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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: book review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,468
26. If - a review

If... A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers by David J. Smith.


If you're familiar with If the World Were a Village (also from Kids Can Press), then you'll understand the context in which If introduces large concepts. Take "Your Life," for example.

On a two-page spread, a large Sicilian-style pizza is depicted on a table surrounded by several happy children and one salivating dog,

If your whole life could be shown as a jumbo pizza, divided into 12 slices ...
4 slices would be the time you spend in school or at work
1 slice would be spent shopping, caring for others and doing things around home
4 slices would be the time you spend getting ready to sleep and sleeping,

etc., until all twelve slices have been accounted for.

Other concepts featured are:

  •  "Inventions Through Time" - depicted on a 36" measuring tape
  •  "Our Galaxy" - presented on a dinner plate
  •  "Water" - represented by 100 water glasses
  •  and 12 others 

In each case, care is taken to equate the concept to something with which children will be familiar.   This is a great way to place an intangible concept into a simple object that a child can hold within her hand.

Suggested for grades 3 - 6.  See an interior preview of If at the publisher's website. 

Today is STEM Friday.  You can see other posts at the STEM Friday blog.

STEM Friday

It's STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2014 L Taylor All Rights Reserved.

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27. Bookish Ways (for the Young-ish Set) to Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, me hearties! International Talk Like a Pirate Day be soon upon us. Aye, very soon. Tomorrow, in fact.

If this oh-so-fun little-known holiday, celebrated annually on September 19th, has taken ye by surprise this year, never fear. We scalawags here at Bugs and Bunnies have some fun and bookish ways for teachers an' kids ta celebrate the day.




Since pirates are some of our favorite people, we've reviewed a fair number of fantastic piratical books. Below are summaries of all of 'em to date. If we've done a full review, clicking the titles will take ye to the full review posts for each one:



The Mousehunter 
Written and illustrated by Alex Milway
Ages 10 - 12

Twelve-year-old Emiline Orelia is mousekeeper for Isiah Lovelock, Old Town's most famous mouse collector and one of its wealthiest citizens. Emiline cares for her own Grey Mouse, named Portly, as well as all of the mice in Lovelock's vast collection. It's not a glamorous job, but Emiline is very good at it, and hopes one day to become a mousehunter, so she can go out and discover new and interesting mice.

In Emiline's world, collecting and trading mice is valued above all else - but these are no ordinary field mice. There is the Sharpclaw Mouse: a sneaky, mischievous mouse with huge, dagger-like claws on its front paws that can slice through even wood and metal with ease. Or the Magnetical Mouse: prized by sailors for their bulletlike nose that always points due north. Or the Howling Moon Mouse: best known of all the howler mice, it howls only on nights with a full moon. And this is only to name a few.

When Mousebeard, the most feared pirate on the Seventeen Seas, sinks Lovelock's merchant ship, Lovelock hires Captain Devlin Drewshank to hunt him down and capture him. Emiline overhears the deal and, seeing this as the chance of a lifetime, runs away and boards Drewshank's ship, excited to be on the adventure. The journey is a dangerous one, filled with pirates, and battles, and even sea monsters. And Emiline soon comes to realize that all is not exactly as she thought it was, and that no one she's met is exactly who she thought they were.




Fish
By Gregory Mone

Ages 8 and up

Maurice "Fish" Reidy is eleven years old when Shamrock dies. Without their horse, the family can't afford to feed itself, let alone farm their land. Someone has to go into the city to work and send money home. Since Fish is the worst at farming, it's agreed he should be the one to go.

His father arranges for Fish to work for his uncle as a courier. When Fish is entrusted with a mysterious package of coins, he's robbed before he can make the delivery. He tracks down the thief amongst a bunch of pirates, aboard their ship, the Scurvy Mistress. Determined to get that package back and to its rightful recipient, Fish sneaks aboard and joins the pirate crew. He soon learns the coins are more than what they seem, and some of the crew are not as loyal as they'd have their captain believe.

As the Scurvy Mistress sets sail, Fish finds himself on an adventure he never saw coming, with friends he never imagined making. It's a journey that promises to change his life - and that of his family - forever.




How I Became a Pirate
Written by Melinda Long
Illustrated by David Shannon

Ages 4 - 8

Jeremy Jacob was just a boy building a sandcastle on the beach - until the day the pirates came. The pirates were in need of a digger to help bury their treasure. And the captain couldn't help but notice that "He's a digger, he is, and a good one to boot!" The crew heartily agreed, "A good one to boot!" And that is how Jeremy Jacob became a pirate.



Here Be Monsters! The Ratbridge Chronicles, Volume 1
Written and illustrated by Alan Snow

Ages 9 - 12

Young Arthur is a resident of Ratbridge. Or, rather, a resident under Ratbridge. He's not sure why he lives below ground, except that his inventor grandfather says that they must. They share this underground world with curious creatures: boxtrolls, cabbageheads, rabbit women, and the rather fearsome trotting badgers.

One day, Arthur gets caught above-ground on one of his nightly forays to the surface world to gather food. The rather nasty Snatcher, his grandfather's old nemesis, has stolen the machine Arthur's grandfather built for him to be able to fly about, and he doesn't know how to get back home.

But Arthur is not without friends. He is helped by the kindly retired lawyer Willbury Nibble, and the underlings who live with him: the boxtrolls Fish, Egg, and Shoe, and the shy cabbagehead Titus. Then there's the pirates-turned-laundry-workers, talking rats and crows, and oh! we can't forget The Man in the Iron Socks. They are all determined to get Arthur back home safely.

Arthur and his friends soon discover that something stinks in Ratbridge, and it isn't just the cheese: Someone has begun hunting Wild English Cheeses again - an outlawed sport. And mysterious goings-on are afoot at the old Cheese Hall. And all the entrances to the underground world have been sealed up. And the boxtrolls and cabbageheads are all disappearing. And the underlings' tunnels are starting to flood. Grandfather is worried, and they all know Snatcher is the root of this mystery. Somehow. Whatever will they do?




Another Whole Nother Story
As told by (The Incomparable) Dr. Cuthbert Soup
Ages 8 and up 


Mr. Ethan Cheeseman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in another adventure - with all-new names, of course. Now that they've got the LVR working (the supposedly secret, yet relentlessly sought-after time machine introduced in A Whole Nother Story), the family is all set to travel back in time to just before their beloved wife and mother Olivia Cheeseman meets her unfortunate end at the hands of those seeking to "acquire" the LVR.

But all does not go according to plan. First, they wind up not in the relatively recent past, as they'd planned, but way back in 1668. Worse, their crash landing has damaged the LVR, and unless they can find the proper parts to repair it, the family has no way to return to their own time in the 21st century. As if that weren't trouble enough, the family finds themselves facing suspicion of witchcraft, battling pirates, and navigating a haunted castle. Add to that their tangle with a dangerous nemesis from their present whom they believed they'd seen the last of, and things don't look good.

Despite these odds, the likeable Cheesemans are not without friends, meeting several helpful souls along the way. But is it enough to help them get out of the distant past, and into the nearer past, so they can save their beloved Olivia Cheeseman, and get back to their own time?



* * *


Well, land lubbers, that's all we got, and we ain't got no more. But keep a weather eye on the Bugs and Bunnies horizon – we've got our eyes on more'n a few other fantastic pirate-y books we'd love ta be postin' about in future.

But for now, mateys, we hope you enjoy what we've presented here today, and have a most fabulous International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th.

 

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28. I'm My Own Dog - I love it!

Stein, David Ezra. 2014. I'm My Own Dog. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.


I've got a few deadlines to meet so this will be short, but I couldn't let another day go by without shouting out to the virtual world, "I love this book!"

Funny, inventive, clever and touching, this book will work its way into your heart even as it has you laughing out loud.

This is no ordinary dog.  No one owns him, no sir!

Every morning when I look
in the mirror, I lick my own
face because I am so happy
to see me.
I say, "GOOD DOG.
I AM A GOOD DOG."
You'll think so, too!

Don't just take my word for it.  See more great reviews at

From the end papers,
The illustrations' line work was created using pen as well as a kids' marker hacked to dispense India Ink; it was then photocopied onto watercolor paper.  The painting was done in liquid watercolor, with a hint of crayon on the dog's muzzle.
Ingeniously childish - a perfect presentation of a delightfully independent dog with a soft spot as big as his heart.

Click here to see an inside spread from I'm My Own Dog.

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29. Book Review: My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros

Book: My Year of Epic Rock
Author: Andrea Pyros
Published: September 2, 2014
Source: review copy from publisher via NetGalley

Nina can't wait for the start of seventh grade, even if her best friend hasn't called her back at all since getting back from her summer trip. She's sure that things will be just like they always have, Nina-and-Brianna ready to take on the world.

But on the first day of seventh grade, Brianna seems more interesting in hanging out with sophisticated Shelley than even talking to Nina. It doesn't take long for Nina to be exiled to the "allergy table" in the cafeteria, where all the weird kids with food allergies (of which Nina is one) sit every day.

There's a lot more to all those weird kids than just their allergies. When they discover that Nina can play drums, they decide to form a band to play at the school talent show. In spite of her misgivings about participating in an event that Brianna and Shelley have decreed "totally lame," Nina is getting a little excited about it. Maybe there's more to her than being half of Nina-and-Brianna. Maybe she's a rock star.

It's a tale as old as time. Hit middle school and people change. Friendships change. You change. Probably why this storyline ("Oh god, my best friend just dumped me WHAT NOW!?") is such a staple of middle-school literature. Where this story shines is in the details (the allergies that draw them all together, the fact that Nina is drummer and not a guitarist or a singer) and the realism of the interpersonal relationships.

One of my favorite things was how Nina made male friends who were simply friends. Tiernan and Shane are her buddies, not extra rival love interests. Tiernan, in fact, is the friend who lays down the law to her late in the book. ("We aren't here to be playing backup for you, Nina. We're supposed be your real friends, not second choice ones.") As someone who's has male and female friends all my life, even in middle school, I appreciated this a lot.

A sweet, upbeat story that will strike a chord with middle school readers.

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30. Book Review-Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Title: Adaptation
 Author: Malinda Lo
Series:   Adaptation #1
Published:  April 3 2014 by Hodder
Length: 432 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Malinda Lo has also written Huntress, Ash (review here), and Inheritance.
Summary: Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same.
On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened.
For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?

Review: It all starts when  Reese Holloway is waiting for a plane back from debating and  birds fall out of the sky. Stranded, she and the debate team decide to head home in a rented car, and things change even more. With no idea of the events after a crash, nor the later happenings or procedures, Reese finds some anwers that will change her life, and humanity, forever.
Huntress, I didn't enjoy especially, but Ash was one of my favourite books due to the writing style and the new take on an old story. Adaptation leaves the fantasy route and goes down the scifi men-in-black route, and it does this really well.
I love the characters. Amber's probably my favourite, because she's adorable and funny and I fell in love with her. I also liked that you had to constantly question her and her loyalties. David- CHINESE MC HECK YEAH (I get excited by chinese main characters) was also really adorable and smart. Reese isn't one of my favourite characters, she seemed a bit ordinary compared to a cast full of scientists and government agents and conspiracy theory website runners and things which I want to say but that's kind of spoilery, but I did like the fact that she constantly questioned things. Oh, and love to Reese's mum. See the lawyering badass love for her daughter and reaction to her coming out as bisexual. 
Nowhere in this book is a good place to stop reading-most certainly not the end.. Every point in Adaptation was either too intriguing or too exciting or too adorable to let you even think about putting it down, and I've had the must-never-stop-reading-this-feeling for very few books before.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a book I recommend to everyone, especially mystery, scifi, thriller, romance fans.

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31. Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2014 – Installment #17

Today marks the second of four posts this month in the Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series.




Wondering what this is all about? Click on the link up there in that first sentence, and you'll be caught up nicely. Then come back here to continue the festivities.

* * *

Back now? Great! Let's get to it, shall we?

You'll recall (if you've been here before) or you now know (if you're new but clicked that link up there) that for our Fifth Anniversary of the Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, we've focused our weird-detecting magnifying glass on picture books and poetry anthologies.

Last week's post had all picture books, with the Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme of Weirdly True.

Well, fans of verse, rejoice! Because today is the day we're:


Waxing Poetic 


That's right! Today is all about the rhymes. The weirder and the funnier, the better – and one collection is even set to music:




A Light in the Attic
Poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein
Ages 6 - 8

Readers of this collection of Shel Silverstein's poems and drawings will have lots to ponder, lots to smile about, and lots to laugh through.

With poems about stars needing a polish, and a bee who may want to consider a career in tattoo artistry, and a camel wearing a quite unusual piece of clothing, kids will have lots to giggle over.

With poems about a bridge that will only take you halfway there, and a difference in perspective between two friends: a tree and a rose, and someone who shoots an arrow into the sky, kids will have plenty to think about.

And with illustrations like the boy with the hot dog for a pet, and the anteater (or rather, aunt-eater), and the polar bear in the refrigerator, kids will have that little bit of extra fun to go with the poems they're enjoying.

It is a collection not to be missed.



The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders
Rhymes by Jack Pretutsky
Pictures by Petra Mathers
Ages 4 - 8

Here is a beautifully illustrated collection of children's verse by Jack Prelutsky. Readers will chortle through poems about a disastrous shopping trip, and a partying group of farm animals in Tuscaloosa, and pigs and frogs performing onstage for a swooning audience of chickens and ducks. They'll smile through rhymes about a gardener's unconventional crops, and a little brown toad's chronicle of his carefree life, and a description of a smiley, giggly baby. They'll take time to let their eyes and hearts exploew the rich, full-page illustrations. 

An afternoon spent with the verse and pictures in this book is an afternoon well-spent.



A Bad Case of the Giggles: Kids' Favorite Funny Poems
Selected by Bruce Lansky
Illustrated by Stephen Carpenter
Ages 6 - 12

This is a collection of funny poems written for kids, and chosen for inclusion by editor Bruce Lansky – with the help of a panel of 800 elementary school kids!

Readers will laugh over poems about the joy (or not) of having a baby sibling, the indignities of being a boy who must wear hand-me-downs...from his family full of sisters, a girl with questionable hygiene habits, the olfactory downside of living in a shoe, the classic about the old man from Peru, and many, many more.

Written by an ecclectic mix of poets both well-known (like Judith Viorst) and well-known-but-kind-of-not (like Anonymous), the poems in this collection are the laugh-out-loud type that kids just love to read, and read, and read. Often out loud. Expect guffaws.



Frog Trouble and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs
Songs and Illustrations by Sandra Boynton
For Ages One to Older Than Dirt

Fans of Ms Boynton's previous musical collaborations (Philadelphia Chickens, Blue Moo, Dog Train, Rhinoceros Tap, and GRUNT Pigorian Chant) will revel in this newest venture. Frog Trouble is a CD and songbook full of country songs written by Ms Boynton, produced by Ms Boynton and Michael Ford, and sung by some of the biggest names in country music today.

Listeners will enjoy reading along in Part One as they enjoy songs with lines like, "It's a beautiful thing – When Pigs Fly," and "I really don't like it when you Copycat," and "...I don't need shoes 'cause I've got alligator feet," and of course, "I've got two words to say: Frog Trouble."

Part Two is a Sing and Play Along complete with melodies and lyrics for each song from Part One. Part Three introduces readers to the performers, and there's even a cut-and-fold activity sheet at the end to make a puppet. (But we won't tell you what the puppet is. You'll have to guess...)


* * *

And that's that for this time. Be sure to come back next Friday, September 19th, for Installment #18. It should be a monstrously good time.

Until then, we'll leave you with this:


"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."

                                              – Charles Mingus


  

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32. Plant a Pocket of Prairie

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Title: Plant a Pocket of Prairie

Author: Phyllis Root

Illustrator: Betsy Bowen

Publisher/Year: University of Minnesota Press/2014

 

Hurrah for nonfiction picture books! If authors and illustrators of nonfiction picture books accomplish their goals to create top-notch books on subjects they are passionate about, then children will learn about captivating people, places, and things in a fun and engaging way. Nonfiction picture books must, just like fictional stories, grab and keep the attention of young readers. Often this is done through story-like text and eye-catching illustrations.

In Plant a Pocket of Prairie, author Phyllis Root and illustrator Betsy Bowen introduce us to an endangered ecosystem, the native prairie of the United States, and many of the plants and animals that can be found there. Through sparse, flowing text that connects each page to the next and large, beautiful pictures, Root and Bowen succeed in capturing prairie life and conveying to readers the importance of not only cherishing it but helping it continue on. Plant a Pocket of Prairie is a fascinating look at native species that may be in our own backyards and yet we take them for granted.

Did you know that native prairie once covered almost forty percent of the U.S.? But now less than one percent remains! Due to the encroachment of people (farming, grazing, building, etc.), prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. And unfortunately, as it says in the back of the book, “We can’t bring back the prairie as it once was.” But there is hope for at least some of the native prairie plants and animals. All you have to do is “plant a pocket of prairie”.

Planting prairie plants and attracting prairie animals, especially various species of birds and butterflies, as suggested by this book, would be a perfect outdoor project for parents or teachers to work on with their kids or students.


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33. Book Review- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
 Author: E. Lockhart
Series: N/A  
Published:   13 May 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 240 pages
Source: library
Summary : A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Review: Cady is one of the Liars, the younger end of a family that meets every summer to spend the holiday at the summer home. At some point, she loses her memories.  Two years later, she wants to find out what happened.
I was really looking forwards to this and everyone really enjoyed it and watching somep ople's reactions during the liveread made me think it was going to be amazing. Sadly for me it wasn't.
I think I missed something at the start but I really don't get why everyone loves this. It's slow. The writing, while stripped back in places, seems boring too. The story doesn't seem to go very fast, and the forbidden love aspect is not my favourite as a trope anyway and this book didn't change my mind on it.
I didn't connect or like any of the characters. They seemed too detached from me and I didn't really care what happened to them. Cady is a bit whiny and the rich WASP background comes through and she comes off as pretentious in places, something I'd had enough of with Leo from The Go Between which I read at the same time.
I really enjoyed Gat's comments on race and racism, being Indian and surrounded by white people. The repeated retellings of fairy tales were also really good.
I also think that the style, full of metaphors and winding around, is the kind of thing that could be praised in a literary sense. It just wasn't my kind of thing.
The ending is good, I suppose. It didn't seem like a huge thing to me though, and when it was revealed, I just shrugged and read on. I think it's because I disconnected with the whole story so I didn't really care.
Overall:   Strength 2 tea to a book I didn’t get into at the start which meant I didn’t enjoy the whole thing.

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34. Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2014: Sept part 2

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

When the Sheikh comes to town… 

Sheikh Sayed of Zeena Sarha and his harem of beautiful women are staying at the exclusive, opulent Chatsfield Hotel, London, for the last stop on his worldwide tour before his wedding. But when his engagement is unceremoniously broken, Sayed sets his sights on his sexy chambermaid!

Liyah Amari only took the position as chambermaid to find the truth about her birth father. But her search ends in heartache, leaving Liyah vulnerable to this powerful Sheikh's desires. Now their one night of passion could result in a scandalous consequence for the proud Sheikh!

Welcome to The Chatsfield, London!

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's why:

This one I couldn't put down and read it in about 2 hours. I absolutely loved Liyah Amari. She was spunky, intelligent and didn't swoon often. She gave as good as she got while still showing her vulnerable side. I truly believed this character and was rooting for her to find the happiness that she sought and deserved.

Sheikh Sayed bin Falah was all prince - arrogant, in control and in some moments, a little too stuck in the past. However, the times when he seemed human and not some larger than life royalty were my favorite parts of the story.

I didn't give this one a full 5 stars because the way they fell in love so quickly (everything happened in like 2 weeks or less) made the story feel a little rushed. Also, some of the male reactions to Liyah's decisions grated me with their domineering and in one case very aggressive approach to handle the situation.

Would I recommend this one? Absolutely!

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35. Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus by Kelly Murphy and Hallie Fryd

Zest Books, 2014

I'm going to admit something I've done since I was a teenager and still do today.  It helped not only take the monotony out of the monotone voice of my history teacher in high school, but also made non-fiction seem way more interesting....so here's what I do:
I scope out pictures in history books and look at who's hot and who's not.
And THAT is the reason I picked up this book.  It hooked me from the cover and entranced me between the pages.  Kelly Murphy did an excellent job of choosing some of the hottest historical figures in the world, with some of them that matched my personal hottie list! 

The book is chronological and begins with Cleopatra and ends with Benazir Bhutto.  Each historical figure is a short chapter which is divided into:
Life Story
The Story of His/Her Sex Life (and no...it doesn't get into details, more about marriages, trysts, and orientation)
Why He/She Matters
Best Feature
Heat Factor

The book also has these features:
a full page picture of the person
a short but interesting history
small pictures that collate with the subject
a box with an interesting side fact about the era, person, inventions etc
ends with quotes about the person or from the person him/herself.

I'll admit, I didn't know who each person was (12 out of 50..is that bad?) but this book propelled my knowledge forward, making the ones I didn't know interesting and those I did even more interesting. 

Overall, this is one of the more fascinating non-fiction books I've read this year.  It was "chunked" up enough to satisfy not only the voracious reader, but the reluctant one as well and the pictures really pull a reader in.  I had to go back and really look at the person to judge him/her after I read the chapter to either agree or disagree with the heat factor.  I also liked the fact Murphy didn't shy away from the bad boys and girls too....we all know there is that deadly attraction to them.  We all love the good guys, and we love to hate the bad guys.  This has both without detracting from historical fact.

If there were any flaws for me as a reader, it would be two things.  The first is the section entitled "The Story of His/Her Sex Life."  From a book reviewer standpoint, I felt like another word or phrase could have been used that would have been just as good without using the word "sex."  Although the paragraph does NOT convey illicit sexual scenes, I'm worried this may be a decision maker for some librarians. 

The second is more personal, and Murphy and Fryd did an EXCELLENT job of choosing the subject.  It's just that I know some hotties I thought were missing...anyone know who the sexy Manfred von Richthofen is?  He was my first historical crush :) 

Great book I would recommend in JH/HS library collections.



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36. Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2014: Sept part 1


Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

A haunting love story about desire, danger, and destiny. After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California's Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, "crude sciences," and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It's here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they get to know each other better, Dante can't seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee's life. Dante's not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own… Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why. Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul. 

Buy the Book


Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating:  1 star/DNF

Here's why:

I want to start off by saying that I don't usually give a DNF (do not finish) tag to a novel. With that being said, I do want to point out why I took a chance on this novel.

1) The cover. There's something about people wearing cloaks that suggests mystery to me. And the fact that the girl is standing in an archway of some type piqued my curiosity as to why she was there.

2) The title. I thought that the book might be about some type of paranormal creature, more specifically vampires or zombies, and since I'm always on the lookout for new authors in that genre, I was intrigued.

Reading the blurb made me revise my opinion somewhat and I dove into the novel, ready to see where the author was going to go with the story.

That's when I ran into problems. The "mystery" about her parents' death didn't capture me the way I thought it would. Maybe it's because of the way the set of events leading up to the discovery of her parents felt disjointed and a tad bit unbelievable. I can understand her going into shock when she discovered the bodies but not the stuff that happened before that.

I didn't warm up to the main character, Renee, at all. She irked me from the moment I met her until the point where I stopped reading. Her attitude was grating and I felt, entirely ungrateful for someone of her age. I know she suffered a double loss. I know she was grieving, but at the age she is, she should have behaved better. I felt like I was watching a five-year-old throw a tantrum because they couldn't have their way.

The grandfather felt flat to me and beyond cold. I know that he hasn't had anything to do with her but his reactions toward her were beyond aloof.

I couldn't muster up the energy to care that she was leaving behind friends and having to move. That's when I stopped reading. When I'm that irritated with a character and the plot which didn't pull me in, I quit. I know, bad thing to do but I decided not to continue.

Would I recommend? No, but if it's your cup of tea, feel free to try it out.

0 Comments on Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2014: Sept part 1 as of 9/9/2014 7:06:00 PM
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37. Review: High Aztech. Frontera Happenings. On-line Floricanto

The Desmadreization of Xólotl Zapata

Review: Ernest Hogan. High Aztech. Smashwords, 2013. Link here.

Michael Sedano

While it’s trite to call a novel “unique” you’d have to go all the way back to 1962’s A Clockwork Orange to read a novel anywhere similar to Ernest Hogan’s 2013 High Aztech. There’s certainly nothing like High Aztech in Chicano Literature, nor the broader U.S. science fiction genre.

Fans of A Clockwork Orange are sure to enjoy High Aztech’s multicultural dystopia and distinctive Españahuatl dialect. There’s horrowshow ultra-violence but the sharp edges are taken off by absurdist humor and the hapless first person voice of thirty year-old Xólotl Zapata.

Hogan jumps the reader into the middle of a xixatl storm, no preamble. Xólotl is tied to a table drugged by an (at this point) unseen inquisitor. The all-seeing government may be Zapata's iniquisitor. Then again, it might be one of the other organizations vying to control Tenochtitlán: The mafia. Or the Iyakuza. Or the Neliyacme. Or the Pepenadores. Or High Aztech itself.

The economical plot effectively incorporates backgrounds and definitions as the narrative unfolds, Hogan rarely stops the action to explain something. The pepenadores, for example, are ubiquitous hazmat-suited ciphers. They recycle trash into useful materials but also phantasmagoric vehicles that give them a fighting chance against their similarly heavily-armed rivals.

Hogan understates the grand irony that los pepenadores, like service workers everywhere, grow invisible to hoity-toity tipas tipos who spill secrets around the help. They make perfect spies and a formidable insurgency. Each of Hogan's thugitome combatants has their quirks and capacities for trouble.

Zapata’s girlfriend, Cóatliquita, infects him with a virus. It gives him a compulsion to go around in crowds, like the metro, and touch people, passing along the virus. The government and the rival groups know and want to capture Xólotl.

What ails Zapata is not some Ebola-like plague that kills, but a faith virus developed in Africa, where the world's best science is, that spreads by touch. The virus genetically modifies the brain. Give a Catholic a Catholic virus they ardently reaffirm their faith. Give that virus to a Muslim and you have a troubled convert.

The virus Zapata is spreading reaffirms or converts gente to the neo-Aztec religion that already has an upper hand among the gente. Clearly, the Catholic government wants Zapata off the streets. The other organizations want Zapata, to study and make their own viruses. And kill Zapata.

Zapata as the story begins, lives a semi-famous comic book writer and "a rare literate expert on Españáhuatl." As the virus grows in him he begins thinking of himself as an Aztec warrior and seeks a flowery death every time it looks like he’s about to bite the dust. And that happens a lot in ways that bring smiles of a reader’s face.

Chaos, riots, sex (but only a hint), surprise, treachery, philosophy, surreality push the plot along. Your head will spin. Zapata is captured, escapes, is captured, escapes, is captured. He’s injected with all the religion-inducing viruses in the world. He escapes to spread the resulting virus.

Hogan’s writing is at its best in Xólotl’s hallucination when all the gods and Gods and goddesses come together during a wild virus-induced religious bacchanal. Readers will find their own favorites. High Aztech hits readers with page after page of memorable inspirations from the author’s fevered imagination.

The Españahuatl is lots of fun. As a Chicano writer, Hogan has a good feel for code-switching etiquette and uses that in building his extensive Nahuatl Spanish vocabulary. Fortunately, the author abandons appositional translation early on, allowing the code-switched idiom to stand on its own.

Not that gente will have much difficulty with easy cognates like mamatl, or radioactivotl “hot,” horny, or chilangome Tenochtitlán inhabitants, pl. chilangotl sing. Applying phonetics to other terms will make them readily accessible, like quixtianome non-Aztecan religionist, Christian, or xixatl for shit. Some words might be decipherable, but real pronunciation challenges, making reading a tongue-twisting “A” ticket ride like the key term, ticmotraspasarhuililis.

Hogan provides a useful glossary at the back, but leave it for later.

As with any successful science fiction, High Aztech provides food for thought, perhaps advocacy, on the roles critical thinking, belief, and syncretism play out in people’s contentment with one another. Above all, High Aztech is a good-humored story that pushes the boundaries both of science fiction and Chicano Literature and, until more raza start writing genre literature, High Aztech is sui generis and merits broad readership.

High Aztech comes to you as a publishing initiative by the author’s effort. Click the link for Ernest Hogan's La Bloga column on the venture. Various booksellers distribute the work in these formats: epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt.

My reading was of the Smashwords edition of High Aztech, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/321713.




Mailbag, News 'n Notes
It's Happening at a Frontera Near You

Artesia NM • 9/14 - 21
Tara Evonne Trudell

Alas is a Border Beads poetry project that La Bloga friend Tara Evonne Trudell (featured in this week's On-line Floricanto) launches to bring awareness to unconscionable treatment of women and children immigrants detained in Artesia, NM.

Trudell has issued a call for poetry that deals directly with the current immigration and detention travesty.

Trudell and friends fashion prayer beads from the printed poems. They will roll the submitted during a weeklong fast in solidarity with the mothers and children, the week of September 14 through 21.

Submissions are open now. Please submit to trudellt@yahoo.com


Austin • 9/21

San Benito, TX • 10/4

Date: Saturday, Oct. 4th
Time: 10 am - 6 pm
Location: Narciso Martinez Cultural Center, San Benito, TX

Event Description: This is the first book festival of South Texas which is a collaboration between UT-Brownsville, Mexican American Studies at UTPA, and the Coalition of New Chican@ Artists (CONCA). This space is to reserve a table for small presses, independent bookstores, libraries, etc. The first table is free but if you wish to rent a 2nd table the fee is $50. We have limited space, so this will be handled on a first come, first serve basis.

For more information, contact Christopher Carmona at concavoices@gmail.com or call at 956-854-1717.

Deadline for Submission is September 22nd by midnight.

Guerrero MX • 12/24

From La Bloga friend Reyna Grande:
This December 2014, I will be going to my hometown in Guerrero, Mexico to host a Christmas event known as a "Posada", where I will be giving free toys to all the neighborhood kids! When I lived there in poverty, the posadas were something to look forward to. I have never forgotten the poverty I came from, and how the simplest acts of kindness can change a child's life.

Please help me make this Christmas season special for the children living in my hometown. Starting today, I will be doing a sixty day fundraiser campaign for my Christmas toy giveaway. Be part of the Grande Posada by contributing to my fundraiser!

Please consider donating today or tell a friend! Thank you so much!

Click here for the IndieGoGo campaign.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/grande-posada-toy-drive



On-line Floricanto September 9, 2014
Tara Evonne Trudell, Sonia Gutiérrez, Jorge Tetl Argueta, Eva Chávez, Raúl Sánchez, Tom Sheldon

"This Round" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"Grandchildren of the United Fruit Company/Nietos de la United Fruit Company" by Sonia Gutiérrez
"Nuestros niños y niñas / Our Children" by Jorge Tetl Argueta
"Faces Under the Shadows / Rostros bajo las sombras" by Eva Chávez; edited by Raúl Sánchez
"Poetry Is" by Tom Sheldon


This Round
by Tara Evonne Trudell

this round
will go
to mother earth
she who
prevails
and survives
pain
she who
takes destruction
and rebuilds
finding her
way to grow
continually
defying
all odds
against her
she not trying
to hide
her beauty
pure
in nature
giver of life
battling
jealous gods
and bible words
forever
captured in
man's greed
and corruption
the pain
of persecution
inflicted
never leaving
her awareness
in layers
of the not caring
upon ground
she provides
a place
for humanity
to stand
over and over
again
all source
of inspiration
her gift
of being
unconditional
and providing
life
for all those
around her
raising fists
in the air
earth wins
this round.

Copyright © 2014 Tara Evonne Trudell.




Tara Evonne Trudell studied film, audio, and photography while in college at New Mexico Highlands University. She is a recent graduate with her BFA in Media Arts. As a poet and artist raising f four children, it has become her purpose to represent humanity, compassion, and action in all her work.
Incorporating poetry with visuals, she addresses the many troubling issues that are ongoing in society and hopes that her work will create an emotional impact that inspires others to act. Tara has started a life long project, Border Beads, that takes poetry off the page and transfers it into energy in action by making beads out of the poems. She uses her own poetry as well as other poets to address the crisis on the border.




Grandchildren of the United Fruit Company
by Sonia Gutiérrez

for Claudia González

Knock, knock, knock.
America, there are children
knocking at your door.
Can you hear their soft
knocks like conch
shells, whispering
in your ears?

Weep, weep, weep.
Can you hear
the children whimpering?
Their moist eyes
yearning to see friendly TV-gringo-houses
swing their front doors
wide open.

America, America, America!
The children are here;
they have arrived
to your Promise Land,
sprinkled with pixie dust,
paved with happiness
and freedom.

America, why do these children
overflow your limbo rooms?
Why are the children corralled
in chain-link fences,
sleeping on floors
and benches?

America, did you forget
your ties dressed in camouflage
and suits in that place
called The Banana Republic?

What say you, America?
Please speak. And speak
loud and clear—
so the brown pilgrim
children never forget
the doings
of your forked tongue
and their color schemed
prison's-eye-view.

Nietos de la United Fruit Company
por Sonia Gutiérrez

para Claudia González

Tan, tan, tan.
América, hay niños
tocando tu puerta.
¿Puedes escuchar los golpes
suaves como conchas,
susurrando tus oídos?

Llorar, llorar, llorar.
¿Puedes escuchar
a los niños quejarse?
Sus ojos humedecidos
anhelando ver las puertas amistosas
de Tele-casas-gringas que se abran
de par en par.

América, América, América!
Los niños llegaron;
han llegado a tu Tierra Prometida,
espolvoreada con polvo de hada,
pavimentada con felicidad
y libertad.

América, ¿por qué estos niños
desbordan tus cuartos limbo?
¿Por qué hay niños acorralados
en bardas de alambre,
durmiendo en pisos
y bancas?

América, ¿acaso olvidaste
tus lazos vestidos de camuflaje
y trajes en ese lugar
llamado La República Platanera?

¿Qué dices tú, América?
Por favor habla. Y habla
fuerte y claro—
para que los niños peregrinos
morenos nunca olviden
las acciones de tu lengua viperina
y las esquemas de colores
de sus vistas prisioneras.


Sonia Gutiérrez is a poet professor, who promotes social justice and human dignity.
She teaches English Composition and Critical Thinking and Writing at Palomar College. La Bloga is home to her Poets Responding SB 1070 poems, including “Best Poems 2011” and “Best Poems 2012.” Sonia recently joined the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070.

Her vignettes have appeared in AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, Mujeres de Maíz, City Works Literary Journal, Hinchas de Poesía, Café Enchilado, Storyacious and forthcoming in Huizache. Her bilingual poetry collection, Spider Woman/La Mujer Araña is her debut publication. To listen to “Grandchildren of the United Fruit Company,” visit Poets Cafe on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles’s PodOmatic.




Nuestros niños / Our Children
por Jorge Argueta

Nuestros niños

Juegan con trocitos de madera
llevan mariposas en las manos
se levantan con los pájaros

Nuestras niñas cantan
a la ronda
le hablan a las nubes
un día se van siguiendo sus sueños

Nuestros niños y niñas
vuelan
nadan
no le temen a la bestia

Nuestros niños y niñas
son guerreros
son gorriones
tienen vocales y coraje en sus corazones

Nuestros niños y niñas
no son extraterrestres o ilegales
son como los niños y niñas
de todo el mundo

Hermosos como el agua
como el viento
como el fuego
como el amanecer

©Jorge Argueta 2014

Our Children
by Jorge Argueta

Play with small pieces of wood
They carry butterflies in their hands
They rise with the birds

Our children sing
Round and round
They speak to the clouds
One day the go follow their dreams

Our children
Fly
Swim
They do not fear “The Beast”*

Our children
Are warriors
Are hummingbirds
They have voice and courage in their hearts

Our children
Are not aliens or illegal
They are like all children
Of the world

Beautiful
Like the water
Like the wind
Like the fire
Like the sunrise

*The Beast: the train that travels through Mexico to the border.
© Jorge Argueta 2014




Jorge Argueta is an award-winning author of picture books and poetry for young children.He has won the International Latino Book Award, The lion and the Unicorn Award, The Américas Book Award, the NAPPA Gold Award and the Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural Fiction for Juveniles. His books have also been named to the Américas Award Commended List, the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List, Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices. His new book, Salsa, A Cooking Poem is due for publication in Spring 2015. He also is the founder of two popular poetry festivals, Manyula Children's Poetry Festival and Flor y Canto Para Nuestros Niños y Niñas. A native Salvadoran and Pipil Nahua Indian, Jorge spent much of his life in rural El Salvador. He now lives in San Francisco.





FACES UNDER THE SHADOWS
by Eva Chávez, edited by Raúl Sánchez

We are the bronze skinned people
whose shoulders bear the burden
heavy bags sweet harvest grown
on fertile land

we climb up and down
ten or twelve foot ladders
eight, nine or more than ten hours
our feet know the weight

cold dawn our dry skin cracked
raising sun travels west
to burn our skins
at dusk we count our full bins

our backs bent all day
we work under our own shadow
picking asparagus onions
everyday we take that soil on our skin

orchards full a table full
bounty of the earth
your family and mine partake
the sweat, and sweetness of our labor

we are not afraid of hard work
others avoid
they prefer to criticize us
we take care of the land

we tend this American soil
where we live and grow
under the shadows proud and brown
as the soil, the land watching us grow

ROSTROS BAJO LAS SOMBRAS
por Eva Chávez, editado por Raúl Sánchez

Somos gente de bronce
cuyos hombros soportan la carga
bolsas pesadas, llenas de fruta dulce
cosechada en tierra fértil

subimos y bajamos escaleras
escaleras de diez o doce escalones
ocho, nueve o más de diez horas por día
nuestros pies y hombros conocen la carga

el amanecer frío seca nuestra piel ya agrietada
el sol créce en su camino hacia el Oeste
para quemar nuestra piel
al atardecer contamos cuantas cajas cosechamos

durante el día, nuestras espaldas permanecen dobladas
trabajamos bajo nuestra propia sombra
piscando cebollas, esparragos
todos los días la tierra se queda en nuestra piel

huertos llenos una mesa llena
generosidad de la tierra
para tu familia y la mía
disfrutando el sudor y la dulzura de nuestra labor

no tenemos miedo al trabajo duro
lo cual otros evitan
y prefieren criticarnos
nosotros cuidamos de nuestra madre tierra

cuidamos esta tierra americana
donde vivimos y crecemos
con mucho orgullo bajo nuestras sombras de bronce
tal como la tierra que me ve crecer




Eva Chavez. I arrived to the USA in 2005, at the age of 18. I worked for five consecutive years picking fruit in Washington State. This was my first job in the United States after emigrating from Mexico. On average, I worked eight to ten hours per day, six to seven days a week. All that hard work in the fields taught me all the value that immigrants bring to this country. This hard work also taught me the importance of education.

My educational journey started about four years ago at Yakima Valley Community College (YVCC). In those four years I progressed from the ESL program, to Adult Basic Education (ABE), to completing my GED, to enrolling in the DTA in Business Administration in YVCC and CWU. My experiences working in agriculture are motivating me to reach my educational goals, but also they inspired me to show to others the importance of the immigrant workers in the USA.

Therefore, one of the fuels that moves my art expression comes from the sweat that immigrants workers leave on this American soil. This is also part of the fuel and motivation that keep me involved in the activism for immigration.

Raúl Sánchez comes from a place south where the sun shines fiercely. He is a translator currently working on the Spanish version of his inaugural collection "All Our Brown-Skinned Angels" that was nominated for the 2013 Washington State Book Award in Poetry. He is also working on a Long Poem Memoir a project for the 2014 Jack Straw Writers. He is a mentor for the 2014 Poetry on Buses program sponsored by Metro King County and 4 Culture. http://beyondaztlan.com and http://moonpathpress.com



Poetry is
by Tom Sheldon

Poetry is a cold wind on an
empty street.
Its a symphony of broken glass
with letters falling.
Poetry is open doors,and open hearts.
Its the smell of blood on
home ground.
Poetry is the song of a thousand birds
in color.
It is the first born,the first kiss
and the first tree.
Poetry is the smell of fresh paint
on a sagging wall.
Poetry is tears ,and ink
blended.
A communion of thought form,
and mystery.
Poetry is a law that reaches deep
inside.
It is the light in the dark
a breathing prayer.
Poetry is winter dust sparked
by a spring rain.
Poetry is.




My name is Tom Sheldon and I was born and raised in New Mexico and come from a large Hispanic family. I have always loved and appreciated the gift of creating in various forms. Southwestern themes and landscapes are among my favorites and the wonder and beauty of the the history her and my surroundings here continually inspires my artwork. Thank you greatly for considering my words. Mil gracias.

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38. Review – Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

With cover quotes from Kevin Power, Philipp Meyer and Jenni Fagan there was no way I was not going to read this. Throw in a rave review from John Harvey describing it as the best novel he’s read since Peter Temple’s Truth and it was practically drop everything to read this book. And everything they said about this […]

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39. Before My Eyes Book Review

Title: Before My Eyes Author: Caroline Bock Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Publication Date: February 11, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-1250045584 304 pp. ARC provided by publisher Caroline Bock has written a compelling YA contemporary that hits a lot of hot button issues -- gun violence, pill popping, mental illness -- as well as personal issues -- loneliness, loss, identity -- in a way brings its

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40. Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series 2014 – Installment #16

Welcome to the Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series!


If you've been here before, you already know what's up. But for new readers, or for those who need a refresher, here's how this works:

In honor of Wonderful Weirdos Day, celebrated each year on September 9th, we here at Bugs and Bunnies present a few books each Friday in September that we just love: Fantastic stories that celebrate the unusual, with characters who are, well, characters. You know: the misunderstood, the eccentric, the quirky, the unique, the weird, the wacky. These books might be picture books, or chapter books, or middle grade books, or young adult books.

As usual, each week will have a Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme. But, new for this Fifth Anniversary of the Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series is the addition of one big, overarching theme for the whole month (besides weirdness, of course):




That's right – we're hovering our weirdo-loving magnifying glass over picture books and poetry anthologies this year. (Well, that's not entirely true. There is one novel. But it works, right? What would a celebration of the weird be, without at least one thing that doesn't fit the mold?)


* * *

Let's get started with Installment #16, shall we? Today's Variation on the Overall Weirdo Theme is:
Weirdly True

True Stuff. Just presented in totally weird (and fun) ways:



Pigs Over Colorado
Written and Illustrated by Kerry Lee MacLean
Ages 4 - 8

A personal quirky favorite of Chez Wheedleton's own Lovely Girl, who has graciously provided this summary:

Sand dunes, dinosaur fossils, roller coasters, mountain climbing, ghost towns, and skiing? You might say that a vacation that cool could only ever come around when pigs fly...

Good thing the flying family of Sky Piggies is here to lead you on a tour across the weird and wonderful state of Colorado!



If Dinosaurs Came to Town
Written and Illustrated by Dom Mansell
Ages 1 - 8

Another personal fave of Lovely Girl, who couldn't resist writing this summary, too:

Everyone knows something about the dinosaurs. Some were big, some were small, some were fierce, some were gentle. They lived MILLIONS and MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years ago, though, so we should be safe now, right?

Wait, is that a diplodocus holding up traffic? Did a quetzalcoatl just fly by overhead? What's an eryops doing in the bathtub? And who is that outside the window? AAAAGH! A T-Rex!

It looks like dinosaurs aren't so extinct, after all. At least we can learn about them up close now! (Not TOO close, though...)



Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why Every Punctuation Mark Counts!
By Lynne Truss
Illustrated by Bonnie Timmons
Ages 6 - 8

From the author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Why Commas Really Do Make a Difference, comes this giggle-worthy illustrated treatise that shows the young (and not-so-young) exactly why punctuation matters. Swapping a period for a coma, and some differently-placed quotation marks, could be the difference between a visit to you from Santa, and a visit to Santa from his mom. Or, your history teacher could be one hyphen-placement away from being either a teacher of old history, or an old teacher of history. Want to read (and see) more? Find the book, and check it out.



How Much is a Million?
By David M. Schwartz
Pictures by Steven Kellogg
Ages 4 - 8

When a kid wants to know how much a big number is, they don't want you to tell. They want you to show. If that number is, say, 100, there are lots of easy was to do that: lay out 100 pennies, or line up 100 pebbles, or stack up 100 blocks.

But, what if that kid is really ambitious? What if what that kid wants to know is: How much is a million? A million! Even most adults struggle with picturing what that looks like. 

Never fear, help is here! Enter Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician, who takes curious kids on a journey to show them exactly how much a million is, in ways the non-magical just can't – stacking a tower of kids that stretches up past the sky, conjuring up an enormous goldfish bowl, taking an impossible hot air balloon ride through pages and pages of tiny tiny stars, and even traveling through time.

Of course, when one question is answered, however fabulously, others are sure to follow. What does a billion look like? the kids want to know. A trillion? And Marvelosissimo responds each time, in spectacularly large and dazzling fashion.

And for those readers who want the hard numbers and calculations behind Marvelosissimo's enormous examples, the author includes detailed explanations at the end of the book for each one.



The Truth About Poop
By Susan E. Goodman
Illustrated by Elwood H. Smith
Ages 7 and up

You can do so many more things with poop than flush it away. Useful things. Who knew?

Though there is certainly much in this book that will elicit giggles – both from the young, and from the young-at-heart – The Truth About Poop is full of interesting, surprising, and quite useful aspects of the oft-avoided and much discouraged subject of poop.

Covering a variety of living creatures, from insects to land animals to creatures of the sea to people, this book explains how poop is used for defense, attack, fuel, building material, identification – even entertainment.

There is a history of the toilet in two parts, and a history of toilet paper. There is a description of where poop goes once flushed. There's even a section devoted to "Waste in Space."

And if, after reading all of that, you aren't totally pooped out, the author includes resources for further reading on the subject. Where you choose to sit and read? That's up to you.


* * *

That wraps things up for today. Be sure to come back next Friday, September 12th, for Installment #17 of the Fifth Annual Bugs and Bunnies Wonderful Weirdos of Literature Series, when we'll wax weirdly poetic.

Until then, we'll leave you with this:


"To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
                                                   
                                                  – e.e. cummings

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41. Middle School Ultimate Showdown - an audiobook review

Below is my review of the audio version of Middle School: Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson and Julia Bergen, as it appeared in the June, 2014 edition of School Library Journal.



PATTERSON, James & Julia Bergen. Middle School: Ultimate Showdown. 2 CDs. 2 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. $18. ISBN 9781478952619.

Gr 3–6—Rafe Khatchadorian and his younger sister, Georgia, here engage in a series of rants about bullies, school dances, dress codes, and other middle school concerns. However, this work is not simply about rants. It centers on a showdown between the siblings—with listeners acting as judges. Included on the CD is a 66-page PDF offering. Listeners who print it out can vote, draw, play, and create, adding their own opinions to Rafe's and Georgia's. Narrators Bryan Kennedy and Cassandra Morris make it easy for listeners to follow the inevitable disagreements between the siblings. Morris, as Georgia, is likable, confident, and youthful. Kennedy's Rafe is perfect for the wisecracking troublemaker, but he suffers from the lack of character depth in the showdown format. Listeners not familiar with his character from other books in the series will find him shallow and arrogant. While considerable adaptations were made for the audiobook format, the necessity of printing and constantly referencing the lengthy PDF will likely limit this audiobook's appeal to book group facilitators and die-hard fans of the series.



Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
###

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42. Dangerous Wishes?

What if you could have ‘All You’ve Ever Wanted‘? In Joan Aiken’s  fertile imagination this is exactly the sort of  wish that could go wildly wrong; in fact she had such fun with the idea that it led to a collection of stories,  this particular one providing the title of her first book, published nearly […]

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43. Dangerous Wishes?

What if you could have ‘All You’ve Ever Wanted‘? In Joan Aiken’s  fertile imagination this is exactly the sort of  wish that could go wildly wrong; in fact she had such fun with the idea that it led to a collection of stories,  this particular one providing the title of her first book, published nearly […]

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44. Blog Tour Book Review- A Dark Inheritance by Chris D'Lacey

Title: A Dark Inheritance


 Author:  Chris D’Lacey
Series:   UNICORNE Files #1
Published:  7 August 2014 by Chicken House
Length:270 pages
Source: blog tour
Other info: Chris D’Lacey has also written the Last Dragon Chronicles.
Summary : When Michael Malone discovers his supernatural ability to alter reality, he is recruited by an organization dedicated to investigating strange and paranormal phenomena. He joins in hopes of finding his father, who mysteriously vanished three years earlier. Michael's first task is to solve the mystery of a dog he rescued from a precarious clifftop -- a mystery that leads him to a strange and sickly classmate and a young girl who was killed in a devastating accident. Stakes are high as Michael learns to harness his newfound ability and uncover the deadly truth about his father's disappearance.
A bold and thrilling tale of alternate realities, paranormal mystery, and extraordinary adventure.
Review:  Michael’s going to school via a non-normal route when he senses the thoughts of a suicidal dog, and somehow manages to stop her going over a cliff. This brings him to the attention of UNICORNE, who say they can tell him what happened to his father, who disappeared. They set him on the task of finding out what the dog was doing on the cliff, and this leads him to a mystery involving a classmate, a dead girl, and his newly discovered powers.
I’ve heard great things about Chris D’Lacey’s other work (which I have never read) so I was hoping this would be good. The blurbed concept isn’t particularly original, but I really liked the idea of cellular memory and the way it played out in the book.
There’s science-fiction elements, fantasy elements, and some thrillery elements too. It could have been a good mix, but in parts it goes so quickly that things don’t get explored as much as they could have been.
I like the characters, especially Josie, Michael’s ten year old sister, Chantelle, a UNICORNE agent, and Freya, Michael’s sick classmate.
The plot twists and turns, sometimes well, and sometimes in convenient places. I like the mix of more normal things that Michael has to deal with, in between the paranormal. I think the start of it was stronger than the way the setup played out though; it started with a strong hook, but then got a bit confusing. The main mystery did get played through well looking back on it, but with side elements being created due to Michael’s powers, it is harder to follow than it needed to be.
Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a genremixing thriller.
Blog tour!

26th August - Book Zone For Boys
8th August - Death, Books, and Tea
29th August - Fiction Fascination
1st September - Booktrust
2nd September - Teen Librarian
3rd September - Book Angel Booktopia


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45. The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Viking Childrens, 2014


There is no stronger bond than....what?  Daisy isn't sure about her life anymore.  She remembers her family and the memories they shared, the little brother that came into her life, the music, her parents' laughter.  Although those same memories exist today, it's a completely different dynamic, especially when the entire family's loyalties are put to the ultimate test.

Daisy has friends, and she has a boyfriend.  She's musically gifted (more like a prodigy) and has been asked to attend prestigious schools and academies.  Her grades are good and her parents allow her to go out, but it's all dictated by her little brother Steven, who is autistic.  While their mother takes care of him most of the time, she also needs time away.  Their father works long hours and comes home worn out, taking on the night time rituals, including the wrestling match that is more common than showers now. They all walk on eggshells, afraid to make any sudden moves, noises, or modifying a different routine that will spiral Steven into an outburst.  No longer a child, Steven has gotten stronger and while his autism was more controlled when he was little, it has now become dangerous.  When Daisy comes home one day, she sees what Steven's unintentional outbursts did to her mother. It wasn't an easy decision and one that wracked her parents longer than Daisy knew, but it's now come to a point where her mother doesn't feel strong enough to help Steven.  Something had to give, and Steven will be leaving soon. 

A part of Daisy wants to be happy.  She can have her freedom back.  This could mean sleepovers at her house, going out on dates without such stringent time limits, going to music camps, playing her trumpet in the house instead of the basement.  But Daisy is also struggling with the change.  How could her parents want to do this to their only son?  How could she have helped more to prevent this?  What could her parents do more of so Steven can stay home?  It's an emotional battle that only Daisy can fight, and it will be the most difficult one she's ever had to.  Can the family survive this huge change in their lives when Steven has been in their lives creating the familiar habits they are now accustomed to, or will they fall apart over this controversial decision that will make each one of them re-evaluate what their roles in life and family are?

Stasia Ward Kehoe writes a beautiful novel in verse about a topic that seems to only capture lurid headlines without looking at the entire situation a family goes through.  Daisy is the character in limbo throughout the story by trying to have as normal a teen life as possible while also holding the reins of responsibility of taking care of a teenage boy whose autism is creating an unsafe situation he isn't even aware of.  Kehoe writes about this emotional stage of life from all perspectives while being able to fluidly create a centrifugal force that isn't Steven, but is Daisy's life, before, during and after. This is a novel unlike any other and one that should be on YA shelves.  Recommended.

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46. Book Review-This Book is Gay by James Dawson

Title: This Book Is Gay
 Author:  James Dawson
Series:  N/A
Published:  4 September 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 271 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: James Dawson has written many things. 
Summary : Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

Review: I don't normally review nonfiction, but this is a hugely anticipated book by a brilliant author and a topic I have an interest in. There’s so many things that make this book wonderful.
First, there’s the fact that this book exists, with a bright rainbow cover and direct information and not hiding.  I can only think of one other sex-ed book that addresses queer people as well as cishet people, and that's Scarleteen's book, which I read  once in a library but it later disappeared. The fact  there's a book that speaks directly to a group of people ignored by almost every school when it comes to sex-ed, is brilliant, and I hope this book finds its way into the hands of everyone who needs it.
Then here's the breadth of topics covered; labels and common definitions, biological theories, stereotypes, coming out, dating, sex, marriage, and children, as well as more serious, less happy topics, such as religious opposition, homophobia, transphobia, HIV/AIDS.
James gives clear advice that hopefully will be hopeful to people of all genders and sexualities about how to combat homo&transphobia, coming out,  and many other things.
I love the range of voices from the online survey, especially the longer studies, that talk about experiences such as living with HIV, transitioning, and having children via surrogate mothers. They give a snapshot into many different lives, and, after reading about things like this in fiction, it's fascinating to see real-life perspectives.
My favourite thing is James's voice tying it all together. I read the book straight after James did a reading from this book, and it's so easy to imagine him reading it aloud. There's a lot of laughs in appropriate places, highlights including "a very bad lady-let's...call her Maggie....some years later [there was] a slightly less evil man let's call him Tony",    "what I felt for Dean Cain (whose name I did not change for this book- I mean, I think it's time he knew of my love", and (in the first edition) bullet points 2 and 3 on page 45.
Now, this is going to sound really picky, but I did notice that it sometimes reinforces the gender binary (yes, I'm aware one of my contributions does too, and I apologise for younger, less informed me and cis-centric language) and uses ciscentric language when talking about sex (e.g. a label of a  woman being accompanied by a diagram of a female-bodied person, or the words "gay women get turned on by vaginas" (here not taking into account e.g. gay women with preop transwomen). I do get that it is impossible to cover the full range of identities in one book, and my noticing this is probably a result of me getting used to sites where gender and sex are strictly separated, and this book is wonderful in its existence, but still, a couple of word changes here and there could make this book absolutely perfect.


Overall:  Strength  5, tea to a book that needs to be everywhere.


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47. About politics, spec fiction, Zombie Baseball Beatdown


With Chicano and Latino speculative fiction* blossoming, I and others believe its authors can blaze our own trails to not follow the paths of mainstream Anglo authors. This might sound like a risky way of succeeding as a writer, but the rewards go beyond book sales and personal income. All across the planet, writers advocate and practice this.

Cherokee author Celu Amberstone says of Indigenous speculative fiction: “Our fiction is alive with new possibilities inspired by our cultural heritage, fiction that can offer new insights to our troubled world. As Indigenous peoples, we understand that the specters of colonialism and corporate greed still haunt Earth’s future. It is our responsibility to offer humanity a new vision of the universe.”

An Australian aborigine from the Palyku people, YA spec fiction author Ambelin Kwaymullinais another. In a speech earlier this year, she said, "We are, along with speculative fiction fans in the world, the people who know. We understand the great promise and the great flaws of humanity; we have seen both writ-large across magical kingdoms and alternate realities and far off planets. So the question for us is not what the future will hold, because we’ve already seen a thousand variations of it. The question for us is, how do we create the futures of our dreams and not our nightmares? Like other spec fiction writers before me, I believe humanity is now living in the times that will define what is to come for our species."

American author Paolo Bacigalupi expects even more for writers of any nationality: "The real purpose of novels of Sci-Fi, apocalypse, dystopia, etc. should not be escapist. A spec lit novel that doesn't tell about the present moment is no more meaningful than a romance or tea cozy mystery. If it doesn't, then why did it have to be Sci-Fi to begin with?"

I agree with all of the above. More in my alternate-world fantasy novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams than in my short stories, issues of immigration and border "security," militarization of the police, gentrification of barrios, "Christian" intolerance have all played roles. As a Chicano in the U.S., when I write, the reality that we and others live pushes for inclusion. I can't imagine any other approach that would make my stories worth reading.

Here's an example of what I mean: French kids don't suffer weight problems, obesity, diabetes & hypertension like ours do. They get fresh and freshly prepared fruits, vegetables, fish and meat that are locally sourced; only filtered tap water for drinks. Three recess periods, a total of 90 min./day; and they walk or bike alone (if you can believe!) to school. No school on Wednesdays. All of this, U.S. kids are denied. It doesn't mean we're stupider than the French; we've simply allowed food corporations to victimize our kids. So what?

So how would a spec author include the junk food we're sold into a novel? How about the pink slime served in school cafeterias? Written into a YA zombie novel, with the two main, non-white characters, one the mexicano Miguel. Add racism and flash round-ups of undocumented workers. Sound like a stretch? Not so much, even after you realize that Paolo is not a Chicano writer.

In a podcast this month, here's what he said about learning the story and facts behind pink slime: "The politics makes you angry enough to write fiction--the company "ethics", and government "protection" [of our food]. The status quo doesn't see us being able to talk about the data surrounding us. I was a sci-fi reader growing up and spec genre held my interest. But lots of sci-fi books were dated and not relevant to kids. Zombiewas for my own joy, my own creativity, to feel passionate about. I knew that if I found something interesting, I could strive to make it interesting for my readers."

The publisher's synopsis of Zombie Baseball Beatdown: "In this inventive, fast-paced novel, award-winning author Bacigalupi takes on hard-hitting themes--from food safety to racism and immigration--and creates a zany, grand-slam adventure that will get kids thinking about where their food comes from.

"The zombie apocalypse begins on the day Rabi, Miguel, and Joe are practicing baseball near a local meatpacking plant and nearly get knocked out by a really big stink. Little do they know the plant's toxic cattle feed is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters! The boys decide to launch an investigation into the plant's dangerous practices, unknowingly discovering a greedy corporation's plot to look the other way as tainted meat is sold to thousands all over the country. With no grownups left they can trust, Rabi and his friends will have to grab their bats to protect themselves (and a few of their enemies) if they want to stay alive...and maybe even save the world."

The author didn't stop at publication. On the book's website, the political matters lace throughout the jokes, zaniness and funny, zombie madness. Here's a sample, and you might want to give the URL to your kids. (If you think this is violent, see the videogames kids play.)

How kids can prepare for a zombie outbreak in ten simple steps.
  • 70% of evil monsters come from nasty places like toxic waste dumps. 100% of documented zombie outbreaks originated from an infected food.
  • Protect Your Head. To a zombie, your brain tastes like the best food ever.
  • 9 out of 10 zombies say they prefer brains to any other food.
  • The brain size of kids who like reading is 1/10 larger than that of kids who don't.
  • On average zombies find bigger brains 33% more appetizing than small brains.
  • 92% were easily able to bite through a single layer of clothing, penetrating the skin.
  • 33% of zombies were unable to bite through 5 or more layers of clothing, and left to starve.

I recommend the book, even for some kids as young as twelve. Latino kids will sympathize with and enjoy Miguel, a main character. Politically, the book promotes investigation, exposing the facts gathered, organizing other kids, and the success of defending your beliefs about what's true, even when corporations and adults don't know or hide the truth.

Paolo is beginning to mull ideas for a sequel to Zombie. Not to critique, but  to suggest ways I think a sequel could improve over the first of the series, I note the lack of major girl characters. To all spec writers: the boys-only legacy of old sci-fi can and should be discarded. Research show boys will read books with girl protagonists and more, if they are intriguing and well written. And we need to help boys break down whatever impedes their working and living well with the opposite sex.

Secondly, I think the climactic battle (obvious from the title, but most of this is spoiler) has two huge real-world, emotional and action gaps that the author could have used to heighten conflict.

The hero organizes his friends in the final battle WAY too easily. Anybody who's had or worked with boys knows--organizing them is like herding olive-oil-slimed pigs in the middle of a muddy field, away from their trough of amphetamines. The protagonist Rabi should have had to more realistically overcome those problems. Yes, I know it was the climax, and maybe the author didn't want to give his hero too much to overcome. Still.

The second, emotional gap that the author missed out on was the trauma of who the boys had to beat, hurt and kill to escape the zombie breakout. Their friends, siblings, parents and adults they knew. According to my read, none of the boys had much trouble beating down their family and community. Obviously, in the real world, this would be major PTSD. (That coming in the sequel?) Adding bits of scenes about this conflict would have extended the big battle, which might be why the author excluded it. I won't say how he might have been able to do it; he's the author. As a reader, the gap left me unfulfilled, pick-pocketed.

Read the, buy it and give it as a present, order it for your room or library. If you're a Latino author, read it and see if you can say that we Latinos can't do the same or even better at bringing politics into our spec lit. For our gente to learn and read and enjoy.

Es todo, hoy,
RudyG, a.k.a. Chicano fantasy author Rudy Ch. Garcia

* Speculative fiction - spec lit includes fantasy, magical realism, horror, alternate world and alternate history, fables and science fiction, at the least.

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48. Gordon

22886898

Title: Gordon (A tale of a baby American bison)

Author/Illustrator: Martha Mans

Publisher/Year: WinterBird Press/2014

 

Children’s picture books are works of art. Gordon, written and illustrated by the incredibly talented Martha Mans, is proof. Hold it in your hands. Look at the front cover. Turn is over and look at the back cover. Open it up and flip through the pages. Let your eyes take in all the majestic beauty of life on a Colorado ranch.

Then start at the beginning and read about Gordon, a young American bison, and his animal friends. Follow along as he is rescued from a creek, meets new friends, and finally discovers what he is and where he belongs. Gordon is an endearing story based on true events and it really brings to life, especially through Martha Mans’ amazing watercolor paintings, a part of America that many people may not be familiar with.

I really like how this story introduces readers, young and old, to the animals and wildlife that can be found in the gorgeous state of Colorado, particularly the bison. Did you know that back in the 1800’s, bison were on the brink of extinction? But thanks to the efforts of many, bison are no longer in danger of disappearing, at least for now. And thanks to Martha Mans and Gordon, the majestic bison will not soon be forgotten.   


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49. Review – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

After only reading Cloud Atlas I was already in awe of David Mitchell so I dove straight into his new novel at the first available opportunity. And once again was swept away by the storytelling, the language and the imagination. The book has been described as “his most Cloud Atlas-y novel since the global phenom Cloud Atlas” and I […]

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50. Review: Not For Everyday Use. On-line Floricanto 7 X 5

Elizabeth Nunez. Not For Everyday Use. NY: Akashic Books, 2014. ISBN: 9781617752339 e-IBSN: 9781617752780

Michael Sedano

You won’t necessarily take a phone call one day, maybe you’ll be there. You won’t necessarily be 64 like that song, but you’ll be old when you get the news your mother is dead. Not For Everyday Use is Elizabeth Nunez’ memoir of the hours and days following her mother’s passing.


In the course of a few days, the family reunion, funeral and church rituals, sibling expectations, and the author’s own disconnectedness spark reflections upon memories that guide the daughter’s comprehension of the immensity of this change in her family.

While the theme of the matriarch’s death is universal, readers will appreciate the writer’s post-colonial, immigrant, and person-of-color themes that play strongly throughout the memoir. Nunez devotes elaborated discussion to class v. color arguments, fidelity, decolonized mindsets, the isolation and hardship of an immigrant single mother on her own, why her mother pushed her away.

Written with a novelist’s pen, the story flows from incidents and anecdotes juxtaposed in time. In one section, the reader learns that Nunez and Betty Shabazz work in the same academic department. Any sense of solidarity between the Trinidadian and the US Muslim quickly dissipates in another account, Nunez being told off by a U.S.-born black woman that the Trinidadian black woman should know her place. They were competing for a student leadership position. Another tale, in dialect, reflects an attitude that infects and strengthens the Nunez clan, what don bile, don spile. It's the attitude the old man displays looking upon the corpse of his wife of 65 years. He nods and says before walking away, "Well, that's that."

Mourning often gives way to old resentments and unfinished business. Nunez has some of this, perhaps, in her descriptions of her sisters and brothers. Her sister Karen really gets under her skin. Her father’s cheating and her mother’s pain at it are recurring jabs at the 90 year old demented man. The father’s Carnival dance at the funeral parlor comes as total surprise and author's restrained humor. You’re not supposed to laugh, are you?

Not For Everyday Use is the autobiography of Nunez’ novels Anna In-between and Boundaries. For practitioners of the craft of memoir writing, the author shares a writer’s insight on using one’s life and family to populate her fiction, and how a moment's recognition winds and unravels skeins of time recorded in the words.

Readers of those two excellent novels will appreciate the connections between the writer’s world and that of the novels. Prior reading won’t be required with Nunez calling attention to key parallels and differences between the novels and the author's life. The writer treads a storyteller's line that leads her familia to accuse the author of getting too honest about private matters. The writer’s defense, “I’m a writer.”

Reading Elizabeth Nunez’ two-novel life of Anna Sinclair, Anna In-Between and Boundaries, introduces readers to a flinty mother, a daughter wanting more affection, a divorced single mother immigrant black woman employed in New York publishing industry. That’s almost Nunez’ profile. She’s an English professor.

In the novels, Anna and Beatrice suffer one another’s needs but maintain an icy distance. Nunez' friends say she's too hard on the fictional mother. That’s also the mother-daughter relationship the author weaves together in Not For Everyday Use. It’s not a spoiler to say--look for it--Elizabeth and Una have a warm reconciliation when both manage to say, without choking on the emotion, “I love you.”

Readers and writers of US ethnic literatures will find Nunez’ voicing of immigrant sentiments familiar, eloquent, and distinctive. Coming from a newly de-colonized gente--she's first generation--the author’s voice and insight into exigencies in-common will prove vitalizing to readers and writers.

You can order Not For Everday Use through your local independent bookseller, or directly from the publisher, Akashic Books’ website here.



Seven by Five: On-line Floricanto for September 2
Gabriel Rosenstock, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jackie Lopez, Frank de Jesus Acosta, Mario Angel Escobar

The Moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance recommend five poets from two continents writing in three languages for today's La Bloga On-line Floricanto.


"An End to Borders" by Gabriel Rosenstock with his original poem in Gaelic, "Deireadh Le Teorainneacha"
"Frontera / Border" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Slithering Our Way to Heaven" by Jackie Lopez
"Why I Write?" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Brown Chronicles" by Mario Angel Escobar



AN END TO BORDERS
by Gabriel Rosenstock

An end to borders
An end to flags
An end to barbed wire
An end to towering walls
An end to nations
End the base tinkle of currencies
End wars
Let the planet breathe freely
Without borders
Without flags
Without barbed wire
Without towering walls
Without nations
Without the base tinkle of currencies
Without wars
An end forever to borders

DEIREADH LE TEORAINNEACHA
by Gabriel Rosenstock

Deireadh le teorainneacha
Deireadh le bratacha
Deireadh le sreang dheilgneach
Deireadh le fallaí arda
Deireadh le náisiúin
Cuir deireadh le cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Deireadh le cogaí
Lig don phláinéad análú gan bhac
Gan teorainneacha
Gan bhratacha
Gan sreang dheilgneach
Gan fallaí arda
Gan náisiúin
Gan cling shuarach na n-airgeadraí
Gan chogaí
Deireadh go deo le teorainneacha



Gabriel Rosenstock. Poet, novelist, playwright, haikuist, essayist, author/translator of over 170 books, mostly in Irish (Gaelic). Taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (Poetry Academy), Vienna, and Hyderabad Literary Festival, India. Prolific translator of poems, plays, songs, he also writes for children, in prose and verse. Represented in Best European Fiction 2012 (Dalkey Archive Press) and Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton & Co. 2013). Books Ireland, Summer 2012, says of his detective novel My Head is Missing: ‘This is a departure for Rosenstock but he is surefooted as he takes on the comic genre and writes a story full of engaging characters and a plot that keeps the reader turning the page.’
New and selected poems I OPEN MY POEM …(translated from the Irish) published in 2014 by PoetryWala, Mumbai, India and The Partisan and other stories published by Evertype, 2014.
Rosenstock’s Blog address:
roghaghabriel.blogspot.ie




Frontera/ Border
by Francisco X. Alarcón





Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, born in Los Angeles, in 1954, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002), and Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), Sonetos a la locura y otras penas / Sonnets to Madness and Other Misfortunes (Creative Arts Book Company 2001), De amor oscuro / Of Dark Love (Moving Parts Press 1991, and 2001).
His latest books are Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun / Poemas para el Nuevo Sol (Swan Scythe Press 2010), and for children, Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008) which was selected as a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and as an Américas Awards Commended Title by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. His previous bilingual book titled Poems to Dream Together/Poemas para sonar juntos (Lee & Low Books 2005) was awarded the 2006 Jane Addams Honor Book Award.
He teaches at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Spanish for Native Speakers Program. The issue of eco-poetics and xenophobia are a the core of three upcoming collections of poems, “Poetry of Resistance: A Multicultural Anthology in Response to SB 1070,” “Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus and Other Poems / Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikus terrenales y otros poemas.” He is the creator of the Facebook page POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 where more than 3,000 poems by poets all over the world have been posted. This is the link to the Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PoetryOfResistance




Slithering Our Way to Heaven
by Jackie Lopez

I see love, peace, and joy slithering like a snake in the grass up to our spines.
It enables us to see Heaven on Earth when there is plenty of Orisha-orientations.
We sink into Mother Earth for her comfort and strength in our enterprise for survival.
And, we will survive.
Every border,
every genocide,
every racist, sexist, classist sentiment is thrown out the window for our survival.
Every history book will speak the truth of our organization.
Every Thursday we shall have dinner with wonderful disorganization.
Now and then, we cross the border of discontent and organize an evolution.
We march in the streets.
We picket on the line.
And, we shall nail our edict on the cross.
There is hope in a word.
There is hope in a dance.
There is hope in a march and we go marching on.
We claim the universe complete.
We are anointed and know that the only way to survive is if we take a trip to the truth.
I am not agnostic and esoteric at the same time.
I am survival of the kindest.
I am survival of true love.
We sink or swim in misbehavior.
For our solution is found in the consultation of our souls.
And, where does it all start?
And, where did I come from?
It all started with a misbehavior one evening when I was anointing the masses.
We are organizing an evolution for the promotion of restitution.
We are aghast with philosophy, and we shall anoint whomever washes a dish.
And, the saints are marching in.
We wear mini-skirts and shorts.
We wear an Alaskan mask and we shoot the breeze with the namesayers.
We are closet scientists and we mistake enamorations for flirtations.
So, now I say, Let us rejoice for the world has opened up with dire pollution in order for us to be united as emancipators.
We shall cross the border.
We shall reach the sea.
We have been accosted at every turn with oppression.
And, it is getting thick like molasses.
So, I cling to hope and enamorations.
I cling so that I might see the universe for what it really is and what it does to us.
We are disjointed at the ends, and we are getting the Heaven out of Hell.
So, speak your truth.
I am listening.
Sing, for boyfriends offer patrimony to the lovely creationism that you bring.
And, I dive into the lies and remember that the only thing that can get through my pores is the truth.
We are shamans.
We promote the non-toxicity of the world.
We are crazy with love and emotional control.
We sing in the spirit of a saint.
And we embark on traffic control.
There is not such a thing as hope without despair.
It is now our golden opportunity to live on Earth and say, “We are hope.”
So, little is said about the misogynistic era of enlightenment.
However, I am one to say it.
This is the millennium of Heaven.
There is an ocean of forgiveness somewhere out there.
There is emancipatory proclamations out there as well.
And, we are ones to ride that wave.



Jackie Lopez is a poet and writer from San Diego. She was founding member of the Taco Shop Poets and has always pursued a study of history of which has influenced her writing. She has taught in San Diego City Schools and has been published in several literary journals. She has just finished her Magnum Opus titled “Telepathic Goodbye” described as a uniform poem of 25, 333 words. She is now looking for a publisher for this. You can catch her work on facebook under “Jackie Lopez Lopez” where she shares her work with a daily poem. She has a radio interview that will come out later this year. Her email: peacemarisolbeautiful@yahoo.com







Why I write?
by Frank de Jesus Acosta

I write to:

Give scope to my growing understanding of truth;
Impart my dreams and visions;
Honor the sacrifice of the ancestors;
Remember the stories, traditions, and history of my people;
Reflect the duality of pain;
Express gratitude for the miracle of creation;
Acknowledge the integrity of all cultures;
Celebrate the expression of my own;
Lament the anathema of hate, greed, egoism, and tyranny;
Witness to justice, compassion, respect, and non-violence;
Incite aspiration to human possibility;
Voice the inspiration of love;
Commune with the presence of God in others;
Leave footprints of my dance to the song of life...

Reflection by: Frank de Jesus Acosta


Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.





BROWN CHRONICLES
by Mario Angel Escobar

If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because the pigmentation of your skin,
Has already made you guilty.
Be ready to hold your last breath
because eyes with a sense of supremacy
will stalked you
following your foots steps.
Don’t hold anything in your hands
Open them like roses in the spring
accelerating their process
because if you don’t
the law will drop a white blanket
on a puddle of blood
covering a history
that has been deny
over and over again
but why cry
if the tears will continue to blossom
everyday
flooding with sadness
our sunsets.
Wherever you go
Sirens
Will stalked you
suffocated your path
with the scent of your
dead ones
If you ever want to walk
the corners of your streets,
Be ready to put your hands up
because a single phrase
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
I am not guilty!
Will not do
and in the vortex
of the hourglass sand
you will find
that the dream
still a dream
in the corners
of your street.

© Mario A. Escobar 2014


Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press. Escobar has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from what he witness during the Salvadoran Civil War. Escobar began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Roque Dalton, Tato Laviera and Jaime Sabines as some of his early poetic influences. Escobar’s work has been feature in UCLA’s publication Underground Undergrads which recognizes the poet as an activist for the undocumented Student Movement. In 2004, Escobar was placed under arrest and was scheduled to be deported. In 2006, Escobar won his case for political asylum making him one of the last Salvadorans to win a political case fourteen years after the Salvadoran Peace Accords were signed in 1992. Escobar is a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages at LA Mission College. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry by Kalina Press.

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