Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Knitting, Pinkerton's, Finishing School, & a Princess

I finished three books since this weekend.  No, make that four. The Detective's Assistant




 And here they are:

The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan.   Just plain fun!  Cornelia Warne is dumped with her uncle's widow, Aunt Kitty Warne, after everyone else in her family has died.  Aunt Kitty blames Cornelia's father for the death of his brother Matthew, her husband and does not want a 12-year-old hanging around.  Kate - as Aunt Kitty prefers to be called - is Pinkerton's first woman agent.  Based on the real Kate Warne, this book is a romp!  Traveling around the eastern US in the days right before Abe Lincoln's inauguration,  Nell, as Aunt Kitty decides to call Cornelia, ends up helping the Pinkerton's in several cases.  Nell's letters to and from her best friend, Jemma, who fled to Canada to escape slavers, add background painlessly.  American history delivered up with a lot of fun and some suspense and sadness, too.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger.  Sophronia Temminick has a new weapon, the steel bladed fan - so fashionable!.  She also has a dilemma of the heart.  Should she choose Shoe, the sootie of entirely the wrong social class and race?  Or go with Lord Felix Mersey - he of the influential Papa and Pickleman leanings?  When Sidheag, one of Sophronia's closest friends at Madame Geraldine's, runs off to Scotland because of a huge family crisis (involving the death of a Beta werewolf and a renegade pack), Sophronia, Dimity, Soap AND Felix steal a steam train to help Sidheag's journey.  Things get drastic and deadly serious toward the end. 

Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton.  Through no fault of his own - well, hardly - Ben Fletcher is on probation.  He has to "keep a journal" - which he already does! - learn a craft or trade, and do community service.  The craft class offerings at community college are a bit slim.  He chooses knitting since the teacher is the hottest single female teacher at the high school.  And he finds that he is a natural at knitting.  It's so calming.  What Ben needs is calming.
Ben's parents, extremely messy home and daft friends, stress Ben out in a major way.  Add to that his tendency to take AS courses in math and science and his OCD leanings and you have one anxious teen.  And then there is Megan!  Does she like him or not??  He likes HER!  He has to keep his growing knitting mania a secret from his dad and everyone else.  But he's just sooooo good at it.
After you get past the corny behavior of Ben's dad and mom, this book is laugh out loud funny.

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot.  Olivia Grace Clarice Mignonette Harrison is about as normal as a 12 year old girl can be - except for the dead mom and invisible Dad and incredibly long name.  Dad writes every month but Olivia has never met him.  Ever.  When the sixth grade queen bee, Annabelle, challenges Olivia to a fight after school and accuses Olivia of being a princess, Olivia is stunned.  But, yeah, she is a princess and half-sister to Princess Mia of Genovia.  And, there are some allegations of serious wrongdoing on the part of Olivia's aunt and guardian.
       The premise of this series is every bit as awkward and unbelievable as the premise of the Princess Diaries but, you know what?  The audience for these books will not care. In. The. Least.  Cabot's writing is effortless; the pages turn themselves.  If you want to escape from middle school worries, girls, here's the book for you.
 From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Brain Pickings - KU2015


Someday blogging is SO easy.  My inbox delivered this post from Brain Pickings about 15 picture book biographies.  The illustrations for the Pablo Neruda biography are so vibrant.  Check the post here.


AND - tada - you can look at my KU2015 book list here.  The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference was wonderful yesterday.  I love talking about books with other readers and authors.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Inclusive libraries? Odds and ends

*In an attempt to be inclusive in our public libraries, do we make an effort to speak to everyone??  Here's an article about serving our "conservative" young people, thanks to School Library Journal.
_http://www.slj.com/2015/03/collection-development/serving-conservative-teens/#_

*Want a free audio book?  Want a free audio book about one of the most charismatic and enigmatic Civil Rights leaders ever?  Read below for directions on a chance to download a FREE MP3 of the novel X: A Novel .

"The teen literacy program SYNC will feature X in its program from May 14 through May 21, in commemoration of Malcolm X’s ninetieth birthday. During that week, the audiobook version will be available as a free MP3 download through the SYNC website.

Starting now, you can text “xnovel” to the number 25827. The reply text will read:
“Meet Malcolm X before he was X. Free spoken word MP3 coming 2U 5/14. Get app for listening @ http://app.overdrive.com/”
 
On May 14, an additional text will arrive with a link to the download page and pointers on how to load the MP3 onto your player.
X: A Novel
Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
HC: 978-0-7636-6967-6
Also available as an e-book and in audio"



  

Thanks,


 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

KU Booklist

It's done.  (Check Lists page for the link or click here.)  So now I find a bunch of tiles I did not include.  This a quandary.  Do I type up an addendum?  Do I just read off those titles?  Should I gather those books and take them along?  Sigh.
What I REALLY want to do is read Tom Angleberger's The Rat with the Human Face.  Who wouldn't?  Right?
The Rat with the Human Face: The Qwikpick Papers

Here are some new and/or still hot topics in young people's literature:

How kids with various learning differences think and experience the world.
Prime numbers - ok, I only read TWO books with prime numbers in them but I have rarely seen prime numbers given so much attention before.
Art thefts.
Ghost infestations.  Ghosts are always popular, but infestations - good or bad - seem to be a theme these days.
The 1910s - especially in Russia and WWI
World War II evacuees
The Red Menace and Joe McCarthy.
The EVER popular finding a hidden treasure somewhere in order to save a house/town/family/school/forest!  Man, I want a hidden treasure RIGHT NOW!

I have kept away from books about kids being abducted or imprisoned but that also seems to be popular as a theme - especially in Young Adult. I'm retired.  I can read what I want.

I have a book waiting.  Gotta go.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Reading update

I finished these books in the last few days:

Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner.  This book is very "Matilda"-ish.  Emily, a baby found in a hat box, is adopted by a quite fashionable couple. When the couple have their own triplets, Emily becomes the housekeeper, nanny and laundress - all at the tender age of 6 (?).  Luckily, Emily's neighbors, a pleasant old woman and a large tortoiseshell cat, help Emily get her work done and teach her to read and write - in four languages - including Middle English.  An accident, a daring escape and lots and lots of brightly colored bunnies add up to truly magical adventures. 

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire -  An imprisoned monk tells a tale of swapped identities, witches, firebirds, ice dragons and Tsars.  Historical fiction meshes with Russian folklore in this cautionary tale.  It's hard to do this book justice in a few sentences.
Egg & Spoon
I LOVE this cover.

Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi.  Baseball, hard boiled detectives and Joe McCarthy tangle with each other in this page turner.  I loved it.  Avi draws the period so well in this book, the mistrust, the bullying, the radio shows, the family drama.  I think I will buy this book. 

Where Things Come Back  By John Corey Whaley.  Just exactly what the large reputedly extinct woodpecker, the Lazarus bird, has to do with the other events in this book is a mystery to me.  No matter.  In the space of one summer, 17-year-old Cullen has to identify the body of his druggie cousin, figure out what to do with very attentive girls, and search for his suddenly missing younger brother.  It is Gabe's disappearance that absorbs the reader's attention against the backdrop of Lazarus Bird mania.  The way Whaley plays with timelines of different people's stories kept me turning pages.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy.  Although this appears to be fourth-grader, Eli's, story, his three brothers get a lot of attention as well.  This family of four adopted boys and two loving fathers deals with new schools, fractured friendships, secrets and grouchy neighbors in this fun family novel.

And I think there was another book!.  More later.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Read a Vacation!

I took a book vacation over the last few days.  I traveled to Enchantment Lake in the Minnesota North Woods. 

As Francie was waiting for her turn to audition for a play, her Great Aunt Astrid called and told Francesca to "Come quickly." 
  17-year-old Francie is on her own - sort of - since her father died in an accident 7 years before.  Her grandfather keeps watch on Francie.  So, of course, Francie calls her grandfather about this mysterious phone call and he just laughs.

Huh!  Francie races home to Enchantment Lake, where her great-aunts live without electricity or a road and the story these two women tell Francie is both unsurprisingly confusing and unexpectedly frightening.  People along the undeveloped side of Enchantment Lake (where the great-aunts live) are meeting with strange accidents - FATAL accidents.  Dum dum DUMMMMMM!!

Reading this book was like taking a vacation.  I loved the setting - and anyone who has spent time on a wooded lake as a child will love this setting, too.  And I loved the set-up; including Francie's estranged-in-a-friendly-negligent-sort-of-way family AND where Francie is when she gets the garbled phone call.  I truly enjoyed the characters, people Francie has known all her life, changed and grown older; the batty great-aunts, the handsome lawyer-to-be, her old friend Ginger and the little brother, T.J., the sheriff, the resort owner, the fat real estate developer - yep, all of them.

BUT, best of all, is this.  Margie Preus asks a lot of questions about Francie's family and doesn't answer a single one of them!! You know what that means, right?  She's planning a series about Francie and this little community.  I am so excited!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Books, et al



So this week I read:


I never read the other books in this series.  Reviews say that THIS book, which is supposed to be the last, is darker than the others in the series.  Joey just about makes himself unfixable in his attempts to put his family back together.  Gantos draws a picture of hope springing eternal and the ending has the reader crossing her fingers that everything hangs together.


 Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
 Books about children who cannot read make me wonder who the audience is supposed to be.  This book is available as an audiobook and I am grateful for that.  How a child could get to 6th grade without anyone knowing that they cannot read is a puzzle to me, even though it happened to at least one of my siblings.
But Hunt's heroine hides her disability so well that everyone thinks she just has a bad attitude.  Enter thoughtful teacher!!!  And he understands that when a child "refuses" to learn there is something else going on.  Good book to share with a class, a teacher and a struggling reader - on audio, probably.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper 
Stella's brother wakes her up one night to show her the white hooded figures burning a cross on the other side of the river.  The year is 1932.   Times are hard everywhere.  And now, the black community is threatened.  On Sunday, the Pastor exhorts his flock to register to vote.  Stella's Dad is one of the three black man who choose to register.  He takes Stella along to be his "standing stone".  Based on family stories shared with the author, this book paints a credible picture of a black community in the south and the trials and joys they experience.  So good!

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
I could not help draw parallels between the 1.5% of the Russion population who controlled 90% of the wealth in the beginning of the 20th century to our own rich and privileged few.  They were clueless about the sufferings of most Russians, choosing to believe that the poor were clean, happy and well-fed.  Nicholas andAlexandra would have made great suburbanites, raising their brood and tending their graden and gossiping with the neighbors.  But as leaders, they were ostriches - downright cruel in their insistent ignorance.  Awesome book!  Eye-opening and astounding.

ALSO The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett, and Jory John and illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
Niles is a prankster extraordinaire but at his new school an unknown nemesis outpranks him at every turn.  When he meets this mastermind face to face, Niles declares a prank war.  Oh, Niles, you FOOL!!  Please, if you do try these ideas at home, do NOT mention where you read this review.

Now, I will go to bed.