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1. Booktalking Season

Last year I was so organized that I shared my booktalks online, while this year I've been lucky if they are mentally rehearsed before I go into the school. I've had a lot on my mind.

But whether or not I have a graduating senior or need to plan the Girl Scout bridging ceremony for over a hundred girls, our booktalking season is upon us. Quite late this year as our kids are still in school. In fact, that senior doesn't even get to do the graduating part until June 23rd. Crazy, right? It's especially frustrating as other high schools were done yesterday, but we all have to take our turn with the local university facilities and we are last. It's ridiculous.

So far I've gone into two elementary schools to talk about the summer reading program and booktalk some titles, and it's gone well. I had a great partner both times, which really helps. We have different kinds of books, and we can take turns with the introductions and the talking. I'm not thrilled to be heading out tomorrow alone for a four hour stretch with no breaks and seven class sessions. Is that how other public libraries do it, I wonder?

Later I'll share some of the books I talked about this year. My "hooks" weren't as good as usual, but there were definitely some titles that caught their attention. It was great luck being able to pitch a soccer book - Keeper, by Mal Peet - during the World Cup games. Lots of interest there!


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2. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Winners!

What a weekend! With all the reading and reviewing done over the last couple of days, I feel like we're all winners. Am I right? But there were some noteworthy 48HBC achievements to be recognized and to prizes to award, so let's get started!

With 38 hours and 34 books read, the Champion of the Challenge is one Ms. Yingling! She wins the opportunity to donate a set of forty multicultural titles to a school or library of her choice through the generosity of Reading is Fundamental. Since she was a big prize donor of books and is so reluctant to receive back, she'll be getting a surprise prize package from yours truly. Both congratulations and thanks go out to her!

Coming in at 35.5 hours and 13 books read and reviewed is The One and Only Marfalfa. Beth at Library Chicken gives up 32 hours and reviews eight books for the challenge, and close behind with 30 hours of reading and reviewing is Alex at Randomly Reading. They will all be receiving an audiobook from Robin Brande and a collection of books contributed by Ms. Yingling!

And now for some prizes selected at random, just for playing:

The winner of five multicultural picture and chapter books from MotherReader is:
Sprout's Bookshelf!

The winner of a set of four diverse young adult books from Kelly at Stacked is:
A Random Hodge Podge of Bookishness!

And the winner of the second RIF multicultural book collection, along with an author signed Cupcake Cousins and tote bag designed by Tiffany Gholar, is:
Library Mama!

We had eighteen members of the 20 Hour Club:

Always in the Middle - 25.25 hours
As Inclination Leads Me - 21.5 hours
Book Challenge Blog - 20.5 hours
By Singing Light - 20 hours
Charlotte's Library - 20.25 hours
Confessions of a Bibliovore - 25 hours
Library Chicken - 32 hours
Love Notes to the Future - 24.5 hours
More like Flowers - 20 hours
MotherReader - 22 hours
Ms. Yingling Reads - 38 hours
No Boys Allowed - 24.5 hours
The One and Only Marfalfa - 35.5 hours
Quietly 20 hours
Randomly Reading - 30 hours
ReadSpace - 21.75 hours
The Sphere Also Gazes Into You - 25 hours
Technically a School Media Specialist - 20 hours


Thanks to all for being part of the 48 Hour Book Challenge!

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3. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

You made it! Yay you!

When you finish your 48 hours, sign in with Mr. Linky below with the link to your final summary, which should include the number and/or titles of books read and the amount of time spent on the challenge. Rounding to the quarter hour will do just fine. Given different starting times over the weekend and time zones, the absolute end is set at Monday, June 9th, at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and all final summary posts should be up by then. Winners, prizes and such will be announced on Monday afternoonish.

Thanks to everyone who participated, supported, and promoted the 48 Hour Book Challenge!


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4. Another #48 Hour Book Challenge Update

Got in five solid hours of reading and blog reading/responding last night with two books, both of which broke my heart a little. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods reminded me of my niece, as she is biracial raised in a white family. At seven, I haven't heard her express the concerns or thoughts of Violet Diamond, but I've always thought I was prepared to address them. Reading this book, I'm not as ready as I believed myself to be. It was just so open about things, it took me off guard. But in a good way. Really enjoyed it.

After reading Zane and the Hurricane, I felt like going back to read Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes. It was a good decision, because it filled the lyrical and emotional gap I found wanting in the first book. That said, Zane's story is a better account of what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A good pairing should be enough, but I realized that I had Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere in my small ARC pile, so we're going for three Katrina books in one weekend. I'd watch Beasts of the Southern Wild again to complete the experience, but I don't need to cry on my birthday.

Yup, it's my birthday. One of the reasons I started doing 48 Hour Book Challenge around this time of year to spend my birthday reading. Not a bad plan, right? I've started with a light title this morning, Tua and the Elephant, and now it's time for some YA.

Wondering if you could still join us even now? Sure, why not? From where I sit you could do a block from now through the early morning and get your twelve hours in on time. Nothing like last minute Sunday plans. Here's where to start.

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5. Halfway Through 48HBC Update

If you're going to host a reading marathon thing, maybe don't make it around your daughter's senior prom. Because while you might think that after she heads out the door - a sparkling princess in a gabbing group of giggly girls - you'll have the evening to relax and read as you wait for her post-midnight pick-up call, you won't. Well, there will be the time to read, if you can avoid the pictures already coming up online and if you don't drift off mid-paragraph wondering if they'll play her jam.

So while I put in five hours of reading time on Friday evening, with two middle-grade titles completed it was not my speediest reading. Reviews come later, but I'll mention the titles, Zane and the Hurricane and The Garden of My Imaan, and that I enjoyed them both.

This morning I woke up and found myself analyzing Facebook pictures with the Teen and her best friend, as we talked about the current style of prom dresses, who is really dating as opposed to who needed a date, and which couples are just the nicest people.

I can really only claim another five hours so far today, with another two books down and a little writing to show for it. (Did I mention that new pictures from my senior Girl Scouts are coming out all day? It's very distracting.) While The Servant by Fatima Sharafeddine left me a little cold, I was surprised by the depth and insight of The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by L. Tam Holland. I'd expected the first title to have a literary feel, and it read rather dry. Interesting, but the third person point of view through me off. The cover of Holland's book led me to think I was in for fun, and while there was humor, there was a lot more hurt and heart within. Honestly this afternoon, I would have preferred something light and fluffy, but I can't be annoyed at a book for being too good.

I did break in the middle of today's reading to run up to my library, where one of my books I had earmarked for this weekend had come in from a hold, and because after reading Zane and the Hurricane I had a craving to revisit Ninth Ward. So after a bit of writing and dinner, that book is up next along with the library book I retrieved, The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, by Brenda Woods. I also have some fantasy on deck.

I'm holding off on posting my reviews so I don't crowd out the official 48 Hour Book Challenge posts. Oh, and if you are just tuning in, you are welcome to play along. At this point there isn't the whole weekend to work with, but enough to carve out at least the twelve hours that officially counts you as a participant. Sign-up at the 48HBC Starting Line and get reading!

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6. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Starting Line

Okay, it’s go time, people. Make ready the snacks, caffeine, and good books. Oh, and here are the guidelines and FAQ's, in case you need a refresher.

When you start your 48 hours, sign in with Mr. Linky below. (I know, going old school here.) Keep track of your time — which includes reading, blogging, and connecting (for every five hours reading/reviewing you can take one hour of blog reading, tweeting, and general bookish socializing). To keep the Starting Line post at the top of my blog, I won’t publish my personal posts until sometime Saturday morning.

On Sunday, I’ll have a Finish Line post where you can leave the link to your final summary, which should include the amount of time spent on the challenge. Rounding to the quarter hour will do just fine. Winners, prizes and such will be announced on Monday afternoonish.

Have fun, read well, and read diversely.

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7. 48 Hour Book Challenge: Prizes and Heroes

Like many causes of equality, the issue of diversity in children's literature is nothing new, though I am hopeful that the rising voices across multiple platforms can affect change. But it's also a great time to acknowledge some of the heroes of the cause along the way... or at least those that somehow are connected to the 48 Hour Book Challenge.

Thank you to Reading is Fundamental, who will contribute their Multicultural STEAM Book Collections sponsored by Macy's to be donated by winner to a school or other child serving organization where they will be used. These wonderful collections have been part of the RIF initiative for a while, bringing diverse books to kids who need them. I will award one collection to a random selected winner from all 48 Hour Book Challenge finishers who complete twelve hours or more during the weekend. Thanks again to RIF for their support.

Thank you to A Year of Reading who made me teary-eyed with this:
In honor of all of the reading Pam has inspired over the years with her blog and with 48HBC, and especially because of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks focus this year, we are making a donation in her honor to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides access to new books for children in need.
I am not only touched by the gesture of Franki and Mary Lee, but am so excited that they would donate to another hero of the cause, as First Book stepped up with a commitment to purchase 10,000 copies of diverse books it selects to distribute. And that's just another step for an organization already devoted to the cause of Stories for All.

Another note of appreciation goes to Lee & Low Books, who've continued to send me review copies even as I've been less than great about getting reviews published. But for me, they've exposed me to a world of titles that I've been able to ask my public library to acquire. For you, they've now contributed a collection of books that I'll be giving out as prizes to 48 Hour Book Challenge winners. I'd also like to thank them for just being there, publishing books that are so very needed. I suspect it is not the most profitable business model that could be conceived in an industry that always seems to be chasing the next Harry Potter or Wimpy Kid or Twilight series, but it's honorable and admirable. Thank you Lee & Low Books, for being a leader in diversity.

Thanks go out to my KidLitosphere buddies who have been promoting the 48HBC through blogs, tweets, and listservs so that we can have a weekend reading and sharing titles for all kids. Thanks to #WeNeedDiverseBooks as a movement and website, which invigorated me to take my weekend off work and give it back to books.

An official 48 Hour Book Challenge sign-in goes up tomorrow morning, but I'd love to see your comments or book lists on the original post or here. Thanks!

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8. 48 Hour Book Challenge More Prizes

Last year the indomitable Ms Yingling ran the challenge, and she's not slacking this year either contributing yet another stack of books for prizes. There are at least two titles here that I would snatch right up, so I better have them sent directly to winner or I can't be held responsible for my behavior. (Note: I had to look up indomitable both for spelling and meaning, and I nailed it.)


Perhaps you'll be putting your haul in a lovely tote bag designed and donated by Tiffany Gholar.

I'm excited to share a title written and contributed by Robin Brande, Doggirl a great story featuring the perfect intersection of dogs and drama and time-limited challenges. There's more, but I promised a piecemeal approach to prizes. Plus I have to take the Kid to pointe class. So stay tuned...

(I mean stay tuned unless you're writing me to offer prizes, in which case you can do so anytime at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.)



Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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9. 48 Hour Book Challenge Prizes

Ack! I had a whole post to do about 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, but it's been one of those mornings. And by that I mean specifically one of those mornings where I sort of forgot that I have to get to work today for a meeting at 1:00 p.m. So, I'm going to do this in pieces and it won't be thorough and I'll remind everyone that 48 Hour Book Challenge isn't about the prizes, but an opportunity to share an experience as a community from the comfort of our own homes doing what we love to do, i.e. read, while also advocating, promoting, and otherwise celebrating diversity in children's and young adult literature in this year's connection to #WeNeedDiverseBooks.

Meanwhile, I'll be going back to my email later this afternoon to pull together the prizes that I know are there but don't have time to write about this very instant. But hey, how about the timing on this lovely package from Abrams Books today?


It's now a prize! See how easy it is to become a prize in the 48HBC? Have something you'd like to contribute? Drop me a line at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Oh, and sign up to participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge!



Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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10. 48 Hour Book Challenge: Call for Diversity

With this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge devoted to the cause of diverse books, I started pulling together my own reading pile for this weekend. It's been more than a little sad. I haven't been requesting review books for a while, so I turned to my public library to find something current. I could only find two middle-grade titles.

Now, I know that it takes months for titles to show up at the library, and these just happened to be on the shelf. So I searched the catalog and eyeballed covers finding a total of four recent books in a large public library system that serves a broad and very diverse community. Granted, this was in no way a detailed examination of our collection, but it gives me another reason to ask for your participation in the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I need your book reviews so that I can make collection requests to my library.

You know what, you need book reviews so that you can make requests to your public library.

Many kid lit folk are working hard to promote titles, and that excites me. Our writers and illustrators can create them, and we can continue to put pressure on publishers to acquire them. But at the heart of it all, bookstores and libraries need to buy these books. We can help with that too by asking our public and school libraries to add these titles to their collections.

But we can't do that if we don't know what they are. So let's keep up the steps that created outrage at BEA and yet also featured strongly at the same setting with an excellent BookCon panel. Something that started as a hashtag and moved to an online home at WeNeedDiverseBooks. Let's show each other and anyone else who will see all the great titles that are out there. I hope you'll participate in the 48 Hour Book Challenge - even if you can't commit the weekend, or even much of it, to read and promote books. We need you and We Need Diverse Books.



Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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11. Countdown to 48 Hour Book Challenge

With the 48 Hour Book Challenge at the end of this very week, it is time to get prepared. That admonishment was certainly less for my readers than for me, as I have been trying to get it together while navigating a minefield of end-of-school madness added to my usual run-of-the-mill madness. But I'll start with a tease of prizes donated by Ms Yingling and continue with more during the week. So these look pretty pretty good:


There's more to come, for sure. Stay tuned! I'd also like to collect some suggestions for diverse books to explore in our collaboration with #WeNeedDiverseBooks. So if you have a list, post, Pinterest board, or interpretive dance that you can share, well that's what comments are for. (Though obviously, their tumblr page is a pretty pretty good place to start too.)

The official sign-up will go up on Friday, June 6th but you're invited to pop into the comments of the 48 Hour Book Challenge opener for a pre-commitment support group. Remember that you don't actually have to read/blog for 48 hours to participate. Just look to reading a bit more and perhaps a bit differently than you would otherwise and we'll all have a bit of fun together.

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12. 48HBC Prep and BEA Angst

48 Hour Book ChallengeWe're coming up on the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Yay!!! And Book Expo America is this week! Yay!!! But I'm not going... booooooo. I'm really struggling with my non-attendance this year as it looks to be exciting and I always enjoy my time at BEA, which combines my favorite things: books, socializing, and New York City. In my mind it's also linked to 48 Hour Book Challenge because I generally spent a great deal of my time at BEA standing in line for author signings to collect prizes for the 48HBC. For me, it was another win-win. I got a signed book to give away and I got to meet the author in person, which is always nice. Okay yeah, I did keep some of the books. I'm not made of stone, people.

If you're going to Book Expo America and would be willing to collect a signed book or two for 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, I'd be ever grateful. And not even the least bit jealous that you were there meeting Shannon Hale, Jarrett Krosocaka, Melissa de la Cruz, A.S. King, and/or Laurence Yep while I was not. Okay, maybe ten percent jealous and ninety percent grateful. (Actually, as those names were selected from a quick skim of the signings on just Thursday morning, maybe it's more like 20/80.)

My work life has also tied these two events together, as I couldn't get the time off for both. We've been short-staffed at the library, forcing us all to make accommodations. I suspect others in public library systems will understand. Easier to clear the Saturday for 48 Hour Book Challenge than take off mid-week, and I don't regret that decision at all. Nope. Not me.

So have a fantastic time at Book Expo America! Grab a spare book for 48HBC if you get a chance, make time for lunch with friends, and keep an eye out for the good swag - which sometimes includes glasses of champagne. (If you hang around until the publisher reps are distracted, you can usually grab a second drink - so I've heard.)


Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

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13. Thursday Three: Diverse Picture Books

Everywhere I go online I am happily seeing references to the cause of diversity in our books. Fantastic! We're going to continue that focus during our 48 Hour Book Challenge coming up on the weekend of June 6th, so please sign-up to participate. I'm hoping in the lead-up to that weekend to share some of the titles I've come across in the library, starting here with three picture books that feature African-American children in stories that have nothing to do with racial issues. I know, what a concept. Enjoy!

Here Comes Trouble!
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Scholastic, 2013
Emma’s dog didn’t like cats, but it seems for good reason as the cats were never in trouble, but Toby was. The neighbor cat was especially irritating, so when she came to stay for a while, well it was a challenge. The cat does things that Toby gets blamed for, so you can see why he’s mad. But when Pandora gets herself stuck in a tree, it’s Toby’s trouble-making ways – and sudden ability to write out words with mud – that save the day. Cartoon illustrations with bright colors make it an easy choice to share in storytime, and there's bits of humor in the background for closer inspection. It's a good story that shows friendship and problem-solving, but honestly my favorite thing is that it features an African-American family for no reason related to their race. Just cause.

Ruby’s Sleepover
By Kathryn White and Mirian Latimer

Barefoot Books, 2012
Two girls are having a sleepover in a backyard tent, and as they hear noises in the night, one of the girls solves their worries with her “magic” items. Magic beans to grow a stalk to take a giant back home. An egg that the dragon might be seeking. And rings to wear to sleep to “keep danger at bay.” The focus on imagination and the idea of using your own thoughts to face your fears is a great lesson gently delivered. Nice rhyming couplets with a good rhythm, bright, cheerful illustrations and diverse characters make this a wonderful book to share.

Rain
by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
It’s raining in the city, and two different people – an old man and a child – have entirely different outlooks on the wet weather. The Boy delights in the day with excitement, putting on his green rain gear and froggie hat. The Man frowns and complains as he too ventures outside. At the coffee shop, the two meet accidentally and a good deed by the child clears the Man’s grumpy mood, reminding him of a pleasant way to be. The cute paper illustration is perfect in combination with the subtler paint composition. Excellent diversity in the book, representing a city very well, and featuring a child of color. Simple in language, but great in the message of the power of a positive outlook.

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14. Existential Emptiness in The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Feeling down and reflective today. Everything seems slow. The morning has moved by me with no effort or action on my part, aside from a writing part of song that has long been tickling the inside of my brain. The Internet is sluggishly loading, my email seems stuck, and even as I'm writing this post I'm reading above the ominous "An error occurred while trying to save of publish your post. Please try again."

Oh I'm trying. Lord knows, I'm trying.

I planned to start the week off with a review but it feels more like a quoting sort of day. And not even from a title that needs to be shared, as it's old news online, but it was a book that truly moved me in an unexpected way. See, I have issues with the darkness of Neil Gaiman's tales where I respect the artistry of his craft but often find it isn't for me. Not so with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was hooked from a haunting description of childhood that felt much like mine:
I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.
Isn't that ridiculously telling for two sentences? The story itself is not like my life, as it then moves into an allegorical fairy tale slash horror story that kept me enthralled slash quaking. Beautifully done and leading to one of the most moving descriptions of the existential emptiness that I've ever read. Though it's towards the end of the book, I don't think it gives away anything - except maybe the heart of the book. But you've probably all read it anyway, so here:
How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you, as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time...

...


Okay, maybe I need to take a walk or pet a puppy or something.







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15. BACA Alert! Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Author of the Year

BACAAs Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors founder and let’s say president, I see it as the kid lit equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse when the Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year is Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure that there are and will be many thoughtful articles about what happened to make the winner of a prestigious children's literature award for Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans. But all I can say is, "Dear God, what have we done?"

The power of the bestseller was a slippery slope for children's literature awards. Certainly the power of the celebrity author - with their top budget promotions and guaranteed WalMart shelf space - was enough for a snarky online cause like Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. But now, we've added to this mixture the nebulous and sometimes nefarious power of the Internet, which allows anyone to vote for this now-less-prestigious award. There is no way - NO WAY! - that children voted for Rush Limbaugh over Rick Riordan or Veronica Roth.

I'll let cooler heads prevail on what happens next, but for what it's worth BACA's back!

Though perhaps, a little too late.


Rush Limbaugh? Are you kidding me?


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16. Theatre Mom Life

With every thing that the Teen finishes up, I'm all, "thank God that's done." And then the next day, "ohmigod, that's DONE!" College decisions, made. AP tests, taken. Prom dress, selected. And the killer, last high school performance, completed.

Performing Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra was an incredible undertaking for a high school. I'm not usually one to comment on how many lines are memorized - actors know that's the easy part - but in this case, let's give credit where credit is due. For A Midsummer Night's Dream, the leads Oberon, Puck, and Titania each have in the neighborhood of 250 lines. In this production - with a few cuts to the play - Antony and Cleopatra have about 700 each. So, yeah.

Top off that incredible bit of memorization in about two months with incredible, emotional performances by both leads. Of course I'm extremely proud of my Teen, but I have to give credit also to her Antony without whose commitment she couldn't have shined so brightly. The student critics described their chemistry as impeccable, excellent, impressive, intense, dynamic, and unfaltering. And from someone who clearly needs a hug, “fairly believable.” Not too shabby for two teens who aren't dating but need to present one of the most passionate couples in history.

Back to that critic thing. Our area participates in the Cappies program where student critics attend each other's plays and submit reviews for local publication and for local theatre awards. Teen's reviews came in with wonderful acclaims that pass a parent's glowing accounts. She was noted highly in just about every review (with the exception of one where the critic seemed to find the actors a necessary focal point for the lighting) described as a "driving force" with "vibrant physicality,"and "amazing, both sensual and insane," with "constant energy" and a "broad range of emotional acting." And the line that sums it up, "Possessing both a vice-like grip on the audience and a brimming amount of confidence, Coughlan held the audience’s attention from her extravagant entrance to her tragic end."


So yeah again, I'm proud. And glad the practice and performance is over, because it was intense. And sad that it's over too. It's hard being a mom of a Senior, but especially of a theatre kid. She plans to do some Shakespeare in college, but who knows how she'll be able to compete there. But honestly, if this was the last thing she did in theatre, it would be such a high note that I'd take it.


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17. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge FAQ's

As we count down to reading as a marathon sport on June 6th, let's go over a few points. More questions? Ask them in the comments.

Why does the 48 Hour Book Challenge actually takes place over more hours in the weekend?
With time zones, work schedules, and "having a life," a broader window of opportunity gives more people a chance to participate.

I can't read the whole time because I have a wedding/graduation/recital/monster-truck rally to attend. Is that okay?
Yes. Once you start your hours they are continuous, but that doesn't mean that you won't have breaks - maybe even truly significant breaks - in your time. Though I'd gently suggest that if it is your wedding, you might reassess your priorities.

Like, I have a LOT going on that weekend. How can I participate?
Twelve hours is the minimum for the 48HBC, so if you read for four hours Friday evening, four Saturday afternoon, and four Sunday morning, you've officially participated. I don't know about you, but that's awfully close to a normal weekend at my house. ;)

Do I need to have a blog to participate?
Pretty much. But if you set one up just for this challenge, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. You might find that the 48HBC kicks off a new hobby for you.

Do we have to read diverse books?
I won't be policing participants' reading, but since we are not doing a readathon for monetary contribution, this is our social cause for the challenge. It is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Can I count time reading to my child? Can my kids join in?
You can certainly count time reading aloud to your child. Kids can always play along for the fun of it, but no prizes are offered. However, that doesn't mean that you couldn't give your own prize to your kid.

Can I count hours spent writing reviews during the 48HBC even if I schedule them to post after the challenge? That is so adorably organized. Yes, feel free to write reviews that will post later, though you might note that in your final summary.

How can I contact you to donate prizes?
Write me at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com and let me know what you’d like to donate. I usually pull together a bunch of things — books, jewelry, notecards, T-shirts, etc. — to make prize packages for the winners. I also like to have a few authors who’d be willing to send a personalized, signed book to a blogger for a few randomly selected “door prizes.”

I love this idea! How can I help?
Blog it. Tweet it. Share it. Tell friends. Tell frenemies. Most of all, sign up! Being part of this community event is helping in a big way.

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18. Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

48 Hour Book ChallengeYup, it's the Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge — that weekend readathon of legend. Last year, Ms. Yingling graciously hosted this challenge as I had multiple conflicts. Of course, now this year I've ended up busy and distracted with the remarkable adventures of two teenage girls. But then something was percolating around the Internet that inspired me and gave me a reason to engage. So in solidarity of the cause of WeNeedDiverseBooks, this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge is dedicated to reading, sharing and reviewing books that show diversity in all ways.

I'm hoping with lots of participants over the weekend, that we can saturate the blogosphere with dozens - nay, HUNDREDS - of titles that show the beautiful range of the human experience. That's our challenge. And saying that may be a good time to reminder readers that while the window of reading allows 48 hours, you could read for much less and STILL participate. Twelve hours - and not even in a row - qualifies you as an official participant who can join in reading and sharing diverse books for one wonderful weekend. So please consider coming on board. Here are the basics:

  1. The weekend is June 6-8, 2014. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the sixth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday the ninth. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But once begun, the 48 hours do need to be in a row. That said, during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine.
  2. The books should be middle-grade, young adult, or adult books. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. Graphic novels can be included in the reading. One audiobook can also be included in your time and book total — helpful if you have somewhere to drive to or need to prepare dinner, etc.
  3. Three winners will be chosen at random from each of three levels of reading commitment - 12 to 23 hours, 24 to 35 hours, and 36 to 48 hours. Since each level will progressively have less participants, the more you read the better your chances. Top readers will still win individual prizes. International winners may be given gift cards instead of books due to mailing costs, unless a U.S. address is provided.
  4. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this — and some people do — go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge. Twelve hours is the benchmark for winning prizes.
  5. The length of the reviews or notes written in your blog are not an issue. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, or a full-length review. Up to you. The time spent reviewing counts in your total time.
  6. You can include some amount of time reading other participant’s blogs, commenting on participating blogs and Facebook pages, and Tweeting about your progress (remember the #48hbc tag!). For every five hours, you can add one hour of networking. This time counts in your total time.
  7. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day and leave the link to that post at the Starting Line post at MotherReader on June 6th. And please link to the contest on your post.
  8. When you finish, write a final summary that clearly indicates hours — including partial hours — you spent reading/reviewing/networking, the number of books read, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon EST on Monday, June 9th. Also, check in at the Finish Line post on MotherReader that will be posted Sunday and please link to that post from your final summary post.

I’m always looking for donations for winners’ prize packages and other “door prizes” to be awarded to participants selected at random. Past prizes have included original sketches from Mo Willems and Matthew Holm, signed and sketched books from Adam Rex, loads of signed books, t-shirts from Threadless, artistic blank journals, jewelry, gift cards, notecards, and more. Good stuff. If you’d like to contribute to the prizes this year, shoot me an email at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Sign up now in the comments and block of the dates on your calendar. Questions can also go in the comments, and I will respond in the comments and add a FAQ soon. Talk this up, people! Let's have some fun!

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19. Boardbook Bonanza

Since I haven't been reviewing much, I don't get much to review. That's totally fine and in fact preferred as I don't want to waste anyone's review copies and I can get much of what I want at the library where I work. But occasionally a package comes my way, as with a little collection of 2014 boardbooks from Chronicle. Now I don't actively look for boardbooks or tend to review them, so let's call this a set of "reactions." Because it sounds less formal.

Creature
by Andrew Zuckerman

CreatureI received both Numbers and Colors from the set, which also includes Sounds and Baby Animals. I am familiar with Andrew Zuckerman's photography of animals, and I love the idea of bringing his work into young hands. My nagging complaint about the set is that I wanted the pictures bigger. Partly because the books are small, meaning the pictures get smaller still. But also because I don't think babies are as invested in the concept that Zuckerman's work highlights the animals with plenty of white space. They just want to see the green frog. But you know these kids are going to get books of colors and numbers anyway, so it's a great idea to enhance the experience for both child and parent reader with some artistry. That you'll get.

You Are My Baby
by Lorena Siminovich

You Are My BabyI received both the Ocean and Garden from the set, which also includes Safari and Farm. Boardbooks are pretty basic, so when someone comes up with any new idea, it's worth a mention. These books have a smaller book embedded within, so that you can turn the pages of the little book - which focuses on the baby - separately from the larger book. While obviously related, you could read each "book" alone. (Big book: "You sing a happy song in our leafy tree." Little book: You are my baby, little hatchling.") The illustrations are cute, bright and friendly. I wonder how the book will hold up physically, but I also think it would be fun to share with a little reader.

Going to the Farmers' Market
by Stefan Page

Going to the Farmers' MarketI shouldn't fault the concept - at least it's something different - but it got a little eyeroll out of me. I certainly can't fault the illustrations, which are cool in a retro, Charley Harper way. (Now you can roll your eyes.) But the text misses the mark. Overall it covers from market to meal, but not as cohesively as it could have. Parts of it go for the "to market, to market" rhythm, but not all. Parts of it detail the foods, but not all. Maybe it seems picky, but I want a boardbook to have internal consistency, whether it's with story, rhythm, or learning concept. But hey, if you need a gift book for the hipster parents in your circle, this is perfect.

Daddy Wrong Legs
by Nina Laden

Daddy Wrong LegsThis is one of the books where you can turn the bottom pages separately to mix up the tops and legs of the creatures. I'm sure that lots of parents and kids love this idea. It. Freaks. Me. Out. I'll admit that I have a low creep-out threshold, but this is the kind of book that would have given me bad dreams. ("Daddy has spider legs!") But look, I like this author (see below) and her illustration style. So for those who like the concept of funny animals and people with the wrong legs, here's your book.

Peek-a-Zoo!
by Nina Laden

Peek-a-Zoo!I consider myself an explorer of the new and different, but it was the most traditional boardbook of the bunch that won me over. Very simple in concept, with the words "Peek a" on one page facing a page with a hole through which you can guess at the animal behind. Thus the black and orange stripes turn to a tiger, where now "Peek a" is viewed through the hole and added the word "MEW!" So simple, but a nice twist on traditional Peek-a-boo. The whole thing ends with a mirrored page for "Peek a YOU, TOO!" The fun illustrations have a woodblock-print look to them, and feature lots of bright colors from a secondary pallate of purple, orange, turquoise and pink. Also a nice size for little hands. This is one I'll recommend to my library system, especially for mother/baby program kits.



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20. Poetry Friday: Forest Has a Song

So excited to share the winning poetry book for the Cybils Awards!

Forest Has a Song
by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley

Clarion Books, 2013
(review copy received)
Forest Has a SongPoems document the seasons in the woods with sensory reflections on everything from the spongy feel of a dead branch to the sound of a proposal in a tree frog's song to the taste of a wintergreen plant. The beautiful watercolor illustrations capture the gentle feel of the forest and the poetry itself. Simply a lovely book to enjoy and share. So with the sharing in mind, here is one small sample poem. And yes, I am showing my weariness of winter in selecting one about spring.

April Waking
Ferny frondy fiddlehead
unfurl curls from dirty beds.
Stretching stems they sweetly sing
greenest greetings sent to Spring.
-Amy Ludwig Vanderwater

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Karen Edmisten.


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21. Personal Update

Ahhhhhhhhhhh! That is the sound of me relaxing for the first time in... I want to say... years?

Maybe it just feels that way, and certainly everything in my life hasn't reached a positive plateau. However, two big things are squared away. My senior was basically accepted into an excellent, affordable college, and while she hasn't decided on William & Mary, it's a relief to know that it's there as an extremely attractive option. She also just got the part of Cleopatra - the role she's been wanting and working towards, in a way since she starting acting. She's put a lot of time into this theater department and has truly earned this part with both performance skills and hard work.

Also the kid - who is really a teen - is settling into high school quite nicely. She's finding her own place in theater and chorus with parts and solos, both well-deserved. She's really shined in Unplugged with an original song and a beautiful cover, and that venue has given her incentive to keep working on her guitar. We watch American Idol together with an analytical approach to what she should do when she auditions.

And they get good grades, have friends, enjoy each other, and still hang out with me.

I've hit the parenting jackpot, and I'm so proud and happy.

So, time to breathe and figure out what is next.

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22. Cybils Awards!

Today in the KidLit community we celebrate Love... of books with the announcement of the Cybils Awards! Some wonderful titles across the board, but I'll give a special shout-out to my committee of Picture Books. From an incredible list of finalists, the judges selected a book that I would have personally chosen myself to win. The perfect Cybils selection:

Mr. Tiger Goes WildMr. Tiger Goes Wild
Peter Brown

Little, Brown and Co., 2013
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild opens to muted tones of a proper Victorian society of well-mannered animals, living in houses and walking on two legs. Surrounded by an abundance of subdued suits, ties, dresses and tea, the daily hum-drum pushes Mr. Tiger outside the city limits to a place where he can ROAR! But first he undergoes the drama and surprising silliness of life on four legs, a swim in the water fountain and *gasp* a view of his magnificent, naked self. Confident artistic elements start on the decorative endpapers, capitalize on the freedom of double page illustrations, built intensity with the color palette, and combine seamlessly with the lean text of most carefully selected words. With great comedic timing and a light-handed touch on message, Peter Brown has written a clever, compelling invitation to self-discovery.


Congratulations to all the Cybils winners!


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23. Thursday Three: Hide and Seek

Some library books I liked that helpfully fit into a theme of hide and seek. But they all also have classroom or home use for demonstrating values like working together, gratitude, and acceptance without being heavy-handed.


Come Back, Moon
by David Kherdian, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian

Beach Lane Books, 2013
Come Back, Moon
When Bear is bothered by the light of moon and can’t sleep, he steals the moon. Under the clever leadership of fox, the forest animals work together to get it back. Simple text makes this ideal for younger storytimes or even as a beginning reader book. The soft, watercolor illustrations bring to life a serene forest scene, with special acknowledgement to the orange fox — who looks so darn cute and cuddly. The book would also be useful for themes of working together and conflict resolution.


Never Ever
by Jo Empson

Child's Play, 2012
Never Ever
A girl complains that nothing exciting ever happens, yet as she walks with her stuffed bunny a world of excitement is going on around her. Flying pigs, a flower-loving gorilla, and a brave lion join her on her walk — right into a dragon’s mouth! But she continues to be unimpressed, even with one more surprise in store. The illustrations in watercolor and pencil depict a world both gentle — with the soft blues of the girl’s dress and pink of the pigs — and lively in the yellow flowers and bright green dragon. Simple in words and concept, but high in imagination, this book is an invitation to play and think about what is right in front of us.


How to Hide a Lion
by Helen Stephens

Henry Holt, 2013
How to Hide a Lion
The book sets it up nicely: “One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat. But the townspeople were scared of lions, so the lion ran away.” A little girl find the lion, and decides to help him out with a bandage, a comb-out, and mostly by hiding him. But her mom finds him, screams, and the lion runs away. Hiding himself in town, he finds an opportunity to save the day and is accepted by the townspeople. Fun story that has an actual plot line to it. The bright yellow lion is visually captivating, and the relationship with the girl is adorable. The book would also be a good example for not judging someone too quickly.



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24. College Update

March has been an anxious month waiting for college acceptances to arrive, and I suppose I don't write when I'm anxious. I can't say what else I was doing, besides churning over the same college information and cleaning out the computer/storage room. Oh, and shoveling snow, which was flippin' weird in March.

But the results are in, and they are good for the Teen. She didn't quite make her reach school Columbia, but was admitted to its sister school Barnard. She swept our Virginia colleges with acceptances from University of Virginia, University of Richmond, and William & Mary, along with UNC at Chapel Hill. A last minute addition of George Washington University is looking promising with an admittance to a selective honors program and a large scholarship.

With such a variety of good schools to consider and such a big decision to make, I can't say how present I'll be online this month either. Though there is a significant difference in the tension of not being able to move forward because you have no idea what to decide among, and the tension of having many good choices to decide among. If it's any indication, this nagging lower back pain I've had for weeks is suddenly gone.

If you have anything to share about the schools, I'd love to hear. Especially about GWU or Barnard, where I don't have any insider view. William & Mary is safely covered by its two alumni in this very house - which is probably killing Teen's view of it - and Richmond is too expensive.

All right, I'm going to move on because I could write for hours comparing what we know of those schools and how they fit my daughter and what that could eventually mean for her future and if any will affect her potential as President...

Oh, yeah everything else is fine. The Kid is on a chorus trip to DisneyWorld and auditioned for a summer theatre program of Legally Blonde, which should be fun. My mom is doing fine from her recent follow-up appointment and got a new kitty friend. The husband and I are coming up on our twentieth year anniversary, and will likely have to pretend that it is actually occurring at a more convenient time to celebrate. Like 2016.

If you're reading this, thanks for staying around. I haven't been a great citizen of the KidLitosphere, but I love my friends in it too much to disappear entirely. Just sometimes, for odd stretches of time. Be well!

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25. Decisions, Decisions...

It's been an intense, soul-searching time for the Teen and I as we analyzed, compared, deliberated and ruminated on colleges. I'm excited to say that she's decided on George Washington University!

It fits everything she is looking for in a college, put together in parts. It's an urban campus offering the city of Washington, DC to explore. Yet, it also has a smaller, greener campus that is mostly residential and a short shuttle ride away from the main campus, four blocks away from the White House. It offers the resources and variety of a large university, but being admitted to the honors program gives her a small, nurturing community of advisors and intellectual challenge. There are great programs in political science and public policy, which is where her interests are leaning, and several combined programs for earning a Masters degree. She was offered a large scholarship that puts the school in our price range, plus they'll take enough of her AP credits that she may be able to knock out a semester. The school is very focused on internships and since she lives near, she may be able to turn one into a summer job. She'll be close to home, but the environment is completely different from the suburban area where we live.

And omigod the dorm! The honors program offers housing in a dorm that has four single rooms that open into a common area with shared bathroom in a hall with a full kitchen and laundry in a building that houses the dining area and - I swear it's true - a black box theatre space. Could it be more perfect? Oh yeah, the Shakespeare learning community is housed in the same campus.

Okay, that long description was indulgent, but it's for the five or six people who may be interested in the decision process. I'm available for personal college consultation on request. I also do children's parties.

I'm happy that things look so ideal for her, and also that we're done. Honestly I'm ready to have my brain back from thinking about colleges and you know, her "future." It's tiring. Deciding whether to read the new teen book OR the adult bestseller is more my speed. (Answer: duh, both.)

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