Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's been awhile

Well, let's see....Since I last posted here,
a friend died;
a snowstorm obliterated the craters left by my last carrot dig;
I made a video for my granddaughter (posted below);
I read some books but not as many as I want to;
I crocheted a squirrel (working on a fox);
I took my Mom to a doctor's visit - no, make that three;
I have felt a lot of things.

I have felt the insubstantial nature of life and the inelasticity of time.

I have felt the despair that comes from resisting inevitable change.

I am hopeless that our race will ever become kinder, or even less selfish.

And, then, I see something that raises my spirits.

Being human is hard.  Sometimes, I don't see the point of our kind.  And, then, in a flash, I do.

Well, enough, here's something silly for the day. Little Blue Bunny and Nutty Romomlia

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Reading and awards

In the past few weeks I have read Circus Mirandus, The Book of Kings, Anna and the Swallow Man, The Beastly Bones, The Hired Girl.   I gave up, temporarily, on The Six of Crows and I promise to go back to that because my Boss says it's worth the effort.  I also read Confessions of an Imaginary Friend.

I am pretty sure that there  are other books that I have read recently that did not make this list.  You will note that few if any of these books are on the recently released Youth Media Awards.   (Mainly because several of these are 2016 releases so....)

As a matter of fact, I did a poor job of reading award-worthy books this year.  I have been reading what I want - so there.  

So here is a short run down of two of the books mentioned above.
The Book of Kings -by Cynthia Voigt.  I want to live in Max's home town.  I, too, want to be a solutioneer.  Max Starling must rescue his parents who have been tricked into playing the King and Queen of a small, oppressed South American nation.  So, he, his grandmother, his tenant, Ari who is also a Baron, his "assistant", Pia's, father, two boys who may end up being good friends and Max's painting teacher all pile on to a ocean liner, leaving behind the idyllic city of Queensbridge.  Don't DO it! Max.  What a delightful adventure, full of twists and turns and headstrong people.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz.  When Jane's unhappy father burns her journals - they are a waste of her time - Jane runs off to Baltimore and gets a job as a hired girl in the home of a department store owner and entrepreneur.  Her job is complicated by the clash of cultures.  Jane's mother was Catholic, though Jane rarely had a chance to attend church.  And the family she works for are observant Jews.  Jane is NOT 18 as she claims but only 14, so she makes some choices and behaves in ways that threaten to get her fired.  Good book.  Read it.
 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas in the Mountains

When Christmas rolls around, I am sometimes asked to read a "children's" story at the Christmas Eve meeting.   Some years, I choose better than others. 


This year, I thought I would read "A Certain Small Shepherd" by Rebecca Caudill but my copy has gone missing.  As luck would have it, I own the book "Children of Christmas" by Cynthia Rylant.  This group of holiday stories is just about my favorite collection ever.  Unfortunately, some of the stories affect me emotionally so I can't read them out loud, especially in public.  The story, "Silver Packages" was just right for sharing.  In fact, that story has been turned into a stand alone picture book.


Like Caudill's story, "Silver Packages" takes place in Appalachia.  A rich man shows gratitude to the people who helped him in his time of need by tossing silver wrapped packages from the caboose of a train that wends its way through the mountains right before Christmas.  A boy yearns for one particular toy.  He never receives it.  The presents he does open each Christmas morning are things he needs to stay warm and healthy.  And one day he returns to the mountains to repay that debt.

It was a good choice for read/telling out loud.  If you get a chance, look for these books at your library.  Read "For Being Good"  from "Children of Christmas". 

That's the story I can't read out loud.




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In 1900....

Jacqueline Kelly very kindly wrote another book about Calpurnis Tate. In The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, Callie Vee, as her six brothers and parents call her, is disappointed to find that life in the year 1900 goes on pretty much like always.  She goes on rambles with her scientist grandfather.  She makes meticulous notes in her notebook.  She is by turns bedeviled and beguiled by her brothers.  And she disappoints her mother and baffles her father almost weekly.

Almost every other chapter tells of her struggles with Travers, her wild animal loving younger brother, and his latest "find".  The armadillo is a bust.  The raccoon is fated for failure, but the coy-dog??  Really???

Then there is the hurricane of 1900 that wiped Galveston, TX, off the map.  The barometer and Callie's chance sighting of a strange bird sends Callie's grandfather to the telegraph office to send wires to the coast.  Callie has to give up her bed to a cousin she barely knows - a greedy, penny-pinching cousin who has no appreciation of nature.  That and the disappearance of Callie's gold piece add up to a recipe for high drama.

In between, Callie runs errands for the new veterinarian, learns how to type, gets even with a conniving brother and deals as well as she can with her parents' expectations for her future.

This feels like a bridge book.  I am eager to see if Callie prevails.

MEANWHILE, in San Francisco, Lizzie Kennedy hates her school, Miss Barstow's.  She'd much prefer going out on doctor's calls with her father.  She loves science but, just like Callie Vee, her obsession is considered unseemly for a young woman. 

In Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, there are rumors that plague has broken out in Chinatown.  Lizzie's uncle, the owner of one of the biggest newspapers in town, refuses to believe the rumors without proof.  But Chinatown is quarantined and trapped inside is Lizzie's cook and friend, Jing.  Jing leaves behind a secret - a real LIVE secret.  And that secret teaches Lizzie to look at her world in a whole new way.

There are a lot of secrets in this book; secrets that endanger a whole city; secrets that hide the way people really feel; secrets about how to fit in.  Lizzie has to find Jing, learn how to be friends with people her own age, survive her first ball, and prove her worth as a nurse. 

It all happened in 1900!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Liars! 3 books

CrenshawThe books I have read in the past few days all revolve around lying - lying to survive, lying to hide hard facts from oneself, lying to avoid confrontation - lots of untruth telling going on.

In The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen,  Sage's survival depends on how well he can lie.   In an attempt to save the kingdom of Carthya, (or so they are told), Sage, Tobias and Roden are being groomed to impersonate the lost prince, Jaron.  Their training is a fight to the death.  The boys not chosen as Prince will meet an awful fate.  Trickery, dishonesty, secret passages, dungeons are followed by a jaw-dropping master stroke.  This is the first in a trilogy.

In Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate,  Jackson has been homeless before and he knows that his parents are struggling, again.  The return of his imaginary friend, Crenshaw, a six foot tall cat, does nothing to calm his fears.  The lying in this book is the "everything is all right" kind, harmless on the surface but nasty and dangerous, nonetheless.

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberley Willis Holt, is a novel in letters.  Tate P. Ellerbee decides that the rising star, Hank Williams, will be her penpal for her class penpal project.  She is more than faithful in writing to Mr. Williams, and in return she receives three signed photographs.  And the reader learns just how Tate spins tales to make herself feel better about her absent parents and other difficulties.  All is revealed in the end, in this clever and emotionally satisfying book.  Set between 1948 and 1949, this is also a well-researched look at rural America in the aftermath of WWII.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Orbiting Jupiter

I read Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt the other night.  I could NOT put it down.  The pages turned themselves.  Then I got to the end.  And threw the book across the room.

I can't tell you much about the book, really.  The advance press tells you all you need to know about the story. 

 There is this.  Married to a caseworker who spent most of his working life in Children and Youth,  I hate books with social workers in them, because most social workers are portrayed as uncaring.  The social worker in THIS book is freaking awesome.  Really, she's wonderful.  Thank you for that, Gary D. Schmidt.

Foster parents also get a bad rap.  These foster parents are so wonderful.  Thanks again, Mr. Schmidt.

Indeed, there is so much about this book that I loved.  I still threw it across the room.  Read it please and tell me if you agree I had the right to do that.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Boo!

Get a load of these wonderful book-themed costumes over at Seeker of Happiness:  SOOOO CUTE!!

Photo property of Karen Maurer Copyright 2012
Keep in mind that the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild is holding TWO Scary Stories for Halloween events.  Click here for details.

AND I am doing a Halloween Family Storytime at the Allentown Public Library on Wednesday at 6:30 pm (my regular Family Storytime time slot).  I am reading three of my absolute favorite scary-ish Halloween stories.  Room on the Broom,  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything and  Ghosts in the House.