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26. Listening to George, part 6

If you want to follow along with this project, all related posts are tagged George Strait Project.

Today, I'm starting with Easy Come, Easy Go, George Strait's fourteenth album.  There were four singles released from this album: "Easy Come, Easy Go," "I'd Like To Have That One Back," "Lovebug," and "The Man In Love With You." I remember when each of these was 'new.' Easy Come, Easy Go is great fun to sing along with. But. The Man In Love With You is probably my favorite from the four singles.
I'm not the hero, who will always save the day
Don't always wear the white hat, won't always know the way
I may not even be the dream, you wanted to come true
But, I'll always be the man in love with you 
Other songs on the album include: "Stay Out of My Arms," "Just Look At Me," "I Wasn't Fooling Around," "Without Me Around," "That's Where My Baby Feels At Home," and "We Must Be Loving Right."

I really LOVE "Stay Out of My Arms" and "Just Look At Me." But for some reason I've really fallen for his "I Wasn't Fooling Around."
I wasn't fooling around, everything's true what I say.
So take me seriously, darlin, please just take me.
I wasn't fooling around.
Laugh if you want to, but I wasn't joking
About this love that's real.
Is it surprising I'm romanticizing about the way I feel.
As I've been listening to George Strait, there are times when I just get the strong impression that Michael Buble should do a George-Strait inspired cover album. I'm not thinking Amarillo by Morning or The Cowboy Rides Away. But I think he could really do a great cover of We Must Be Loving Right.

Lead On is George Strait's fifteenth album. (It was my first George Strait album.) Four singles were released from this album: "The Big One," "You Can't Make A Heart Love Somebody," "Adalida," and "Lead On." Of the singles, if I had to choose just one, I'd go with Lead On. But really, why would I ever have to?!
"Lead On" is one of those songs that get an emotional response from me within seconds of hearing the opening notes. (The Chair is another great example of that.)
She said I don't recall
Seeing you around here
You must be new to this town
Said, I'm just passin through
But, girl from the looks of you I
Could see me settling down
The she smiled and said the invitations open
Cause you look just like what I've been waiting on.
So I said why don't we take
This matter somewhere else
And get to know this feeling that's so strong
Lead on
For those who are NOT familiar with the song, there is a twist revealed as the song goes on. So it's not two complete strangers getting way too friendly, way too fast.

Other songs include "I Met A Friend of Yours Today," "Nobody Has To Get Hurt," "Down Louisiana Way," "What Am I Waiting For," "I'll Always Be Loving You," and "No One But You." Of those, I really LOVE "Nobody Has To Get Hurt."

In between the album Lead On and Blue Clear Sky, he released a four disc box set called Strait Out of the Box. Singles released from this box set include the hits "Check Yes or No" and "I Know She Still Loves Me." In addition to his hits, it also includes rare tracks like some of his recordings from the 1970s before he got signed with a major record label. Songs like I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This. Another track from this album is "Any Old Love Won't Do."

Blue Clear Sky is George Strait's sixteenth album. The four singles from this album include: "Blue Clear Sky," "Carried Away," "I Can Still Make Cheyenne," and "King of the Mountain." I love Blue Clear Sky.
Here she comes a walkin' talkin' true love
Sayin' I been lookin' for you love
Surprise your new love has arrived
Out of the blue clear sky.
Other songs from this album include: "Rockin' in the Arms of Your Memory," "She Knows When You're On My Mind," "I Ain't Never Seen No One Like You," "Do the Right Thing," "I'd Just As Soon Go," and "Need I Say More."

My favorite of those is "I Ain't Never Seen No One Like You." But I also like "I'd Just As Soon Go."

Carrying Your Love With Me is George Strait's seventeenth album. Four songs from this album were released as singles: "One Night At A Time," "Carrying Your Love With Me," "Today My World Slipped Away," and "Round About Way." If you look at it, it's a representative sampling of what you'll find in country music. I do love "Carrying Your Love With Me." That song should probably be my favorite. But if I'm honest, I have to go with "One Night At A Time." Once again, I blame it on the music--both the melody and the instruments.
I'm not yours, and, baby, you're not mine
We've got something and it sure is fine
Let's take our love one night at a time
There's one thing that we both agree
I like you, and, baby, you like me
Let's take our love one night at a time
Other songs on the album include: "She'll Leave You With A Smile," "Won't You Come Home (And Talk to A Stranger)," "I've Got a Funny Feeling," "The Nerve," "That's Me (Every Chance I Get)," and "A Real Good Place to Start." I find it interesting that on this particular album, I really prefer the non-singles to the singles.

I have four favorite songs from this album: "I've Got A Funny Feeling," "That's Me (Every Chance I Get)," "A Real Good Place to Start," and "Won't You Come Home (And Talk to a Stranger)."
Still reelin' from a relationship
That left me torn in two
Tryin' to find that first step
That leads to someone new
Gettin' me back together
Didn't know it could be so hard
But if I'm ever gonna mend this broken heart
You look like a real good place to start
I need a new beginning
And girl you fit right in
Sometimes a new beginning
Is found in an old friend
If I'm ever gonna mend this broken heart
You look like a real good place to start
I've got a funny feeling somebody's stealin' my honey
Lord I love that child, love to see her smile
But these circumstances ain't funny
Where lies a danger, is he a stranger or a pal
I've got a funny feeling somebody's stealing my gal
Wherever he is, well I'm callin' his bluff
I'm gonna start wearin' that good smellin' stuff
And I'll be the lover that I used to be
Whatever she's missin', she'll get it from me
Picture a fellow with his boots shined up
A new coat of clean on his pick-up truck
Ringin' your doorbell thinkin' about love
Hey honey that's me
That's me with a capital M
That's me ten times ten
I ain't worked up my courage yet
But that's me every chance I get
Picture a fellow at a picture show
His arm around you in the very last row
Stealin' a kiss as the credits roll
Yeah honey that's me

I do think it's slightly ironic that "Won't You Come Home (And Talk To A Stranger)" comes right before "Today My World Slipped Away" on the album. As if the guy did not come home and shape up fast enough....leading to a divorce.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. My poetry decade

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I set up this blog and started posting! My goodness, that has flown by fast. I've been trying to decide what to do to celebrate, but have been so busy with fun summer stuff, I haven't had a moment. Isn't that how life (and blogging) goes? How do we maintain our social media life while actually LIVING our lives? So, I thought I might pause to ponder what I've learned in my last 10 years-- a glimpse at how poetry for young people has evolved in the last decade, filtered through my own tiny lens, of course. As it turns out, this is my 811th post-- which is the Dewey decimal number (811) for the poetry section at the library! (Only someone who works in the library field would love that serendipity as much as me!) Here we go.

1. Since posting on July 14, 2006, I have added blogging to my writing life and learned (some) discipline in posting--usually every Friday and daily for the month of April, National Poetry Month. This is the same year that Kelly Herold started "Poetry Friday" on her blog-- and it has definitely caught hold and gained popularity. I LOVE THAT! And in case you missed it, poet Janet Wong and I grabbed hold of that concept and have published several teaching anthologies with "Poetry Friday" at the center-- hoping people who don't already love poetry will give it a try on Friday.

2. I have learned about the work of so many poets in the last ten years-- met them, presented together, promoted their work, and continue expanding my own awareness of how many new writers are creating wonderful poetry for young readers. Just look at the list and links to 99 poets here in the sidebar on my blog-- and if I have missed some poets (who write for young people), please let me know. So many teachers, librarians, and parents only know the names of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky (both very popular and appealing, of course), and they have no idea that there are so many other great poets out there. I love surprising them with all the other great writers I know!

3. I hope I have helped connect poets with each other too! Poetry (and writing in general) can be a solitary business, so I really enjoy helping poets "meet" other poets-- a fantastic mutual admiration society.  I created a "Poet to Poet" series with regular installments (and more to come) in which one poet asks another poet questions about her/his new work. I find it so fascinating to see what authors ask each other about writing, poetry, form, process, etc. 

4. In ten years, I have read a LOT of poetry-- close to 1000 books of poetry published for young readers in the last decade. I try to keep a "sneak peek" list of poetry that will be published for children and teens and post that every January and then keep it updated all year long. You can find links to each of those lists in the sidebar of this blog and I hope it's a resource for finding poetry books on an ongoing basis.
5. Keeping this blog has helped me (mostly) keep current with technology too. I've learned how to use Blogger (and all its iterations) and add more visuals, links, video, etc. (I wish they offered a way to post audio only, but that has to be a third party post at this time-- at least I think so!) How has technology changed in 10 years? Ha! You can post from your cell phone now, link with Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, and so many more outlets. People can comment and interact more (and I need to get better about that). It's amazing to me how this continues to become an essential part of our personal and professional lives. 
6. I love how blogging has helped me share my professional opportunities with a wider audience. As a university professor, I am expected to submit proposals, plan panels, and attend and present at professional conferences and conduct workshops and I really enjoy that. But I'm always a little sad that all that great work and energy of so many smart and interesting people is only shared with a small audience. So, I've been able to share a few nuggets, slides, and videoclips from those presentations here. Yay! Win-win!

7. Another expectation for me as an academic is to write for publication. (Interestingly enough, blogging is still not really valued in my academic community.) But keeping this blog has inspired so many other articles, columns, presentations, and books-- and I've been able to share nuggets from this publications HERE, so that a wider audience can benefit from those works. When you corral a group of people to write something, it's really nice if you can get their work out to the widest possible readership, right? Keeping this blog has led to writing the poetry column for Book Links magazine for the American Library Association which has been really gratifying, as well as my book, Poetry Aloud Here (my very first post was promoting that new book!) and my Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists, too. And of course, all four of The Poetry Friday Anthologies published in collaboration with Janet Wong and 100+ poets grew out of all this blogging too. And I'm so proud of those and have loved all that collaboration! 

8. Celebrating National Poetry Month every April has been so fun every year and I love how all the poetry bloggers come up with some new twist each year. It's wonderful to see the interwebs flooded with poetry every April-- I just wish I could read, process, and comment on ALL of it. I think it is certainly helping more people find poetry and share it with children and teens. It's only been since 1996 that we even recognized National Poetry Month, so we've come a long way already. And there's certainly more room for more...

9. There's so much more poetry "stuff" available now too-- and I have enjoyed learning about how to create more varied ways to promote and share poetry. I've made reader guides for poetry books so that more teachers feel confident about sharing poetry books with young people. I've created tons of postcards and visuals to catch the eye-- and get more people reading more poetry. I love making all the lists of poetry books (duh!), so that people see how many choices they have when they want a poetry book about dogs or school or family. And I love discovering new ideas and resources from all of YOU.

10. And that's the best of all-- connecting with YOU all readers-- with people who care about poetry and children and teens and making sure they get exposed to all the beautiful language, big heart, quiet moments, and spiritual/emotional lift that poetry can offer. We need that all now more than ever, don't you think? I so appreciate the comments, links, "shares," and connections that blogging has offered with you readers, poets, teachers, and fellow poetry lovers. When our lives are busy and our world is crazy, pausing for a poem has such power. I love that the Internet in the last decade has given us the ability to break down barriers and connect a bit more. It's not perfect, but it can be reassuring and empowering. Let's use that power for good!

Here's to the next ten years. More poetry! More connections! 

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28. Review of the Day – A Toucan Can: Can You? by Danny Adlerman and Friends

ToucanCanA Toucan Can, Can You?
By Danny Adlerman
Illustrated by Lindsay Barrett George, Megan Halsey, Ashley Wolff, Demi, Ralph Masiello, Wendy Anderson Halperin, Kevin Kammeraad, Pat Cummings, Dar (Hosta), Leeza Hernandez, Christee Curran-Bauer, Kim Adlerman, and Symone Banks
Music by Jim Babjak
The Kids at Our House Children’s Books
ISBN: 9781942390008
Ages 3-6
On shelves now

Under normal circumstances I don’t review sequels. I just don’t, really. Sequels, generally speaking, require at least a rudimentary knowledge of the preceding book. If I have to spend half a review catching a reader up on the book that came before the book that I’m actually reviewing, that’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Better to skip sequels entirely, and I include chapter book sequels, YA sequels, middle grade sequels, nonfiction sequels, graphic novel sequels, and easy book sequels in that generalization. I would even include picture book sequels, but here I pause for a moment. Because once in a while a picture book sequel will outshine the original. Such is the case with Danny Adlerman’s audibly catchy and visually eclectic A Toucan Can, Can You? A storyteller’s (and song-and-dance parent’s) dream, the book is is a sequel to the book How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck but comes into its own as a writing assignment for some, a storytime to others, and a darn good book for everybody else.

Many of us are at least passingly familiar with that old poem, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” But why stop with the woodchuck? What other compound words can you break up in amusing ways? And so we are sucked into a delightful world of teaspoons spooning tea, spaceships shipping space, and ice cream screaming “ice!” Each one of these catchy little poems (which are set to music on the accompanying CD) is paired with art from an impressive illustrator. Part collaboration and part exercise in audible frivolity, Danny Adlerman’s little book packs a great big punch.

For a group collaboration to work in a picture book there needs to be a reason for it to even exist. Which is to say, why have different people do different pieces of art for the same book? To best justify bringing these artists together you need a strong hook. And brother, I can’t think of a stronger hook then a catchy little rhyme, turned into a song, and given some clever additional rhymes to go along with it. Let’s hear it for the public domain! It’s little wonder that the customary “Note to Parents and Teachers” found in books of this sort appears at the beginning of the book rather than the end. In it, mention is made of the fact that the accompanying CD has both music with the lyrics and music without the lyrics, allowing kids to make up their own rhymes. I can attest as someone who did storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers for years that music can often be a librarian’s best friend. Particularly if it has a nice little book to show off as well. So for the storytimes for younger children, go with the words. And for the older kids? I think a writing assignment is waiting in the wings.

I was quite taken with the rhymes that already exist in this book, though. In fact, my favorite (language-wise) might have to be “How much bow could a bow tie tie if a bow tie could tae bo?” if only because “tae bo” makes shockingly few cameos in picture books these days. Finding the perfect collaboration between word and text can be difficult but occasionally the book hits gold. One example would be on the rhyme “How much ham could a hamster stir if a hamster could stir ham?” Artist Leeza Hernandez comes up with a rough riding hamster in cowboy gear astride an energetic hog. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Obviously the problem with any group collaboration is that some pieces are going to be stronger than others. But I have to admit that when I looked at that line-up I was a bit floored. In an impressive mix of established artists and new up-and-comers, Adlerman pairs his illustrators alongside rhymes that best show off their talents. Demi, for example, with her meticulous details and intricate style, is perfectly suited to honeycombs, honey, and the thin veins in the wing of a honeybee, holding a comb aloft. Meanwhile Wendy Anderson Halperin tackles the line “How much paint could a paintbrush brush” by rendering a variety of famous works, from Magritte to Diego Rivera in her two-page spread. Mind you, some artists are more sophisticated than others, and the switch between styles threatens to give one a bit of whiplash in the process. Generally speaking, however, it’s lovely. And I must confess that it was only on my fourth or fifth reading that I realized that the lovely scene illustrated by newcomer Symone Banks at the end of the book is dotted with animals done by the other artists, hidden in the details.

I don’t have to do storytimes anymore. In my current job my contact with kids is fairly minimal. But I have a two-year-old and a five-year-old at home and that means all my performance skills are on call whenever those two are around. I admit it. I need help. And books like A Toucan Can: Can You? can be lifesavers to parents like myself. If we had our way there would be a book-of-the-week club out there that personally delivered song-based picture books to our door. Heck, it should be a book-of-the-DAY club. I mean, let’s be honest. Raise a glass then and toast to Danny Adlerman and his fabulous friends. Long may their snowshoes shoo, their jellyfish fish, and their rockhoppers hop hop hop.

On shelves now.

Like This? Then Try:

Source: Galley sent from author for review.


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29. Hill of Fire

Hill of Fire. Thomas P. Lewis. Illustrated by Joan Sandin. 1971. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Once there was a farmer who lived in Mexico. He lived in a little village, in a house which had only one room.

Premise/plot: Pablo's father, a farmer, is always, always saying nothing EVER happens on their farm, in their village. Every day is the same: dull and predictable. But one day SOMETHING happens, and Pablo witnesses it all. The two are in their field plowing when suddenly a VOLCANO begins to form. What started as crack in the ground soon becomes a big volcano--an erupting volcano. From the moment "it" appears--the crack-soon-to-be-a-volcano--Pablo runs to warn the villagers. It isn't long before the villagers are fleeing the village for safety. Indeed the whole village will have to be relocated and rebuilt.

This is a nonfiction early reader set in Mexico in 1943. A father and son truly witnessed the formation of a new volcano. That is far from an ordinary occurrence. The author's note states that human eyes--so far as we know from records--have only witnessed two such events. (Paricutin in Mexico and Tenerife in the Canary Islands.)

My thoughts: I remembered this book from Reading Rainbow. I'm not sure I ever read it myself until I found it in my local charity shop. Even though it was not in the best shape--a discarded library copy from Connecticut of all places--I knew I had to have it. The story was just as absorbing as I remembered it. Definitely recommended.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, 608 pp, RL 4

So, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick has been sitting on my bookshelf for almost 5 years now, looking super cool (as seen above) as it sits between The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was one of the first books I reviewed when I started this blog in 2008, and The Marvels, which I reviewed when it came out in September of last year. I have no idea why I never read it, but I finally got around to reading Wonderstruck for a handful of reasons. It's required summer reading for my son, who enters sixth grade in the fall. My brother read it out loud to his kids at dinner and, serendipitously, they encountered the film crew for the movie version of Wonderstruck, directed by Todd Haynes while on vacation in NYC this summer and one of the cast signed with my brother. Knowing that my son has to read this book, my brother and niece and nephew enjoyed it and that it is soon to be a movie directed by Todd Haynes (I wonder if the fact that Selznick has Hollywood heritage allows him to score prime directors for adaptations of his books?) was all the nudge that I needed to read it. And OF COURSE I loved it.  
Seeing as how this is a very well known, well reviewed book, I don't feel like a traditional review is merited here so I'm going to do something a little different. Museums are a major part of Wonderstruck, which is also the name of a book within this book - a fictional book published by the American Museum Natural History about museums and curation. The main character Ben has a wooden box with a engraving of a wolf on the lid, which he comes to think of as his museum box. Inside the box, Ben has crafted cardboard dividers to house the small treasures he collected over the course of his life, which he has arranged with great care. Ben's story begins in 1977 and is told in text only for the first half of the book. In tandem with Ben's plot is the story of Rose, which begins in 1927 and unfolds in illustrations only for the first half of the book. At first, the only thing Ben and Rose seem to have in common is their deafness. But, like I said, museums have a big role in this book and when their stories collide you feel, well, wonderstruck. With that in mind, I have"curated" these collages filled with images, illustrations and other items that make up the exhibit that is the novel and film (coming in 2017) Wonderstruck.

Ben remembered reading about curators in Wonderstruck, and thought about what it meant to curate your own life, as his dad had done here. What would it be like to pick and choose the objects and stories that would go into your own cabinet? How would Ben curate his own life? And then, thinking about his museum box, and his house and his books, and the secret room, he realized he'd already begun doing it. Maybe, thought Ben, we are all cabinets of wonders. 
(Wonderstruck, page 574)

As with all Brian Selznick books, the acknowledgements and author's notes are almost a story unto themselves. Selznick is a curator, a researcher, an autodidact and a scholar of whatever subject he pursues, and it is always amazing to me to read the many areas that he studied, places he visited and people he interviewed while writing a book. Near the end of his acknowledgements, after listing all the people, places and things that influenced, informed and educated him, I was very pleased to find this nod from Selznick, as this was a book I thought of often while reading Wonderstruck, "Of course, any story about kids who run away to a museum owes a debt of gratitude to E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. In order to pay back that debt, Wonderstruck is filled with references to Konigsburg and her book. How many can you spot?" I am going to have to go back and reread Wonderstruck, as I only found three nods. E. L. stands for Elaine Lobl, Konigsburg's maiden name. Selznick gives the main character's mother the name Elaine and his father the surname Lobel. A character in the book is named Jamie, which is also the name of one of the main characters in Konigsburg's Newbery winning book. If you find any, be sure to let me know!

Source: Purchased

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31. Surprising Jolts of Children’s Books in Unexpected Places

Time for another post that justifies my current job.  As you may or may not know, as Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager I buy all the adult books.  Which is to say, they apparently make them for people over the age of 12 these days.  Who knew?  Happily, there are plenty of connections to the wide and wonderful world of children’s literature in the grown-up book universe.  Here are a couple of interesting recent examples you might enjoy:


Though she’s best known in our world as a mighty successful picture book author (with a killer ping-pong backswing) Rosenthal’s that rare beast that manages to straddle writing for both adults and kids.  The last time she wrote an out-and-out book for the grown-up set, however, was ten years ago (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life).  This next one’s a memoir of sorts (I say “of sorts” because the subtitle belies this statement).  Here’s the description:

“… each piece of prose is organized into classic subjects such as Social Studies, Music, and Language Arts. Because textbook would accurately describe a book with a first-of-its-kind interactive text messaging component. Because textbook is an expression meaning “quintessential”—Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook AKR. Because if an author’s previous book has the word encyclopedia in the title, following it up with a textbook would be rather nice.”



Sorry Permanent Press Publishing Company.  This cover doesn’t do justice the myriad children’s book references parading about inside.  I read all the reviews and tried to find the best description (the official one is lame).  Library Journal‘s was the one that piqued my interest best.  As they said:

“Jonathan Tucker lives with his dog Nip on 20 acres on Long Island, having left his job with a high-powered law firm three years earlier after his wife and two children were killed in a traffic accident. Now his mentor, a senior partner, asks for help. The firm’s biggest client, billionaire Ben Baum of Ozone Industries, has died in London under suspicious circumstances. A descendant of L. Frank Baum of Wizard of Oz fame, Ben had been obsessed with fantasy, in particular the works of Baum, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. Attached to his will, he left behind an enigmatic letter, prefaced by runes and filled with puzzles hinting at forces of evil arrayed against him. It’s up to Jonathan and his team to unravel what may be a deadly conspiracy with a host of suspects, each one poised to benefit from Ben’s premature death. . . . Readers may enjoy the kid-lit nomenclature—characters include Alice, Charlotte (who spins webs), Dorothy, Eloise, Madeline, Herr Roald Dahlgrens (a “peach of a man”), Frank Dixon (the Hardy Boys), Peter Abelard, and the Baums—and may not mind the sometimes too-evident craft, e.g., characters who “tell their story” at length and dialog laden with exposition.”

Admit it.  It sounds fun.  But that cover . . . I mean, did they just hire someone who just read the title and found the nearest Getty Images of crows?  No points there.


I feel like it’s been a while since one of these round-ups included a book about a picture book author/illustrator.  This one counts.  In this story, said picture book creator has lost her inspiration.  Other stuff happens too, but with my tunnel vision that was pretty much all I picked up on.



Moving on.


Part of the joy of my job is buying the “cozies” i.e. sweet little murder mystery novels (usually in paperback).  You would not believe the series out there.  There are quilting mysteries, yoga mysteries, jam mysteries, bed and breakfast mysteries (that one makes sense to me), you name it.  The newest series I’ve found?  Little Free Library mysteries.  I kid you not.

As for other mysteries . . .


Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re wondering if this is actually a book about a murder that occurs at Misselthwaite Manor.  And the answer is . . . . it’s not.  No, it takes place at a book-themed resort where a secret garden has been created for the guests.  How do folks die?  Deadly herbs!!  That gets points from me.


Oh ho!  This one almost sneaked past me the other day.  I read the review, dutifully put it in my order cart, and just as I was moving on to the next book my eye happened to catch the name of the author.  Marjorie?!  The same Marjorie who writes those magnificent yearly round-ups of Jewish kids in books at Tablet Magazine at the end of each year (to say nothing of her posts throughout the other seasons)?  That’s her.  The book’s getting great reviews too, so go, Marjorie, go!


So here’s the problem with this book.  It should be in the humor section alongside the Amy Sedaris title Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.  Instead, it somehow ended up legitimately with a “Craft” Dewey Decimal Number, a fact I’m going to have to rectify at work tomorrow.  Not that you couldn’t actually do the crafts if you wanted, but the book’s far funnier than it is practical.  No one knows what to do with the thing when they see it, of course.  So why am I including it here?  Because darned if the author isn’t Ross MacDonald, the author/illustrator of fine picture books everywhere.  I did my due diligence to make sure it was actually the same guy.  Yup.  It sure is.  So Macmillan, about that DD# . . .

And finally, just because I thought it was cute . . .


Now someone go out and write a picture book of the same name for all our budding scientists out there.


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32. Application for the ALA/ALSC representative to USBBY

This is so neat that I wish I could apply for it myself.  I cannot, but if you’re a member of ALSC, you could (you lucky thing).



The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is seeking a personal member interested in representing ALA/ALSC on the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY).

One representative will be selected by the ALA Executive Board to serve a two-year term from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018. If you are interested in representing ALA/ALSC on the USBBY Board, please complete the online application (http://bit.ly/29S9ojN) and submit a cover letter addressed to the ALA Executive Board, a resume/CV, and one letter of recommendation no later than Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

Required Qualifications

The applicant must:

* Be a current ALSC personal member

* Have demonstrated experience in evaluating, selecting and promoting children’s literature

* Attend all USBBY meetings and conferences during his/her term of appointment. Expenses to attend USBBY meetings/conferences are the responsibility of the individual or his/her institution. USBBY, ALA and ALSC do not provide financial support

* Have knowledge of key ALSC services and resources in order to serve as an effective liaison between USBBY and ALSC’s Board of Directors

* Be a competent user of new technologies, such as wikis and electronic chat platforms, in order to accomplish work in a virtual environment between meetings

* Have demonstrated leadership skills necessary to serve on an organization’s board of directors


Responsibilities of USBBY board members

  1. Attend and participate in the three annual board meetings (typically in February at CBC in New York City; in June at the ALA annual conference; and in October/November at the IBBY Regional Conference (in odd numbered years) or the NCTE conference (in even numbered years).
  2. Submit USBBY news to newsletters, journals, web sites, and electronic discussion lists of related organizations.
  3. Recruit new members, nurture current members, and make the Board and Nominating Committee aware of potentially active committee members or volunteers.
  4. Serve as the official liaison between ALSC and USBBY 5. Assist with planning USBBY board meetings at conferences 6. Assist with planning USBBY co-sponsored programs at conferences


Documentation needed

The ALA Executive Board requires that suggestions for nominations be accompanied by a resume/CV and cover letter which indicates:

* A short summary statement of the nominee’s qualifications and indication of present position

* Affirmation that the person can fulfill the meeting attendance and travel requirements


Additionally, the ALSC Board requires:

* A letter of recommendation



* Sept. 6 2016: deadline to submit online application and resume to ALSC for consideration

* Sept. 6- 23, 2016: ALSC’s Board of Directors evaluates applications and selects one applicant to recommend to the ALA Executive Board for appointment

* Week of Sept. 26, 2016: ALSC notifies applicants as to the status of their application

* Early October: ALA Executive Board meets and considers ALSC’s recommendation

* Week of October 24, 2016: ALSC notifies nominee of ALA Executive Board’s decision

* Jan. 1, 2017: Appointee begins representation on USBBY Board


2017 USBBY Board Meetings:

*           March 3, 2017: Representatives First 2017 USBBY Board meeting

*           June 22, 2017: Chicago during ALA Conference

*           October 19, 2017: Seattle just before the IBBY Regional Conference


To learn more about USBBY go to www.usbby.org/<http://www.usbby.org/>.


Please contact Aimee Strittmatter (astrittmatter@ala.org<mailto:astrittmatter@ala.org>) for questions about the ALSC application process.



Aimee Strittmatter, MSI, CAE

Executive Director

Association for Library Service to Children a division of the American Library Association

50 East Huron Street

Chicago, IL 60611

312-280-2163 | fax: 312-280-5271



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33. Coyote Moon- Blog Tour and Giveaway

Coyote Moon  by Maria Gianferrari illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline Roaring Brook Press, 2016 Grades K-5 Today I'm taking part in the Coyote Moon blog tour. The book officially hits shelves tomorrow. As part of the blog tour, I'm giving away one copy of Coyote Moon donated by the publisher. The details and entry form can be found at the bottom of this page. The engaging narrative of Coyote

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34. A Clatter of Jars - an audiobook review

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff
Read by Ellen Archer
2016, Listening Library

Quirky magical realism.
Read my full review at AudioFile Magazine.

A Clatter of Jars is Lisa Graff's follow up to 2013's, A Tangle of KnotsI reviewed A Tangle of Knots in 2013, and declared, "If you read no other middle grade fiction book this year, you will have made a good choice." The magic doesn't wear off in A Clatter of Jars, a deftly woven, magical realism story set in the same world as the preceding book, where many people possess Talents - from the mundane (ability to understand frogs) to the powerful (telekinesis).  I particularly enjoyed this story because it features a boy who we may assume has some sort of spectrum disorder, and it has a subtle Lord of the Rings reference.

I often tell kids at the library that it's OK to start with a second book in a series if the first book is unavailable. (I don't like to see them go home empty-handed!)  Most authors do a fine job of catching the reader up on prior events.  However, because of the rich details of the world Lisa Graff has created, A Clatter of Jars is best read after A Tangle of Knots.

An audio excerpt from A Clatter of Jars and my review for AudioFile Magazine may be found here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/114587/a-clatter-of-jars-by-lisa-graff/]

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35. Singalong Saturdays (Childhood Favorite)

Today's prompt: Favorites from your childhood

This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.

I bring you today, record crackles and all, WHY COMPLAIN by Evie

and Step Into the Sunshine, complete with LA LA'S.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. Obsessing Over #5: The Littlest Bigfoot

I love the synopsis for this book.  I love the author and have read many of her adult books.  I love the cover.  Right now, I think this book is at the top of my WANT list.  It comes out in early September and I will be pre-ordering a copy for myself and a copy or two for my library. 

Also, I have a certain fascination with Bigfoot.  When my oldest son was first diagnosed with Crohn's disease he had to spend about a week in the hospital.  He wasn't overly sick, he just needed to be on an IV because he was pretty malnourished, so he was really, really bored.  One of the things we discovered was the TV show Finding Bigfoot.  For some reason there was a marathon on and we spent one whole day and evening watching that show.  It was a lot of fun and a good memory during a bad time.  Ever since then we have lots of Bigfoot discussions, even though he's 18 now.  It is something that bonds us a bit, and makes me even more excited for this book.

Any upcoming fall releases catch your eye yet?

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37. My Thoughts: Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

4 spicy & soft ginger cookies.

Cover Love:
I LOVE this cover. You have to see it in person to see how beautiful it is, but it's like  rose gold and shimmery and gorgeous.  So eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I had been hearing a lot of buzz about this book, even before it was released.  I was lucky enough to get an ARC in the mail, but it still took me a few months to get it read.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Romance?: Nope, not that kind of book.

My Thoughts:
This was a great read.  The only reason I gave it four cookies was because I had a hard time getting into the story.  I feel like this was my fault.  Reading the synopsis made me know there was going to be a lot of times my stomach would be in knots while reading this book.   It made me a little hesitant about diving right in, so I took my time.  When I let myself go, I realized that my fears came true, but the way the author handles it all made it an easy read.  There was a lot of tension and my stomach was in knots, but one reason I was too upset while reading this is that Annabelle always has someone on her side.  People, her parents, believe her.  Having someone in her corner the whole time gives her the confidence she needs to stand up for the innocent and for herself.

I love the setting. This was set at the start of World War 2, in a rural area.  Annabelle goes to school in a one room schoolhouse, but there are also cars.  It's like the cusp of the technological revolution. Annabelle's parents are hard working farmers, but also very much devoted to their children. Annabelle's grandparents and an aunt live with them as well.  These things are during a time that always fascinates me, there is such an innocence about the world still.  And that's what makes this book so powerful.  We see a little girl on the verge of growing up who loses her innocence pretty quickly.  What happens to her and her world changes her, makes her see how the world really is, but it doesn't destroy her.  The author does a great job of walking the fine line between destroying Annabelle and using the situation to make her stronger.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how much takes place in the family kitchen.  Most of Annabelle's confessions to her family happen around the table or when she is helping her mom cooking and baking.  I love that!  This is what happens in my family, the kitchen is the heart of our home and some of our best times are when I am cooking or cleaning up and my kids are doing homework and my husband is helping them or me and we are all just enjoying being together.  Even though the events that happen in this book are serious, you just know that their kitchen is the room that has the most love and trust.

To Sum Up: This book didn't turn out to be the hard read I had expected. It was innocent and interesting and a little disturbing.  It would be a great read for a middle school book club!

Book sent to me from Rachel at Penguin.  Thanks Rachel!

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38. I'm on the Horn Book Podcast!

If you haven't heard it yet, Horn Book has a new podcast.  I made a small contribution to this podcast from June 20, 2016 (Hbook Podcast 1.17).  You can hear me at the very end with my brief review of Have You Seen Elephant? Creating a 30-second audio review is not as easy as it sounds
I'm so glad they allowed me to participate.

You can hear the Hbook Podcast on Stitcher, Soundcloud, or iTunes

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39. Fusenews: Worth it, if only for the clock

Hi, folks. Haven’t done one of these in a while. Let’s see what there is to see.


If I’m feeling nostalgic for NYC this week there’s little wonder.  Whether it’s an article on many library branches’ secret apartments (I visited 8-10 of them in my day and someday a clever photographer should do a series on them) or New York Magazine’s (justifiable) kvetching over the new Donnell, it’s like I’m there again.


Speaking of kvetching, this article about My Little Free Library War is amusing. When I was leaving the aforementioned NYC I found I had too many books.  The solution?  Daily trips to the local Little Free Library.  I’d fill them up one day and then come back the next with more.  I don’t care what anyone did with them.  That box was like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag.



Waldo’s cool with it. He doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight.

As for my current town, how cute is this?  Our downtown is doing a Where’s Waldo / Where’s Warhol scavenger hunt.  It all begins at the wonderful bookstore Bookends and Beginnings and goes from there.


This next piece is fantastic and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.  A British children’s literature blogger comes to America.  Walks into a Barnes and Noble.  Immediately she is struck by the massive differences between how a major British chain (like Waterstones) sells children’s books vs. how and American chain (B&N) does it.  She writes up the differences in the post Picture book differences between the main bookshop chains in the US and UK – Paeony Lewis.  What struck me as particularly interesting is the emphasis the author makes on how American bookstores don’t promote and sell paperbacks to the same degree that the British stores do.  As a result, our books are more expensive.  What are the greater repercussions of this?  Fantastic read.


I got the following message from ALA last week and figured this was a good place to share.  Ahem:

Now is the Best Time to Help Dr. Carla Hayden Become Librarian of Congress
The American Library Association (ALA) is urging the library community to contact their U.S. senators (before they adjourn next week) to encourage them to confirm Dr. Carla Hayden to become the next Librarian of Congress. This is the first time in more than 60 years that a librarian is poised to take on this role. ALA offers these talking points. Visit the ALA Legislative Action Center to email your senators, contact them on Twitter, or for information on calling your senators.


There’s been a lot of talk about Ms. J.K. Rowling in the news lately.  Specifically, in terms of the international magic schools she’s been introducing.  I feel inadequate to speak about them, and fortunately I don’t have to. Monica Edinger has written a great piece called J.K. Rowling’s Unfortunate Attempts at Globalization.  A lot of people have focused solely and squarely on the references to Native Americans in the American school.  Monica sheds additional light on the African, Japanese, and Brazilian ones, for which I am VERY grateful.


By the way, having problems with J.K. Rowling in this vein is hardly new.  You can read Farah Mendelsohn’s academic paper Crowning the King: Harry Potter and the Construction of Authority from 2001 right now, if you like.


By the way, if you missed Jules Danielson’s interview with Evan Turk over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, turn right around, leave this blog, and go over there.  The art . . . the art . . .


DaddyFaceFor a while there I enjoyed a little Reading Too Much Into Picture Books series before my Fuse 8 TV interviews.  Very much along the same lines is the recent Salon piece Pat the Bunny Is Kind of Twisted and Other Lessons I Learned from Picture Books.  It’s not the same three tropes garbled over and over again.  There’s a lot of smart stuff being said here.  Enjoy!


Wait, what . . . The Mazza Museum has a summer conference?  Why was I not informed?  *clap clap* My chariot!  The first day is July 18th.  There’s still time!


There are many reasons to listen to the NYPL podcast The Librarian Is In.  Reason #24601: Check out this simply adorable photograph of a young Lois Duncan.


Hey there!  What Nibling just won herself a 2016 South Asia Book Award?  Would that be Mitali Perkins for her absolutely fantastic Tiger Boy?  Dang right it would!  Go, Mitali, go!


Because my day job requires me to keep up with adult literature I read a lot of Publishers Weekly (that sounded like a very earnest television or radio ad for PW, by the way).  The other day I was reading its articles on what Brexit is going to mean for the literary world, and I briefly toyed with the notion of doing a blog post on what it would mean for the children’s literary world.  I decided not to pursue this idea since I know next to nothing about the topic and while that normally wouldn’t stop me, Phil Nel did it best anyway.  Check out his piece Children’s Lit VS Brexit.


Curious about the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award?  Want to know more about it?  Interested in reading an interview with a woman who would visit Anne Carroll Moore in the library as a child?  You can get all that and more with this interview with this year’s BGHB committee chair Joanna Rudge Long.


LadyElaine2Um… so this one has nothing to do with children’s books and everything to do with my own childhood.  Basically, if you’ve been waiting for an article to justify Lady Elaine Fairchilde as the feminist icon she truly was, your prayers have been answered. Extra Bonus: Check out the perhaps indeed legit comment from Lady Aberline.  Or read my piece on the new Lady Elaine.  Clearly this is a trope in my life.


Just want to give a shout-out to Christine Inzer, the self-published teen graphic novelist whose book Halfway Home was reviewed here in 2014.  Christine got herself a real publisher and her new book just earned a stellar review from Publishers Weekly.  Yay, Christine!


New Podcast Alert: In case you are unfamiliar with it, The Writing Barn is the brainchild of Owner & Creative Director, Bethany Hegedus, and offers writers “ways of deepening their process and perfecting their craft, whether they travel cross-town or across the country to our retreat and workshop venue”. Now Bethany has created Porchlight, a podcast that interviews the Barn’s guests as well as folks in the world at large.  You know I’ll be listening.


Daily Image:

Best. Library. Clock. Ever.


Seriously, I want to do this with picture books.  If not in my library then in my home. I should solicit the right titles, though.  Hmmm…

Suggestions welcome.


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40. Poems in the Attic

Poems in the Attic. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. 2015. Lee & Low. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Grandma's attic is stacked with secrets.

Premise/plot: Poems in the Attic is a picture book about a seven year old girl who discovers a box of her mother's poems in her grandmother's attic. Her mother started writing poems when she was just seven. Our heroine, the little girl, decides to start writing poems of her own. Readers see these poems--mother and daughter--side by side. The mother's poems are about growing up a 'military brat' moving from place to place every year or so. The daughter's poems are doubly reflective.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I liked the premise of it especially. A girl coming to appreciate her mother in a new light. A girl learning to express herself through poetry. The book celebrates family, poetry, and a sense of life as one big adventure.

That being said, poetry tends to be hit or miss with me. I sometimes enjoy poetry. Sometimes not so much. I didn't love the short poems in this one as much as I wanted. I liked them okay. I just wasn't WOWED by them. I do like the celebration of family. And the illustrations were great. Eleven places were captured in the mother's poems. And the author's note was interesting. So this one is worth your time.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Listening to George, part 8

If you want to follow along with this project, all related posts are tagged George Strait Project. This post will cover the years 2000-2001.

In 2000, he released two albums. A greatest hits album called Latest, Greatest, Straitest Hits. It featured two new songs: "The Best Day," which became a #1, and, a duet with Alan Jackson called "Murder on Music Row."

"The Best Day" is a great little song about a father and son. The son is telling his dad--once in each of the verses--that this day was the BEST day of his life. The first 'best day' is a camping trip, the second 'best day' is receiving a classic car to restore with his dad, the third 'best day' is the son's wedding day.

"Murder on Music Row"  is a song not without some controversy. I think it's an interesting story for a song.

First sentence: Nobody saw him running from sixteenth avenue.

Premise/plot:  A murder has been committed. The victim? country music. The evidence is put forth in the chorus:
For the steel guitars no longer cry and fiddles barely play,
But drums and rock 'n roll guitars are mixed up in your face.
Old Hank wouldn't have a chance on today's radio
Since they committed murder down on music row.
Essentially the message is that 'real' country music--the traditional stuff--has been replaced ON THE RADIO with something calling itself country, but, not really quite country. You can imagine why this might be controversial!!!

The song begs the question: what IS country music? And who decides what is country and what isn't?

My thoughts: I really like this one. I think if you stay focused on the fact that it is talking about the RADIO--what gets played, what gets air time, what becomes popular--then it works as a fair criticism showing that radios do tend to play a narrow selection of artists and songs. Of course, traditional radio isn't the only way to enjoy music. And with 'new' technology like Pandora and YouTube and the like, you can find plenty of country music with steel guitars and fiddles!

George Strait and Alan Jackson weren't the ones to first record the song. Here are the original singers performing it live. And yet another version.

The second album George Strait released in 2000 was his twentieth, it's self-titled: GEORGE STRAIT. It includes three songs that would become hit singles: "Go On," "Don't Make Me Come Over There and Love You," and "If You Can Do Anything Else."

It also includes: "Looking Out My Window Through the Pain," "If It's Going To Rain," "Home Improvement," "The Night's Just Right for Love," "You're Stronger Than Me," "Which Side of the Glass," and "She Took The Wind from His Sails."

"Go On" is a GREAT conversation song. Another Strait song that captures half a conversation is The Chair. The 'premise' of this one is that two people are connecting over the fact that they've both been hurt and wronged in love.
Our conversation won't change nothing,
But it's sure nice to talk
With somebody whose been cut of
The same old cloth
You know how you said happiness can't be found looking back
If you don't mind maybe we can talk a little more about that.
"Don't Make Me Come Over There and Love You" is a fast and flirty number that I think is very irresistible.
My hearts been on a long vacation
And now its beating like a Cha-Cha-Cha
Don't make me come over there and love you
'Cause I will right now
This album has a couple of sad songs on it: "Looking Out My Window Through the Pain," "If It's Gonna Rain," "Which Side of the Glass," "She Took the Wind From His Sails," and "You're Stronger Than Me." That is actually MORE than a couple, isn't it?! If you want proof that 'traditional' country music was still very much alive even if not getting radio time, give "You're Stronger Than Me," a listen.

I really LOVE the song "The Night's Just Right For Love."
I don't mind the thought of growing old
But I don't Want to lose my sense of humor
I'm okay as long as I can laugh
I don't care if everything goes wrong
Even if it's only for awhile
I'm alright if I can see you smile
You're an old-fashioned girl at home in the modern world
The night's just right for love
The Road Less Traveled is George Strait's twenty-first album. The album has ten songs. It features three hit singles: "Run," "Living and Living Well," "She'll Leave You With A Smile."

Other songs on the album include: "Stars on the Water," "The Real Thing," "Don't Tell Me You're Not In Love," "The Road Less Traveled," "The Middle of Nowhere," "Good Time Charley's," and "My Life's Been Grand."

I really do not care for "Stars on the Water." George Strait--whether recording songs that are fast or slow--seems to pick songs that are either a) great to dance to b) great to sing along with or c) both! "The Road Less Traveled" definitely breaks with what I consider to be George Strait's strengths.

"Good Time Charley's" is a great little dance-party number. Only in a country song, could you sing directions and have it work.
Two miles from town 'cross the railroad track
Turn right at the light and park in the back
You're always welcome, don't forget to drop in
Old Good Time Charley's, any time you can
But without a doubt my FAVORITE, FAVORITE, FAVORITE track from this album is "Don't Tell Me You're Not In Love." I don't know WHY this song was not a single!!! I love this one so much. I love the melody. I love the lyrics. It's just so perfectly-perfect.
I know you're ready, you show all the signs
Your eyes sparkle oh how they shine
But you keep saying
You can't take another heartache
The way you hold me, the way that you move
Your feelings keep showing through
You can't hide it
It's written all over your face
Don't tell me you're not in love
When your heart beats like it does
Your trembling body tells on you
Each time we touch
You can tell me you're afraid
I am too and that's okay
I got eyes, I can see
Baby don't tell me you're not in love
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. The House on the Strand

The House on the Strand. Daphne du Maurier. 1968. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The first thing I noticed was the clarity of the air, and then the sharp green colour of the land. There was no softness anywhere. The distant hills did not blend into the sky but stood out like rocks, so close that I could almost touch them, their proximity giving me that shock of surprise and wonder which a child feels looking for the first time through a telescope.

Premise/plot: Richard Young, the hero of Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand, becomes a guinea pig for his scientist friend, Magnus, while vacationing in Cornwall. Magnus has concocted a hallucinogenic drug that allows the user to time travel, though not physically. While Dick's first 'time-travel' experience has its downsides, he enjoys it just enough to keep taking the drug in different locales. Why different locales? Because location matters. Your body may stay in the present, but, your consciousness is far, far away. And your body-and-mind act together. Your mind sees the world as it was. Your body experiences it as it is. Whatever you're doing in the past, you're doing in the present--sitting, standing, walking, running, etc. Readers DON'T see this, of course, just the results and consequences. You may sit down and take the drug in one place, and come back to reality hours later miles and miles away with no real idea of how you got there.

The past is the fourteenth century. The 1320s through the 1340s. Dick is an invisible presence in the past. He can "spy" on the past and follow people around, seeing and hearing plenty that interests him. He becomes very caught up in the lives of Isolda and Roger. (They are not a couple.) The past is full of soap opera like DRAMA.

The present is the 1960s. Dick is married to a woman, Vita, who has two sons. His wife and two stepsons join him on his vacation. He's not excited about that. Why? He really, really, really, really likes taking this mind-altering drug. And he fears that if he's surrounded by his family he might have to be responsible and stay in the present.

The drama isn't all in the past, a few things happen in the present that are just as exciting. Particularly when Magnus comes to visit his friend...

My thoughts: Dick isn't the smartest hero. Perhaps he trusts his friend a LITTLE too much. Or perhaps the sixties were so truly different that taking mind-altering drugs was something you did without blinking--without giving it a second thought. What am I doing to my mind? what am I doing to my body? Are there any side-effects? Are the side-effects longlasting? Is this a good idea?

The book chronicles Dick's adventures in past and present. And the world-building is strong in both. Characterization. I can't say that the characterization was super strong. This is more premise-driven than character-driven. But there's enough drama and mystery to keep you reading.

Science fiction doesn't come to mind when I think about Daphne du Maurier, but, I must say that you can definitely see her unique style in all of it. Especially the ending.

Did I like it? I didn't LOVE it, but, I definitely am glad I read it.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. Pokémon in the Children's Room

 Pokémon have come to the Syosset Library and they have made the children's room their new home. 

A weedle was spotted at the children's room desk.

Miss Amy posed with a wild Spearow.

Come to the Children's Room and Sign up for Summer Reading. You may even spot some wild Pokémon.

posted by Miss Meghan

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44. The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head by Daisy Hirst

I do not think it's at all easy to capture the way children think, their logic, the black and white way that they see the world, on the pages of a picture book. Yet with her debut, The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head, which is a mix of straightforward storytelling and, as Cory Doctorow said in his review, "pure pinkwaterian nonsense," Daisy Hirst has done exactly that, creating a picture book that is immediately embraceable and ultimately unforgettable.

Isabel is The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head and Simon, who is "very good with newts," is her friend. Until he moves away. Hirst's writing is both simple and powerful as she describes how Isabel copes with this change. 

For a while Isabel hated everything. The parrot went to sit on top of the wardrobe. Until Isabel felt quiet inside and decided to like being on her own.

Isabel did not need friends because she had a parrot on her head and a SYSTEM. 

Isabel's system involves sorting her things. One aspect of Hirst's visual story telling style that I love is her choice to color in some things and leave other things as line drawings. Mostly, the line drawings are used for Isabel's toys, but also for what are abstract, imaginary items, like THE DARK and that one, nagging thing that just might be "too big for the system." The wolf. 

Isabel heads out on her scooter, her parrot flying behind, to find a box big enough for this wolf. But when she does, she discovers that there is already something inside the perfect box. A boy. Chester, who was planning on using the box for a den ("Why not a castle?" "Why not an ostrich farm? Or a space station next to the moon?" Isabel asks) but listens as Isabel tells him about her wolf troubles. Chester takes a reasonable approach with the wolf and the results are marvelous.

Hirst ends The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head with a new beginning as Isabel and Chester, who "has a way with umbrellas and tape," get busy with their space station, which "really needed two astronauts and a parrot with a teacup on its head."

Daisy Hirst's second picture book comes out in the US in November of this year and I can't wait to get my hands on it. The title alone is fantastic! Alphonse, That is Not OK To Do! is the story of monster siblings. Natalie is a patient, mostly tolerant older sister until she finds Alphonse eating her favorite book.

Source: Review Copy

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45. Gorillas Up Close

Gorillas Up Close   by Christena Nippert-Eng Photographs by John Dominski and Miguel Martinez Henry Holt and Company, 2016 Grades 3-6 The majority of the animal books in the 500s section of my school library focus on animals in the wild. Occasionally there are books about animals that were rescued and rehabilitated such as Winter's Tail: How One Dolphin Learned to Swim Again or Owen & Mzee: The

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46. Libraries & Pokemon Go

Today I'm at the ALSC Blog talking about why Pokemon Go and libraries are a perfect partnership. Come check it out!

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47. Listening to George, part 7

If you want to follow along with this project, all related posts are tagged George Strait Project. This post will cover the years 1998-1999.

George Strait's eighteenth album starts out with one of my all-time favorite songs: "I Just Want To Dance With You." (How could anyone resist a whistling George?!) It's more than a little obvious what this one is about. What may not be conveyed is how sweet this one actually is.
I caught you looking at me when I looked at you
Yes, I did; ain't that true?
You won't get embarrassed by the things I do
I just want to dance with you
Other singles from this album include "True," and "We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This." "True" is a love song. One of those forever-and-ever love songs.
True, like the sun comin' up each mornin'.
Bright as the light in a baby's smile.
Sure as the mountain river windin'.
Right as the rain fallin' from the sky.
Girl, my love for you
Is true.
"We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This" is obviously about a forbidden 'romance' of sorts. It is super-playful and catchy.
Only an isolated incident, but the acquaintance left me stunned.
The first attraction was the hardest hit I thought I'd ever overcome.
This kinda situation has to pass, this chance encounter has to be the last.
To take it further we would be remiss, we really shouldn't be doing this.
We'd each be hurting somebody else if we don't say our good-byes real fast.
Won't even think about a farewell kiss, we really shouldn't be doing this.
Other songs on the album include "One Step At A Time," a song recording a conversation between two men, he's warning him that angels walk away one step at a time; "Remember the Alamo", a song not about the actual battle of the Alamo but more of a rallying cry to save a relationship (he proposed at the Alamo);  "Maria," a song that may or may not prove offensive to women or Mexicans; "Why Not Now," a laid-back yet flirty song with a great little chorus:
So why not now, why not here?
Darlin' my heart just ain't too clear
Oh what are we waiting for
Cause I've never been so sure
Why not you, why not me
Livin' like we were meant to be
Together, forever
Why not now
"That's The Breaks" is a song about the end of a relationship. (George sings A LOT of those, you'll find). "Neon Row" features another relationship in trouble. This time it is the woman stepping out and not coming home. "You Haven't Left Me Yet" is about a guy struggling to get over the woman who left him.

Always Never the Same is George Strait's nineteenth album. It features the singles "Meanwhile," "Write This Down," and "What Do You Say To That."

 "Meanwhile" is a melancholy almost-love song. He has a new love that he's wooing, yet, meanwhile in his head he's stuck in the past deeply in love with the one that got away. "Write This Down" is a GREAT let's-not-break-up song. He is doing his best to convince her to STAY.
Baby, write this down, take a little note to remind you in case you didn't know,
Tell yourself I love you and I don't want you to go, write this down.
Take my words, read 'em every day, keep 'em close by, don't you let 'em fade away,
So you'll remember what I forgot to say, write this down.
I'll sign it at the bottom of the page, I'll swear under oath
'Cause every single word is true, and I think you need to know,
So use it as a bookmark, stick it on your 'frigerator door,
Hang it in a picture frame up above the mantel where you'll see it for sure.
"What Do You Say to That" is a sweet little love song. 

"That's The Truth" reminds me of Famous Last Words of A Fool--as far as theme goes. "Peace of mind" is an easy-going, happy to be alive song. "That's Where I Want To Take Our Love" is a sweet little love song. It's a very settling-down, let's-raise-a-family type love song. "Always Never The Same" is a fast-and-flirty love song with a LOT of happy-making piano bits! "One of You" is another fast-and-happy love song. (It isn't the only country song with counting in it.)
Last night I had a dream, dreamt I had it all I had it all
I had one truck, one car
One boat, one guitar
But all these things wouldn't get me too far
If I didn't have one of you
I work hard every day to bring home all my pay
I got one house, one yard
One dog who likes to bark
We'd be cold, living the dark if I didn't have one of you
"I Look At You" is another love song. (Some albums lean heavy towards love; some albums lean towards being all sad-and-lonely. This album obviously is very much LOVE.) That being said, 4 Minus 3 Equals Zero is very much a SAD song. Is it the saddest George sings, that's a good question. I think it's in the top three of the saddest-songs. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. Listening to King George, part 5

If you want to follow along with this project, all related posts are tagged George Strait Project.

Today, I'll be starting with his tenth album Livin' It Up. I must admit I fell a bit in love with this one. As in I didn't want to let it go when it was time to move on to the next album to listen to. It features ten songs.

It features three hit songs: "I've Come To Expect It From You," "Drinking Champagne," and "Love Without End, Amen."

Of the three hit songs I love "I've Come To Expect It From You" the best. Here's how it begins:

"So upset
Nervous wreck
I can't believe you said goodbye"

And the chorus: How could you do what you've gone and done to me? I wouldn't treat a dog the way you treated me. But that's what I get, I've come to expect it from you.

My favorite line is probably: There won't be no more next time doing me wrong. You'll come back this time to find out that I'm gone.

The seven new-to-me songs include, "Someone Had To Teach You," "Heaven Must Be Wondering Where You Are," "Lonesome Rodeo Cowboy," "When You're A Man On Your Own," "We're Supposed To Do That Now and Then," "She Loves Me (She Don't Love You)" and "Stranger In My Arms."

Of those seven, I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "Someone Had To Teach You," "We're Supposed To Do That Now and Then," and "She Loves Me (She Don't Love You)."

Someone Had To Teach You:

Yes, I'll take you back again, you knew I would
For I go on lovin' you that's understood
But it's the first time you've come back with tears in your eyes
Lately someone's taught you how to cry
Someone had to teach you I didn't have the heart to
Hurt you just like you've been hurting me
Someone had to teach you things it's time that you knew
Now maybe you'll be satisfied with me

She Loves Me (She Don't Love You):

Well now I can see your dancin' every dance with her
And it seems to me that your dancin' much too close to her
When you sat down at our table
You sat next to her
But I know that it's true
She loves me, She don't love you

The Chill of an Early Fall is George Strait's eleventh album. Four of the ten songs on this album were released as singles: "The Chill of An Early Fall," "If I Know Me, "You Know Me Better Than That," and "Lovesick Blues." I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "You Know Me Better Than That."

Baby, since you left me, there's somebody new
She thinks I'm perfect, I swear
She likes my body, my class and my charm
She says I've got a confident air
She respects my ambition, thinks I'm talented too
But she's in love with an image time is bound to see through
Oh, you know me better than that
You know the me that gets lazy and fat
How moody I can be, all my insecurities
You've seen me lose all my charm
You know I was raised on a farm
Oh, she tells her friends I'm perfect
And that I love her cat
But you know me better than that

I also love If I Know Me.  Here's the official music video from 1991.

The album also includes: "I've Convinced Everybody But Me," "Anything You Can Spare," "Home in San Antone," "Milk Cow Blues," "Her Only Bad Habit Is Me," and "Is It Already Time."

I really fell for "Is It Already Time?"

The years have been so good to you and I my friend
They brought us to the Autumn wind and left the tears behind
And who'd have dreamed that love could grow so endlessly
And you'd have meant so much to me, is it already time?
And I will always love you so
We'll hold each other close until it's time to go
And we believed we had forever on our side
Is it already time?
And I will always love you so
We'll hold each other close until it's time to go
And we believed we had forever on our side
Is it already time?
And we believed we had forever on our side
Is it already time?

I'd listen to that song first, if you've a mind to, and then cheer yourself up with a song like "Home In San Antone."

Holding My Own is the twelfth album. It features the singles: "Gone As A Girl Can Get," and "So Much Like My Dad."

It also features: "You're Right, I'm Wrong," "Holding My Own," "Trains Make Me Lonesome," "All of Me (Loves All of You), "Wonderland of Love," "Faults and All," "It's Alright With Me," and "Here We Go Again."

My favorite song on the album is probably "You're Right, I'm Wrong."  It begins:

You're right, I'm wrong
I'm here, you're gone
Now I'm the one to blame
That our loves at an end
I lied, you cried
I died inside
Now I'll do anything
To get you back again

I also liked "Here We Go Again."

1992 also saw the release of Pure Country. It is his thirteenth album, but, also a soundtrack. It has sold over six million copies (according to wikipedia).

It features these singles: "Heartland," "I Cross My Heart," and "When Did You Stop Loving Me." Another song, "Overnight Male," got a LOT of radio time as well.

Other songs include: "Baby Your Baby," "She Lays It All on the Line," "Last in Love," "Thoughts of a Fool," "The King of Broken Hearts," and "Where The Sidewalk Ends."

There were official music videos for "Heartland" and "I Cross My Heart."

My favorite new-to-me song was probably "Baby Your Baby." But the album as a whole is strong. It has been fun to revisit the early nineties with George Strait. By this time, I was listening to country music on the radio regularly--on the way to and from school in the car.

I leave you with a video:

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Cyrano

Cyrano. Geraldine McCaughrean. 2006. HMH. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The curtain goes up. Silence falls. A painted moon wavers on a painted backdrop. The audience shivers with delight. For what could be better than an evening at a Paris theatre? Who more famous than the evening's glittering star? Enter the magnificent Montfleury, stage right!

Premise/plot: A prose adaptation--for teens--of the French play Cyrano de Bergerac written by British author Geraldine McCaughrean. Now, I do love the play. And I'd probably recommend the play over this adaptation--at least for adults. Especially since I believe it is now out of print. It is sad, right, that by the time I got to this review copy it was already out of print?!

Here's the basic story for those who don't know it: Cyrano is in love with his cousin, Roxane. He finds her to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Roxane is in love with a young soldier (cadet) named Christian. She thinks he is the most handsome man in the world. Christian loves Roxane, but, he lacks the skill to woo her the way she wants to be wooed. She's not interested so much in his kisses as his passionate words of longing. Cyrano who is just as skilled in wordplay as in swordplay steps in to help where he can. He'll give Christian the words to speak to win her heart. When both men go off to war it is Cyrano who risks his life--twice daily--to send letters to her so she won't worry that Christian has been killed. Those letters bring her great joy and drive her mad with wanting him....so much so that she goes into a war zone to find her man. When the two meet she declares, IT IS YOUR SOUL I LOVE, YOU COULD BE THE UGLIEST MAN ALIVE AND I WOULD LOVE YOU STILL, PERHAPS EVEN MORE. Now Christian begs her, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE LOVE ME BECAUSE I'M BEAUTIFUL AND HANDSOME AND SWOON-WORTHY. THAT'S THE WAY I WANT TO BE WANTED. She's confused. But reader's aren't. Christian knows that it is Cyrano whom she truly loves because Cyrano is "his soul." What's to be done?!?!

My thoughts: For readers who are really intimidated by reading plays, then this one is worth seeking out. I do think it serves as a good first introduction to the story. I would hope that readers would grow into the original and seek to experience the story again and again.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. First Impressions: Doll Bones, Promise of Shadows, and The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic

I have a backlog of books that I want to say something about, but I'm not sure I have all that much to say about, beyond the initial notes that I made for myself. It doesn't help that I read some of them months ago, and I'm starting to forget the nuances. Ouch.

So in order to clear up the backlog and catch up a little, I'm going to be doing First Impressions posts every now and then.
Title: Doll Bones
Author: Holly Black
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library
Summary: Haunted by the feeling that their childhood is slipping away, three friends go seeking the story behind the doll that has featured in their make-believe stories for years.
First Impressions: Creeeeeeeeeeepy, but also balanced with a quintessentially tween story of everybody growing up at different paces.

Title: Promise of Shadows
Author: Justina Ireland
Published: 2014
Source: review copy from publisher
Summary: Zephyr Mourning isn't a great harpy, but when her sister dies, she does her job of wreaking vengeance on the man responsible. But because it was Hermes, she's not rewarded but sent to the Underworld as punishment. When she escapes, she finds out that she might be more powerful and dangerous than even she expected.
First Impressions: Took some time to get into. I realized most of the way through that this girl - flawed, prickly, murderous, and grappling with dark powers - would have been the villain in any other book. That was actually pretty cool. The love story was a little lackluster. I didn't feel the pull toward the love interest and I didn't know why Zephyr did, either.

Title: The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic
Author: Uma Krishnaswami
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library
Summary: Bollywood superstar Dolly Singh is premiering her new movie at the Smithsonian, and superfan Dinni couldn't be more excited. But as the premier draws closer, everything seems to be falling apart, including Dinni's relationship with her best friend Maddie. In Bollywood epics, all problems are solved with a song and a dance, but will that work in real life?
First Impressions: As frothy and fun and Bollywoodish as the first book.

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