Thursday, October 31, 2013

Taking Stock

Well, where did October go!? 

Total posts: 10
Total books read this month: 28
Total books read this year: 344 (behind on my Goodreads Challenge for 2013)

Audio Books: 4/ 61
Debut Author: 3/ 23
Mount TBR Challenge: 0/ 17
Picture Books: 11/ 69

The Good: It was good to get a batch of picture books in. 

The Bad: Even fewer posts this month and I still didn't review much even though I read some really good books. My brain is filled with fuzz.

The Books:
317. Trouper by Meg Kearney (10/2)
318. The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward (10/3)
319. Ruby Redfort Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Childs (10/6)
320. Rotten Pumpkin by David M. Schwartz (10/7)
321. Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch (10/7)
322. A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo (10/8)
323. Little White Duck: a childhood in China by Na Liu (10/8)
324. Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond (10/8)
325. All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry (10/10)*
326. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (10/11)
327. The King's Equal by Katherine Paterson (10/16)
328. Tides by Betsy Cornwall (10/18)
329. From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos (10/18)
330. The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner (10/23)*
331. Train by Elisha Cooper (10/23)
332. Here I am by Patti Kim (10/23)*
333. Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan (10/25)
334. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (10/27)
335. Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett (10/28)*
336. Animal Life by Jean F. Blashfield (10/28)
337. Unhinged by A.G. Howard (10/29)
338. Smash: Trial by Fire by Chris A. Bolton (10/29)
339. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (10/31)
340. Beekle: the unimaginary friend by Dan Santat (10/31)
341. Dog Vs. Cat by Chris Gall (10/31)
342. This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris (10/31)
343. No Nap! Yes, Nap by Margie Palatini (10/31)
344. It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr (10/31)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Cress

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

Cress by Marissa Meyer. (Lunar Chronicles #3) 560 p. Feiwel & Friends, February 2, 2014.  9780312642976.

Publisher synopsis: None available yet, but this interview with the author at USA Today is interesting. 

This reminds me that Scarlet is still on TOM. I need to get to it. 

What are you waiting on?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner

with photographs by Scott Tuason. 76 p. Scientists in the Field series. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 5, 2013. 9780547716381.

In another stellar entry in the Scientists in the Field series, Pamela S. Turner travels to Australia to spend time on a boat named the Pomboo with Janet Mann, a scientist who has been studying dolphins for the Shark Bay dolphin Project for twenty-five years.

Dolphins in captivity have shown they are smart by learning a variety of tricks meant to entertain humans. Janet Mann's quest has been to study dolphins in the wild to determine just how smart dolphins are. In Shark Bay, some of the dolphins began using tools, in this case a sponge, while foraging for food. What does this mean? Why aren't all the dolphins using tools? What does the use of tools mean evolutionarily for dolphins? Do dolphins have culture?

Mann and her team follow the dolphins and observe and meticulously record their observations. They don't feed the dolphins and try to remain unobtrusive. They do know these dolphins and their personalities quite well and do have their favorites. 

Author Turner highlights scientist Mann's work in an engaging conversational manner. Readers get up close and personal with quite a few dolphins as they go about birthing, hunting, mating and surviving. As usual, the lively text is accompanied by many crisp, full-color, well-captioned photographs.

Concluding pages feature more dolphin facts, suggested further reading and updates on both the humans and dolphins featured in the book.

Truly a must-purchase addition. Get this one into the hands of your animal-loving fact hounds asap.

Non-Fiction Monday is hosted by Booktalking#kidlit today. Hop on over there to read a round-up of non-fiction.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I didn't catch how many years Bookfest, in its many incarnations has been going on, but it has been a long time and it has been back at Bankstreet for the past four years. I have attended three of them. I had to skip last year's due to a conflict. I went to many when it was down at the main branch of NYPL. It is an event that never fails to recharge me. Here's a short recap of today's.

After a short welcome by Jenny Brown, Director of the Center for Children's Literature, Lindsey Wyckoff, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at the Bankstreet College Library interviewed Philip Nel, scholar and author of the blog Nine Kinds of Pie as well as a biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss.

Harold and the Purple Crayon occupies a special place in my heart ever since I had to read it nightly to #4 son, along with The Grouchy Lady Bug and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In fact, I could probably recite the entire text of Harold. I have a video of #4 son at 20 months or so reciting it. Only, I learned later that the sound was shot on the camera.

So, I was very interested to learn all the tidbits Phil shared and really must read the biography.

Notable quote: "Purple is the color of adventure." Crockett Johnson upon being asked why the color purple.

Next up was a panel entitled, Visual Storytelling for Middle Grades, moderated by Betsy Bird. The panelists were Grace Lin, author of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; Nathan Hale, author of the hysterical and informative Hazardous Tales series; Jeff Mack, a new author to me of playful picture books and another new author to me, Henry Neff, author of the Tapestry series.

Most of the discussion centered around what to call their books - illustrated novel? What? Nathan Hale cracked everyone up by saying, "funny books." Jeff Mack likes graphic novel.

Notable quote: "It's all Babymouse's Fault." Nathan Hale on three color graphic novels.

Bookfest wouldn't be Bookfest without the breakout sessions. This year, there were so many interesting sessions to choose from, but I settled on Why I Love YA, moderated by Luann Toth. She chose: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr; Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles; Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell; All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry and A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. I must confess that I did not get to A Corner of White, but it's next up on the pile to be read with my ears. I think I'm going to like it because my librarian sister loved it and I've enjoyed Moriarty's books in the past. The discussion was frank and funny and the hour passed very quickly.

Lunch was a delicious sandwich on fresh focaccia along with a tasty salad and lemon bars for dessert. I sat with two middle school librarians, one of whom was in my discussion group and one of whom needed a place to sit. Another perk to attending the event solo - meeting new folks.

We received little fans with a picture of toast upon entering the auditorium for the afternoon sessions. These were used to toast Amelia Bedelia on her 50th birthday and Happy Birthday was sung. The panelists included Herman Parish, nephew of the late Peggy Parish and author of subsequent Amelia Bedelia books, Gretchen Seibel, wife of the late artist, Fritz Seibel, Sylvie le Floch, art director, Virginia Duncan, editor at Greenwillow Books.

The final panel was entitled, The Value of Words & Pictures in Information Books. Jenny Brown moderated a panel that included Jen Bryant, author; Melissa Sweet, author & illustrator; Brian Floca, author & illustrator and Christopher Myers, author & illustrator. Each spoke about their research process, facts as constraint or liberation. Christopher Myers was hysterically funny but also profoundly deep. He insisted that facts are a kind of story.

Finally, the keynote speech by Kate DiCamillo moved me to swallow back tears more than once as she reflected on vacuums, squirrels and dying mothers.

Sorry, no pictures. I forgot my camera. The goody bag included some great books and arcs. All in all, a most satisfactory day for this lover of literature for young people.

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.

For review:

Unhinged by A.G. Howard. 400 p. Amulet Books, January 7, 2014. 9781419709715.

Publisher synopsis: Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school.
That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.
Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what’s right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard’s bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll’s classic.

The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus. 240 p. Scholastic Inc. September, 2013. 9780439912990.

Publisher synopsis: Failing math but great at writing, Gregory finds the poetry (and humor) in what's hard.
Gregory K is the middle child in a family of mathematical geniuses. But if he claimed to love math? Well, he'd be fibbing. What he really wants most is to go to Author Camp. But to get his parents' permission he's going to have to pass his math class, which has a probability of 0. THAT much he can understand! To make matters worse, he's been playing fast and loose with the truth: "I LOVE math" he tells his parents. "I've entered a citywide math contest!" he tells his teacher. "We're going to author camp!" he tells his best friend, Kelly. And now, somehow, he's going to have to make good on his promises.
Hilariously it's the "Fibonacci Sequence" -- a famous mathematical formula! -- that comes to the rescue, inspiring Gregory to create a whole new form of poem: the Fib! Maybe Fibs will save the day, and help Gregory find his way back to the truth.
For every kid who equates math with torture but wants his own way to shine, here's a novel that is way more than the sum of its parts.

Terminal by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. Tunnels #6.  Scholastic Inc., October 29, 2013. 9780545379636.

Publisher synopsis: The end to end all ends: The epic finale to the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling TUNNELS series!
Total Termination of the English: The Styx and their lethal cohorts of Armagi will settle for nothing less. Not even the mighty US military is strong enough to stop the assault!
Will and Elliott flee back underground, down to the innards of the Earth first mapped in DEEPER and FREEFALL. With the support of a small team that survived the plague of New Germania, they discover a secret at the site of the three core pyramids. A secret that may explain not only where the Styx came from, but the human race, too. Can Elliott, with her mixed blood, unlock the clues before Earth itself spins out of orbit?
All the many threads of the prior TUNNELS books come together in this epic conclusion!

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

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Hansel and Gretel Illustrated by Sybille Schenker

Wow is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

52 p. minedition, December 1, 2013. 9789888240548.

Publisher synopsis: This tale of children in peril has timeless appeal, and the breathtaking illustrations will find a discriminating audience
This stunning edition of the classic fairy tale makes brilliant use of translucent paper and silhoutte-like illustrations to enliven every page. “Once upon a time, there lived a poor woodcutter with his wife and two children, Hansel and Gretel . . .” and so begins the thrilling story of two children relying on their wits to survive in a hostile world. Sybille Schenker’s evocative and exquisite illustrations bring a unique beauty and graphic excellence to a timeless favorite.
Another thanks to Betsy Bird for the heads up on this one. Visit her post for a very cool trailer or click here. Love!
What are you waiting on?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Memes - Tides by Betsy Cornwell

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

Tides by Betsy Cornwell. 293 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June, 2013. 9780547927725.

Publisher synopsis: When high school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don't expect much in the way of adventure. Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning. This dreamlike, suspenseful story—deftly told from multiple points of view—dives deeply into selkie folklore while examining the fluid nature of love and family.

First line: The color at the bottom is so deep, there are few who would call it blue.

Page 56: "I can't believe-to think I trusted you to stay"-Maebh's chair tipped and clattered to the floor as she stood. She crossed the room in a few wide steps and grabbed Mara by the arm. "How many times have I told you?" she demanded. "Goddess, Mara, I need you safe. I need to know you're safe, always."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Candy Smash by Jaqueline Davies

232 p. (The Lemonade War series #4) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group, January, 2013. 9780544022089.

Fourth grade continues for Jessie and Evan Treski. As Valentine's Day rolls around, Jessie is trying to come up with ideas for her extra credit newspaper and Evan is discovering that he loves poetry. He's even attempting to write some, secretly. He's also noticing that Megan is looking pretty good but gets embarrassed when his friends tease him about having a crush on her.

Then, candy hearts begin showing up on everyone's desk and no one knows who's doing it. Everyone seems to be getting personal messages but Evan.

This summary really does no justice to this installment in The Lemonade War series. It's probably my favorite one in that Evan's journey is so carefully crafted. Each chapter begins with a definition, mostly about the craft of writing, such as onomatopoeia, and personification and such. Ms. Overton had recently instituted a "Poem of the Day." Evan felt "they were like music, and they made something deep inside of him go zing."

The poem that the class dissects is one by e.e. cummings and Jessie has an instantaneous dislike to it for its "mistakes." Ms. Overton leads the class in a discussion about the poem that is instructive but also feels real. Evan has some problems reading and really appreciates the fact that not only does Ms. Overton read the poem, but goes over it line by line so that he can read it to himself later. He always finds a way to sneak a copy of each poem to take home without anyone knowing.

The brother/ sister dynamics are complicated what with Jessie being accelerated into Evan's class in fourth grade. She's also a bit opinionated, tends to miss social cues, and very right-brained. She is sensitive to her brother's feelings though and does try to toe the line, especially at school.

Fans of the previous books will happily devour this one. It can stand alone quite nicely though. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

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.

For review:

The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner. With photographs by Scott Tuason. Scientists in the Field series. 76 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 5, 2013. 9780547716381.

Publisher synopsis: Ride alongside the author Pamela S. Turner and her scientific team and meet a cast of dolphin characters large enough (and charismatic enough) to rival a Shakespearean play—Puck, Piccolo, Flute, and Dodger among them. You will fall in love with this crew, both human and finned, as they seek to answer the question: just why are dolphins so smart? And what does their behavior tell us about human intelligence, captive animals, and the future of the ocean? Beautiful photos of dolphins in their natural habitat and a funny, friendly, and fast-paced text make this another winner in the Scientists in the Field series.

I am so excited to have received this one. This series is an automatic purchase for me. Each one is unique and exciting.


From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos. Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs. Read by the author. Macmillan Audio, September, 2013. 9781427233134.

Publisher synopsis: Jack Gantos' rocket-paced follow-up to the Newbery Medal–winning novel Dead End in Norvelt opens in the 1960s, deep in the shadow of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis. But instead of Russian warheads, other kinds of trouble are raining down on young Jack Gantos and his utopian town of Norvelt in western Pennsylvania. After an explosion, a new crime by an old murderer, and the sad passing of the town’s founder, twelve-year-old Jack will soon find himself launched on a mission that takes him hundreds of miles away, escorting his slightly mental elderly mentor, Miss Volker, on her relentless pursuit of the oddest of outlaws. But as their trip turns south in more ways than one, it’s increasingly clear that the farther from home they travel, the more off-the-wall Jack and Miss Volker’s adventure becomes. From Norvelt to Nowhere is a raucous road novel about roots and revenge, a last chance at love, and the power of a remarkable friendship.

I really enjoyed Gantos' performance of his Newbery winning Dead End in Norvelt and just had to get the audio version of its sequel.

Atlantis Rising by T. A. Barron. 373 p. Philomel Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September, 2013. 9780399257575. 

Publisher synopsis: In a magical land called Ellegandia, a young boy named Promi scrapes by, stealing pies, cakes and sweets to survive. But little does he know that his country is a pawn in an ages-old war between good and evil, battled both in the spirit realm and in the human world. Harboring secrets of his own, Promi teams up with a courageous girl named Atlanta and the two vow to save their land—and each other—no matter the cost. But their vow has greater repercussions than they ever could imagine—in fact, it may just bring about the creation of Atlantis, an island cut off from the rest of the world, where magic reigns supreme.

Purchased this one through a Colorado indie so I could get an autographed copy. 

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Taking Stock - September

Whoa! It's October 2 already! 

Total posts: 15
Total books read this month: 28
Total books read this year: 316

Audio Books: 2/ 57
Debut Author: 2/ 20
Mount TBR Challenge: 0/ 17
Picture Books: 6/ 57

The Good: Well, school started up again with all its busy, busy times. It was good to get a batch of picture books in. 

The Bad: I didn't review much and I read some really good books.

The Books:

289. Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (9/4)
290. Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine (9/4)
291. The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (9/5)
292. The Saturday Boy by David Fleming (9/7)*
293. Living with Jackie Chan (9/8)*
294. Of Triton by Anna Banks (9/9)
295. Bluffton by Matt Phelan (9/10)
296. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (9/14)
297. The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Book One: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammso (9/15)
298. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick (9/19)*
299. 15 Minutes by Steve Young (9/19)
300. The Candy Smash by Jacqueline Davies (9/20)
301. The Adventures of Jo Schmo: Shifty Business (9/21)
302. Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (9/22)
303. Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (9/23)*
304. Fox Forgets by Suzanne Bloom (9/24)
305. How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton (9/24)
306.  Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand (9/24)
307. The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting (9/24)
308. See What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth (9/24)
309. Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock (9/24)
310. Meeting Cezanne by Michael Morpurgo (9/25)
311. The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neill (9/25)
312. Scorpions! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle (9/25)
313. Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch (9/25)
314. Grumpy Cat: a Grumpy Book (9/26)
315. True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp by Kathi Appelt (9/27)
316. Ship out of Luck by Neal Shusterman (9/28)

Waiting on Wednesday - Lair of Dreams: a Diviners Novel by Libba Bray

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

The Lair (A Diviners Novel) by Libba Bray. 608 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 22, 2013. 978031612605.

Publisher synopsis: After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...
Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

If you haven't yet read The Diviners, you simply must. I adored it. I think the cover redesign is very cool, but I really liked the original. I wonder what prompted the change.