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Results 26 - 50 of 70,435
26. Strike: the farm workers fight for their rights By Larry Dane Brimmer

Strike: the farm workers fight for their rights By Larry Dane Brimmer Calkins Creek. October 2014 ISBN: 9781590789971 Grades 9 thru 12 I used an ARC given by the publisher to write this review. In 1965, a group of Filipino and Chicano farm workers, unhappy with their deplorable working conditions and substandard wages organized a strike against the grape industry. The strike, which

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27. Does Your Dog Go Suffer With Panic Anxiety Because of Loud Noises? Here's the Cure!

Does your dog seem to experience panic anxiety when he or she experiences loud noises such as thunder, lightning, and fireworks? Does your dog or your cat for that matter start to shave and quiver? Hide under furniture or behind furniture? Cower in the bathroom near the toilet.

Symptoms of Stress

If you see any of these signs, your animal is experiencing storm or loud noise phobia. There is a litany of other symptoms that you may see: your dog is pacing; your dog is looking for a place to hide; your dog pees on the floor; your dog is a nervous wreck; your dog looks at you with big brown eye that say “Please do something, just don’t sit there!”

A True Story

And how do you feel about all of this? Do you wish that you had a possible solution up your sleeve? Well, I’ve been there and done it. I’ve felt like racing to the vet through a howling storm, where all the traffic lights in my town and the next were down. I actually did this, and intersections were a gamble on living or not because there were other crazy people on the road, but not all were headed to their vet. Yes, there were a few close calls. And what did the vet do? The vet prescribed some mild medicine for Roscoe. So, that’s one solution: doggy medicine to calm raw nerves.

Other Possible Solutions?

1.     Hug Therapy —Maybe your dog just needs some extra hugs and reassurance. Snuggle up in a blanket and whisper soothing words to your dog. Don’t feed them a stack of treats. This might reinforce the behavior that you want to see fade. Just let your four-legged family member know it loved, and the world isn’t really ending.                               

2.     Thundershirt Therapy--for your dog or cat—According to the manufacturers, this shirt or sweater is 80% effective in reducing the stress of storms, travel, separation, and other anxiety causing events. Check out what PetSmart.com has to offer you and your four-legged buddy. The odds are in your favor.

3.     Be Proactive Therapy —Let rover become used to noise in general, especially if you get your dog as a puppy. Play your CDs periodically in the house over an extended period of time, and from day to day increase the volume, while rewarding him or her with treats. This will develop a liking for music and noise. It won’t become a big deal.
 
4.     If All Else Fails Therapy—race through the storm to see the vet, but be careful on the wet, slipper roads. Or better yet, be prepared with mild, safe medicated treats. If prescribed correctly, they will not turn your dog into a four-legged zombie. Certified veterinarians Know what they are doing.

BONUS: Ah, now you can relax, you have solved your dog’s problem by implementing one of the above four ideas.  So pour yourself a lemonade with lots of ice, and consider writing in your diary or journal how you solved this problem. Enjoy a laugh about the whole situation. If you have any emotional pain left you could even write about traumatized dog to get the pain out.

Does that suggestion sound farfetched? Like I said, I have been there, and here’s a poem that I wrote for Picture Poetry on Parade! Yes, it contains bathroom humor, but it also contains a subtle message: if your dog has this problem, it’s time to do something about it. And please don’t punish your dog for misbehaving. He’s not a “bad dog.”

THUNDER & LIGHTNING

CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!

RIPPLE, RIPPLE, CRASH!

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

  PITTER! PITTER CRASH!                                 

My dog who is afraid of nothing

is afraid of thunder & lightning.                                     

He hates BOOM! BOOM!

CRASH! CRACK! CRASH!

He hides under the table,

 shaking in terrible fear, 

refusing to do his “business” outside

 on the dark, wet lawn.                 

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

Poor Roscoe, hunched under the table… 

BOOM! BOOM! CRASH!

SLASH! SPLASH! PLOP!

 PLOP! Oh, no!

That’s mom’s new rug!  

She’s going to call you “BAD DOG! 

But you just hate thunder & lightning.
“I love you, Roscoe.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       but I don’t like cleaning up.






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28. 2014 Reading Challenges: RIP IX

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings, (sign up) (reviews)
Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

What I Read:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

What I Recommend:


I read one book in the spring that I'd definitely recommend to others joining this challenge. The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman. 

What I Plan on Reading:

The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten
The Lost
The Attenbury Emeralds
The Late Scholar
Fahrenheit 451
Northanger Abbey
Death of a Schoolgirl
My Cousin Rachel

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Youth Services Basics: Cross-Training by Building Confidence

Are staffers outside of youth services ever responsible for staffing your children’s desk in a programming pinch?  Would employees outside of your department feel comfortable and confident in providing this service or would they feel stunned like a deer caught in the headlights?

At our community branch library, information services staff members also staff our children’s services desk, and we receive a great number of children’s reference questions at our adult information services desk.  Staff members outside of youth services must be familiar with the needs of children and those that work with them. Being cross-trained to provide customer service to customers of all ages is a necessity, but how do we ensure that staffers receive the training necessary to handle the unique needs of our young customers?

My colleague recently presented training for library staff outside of youth services. Not meant as a substitute for advanced youth services training in reference or readers’ advisory, this overview highlighted many of the traditional questions staffers receive when they work in the children’s services department. This training served as a perfect introduction for those employees who may occasionally need to staff this service desk.

Where are the BOB books?     

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

During this youth services basics training, my colleague used questions that have been previously asked by customers as training examples. Just as when working in the information services department, training participants realized that questions are often not as simple as they appear.  The question, “where are the BOB books?” is a perfect example.  The answer could mean numerous things in our library system, depending on the needs of the library user, and could include a request for a standard beginning reader series; it could also serve as a request for the TV inspired books based off the popular Bob the Builder character, or the extremely popular Battle of the Books (BOB) competitions sponsored by our public school system.  Understanding how this one type of question, “where are your BOB books?” could mean various things to different people, was rated by attendees as one of the most valuable pieces of information they learned during the training.

Let’s Take a Tour

As part of the training, participants toured our children’s department at our Headquarters Library.  This touring component provided staffers with a close and personal look at our collection and was helpful to staffers from each of our branches as our youth services departments are structured similarly in each of our eight library locations.  By including this hands-on training component, participants were able to view exactly where items were located, from the juvenile biographies placed at the end of the children’s nonfiction collection to the difference among board books, picture books, and beginning readers.  Knowing our collection is critical in providing excellent customer service, and this tour helped our trainees gain confidence in providing that service for our young patrons.

Priorities of Programs and Services

Questions about children’s programming, and the specialized services offered within the children’s services department, are often questions asked by patrons.  Adults may frequently register their children to attend special programming, request information on how to duplicate the story time experience at home, or request tutoring resources. Staffers must be able to quickly address these questions while also being aware of the unique services offered within the children’s department, such as our picture book bundle service, where customers may check out a group of books organized by a specific theme. Children’s unique interests and needs must be understood by all staff, not just those librarians specializing in children’s services.

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

(Image provided by Thinkstockphotos.com)

This training helped staff members without a background in children’s services to gain a better understanding of the interests and needs of our young patrons. Our goal is to prepare our colleagues to feel as comfortable and confident as they can when working with children and their families, instead of feeling caught like a deer in the headlights! What topics do you believe are important to introduce to staff members outside of your department if they were to staff your children’s desk? How do you ensure staffers are most effectively able to reach out to your customers?  Please share in the comments below!

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30. Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey




Bluebird is a beautiful and unusually illustrated children's book. The illustrations are done in a sparse, yet delicate style with the bluebird being one of a few featured colors on each page. The occasional flowery typeface and the collaged images add a touch of whimsy to the whole look. The bluebird is in search of his friend the wind, without whom he's convinced he can't fly. He looks high and low around the city and country encountering dandelion seeds, kites and scarves who also can't fly without the wind. In his search, he realizes that he's flown to the tallest building without his friend the wind. At the end of the book his friend returns, but the bluebird now knows he can also fly alone.

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31. Review: Brazen

Brazen by Katherine Longshore. Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA). 2014. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: England. 1533. Fourteen year old Mary Howard is being married to Henry FitzRoy, also 14 but already the Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

Henry FitzRoy (Fitz to his friends) is the only living son of Henry VIII. That he is a bastard means that he can never inherit his father's throne, but he is important and Mary's marriage to him is important. She, now is important.

Only -- not so much. Henry VIII doesn't want the marriage consummated - both from a belief that it's not healthy for the young teens, as well as knowing that such a marriage can easily be annulled if necessary.

If the king's new bride, Anne Boleyn, delivers the longed for legitimate son, Fitz's role remains the same. But if not.... well, what if Fitz was made legitimate?

What is it that the young and noble do with their time? Mary and Fitz and their friends form a circle of teens whose time is dedicated to sports, and flirtations, and poetry and song and dance. The most important dance being, of course, keeping the King happy.

The Good: I loved the first of Longshore's books set in the court of Harry VIII, Gilt. Gilt, set in 1539, is the story of Henry VIII's wife Catherine Howard, told from the point of view of one of the queen's friends. I didn't read the next book, Tarnish, about Anne Boleyn coming to Henry VIII's court for a very simple reason.

Anne Boleyn breaks my heart. Every time. And I didn't know if I could read about her, young and hopeful. So I avoided Tarnish.

Longshore fooled me, though! When I heard about Brazen, I didn't think about years. I thought, oh, an interesting look at the young Tudor court. And since Reign is one of my current favorite TV series (all about the young Mary Queen of Scots) and because I loved Gilt, I said yes.

I'm glad I did. Even though Anne turns up, a new mother, with all her future yet to come falling apart. Because I loved Brazen. I loved young Mary, wanting to have fun but also knowing the seriousness of her situation, the need to successfully navigate the Tudor Court. And I loved reading this Anne, an Anne who is smart and strong and fights as best she can, having done her own dance of destiny -- and who, despite her best efforts, has it all crashing down on her. Because Henry VIII is a man who is ruined by the power he has; and Anne does not give him a son quickly enough to satisfy him. I love how despite the danger and risks, Anne insists on her own autonomy and personhood.

Early on, Mary overhears an argument between Anne and the King. He tells her, "You should be content with what I've done for you. And remember I made you what you are." She responds, "I am myself! I am Anne Boleyn. You have not made me!"  And he says, "I can make you nothing." And this is where I knew Longshore got Anne, her "I am myself," her belief in herself.

I loved Brazen so much that I'm willing to have Gilt rip out my heart.

But now, back to Mary. I love the friendship she shares with Madge Shelton and Margaret Douglass. I love how Brazen shows the importance at that time of family, titles, money, and access to the king. Or rather, the danger.

Brazen captures the always-moving court and what that means to the members, to never stay in one place, to have their lives be spent in the rooms that are not their own, with rank and location determining where one sleeps for those weeks or months. Each section is titled by where the court is currently: Hampton Court Palace, 26 November 1533; Greenwich, December 1533; Greenwich Palace, 1534; Whitehall, 1534; Hatfield Palace, 1534. And that only brings us to page 72!

Brazen is also about being young. And wanting to be in love. And being in love. And not wanting to repeat the mistakes of parents. And it's also about words: Mary and her friends like songs and poetry, and one way they communicate with each other is by a shared book (based on the Devonshire Manuscript).

And yes.... it's a Favorite Book Read in 2014.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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32. Chain Reaction Challenge

We’ve all seen Rube Goldberg machines: overly complicated machines that use everything from dominoes, to motors, to squirrels in order to complete a simple task. But have you ever thought about hosting a Rube Goldberg competition at your library?

Back in July, I hosted the Chain Reaction Challenge: an event where families were given supplies and two hours to construct a Rube Goldberg machine. I admit that I had my doubts about the program initially – especially since our target age was grades K– 5. However, I found that this is a great family program that emphasizes teamwork, critical thinking, and STEM!
CRC 1Interested in hosting your own Rube Goldberg program? Here are a few components you might consider:

Theme/Objective:

Our theme was Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, and the objective was to have a golf ball roll from one side of the machine to the other and trigger the next machine (creating the chain reaction). While having a theme is pretty optional, it’s imperative to have an objective so that the teams know what they’re working toward. I felt that the golf balls were an excellent choice for this age group, but there are other objectives you could do, such as:

  • Machines must have dominoes
  • Machines must incorporate gravity in some way
  • Machines must involve matchbox cars
  • Machines must start and end with catapults
  • Machines must start and end with a string being pulled
  • Machines must involve trained squirrels (okay, I’m joking on that one)

Supplies:

While many Rube Goldberg machines require motors and technical aspects, we wanted this to be a simple, age-appropriate program. We told families that they were welcome to bring supplies from home, but we also provided a lot of simple, everyday items:

  • CRC 3Paper towel and toilet paper tubes
  • Small cardboard boxes (such as tissue boxes, frozen dinner boxes, etc.)
  • Lots of duct tape
  • String, yarn, wire, pipe cleaners
  • Legos, tinker toys, blocks
  • Various other toys
  • Things that make noise (bells, chimes, buzzers)
  • Things that roll (cars, cylinders, balls)
  • Wooden dowels
  • Balloons
  • Rulers, crayons, markers, scissors
  • Just about anything you can find

CRC 2

Maker Know-How

I was lucky enough to partner with a local nonprofit organization http://tekventure.org/ that specializes in the maker movement. Therefore, we had engineers on hand to mentor the teams and give them some ideas and suggestions for how to build their machines.

But you do not need engineers to run this program! You can just as easily start the program with a slideshow to demonstrate some simple machines (such as ramps, pendulums, etc.). Or even have handouts with suggestions on it. As a matter of fact, the teams that participated in this program came up with most of the ideas themselves, and many of them had zero maker experience prior to the program!

Awards

We had awards for ten different categories, such as: tallest machine, most colorful, most musical, etc. This worked well for us because we had five teams that participated, so each team was able to get two awards! However, the biggest reward was watching the finished machines run. There was a great sense of accomplishment for both kids and adults to see that they created a simple, working machine.

(all photos courtesy Guest Blogger)

********************************************

Erin WarzalaErin Warzala is a Children’s Librarian at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is passionate about early literacy, STEM/STEAM programming, books of all genres, and tea.  She blogs somewhat regularly at http://fallingflannelboards.wordpress.com/ and can be followed on Twitter at @fallingflannel.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

 

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33. Andrew in Asia

Andrew Medlar getting ready for his trip to the Philippines

Andrew is reading Pedro and the Monkey by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow Junior Books, 1996) at the Dr. José Rizal sculpture in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Dr. Rizal (1861-1896) “is the Philippine national hero, the ‘father of his country,’ the founder of its modern literature, the inspirer of its educational system” (Reines, Bernard. A People’s Hero: Rizal of the Philippines. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1971.).

The National Library of the Philippines is sponsoring an International Conference of Children’s Librarianship in Tagaytay City next month and I’m very excited to be attending to represent ALSC! The theme of the conference is “Connecting and Linking of Information through Transformed Children’s Libraries to the Digital Era,” and I’ll be giving a presentation on the first evening, October 13,  on the topic of “Envisioning a 21st Century Children’s Library.”

This topic is right up ALSC’s alley as our core purpose is creating a better future for children through libraries, and I’m looking forward to reaching out and sharing how we’re moving together into our association’s envisioned future in which “libraries are recognized as vital to all children and the communities that support them.”

I would love your help in telling this story! What is your vision of a 21st Century Children’s Library for your community? We’re talking collections, technology, programming, spaces—and anything else you can think of. What innovations in library service to children can you imagine developing in the 85 years still to come in this century, and what traditions and proven tactics will we be carrying forward?

Please share your ideas you’d like me to spread around the world by September 16 in the comments section below or by clicking and submitting them here. If you have a picture of something special you’re doing now that you feel represents the future and you’d be willing for me to include it in the conference presentation, please e-mail them to me at andrewalsc@outlook.com. You can also tweet pictures and any other thoughts using #21stkidlib.

And please follow me on Twitter (@ammlib) where I’ll be gearing up for the trip by exploring Filipino folklore (find my reading list here), practicing ordering coffee in Filipino (Higit kape mangyaring), and warming up my taste buds at some of Chicago’s delicious Filipino restaurants. And throughout the trip (October 10-16) I’ll be sharing my experiences and the amazing ideas of our colleagues across the globe using #andrewinasia.

Thanks!

********************************************

Andrew Medlar is the 2014-15 ALSC Vice President/President-Elect and the Assistant Chief, Technology, Content, & Innovation, at Chicago Public Library.

 

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34. Floating Library on the Hudson!



The Floating Library is a pop up, mobile device-free public space aboard the historic Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in New York City. It will be open September 6- October 3.




"The library afloat on water is always on the verge to sail into the distance just as books contain the magic to transport our minds to unknown terrains. A reader is a dreamer/traveler/pirate as to open a book is to embark on an adventure into the wider world as well as dive deeper into oneself. Given this, the Floating Library celebrates boats and books to map a path towards a waking life, self-organization, citizen autonomy and fertile imagination."  -  Lilac Museum

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35. (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past

Calls for Papers and Proposals

The ALAN Review
Summer 2015: (Re)membering and (Re)living: Probing the Collective and Individual Past
Submissions due November 1, 2014

Stories are dynamic, told and heard, accepted and revered, rejected and rewritten by readers who draw from their experiences and understandings to garner meaning from the words on the page.  In young adult texts, fiction and nonfiction, historical and contemporary and futuristic, this dynamism can encourage the critique of our collective past, helping us question assumptions about what came before and reconsider our responsibilities to the present and future. These texts can also help us consider the adolescent experience across time and place and explore the similarities and differences that shape reality as young people navigate and draft their own coming of age stories. This universality can foster a connection to others and reinforce our shared existence as members of a human community.  And yet, these texts can give emotional reality to names, dates, and other factual information, letting us imagine the voices of those who lived in other places and times and have sometimes been silenced in official accounts of history, ideally inspiring us honor these voices and generate a better future. Through these stories, we might come to reject a single narrative and develop empathy for individuals we never knew-and those we did and do and will. In this issue, we welcome articles that explore the relationship between young adult literature, history, stories, and readers.  We acknowledge that “every living soul is a book of their own history, which sits on the ever-growing shelf in the library of human memories” (Jack Gantos, Dead End in Norvelt). And that, “If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other” (David Levithan, Every Day).  Stories matter in this caring: “I leapt eagerly into books. The characters’ lives were so much more interesting than the lonely heartbeat of my own” (Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy). As always, we also welcome submissions focused on any aspect of young adult literature not directly connected to this theme.


Filed under: Opportunities, professional development Tagged: CFP. ALAN

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36. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Back to School: Building the Resume

Many library’s are in a great position to help teens develop skills and experience they can add to their resume. Whether it be volunteering on a regular basis or honing graphic design or other useful technology proficiency, teens can gain that needed edge through the library for when they seek out other opportunities.

Last school year, I stumbled across a program at my local public school system that gives students school credit for being part of a library program such as volunteering! What a win-win situation for all! Read on for more details on how the program works.

The Academic Internship program is for high schoolers (though targeting 16-18 year olds) to receive work-based learning opportunities and earn school credit. Library programs that are ongoing such as tutoring, volunteering, creating a podcast program, reading to toddlers during storytime, etc. are some examples that would qualify teens for this opportunity. The credit appears on their transcript which in turn reflects their overall academic success.

Feel free to share if a similar program exists in your area. If it doesn’t already, a few suggestions to get started might be to seek out what kind of workforce development opportunities are in existence and bringing the library into the dialogue by sharing a portfolio of information about the programs you feel might qualify. Gathering anecdotes and outcomes from a program can show that it’s really making a difference in the lives of teens and helps connect them to their greater career goals and interests.

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38. You don’t have to write, you get to write.

After your students decorate their writer’s notebooks and you review your expectations, the notebooks go home.  This is exciting!  Who doesn’t love writing in a new notebook?!!? I’ll tell ya, there are plenty of… Continue reading

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39. #35 Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it.


It's hard for me to imagine that just a little over four years ago I was not a mystery reader. While I was willing to try a new genre and a new author based on my best friend's recommendation, I didn't think I'd actually enjoy it, as in LOVE what I'm reading. In July 2010, I read two Josephine Tey books: The Man in the Queue, which I've read only once, and The Daughter of Time, which I've reread again and again. This is the fourth time I've read The Daughter of Time!

The Daughter Of Time isn't a typical mystery. The hero, Inspector Grant, is stuck in a hospital bed with a broken leg. He sees visitors. He sees doctors and nurses. He could spend his time reading. But. He isn't really satisfied with the fiction close at hand provided by his friends. What he really wants is to have a case to solve. That seems impossible until someone suggests he solve a case from the past. He seeks out a mystery from history. He chooses Richard III. The action in the novel comes from thinking, reading, researching, and brainstorming with his friends.

Since I've read it four times, you have to know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. I love it even more each time I read it! And this SONG is a must!!!!  

It was brought home to him for the first time not only what a useless thing the murder of the boys would have been, but what a silly thing. And if there was anything that Richard of Gloucester was not, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was silly. (137)

 "Of course I'm only a policeman," Grant said. "Perhaps I never moved in the right circles. It may be that I've met only nice people. Where would one have to go to meet a woman who became matey with the murderer of her two boys?"
"Greece, I should think," Marta said. "Ancient Greece."
"I can't remember a sample even there."
"Or a lunatic asylum, perhaps. Was there any sign of idiocy about Elizabeth Woodville?"
"Not that anyone ever noticed. And she was Queen for twenty years or so."
...
"Yes of course. It's the height of absurdity. It belongs to Ruthless Rhymes, not to sober history. That is why historians surprise me. They seem to have no talent for the likeliness of any situation. They see history like a peepshow; with two-dimensional figures against a distant background."
"Perhaps when you are grubbing about with tattered records you haven't time to learn about people. I don't mean about the people in the records, but just about People. Flesh and blood. And how they react to circumstances." (151)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. Beginning a Year of Teaching Writing with Reflection

What goals will you set for your practice this year? Here are a few suggestions.

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41. Back to School

I've culled the TWT archives for posts you might want to read during the first month of the school year.

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42. Back to School: Learning How to Fail

Someone asked me recently why it can be hard for libraries to change. She wondered why when her library wanted to try something it required a committee of people and a long process that in many cases meant by the time the something was ready to implement it was too late. I think about this construct a lot and have realized that a part of what is going on is a desire or need to make sure that a program or service is perfect before it launches to the public. When we strive for perfection in libraries we end up creating an environment that isn’t nimble or flexible or responsive to the community. And, as a result, we don’t move forward as quickly as we need.

The conversation where someone asked me about libraries and change led to this Tweet:



That idea, (Fail=First Attempt in Learning) is the message we need to get across to teens, teachers, parents, and librarians. Learning, producing, creating, implementing is a process. In order to actually learn or produce or implement something imperfection, and even failure, is required. Think about some of the things you have learned – how to drive, how to use a particular software program, how to use a particular device, how to cook something… I could go on and on. But, the key is that I bet the first time you got behind the steering wheel or the first time you baked a cake or the first time you turned on a new device, you weren’t perfect at it. I certainly could tell stories about failing at each of those things when I first was learning how to do/use them.

In libraries, and with teens, we have to be willing to fail, learn from our experiences, and then either try again, or move on to something else (if what we learn says this wasn’t a good idea at all). Think about how freeing that is when planning a new program or service. Say you want to start working with some new community partners to help support teen workforce development skills. If you wait until you have built the perfect relationship with the potential partners or have a proved track-record with the partners it could be the year 2044 before you get something off the ground.

Instead of working towards perfection in the partnership give yourself a quick turn-around timeline for building and piloting the program. Work backwards on your calendar to plan out what you need to accomplish by that completion date. Give up the idea that every piece of the project has to be thought out perfectly before you launch. Start contacting partners and asking them how you can work together to create something awesome for teens. Go with the flow and see what happens.

And then, and this is a big thing, at the end of the process look at what worked and didn’t work and then decide next steps. What were you looking for in the partnership and did you achieve that – why/why not? Were you able to support teen acquisition of workforce development skills – why/why not? If you were to do this project again, what would you do the same and what would you do differently – why? Those answers are really going to help you to understand how you failed, what you learned, and what you need to do next.

And, then, be honest with everyone! Yes everyone! About your failures and what you learned. One of the reasons I think we in libraries don’t like to fail and strive for perfection is because, while we exchange lots of information about what we do with teens, we aren’t always talking about what didn’t work and what we would do differently next time. It seems to the world that we are perfect, and we are not.

Take the leap this fall and learn how to fail and how to celebrate that failure. Instead of working towards perfection be nimble and flexible in planning, try out ideas, evaluate, learn, and try again.

If you want to keep learning about taking risks and learning how to fail try out these Twitter hashtags and feeds:

  • #act4teens – is a YALSA generated hashtag all about developing great library services to support teens.
  • @educationweek – the official Twitter feed for the Education Week newspaper and website.
  • @edutopia – the official Twitter feed for the George Lucas Foundation dedicated to innovation in education
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    43. Week in Review: August 24-30

    The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
    The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
    The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
    The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
    Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
    Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
    Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
    PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

    This week's favorite:

    It wasn't as easy as you might think. I found many of these books charming and delightful or absorbing and compelling. But. There is something about The Daughter of Time that I just love and adore. I have to go with the book that I love most, right? But honorable mentions could definitely be given for Kiss of Deception and The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    44. The Badger Knight - a review

    Erskine, Kathryn. 2014. The Badger Knight. New York: Scholastic.
    (Advance Reader Copy)


    After the great plague, Adrian's father is overly protective. Having lost his wife and daughter, he is determined to protect his12-year-old son, Adrian.  Small and weak, Adrian has what we now call asthma and albinism. In the rural England of the 1300s, however, his condition is more often considered an unlucky and unholy affliction - rendering him only slightly more popular than Thomas the leper. Though he is quick of mind, skillful with a bow, and able to scribe, he is nonetheless treated as useless and dim-witted.

    When the Middle March is threatened by war with the Scots, Adrian sees a chance to prove his mettle,

    "Soon I hear the blacksmith's voice in my head: Nock! Mark! Draw! Loose! I spread some dirt under my eyes to counteract the bright sun, close my left eye, ready  my bow, and take aim at a single leaf fifty feet away.  On my second shot I split the leaf in two.  As I practice more, I can hit a leaf on my first try, even when it sways in the breeze.  I lose all sense of time and feel like I'm in another world.
    Until I hear someone approach through the woods, and I grab my arrows, stowing them quickly with my bow inside the tree trunk.  For years I haven't been discovered and I don't intend for anyone to find me out now.  When the time is right, I will shock them all.  So I stand and look up at the branches to divert attention away from the trunk and to show that I'm simply addlepated Adrian looking at birds."

    The Badger Knight is a historical fiction adventure that touches upon many common themes (bullying, friendship, gender bias, coming of age, survival, the nature of good and evil) as Adrian goes off to war and becomes a man - not by might, but by right.

     "... I'm reminded of Nigel and his search for the truth.  I think of what I always believed to be truths — Scots are pagans, thieves are bad, knights are noble, girls are weak, war is glorious — and how these "truths" aren't real at all.  They're things I was taught or everyone believes, just as all people who look like me are supposedly angels or, more often, devils.  I didn't believe Nigel when he said that scribing was power, that seeking the truth and sharing it is mightier than being a soldier.
         Now I see what he means."

    The Knight Badger is rich in historical details - from the minor particulars of everyday life and the societal hierarchy of medieval England to the gruesome manner of medieval warfare. Erskine offers an unvarnished look into the lives of serfs, tradesmen, religious leaders, free lances, city street urchins, and robber barons. The author's thoughts on the nature of war are on display throughout, but readers are encouraged to come to their own conclusions and examine their own biases.

    A solid adventure story that should appeal to boys and girls.  There is room for a sequel.

    On shelves 8/26/14.   Target audience: ages 8-12, Gr 3-7
    352 pages

    0 Comments on The Badger Knight - a review as of 8/29/2014 7:51:00 AM
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    45. From the Heartland: Mari Evans

    thMari Evans was born in Toledo in 1923. I first encountered her works while in college. I needed a poem and, there she was. Upon discovering that Evans shared my hometown, I tucked her in my memories. After all, who in the world is from Toledo??

    Like me, most know Evans as a poet. Her poetry is accessible to almost grown to full grown.

     

    Where Have You Gone by Mari Evans
    Where have you gone
    with your confident
 walk with 
your crooked smile
    why did you leave 
me
    when you took your 
laughter
    and departed
    are you aware that 
with you
 went the sun
    all light
    and what few stars 
there were?
    where have you gone
    with your confident 
walk
    your 
crooked smile
    the 
rent money 
in one pocket
    and 
my heart 
in another . . .

    And, her poetry is timeless

    We have screamed
    and we have filled our lungs
    with revolutionary rhetoric
    We sing
    the sorrow songs and march
    chest tight and elbows
    locked
    yes
    We have learned to mourn
    Our martyrs and our children
    murdered by our Greater Love
    and strewn
    like waste before our pious disbelief
    What tremors stay our heads?
    The monster still contains us!
    There is no better time no
    Futuretime
          (from “The Time is Now”)

    Evans often visited Indianapolis as a child and moved to the city in the late 1960s to serve as writer in residence at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). Shortly after her arrival, she became the writer, producer and director of the television show “The Black Experience”. Evans writes about her experiences in and with the city in her essay “Ethos and Creativity: The Impulse as Malleable” (1989).  She describes with vivid examples what it is to be Black in Indiana. She writes of an attitude I’ve heard people from outside Indiana try to explain.

    “Many Black folk thought of Indianapolis as urban, “up South.” It was better than being “down South,” but it retained many of the negative propositions of the deep South, and was not yet as enlightened or “progressive” as its West or East Coast counterparts. Conservatism and racism were alive and compatible.

    To our discredit there is, even today, an amazing retention of that early sensibility. It is expressed, however, with much more class, much more élan, and many Black folk are so enthralled by the smiles they do not read the eyes nor understand psychological “locking out.”

    Not too enthralled though, to not be angry even then at police shootings of young black men and at economic racism.

    As a prominent member of the Indianapolis Black arts community, her memories are of a thriving Indiana Avenue, then the heart of the city’s black community and she grieves the impact of the destruction of the surrounding area on the black community. Evans writes of few opportunities for black artists in the city and understands why many leave.

    Evans also taught at Purdue, Washington University, Cornell and the State University of New York. Her poetry collections include Night Star, Where is the Music and I am a Black Woman. Her children’s books include Dear Corinne, Tell Somebody! Love, Annie, A Book About Secrets; Jim Flying High and J.D.+-+64527191_140

    In 2006, Evans published her first YA novel, I’m Late: The Story of Lanesse and Moonlight and Alisha Who Didn’t Have Anyone of Her Own.

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 1.46.51 PM

     

    They need something to believe in
    the young
    a joy exploding an
    ecstatic peace to hide them in
    a strengthening

    They must leap miles into the stratosphere
    clicking heels
    and a half gainor backwards
    free fall
    We have taken the gods of Big
    Bethel Mount Pilgrim and
    Blessed assurance and walked
    just part of the Way
    with Damballa
    Go on and do it Jim, we said
    Boogalooing in the other direction

    They need something to believe in
    the young
    That is only part of the truth
    They need a map and a guide
    to the interior

    If we have the Word let us
    say it
    If we have the Word let us
    Be it
    If we have the Word let us
    DO
    They need something to believe in


    Filed under: Authors, Uncategorized Tagged: african american, Indiana YA author, indianapolis, Mari Evans

    1 Comments on From the Heartland: Mari Evans, last added: 9/1/2014
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    46. A Peek Inside My Writer’s Notebook

    Launching writer's notebooks by giving kids a peek into my own

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    47. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

    guardian herd 1 starfire

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    The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

    Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
    Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
    978-0-06-228606-2
    Age 8 to 12              272 pages
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    “Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”

    Opening

    “Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

    The Story

    The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

    Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

    Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

    One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.

    Review

    The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

    There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

    Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

    Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

    The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

    THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

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    Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

    Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

    **Also Available in Audio

    Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

    Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

    HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

    Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE

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    Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

    The Pet Washer

    The Pet Washer

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    x

    x

    Reviewed HERE

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    guardian herd starfire

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    Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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    48. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – August 29, 2014

    A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

    Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 29 and September 4 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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    49. August Reflections

    In August I read 51 books.

    Picture books, early readers:

    1. Clifford Visits the Zoo. Norman Bridwell. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    2. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. Caryn Yacowitz. Illustrated by David Slonim. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    3. If Kids Ran the World. Leo and Diane Dillon. 2014. Scholastic. 32 Pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    4. My Grandfather's Coat. Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    5. The Night Parade. Lily Roscoe. Illustrated by David Walker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    6. Noodle Magic. Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    7. The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma. Diane and Christyan Fox. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    8. Thanksgiving for Emily Ann. Teresa Johnston. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    9. Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks. Tedd Arnold. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    10. Petal and Poppy. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    11. Petal and Poppy and the Penguin. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    12. Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop. (Level 1 Reader) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    13. Days of the Knights. (Level 2 Reader) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    14. Little Big Horse: Where's My Bike? (Level 1) Dave Horowitz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    15. Drop It, Rocket! (Step 1) Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
    1. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
    2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
    3. Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
    4. Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
    5. The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood] 
    6. The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library]  
    7. Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    8. Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]  
    9. Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
    10. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
    11. Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
    12. Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
    13. The One. Kiera Cass. 2014. HarperCollins. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
    Adult fiction and nonfiction:
    1. The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library]  
    2. The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
    3. The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
    4. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
    5. The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
    6. The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought] 
    7. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library] 
    8. The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]  
    9. The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
    10. Earth Awakens. Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. 2014. Tor. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
    11. Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]  
    12. Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
    Christian fiction and nonfiction:
    1. The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library] 
    2. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]  
    3. In Perfect Time. Sarah Sundin. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    4. The Wonder-Working God. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    5. Centurion: Mark's Gospel As A Thriller. Ryan Casey Waller. 2013. Interlochen Ink. 190 pages. [Source: Bought] 
    6. Captured by Love. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    7. Miracle in a Dry Season. Sarah Loudin Thomas. 2014. Bethany House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    8. Making Sense of the Bible. David Whitehead. 2014. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
    9. Sweet Mercy. Ann Tatlock. 2013. Bethany House. 400 pages. [Source: Gift]
    10. Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
    11. PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on August Reflections as of 8/31/2014 11:39:00 AM
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    50. Poet to Poet: Julie Larios and Skila Brown

    It's time for another installment of my "Poet to Poet" series-- in which one poet interviews another poet about her/his new book. Today, Julie Larios (author of the marvelous Yellow Elephant and Imaginary Menagerieasks Skila Brown three questions-- about her new book, Caminar, a novel in verse set in Guatemala, about her childhood memories, and about writing that inspires her.
    JL: This question won't surprise you, Skila, because you know I struggle with it. You're drawn to both poetry and fiction, and your story Caminar (which is so well-written - and haunting) took the form of a verse novel. What do you think poetry can do to a reader, and what can fiction do, and what can the verse novel do that is distinct from either of these? 

    SB: Fiction gets in your head. A good story feels real while you’re reading it. The people, the setting, the relationships—it can all suck you in, alter your mood, give you a new perspective, and build a bridge between you and somewhere you’ve never been. Not just a place, but also a kind of character you can suddenly empathize with. Fiction—good fiction—is difficult to read slowly. It’s like a delicious meal when you’re hungry, and you’re consciously trying to eat slower than you’d like.
    Poetry, I think, feels like a beautiful mountain. You can enjoy it from so many different levels. But the more you climb, the more you work, the more you can see. It requires work on the reader’s part, work to shake off preconceptions, carefully consider new meanings and uses for words, and think about other possibilities. It’s often a jolt to your senses. It can be populated with images and descriptions that are real and vibrant and unique. It encourages lingering. 
    A verse novel can do both. It’s a versatile form that allows the reader to get sucked in to the story, rapidly turning the pages to find out what happens next. Or it provides the space and the weight for a pause, maybe an image or a metaphor that is so sharp the reader stays with that poem for a bit and savors it. Novels in verse allow the reader to choose how to digest the story, and, because of that, it can appeal to a wider audience.
    JL: If given a wish now, as adults, we might wish for world peace or for our children to be healthy and happy - grand, important, sweeping wishes, full of fear and hope.  But I'm interested in whether we can really capture what we were like as children. So I'd like you to do this: Close your eyes and pretend that it's your tenth birthday (plus or minus a year is fine) - you have a cake in front of you with candles on it, and if you blow those candles out with one breath, your wish will come true. Here comes a multi-part question: What do you wish for and why and how much do you want it and how much do you believe it will come true? 
    SB: So, Julie. I remember my tenth birthday very well. It happened to be the birthday in which I closed my eyes, made a wish, leaned over my cake to blow out my candles…and then promptly lit the edges of my hair on fire. 
    I smelled it before I felt it. In that tiny third of a second before the corner of my eyes filled with the flame and my ears filled with everyone shouting and telling me what to do, there was the smell. This terrible burning chemical odor that filled up my nostrils because I’d just spent hours the day before sitting in a chair, with little plastic curlers on my head, and enough chemicals to burn my eyes for a week. I’d gotten a perm. 
    I’d gotten a perm because I’d just moved into a new house and a new school and the kids in this school all did everything differently than the kids in the school I’d attended before. Suddenly the things about me that made third graders like me were the very things that made fourth graders hate me. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. And maybe I thought my curl-less hair was part of the problem. 
    I don’t remember what my specific wish was that day, that second before my hair caught on fire. I’m sure it wasn’t a sweeping wish, like “Let people like me.” Or “Let me make friends.” But I think it was a ten-year old’s version of that. “I wish I’d get a Walkman just like Jenny’s.” or “I wish I’d get picked first tomorrow at recess.” Or “I wish we’d never play dodge ball again because it’s humiliating the way everyone aims for me, always me, only me.”
    However I might have vocalized the wish, whatever specific thing I might have fixated on, the root of it was really that I wished I fit in. I wished people liked me. I probably spent a decade of my life wishing that wish, in some form. And yes, it came true, over and over again. I think that wish, like a lot of sweeping big wishes, falls in and out of True over the course of a life. I’ve had lots of friends, lots of good circles of support, lots of people who have loved me and love me still. But there have been many times I’ve felt lonely and unseen and without a shoulder to lean on. 
    I think it’s a rare kid who doesn’t wish for this very thing at some point in her life. But the luckiest of us will outgrow it. And instead of wishing for “people to like me”, we’ll wish instead to find the village that is our own. 
    JL: Do you remember a book you read (as an adult or as a child) where you finished it and said, "That's what I'd like to do - I'd like to be able to write like that"? What book was it, and what made you feel that? (Give me details!)
    SB: Oh, I love it when that happens. It happens to me a lot, actually. Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere is the first book I remember reading, closing the book, and then immediately opening it back up to page one and starting again. The book made me ache. I remember thinking I wanted to write a story that makes people ache. 
    Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens gave me instant writer-envy. I’m a huge fan of satire. And I’m a very opinionated person when it comes to social, moral, and political issues. I hope to one day be able to tell a story that’s both entertaining but also squirm-inducing, just like that one. 
    David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary is another book that made me green. I really love stories that are told in an unusual form. Many times I think unusual forms get in the way of the story, but sometimes they are the perfect complement. And the story is all the richer. 

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    Thank you, Julie and Skila (pronounced Sky- luh) for sharing so personally and generously!

    Be sure to check out their sites and blogs at Julie Larios (A Drift Record) and Skila Brown (full of photos and quotes) and don't miss Caminar, a very compelling story of war and childhood, family and honor.
    Meanwhile, head on over to Jone's place for more Poetry Friday fun. Check it out!

    Photo credits: skilabrown.com, numerocinqmagazine.com; 100itrecruitment.uk.co

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