3. Unabridged audiobook on 7 compact discs. 8.5 hours. Read by Lauren Fortgang. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House, October, 2015. 9781101892398.

Publisher synopsis: The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale's daddy--confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale's nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn't mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction--if everything goes as expected.

Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon's on the run, Tupelo Landing's in lockdown, and Dale's brother's life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client--one they'd never want in a million years.

For everyone who's already fallen for Mo and Dale, and for anyone who's new to Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even is a heartwarming story that perfectly blends mystery and action with more serious themes about family and fathers, all without ever losing its sense of humor.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Picture Book Review: Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre

Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre. unpgd. Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, February, 2018. 9780062697349. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

Ah, thank you notes! A lost art! I am a pretty faithful thank you note writer who tries not to notice when thank you notes don't arrive after I've done some gift giving. After all, the pleasure should be in the giving, no? However, I will admit to feeling a certain amount of pleasure when I do receive a thank you note. 

Gratitude is a practice. I practice yoga daily and most of my teachers devote part of our practice to identifying at least one thing to be grateful for. I like this ritual. It's stabilizing. Stopping to feel gratitude is humbling and helps with perspective. 

Thank You, Earth is a beautiful meditation. It is an exercise in perspective and humility, an invitation to appreciate our planet. The gorgeous shots of nature pair beautifully with the spare and lovely sentiment in the text. A note from the author invites readers to find ways of not only thanking our planet but actively working to save it by investigating, sharing, participating, helping and acting. There is also a list of resources budding conservationists can consult. The extensive list of picture credits identify animals and landforms for interested readers. 

Thank You, Earth is a vibrant example of #nevertoooldforpicturebooks and belongs in all kinds of libraries for readers young and not-so-young. Thank You, Earth needs to be shared widely. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fact Friday: Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale

Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series #7. Amulet Books/ Abrams, November, 2017. 0891419725562. (Review from finished copy courtesy of the publisher.)

Please bear with me while I take the long way around to the review in this post. If you don't have the patience to read about debates that librarians have, with themselves and other librarians, jump down to the * below. (Scroll down. Sorry, I don't know how to create an anchor link!)

Cataloging books for the collection can be confounding sometimes. Take The Magic School Bus series. My mentor had them cataloged as non-fiction and so, the books were all over the non-fiction section. If a young patron was a fan of the series, we looked it up in the catalog and jotted down all the Dewey numbers to find them. When I took over the library after my mentor's retirement, I re-cataloged them all to FIC, so they would be all together on one shelf and easily found. Even though the books were crammed with facts, the magic school bus aspect  technically negated its eligibility for the non-fiction/ informational section. Really, it was the ease of having all the books together that drove my decision. 

But my cataloging conundrums continued over the years. I had a couple of skateboard fanatics, so I bought a bunch of skateboarding books, including Tony Hawk's autobiography. My gut was to catalog the Hawk book in the biography section, but then I paused, thinking that my skate boarders know where the skateboarding books are kept and might miss the addition of this autobiography if I put it in the biography section instead of with the other skateboarding books. But then, when students come in looking for a biography for the biography unit, it's easier to peruse the biographies in the biography section than to look by sport for the biographies there. Hm.

A similar dilemma arose with the multi-author, multi-platform 39 Clues and similar series. At first, I cataloged them by author, until the series got popular, then I re-cataloged them under the series name for easier discovery. 

A few years back, I bought a graphic novel series about the battles of World War II. I chose to put them in the 940s along with the other informational titles about the battles of that war. They get read by my readers interested in World War II, but don't get discovered by my graphic novel readers. I figured my fact hounds might discover the wonder of graphic novels if I placed those books in the subject area. 

When the first Hazardous Tale released, I cataloged it as 741.5 Hale, where the bulk of my GNs go. As each sequel released, they all sit side-by-side in numerical order. Imagine trying to find them were they cataloged by Dewey subject? 

I haven't read them all, but while they are factually correct, the story is narrated by Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War figure who gleaned future historical events by virtue of his placement in an American History book! A weird sort of time travel, eh?

Here's another little cataloging wrinkle. We tend to call the Dewey numbers, "non-fiction." The non-fiction section has become equated with "real" or informational literature. The fiction goes in the fiction section, right? Well, technically, wrong. When Dewey organized his system, fiction had a Dewey number in the 800s. In most libraries now, the 800s house poetry and plays and the fiction goes in, well, the fiction section. Technically, all fiction could be assigned a Dewey number. You might occasionally see a literary novel given an 800 number in CIP information on the copyright page. (Though seeing any CIP info is becoming rarer and rarer nowadays.)

Confused yet? How about fairy tales? Well, they have a Dewey number too. 398.2 (plus a complicated extended number that matches the country's Dewey number, oy!) And why are fairy tales given a 300 number? Because they are associated with a culture and that's where the books on social sciences, which includes culture, go. 

I digress. Back to 741.5. That is the Dewey assignation for the graphic novel format. When graphic novels became increasingly popular some years back, some libraries got creative with their cataloging. Some are cataloged as fiction and filed with the rest of the novels. The graphic novels that come each month in my JLG subscription are cataloged as fiction. I re-catalog them each month. Some libraries created separate shelves for their GN collections. Mine mostly  reside on the 741.5 shelf. My GN fans quickly learn the number and they head right to the section.

Okay. Why this not-so-little bird walk? As I contemplated what book would be featured on this week's Fact Friday, I realized that I hadn't read a new work of informational literature in a while. As I cast back in memory, I had trouble coming up with one that I hadn't already featured. Then my eyes fell on my stack of books for review and I spied Raid of No Return. Could I review it for Fact Friday? A quick check of the county library cooperative I belong to yielded this result: there are 33 copies in the system, only 17 of which are available for check-out. Three are cataloged as JNF(Juvenile Non-Fiction); one as 741.5; one as JF (Juvenile Fiction) 940.54 (!) and the rest are cataloged as JF Graphic Novel. 

So, the majority of libraries consider the series a work of fiction. Considering the amount of research Hale puts into each of these, I'm going to go with featuring it today on Fact Friday. Thanks for your patience.

*Or not. My review:

The Raid of No Return is the seventh Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales entry and highlights a secret mission known as the "Doolittle Mission" or the "Tokyo Raid." Nathan Hale, the author/ artist opens this volume with a short recap of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hale's visual of the utter destruction of the Naval Fleet was sobering. 

Using a his signature limited-color palette, this time, blues and grays, apropos for a story centered mostly at sea, Hale recounts the story of this historic air raid in vivid detail from idea to its aftermath. 

When legendary stunt pilot, James, Jimmy, Doolittle called for volunteers for a top-secret mission, he received more than the eighty he needed. Most of these volunteers were Army B-52 pilots. Imagine their surprise when they arrived at training to find a Navy officer as their teacher and taught to get their modified aircraft airborne in a very short distance. Turns out their secret mission was a bombing raid over Japan. But getting out alive once the bombs were dropped was the tricky part. They had to try to make it over the border to China and hope that they didn't land or crash in Japanese-occupied areas of China. 

Eighty men went on this mission, which was not the greatest military success, but struck a psychological blow to Japan and its citizens and boosted American morale. I will leave it to you to read the story to discover how many men made it back. I will say though, there may be tears near the end.

This series should be in every school and public as well as classroom library. They really make learning history fun. Give this to your military history buffs as well as your general graphic novel fans. I hope the series continues. It is just terrific. 

Many thanks to Jenny and the team at Amulet/ Abrams for the opportunity to read and review Raid of No Return. Thanks also to the author for the informative chat and cool autograph.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

#tbt: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Happy #tbt, TMS Readers! I imagine that you all have had the experience of reading a book that was so well written, the characters seemed to spring to life. Perhaps you've been read to by someone who was so talented a narrator, the same thing happened. Now, imagine a narrator whose narration is so magical that the characters from the book he is reading to his wife one evening really find their way out of the book into our world. And they like it here, better. One of many problems with this is the fact that, for everything that is narrated out of a book, someone or something from our world has to enter the storybook world. Has anyone guessed which book is being featured today?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was published in the U.S. in 2003 and was followed by two sequels, Inkspell in 2005 and Inkdeath in 2007. Inkheart was adapted for film in 2008 in the U.K. and released in the U.S. in 2009.
In Inkheart, Twelve-year-old Meggie has lived with her father, Mo, a bookbinder. She is unaware that they are essentially on the run and hiding from a man named, Capricorn until a man named, Dustfinger comes to their home to warn Mo. Inkheart clocks in at 534 pages; but the pages do fly by, so immersive is the world that Funke created. 
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Inkheart trilogy #1. 534 p. The Chicken House/ Scholastic Inc., October, 2003. 0439531640. (Own.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage. 358 p. Mo & Dale series #4. Kathy Dawson Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September 11, 2018. 9780803739628.

Publisher synopsis: The heart-warming conclusion to the beloved Mo & Dale Mysteries by Newbery Honor author Sheila Turnage featuring the most shocking case yet!

Pirate fever sweeps through the town after an opportunistic treasure hunter shows up looking to lay claim to Blackbeard's lost gold buried somewhere in Tupelo Landing. When the (probably) world-famous Desperado Detectives--Mo and Dale and Harm--are hired by Mayor Little's mother to find the pirate loot for her, and the high-stakes race for riches is on!  

But that's not the only treasure hunt in town. Mo LoBeau unearths shocking new clues that may lead to her long-lost Upstream Mother--in the riskiest, scariest, and possibly richest case of her life.  
Will Mo find her Upstream Mother? Can the Desperados sidestep Blackbeard's curse and outsmart a professional treasure hunter? Will Dale faint under the pressure of Valentine's Day?   

Could the stakes be any higher? Yes. With twin treasures hanging in the balance, Mo, Dale, and Harm realize one of them may have to leave Tupelo Landing. For good.

I just adore this series (My review of Three Times Lucky and The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing) and will be sorry to see it end. I just realized that I never got around to reading The Odds of Getting Even! Oops! I must remedy that asap! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Arc Review: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo: how I lost my mother, found my father and dealt with family addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 312 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., October 9, 2018. 97805445902472. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Teen Tuesdady features Hey, Kiddo: how I lost my mother, found my father and dealt with family addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Krosczka is an award-winning graphic novelist and illustrator. His books include the Lunch Lady series, books four, five and six of the Jedi Academy series and the Platypus Police Squad. In his graphic novel memoir, Hey Kiddo, we learn that his mother was a talented artist. Unfortunately, she was also a drug addict. She got clean when she was pregnant with Jarrett, but struggled with addiction before and after he was born causing Jarrett's grandparents to sue for custody of their grandson. Jarrett's grandparents were loving but had some problems of their own. The were rough around the edges but loved Jarrett fiercely. He grew up in the working class city of Worcester, Massachusetts during the 1980s and his art saved him. It gave him an outlet and also brought him attention. 

Krosoczka's grey and sepia toned illustrations and watery-bordered panels evoke the haze of memory and some sadness. The narrative is enhanced by the insertion of photographs of the author's mother's letters and art. Backmatter includes a lengthy author's note.

This memoir is a tough read. It is a raw, unflinching look at the effect addiction has on family. For those readers dealing with addiction within their family, this book is a mirror. For those lucky enough not to have an addicted family member, this window book will help readers temper their judgement. Addiction is complicated and addicts are as well. This brave graphic novel memoir belongs in every public, middle and high school classroom and school library.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. 276 p. Wendy Lamb Books/ Random House Children's Books, September 11, 2018. 9781524768348. (Review from arc courtesy of the publisher.)

We know immediately that something huge has happened to twelve-year-old Felix Knuttson because he's asking a police officer if he's going to be interrogated. He's seen the procedure on t.v. and wonders if his mother, Astrid is being interrogated in another room. He's assured they are not. He's also outraged because they didn't commit any crimes, the criminals got away and Felix and his mom are at the police station.

Once Felix realizes this sympathetic police officer knows the secret he was sworn to keep, Felix explains how their temporary housing crisis came to be. Felix and Astrid were not always between addresses. For the first part of Felix's fatherless life, the two lived with Mormor, his Swedish grandmother, in Astrid's childhood home. Readers learn, through Felix's matter-of-fact, earnest and endearing narrative about how he developed his love for a trivia game show,  Who, What, Where, When, thanks to Mormor, who also made his tomte, a gnome-like creature from Swedish folklore (p.8) that Felix carries everywhere. 

After Felix's mormor died, Astrid sold the home and purchased a condo. Astrid lost both her jobs and the building began to sink because it was built on a riverbank. Astrid could  not afford the cost of repair and so the condo was sold at a loss. And so, the family downsized again and again, each place a bit danker than the last, until they found themselves evicted and an abusive ex-boyfriend's van was the only option.

It was temporary, Astrid said. It was even fun, until the Vancouver summer turned to fall. Astrid managed to get Felix enrolled in a French immersion school. There, he reunited with an old friend and made a new one. He was happy there but their secret was getting harder and harder to keep what with the availability of showers and clean laundry limited. But Astrid's warning that he would be taken away from her and put in a foster home compelled Felix to stay silent. It was easier to lose friends than to lose Astrid. 

Though there is plenty of heartbreak here, Felix is resilient and loves his mom fiercely. He buys into her lies and supports her unconditionally. Until he can't and makes a life-changing decision. Felix is a winning narrator and the reader's heart will break for him again and again; but there's humor and hope to balance things out. 

Give No Fixed Address to readers who enjoy humor in their sad books or to fans of How to Steal a Dog or Crenshaw or fans of Nielsen's We are All Made of Molecules and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen. Readers will laugh, cry and perhaps examine their assumptions about the homeless. No Fixed Address is a first-purchase. I can't wait to hand this to my students come fall. 

ETA: I forgot to mention that I adore this cover! 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Fact Friday: Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: a Navajo Code Talker's story by Joseph Bruchac

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: a Navajo Code Talker's story by Joseph Bruchac. Illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes. Albert Whitman & Company, April, 2018. 9780807500071. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher/ ALAAC18.)

In 2005, Joseph Bruchac published a historical fiction novel called Code Talkers: a novel about the Navajo Marines of WWII. I featured it yesterday on #tbt. Now we have a picture book biography of one of the original Navajo men who were chosen to create an unbreakable code. 

The biography starts in 1929 when eight-year-old Betoli was sent to boarding school. There, his long hair was cut off; he was given a new name, Chester; and he was told to speak English only. When he was caught speaking Navajo, his mouth was washed out with soap. Each summer, Chester returned to his family and Navajo ways. But Chester understood that learning English would give him an advantage. He adopted the Catholic religion and became an altar boy but he also stayed faithful to the Navajo language and culture. 

In December of 1941, Chester was in tenth grade when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They were also expert code breakers and the U. S. Marines were having trouble finding a code the Japanese couldn't break. A former army soldier, who happened to be a missionary's son and who once lived on a reservation suggested using Navajo. So Marine recruiters visited the reservation seeking English/ Navajo speakers. Twenty-nine young Navajo men were chosen to become Platoon 382. They were charged with creating an unbreakable code. One that could be used faster than the machine they were currently using. They were also sworn to secrecy. After thirteen weeks of training, two men stayed behind to teach the next round of Navajo recruits and the rest were dispatched to the Pacific where they transmitted messages in the heat of battle. They saw men die. Chester worked while ill and exhausted. 

When he was sent home in January of 1945, he couldn't tell friends or family about the work he did because he was still sworn to secrecy. He was probably suffering from PTSD so his family arranged for a four-day healing ceremony called an Enemy Way. Eight months after Chester returned home, the war ended. In all four hundred Navajos had served as code talkers. The language that had nearly been beaten out of them as children had help the U.S. to win the war.

In the author's note, readers learn a bit more about Chester and the fact that it wasn't until 1968 that the code was declassified. It wasn't until 1982 that the code talkers were officially recognized. In December of 2000, then President Bill Clinton bestowed gold medals to the original twenty-nine code talkers. Two pages of the code follows and a timeline ends the book.

There is no note as to the media used to create the emotionally powerful illustrations that convey both the terror of the boarding school and the horror of war. It looks like pastel, but I'm no artist. The full and double-page spreads catch the eye and invite lingering. The accessible, engaging text pulls no punches. Great harm was done to native people by the U.S. government yet, these men bravely served. 

This is a first-purchase for any kind of library. I am honored to add it to mine. Thanks to Albert Whitman for this copy.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

#tbt: Code Talkers: a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac

Code Talkers: a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March, 2005. 9780803729216. (Own.)

From the age of six, sixteen year old Ned attended an Indian boarding school where he was taught English and beaten whenever he spoke Navajo. He was taught to be ashamed of his language and his culture. When WWII broke out and the Japanese were cracking every code the American Armed Forces could come up with, the Marine brass turned to Ned and other Navajo volunteers to come up with an unbreakable code using their language. They did so and were sworn to secrecy. For more than twenty-five years, the code talkers went unrecognized for their contribution to America winning her war against Japan. Bruchac's careful, measured writing conveys the sacrifice and danger of Ned and the code talkers in a gripping story of World War II.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday (and Review!): Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech. 165 p. Joanna Cotler Books/ HarperCollins, September 11, 2018. 9780062570703. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

A new book by Sharon Creech is an automatic purchase for me. I heard about Saving Winslow a while back and thought I'd feature it in a "Waiting on Wednesday" post. Then I was able to grab the last arc on the table at the HarperCollins booth at ALAAC18! Lucky me. I started reading it at my last breakfast in New Orleans. Beignets on the Riverwalk!

I finished it later that day, at the airport and posted this comment to FB and Twitter:

And, it IS perfect! From it's first lines, 

In the laundry basket on the kitchen floor was a lump
     "Another dead thing?" Louis asked.
     "Not yet," his father said.

which reminded me of another fantastic and memorable first line, "Where's papa going with that ax?", to the final, goosebumps-inducing lines, which I will leave for you to discover. Along the way are short chapters featuring endearing characters and small moments that are brilliantly written. 

Louie lives with his parents in town. Uncle Pete, Louie's father's friend lives on a small farm outside of town. Somehow Louie's father ends up disposing of small tragedies from the farm. This little lump of a mini-donkey isn't dead though and Louie decides he's going to make sure that this trembling, pitiful thing doesn't die. Louie does not have the best of luck saving animals; but he decides that this time will be different. He recalls how he himself was born small and needed care in an incubator while he grew strong.

Louie is a thoughtful, gentle soul. He misses his brother, Gus, greatly and looks forward to Gus' short letters home. Gus is serving overseas in the Army. He has a best friend in Mack, who is a year or two older than Louis and whose father owns the feedstore. New neighbors move nearby and the two meet sister, Nora and Claudine. Mack falls instantly in love with Claudine. It takes Louie a little longer to warm up to Nora, who is a bit of a downer.

In 165 pages, Sharon Creech has created a setting and characters so vivid, I feel I should be able to walk to town and sit on Louie's porch. Saving Winslow will have wide appeal, from fans of Sharon Creech to reluctant readers, who will be treated to accessible literary gold. If you're like me, you've pre-ordered Saving Winslow the moment you heard of it. If not, drop it into your shopping cart now. It's a first purchase.

It's perfect.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Review: What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee

What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee. 200 p. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May, 2018. 9781481476560. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher)

I am intrigued by books written under unusual constraints, like Chris Crowe's Death Coming Up the Hill. This slim novel is told in one hundred, hundred-word chapters. It is the story of sixteen-year-old Will who grieves his father's suicide. He tries to get through each day as best he can. He walks the neighborhood day and night; but avoids certain areas. He observes. He enjoys watching "Little Dude" who has an obsession with butterflies. He has a job in a dollar store where he buoys his boss, the socially inept owner. He tries to replicate his father's cornbread and gives his failures to Superman, the local homeless man. He also feels guilty for the sexual assault of his good friend, Playa. He left the party where it happened early. Had he only stayed, perhaps... 

Each of the "chapters" are numbered in Chinese and McGhee makes the most of her hundred words. Each chapter is a thumbnail sketch of a moment in Will's day. The writing is precise and incisive. Though the reader may yearn to know more, we are given what are given. In some ways this replicates Will's need to know why his father chose to end his life. He was given what he was given.

YA readers who love thoughtful and sad books will appreciate gentle Will's journey.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and arc review: Nate Expectations by Tim Federle

Nate Expectations by Tim Federle. 192 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 18, 2018. 9781481404129.

Poor Nate Foster! When E.T.: the musical fails to receive a single Tony nomination, it closes. Nate is devastated; because unlike Jordan, who has landed a television show role, Nate is heading back to Jankburg, PA and high school. Luckily, he still has his bff, Libby. Still, he's not looking forward to being on the receiving end of cruel comments and trying to maintain a long-distance "relationship" with Jordan. 

When his English teacher assigns Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and wants his students to create a memorable project, Nate decides to launch a musical production of the classic. His teacher is skeptical; but with his sort of newfound fame and Libby by his side as his producer, he just might pull it off.

Readers of the first two Nate books are in for a treat. Nate Expectations was the perfect (sob) ending to the trilogy. Nate is a great character. He maintains a positive attitude but expects the worst. These books are his first-person narration and he is hilariously funny. I read this in the airport waiting room and on my flight to New Orleans a little over a week ago and was just laughing out loud. A lot. Some people might have moved away from me. I know my seat-mates on the plane wanted to.

Nate is a theater kid and his encyclopedic knowledge of all things Broadway is impressive and instructive. He even slips in a bit about the sadly short-lived musical, Tuck Everlasting, whose libretto Tim Federle co-wrote. Nate's homecoming could've gone so many ways. His parents aren't the best and they've been having some trouble in their marriage. His brother was a legend at his high school. How can Nate measure up? I will leave it to readers to discover. It was sublime. 

I've read the two earlier Nate books, Better Nate Than Ever and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! both with my eyes and then with my ears. I plan on doing so with Nate Expectations as well. Federle is a superb narrator. This trilogy is a love letter to theater kids and a must-purchase for all kinds of libraries. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Taking Stock: June, 2018

Well, 2018 is half over! Honestly!

Total Books: 16/ 163
Total Posts: 31
Total Reviews: 10

Debut: 0/ 5
Audio: 6/ 37

Picture Books: 2/ 53

The Good: I spent a brilliant six days in New Orleans attending ALAAC 18 and returned well-fed and laden with books.

The Bad: Blogger disappointed. I keep drafts of my various reading lists and logged on one day to discover that my 2018 reading list disappeared. I wondered how I managed to delete it since you have to confirm deletion; but assumed it was my mistake. However, I made no such assumption a couple of weeks later when, not only had my painstakingly reconstructed 2018 reading list disappeared, but my 2018 audiobook list triplicated! I sent a message to blogger and never received a response. I sent a second message to blogger. I tweeted blogger about it. No response. I created a google doc of my reading and am sorely disappointed at the lack of response on blogger's part. Not only that, but I noticed that I no longer receive emails when someone makes a comment on the blog! Grr!

The List:
146. Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (6/1)
147. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (6/2)
149. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (6/6)
150. First Flight around the World by Tim Grove (6/7)
151. A Higher Loyalty by James Comey (6/7)
152. The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (6/9)
153. Boying Up by Mayim Bialik (6/10)
154. Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (6/13)
155. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (6/18)
156. Nate Expectations by Tim Federle (6/21)*
157. Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh (6/24)*(SLJ)
158. Jazz Owls: a novel of the Zoot Suit riots by Margarita Engle (6/25)
159. Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech (6/26)*
160. What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee (6/26)*
161. Grandad Mandela by Zazi Siwelene and Zindzi Mandela (6/29)
162. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (6/30)*

163. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (6/30)*