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1. Why We Gather: The Importance of a Classroom Meeting Area

You might be so completely used to your classroom arrangement that it seems normal to you -- but it maybe could be better.

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2. The New Screen Savers - featuring Stan!

Recently, Stan was a guest on The New Screen Savers. It's a show about computers and technology which used to be the headline show for cable's Tech TV channel. Since the channel's demise, the show has gone live online. If there's a geek in your life, you can be sure he or she knows about it. Stan has been an avid fan of the show since it's inception.
     Stan had a question about saving my enormous art files to the Cloud - something we've been trying to figure out for some time now. I work digitally and my illustration files are enormous - often about a half meg each. I can't keep them all on my laptop because it has limited space. So we've been employing external hard drives. It works, but it's not ideal from an access or safety standpoint. Cloud storage is available out there for average-sized files, but we've not found an affordable service available for files like mine.
     Stan turned to the experts. He submitted his question earlier in the summer and the show's producers got back to him a few weeks ago. The show is filmed live in California and now that we're in Scotland that meant an 8-hour time difference in screening. So Stan set up Skype to talk to Leo and the guys at our new kitchen counter and was filmed at about midnight.
     The show is now archived online and you can see Stan do his bit. Stan comes on at the 57:00 mark. CLICK HERE to go see it, and Go Stan!

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3. Swarming Mayflies

While we were in Blois, we experienced a natural phenomena - swarming Mayflies. I'd never seen anything like it. The swarms were as thick as snow, but more like a blizzard because they flew every which way, including into your hair. ACK! They only live for a day and fell to the ground in drifts of white, which crunched when you walked over them (or drove over them as you'll hear in the video). The next morning, they all lay dead with their little white wings sticking up to the sky. What a sight! CLICK HERE or the image to go see the video on YouTube.
I also found this lovely poem by George Crabbe...

In shoals the hours their constant numbers bring,
Like insects waking to th' advancing spring;
Which take their rise from grubs obscene that lie
In shallow pools, or thence ascend the sky:
Such are these base ephemeras, so born
To die before the next revolving morn.
—George Crabbe, "The Newspaper", 1785

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4. My tweets

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5. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #447: Featuring Simona Ciraolo



 

“I’d had my suspicions for a while that someone had replaced my sister with a girl who looked a lot like her. It had to be! …” Thus opens the new book from author-illustrator Simona Ciraolo (who brought us last year’s Hug Me), Whatever Happened to My Sister? This will be on shelves, come November, from Flying Eye Books. It’s the story of a young girl whose teenage sister is keeping her distance, as teenage sisters are wont to do. The girl, however, is filled with confusion and sorrow, given that they used to play together closely. “I am rather observant,” the girl notes, “yet the moment of the switch must have passed me by.”

There’s a real tender pain here as we follow the girl watching her sister, the latter fully engaged in typical teen activities (listening to music, watching television, hanging with her friends). The younger one tries to engage her sister yet can’t — and eventually she is moved to tears and hides behind the living room couch. But fear not: Her older sister finds her and they spend time together.

There’s humor here, as well as hurt feelings. The family cat brings some comic relief, for one. Ciraolo’s characters are expressive and her palette, intriguing. The colors are fairly limited, but this serves the story well. The bright oranges are fitting for the intense moments of either frustration or loneliness, and the final spread—where the two girls sit and talk on the couch—are washed in a brilliant, intense red. As always, I’ve got some spreads here to show you (sans the text, in this case) so that you can see for yourself.

Enjoy the art!



“I’d had my suspicions for a while that someone had replaced my sister
with a girl who looked a lot like her. It had to be!”

(Click bottom image to see spread in its entirety)



 


“My sister was never so tall. Did it happen overnight? I am rather observant,
yet the moment of the switch must have passed me by.”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“I suppose there were the signs. She’d been incredibly boring on several occasions
but I guess I didn’t give it much thought …”

(Click to enlarge)


 


“… at least until I noticed her sense of fashion had gone.
This new sister showed no interest in pretty things.”

(Click to enlarge)


 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MY SISTER? Copyright © 2015 by Simona Ciraolo. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Flying Eye Books, New York.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The care that Flying Eye Books puts into the production of their books.

2) Exploding Kittens, the card game, has arrived — and it’s like it was made EXPRESSLY for my daughters.

3) The girls and I are reading Anne of Green Gables aloud (first time for each of us), and it’s a HOOT.

4) Solutions that work.

5) Kindnesses extended to me.

6) Helping hands.

7) This has been a good listen.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #447: Featuring Simona Ciraolo, last added: 8/30/2015
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6. WEEKEND LINKS- Great Links, Reads and Activities to #ReadYourWorld

Welcome to Weekend Links! As one of the co-founders of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I pleased to share that planning for the 2016 event is well under way! We are working like busy little bees to update the MCCBD website, add new book-inspired events like our upcoming Classroom Reading Challenge (more details later on that).

Reading is always an important part of our children’s lives no matter what time of year it is and so is helping our young readers learn about other cultures, religions and traditions through the pages of these books. Here are some great booklists and resources that I have discovered during my www travels this week:

Where I Belong Book Review at Kitchen Counter Chronicle

multicultural childrens book
10 Examples of How Reading and Writing Go Together Like Peanut Butter & Jelly at Literate for Life

reading-writing

A Dozen Diverse Picture Books with All Kinds of Families at Welcoming Schools

A 1,000 year old Persian tale from the “Book of Kings” find out more about this Green Musician. Check out this new multicultural release at Wisdom Tales Press.

multicultural childrens books

A wonderful story of hope. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako

It’s hard to be what you can’t see-MulticulturalChildrens Books at Huff Post Education

n-BLACK-KIDS-READING-large570
Raising World Explorers: Ten Creative Experiments that Prove that Travel is a State of Mind at Suitcases and Sippy Cups.

World-Explorers-2-680x445
10 favorite reasons to read diversely. What are yours? (Lee and Low)

10 reasons to read diverse books

Something You May Have Missed at JIAB

Pippi’s Longstockings

Did you see my post this week with my Pippi Longstock book review (one of my favs) but also a fun and unique activitiy on making Pippi’s “Longstocking!” See the full story HERE.

pippi longstockings activity

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

Follow me on Pinterest!
Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board Jump Into a Book Kidlit Booklists on Pinterest. Follow Valarie Budayr @Jump into a Book’s board A Year In The Secret Garden on Pinterest.

The post WEEKEND LINKS- Great Links, Reads and Activities to #ReadYourWorld appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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7. Local boys kickin’ some funky jazz! Nontch Harpin! #Sketch...


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8. ‘Abrahamic religions’ – From interfaith to scholarship

Together with Ulysses, Abraham is the earliest culture hero in the Western world. More precisely, as Kierkegaard, who called him ‘the knight of faith,’ reminds us, he has remained, throughout the centuries, the prototype of the religious man, of the man of faith. The wandering Aramean from the Book of Genesis, who rejected his parents’ idols and native Mesopotamia to follow the call of the One God to the land of Canaan, started a saga reverberated not only in early Jewish literature, but also in the New Testament (Galatians 3: 6-8), and in early Christian literature.

The post ‘Abrahamic religions’ – From interfaith to scholarship appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Betsy Cornwell, author of MECHANICA, on finding the everyday grit to keep on working

We're excited to have Betsy Cornwell here to tell us more about her latest novel MECHANICA.


Betsy, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I grew up loving Cinderella retellings like Gail Carson Levine's ELLA ENCHANTED and Margaret Peterson Haddix's JUST ELLA, and some of my favorite reviews of MECHANICA have compared it with those books. Since Mechanica is a character-driven story that's told from the perspective of one lonely, intelligent girl, I'd like to think that its readers would also be drawn to my favorite novel, I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, and other open-ended character studies of brilliant teenage girls.

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10. Jane Casey, author of HIDE AND SEEK, on knowing when a book is wrong

HIDE AND SEEK is the third book in the Jess Tennant Mysteries series, and we're thrilled to have Jane Casey here to share more about it.

Jane, what was your inspiration for writing HIDE AND SEEK?

Hide and Seek is the third book in the Jess Tennant crime series and I wanted to write about mother-daughter relationships because Jess and her mother are extremely close. Jess seems like the responsible one a lot of the time, and she has to deal with the fall-out from her mother’s decisions, but there’s a huge amount of love between the two of them. There’s another mother and daughter in Hide and Seek who have a very different dynamic, one that is quite dangerous and unstable. I’m also fascinated by those people who live by exploiting others. I think there’s some truly evil behaviour in this book!

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11. organic shopping

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12. हंस profile

       In the Hindustan Times Manoj Sharma reports that For Hindi literature, Hans writes a story of grit and revival, profiling हंस (Hans) magazine.
       Hey, founded by Premchand and with Mahatma Gandhi as its editorial adviser .... that's not a bad pedigree. (Okay, there was a long interim between that time and Hans 2.0, but still ......)
       In any case, good to hear that this kind of publication can survive -- indeed that its readership is apparently growing:

Interestingly, in this digital age when the circulation of major magazines has going down, that of Hans has gone up in the last two years from 9,500 to 11,000, which makes it the largest-read Hindi literary magazine.
       And I kind of like the idea of a 'literary' magazine printed on newsprint.

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13. Illustration Friday's "WORK"


Renee never thought of her job as work. She got to fly to the most exotic places and stay in gorgeous hotels. She was only reminded when passing out peanuts, liquor, and giving instruction in case of emergency. Have a great week everyone!

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14. Corriedale Sheep


(Link to SoundCloud file) At the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York, I painted a portrait of a Corriedale ewe named Iris as her owner described the qualities of this breed of sheep.

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15. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves – 2 More Days!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

I’m officially freaking out about my surgery on Tuesday.  I still don’t know what time I have to be at the hospital.  I had to stop taking the anti-inflammatory, so I can’t even sit down without a great deal of pain and effort.  Every time I speak with the surgical coordinator, I have a mini meltdown.  She is the one who said dogs are dirty and I can’t be near them for weeks after the surgery, or that I couldn’t skip in home PT in favor of going to the therapist I already know and who knows my goals and history (the surgeon said it was fine!).  Last week she said I needed to have a walker, and that the crutches I have aren’t recommended, and my cane can’t be used until Week 2.  I have decided that I will take her advice with a grain of salt and discuss everything with the hospital PT and my PT.

Friday night I had to run Poppy up to the vet.  Her little toes are red and inflamed, and I was worried they would become infected.  I won’t be able to take her  next week, so the vet fit us in.  We both suspect that she is suffering from allergies, and because of my surgery, she suggested an antibiotic shot that works for 2 weeks, instead of worrying about having to give her pills.  It was a little more expensive, but since I don’t know what time Dean will be home on Tuesday, or what I’ll be home Wednesday, I thought it was a good idea.  She’s also on an anti-inflammatory and Benadryl.  I discovered avocados a few weeks ago (I share a little bit with the duppers), so I don’t know if that may be the problem.  There are several trees in the yard dropping obnoxious berries and fruits, so that might the culprit, too.

While there, I asked the vet about having to stay away from the dogs after my surgery.  She laughed.  She told me to wash, wash, wash my hands, and to keep the dogs off the incision, and all will be fine.  She said there is a huge psychological advantage to having pets near during recovery, and not to worry about it.  She did advise that I change the sheets every few days, and be careful that they don’t jump on me.  Phew!

Yesterday, Dean and I stocked up on a few last minute essentials, and then went to Buca’s for lunch.  I had a 20% off coupon, so we ordered several of their small plates, which still feed more than 2,  a big bowl of pasta, and dessert (to go!).  Now we have enough leftovers that I don’t have to worry about him starving while I’m in the hospital.  Today, after watching the horses work, I’m meeting my uncle and some of his friends for dinner at Maggiano’s for a little pre-surgical party.  Since they have a enjoy one dinner here and take one home, I’ll have a little stockpile of food to look forward to when I get sprung from the hospital.  I hope I have an appetite!  Between that and what I’ve prepared and put in the freezer, I should be good for the next two weeks, when I will be feeling the worst.  The thought of having to cook while I feel like crap just isn’t appealing, and it was stressing me out.  Problem – SOLVED!

My Kindle Fire is charged and ready to go.  I have a couple audio books in case I don’t feel like reading, as well as Mercy Thompson #2 and Fair Game, Bk #3 in the Alpha and Omega series.  Between some upcoming fantasy novels I have eARCs for, my new Harlequins, and access to digital downloads at the library, I should keep from going stir crazy, too!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Lots of great 2016 releases!  Harlequin had a BOGO free sale, so I grabbed a couple of titles there, too.

Assassin’s Heart

Reign of Shadows

The Girl from Everywhere

The Great Hunt

Burning Glass

Sustained

Should’ve Said No

Sword and Verse

The Shadow Queen

Kissed by a Cowboy

The Nanny Plan

The Lawman Lassos a Family

Daddy Wore Spurs

The Texas Ranger’s Bride

The Cowboy and the Lady (I HATE this cover!  It is on so many books!)

The Cowboy Returns

Her Favorite Cowboy

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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16. ALSC Online Courses – Fall 2015

Fall 2015 Online Courses

ALSC encourages participants to sign up for Fall 2015 ALSC online courses. Registration is open for all courses. Classes begin Monday, September 14, 2015.

One of the courses being offered this semester is eligible for continuing education units (CEUs). The American Library Association (ALA) has been certified to provide CEUs by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: www.ala.org/alsced

It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, September 14 –October 23, 2015
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, School Liaison/Youth Services Librarian, Lake Villa District Library

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, September 14 – October 9, 2015, CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs
Instructor: Steven Engelfried, Youth Services Librarian, Wilsonville Public Library

The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future
6 weeks, September 14 – October 23, 2015
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website at www.ala.org/alsced. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland at ksutherland@ala.org or 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

The post ALSC Online Courses – Fall 2015 appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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17. Are You A BIG Comic Toys Fan? Lifesize Artstatues from Geraplica Sculptoys

 If you are then take a look at these!

When I saw these images I thought it w3as that old modeller's trick of posing a figure at the right angle and distance.  Boy, was I wrong!


Here is what Toysrevil http://toysrevil.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/lifesize-artstatues-from-geraplica.html writes:

"Lifesize Artstatues - in fiberglass - for sale at php 12,000 from artist sculptor Gerald Asilo of Geraplica Sculptoys - ASILO's sculpture for a "January Promo" price. Batman is a sure bet, Wonder Woman is a shoo-in, while I am on personally the fence with Superman LOL
"Buy this statues for 10,000 each plus 2,000 for delivery charge in a total of 12,000 pesos only , you can now save 6,000 pesos. Original price php18,000, now on sale for php 12,000" 
Contact them via their Facebook or email direct to g_asilo@yahoo.com

According to Gerald on his Linkedin page:

"In the 1990s my father was a sculptor for the Japanese company Craftwood. The company asked him to sculpt their own design like life-size Disney characters, Loony Toons, etc.  That was 1996 and I was only 12 years of age at that time. I was also practising how to sculpt because it's in the blood to sculpt.   Here I am now, following my father's legacy and sculpting my own designs and also what any client requires."



I just have to say that these are freaking incredible!  Now some of those "comic book cafes" need things like this!  Imagine inviting a friend into your apartment and finding The Avengers or JLA standing there -or maybe even a Swamp Thing or Man-Thing to go in your garden!

Man, if I ever get rich!!!


More images at the Face Book page!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Geraplica-Sculptoys-ASILOs-sculpture-lifesize-statuescollectibles/289621347732371?fref=photo

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18. Murakami and the Nobel (sigh ...)

       I haven't really gotten into much Nobel-speculation yet -- even though the announcement-date is only about six weeks off -- but there hasn't been much gossip in the air so far (even though the Swedish Academicians have long narrowed down the list to the final five or so contenders). (But if you want pre-Nobel activity: there has been pretty active discussion at The Fictional Woods and the World Literature Forum -- and of course you can already place bets at Ladbrokes.)
       Not that much media coverage, either, but in The Japan Times Damian Flanagan gets things rolling with his look at Mishima, Murakami and the elusive Nobel Prize.
       (Note that I don't think he makes quite enough of the fact that Mishima's Nobel chances were surely mainly dashed by his youth, and then his death at a very early age -- only three authors (Kipling, Sinclair Lewis, and Camus) were 45 (Mishima's age at his death) or younger when they won the prize; the average age of literature laureates in the 1960s was -- despite Camus -- 65, and in the 1970s 69.)

       (As to the: "here we are now, with only two Japanese winners in the 114 years since the prize was first awarded", a reminder that there still hasn't been a Dutch winner. (No Korean one either, etc. etc., but Dutch still ranks as the most glaring omission to date.))

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19. Prayers

Prayers

हमारी जिंदगी में  prayers का बहुत मह्त्वपूर्ण स्थान है. महिलाएं तो ज्यादातर सुबह सवेरे अपने दिन की शुरुआत नहाने के बाद  पूजा और धूप बत्ती से करती हैं. मेरी सहेली मणि के घर अगर सुबह सुबह जाओ तो घर महकता मिलेगा. बहुत अच्छा लगता है  क्योकि खुश्बू होती ही इतनी मनभावन है.

उसकी देखा देखी मैने भी ऐसा करना शुरु कर रखा है दिन में तीन चार बार तो खुश्बूदार अगरबत्ती लगा ही लेती हूं पर पर पर  आज कुछ ऐसा पढा कि टैंशन सी हो गई. असल में, खबर है कि” हैरानी होगी आपको यह जानकर कि सुगंधित अगरबत्तियों और धूप बत्तियों से निकलने वाला धुंआ शरीर की कोशिकाओं के लिए सिगरेट के धुएं से अधिक जहरीला साबित होता है।

शोधकर्ताओं का कहना है कि अगरबत्ती का धुआं सिगरेट के धुएं की तरह है। अगरबत्ती का धुआं कोशिकाओं में जेनेटिक म्‍यूटेशन करता है। इससे कोशिकाओं के डीएनए में बदलाव होता है, जिससे कैंसर होने का खतरा बढ़ जाता है।

अब ज्यादा तो समझ नही आया बस इतना समझ आया कि अगरबत्ती से निकलता धुंआ बेहद नुकसानदायक है.

वैसे पहले गूगल सर्च में कितनी बार पढा है कि अगरबत्ती बनाए खुश्बू के साथ साथ धन भी कमाए या अगरबत्ती बना कर जीवन महकाए  या सफल बिजनेस है अगरबत्ती का … !!!

पर आज वही अगरबत्ती और धुआं  गूगल  पर जब सर्च किया तो वही हैरान कर देने वाली खबर बहुत जगह पढने को मिली… ये तो कभी सोचा ही नही कि ऐसा भी होता है इसलिए तनाव हो गया है फिलहाल तो मैं मणि को सचेत करने जा रही हूं वैसे आप तो ज्यादा धूप बत्ती नही करते होंगें अगर करते हैं तो जरुर सोचिएगा !!

Prayers

Details

http://epaper.navbharattimes.com/details/4486-61408-1.html Via navbharattimes.com

reasons to say NO to agarbattis or incense sticks

शोध के नतीजों के आधार पर फेफड़ों की बीमारी से जूझ रहे लोगों के लिए यह अच्‍छा होगा कि वह धूप के धुंए से बचें। अगरबत्ती और धूपबत्ती को फेफड़ों के कैंसर, ब्रेन ट्यूमर और बच्‍चों के ल्‍यूकेमिया के विकास केसाथ जोड़ा जा रहा है। Via patrika.com

Prayers लेख आपको कैसा लगा जरुर बताईगा !!!

The post Prayers appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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20. Four ways in which policy-makers resolve moral dilemmas

Moral dilemmas are ubiquitous in modern democratic societies. Can we protect the bodily integrity of women and their unborn children at the same time? How can we protect the free will of adults while at the same time denying them to engage in self-harming activities, like (assisted) suicide or drug use?

The post Four ways in which policy-makers resolve moral dilemmas appeared first on OUPblog.

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21. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  • Winston the Book Wolf by Marni McGee
  • Ding Dong Gorilla by Michelle Robinson
  • Digger and Tom by Sebastien Braun
  • Toot and Pop by Sebastien Braun
  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
  • Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Whittington by Alan Armstrong
  • Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
  • Arthur, For The First Time by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Oh, the thinks you can think by Dr. Seuss
  • Wacky Wednesday by Theo LeSieg
  • Would You Rather be a Bullfrog by Theo LeSieg
  • Hooper Humperdink--? Not him! Theo LeSieg

Leftover Loot:
  • An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
  • The Well by Stephanie Landsem
  • The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem
  • The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers  
  • There's A Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
  • A Question of Honor by Charles Todd 
  • An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
  • The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
  • The Matchmaker: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen's Emma by Sarah Price
  • Second Chances: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion by Sarah Price
  • Vango. Between Sky and Earth. Timothee de Fomb
  • Great Day for UP by Dr. Seuss
  • The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm translated by Jack Zipes  
  • Wouldn't it Be Deadly an Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery by D.E. Ireland
  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  • An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
  • Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
  • The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
  • Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Ella MacNeal 
       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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Talking to Ruta Sepetys (and you) about Salt to the Sea


I have not vlogged for years. I'd forgotten how. Also, the technology has changed. Plus, I'm old and weary. Please forgive all of that.

Because the only thing that matters is that I've just read the third novel by Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea, a powerful historical novel about refugees, friendship, and a terrifying trek toward the world's greatest maritime disaster.

My thoughts are here.

Congratulations, Ruta Sepetys. 


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23. Book Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

Book: 5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger
Published: 2015
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley

After decades of gender selection, the ratio of boys to girls has become 5 to 1, and the tiny country of Koyangar has instituted elaborate tests for girls to pick their mates. The winners will get marriage, money, and a life of trying to breed more daughters. The losers will get menial jobs or worse, sent to the wall that separates Koyangar from the rest of the Indian subcontinent, an almost certain death sentence.

Sudasa is the granddaughter of a highly-placed woman in the government, and knows that she is expected to select a particular contestant. But she keeps getting distracted by Contestant 5, who helps out the other contestants and shows compassion for the injured that are ignored by every other boy. What she doesn't know is that Contestant 5 has come to the Tests without any intent of winning a wife. Instead, he plans to escape, because anything is better than Koyangar.

Initially, Contestant 5 disdains Sudasa as spoiled and corrupt, and Sudasa can't fathom why he would risk the wall rather than try for a life of comfort and plenty as her husband. But as they get to know each other in stolen moments, they come to understand that they both want the same thing: freedom.

I have to be honest: I've been completely over the whole novels in verse thing for awhile, so while Sudasa's free-versified thoughts and feelings were interesting, I was always relieved when I got back to the prose of Contestant 5's sections. That being said, seeing Sudasa slowly realize that there was a life for her outside of Koyangar, and her grandmother's control was a fascinating character arc. I just wished it had been more fleshed out. Free verse tends to be extremely spare, without a lot of detail. This is obviously a personal preference, so your mileage may vary.

With its themes of gender inequity (girls are still treated like property, their rarity adding to their value like precious gems, locked away in a safe most of the time) and political corruption (always, always political corruption) this book fits into the usual run of current dystopian fiction. The non-Western setting and culture makes it stand out, but at only 246 pages (and about half of those in free verse), it feels like we skimmed over the setting and honestly, everything outside of the Tests themselves.

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24. A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster. Nancy Farmer. 1996. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I read A Girl Named Disaster and Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind the same week. That fact definitely influenced my thoughts on both books--fair or not. Reading is subjective, after all.

Did I enjoy reading A Girl Named Disaster? Yes and no. I didn't exactly "enjoy" it. I found it a bit slow at the beginning, and, a bit rushed at the end. There were times I definitely found it interesting, but, I never really found myself loving it.

Nancy Farmer's A Girl Named Disaster is set in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. Nhamo has an interesting relationship to the rest of the family. She dearly, dearly loves her grandmother (Ambuya), and is in return beloved of her grandmother. (She is in fact probably the favorite granddaughter.) But the rest of her family is a different story. They seem to blame Nhamo for the circumstances of her birth. Her mother returned home from school (high school??? college???) pregnant and married to a "useless" man, a man named Proud. Neither is in her life when the novel opens. Her mother died when Nhamo was a toddler--eaten by a leopard. Her father had disappeared even before that. Nhamo is, without a doubt, a hard worker. Yes, she is slightly bitter that her tasks are more difficult and time-consuming than her slightly-older cousin's--Masvita. But she isn't hate-filled and overflowing with attitude either.

Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster introduces readers to a culture where marriage happens VERY early in life for girls--twelve to fourteen, and where a woman's worth is very much tied to her ability to produce children, particularly sons. Like Shabanu, A Girl Named Disaster features a heroine who is to be sacrificed via marriage. Like Shabanu, this marriage is MOST, MOST unwelcome. Dare I say this would-be marriage sounds even more unpleasant than the one in Shabanu--and I never thought I'd say that. Like Shabanu, the heroine makes the only choice she can under the circumstances....

Nhamo runs away from home in an attempt to make it across the border to Zimbabwe. Once there, she'll pretend to be Catholic--her mother attended a Catholic school--and seek refuge with nuns. Is she actually Catholic? No. Of course not. Her ideas of who Jesus is are far from sound, to say the least. But that is not exactly the point of A Girl Named Disaster.

Her journey to Zimbabwe is....much longer than she imagined it ever could be. It is not a journey of a few days or even a few weeks. MONTHS go by with Nhamo still struggling to reach her destination. It is her fight for SURVIVAL. It is definitely nature versus Nhamo...with Nhamo receiving a bit of help from the spiritual world.

Will Nhamo's life be better--easier--in Zimbabwe? Will she find her father? Will she find her father's family? Will she find welcome with them? What will happen to her if she doesn't find them? What will become of her? What are her chances of a decent life, a good life???

A Girl Named Disaster is slightly less depressing than Shabanu. That's not fair. It's not. The ending sees Nhamo with a bit of hope and a chance at a future.

Still neither book "feels" like a children's book. And when I do think of Newbery or Newbery Honor, I tend to think CHILDREN'S BOOK more than anything else. Arranged marriages, child-adult marriages, don't really come to mind. Still exposure to diverse titles can be a good thing. And both books offer readers something to think about.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Mountain lit. prize

       The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature is ... exactly that, "an annual award to authors of literary works, the central theme of which is concerned with mountains" (and worth £3,000).
       They've now announced their shortlist for the 2015 prize -- though I am a bit disappointed by the similarity in covers (blue and snow dominate), as well as the fact that a book with the subtitle: "A Life Rocked by Mountains" passed muster ..... Read the rest of this post

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