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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. Text haiku

Tough times when a person's favorite people move away. Sending texts to simply say "We miss you," gets old...to say nothing of annoying. So today, I took another tactic.

"This screen is empty/ no when, no where, no questions/ an expanse of gone."

The reply came line by line. "Memorial day.". " going to the pool soon". "Hope all is well, Mom.". " That's a haiku."

And so it continued.  At one point I got this message. "I could do this all day.".

So could I.

Some more haiku texts: " I don't want to walk.". "But D-c- wants to walk there." " So walking it is."

"Not really walking." "Your dad is carrying you." "And he is tired."

My text haiku deteriorated after my first attempt.

I am finished now. My screen is dressed in letters. My heart is at rest.

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2. Stick and Stone

I love Picture Book trailers.  Here's a cute one for you.


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3. I Read YA!!

I read YA week is HERE!!

http://link.scholastic.com/YesConnect/HtmlMessagePreview?a=5jGId-sc9RqiKcQtqoUI8ZQl&Version=web

Check out all the great book recommendations, prizes, photos and stuff on Scholastic's This Is Teen page.

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4. The Winnah!

Becky Ginther!  You have won the copy of Fog Diver!!  Send me your snail mail address please at bookkm@gmail.com.

Thanks.!

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5. FLAVIA!!! and Giveaway deadline







Tomorrow is the last day for the Fog Diver giveaway.  Comment here or on the original post and your name goes in the Oracular Yogurt Cup from which a winner will emerge.   It's a fun Sci-Fi novel for middle grades with a steampunk edge.  I will announce the winner here by noon Eastern time tomorrow and it's up to you to email me at bookkm@gmail.com with your snail mail address.

And what have I been doing this past week?  Visiting with relatives and reading the latest adventures of pre-teen sleuth and chemist, Flavia De Luce.  When last seen, Flavia found out that she was to be sent off to boarding school in Toronto, CA of all places - far, far from the field of the ancestral De Luce home in merry old England.  Since then, she has starred in a short story - The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse - in which Flavia is called to the local boarding school to figure out what happened to the teacher found dead in a dorm bathtub and plated with copper.  

After that, she is banished to Toronto.  The very first night there, she is assaulted by a classmate and a dessicated corpse rolls out of the dorm room chimney. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is Flavia's most recent foray into detection.  Far from home, dealing with unfamiliar routines and unwritten rules, given contradictory directions at every turn, it is no wonder that Flavia is often close to tears.  WHAT!!!!???  Not redoubtable Flavia De Luce!  Scourge of older sisters!  Dissembler extraordinaire!  Yes, Flavia ends up sobbing in this novel and, personally, I would have been wailing before the 3rd page, if I was she.  (If there are tears can hormones be far behind?  Perish the thought!)


Luckily, for readers everywhere, I am NOT Flavia.  Flavia fans may have trouble following this book because no one is entirely trustworthy at Buncombe Academy - especially the staff.  There is a lot of cloak and dagger-y spyish stuff.  Flavia gets a little bit closer to what her mother might have been involved in before her disappearance and death.  Don't expect anything but hints and rumors though. 

The mystery at Buncombe involves disappearing students, suspicious Board members, a chemistry teacher suspected of murdering her husband - with poison to Flavia's delight.  That Academy is a hot mess, all the way around. 

The ending made me happy and that is all I will say here. 

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6. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

  Twig is an only child as far as the townspeople know.  They don't realize that her older brother James lives in the attic, out at Fowler Farm.  Twig's mother returned to the family farm late at night when Twig was small.  The rules were set right then and there.  The Fowlers kept to themselves; made no friends; excepted no visitors.  200 years before, Agnes Early, who lived in abandoned Mourning Dove Cottage, put a curse on all the men in the Fowler family.

The town of Sidwell accepts their own, no matter how strange they behave.  Besides, with a series of small thefts, reports of strange things flying at night and weird graffiti, the townsfolk can't worry about the Fowler women.

Then, one day, Mourning Dove Cottage is no longer abandoned.  Twig finds a friend.  James finds a reason to come out of hiding.  And the Fowler family finds themselves in the spotlight.

The story is compelling.  The characters well-drawn and sympathetic.  The dilemma faced by all the young people in this book is troublesome.  How do they protect James from people who might misunderstand his differences?  How can they break the curse?

I never felt that the book was written for young people.  There was a measured pace - not that things didn't happen quickly enough.  They did.  But the pace seemed better suited to more seasoned readers.  As things became complicated, though, I felt the author explained feelings too much.  I wasn't sure she trusted her audience.  These two things made a stellar book a little less starry.

The story is the kind we fall asleep dreaming of - possibilities, hopes and moonlight.  Enjoy.

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7. Fog Diver Giveaway

This has been the Week of ARCs.  I received TWO copies of Fog Diver by Joel Ross and I'd love to gift one to somebody.

Chess is a tether diver.  He dives from an airborne salvage raft into the Fog that covers the earth. The Fog eventually poisons humans exposed to it, forcing people to live on the sides and tops of mountains.  The remains of human civilization lie beneath the Fog, just waiting to be retrieved by tether divers like Chess.  But Chess is different.  One of his eyes has Fog swirling inside it.  He hides this disfigurement the best he can with the help of the salvage raft's crew - Hazel, bossy, clever and brave; Swedish, the best pilot a raft could have but a wee bit paranoid; and Bea, the sweetest little gearhead around.  Chess's eye makes him the prey of the evil Lord Kodoc of the Roof-toppers and puts his crew mates and their foster mother, Mrs. E, in danger of capture, slavery or worse.

Set far in the future - the origin of the Fog is technical and strained this reader's credulity - the crew's conversation is peppered with pop culture references from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Ross mixes facts and fiction in these references in a humorous diversion from the fast paced action of the plot.

The crew flies, crashes and tumbles from one dangerous situation to another for the ENTIRE book.  And there are enough questions left at the end of the book to make a sequel, maybe more than, one a probability.  I say, a sequel is a necessity.

Ross designs a clever future world, laid waste by technology run amok.  Chess and his crew are a likeable close-knit family and Ross gives each character specific talents and personalities. 

Young readers won't care how the Fog began.  They WILL LOVE all the action and last-second escapes in this book.

If you'd like a copy of Fog Diver, which, alas, does not have any art or cover design on it, please comment below.   The book is due out on May 26th.  I will do my best to get it to you before then.

This giveaway offer ends on May 18th.  Remember, I choose the winner by putting your comments in the Oracular Yogurt Container and picking one.  So comment away!!

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8. Listen!




   I rarely - if ever - email authors.  Today, I emailed Thanha Lai with a suggestion for a spin-off from her book  Listen, Slowly.  Before we go any further, I must apologize for not using diacritical marks in this review.  Diacritical marks are VERY important in Viet Namese, as Lai's book shows.

First, the review.  All the reviews tell you that 12-year-old Mai is a California girl through and through.  When she is chosen to go with her grandmother, or Ba (there should be an accent on that "a", slanting down from left to right, I think.) to Viet Nam to learn what happened to Mai's grandfather in THE WAR, Mai is furious.  She has a life, right there in Laguna, with a BFF and possible boyfriend.  Middle school rants ensue.

But Ba, quiet, peaceful, fragile Ba, how can Mai say no to Ba?  She can't.  The two of them travel to the village where Ong and Ba grew up; where Ong and Ba were betrothed, he only 7, she just 5; where they married and started a family; where Mai finds strangers who think of her as family.  It is all so odd.

The description of village life in North Viet Nam is delightfully confusing, full of details of what people eat, how they socialize, their dress, their formal and consistent good manners, even their fulsome speech.  The village seems to operate with one mind. Everyone is very careful of each other and of the things they use.  And they are curious about the larger world and about strangers and customs. 

This description led to my suggestion.  Lai describes a facial treatment that one of the Aunts forces Mai through and how it restores Mai's skin to beauty.  Then there is the lice treatment; and a potion to thwart intestinal microbes that Mai accidentally swallows.   Although Lai describes what Mai sees as these concoctions are made, wouldn't it be awesome if there was a book about these remedies?  I'd buy it.

Back to the book.  Ba's search takes so much longer than Mai hoped.  Her infrequent forays on the Internet make Mai more homesick than ever. (Is BFF Montana really making a move on the boy that Mai likes????)  One of Mai's big lessons is to learn not to worry about things she can't change.

I want to tell someone the whole plot - the trip to Ha Noi, with her new friend, Ut.; the HUGE frog that Ut totes with her; Anh Minh, the serious, hard-working, teen translator - and the two girls who compete for Anh Minh's attention.  The wordy detective, the reluctant guard, and Ba, strong Ba, who can not be at peace until she knows.  And then... and then...the ending, heart-breaking, calming and true.

Yep.  This book goes on my Best of the Best list for 2015.  Cheers for Mai, who grows so much in this book.  Cheers for Ba, who never wavers in her search for acceptance.  Cheers for the guard and the detective, who did their very best.  Cheers for Mom and Dad.  Cheers for Anh Minh and Ut and the whole village.  And cheers for Thanha Lai for such a wonderful book.









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9. Pulling a scam & learning to be Popular

Jackson Greene has spent four looooong months behaving like a model citizen since he was caught lip-locking Kelsey in front of the Principal's door. (He was trying to pick the lock.  The kiss was a cover-up.) BUT when he hears that Keith Sinclair is running for Student Council President against his ex-bet friend, Gaby de la Cruz, he assembles a team and gets to work.

Varian Johnson has written a guidebook to pulling scams in his book The Great Greene Heist.  Jackson's team of middle school nerds, techies, cheerleaders and chess champs manages to uncover a plot to fix the election so that Keith will win.  There are references to Jackson's older brother, Samuel, and a criminally inclined grandfather that makes ME hope for more about the Greene family of rapscallions.



Maya Van Wagenen was an 8th grade Social Outcast at her middle school.  Even the sixth graders insulted her.  When she found a copy of Betty Cornell's Teenager Popularity Guide circa 1951, her mom suggested that Maya follow the guide as an experiment and journal about it.  The result is Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, a clever, funny and moving adventure into the social jungle that is Middle School.  Maya followed advice that is timeless AND dated in her attempt to be popular.  And what Maya learned is a lesson we can all use.



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10. Knitting, Pinkerton's, Finishing School, & a Princess

I finished three books since this weekend.  No, make that four. The Detective's Assistant




 And here they are:

The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan.   Just plain fun!  Cornelia Warne is dumped with her uncle's widow, Aunt Kitty Warne, after everyone else in her family has died.  Aunt Kitty blames Cornelia's father for the death of his brother Matthew, her husband and does not want a 12-year-old hanging around.  Kate - as Aunt Kitty prefers to be called - is Pinkerton's first woman agent.  Based on the real Kate Warne, this book is a romp!  Traveling around the eastern US in the days right before Abe Lincoln's inauguration,  Nell, as Aunt Kitty decides to call Cornelia, ends up helping the Pinkerton's in several cases.  Nell's letters to and from her best friend, Jemma, who fled to Canada to escape slavers, add background painlessly.  American history delivered up with a lot of fun and some suspense and sadness, too.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger.  Sophronia Temminick has a new weapon, the steel bladed fan - so fashionable!.  She also has a dilemma of the heart.  Should she choose Shoe, the sootie of entirely the wrong social class and race?  Or go with Lord Felix Mersey - he of the influential Papa and Pickleman leanings?  When Sidheag, one of Sophronia's closest friends at Madame Geraldine's, runs off to Scotland because of a huge family crisis (involving the death of a Beta werewolf and a renegade pack), Sophronia, Dimity, Soap AND Felix steal a steam train to help Sidheag's journey.  Things get drastic and deadly serious toward the end. 

Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton.  Through no fault of his own - well, hardly - Ben Fletcher is on probation.  He has to "keep a journal" - which he already does! - learn a craft or trade, and do community service.  The craft class offerings at community college are a bit slim.  He chooses knitting since the teacher is the hottest single female teacher at the high school.  And he finds that he is a natural at knitting.  It's so calming.  What Ben needs is calming.
Ben's parents, extremely messy home and daft friends, stress Ben out in a major way.  Add to that his tendency to take AS courses in math and science and his OCD leanings and you have one anxious teen.  And then there is Megan!  Does she like him or not??  He likes HER!  He has to keep his growing knitting mania a secret from his dad and everyone else.  But he's just sooooo good at it.
After you get past the corny behavior of Ben's dad and mom, this book is laugh out loud funny.

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot.  Olivia Grace Clarice Mignonette Harrison is about as normal as a 12 year old girl can be - except for the dead mom and invisible Dad and incredibly long name.  Dad writes every month but Olivia has never met him.  Ever.  When the sixth grade queen bee, Annabelle, challenges Olivia to a fight after school and accuses Olivia of being a princess, Olivia is stunned.  But, yeah, she is a princess and half-sister to Princess Mia of Genovia.  And, there are some allegations of serious wrongdoing on the part of Olivia's aunt and guardian.
       The premise of this series is every bit as awkward and unbelievable as the premise of the Princess Diaries but, you know what?  The audience for these books will not care. In. The. Least.  Cabot's writing is effortless; the pages turn themselves.  If you want to escape from middle school worries, girls, here's the book for you.
 From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

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11. Brain Pickings - KU2015


Someday blogging is SO easy.  My inbox delivered this post from Brain Pickings about 15 picture book biographies.  The illustrations for the Pablo Neruda biography are so vibrant.  Check the post here.


AND - tada - you can look at my KU2015 book list here.  The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference was wonderful yesterday.  I love talking about books with other readers and authors.

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12. Inclusive libraries? Odds and ends

*In an attempt to be inclusive in our public libraries, do we make an effort to speak to everyone??  Here's an article about serving our "conservative" young people, thanks to School Library Journal.
_http://www.slj.com/2015/03/collection-development/serving-conservative-teens/#_

*Want a free audio book?  Want a free audio book about one of the most charismatic and enigmatic Civil Rights leaders ever?  Read below for directions on a chance to download a FREE MP3 of the novel X: A Novel .

"The teen literacy program SYNC will feature X in its program from May 14 through May 21, in commemoration of Malcolm X’s ninetieth birthday. During that week, the audiobook version will be available as a free MP3 download through the SYNC website.

Starting now, you can text “xnovel” to the number 25827. The reply text will read:
“Meet Malcolm X before he was X. Free spoken word MP3 coming 2U 5/14. Get app for listening @ http://app.overdrive.com/”
 
On May 14, an additional text will arrive with a link to the download page and pointers on how to load the MP3 onto your player.
X: A Novel
Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
HC: 978-0-7636-6967-6
Also available as an e-book and in audio"



  

Thanks,


 

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13. KU Booklist

It's done.  So now I find a bunch of tiles I did not include.  This a quandary.  Do I type up an addendum?  Do I just read off those titles?  Should I gather those books and take them along?  Sigh.
What I REALLY want to do is read Tom Angleberger's The Rat with the Human Face.  Who wouldn't?  Right?
The Rat with the Human Face: The Qwikpick Papers

Here are some new and/or still hot topics in young people's literature:

How kids with various learning differences think and experience the world.
Prime numbers - ok, I only read TWO books with prime numbers in them but I have rarely seen prime numbers given so much attention before.
Art thefts.
Ghost infestations.  Ghosts are always popular, but infestations - good or bad - seem to be a theme these days.
The 1910s - especially in Russia and WWI
World War II evacuees
The Red Menace and Joe McCarthy. 
The EVER popular finding a hidden treasure somewhere in order to save a house/town/family/school/forest!  Man, I want a hidden treasure RIGHT NOW!

I have kept away books about kids being abducted or imprisoned but that also seems to be popular as a theme - especially in Young Adult. I'm retired.  I can read what I want.

I have a book waiting.  Gotta go.

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14. Reading update

I finished these books in the last few days:

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner.  This book is very "Matilda"-ish.  Emily, a baby found in a hat box, is adopted by a quite fashionable couple. When the couple have their own triplets, Emily becomes the housekeeper, nanny and laundress - all at the tender age of 6 (?).  Luckily, Emily's neighbors, a pleasant old woman and a large tortoiseshell cat, help Emily get her work done and teach her to read and write - in four languages - including Middle English.  An accident, a daring escape and lots and lots of brightly colored bunnies add up to truly magical adventures. 

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire -  An imprisoned monk tells a tale of swapped identities, witches, firebirds, ice dragons and Tsars.  Historical fiction meshes with Russian folklore in this cautionary tale.  It's hard to do this book justice in a few sentences.

Egg & Spoon
I LOVE this cover.

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi.  Baseball, hard boiled detectives and Joe McCarthy tangle with each other in this page turner.  I loved it.  Avi draws the period so well in this book, the mistrust, the bullying, the radio shows, the family drama.  I think I will buy this book. 

Where Things Come Back  By John Corey Whaley.  Just exactly what the large reputedly extinct woodpecker, the Lazarus bird, has to do with the other events in this book is a mystery to me.  No matter.  In the space of one summer, 17-year-old Cullen has to identify the body of his druggie cousin, figure out what to do with very attentive girls, and search for his suddenly missing younger brother.  It is Gabe's disappearance that absorbs the reader's attention against the backdrop of Lazarus Bird mania.  The way Whaley plays with timelines of different people's stories kept me turning pages.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy.  Although this appears to be fourth-grader, Eli's, story, his three brothers get a lot of attention as well.  This family of four adopted boys and two loving fathers deals with new schools, fractured friendships, secrets and grouchy neighbors in this fun family novel.

And I think there was another book!.  More later.

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15. Read a Vacation!

I took a book vacation over the last few days.  I traveled to Enchantment Lake in the Minnesota North Woods. 

As Francie was waiting for her turn to audition for a play, her Great Aunt Astrid called and told Francesca to "Come quickly." 
  17-year-old Francie is on her own - sort of - since her father died in an accident 7 years before.  Her grandfather keeps watch on Francie.  So, of course, Francie calls her grandfather about this mysterious phone call and he just laughs.

Huh!  Francie races home to Enchantment Lake, where her great-aunts live without electricity or a road and the story these two women tell Francie is both unsurprisingly confusing and unexpectedly frightening.  People along the undeveloped side of Enchantment Lake (where the great-aunts live) are meeting with strange accidents - FATAL accidents.  Dum dum DUMMMMMM!!

Reading this book was like taking a vacation.  I loved the setting - and anyone who has spent time on a wooded lake as a child will love this setting, too.  And I loved the set-up; including Francie's estranged-in-a-friendly-negligent-sort-of-way family AND where Francie is when she gets the garbled phone call.  I truly enjoyed the characters, people Francie has known all her life, changed and grown older; the batty great-aunts, the handsome lawyer-to-be, her old friend Ginger and the little brother, T.J., the sheriff, the resort owner, the fat real estate developer - yep, all of them.

BUT, best of all, is this.  Margie Preus asks a lot of questions about Francie's family and doesn't answer a single one of them!! You know what that means, right?  She's planning a series about Francie and this little community.  I am so excited!


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16. Books, et al



So this week I read:


I never read the other books in this series.  Reviews say that THIS book, which is supposed to be the last, is darker than the others in the series.  Joey just about makes himself unfixable in his attempts to put his family back together.  Gantos draws a picture of hope springing eternal and the ending has the reader crossing her fingers that everything hangs together.


 Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
 Books about children who cannot read make me wonder who the audience is supposed to be.  This book is available as an audiobook and I am grateful for that.  How a child could get to 6th grade without anyone knowing that they cannot read is a puzzle to me, even though it happened to at least one of my siblings.
But Hunt's heroine hides her disability so well that everyone thinks she just has a bad attitude.  Enter thoughtful teacher!!!  And he understands that when a child "refuses" to learn there is something else going on.  Good book to share with a class, a teacher and a struggling reader - on audio, probably.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper 
Stella's brother wakes her up one night to show her the white hooded figures burning a cross on the other side of the river.  The year is 1932.   Times are hard everywhere.  And now, the black community is threatened.  On Sunday, the Pastor exhorts his flock to register to vote.  Stella's Dad is one of the three black man who choose to register.  He takes Stella along to be his "standing stone".  Based on family stories shared with the author, this book paints a credible picture of a black community in the south and the trials and joys they experience.  So good!

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
I could not help draw parallels between the 1.5% of the Russion population who controlled 90% of the wealth in the beginning of the 20th century to our own rich and privileged few.  They were clueless about the sufferings of most Russians, choosing to believe that the poor were clean, happy and well-fed.  Nicholas andAlexandra would have made great suburbanites, raising their brood and tending their graden and gossiping with the neighbors.  But as leaders, they were ostriches - downright cruel in their insistent ignorance.  Awesome book!  Eye-opening and astounding.

ALSO The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, and Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
Niles is a prankster extraordinaire but at his new school an unknown nemesis outpranks him at every turn.  When he meets this mastermind face to face, Niles declares a prank war.  Oh, Niles, you FOOL!!  Please, if you do try these ideas at home, do NOT mention where you read this review.

Now, I will go to bed.




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17. Teen Story Slam

Nuff said.  More tomorrow.

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18. Moonpenny Island

Moonpenny IslandI hated growing up.  And that time - just before the world turned upside down - when I was still a child but I felt it all leaking away - I fought that time with every sobbing breath.  It took me a while to realize that you don't just - poof! - grow up.  It happens bit by bit.  I didn't like learning about adulthood's inevitability.  (There are those who think I fight it still.)



In Tricia Springstubb's Moonpenny Island, Flor and Sylvie are perfect friends.  This is a good thing.  They are the only 11-year-olds on Moonpenny Island.  But the end of summer brings enormous changes.  Sylvie leaves to go to school on the mainland and Flor is alone.  Flor's older sister, perfect Cecelia, has started acting strangely.  And her parents, well, they should not be acting that way at all.

On a small island, it can be easy to put people in slots. Flor must open her eyes.  She needs to see people as more than just labels.  Ceclia is not "perfect".  Perry is more than just the "bad boy".  Joe Hawkes is not "trash".  And her best, best BEST friend, does not have to stay the same always.

A young visitor to the island - a paleontologist's daughter - a family crisis, and her own impetus nature force Flor to truly see her island, and her family, for the first time. 

Good book.  Read it. 

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19. BoB Battle Plan










It distresses me that the books I have read already in this year's SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books are toward the end of the battle.  No fair!  I DID read Brown Girl Dreaming.  But not another title until The Madman of Piney Woods in Round 5.  And then, I skip to Round 8, where I read both titles, We Were Liars  and  West of the Moon. I had better start reading aggressively.  There are trips to my local libraries and bookstores in my future.BattlePlans2015_SLJcom

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20. Treehouse series

This is NOT Mary Pope Osborne's Treehouse.  You will see what I mean when you visit this site.
This series is so BOY that I - not being a BOY - had trouble reading the first book.  Andy and Terry started with a 13-story treehouse.  Then they added 13 more stories in the second book, The 26-Story Treehouse.  Can you guess the title of the forthcoming book?*

This treehouse does not have magic time-traveling powers.  It DOES have the scariest roller coaster in the world and a baby dinosaur petting zoo, 2 or more swimming pools, and an anti-gravity chamber.  Among other things.

Check them out.  Click here.

* Here's a hint:

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21. Life happens


holespoles:  林明子(Akiko Hayashi)



We had no water for 11 days.  Heat?  Check!  Power?  Good!  Water?  No, sorry.  We spent a lot of time filling up jugs and dragging them home, visiting relatives just to use their showers and washing machines, and melting snow.  Yes, I even resorted to melting snow for flushing toilets.

Since we are doing a lot of babysitting at the same time, I am not reading much - except for awesome picture books like Aki and the Fox by Akiko Hayashi.  Kon the Fox gets into a lot of trouble on the train ride to visit Grandma .  I have always wanted a sequel to this book.  I found the second illustration on klappersacks.tumblr.com

AND 10 Minutes to Bedtime by Peggy Rathman.  The little hamster kicking his soccer ball makes my favorite listener giggle every time.






10 minutes till bedtime

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22. Children of the King

The BoB competition starts on Monday, March 9th, with Brown Girl Dreaming facing off against Children of the King.  I have chosen which book I hope will win but it is not an easy choice and I won't be surprised if my choice bites the dust early.
Brown Girl Dreaming             The Children of the King

Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett offers, at least, two story lines.  Cecily and her older brother Jeremy accompany their mother, Heloise, to the family seat, Heron Hall, to wait out the War.  Their father stays in London to do "important work". They arrive with scores of evacuee children and end up taking home 10-year-old May.  Uncle Peregrine answers questions about the castle ruins on the estate by telling a story about an historical Duke's rise to power. The stories intertwine as the German assault on London begins and worsens. 


 May, whose audacity surprises, maddens, and delights Cecily, discovers two boys hanging around the castle ruins.  Who are they?  What are they doing in a centuries old ruin?  Why do they speak so imperiously?

Meanwhile 14-year-old Jeremy is tortured by his inactivity.  The pressure of duty - to help in the war effort, to behave nobly - makes him irritable and demanding.  His mother refuses to listen to him - or to hear what he is actually saying.

I sometimes wondered for whom Hartnett wrote this book.  The sophisticated language hints at so much more than it says.  Hartnett offers the most insight into two characters, childish Cecily, and controlled Heloise.  Cecily is the main character, although she seems to fumble along after other people. But the glimpses behind icy Heloise's composure enlarges the audience to adults who enjoy historical fiction and stately language.

I will tell you if I believe this book will rise BoB victorious in a future post.  In the meantime, compare Children of the King to The War that Saved My Life for two different experiences of WWII young evacuees.

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23. SLJ's BoB Round 1

Before I head over to see which book was chosen in this morning's Battle of the Kids' Books, I must state my choice to move on.  As intricate and complicated as Children of the King is, I hope that Brown Girl Dreaming wins this first round. Jacqueline Woodson's memoir in verse is magnificent. 

Brown Girl Dreaming     Let's see if today's BoB judge agrees with me.

Update:  YES!!   http://blogs.slj.com/battleofthebooks/

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24. Professor Wormbog - revisited

Grandkids let us revisit the books we hid from their parents because we could NOT BEAR to read those books one more time.  My son and I had a deal:  If I was an overly grumpy Mom - and we both had to agree that that was the case - I had to read  Little Monster's Word Book by Mercer Mayer.  And he had me read the CIP info on the back of the title page, the ISBN on the back of the book and any print he could find.  I loved the book a lot, just not every night for months on end.  Hence the arrangement.   ( I would never choose a book I personally disliked for this routine. Animal Crackers - a book of animal jokes - was another Grumpy Mom book.  I have a copy in the attic, just waiting for the right moment.)

I never hid this book by Mercer Mayer;  Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-zoo. I enjoyed the story, the fun-filled illustrations and the ending.  So did my boy, and now my grandchild loves this book, too.

  Enjoy!
Here is a video the author/illustrator made in 2007.

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25. Happy Irish Day




So, in the 1890's one Garrett Nolan left his green, green isle and traveled west to this land of ours.  He was my great-grandfather.  I think that makes me 1/4 Irish.  But, isn't that silly?  I've never been to Ireland and I have barely been out of this valley of Lehigh.

New PolicemanBe that as it may, today we celebrate all the Irish immigrants who made this land their home AND we celebrate the British Roman citizen who loved Ireland, St. Patrick.  He was wise enough to describe Christianity in the terms of Celtic mythology making the two belief systems compatible.  Or so I have been led to believe.

When I think of Ireland and books about the same, I think immediately of Kate Thompson's The New Policeman.  Fantasy and lots of mythology and the theft of time and the loss of magic.  I only read the first book and no I find that there are 2 more.  I am so happy to add those to my list of books to read.

Before Maryrose Wood wrote her famous series about the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, she also wrote a series about the daughter of The Queen of the fairies.  The stories take place in Ireland where the teen has gone for a summer bike trip and falls head over heels for the tour guide.  She also discovers her legacy and a brother, who may or may not be a pooka.  The first book in the trilogy is Why I Let my Hair Grow OutThese books are a fun romp through the Celtic pantheon.

And, of course,  Hibernian Nights, by Seamus MacManus, belongs on any list of books about Ireland.  This collection of Irish tales is stupendous and fun. 

May your day be fun of green, sunshine and peace.
May your blessings flow over and troubles decrease!







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