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|Month 4 of My Broken Leg|
For the past couple of weeks, I've been receiving treatment for my broken leg at the Southern Orthopedic Specialists in New Orleans. Although a friend recommended Tulane for physical therapy, the place where team members of the Saints are treated, the same institution that operated on my leg suggested that I stay within their network. Since my insurance covered the physical therapy treatment, I was happy to oblige.
|Physical Therapist, Marsh, manipulates my foot.|
When I tell most people that I am undergoing physical therapy, they look at me with extreme pity, as if the doctors were water boarding me for days on end. I actually enjoy physical therapy, probably because I enjoy exercising in general. I spend most of my day in front of a computer and often feel the need to engage in some sort of exercise, preferably yoga. In fact, although I couldn't walk for the first three months of my accident, I was able to keep up my yoga practice in bed. Special thanks to my teacher, Julie Nail who emailed me non-weight bearing poses. She helped me remain, positive, strong, and flexible during those early months of infirmity and not being able to walk .
|Julie Nail (photo by Lerina Winters)|
At the Southern Orthopedic Specialists (S.O.S.), I experienced a very fun type of weightless therapy, the Alter G, Anti-Gravity Treadmill. This doesn't mean I have the training to go for a spacewalk. However, walking in the bubble of air, allowed me to feel a type of weightlessness and I was able to improve my gait. With a neoprene pair of shorts, I zipped myself into the Alter G machine, while air filled the bottom of the cage with air, allowing me to eliminate much of my body weight. I felt like a baby being hoisted by the armpits as my legs re-learned how to walk. And then the fun part began, walking backwards in the Alter G treadmill.
|The Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill|
|Clicking my heels for a speedier recovery|
I must admit, there are two things I highly dislike about physical therapy. After the stretches and exercises are done, the therapist manipulates your foot and uses a hands on approach to get a feel for how much your range of motion has improved. I could do without the pulling and twisting of my foot in ways that a broken ankle should not be moved. Each therapy session ended with an arctic blast of an ice cold pack wrapped around both of my feet for fifteen minutes. I don't even like ice in a glass of water, let alone, wrapped around my foot for what seems like hours. The therapists laughed at my pained facial expressions each time they applied the ice packs.
|There's No Place Like Home|
One of the perks of physical therapy in New Orleans, during the month of October, meant I had the opportunity to participate in the city's Halloween Festivities. New Orleans is a spooky and haunted place on any given night, but the place to be on is Molly's bar in the French Quarter. The bar hosts a parade with a brass band, carriage riders, and marchers. The best part is anyone can join the parade. Since I wanted to be in that number, I made sure to wear comfortable shoes. I glittered a pair of comfortable leather and transformed them into Ruby Slippers for my Dorothy costume. Thanks to the therapists at S.O.S. and my yoga teachers, I was ready to march, walk, and strut.
|In front of Molly's|
|Catching Throws from the Carriage Riders|
|Glittering Shoes is Fun|
|The calm after the storm|
So the saying goes, disasters strike in threes. After I fell down the stairs and broke my leg, I wanted to count those two events as disasters two and three. Number one was earlier this year when our house was broken into. The good news on that was I had nothing to take. The burglars made a mess of the house, overturning drawers, taking out every box, stuffed into my closet. The rascals tore open a pretty envelope that I was saving to use when the mood struck me to surprise someone with old fashioned postal mail. I was even offended when the thieves didn't take any of my jewelry, opting instead to throw earrings and bracelets to the floor. However, what they did take was a jar of quarters. Somewhere, dirty thieves needed to do laundry. I hope they feel good about themselves in their clean clothes.
|The work of messy thieves.|
So the break-in and my broken leg counted as numbers one and two. Fate would not allow me to count the surgery as number three. The proverbial third shoe finally dropped three weeks ago when a broken washing machine caused the house to flood. A fifty-cent plumbing part nearly destroyed the house. Luckily, we have flood insurance which will cover the cost of the demolition (now finished) and restoration. As with my million dollar leg, a fall that resulted in a giant medical bill, I am very fortunate to have health insurance and flood insurance.
|What used to be the kitchen. Walls, floors and ceiling flooded.|
The good news is that the house will be even better than it was before and we will be able to get rid of the carpet on the stairs that caused me to slip and break my leg. Perspective is key here. After having been rushed to the emergency room with a dislocated ankle, my foot facing the wrong way, and a broken fibula, most other disasters like the house flooding, the ceiling caving in the kitchen, complete with sink, cabinets, and appliance, walls and floors needing to be demolished and rebuilt, doesn't seem that horrible. I'm able to continue writing. There are two rooms in the house that were unaffected. And luckily, I had my laptop with me and was not in the house when the disaster happened.
|My million dollar leg|
I spent the entire summer in the bed office due to my broken leg and I get to spend the next couple of months there again due to a near total house flood and forced remodel.
My leg is healing well, although it will be another couple of months until I am up and running, or dancing. In writing news, I took Rudy's challenge and entered the William Faulkner WisdomCompetition
, I made it to the final round in Poetry. Congratulations to winner Claire Dixon. Entering poetry competitions is sobering and challenging, but it's nice to be recognized for work that has already been published. Last week, Nicole Thompson featured me in Latin Post
|Blas Falconer, Melinda Palacio, Michelle Detorie after the Mission Poetry Series reading.|
A highlight of this summer was reading in the Mission Poetry Series with Blas Falconer and Michelle Detorie. The September day was gorgeous. With perfect weather on one of the last days for tourism in Santa Barbara, along with a street closed by the Sol Food Festival, the audience could have been sparse, but instead we had a crowd eager for poetry. As my friend reminds me, It could've been worse.
By: Julia Callaway,
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Reconstruction was a time of great change in the city of New Orleans. The Civil War had just ended, and the South was devastated. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had done much for racial equality, racial tension and conflict was ubiquitous in New Orleans. In June 1870, at the height of Reconstruction, 17-month-old Irish-American Mollie Digby was kidnapped from outside her home. The kidnapping was highly publicized in the media of the day, and residents of New Orleans followed the story with intense fervor, all the way to the sensationalized trial of two Afro-Creole women. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Michael A. Ross looks at why the story of Mollie Digby was so important, and what it reveals about that point in New Orleans history. Below is an infographic depicting life in New Orleans at the time of Mollie Digby’s kidnap.
Download a jpg or PDF of the infographic.
Heading image: 1857 view of Canal Street. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The post Life in New Orleans during the Reconstruction Era [infographic] appeared first on OUPblog.
By: Daniella Frangione,
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The Reconstruction era was a critical moment in the history of American race relations. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made great strides towards equality, the aftermath was a not-quited newly integrated society, greatly conflicted and rife with racial tension. At the height of Radical Reconstruction, in June 1870, seventeen-month-old Irish-American Mollie Digby was kidnapped from her home in New Orleans — allegedly by two Afro-Creole women. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Michael A. Ross offers the first ever full account of this historic event and subsequent investigation that electrified the South. The following images set the scene of New Orleans during this time period of racial amalgamation, social friction, and tremendous unease.
The Diverse New Orleans Population
A depiction of the diverse population of New Orleans. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Canal Street in New Orleans during Reconstruction. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Diversity in the Marketplace
Citizens of all classes frequented the public markets. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
A crowd waiting for a Mardi Gras parade. From Edward King, The Great South: A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, The Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1875, pg. 42.)
Creoles Strolling After a Matinee. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Policing the Streets
A Black Police Officer Addressing a Crowd. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
An Afro-Creole Nanny with a White Child
African American nannies escorting white children was a common site in New Orleans. From Edward King, The Great South: A Record of Journeys in Louisiana, Texas, The Indian Territory, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1875, pg. 30.)
Depiction of a Voodoo Ceremony. E.W. Kemble, “Voodoo Dance” from Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, November 1885 to 1886 (New York: The Century Co., vol. XXXI, New Series, Vol. IX, p.807.)
In this satirical cartoon, Reconstruction in Louisiana under President Grant and the Radical Republicans is depicted as a Greek tragedy. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Democratic periodicals regularly printed cartoons mocking the biracial Reconstruction legislatures in the South. This cartoon depicts a debauched Louisiana Legislature run by African Americans and poor “scalawag” southern whites. (Louisiana Image File, LaRC, Tulane University.)
Featured image: The City of New Orleans, Louisiana, Harper’s Weekly, May 1862. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The post Setting the scene of New Orleans during Reconstruction appeared first on OUPblog.
(Finishing Line Press 2014) delivers a new way of looking at leprosy, now known as Hansen's disease. The beauty of these poems is arresting and surprising, given the once taboo subject of leprosy. The leprosarium at Carville operated for over a hundred years.
As a child in catholic school in New Orleans, Ferrara grew up hearing about lepers. Four years ago, when she visited the colony in Carville, Louisiana, she learned more about the lives of the patients. Carville is located off River Road, near Baton Rouge. However, it is essentially in the middle of nowhere. Ferrara captures that sense of isolation in her Carville Poems. The title references the fact that moss and resurrection fern can be found in the oak trees at Carville. Ferrara was taken by the physical beauty of the landscape at Carville and how the beauty of the land was intertwined and connected to the personal experiences of the patients. From "A Perfect Terrain": 'Drenched in moss and resurrection fern, the oaks stayed stoic--/a perfect terrain for the ostriches, swift-footed and flightless/that would never arrive.'
In writing these poems, Ferrara never lost sight of the loneliness experienced by Carville residents. "I wanted to convey how people who had the disease became isolated--very removed from the lives they had lived and previously known, " she said. "They no longer saw their families or loved ones. They had to establish a new and different way of living."
Residents at Carville may have been isolated, but they lived life to the fullest, put on dances and Mardi Gras balls, and published a newspaper with a circulation of over 250, 000. The poem, "Tea Hour on Point Clair Road," shows how the ladies would take their tea, 'The fingerless/Even the unmarred waited for the sips and stains of tea hours,/ Something miraculous as a cure/under a sun no longer at apex.'
Gina first began writing the poems in the spring of 2010 and finished the book over a period of two years. She approached Finishing Line Press because they had published her first poetry chapbook, The Size of Sparrows
, in 2006. She met one of
the patients, Pete from Trinidad, who was about ten years old when he arrived and is now in his eighties. He is one of the last patients to live there, rides around on his bicycle, and is eager to talk to visitors. The lyrical poems, along with photographs by Elizabeth Garcia, offer a window into life at Carville, Louisiana.
|Gina Ferrara|Sugar surrounds this sanctuary far from ordinary or Galapagos. for open wounds, red splotches in tandem. I remember the last pliant hand I held. Would the constellated sky feel like a hand? Each finger with its own unblemished identity— supple and tapering to a square tip, the bony range of knuckles buckling only to brush inside my palm. I squint and scan for semblances of past lives. Who is the gypsy? Who is the physicist? She strolls through the covered corridors with memories of her identity and scepter, helpless and unable to reign over the bacilli waiting to uprise in time as unwanted suns.
Gina Ferrara's work has previously been featured on La Bloga
. Her latest full-length poetry book, Amber Porch Light
was also recently reviewed by Frank Mundo in the Examiner
|Aligator at Avery Island|
What started out as an outing to one of my favorite gatherings, the Women's National Book Association (WNBA), turned into an evening spent in the Emergency Room at Oschner Baptist in New Orleans, followed by surgery two days later.
Two weeks ago, after putting on a dress and summer shoes with no back strap, I simply tripped and fell down the stairs. I never made it to the WNBA potluck. There's no exciting story about twerking gone wrong or fancy foot stepping in a second line or a heroic jump into the swamp to rescue a child from the jaws of an alligator. Given the magnitude of my injuries, my story is mundane.
I descended the green carpeted, angled, spiral stairs. My shoes went flying off, I tumbled down the last steps leaving me with a swollen and bruised left ankle, a broken right fibula, a dislocated right ankle and my right foot twisted and turned in the wrong direction. One very painful misstep.
There was no doubt at all the fall was bad. Steve found me on my back, cradling my wrong-facing foot. He scooped me up, asked me if I could use my left swollen ankle, and put me in the back floor of our green Honda Element.
|My Bird's Eye View|
From the floor of the Element, I had a bird's eye view. I tried to focus on the beauty of seeing nothing but branches from leafy oak trees and the upper stories of shotgun houses. I did my best to visit a place beyond the pain of every little bump and pothole. The tiniest bounce from the car caused ripples of pain to radiate from my broken foot to every inch of my being.
When we finally arrived at the ER, I was taken aback by three things. First, I'm in a wheel chair, saturated in the most pain I've ever felt, and before any formalities, a nice hospital attendant puts a sheet over my lap to protect my modesty. My grandmother would be happy that I was wearing good underwear. Second, the faces and expressions on everyone at the hospital said it all. Each person winced, mouthed Ouch, some chimed in with the obvious, OOOh, That Must Hurt. And, third, the most irksome part of the situation, was the formality of having to fish out my ID and insurance card while I sat with my bent knee, leg pointed towards the sky, cradling my broken leg and wrong-facing foot.
I panicked when I saw all the people in the ER's waiting room. I wondered if they would wheel me to the side and tell me to wait because I didn't have a life-threatening gun shot wound or something potentially fatal. Relief came when they wheeled me to a room, started a morphine drip, along with other powerful drugs that left me relaxed enough for them to relocate my ankle and contort my foot into place.
|in the E.R., patched up, ready for a cast|
The doctor, who shared a name with my sister Emily, told me I would be fitted with a hard cast the next day and that I would be sent home, after six hours of being in the ER, with a prescription for pain pills. All this information was acceptable to me. I was dejected, however, when the orthopedic surgeon, who was supposed to put a cast on my leg, apologized and said he had to operate immediately. Immediately, in medical bureaucracy speak, meant the next day.
I've had foot and ankle injuries all my life from years of ballet and modern dance. However, I have never broken anything, let alone had to have an operation with pins and plates inserted in my leg and Frankenstein stitches to hold the two halves of my leg skin together.
On Tuesday, July 7, the surgeon will remove the stitches. Next month, I will be able to put weight on the leg. After three months, I will be able to drive again.
|Let the Healing Begin|
My freak accident forced me to slow down. I didn't need all this pain to get the memo. But as many friends have pointed out, I have more time to write. I also realize how lucky I am to have so many people rooting for my speedy recovery, sending love and healing thoughts my way, and taking time to make life a little easier for me. I am blessed.
Have a safe July 4th
By: Margot Justes,
Chicago’s winter this year has been brutal, and I was lucky enough to be able to escape it for a brief respite. A seven day cruise to the Bahamas first took me to New Orleans.
I thought Mardi Gras was only celebrated on the designated day-not so-the Carnival season starts the weekend before and carries on for a full week, ending the following Sunday. This year it started on the 21st of February.
I never thought I’d be anywhere near a place that celebrated Mardi Gras, not a big fan of crowds, but I couldn’t escape the beginning of the Carnival season in New Orleans. I was there the first day of the festivities. That meant the first two parades that passed right on Canal Street, literally outside the main entrance to the hotel. How could I not participate and see the floats-after all-they’re legendary.
I joined the crowd on the street, young and old alike piled against the barricades along the street and waited for the fun to start. For me it started much earlier. I walked on Canal, Bourbon, Royal and Decatur streets in the early afternoon, and the party was already in full swing. Alcohol was freely flowing, as were the masks and various holiday accoutrements, from feathers, too-toos, beads and face paint.
The parade started at about eight thirty in the evening, streets were closed making access difficult, if you were unlucky enough to want to go anywhere near the parade route. Carnival is big business in New Orleans. The floats are amazing, simply stunning, as are the costumes. The floats were colorful, garish and over the top, just perfect for the Carnival excesses. Marching bands, and of course the required political cars streamed along the street, one after the other. They were still going strong at midnight. I however was not.
I’d never go out of my way to go anywhere during Carnival time, but this was an unplanned opportunity to see a bit of it, before it got really crazy on the actual day. I was told Mardi Gras is absolutely nuts, but by that time, I was already on board ship. That being said, it was a wonderful opportunity to see a bit of the famed festival.
This was not my first trip to New Orleans, and I had fond memories of Café du Monde, so of course I stopped for coffee and beignets. The beignets were as I remembered them, absolutely delicious, the coffee I thought lacked strength and depth. I remembered it as being more flavorful. Maybe my palate has changed, or maybe they’ve adapted the coffee to suit everyone. I do love my coffee on the strong side, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There is something to be said for going back, and still take pleasure from the experience.
This was a first time I tried the colorful King Cake, and I loved it. Purple, gold and green colors decorate the top, sprinkled liberally with coarse sugar. Filled with a light cream center, the yeast dough is moist, and every bite is truly heavenly. I was told there are many versions, but I only sampled the one the hotel had to offer. Between the beignets, the King Cake, a huge lunch at the Court of Two Sisters, a Muffalata sandwich at the French Market, and the Shrimp Po-Boy, I can say the food is yummy.
Surprising to see were the many art galleries that lined the streets. Everywhere you turned that was a gallery, or local art was sold in a souvenir shop. Since my time was limited, I took the On and Off Bus, it’s a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of the city.
The French Quarter has not changed, it is alive and well. Effects of Katrina are still evident in many places, but the tourist trade is doing well, and that helps the area recover. The spirit of the locals is amazing and gracious.
Visit Paris from your armchair, A Hotel in Paris, is on sale for only 99. through Sunday.
By: Brian Minter,
Blog: First Book
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Today’s blog post is by Brenda Berg, who loaded her family into an RV and spent over half a year traveling across the country. They called their adventure the Gump Trip, and along the way they distributed 6,000 brand-new books to kids in need at local schools and community programs in the First Book network.
Have you ever sat in the carpool lane and dreamed about your next vacation? Last year, I decided to make it a reality. The plan – before my daughter entered middle school– was to go from music lessons and organized sports to something real.
Brenda Berg and her children at Glacier National Park
After months of getting things in order, my kids and I set off on an adventure of a lifetime, traveling to 49 states and two Canadian provinces. (We were also joined by an exchange student from Sweden and my husband joined us about once a month.) In seven-and-a-half months, we traveled over 35,000 miles.
Instead of guitar lessons, we visited the Fender guitar factory and attended live concerts. Instead of indoor climbing classes, we climbed in Alaska and hiked in dozens of national parks. Instead of textbooks, we visited dozens of historic and interesting sites. We definitely got real!
Our commitment to ‘return to real’ extended beyond national parks and factory tours. We were also committed to education and service. In order to reach hundreds of children across the country in a real way, we partnered with First Book to give new, high-quality books to kids in need.
The Berg family and First Book volunteers with local children in New Orleans
Of the 200 stops we made along the way, the six First Book events – where we worked with local First Book volunteers gave away new books to kids in need – were our favorite experiences, ones that will change our lives forever. We gave away over 6,000 books and met with hundreds of children to talk about traveling in our amazing country. The smiles from those children were better than the sunrise over the Grand Canyon (and that’s a sight that is hard to beat!).
Most of us look for ways to give back in our communities, but I encourage people to consider giving back as they travel. There are isolated and other under-supported communities all over America that will benefit and you will gain a whole different perspective on America at the same time. And, just like your efforts at home, you will get back far more than you will give.
Inspired? Visit First Book on the web to find out how you can volunteer or raise funds to help kids in need get the brand-new books that will change their lives.
The post Across America in an RV With First Book appeared first on First Book Blog.
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling Henri Sorensen, illustrator Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Inside Jacket: Ol’ Bloo Donkey has always dreamed of retiring from the cotton field to become a honky-tonk singer. But when he overhears the type of retirement plan Farmer Brown has in mind for him—of the permanent …
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Title: The Downfall of a Good Girl
Author: Kimberly Lang
May Contain Spoilers
Southern debutante Vivienne LaBlanc can’t believe bad-boy rock star Connor Mansfield is back in town for the New Orleans annual Saints and Sinners pageant. He has a reputation as wicked as his devilish smile, and Vivi has no intention of becoming one of his latest groupies! He once crushed her high school heart, so playing the saint to Connor’s sinner should be easy. But how can Vivi get those less-than-angelic thoughts out of her head-especially when Connor’s so good at tempting her to be bad?
I struggled with The Downfall of a Good Girl. I never felt a connection with Vivi, the story’s protagonist. She is everything that I am not. She comes from one of New Orleans’ oldest and wealthiest families, she is a former beauty queen, and now she spends her days running an art gallery and volunteering for various charitable causes. I am fortunate to run a brush through my hair and pull it back into a ponytail on a daily basis, so a former pageant competitor was difficult from me to relate to. The plot revolves around the annual Saints and Sinners fund-raising competition, where Vivi is pitted against her childhood nemesis, Connor Mansfield. Connor and Vivi have been at loggerheads forever, and Vivi is dismayed to discover that Connor, now a successful rock star, will be her competition. She had never considered that he would be chosen to be the Sinner, and she’s not happy about it at all. She is extremely competitive, she hates to lose, and for a majority of the book, she is a poor loser just at the thought of losing. If I met her, I don’t think we would ever be buds.
Connor is reeling from a scandal, and though he proves that the gossip about him is false, he’s still reluctant to put himself in that kind of position again. When he meets Vivi again, he thinks he’s safe. He doesn’t even like this woman, and she hates him. Ever since that flash of temper when they were teens and she publically slapped him, they have been like oil and water. What Connor doesn’t know is that Vivi once carried a torch for him, but after realizing that he was only using her to get to know her friend better, she can’t find it in herself to forgive him. Worse, her family and Connor’s are very close, and they have been thrown together since childhood. Forget that gentle, Southern belle non-sense – she doesn’t want to be nice to him, so she usually isn’t.
While I did enjoy the sparks between them, Vivi’s personality grated on me. She determines from the beginning that she is going to win the contest by raising the most money, but when Connor is unveiled as the opposition, she gives up before things even begin. Instead, she charges herself to be a better person than Connor, though even that’s a struggle for her. Why is he back in town, stealing her thunder? This was supposed to be her moment to shine, not Connor’s! This thought process annoyed me, because it is the charity’s moment to shine, and the fact that Vivi was allowed to participate should have been honor enough. She’s been denied few material things in life, but in terms of personal accomplishments, she is lacking. She was runner up in the Miss American pageant, and she is steamed to be second best again.
Once Vivi loosens up a little and finally lets go, jumping into an affair with Connor, the pacing of the book picks up significantly. Their competition becomes fun, and they both focus on doing their best to raise as much money for the charity as they can. Vivi is having the time of her life, until Connor starts thinking about making New Orleans his home base. Suddenly, their temporary affair isn’t such a good idea anymore. She doesn’t want to risk her heart to him, and as long as their arrangement was temporary, there was no threat to her emotions. Her attitude about trying to stick with Connor permanently pissed me off. Instead of gambling on that ever elusive HEA, she decides that it’s not worth the effort. If I had been Connor, I would have been furious. It’s okay to have a fling, but not okay to try to make things work out permanently? If Connor had walked away at that point, I wouldn’t have blamed him.
I loved the setting for The Downfall of a Good Girl, and the book would have made my TBR pile just because of that. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t click with the heroine, and that some pacing issues at the beginning of the story prevented my from feeling engaged in Connor and Vivi’s romance.
Review copy provided by publisher
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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I swear that every time my computer goes on the fritz I feel like I’m walking underwater for days on end while it’s in the shop. I can’t do email effectively, I can’t update Goodreads, I can’t do anything without feeling like it’s all fake until that little laptop is returned to my knees where it belongs. It’s a sickness, man. Not healthy in the least. But now that it’s back I can’t help but be thrilled! Woot and woo-hoo and other “woo” related forms of cheering. Now on to the news . . .
- First off, I’m pilfering this next link from the always amusing and informative Jennifer Schultz. Because I am a member of PEN here in New York I’ve been vaguely aware of the efforts to help New Orleans rebuild post-Katrina (the Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee helped move an elementary school library from St. Joseph’s School in Greenwich Village, New York City, to the Martin Luther King Jr. School in New Orleans and have continued to aid that school ever since). The New Orleans public libraries themselves haven’t been on my radar as much. Jennifer filled me in on the matter:
“Yesterday’s Times-Picayune (New Orleans’s newspaper) had an excellent article about the rebirth of the New Orleans Public Library system, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Ever since they started to rebuild the libraries, their motto has been “Building Back Better.” The NOPL libraries were okay—they’ve always had strong community programming, but there was a lot of room for improvement—but drastic improvements were never going to be in the city’s finances, until Katrina came and they had no choice but to literally start over with many of their libraries. They didn’t want to just rebuild what they had—they wanted to take this unusual and tragic opportunity to make a strong and community-oriented system for the city. They wanted to make them public transportation-friendly, since many residents rely on it, technologically savvy, environmentally-friendly—you name it. This is their website: http://nutrias.org/ (The nutria is a pest —they are great at destroying wetlands-and a source of humor in Louisiana-Louisianians can have a dark sense of humor. They had a rather colorful governor years ago who suggested that folks should hunt and eat the nutrias in order to cut down on their numbers, and they’ve been sort of a joke ever since. Nutria fur is marketed as “guilt free fur,” etc).”
Thank you, Jennifer! Fantastic info. I can’t wait for ALA to return and to get to see the city (and it’s libraries!) firsthand.
By: Katie DeKoster
Blog: Book Love
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29 days ago, I challenged myself to read only books written by or about people of color. This challenge was partly inspired by Black History Month, and partly due to a realization that since leaving my classroom in Baltimore, I had pretty much stopped looking for books that reflected the faces of "my" students.
I can almost guarantee that I would not have read most of these books without taking on this challenge, and boy-oh-boy would I have been missing out! In an effort to summarize this month of reading, here are a few awards and a few "similar interest groups" for quick reference.Favorite YA Read of the Month
: Tie between Mare's War
by Tanita S. Davis and Mexican Whiteboy
by Matt de la Pena (these two couldn't be more different, but I'll remember them both for a long, long time)Favorite MG Read of the Month
: The Whole Story of Half a Girl
by Veera Hiranandani (love, love, love this book)Favorite New-to-Me Author
: Ashley Hope Perez - I thoroughly enjoyed What Can't Wait
and am eagerly awaiting The Knife and the Butterfly
. I can't help but feel a TFA bond with Ms. Perez and I'm so thankful that teachers like her exist!Favorite Blast from the Past
: American Girl - Cecile's New Orleans seriesFavorite Illustrations
: Heart and Soul - The Story of America and African Americans
by Kadir Nelson (Abigail Halpin is pretty fabulous too, but Kadir Nelson's paintings were just breathtaking)
Favorite Book that Brad Pitt Should Turn into a Movie: Now is the Time for Running
by Michael WilliamsNovels in Verse
- Planet Middle School
by Nikki Grimes
- The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba
by Margarita Engle
- Under the Mesquite
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Recap:Cecile Rey is one of the "gens de couleur libres" or "free people of color" living in New Orleans in 1853. Together, she and her friend, Marie Grace, experience all that the diverse, busy city has to offer: Mardi Gras parades and costume balls, outdoor French markets, helping to fight a yellow fever epidemic, volunteering at a local orphanage, and performing at a city-wide benefit for the orphaned children.
The American Girl 1853 series: Cecile and Marie Grace by Denise Lewis Patrick and Sarah Masters Buckey, American Girl, 2011
Review:Happy Mardi Gras, book lovers! In honor of the holiday, today I'm featuring a series set in New Orleans, and the first two books take place during Mardi Gras!
I was first inspired to cover this American Girl series after seeing a feature on author Denise Lewis Patrick on The Brown Bookshelf. I'd never given a thought to the authors behind my beloved American Girl books, and reading the story of how Patrick was asked to author the Cecile series piqued my interest. The Cecile series is unique from that of the other American Girls because she shares her books with a girl named Marie Grace. I read "Meet Marie Grace" and then all of the Cecile books in the series, and it's very clear that the two authors plotted the stories out together. Between the two "Meet ____" books, some lines were actually word-for-word the same. I'm really not sure why they chose to have two main characters this time. If any of you know, please fill me in!
On the surface, the Cecile/Marie Grace series follows the same "formula" as every other in the AG line. We "Meet" the girls, they go through some "troubles" but eventually save the day, and everyone ends up stronger and wiser. A little didactic, yes... but these characters are brave, self-confident role models for little girls today. I really like the fact that each book includes a chapter of nonfiction in the back, explaining how the events in the story are a reflection of real events from the past.
Cecile's story is notable because, unlike so many black characters in historial fiction - including
10 Comments on American Girl: Cecile's New Orleans Series, last added: 2/21/2012
Today is Friendiversary, when we celebrate the anniversary of our friendships. Think of one of your oldest and dearest friends. When did you first meet? How did you meet? That story is the story of your Friendiversary.
First Book is celebrating Friendiversary this week by providing 7,000 new Elephant & Piggie books to second-graders at Title I schools in Louisiana and Massachusetts. The Elephant & Piggie series is written and illustrated by our friend Mo Willems, whose support makes it possible for First Book able to provide these books. Every book includes a special Friendiversary note from Mo, and his publisher, Disney Publishing Worldwide, is also providing activity kits, stickers and posters free of charge to each classroom.
In fact, we’re so delighted with the Friendiversary kit that we also made it available to all the schools and programs in First Book’s national network.
There are Friendiversary parties happening in classrooms and programs all over today … or tomorrow, or last weekend. We’re pretty flexible on when you actually celebrate Friendiversary.
The biggest party we’ve heard about so far took place in New Orleans, at James Singleton Charter School. (Mo grew up in New Orleans, and has a special place in his heart for New Orleans kids, so making sure they all had copies of his books was important to him.)
Lynetta Rhodes, the chair of the local First Book volunteer group in New Orleans, helped put the party together. She sent us some great pictures, and filled us in on all the details:
- Every student got two copies of Mo’s books to keep, including There’s a Bird On Your Head, Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Today I Will Fly and Should I Share My Ice Cream?. (“I can’t believe I got two books!” one of the students told Lynetta).
- There were all kinds of local celebrity guests on hand to read with the kids, including New Orleans city councilmember Susan Guidry, children’s author Robin Washington, Louisiana State Rep. Wesley Bishop and TV reporter Rosa Flores.
- There was plenty of ice cream.
“The children looked adorable in their ‘Elephant and Piggie’ ears and the costumed characters made the kids shout with glee,” said Dianne de Las Casas, who hosted and helped plan the event. “Friendiversary at James Singleton Charter School was a great success.”
Happy Friendiversary, everyone!
If you work with kids from low-income families, you can be a part of Friendiversary and other great events and opportunities throughout the year. Sign up with First Book to find out how we can help you get new books for your kids.
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