Thursday, January 31, 2013

Taking Stock - January

Total Posts: 28
Total Books Read this Month: 34
Total Books Read this Year: 34

Audio Books: 4/ 4 ytd
Debut Author: 2/2 ytd
Mount TBR Challenge: 0/0 ytd

The Good: According to Goodreads, I am only 2 books behind on my 2013 Reading Challenge.

The Bad:  I haven't chosen a book from TOM the TBR yet. There are just two many bright, shiny, new 2013 and 2012 books catching my eye. There was a time when I reviewed every book I read and I'm still making my peace with not being able to do so.

The list:

1. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (1/1)
2. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (1/1)
3. Classic Hikes of North America by Peter Potterfield (1/4)
5. How the Gods Created the Finger People by Elizabeth Moore (1/4)
6. A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer (1/4)
7Butter by Erin Jade Lange (1/6)
8Reached by Ally Condie (1/6)
9. Splintered by A. G. Howard (1/7)
10.Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (1/8)
11. Bomb: the race to build - and steal - the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin (1/11)
12. Altered by Jennifer Rush (1/12)
13. Did It All Start with a Snowball Fight?: and other questions about the American Revolution by Mary Kay Carson (1/13)
14. Last Airlift: a Vietnamese orphan's rescue from war (1/14)
15. Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull (1/14)
17. Diego Rivera: an artist for the people by Susan Goldman Rubin (1/15)
18. Temple Grandin: how the girl who loved cows embraced autism and changed the world by Sy Montgomery (1/16)
19. Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey by Gary Golio (1/17)
20. Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger (1/18)
21. Goblin Secrets by William Alexander (1/18)
22. Haunted Histories by J. H. Everett (1/19)
23. Scrivener's Moon by Philip Reeve (1/20)
24. The Secret Life of a Snowflake by Kenneth Libbrecht (1/20)
25. Oceans by Johnna Rizzo (1/20)
26. I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (1/21)
27. Wild Horse Scientists by Kay Frydenborg (1/22)
28. The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell (1/22)
29. Iceman by Chris Lynch (1/23)
30. Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch (1/24)
31. The Center of Everything by Linda Urban (1/29)
32. Arlene, the Rebel Queen by Carol Liu (1/29)
33. Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds (1/29)
34. Crankenstein by Samantha Berger (1/29)
35. Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli (1/31)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

Warning: this post may ramble and will probably not make much sense.

Rewind to Monday morning. I headed to the convention center to hear the Youth Media Award announcements. You may notice that I did not post a thing about them. First of all, many, many folks did and better than I ever could. More importantly, the awards began at 8AM and ended about 9. My flight was at 11:25. So, I sat near the door and flew out of the convention center as soon as the final announcement was made. I called the hub, who was standing by at the hotel while stuffing my iPad into my backpack. Once we got to the airport, I had a bit of time, but discovered that I couldn't figure out how to blog in Blogger on my iPad. Maybe I need to install an app or something. It just didn't work. 

So I read. 

My reading definitely suffered between Thursday and Monday. It's a good thing I got a few books ahead in my book-a-day because I was just too busy and beat to read. I did make up for it a bit on the plane. I decided to risk airsickness and didn't take Dramamine, which zonks me right out and was able to read two books and start a third on the flight. 

The fallout.

It didn't take long. Within the hour, folks were posting critical comments about the what was chosen as winners and honors, specifically, the Printz. The winner was quite a surprise. I didn't know the book, and got the distinct feeling that many in the audience didn't either because there was a pause/ gasp before the applause. Personally, I find hearing about "out of the blue winners" utterly delightful. I am sorry to admit that I hadn't even heard of the winner, In Darkness or an honor, The White Bicycle before Monday morning. But let me add that I can't wait to read them. (I need to read the Printz books because I work at a middle school.)

Everyone's entitled to an opinion. If you don't want to buy the winners that is fine. Money and shelf space are not unlimited. I wish those folks would've taken the time to read reviews, if not the actual book before making the comments. A passionate but ill-advised response was made and blam-mo, the posts flew, then devolved into a thread called, "books we hate."


Most times, I am so thrilled to say that I am a librarian. I wake up each morning looking forward to going to work. I love my kids. I adore my teacher colleagues at my school. My job is the best. I have a nice budget. My program gets support. I have kids who like to read. I attend as much professional development as possible and, for the most part, think that my colleagues in other schools and public libraries are smart and savvy. There are the occasional head-desk moments though and I've had a few since Monday.

Waiting on Wednesday

I'm with Stupid by Geoff Herbach. 320 p. Sourcebooks Incorporated, May 1, 2013.  9781402277917.

Publisher synopsis: It's nerd-turned-jock Felton Reinstein's last year before college, and the choices he makes now will affect the rest of his life. That's a lot of pressure. So, he's going to make a list. What would he be if he weren't a jock? He'll try everything—comedian, partier, super student—and which ever identity he likes best he'll stick with. Poof. Stress gone.
Except not... Because the list leads to:
1. The whole state of Wisconsin hating him.
2. His track coach suspending him.
3. His mom moving out.
Before leaving home forever, Felton will have to figure out just who he is, even if, sometimes, it sucks to be him.

If you haven't read Stupid Fast or Nothing Special (didn't get to review it in my summer reading frenzy, but it was good!), you have time to remedy the situation before I'm with Stupid drops in May. Felton and his brother are memorable, sweet and oh so flawed. They are two characters I want to hug and never let go. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Awards Monday

I don't think I have slept longer than 2.5 hours at a clip since Thursday night. I am not the best sleeper most nights, but my insomniac tendencies worsen when traveling. So, I'm up again at 3 AM PST working on the computer in the bathroom so as not to disturb my snoring, um sleeping husband. I'm normal.

So. The Youth Media Awards are in a few hours. I'm sure all the hardworking committee members are up and about getting ready to make the famous "calls." I doubt they slept much in the last few days either. I hear the balloting process can be intense as fifteen children's literature lovers passionately defend their favorites. Hundreds will flock to the ballroom at the convention center and many thousands will watch the awards stream live. (However did we survive back in the day? When we had to wait until the the ALA posted the news to the website, or worse, waiting until the evening or morning news?)

I haven't composed an "If I Ran the Awards Committees" post but I did post my "picks" on my school library page and have been fairly vocal about my favorites with friends, colleagues and on Facebook. I am sure there will lots of armchair quarterbacking in a few hours. Yesterday, on Educating Alice, Monica Edinger gently reminded everyone to be celebratory today. It suddenly occurred to me that, in this age of social media, I wonder if the committees feel the scrutiny? I'm sure that there was plenty of discussion and debate about possible choices in the years before list servs and blogs, but the intensity and immediacy of this online world must have some effect. Hm-m.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What's New? Stacking the Shelves - ALA Edition

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga of Tynga's Reviews. Pop on over to share your new books and ogle what other bloggers got.

The Exhibit Hall is a dangerous place for the greedy. I learned my lesson a few meetings ago and now go with a list of upcoming releases I know I will read in a timely manner. Sure, I usually come home with a few extras, but there is far less guilt evoked when perusing TOM, the tbr "pile."

I shipped most of the arcs yesterday but kept these back to get into the hands of a few fans at school asap!

This one was featured in a WoW post in December:

Aces Wild by Erica S. Perl. 224 p. Random House Children's Books, June, 2013. 9780307931726.

Publisher synopsis: Zelly Fried has finally convinced her parents to let her get a dog, with the help of her grandfather Ace. Unfortunately, said dog (also named Ace) is a shoe-chewing, mud-tracking, floor-peeing kind of dog. Despite Zelly's best efforts to drag Ace (literally!) to puppy kindergarten, his flunking report card says it all: "This Ace is wild."

Also wild is the other Ace in Zelly's life. Grandpa Ace has decided to begin dating again and is dining and dancing every night, against his doctor's orders. Determined to get both Aces under control, Zelly enlists the help of her two best friends, Allison and Jeremy (despite the fact that they don't quite see eye to eye). They need to come up with a plan, fast. But how?  It's not like either Ace ever does what he's told.

The first book, When Life Gives You O.J. developed a bit of a fifth grade cult following last year. One little girl loved it so much, she kept dragging her friends in to check it out. Then, she chose it for her booktalk and did such an impressive job (she even searched out the book trailer all on her own and used it in her talk), that her teacher came to the library to check it out.

While at the HarperCollins booth, I coveted many new titles while waiting to find out if there was an arc of Period 8 by Chris Crutcher available. (Sadly, it was not) I spied this one and absolutely HAD to add it to the pile for one lively student who loves to shoot down all my suggestions during RA. 

The Fourth Stall III by Chris Rylander. 304 p. HarperCollins Publishers, February 5, 2013. 9780062120052.

I finally succeeded in interesting said student with The Fourth Stall early last school year, and he exploded back into the library asking for more like it. (Then shot down everything I suggested.) A few months later, he again burst into the library informing me that there was a sequel and asking to check it out. I hadn't known there was one, looked it up and found that it hadn't been published yet. Dejected, he left the library with slumped shoulders. When the second book did release, he again burst into the library, but I was out of money for the year and suggested that he borrow it from the public library. He ended up buying it and offered to donate his copy to the library, but ended up keeping it. I wonder if he knows that this  is due out? He's a seventh grader now and, come to think of it, I haven't seen too much of him this year. Hm-m.

That's what's new with me for now. Today, I am attending a Disney/ Hyperion, a Walden Media and a Scholastic event, so there will be more books - hopefully not more than I can read. Happy reading!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Little Brown Breakfast/ Preview

When I went to bed last night, it was early-ish Pacific time, but nearly 1:30 AM my body time. I tried to set the alarm in my hotel room because I worried that I would sleep through my 7AM date for breakfast with Little Brown. It was not an intuitive alarm clock so I fell asleep non confident that it would go off. Naturally, I awakened hourly. On this my second day in the lovely city of Seattle, I awoke at 5AM. No need for the alarm, which did go off, after I left at 6:30 in search of coffee. I found that out when I returned with a coffee for the hub, who was attempting to sleep in. Usually, he has no trouble sleeping when I'm up and about. The alarm didn't help.

It's a rainy morning here. Still mild, so I made do with a heavy sweater and set off the four blocks to the Sheraton very, very hungry. Wowsers! The spread was fine, delicious fresh fruit, eggs the way I like them, bacon cooked to perfection and books, books, books.

I always wait until the books have been described to add titles to my collection on TOM, the tbr pile. Invariably, I take more than I can honestly read, but they all sound so good! Sometimes, this strategy can backfire and there aren't any copies left when I decide to add. This happened first thing after the description of The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen. This picture book collaboration between two of the most darkly humorous talents in children's lit is due to be published in April and not to be missed!

Other picture books that appealed were:

A Long Way Away by Frank Viva, the genius who brought us (and I bought for my own personal collection) The Way Home has a story illustrated on one continous piece of art. That's due out in April as well.

Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall made me yearn for my days as a K - 8 librarian and regular read aloud times. This new book by the author of Substitue Creature is due to drop in May and looks to be a fun, zany read aloud that will gently prompt some thinking about reusing, and repurposing amoung it among its audience.

I'm a sucker for anything illustrated by Dan Santat and recognized his signature style across the room. He's illustrating a story by Samantha Berger but clearly has his finger on the pulse of the "lively boy" in all of us.

And that's just the picture books. The middle grade and young adult offerings are equally swoonworthy, but I need to get to a program and FedEx.

I will be back.

Friday, January 25, 2013

ALA Midwinter

Well, I don't expect this post to make much sense as I've been awake for 22 hours. My husband's computer says it's 1:42 AM EST, here in Seattle, it's 10:42 PM. I woke up at 3:30 AM on Friday, January 25, walked the dogs and did some last minute chores. My husband made me promise that I wouldn't wake him before 4, and that he would be ready to leave the house when the driver came a 4:15. I am a perpetually early or on time person and he is perpetually late. He's also a smoker, so spending hours in the airport before boarding is absolute torture for him, so I'm somewhat sympathetic. Plus, we had over 8 hours of travel time today. And, we flew Southwest Airlines for the first time and I had no idea about the boarding procedure. It was interesting.

Anywho, we got to our hotel at 12:30, and wonders of wonders, our room was ready. We headed out on foot, first to the convention center, then to the Pike's Market, where we found this little crepes place and every bite was heaven.

I'm running out of steam now, so I will stop but, I want to get back to a couple of topics:
 - the weather
 - meeting folks randomly
 - Facebook 

Night, night

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Don't know why I checked the author's website, but found this last week and am so psyched! I recently reviewed her amazing debut, Butter.

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange. Bloomsbury, September 3. 2013. 

Synopsis from author's website: Dane Washington doesn’t think he’s a bully. Some guys just need to be put in their place. But Twain High doesn’t see it that way, and Dane is on the brink of getting kicked out of school – until the boy with Down Syndrome moves in across the street.
Billy D. has the power to keep Dane out of trouble, and he’ll do it for a price. Dane has to help Billy D. find his missing dad.
But Billy’s only clue is an atlas full of riddles and towns that don’t appear on most maps. As the boys unravel the clues and get closer to finding Billy’s dad, Dane realizes the biggest riddle of all may be the one Billy D. is keeping to himself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Diego Rivera: an artist for the people by Susan Goldman Rubin

56 P. Harry N. Abrams, February 5, 2013.  9780810984110. (Finished copy provided by publisher.)

This lovely book arrived in the mail for the regional book evaluation that I help coordinate, and I couldn't resist taking a peek before processing it for the next meeting. I hope I can grab it for my library collection.

I knew of Diego Rivera and could identify some of his art, but otherwise knew very little of him, except that he was Frida Kahlo's husband. Teehee. Do you want to know how happy writing that made me? (I must have been channeling Amy Poehler from the Emmys.) 

Okay, back to this lovely biography. It really is lovely. It's slightly oversized and square. Beautifully designed with a pleasing font and little curliques and plenty of photos. A cogent, flowing, readable narrative accompanied by lots of photos of the artist and his work. The author provides historical context within the text as well as at the end. 

Another aside: when I tried to add the entry to my Goodreads account, I couldn't find the book. It's on Goodreads as, The Life and Art of a Genial Cannibal, which just tickled me. It was  probably a good move to change the title, but it sure is attention-grabbing, isn't it?

Non-Fiction Monday: I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. unpgd. Schwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Children's Books, October, 2012. 9780375858871. (Borrowed from the public library.)

I am sure this incredible book is going to appear on a lot of blogs today, Martin Luther King's birthday (observed). It's featured as "The Book of the Day," on the home page of my public library cooperative. 

Kadir Nelson excerpted Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and made the already powerful words zing. Seriously, I want to melt into these paintings. Warmth and energy emanates throughout - whether the painting is a portrait of the King children, anonymous faces in the crowd, or landscapes of the peaks referenced in the peaks.

Make room on those already crowded shelves of material to acknowledge Dr. King. This one's a must-purchase all the way through high school.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull

Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Giants of Science series. 144 p. Viking/ Penguin Group (USA) Inc., October, 2010. 9780670063352. (Purchased.)

Last year was the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and I happened to read a few biographies about him. This one was published two years earlier. How did I miss it? While I am a fan of the author, I haven't read all of the Giants of Science series, nor have I read all of her large body of work. But what I have read, I've found consistently outstanding, accessible and humorous.

This one is no exception. In 144 p. (a perfect length for a biography - makes the LA teachers happy), Ms. Krull covers Darwin's life from his idyllic childhood, through his voyage on the Beagle, his homecoming, marriage and years leading up to his finally publicizing his theories of evolution. Black & white illustrations highlight notable scenes and are frequently humorous. 

Charles Darwin was insatiably curious and loved the outdoors. These traits are valuable traits for a scientist to possess. The author provides valuable historic context for young readers but also makes connections to help them understand why his work continues to be relevant. 

The series is a must purchase. Don't skip this entry, even if you've got a couple of Darwin biographies on the shelf.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga of Tynga's Reviews. Pop on over to share your new books and ogle what other bloggers got.

Well, the PTO had the book fair in my library this week, so it was a bit of a budget buster. I usually end up buying the bulk of my wish list books, plus, I found two interesting older non-fiction titles while rooting through the boxes of books the volunteers decided not to put out. (I actually found many more than two that I was interested in buying. I did make a pile but put them all back.)

The Secret Life of a Snowflake: an up-close look at the art & science of snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht. 48 p. Voyageur Press, January, 2010.  9780760336762. 

Publisher synopsis: Before a snowflake melts on your tongue, it makes an epic journey. This is the beautiful, full-color story of that journey, step by step, from a single snowflake’s creation in the clouds, through its fall to earth, to its brief and sparkling appearance on a child’s mitten. Told by a scientist who knows snowflakes better than almost anyone, the story features his brilliant photographs of real snowflakes, snowflakes forming (in the author’s lab), water evaporating, clouds developing, ice crystals, rain, dew, and frost--all the elements of the world and weather that add up, flake by flake, to the white landscape of winter. Aimed at readers from 6 to 12,The Secret Life of a Snowflake gets to the heart of one of nature’s most magical phenomena while making the wonder of the snowflake all the more real.

Oceans: dolphins, sharks, penguins, and more! by Johnna Rizzo. Introduction by Sylvia A. Earle. 62 p. National Geographic, March, 2010. 9781426306860

Publisher synopsis: Swim with sharks! Dive with dolphins! Stroll the beach with penguins! Young readers will joyfully immerse themselves in this awesome adventure at sea,
in which stunning National Geographic photos reveal hidden worlds of action and beauty. We meet 30 favorite sea creatures and explore their watery homes: playful dolphins, mysterious sharks, graceful sea turtles, waddling penguins, and dozens of others. Kids will marvel at speedy swimmers on the hunt, and smile at cuddly scenes of animal families.
To give background on the attention-grabbing photographs, each page is sprinkled with fun facts and layered with information about ocean wildlife and environments. Age-appropriate text tells each animal’s story in language that’s accurate, lively, and non-intimidating. National Geographic maps encourage kids to learn about the geography of land and sea.
Conservation tips help readers of all ages understand how we can be kind to the oceans.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for Nat Geo and books with beautiful photographs. 

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Happy reading!   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Pieces by Chris Lynch. 176 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Feb. 5, 2013. 9781416927037.

Publisher synopsis: A teen revives the legacy of his lost brother in this compelling novel from the author of Inexcusable, a National Book Award finalist.
When Eric’s brother Duane dies, his world breaks in two. Duane was his best friend—possibly his only friend. And Eric isn’t sure how to live in a world without Duane in it. Desperate to find a piece of his brother to hold on to, Eric decides to meet some of the people who received Duane’s organs.
He expects to meet perfect strangers. Instead he encounters people who become more than friends and almost like family—people who begin to help Eric put the pieces of his life back together for good.

From internationally acclaimed author Chris Lynch comes a gripping and enduring exploration of loss and recovery—and a long-awaited sequel to the celebrated Iceman. (Bold font is mine.)

Huh. It's a sequel. To a book that was published 19 years ago. It's not available in too many of the libraries in my cooperative, but it's order-able, albeit with a dreadful cover. 
It is being reissued with a new cover, which, call me superficial and shallow, I much prefer.

Now, I'd be all over ordering this one, except it's not due to drop until March 5. You read that right. March 5. Say what, Simon & Schuster? Makes no sense to me but I'm the kind of person who likes to read books in order. If I've accidentally dropped into a series, unless I'm totally hooked, I don't often go back to the beginning. Admittedly, this is just one book, but I'm odd like that. Thank goodness for public libraries. I'd still like to hear the marketing strategy behind that one though. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2013 Debuts I Want to Read

TTT is a weekly meme crated and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where they post a question or topic weekly. This week's topic is: Top Ten 2013 Debuts.

Funny coincidence. Just last night, I perused the Goodreads list because it occurred to me that I was a bit slapdash about my Debut Challenge in 2012. There were a number of 2012 debuts left unread, mostly because I didn't have a system. They all got buried in TOM.

Also, I'm trekking to Seattle in less than two weeks for Midwinter and am making a list of arcs I will be seeking.

One thing that occurred to me as I perused the 169 books on the list, was the numbers of "Book #1" in parenthesis after the title. Sigh. I believe I'm suffering from series fatigue. But, I will try and keep an open mind. I'm not sure that I will make ten books but, here goes:

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson. 256 p. Viking Children, July 11, 2013. 9780670784820. 

OCD Love Story by Cory Ann Haydu. 352 p. Simon Pulse, July 23, 2013. 9781442457324.

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagdon. 320 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 26, 2013. 9780547904313.

Rump: the true story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff. 272 p. Random House Children's Books, April 9, 2013. 9780307977946.

That's it. There isn't anymore. Four that jumped out at me. Perhaps I'm not only suffering from series fatigue, maybe I'm in a reading slump because most of those 169 titles just didn't appeal. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Fifty Cents and a Dream: young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim

Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 48 p. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, December, 2012. 9780316086578. (Borrowed from public library.)

Booker T. Washington may have been born into slavery and forbidden to learn to read, but that did not stop him from dreaming or stealing glances at the school books he had to carry for his master's daughter or eavesdropping on her lessons int he school house. The Civil War ended before he was ten, but young Booker had to work to help support his family. Still, his mother presented him with a primer and, when a school for young negroes opened, Booker would work his hours, then rush to the schoolroom. When he learned of a boarding school 500 miles away, he started saving in order to attend, then walked there. By the time he arrived, his meager savings were spent, so he had to find work and start saving again. He eventually found work as a janitor in the school, which helped pay for his room and board. A scholarship was found for him to help pay the tuition. This is the story of a person who refused to let his dreams die.

All this is told in spare, powerful blank verse along the outer edges of each double-page spread. The 1 & 1/4 pages (3/4 page spread) remaining are filled with watercolor collages equally powerful and so stunning that they beg closer examination. Indeed, with each rereading, I have found details missed on earlier readings. And the paper! It's creamy, thick and luscious. 

Additional facts about Booker T. Washington are listed at the end, followed by a timeline of his life, an author's note, an illustrator's note and short bibliography. I was unaware of the controversy surrounding his approach to Civil Rights. I'm happy that the author addressed it. 

I sincerely hope that this gets some serious consideration by the Caldecott committee.