Saturday, September 23, 2006

Artemis Fowl : the Lost Colony!! WOW! The beginning is typical Colfer with Artemis and Butler staking out a busy street in Barcelona. But the introduction of a couple of new characters, magical and not, add another dimension to these fairy/action thriller novels. Artemis is undergoing puberty (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Colfer does some very creative foreshadowing and there are some extremely tense moments in this book. I actually used less than ladylike language at one point. I don't want to say too much because the book needs to be read to be believed. The Lost Colony is made up of demons - I will tell you that. And there is a particularly odious human bad guy, too. Eoin Colfer knows what he's doing. I certainly hope he plans to write a few more books with these characters. - maybe even start a spin-off series. He might have to if he keeps developing such likeable imps and pixies.
I had a brush with the Accelerated Reader demons this week. I wish I had come up with that idea. I'd be dictating this blog to one of my personal assistants from my cabana on my own private beach somewhere in Tahiti. Anyway, Accelerated Reader has done wonderful things for reading programs at schools all over the USA. It's just unwieldy for public librarians to keep track of - since every school can have a separate and different list and the schools change the lists almost every year. But, I am up for this challenge. I will meet the ARP demons head on and turn them into helpful cherubs. I bet.
Tah. Real life calls.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I have been busy reading and it's just wonderful. A good book is as refreshing as a vacation and a whole lot cheaper - AND you don't have to pack.

Okay - Nancy Atherton's Latest Aunt Dimity book, "Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea" stars the same feisty heiress and mom of 5-year-old twins, Lori Shepard. In this book, Lori is sent under deep cover because her hunky lawyer husband has been receiving dastardly threats on his life and the safety of his loved ones. Off she goes in a private heliocopter to a castle in Scotland!!!!! with her twins. She is given her very own unsmiling mysterious bodyguard. Adventure ensues including a mystery about the possible criminal activities of the villagers. Fun, fluffy and forever optimistic, here's a book that is an antidote to everyday stress.

And THEN there's "I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You" by Ally Carter. May I introduce The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women and its headmistress' daughter, Cammie Morgan? Graduates of the Gallagher Academy are free to pursue whatever career their unusual education has prepared them for but what careers require cryptography, martial arts, Cultures of the World, seven languages and Covert Operations? Yep! Spy girls in plaid skirts. On her very first Covert Operation exercise, Cammie meets a boy from town and falls in love. She creates a "legend" for herself and leads a double life for a semester, sneaking down the secret passages of the Virginia mansion that houses the school. Add to this, she and her best friends are forced to room with the punk - brat daughter of a powerful senator. Here's an excellent romp - in which not everything or everyONE is what they seem. Fun, fun, fun! Another escape from reality.

I was reading the above book one morning while my husband talked to me. I TRIED not to read. It's not polite but, hey! He's been married to me for a decade or two (or ...) He ought to know by now that he can't talk to me while I have a book in front of me. His voice is in the background as my eyes steal back to the page and I feel my lips curl up in an unconscious smile. Oh no! I hope he isn't talking about something serious. I force my attention back to him for a full minute and then my eyes slip down again. It's hopeless. If there is a Readers' Anonymous out there, I will NEVER join. This is an addiction I don't want to lose.

And last, "The Beasts of Clawstone Castle" by Eva Ibbotsen. Here's another ghost story from a mistress of British fantasy. When Madlyn and Rollo's parents are offered a temporary job in America, the children are sent off to Clawstone Castle, a crumbling ruin. They get to stay with Great-Uncle George, his sister, Aunt Ellen and cousin Howard, who can be seen through quite literally. Clawstone Castle is the home of the mystical white cows of Britain and the local rich industrialist wants the land for housing developments. Madlyn and Rollo come up with a plan and with the help of shy Cousin Howard, they recruit a group of benevolent ghosts to haunt the castle and bring in paying visitors. There are some very tense moments when the cows are sent off to be slaughtered. Read it. It's fun.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Just in case you haven't experienced Lemony Snicket, he and his partner in disaster, Brett Helquist, give you a chance to catch up with "The Series of Unfortunate Events" in their web video "12 books in 120 seconds". You can watch this - if you are clinically depressed and need company - at So take a couple of minutes and find out how bad things can be.

A good antidote to grief is to spend an hour or so with teenagers -which is what I and my young assistant did last night. Except for the fact that I messed up one of the teen team's scavenger hunt clues, a good time was had by all. And we even had a little leftover pizza.
One of the good things about these late night meetings is what happens afterwards. Often the other Youth Services staff member and I sit around and catch up with each other. Usually, that staff member is my sidekick but last night it was our summer intern. I have to admit, I meet some of the best people at my job and she is definitely one of the them.

But the best thing about after-hours teen meetings is the teens themselves. The teens at last night's party came from seven different schools. Everyone found someone to work with and talk to. Of course, they are joined in their attempt to heap ridicule on my head but I prefer to think that they do it all affectionately. (I truly, truly hope so!) I know I have said it before but it needs repeating. The best teens volunteer where I work. True!

Friday, September 8, 2006

A library volunteer has died. I am grieving. As we grow older this experience becomes routine and yet the shock of knowing that I will never hear her New York accent, her family stories, her laugh again - that NEVER becomes routine.
Maybe this is why I immerse myself in children's matters. Children change and grow but they look forward. When people die, we are forced to look back. Looking back is good, of course, but after a death it is ALL we can do if we want to keep in contact with that person's influence on us.
I meant to put a link to something silly in my blog today. I will leave that to another time. A library volunteer has died. I am in mourning.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Last spring, Okuni sent me a "Summer Reading Club Preparedness Kit" that included the memoir of a well known Southwestern author. I finally got around to reading that memoir. It is "Seldom Disappointed" by Tony Hillerman. (His website is
Anyway, I think Arthur Conan Doyle said happy lives are all the same. Tony HIllerman has had a pretty darn good life. I found the book amusing, and nostalgic even though Hillerman is the age of my parents. Reading about his childhood in Oklahoma was like visiting my parents' childhoods - though they grew up far from the Southwest. Hillerman had no idea he could even be a writer until after WWII, when a local reporter suggested he try writing after seeing some of the letters he sent home.

The parts of the book that I liked best were his stories of his childhood and his walk through what went before and during the writing of his most notable books - notable to him AND to his readers. I have read most of the novels that take place on the Navaho reservation and environs so it was fun to see how he pieced together his plots, characters and solutions.

Next, I was intrigued with how he described his war experience. It was pretty gritty. After college, he got work as a newspaperman in Texas and then in Santa Fe. The best part about those reminiscences was being introduced to characters he used in his books.

I don't read a lot of memoirs although there has been a recent upsurge in their publication and popularity. I'm a fiction woman, through and through. Fiction usually has a destination and purpose. Life - real life - sometimes meanders. This memoir wandered a bit. The one place Hillerman did not linger was in his family life. He talks briefly - one chapter I think - about the arrival of all six of his children, some adopted, some not. And he lets the reader know how things turned out for all six of them. He credits his wife Marie for several pivotal changes in their lives - like his decision to go to graduate school and his attempt to finally write his "dream" book, ("Finding Moon" - not a Navaho book but a good read with lots of action and some neat characters.) But we don't learn much about her life. This is HIS memoir after all and he's done so much in his life that he really did have to pick and choose what to put in.

Other memoirists have sad tales to tell ("Angela's Ashes", for instance) or challenges to overcome. It was great to read a book by a fantastic writer who has had a happy life and found himself "Seldom Disappointed".