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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: alabama, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Smells Like Team Spirit

"Bama Battlecry" -- You or anyone you know a fan of the Crimson Tide?  Vote now, then spread the word!!! 

Thanks very much! <3
~Anne K.

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2. Read and Bleed with Ellen Schreiber

It takes a very good reason for vampires (and their fans) to brave the harsh light of day.  An Alabama library found the perfect thing to coax them out into the hot summer sun.  Gadsden Public Library’s Read and Bleed event challenged teens to donate money, time, and—most importantly—blood.  Library director Amanda Buckner Jackson explains how Read and Bleed came about: “With all the destruction the State of Alabama and our area had faced in April, we wanted to do our part to help with the recovery efforts and to keep the need for assistance fresh in the minds of our community. The Red Cross has been such an integral part of the relief efforts, that partnering with them seemed like the most logical decision.”  After some inspired brainstorming, Read and Bleed fell into place.

Gadsden Public Library reached out to an old friend who knows a little something about blood.  Vampire Kisses author Ellen Schreiber had visited Gadsden for the library’s fantastic Geekfest.  When asked to return, Ellen jumped at the chance to reconnect with Gadsden’s enthusiastic teens.  She flew down from Ohio just for Read and Bleed.  Teens came from as far away as Huntsville to see Ellen and give blood.  A Red Cross van collected blood donations while Ellen signed books and read to the gathered fans.  Ellen says she loved the goths who showed up in monster boots and corsets.  But Ellen admits, “We were so hot we had to go inside for the rest of event.  We vampires were melting in the sun!”

Ellen couldn’t give blood because she was getting on a plane right after the event, (and we’d hate to see her pass out at 30,000 feet).  But she did donate her entire speaking fee to the American Red Cross.  Ellen wasn’t alone in her generosity.  The summer book club raised $1000 for the Red Cross.  Amanda Buckner Jackson reports that Read and Bleed had close to 100 participants through fundraising, reading, donating blood, and helping to publicize the blood drive.  Not only did the blood drive collect donations at a critical time, it also encouraged Gadsden’s teens to be more civic minded.  As Amanda says, “We wanted them to see that just because you are young doesn’t mean you can’t be the change you want to see in your community.”  And that warms the heart more than a pint of AB negative.

~ Tony

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3. Review: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 26, 2011

Inside Out & Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

Reading level: Ages 8-12

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (February 22, 2011)

Source: Publisher

What to expect: Vietnamese Americans, Emigration and immigration, Immigrants, Vietnam, Alabama

How much do we know about those around us? This is the question that debut novelist Thanhha Lai challenges her readers with.

Based on Lai’s own personal experience as a Vietnamese refugee, Inside Out & Back Again is a poignant story divided into four parts using a series of poems that chronicle the life of 10-year-old Hà, a child–refugee from Vietnam, during the year 1975—the Fall of Saigon. Along with her mother and three brothers (her father has been missing in action for nine years), Hà travels by boat to a tent city in Guam, is moved to Florida and then finds herself living in Alabama sponsored by an “American cowboy” and his wife. In Alabama, the family are treated as outcasts and forced to integrate quickly through language, food, and religion, to be accepted as a part of the community.

Adjustments to Hà’s new life are delivered through smells and tastes and touch. In “Part One: Saigon,” a verse titled “Two More Papayas” gives Hà’s delectable description of her most cherished fruit. In “Part Three: Alabama,” a verse titled “Not the Same,” which is followed by “But Not Bad,” showcases the bitter differences between the comfort of her precious birth city and the emotional challenges of her new home in Alabama, combined with the acceptance of change.

Two More Papayas

“…Middle sweet
between a mango and a pear.

Soft as a yam
gliding down
after three easy,
thrilling chews.”

Not the Same

“Three pouches of papaya

dried papaya





Not the same

at all.

So mad,

I throw all in the trash.”

But Not Bad

“… I wake up at faint light,

guilt heavy on my chest.

I head toward the trash can.


on the dining table

on a plate

sit strips of papaya

gooey and damp,

having been soaked in hot water.

The sugar has melted off






Hummm …

Not the same,

but not bad

at all.”

Told with pure honesty, emotions run freely from verse to verse and page to page. Hà’s voice is clear, allowing readers to make a leap from sympathy to deep seeded empathy by experiencing her joy, pain, anger, frustration, loyalties, challenges, loss, and determination. The clarity of Hà’s self-awareness and development toward self-actualization is reminiscent of Susan Patron’s character Lucky, also a 10-year-old girl, from the Newbery winner (2007) The Higher Power of Lucky (2006). Both characters suffer

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4. Teen Readers in Five States Get New Books

“With this grant, our library was able to purchase 100 books for our library collection, as well  as provide books for 87 preschoolers from low-income families. With proration hitting so many non-profits, it was truly a blessing to receive this grant for our library. HOOORAY to FIRST Book and Walmart for helping us!”

Debra Grayson, White Smith Memorial Library, Jackson, AL

Teen Readers in Five States Get New Books from First Book
First Book was able to distribute over 75,000 brand-new books to teen and young adult readers in Alabama, Florida, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and Georgia, thanks to support from the Walmart State Giving Program.

Fifty programs in each of the five states received a $500 credit for the First Book Marketplace, our online store available exclusively to programs serving children from low-income communities. In addition, programs across those states received thousands more books – free of charge – from our National Book Bank.

“In the past we haven’t been able to provide books to older readers to the extent needed,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president and CEO. “But that’s changing fast; the selection of young adult titles we’re able to offer to our network of schools and programs is growing, and we’re on track to deliver even more resources to this under-served group this year.”

We know how hard teachers and program leaders are working to get teenagers reading, so we’re excited to be able to offer more books that appeal to older readers, and get them into the hands of kids that need them.

If you work with young adults, get in touch or leave a comment below, and let us know about the books they’re interested in and what we could do to help your program.

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5. White Water

Look for my new title, WHITE WATER this August in stores and online. Books are currently available for preordering.  WHITE WATER is written by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein and is published by Candlewick Press. You can find out more about the authors here. I’m pleased to see that this title will be distributed by Random House and Walker Books in Australia and New Zealand. It is one of my dreams to see New Zealand. Feel free to contact me for school visits New Zealand and Australia! 

For a young boy growing up in the segregated south, a town drinking fountain becomes the source of an epiphany.

From the auhor’s site: White Water is the story of a 7 year-old black kid in segregated 1963 Opelika, Alabama who becomes obsessed with the desire to taste the water from the white’s only drinking fountain and sets out on a quest to do the unthinkable: drink from it.

 White Water is a wonderful way to give children an American history lesson proving that racism is a waste of time.”
 –Bill Cosby

…Michael’s discoveries remind us that we are interconnected and help us to believe in the possibilities for a better future. I can’t wait to share White Water with the children in my life…and come to think of it, I’ll be sharing it with the adults too.”
 –Melissa Harris-Perry

    Princeton Professor
    MSNBC Contributor and Columnist for The Nation

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6. PieLab

Just heard a story on NHPR's Word of Mouth about a very cool project called PieLab. You might have read about it in Fast Company recently. It's basically built on the premise that when conversations start happening in a community--and young people/designers are involved, good things will come out of it. It's another idea to come out of Project M, which is a really interesting workshop group of people who come together to envision a better world through design. And they're making it happen. Sort of like a Rural Design Studio for graphic design/creative thinkers. (And you remember when I swooned after I read Rural Studio, don't you? That was after Frank Lloyd Wright but before Room to Read).

I am so taken with this idea, I want to drive to Greensboro, Alabama right now and visit PieLab. But at 1500 miles away, I guess I will have to wait for the t-shirt. Or give PieLab investments as Christmas gifts. Applaud this idea wholeheartedly.

Maybe we should start serving pie once a month in our libraries? Here's a video to help you get in the spirit:

PieLab Promo from Project M on Vimeo.

What sorts of inspiration might we draw from this for our own community spaces within and around the library?

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7. I’ll go…

If you’ll go…

(Sweet home Alabama?)

Really! We’ll get a whole slew of fun Jewish-type people, and we’ll all move to this sweet little town, where we’ll live next door to each other and make a lot of soup, and do crafts and it’ll be like… like… like…

A shtetl!

Only way more fun.

No, seriosly, it’ll be the eruv of cool.  Within whose boundaries we will rejoice in our coolness and share beer.  All the beer will be communal in the eruv of cool.

OR!  Better yet, we should encourage all the remaining communist Jews to go there, and create a utopian society.  Like a kibbutz.

Or maybe all the orthodox Jews with SAD should go there, and then it can become like Postville. Only less slaughtery.

In any case it will be awesome, AWESOME!

Is Chabad there already?  I assume so. If not, they will be soon!!!

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8. Grandma's Ghostly Tale

Kate from Ohio sent along this tale that her grandmother told her about her own ghostly encounter years ago in Alabama:


Hi my name is Kate and I'm from Ohio, but I have a story from Alabama to tell you. My grandma told me this:

I was staying with your father's cousin Ruthie and she had a cat called
Boo. Well, Boo liked to hang out in Ruthie's closet. She said I could pet him while she got ready for dinner. I went to the closet to say hi to Boo and when I did I felt someone tap me. I turned around and there was this little boy dressed in a little shirt and short pants. I turned to ask Ruthie about him, but when I turned back he was gone.

I later found out that a young boy by the name of Samuel Morriss Gregory had lived in that house about 80 years before Ruthie. He was 4 when one day he went outside and played in a pond. Well, the pond led to the river and he was swept away and later found. When he was found, his body was bloody and torn, and he was wearing a little shirt and short pants.

Hope you liked the story, Jason.


I'm still shivering, Kate! Thank you and please thank your grandmother for sharing!

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9. The Legend of Crybaby Hollow

Taylor from Alabama sent me this local legend that he actually experienced himself. Check it out:

Hey, I'm Taylor from Alabama. I LOVE your blog and book. Hope you make another Scary States of America.

So here is the legend: A young woman was so angry at her infant child that she threw him off the bridge. Now when a car goes across the bridge, it shakes back and forth or is pushed forward. Also tiny hand prints are seen on the car afterwards. If you leave candy on the bridge, the ghost will take it. If you pour baby powder on the bridge, footprints of a baby can be seen. The bridge is now called the bridge of crybaby hollow.

Okay, so here's what happened to me:

I was driving back to where I was camping out. On the way I drove my grandparents' car across the bridge of crybaby hollow. Then, the car starting shaking all over! The baby's cries filled the air. The ghost went inside my car! It grabbed my candy bar! Jason, I was so freaked out! The baby followed me as I went across the bridge until finally I sped off out of sight. People think I'm making this up. Do you believe me?

Your #1 fan,

Wow, thanks for sending this along. Of course I believe you. I always trust that the people who send me stories are telling the truth. Thanks again for sharing!

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10. Mother of All Burma’s Sons

I asked children’s book writer Whitney Stewart to tell us about meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, subject of her young adult biography, Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma. As a mother herself, Whitney reflects on this brave mother’s difficult decision:

Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma

On the morning of July 20, 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi (ahng sahn soo chee) woke up in her childhood home in Rangoon, the capital of Burma. “Something is happening,” her cousin told her. “There are lots of soldiers all over the place.”Aung San Suu Kyi knew she was about to be detained for her part in the peaceful democracy movement in Burma. She didn’t try to go past the truckloads of government soldiers barricading her front gate. She calmly told her sons, Alexander and Kim, that she would be put under house arrest and that their father would take them back to their home in England. She would stay in Burma to stand up for her countrymen and women. She went on a hunger strike to ensure decent treatment of the pro-democracy students who were dragged away from her compound. Despite Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts, Burma’s military government jailed and tortured pro-democracy supporters. It continues to do so today.

In 1995, Aung San Suu Kyi was released temporarily from house arrest. I went to Burma to interview her for a young adult biography. I wanted to understand what led a woman to give up her family life to help her country. I wondered how she coped with solitary confinement. Aung San Suu Kyi told me about her daily meditation practice. She said she could not abandon all of Burma’s young sons in order to go back to England and take care of her own two.

I left our interview inspired. But I also realized that I could not do what this Nobel laureate has done. I couldn’t miss out on my child’s life no matter how much I grieved for others. I spent three weeks in Burma dodging the government spy who watched me, and worrying about my three-year-old at home. Burma’s mothers spend a lifetime of worry.

Aung San Suu Kyi has a fortitude that I don’t. “The future is democracy for Burma,” she says. “It is going to happen, and I am going to be here when it happens.”

Events in Burma continue to unfold; Whitney recommends checking here and here for current information and for ways to help. Her biography of Aung San Suu Kyi will be re-issued in June, 2008, with proceeds going to help the Burmese cause.

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11. Whitney Stewart

“Katrina did something to my psyche,” says New Orleans children’s writer Whitney Stewart. Along with her teenage son and her 87-year-old mother-in-law, and with a cast on her own injured ankle, she was rescued by helicopter late at night after five days stranded on the fifth floor of the Tulane Medical School building during the hurricane’s aftermath. It was “a crazy, chaotic, unsettling experience… We’d tried earlier to leave but our rescue boat had been overtaken by people with guns… After Katrina, I needed to do new things. I needed a new paradigm for New Orleans.”

Whitney is now learning to kayak and doing volunteer work with the public schools. On a whim, the former high school actor sent photos of herself, her guitarist son, and her geneticist husband to casting agents; her son landed a role in “Cirque de Freak,” to be filmed in New Orleans this year.

But this writer had an adventurous life long before Katrina. After trekking the Himalaya twenty years ago with her mom, Whitney, who’d discovered her affinity for the biographical form as a Brown undergrad, wrote biographies for children of the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, Sir Edmund Hillary, and the Buddha. Her love of travel has also led her to write two young adult novels that present kids’ eye views of New Orleans (Jammin’ on the Avenue) and San Francisco (Blues Across the Bay).

A primary concern is getting across the message of subjects like the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi. Her biography, Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma, is soon to be re-issued, with proceeds going to a non-profit that benefits the Burmese cause. “I’m amazed that so few people have heard of her,” Whitney told me.  She’ll tell us about meeting this brave Burmese woman in an upcoming guest blog. Stay tuned!

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12. A Fresh Perspective

Becoming BuddhaOne of Australian illustrator Sally Rippin’s recent children’s books (published in 2005 in Australia, 2007 in the U.S.) opens upwards rather than outwards. I asked Sally how she and author Whitney Stewart decided on the format for Becoming Buddha. Here’s her reply:

“Whitney suggested working together on a picture book, and I approached my publisher at the time with her ideas. They agreed to publish our book, and it was then left up to me to illustrate Whitney’s text. I decided to have Becoming Buddha open so the illustration reads vertically on the double page to represent an ancient manuscript, or a thangka. From what I know about Buddhism, I believe opening the book in this way makes you more conscious of your actions. Fortunately, the publisher agreed to this format.

“Painting the face of Siddhartha was quite challenging, because I knew there were certain rules about how the Buddha could be represented in art, and I also wanted to make the paintings my own representations of Siddhartha, the man, before he became enlightened. Again fortunately, Whitney was able to have a representative of the Dalai Lama approve the artwork before it went to press, so that gave me confidence.”

Melbourne poet and blogger Kris Helmsley had some interesting observations about the layout and Buddhism when he introduced Sally and Becoming Buddha at a book launch in June 2007; read his comments here.

Another vertically read book with an equally conscious layout is Caldecott Medal winner Ed Young’s Beyond the Great Mountains. Its cascading-style pages, illustrating Chinese characters and landscapes, also create a special physical awareness for young readers.

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13. Spiritual Literacy 2

Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha, by Whitney Stewart, is one of the top five spiritual books for kids on San Francisco Friends School librarian Chad Stephenson’s current favorites list. A practicing Quaker, Chad has also worked in Catholic and Waldorf schools. He looks for books that “equip kids spiritually for the incongruities of life” and are “not obnoxiously preachy.”

Chad describes Becoming Buddha as “a simple retelling of the Buddha’s life through a uniquely formatted book which also includes Sanskrit and even some ‘dark’ sides of the Buddha’s experiences; best for ages 8 and up.”

Along with further details on the appealing format of Becoming Buddha, Whitney Stewart’s website includes a page of information on Buddhism; scroll down for an annotated list of other books on Buddhism for children. Australian Sally Rippin, an illustrator with a widely international background, created the beautiful images. Becoming Buddha includes an introduction to meditation practice for children. Stewart’s earlier books include biographies of the Dalai Lama and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

We’ll have more of Chad’s thoughts and recommendations on spiritual books for children in future posts.

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