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Viewing Blog: Books 'n' stories, Most Recent at Top
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I post what I think about books, children's and adult's, and what is going on in my life as a librarian and a storyteller.
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1. Feeling Neglected?

I am busy preparing for the Quaker Craft Fair tomorrow. (Oct. 22nd, 2016 from 10 am to 3 pm).  So I have not posted this week.

This does not mean that I stopped reading.  I continue to revisit cozy mysteries from my past with Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series. 

I read Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk.  I owe you a review.  Til then, click through to see what Goodreads folks have to say about this historical middle grade fiction.  My opinion?  Good read.

Well I have to open up the Meeting House at 7 am.  So good night!

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2. The Executioner's Daughter

In  The Excutioner's Daughter  by Jane Hardstaff, Moss is almost 12.  She has lived her whole life in the Tower of London where her father is King Henry VIII's executioner.  Moss's father told her that they must stay in the Tower as punishment for a crime he committed years ago. 

Moss is the basket girl.  She carries the newly chopped off heads from the block to the gates of the Tower where they will be on display.  When she is pressed into service in the kitchen ,she makes friends with the King's latest enemy, an abbot.  The day of the abbot's death, Moss runs away.

In her debut novel, Jane Hardstaff paints a realistic picture of the Tower and the river that flows by it during King Henry VIII's reign. The jacket blurb hints at a touch of fantasy in this otherwise historically accurate book.  The touch of fantasy adds suspense and terror to the sotry of Moss's coming of age.

Moss learns about the flawed nature of people who must struggle to survive.  She also learns about acceptance, love and forgiveness.

The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff is a fine book. 

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3. Once, Twice, Thrice

A little girl "reads" to her father at bedtime.  "One mouse, two mouses, three mouses."

So begins my friend's new picture book, "Once, Twice, Thrice" by Kim Chatel.  Like parents everywhere in the English speaking world, the father explains that when you add one mouse to another mouse, you get two mice.  Are two houses called hice, then?

The father daughter duo explore other irregular plurals in this cleverly written and charmingly illustrated book.  Artist Kathleen Bullock picks just the right color palette for a night time tale.

Besides being a sweet bedtime story, this book will be a winner in primary language arts classes and with ESL teachers. 

Click here to get your own copy.

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4. A Squiggly Story - A New Picture Book - Available Now!

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5. Full of Beans

Jennifer L. Holm returns to Key West during the Depression - the Great One, not the recent turn of the 21st century bank blow-up - just clarifying  - in Full of Beans.

Grown-ups lie.  There you have it.  It's a fact and Beans can give you example after example of how this works.  But as Beans tries to survive a sweltering summer in down and out Key West, he discovers that kids can be deceitful, too.  Even stand-up kids like himself.

Holm did her homework in verifying the New Deal program that turned a worn-out Florida village into a tourist attraction.  Beans calls the government agent a Crazy Man, and lampoons his "underwear" - bermuda shorts - in between marble tournaments and running errands for a shady businessman.  Everyone in town thinks the house paint they are given is ridiculous.

When Bean's plans put his friends in danger, he has to make amends.  He rallies his band of kids to help save Key West.  In an unrelated subplot, Holm reintroduces the miracle diaper rash remedy - somewhat modified - that she mentioned in Turtle in Paradise.

Oh and there's an adorable dog.  Can't lose with a dog in the book.


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6. Life Saving Libraries

My first "real" job was working as a shelver (page) at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.  I was almost 16.  I worked in the Children's room.

It is 50 years later.  I have worked in public libraries (and an academic library and a high school library but those were substitute positions) for 30+ years- and counting.  I have always worked in Children's Departments.  That's where I belong.

This video speaks to the importance of libraries - the importance of reading - the importance of books and most of all, the importance of making access to all three available to everyone.


Libraries save lives.  Gary Paulsen credits a public library for his education.  Thomas Edison read his way through his public library after he left school.

Thanks to Brain Pickings for sharing this story.

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7. The Dark Side? Or Adsense

After 7 years of blogging, I am thinking about "monetizing".  The easiest way is to sign up with Adsense.

This is not the most popular blog out there.  I write when I want.  Sometimes every day for a week.  Sometimes not at all for a month.  So, monetizing might not work for me.

Still, a little extra money would be nice.  They claim that I would have control on the ads they run, etc.

What say you, my eclectic mix of readers?  Do you have experience with this Adsense they speak of?

Should I continue to write this blog for the fun of it?

I await your reply.

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8. Candlewick Press - Moving stories

From my inbox to yours!  Candlewick's Classroom Guide for October includes an annotated book list on immigration stories - about families moving here from far away. (Oh and other cool stuff, as well.)

Find books to share with classes, storytimes and your favorite small listener.  Maybe, you will get a chance to share your own family's story of arrival.


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9. Some Writer - Book Trailer

Some people are lucky.  I received an ARC of this book several months ago.    I will never part with it.  Melissa Sweet has put together a masterpiece about a masterful writer, E. B. White.

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10. Ada Twist, Scientist

STEM, STEAM and girls who do experiments - hearken!  A new scientist is on the block.

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11. Evil Wizards

The Evil Wizard Smallbone   The Evil Wizard Smallbone has some competition in the evil department in this book by Delia Sherman.  But Nick, the runaway who takes refuge with the old, smelly, grumpy and wicked wizard, has to do some heavy duty sleuthing - and endless chores - to get to the bottom of Smallbone's dastardly behavior.

The setting is backwoods Maine where the coyotes are numerous and the wolves rule the forest - some on motorcycle.  The small village of Smallbone Cove depends on the evil wizard for their protection against, what, exactly?  Here is part of the mystery.  Another part is why so many of Smallbone Cove's residents look so similar and how some of the residents can be as old as they say they are. 

An odd mix of werepeople, selkie legends, the reversing of spells, and ancient badness come together in a delightful fantasy.  I loved the ending.  And I thoroughly enjoyed the ride there.  I also liked the smart alecky books that plague Nick as he searches for answers.  That boy is too curious.

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12. Ibuprofin and a cool wet blindfold

In the last 48 hours I have read:

The Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long;   (fairy tale style fantasy, pretty good) 3 1/2 stars

The Black Dragon : Mysterium #1 by Julian Sedgwick;  (rock 'em, sock 'em, fast-paced underworld crime novel set in Hong Kong to be continued, of course.) 3 stars

The Storyteller by Aaron Starmer; (last of what may be a psychological thriller trilogy, or it may be a study in mental illness, or alternative fiction.  This entry is good enough to read to the very end but I don't need to know what went before.) 3 stars

Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Stevenson.  (friendship/family relationship novel.  I just finished this one and am tempted to say more.  Tragedy rears it's ugly tissue wielding head at the end.  Sigh.) 3 stars

Earlier this week, I finished As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds( No one has a terminal illness in this book.  YAY!!!!!  Two city boys spend the summer at the family farm with their dad's parents.  Family stuff, brother stuff, city boys in the country stuff and growing up stuff.) 3 1/2 stars

Mayday by Karen Harrington.  (Uncle dies.  Family flies to funeral.  Mom and son are in airplane accident.  Granddad is sick.  There you have it.)  3 1/2 stars

Oh and a little cozy mystery novella and I started an Aunt Dimity novel that I never read. 

My eyes hurt.

But let me say this.  I have decided that I will fight the urge to give any book that deals with C.A.N.C.E.R. more than 3 1/2 stars.  As a survivor, I am well and truly tired of books that use cancer to manipulate their readers.  The book better have me prostrate on the floor weeping; or feeling so uplifted I want to sing before I will give it 4 or 5 stars.  But, that's just me.

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13. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston Book Trailer

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14. Wookiee the Chew

I LOVE Winnie the Pooh - the REAL Winnie the Pooh.  I have read the books too many times to count and Milne's poems are the only ones that I can recite reliably.

And now I love Wookiee the Chew, an illustrative meme by artist James Hance.   When you visit Hance's website, you will see he likes to re-imagine EVERYTHING as Star Wars.  Why not?  Star Wars is as close to a religion as some people get.

Hance wrote a book about Wookiee the Chew and his friends and the website for that book is here .

I can't share any of the images - copyright and all that  - but when you see them, you will understand my infatuation.

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15. Wonder Women

Sam Maggs has written a fun collected biography (as we call them in the library trade) about women in science, medicine, innovation, espionage and adventure titled - wait for it - Wonder Women.

Maggs writing style is up-to-the minute and whip smart.  I'm only one third through this book and my mind is totally boggled.  Without flipping another page, I would give this book 5 stars.  Maggs searched long and hard and found women heroes from Asia, Europe and the Americas, of all colors and persuasions.  Her mini-bios between segments - Maggs arranges the books by the various disciplines cited above - give peeks into the lives of other accomplished women.  Maggs also includes interviews with women professionals who work in those disciplines.

Anyway, I am so excited by this book's content and writing style that I couldn't wait to tell you all about it.  Thanks to Sam and to Quirk Books for offering this title.  Not out til October!  You can pre-order it here  (This is not an affiliate link.  I just don't like Amazon all that much.), or order from your favorite bookseller.  Don't let ME tell you what to do.

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16. Changes.

Tomorrow, the little girl starts kindergarten.  This will reduce our little girl time to 2 or 3 hours a day.  Am I happy?  Actually, um, no.  She has a lot of playing left.  And I am not all that enamored of our public education system.  

Still, she is ready.  But who will play with me during those extra hours? 

Everybody else keeps growing up!!!

In The Secret of Goldenrod, Trina is almost 11 and entering fifth grade and her father is so embarrassing.  They are off to refurbish Goldenrod, a stately home in the middle of nowhere, that has been empty for almost a century.  Unlike their other jobs that kept them busy for a month or two, Goldenrod will take a whole year and Trina will have finally time to make friends.  She hopes her mother will stop gallivanting around the world and finally return to the family. 

Then she sees the old house in a field of yellow weeds, and the house doesn't want them there.

A hidden room, a forgotten dollhouse and its tiny doll, a nasty schoolmate and a small town with secrets add up to a great story.

Author Jane O'Reilly sets this up as a convincing haunted house story, but with the discovery of the dollhouse things begin to change.   The last few chapters are the best as they pull everything together and give a happy ending that is also unexpected.

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17. Oh my!

Have I been gone that long?

I picked up three more hours at the library for which I work.  I have done a smattering of storytelling engagements. - but enough to keep me busy and distracted.  I have read.  A lot.  Mostly eBooks.  Because actually budging to go to a library once I get home is just too much work.

So...The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.    The writing in this book swept me well into the fray.  There is a village.  Every year, that village leaves the newest baby deep in the forest as a sacrifice? gift? to the evil wicked awful witch.

And there is a forest wherein dwells an old witch, a swamp monster whose importance can only be imagined and a dragon who never seems to grow older.

The witch gathers up each child, - always wondering why the villagers leave the infants there but never wondering for very long, - and carries the infant to the other side of the forest where loving adoptive parents wait.  The witch feeds each child on starlight.

Meanwhile, in the village there is grieving and sadness and someone who feeds on both.

One day,  the witch falls asleep and the infant in her arms feeds on moonlight... and everything is changed.  

This is a novel about oppression and parenthood - which really are NOT the same thing.  The witch finds parenting her moonfed child harder than she could imagine.   The novel is also about questioning the status quo and about powerful people who are parasites.  And the novel is about pain.

The novel is also a bit more complicated than I wanted it to be.  It all fits together nicely in the end. 

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18. A month? Or a lifetime?

I wrote this post a month ago.  More storytelling stuff has happened.  More books have been read and more wizard stories have been acted out.  I am NOT just twiddling my thumbs... 

If you pay attention, you will note that I posted over a month ago.  Well, it has been quite the month.  Personal stuff:
1.  Son and his family moved home; bought a house; son got new job; found a day care for the little one; lived in our apartment for two long, eventful and adorable weeks.
2. Nope.  No.  #1 is quite enough.

 Storytelling stuff:
1.  Group performance in Woodbury NJ. Thanks to good tellerfriend, Ingrid Bohn,
for driving
2.  Arts Day at Thos. Jefferson Elementary.  So much fun!

1.  The Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale; many other picture books; and "A Chinese Fairy Tale" from the Junior Classics - all of these out loud.
2. Some Charlotte MacLeod Sarah Kelling/ Max Bittersohn mysteries.  It is wonderful to revisit old favorites as if I never read them at all.  Memory loss has an upside.
3.  Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle.  Just closed the book half an hour ago.  Lovely writing.  Thoughtful look at the confusion of young teenager hood and the pull to always believe in magic.  The book mirrors how I feel after having the little girl here from early morning until bedtime and then, poof!.  Honestly, I don't know what to do with myself or what is real anymore.

Well, we play a lot of make believe, the little girl and I.  I tell her stories that pop into my head and if she likes them, we act them out - over and over and over again.

There has been a rash of foolish wizards turning fairies into flowers and animals because they love animals and flowers and have no idea how those things occur in the REAL world.  We have reached chapter 13 or 14. I am sure I missed one or two when I wrote them down.  The last chapter was the best.  Tell you more later.

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19. Princesses Don't Wear Black???

FPO ImageI just discovered The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale with illustrations by LeUyen Pham!  I'm in extreme LIKE!!!  This series for our youngest chapter book readers is funny and feeds into the princess-mania that makes some grandmothers - those who came of age in the 1960s, for instance - break out in rashes.  Princess Magnolia is dimply, pink and perfect UNTIL the kingdom's goats are threatened by MONSTERS.  And then, she and her unicorn, Frimplepants, transform into an amazing duo of monster repelling powers.  I love the name Frimplepants.  Just saying.

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20. Love this trailer, please.

Please, love this clever book trailer about How This Book Was Made  by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex was made.

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21. Prison life

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook  by Leslie Connor has a good chance of being my favorite book of the year - Top 5, for sure.

Perry was born and raised in Blue River Co-Educational Correctional Institute.  His mother discovered she was pregnant after she was incarcerated.  The warden had herself named as the foster parent in order to keep Perry and his mom together.

That's the thing about Blue River.  Warden Daugherty believes in treating the residents fairly and with respect.  The residents, most of them, return the respect and work together to overcome the flaws that landed them in jail.

Perry has attended public school his entire life.  But when he enters middle school, someone decides he needs a "real" family.  Finally "outside", Perry only wants to be back with his mother and his family at Blue River.

A school project on local history gives Perry a chance to get the whole story behind his mother's arrest and sentence.   His research opens the eyes of at least one classmate.

When he suspects that someone who claims to be looking into his mother's case is talking through his hat, Perry devises a genius "trap".  

I suggest that you locate your tissues before you get too far into this book.  There are several moving melancholy scenes in here.

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22. The authors are coming!! The authors are coming!!!

Emily is just one of FOUR awesome children's authors at the KU Children's lit Conference

 This is the latest that I have ever gone in finishing my KU Children's Literature Conference booklist.  I am embarrassed at the lateness.  But it IS done - except for the inevitable addendum or addenda.  Maybe I'll skip those this year.  And you can find it here.

You can find the KUCLC's website here, too.  Show up early (7:30 to 8:30 am) on Saturday if you haven't pre-registered.  The cost is ONLY $50 for a day of children's book fantasticality!  This year Kutztown hosts Daniel Kirk, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Emily Arnold McCully and Jonathan Bean.

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23. Scraps

Today was a Rube Goldberg day.  Instead of moving in an orderly fashion from one task to the next, I started one task, noticed something that led me to another task.  Wait!  Here's how it all worked out.

I wanted to tape the baseboard in my office so I could prime the walls (1). 
But I had to hang up two jackets (2) which made me open the closet door.
Then I remembered that I needed to fit a large bin into that closet, so I had to reorganize the floor space (3).
The bed linens that I keep on the closet shelf needed reorganizing(4), so I did that.
By then, I had several items that had to be moved to the attic. (5)
That done, I returned to the office to finish taping the baseboard. (1a).  But some plaster was loosened in the process.  So I had to clean and spackle that section (6).
Remember that large bin?  There was a smaller bin on top of it full of books that needed to be shelved(7).
While looking for space for those books, I found an old steno pad.

On the steno pad were notes for a story titled "Rupert & Ivy".  The notes were fairly detailed, including three questions and rhyming answers.   Did I write these notes?  Or was I describing something I read?  Oh, to have a young memory once again!

I searched for Rupert & Ivy online but nothing came up.  And Rupert is one of my all time favorite character names.  And the ending was very vague in a "to-be-continued" sort of way.  I wrote it.

That steno pad had another story scrap -  dialogue between a brother and sister left on a new England island for the summer.

It isn't a steno pad at all.  It is a treasure chest with pieces of my memory within.  This is why I have notebooks and binders piled around me.  I might find three questions with the answers in rhyme.

BTW, I got the baseboard taped.  Maybe I'll prime the walls tomorrow - if I don't unearth another treasure.

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24. Thanks, Conan Doyle

A Study in Charlotte  by Brittany Cavallaro   Jamie Watson gets a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a boarding school not far from his estranged father's home in Connecticut.  Charlotte Holmes is also a student there.  Jamie has followed Charlotte's exploits since they were both kids.  Jamie's father knows EVERYTHING about the Holmes family. 
When someone tries to frame Jamie and Charlotte for the murder of a Sherringford student, their families' generations long connection is reignited.  Charlotte shares her famous forebear's skills at observation and his deductive reasoning AND his skill on the violin.  Alas, that is not all she has in common with great-great-great-whatever Sherlock. 
The crimes that she and Watson - also a great-great-great-whatever of Dr. John Watson - investigate reference some of Holmes' most famous cases.  Holmes and Watson are in serious danger here.  Explosions, poisons, muggings, chases, - THIS is the beginning of a beautiful book series.

Honestly, what would modern mystery fiction do without Holmes and Watson?

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25. Painting Pepette Book Trailer

Sorry for my absence.  Here's a book trailer to apologize.

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