Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Peter Rabbit; KBWT

Peter Rabbi is 110 years old this year!!!  And he doesn't look a day over 6 months.  No, honestly. However does he do it?

There is an official Peter Rabbit website.  It includes information about Beatrix Potter and her other creations, her life and the history of Peter and his friends.  There is a Peter Rabbit store for those of us who cannot get enough of this detailed, lifelike-except-for-the-clothes-and-posture rabbit.
 Take the quiz to see which Potter character you are most like.  I am most like Jeremy Fisher.  Sigh. Well, at least, he has fun.  Check out all the wonderful coloring pages, too.

I just spent the last 20 minutes playing the games on this site.  They include snippets of the book read by delightful voices.  And they are fun even for an oldster like myself.

Parents and teachers can view resources on visiting the Lake District.  There are pages on Beatrix Potter's life and artwork.   Party plans, lesson plans, this website looks deceptively simple from the home page but it really does meander on and on - a little like a rabbit family's warren.  Have fun!

Afterword:  I just searched for Uncle Wiggily Longears, in hopes that the old bunny rabbit gentleman would have a website of his own.  Alas,  I found references to his author, his books and his game.  Uncle Wiggily Longears is under-appreciated.  I may start an Up with Uncle Wiggily movement on my own.  American rabbits unite!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday, Monday

Some announcements:
I updated the storytelling page.  I added a game and check out Mary Wright's blog entry about Kathy Pierce's Memorial Service.
My Dad's pathology report came back clean.
I read a whole lot of books that I never mentioned here, like Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher. So here's a review.

Bobby Steele and his best friends, Big Poobs and Marcus, are at IHOP one day, bored and desperate for something to do, when they find an application for Whitestone Prep - the private school in town.  They decide to create a fictional character and apply.  Guess what?  Their creation - Rowan Pohi - gets accepted.

What a hoot!  After celebrating, they consign Rowan and his acceptance letter to a shallow grave.  But Bobby sneaks back and retrieves it.  He is the only one of the three who has the grades good enough for Whitestone Prep and the only one who wants to go to college.   So, why not play along for awhile?  What could it hurt?  After all, the administration at Whitestone would see through the prank right away, right?  And then he'd just go back to public school and rot. 

The subplot of his family life adds a desperation to Bobby's attempt to better his future.  His father  recently got out of jail for abusing Bobby's mother.  Bobby's mother left.  Bobby's younger brother depends on Bobby for afterschool care and meals.  How could someone with a background like that hope to fit in with the richy-rich and squeaky clean students at Whitestone Prep?

For the most part, Fletcher makes this work.  Adults are willing to suspend belief at a private school.  After all, only the right people want to apply.  Rowan/Bobby works hard to be a good student and a good athlete and he has just enough swagger to be believable.  One part of this book that bothered me - and I read the ARC so this might be polished in the final product - was Bobby's essay to win a scholarship.  I thought it read like an essay written by an adult who was trying to write like a teen, which of course it is.  This is a tiny little complaint in a book that is full of tension of the non-violent kind.

Another part that bothered me was an attempt to make Bobby's father more sympathetic.  What he did to Bobby's mother was freaking awful!   But, you know how something wiggles in the back of your mind and just won't quit?  I can't say I think Bobby's father's actions could ever be condoned but the more this thought wiggles in my brain, the more I see where Fletcher is going with this.  Life is never simple. 

So, yeah, if you want a book where the underdog takes on the snobs and might even prevail, read Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher.  I wonder where they got Rowan's last name.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cheer up! The Fault in Our Stars

So, here's a great idea for something to do while dealing with the recuperation of your aging father who is battling lung cancer.     Read a book about two teens who are struggling with cancer and fall in love and one of them is certainly going to die but hopefully not in the book. (Hah!  You think I'm going to tell you if one of them dies?  Read the book yourself.)

Read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Really, read it.  (That link takes you to an NPR article and about the book.)

I adored books about dying teens when I was a teenager.  They - the teens, not the books - were always so noble. And brave.  And selfless.  Green's characters are also very attractive and intelligent and literary.  And brave. And witty.  And selfless - sort of.  And sarcastic.  And irreverent.  And in love.  Sigh. 

There's this whole other character, an author, who turns out to be just...oh wait.  I can't tell you what that character turns out to be like because then as you read the book you'll be saying things like, "He's going to save their lives"..or, "She's going to wear clown shoes" or whatever I intimate the author might do.  You can't make me say more than I have already said.

Read the book.  It will not cheer you up.  It might make you grateful.  If it doesn't make you grateful, do NOT let me know.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Take Your Child to the Library Day

February 4th is Take Your Child to the Library Day!!  Who knew??  Well, now YOU know and you have no excuse.  Take your child to the library - on February 4th and lots of times between now and then AND a couple of times a week ever after.
Talking about libraries, I started my new barely-even-there job last night at APL and it was energizing.  I love working with people who love working with children and books.  Since I retired, the thing I miss most is talking to people about books - having co-workers point out books I haven't read - and sharing stuff with them.  My friends from my "old" job still email me and do lunch and fall into those conversations but knowing that once a week, and sometimes more, I can pore over new titles and page through review sources and find books for kids - well, that is just lovely.  Thanks, APL, for plucking me out of retirement.  Plus, I might be able to get them to pay my way to BEA!!! - (Or part of my way. Times are tough.  I understand.)

On February 4th at APL, there is an origami program.  And  a book discussion.  Check YOUR public library for events on Take Your Child to the Library Day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Storytelling Thursday

Fire and Ice!  Do you have a story that could fit that theme?  Do you have a story to tell about fire OR ice?  A true story - that happened to you or someone close to you - that's what the listeners at Story Cabaret tomorrow night - Friday, Jan. 27th, 2012 - are looking for.  True real life stories.
Robin spins a tale

Tom considers what tale to tell.
Robin Reichert (formerly Berry) and Tom Egan will share their stories of Fire and Ice for the first hour of Story Cabaret at Touchstone Theatre in south Bethlehem, 321 East Fourth Street, Bethlehem PA.  From 8 to 9, Tom and Robin will each take center stage and regale us with personal stories.  Then, the audience gets a chance to share.  Sometimes, the audience's stories trump the tellers' tales.  Sometimes, ALL the stories are just plain wonderful.  So, join me tomorrow night at 8 pm at Touchstone Theatre and swap some lightly embroidered true-to-life sagas, icy, fiery or both.  Admission is $10 and that includes complimentary wine!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

KBWT : readergirlz & readertotz

I decided to feature readergirlz for Kids' Books Website Tuesday because I so enjoy reading the reviews on this informative teen-centric blog.  Every week, the blog interviews an author about the cover art on one of that author's books.  Teens, the primary audience for the books reviewed on readergirlz, are just as likely as the rest of us to "judge a book by its cover".  In my days of sharing ARCs with teens, we all gravitated towards certain images and styles of illustration.  These interviews tell the reader a lot about the author, the book and the way visual images can enhance the written word. 

In between the Cover Stories features, there are reviews and news about the world of writing for young adults.  I visit readergirlz almost every day now and always find something I like.  For instance, I just discover rgz tv in the right hand column and found a host of cool author/book/teen/reader-y related videos to watch.  Why not?  There's nothing good on cable anyway!  (I strongly suggest that they get John Green back since his new book, The Fault in Our Stars came out.)

But, then I noticed a link to readertotz!!  And I fell in love.  Oh yeah, a whole blog devoted to reviewing picture and board books!  The contributors are picture book authors themselves.  Lorie Ann Grover writes for other age groups as well and co-founded readergirlz.  Joan Holub writes primarily for the beginning reader group.
Here's the trailer for one of Holub's books, Zero the Hero.  Looks good. And check out the readertotz playlist when you stop by!

I have added readertotz to the blogs I follow regularly.  I suggest you do the same. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


Press Here by Herve Tullet did not win the Caldecott; did not even get mentioned.  But is Tullet an American illustrator?  That is a prerequisite, I think. A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka is the 2012 Caldecott winner.  Tres cute!

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos won the Newbery Award.  That is a fine book indeed.  I would have argued for Matthew Kirby's Icefall,  myself, because of the storytelling angle. 

Gantos' book has a couple of things going for it in an American market;  The book takes place in Pennsylvania, a very American Commonwealth, home to the US's first capital.  There is a great sense of time and place in Dead End in Norvelt.  There is not one single touch of fantasy in the book and that is a breath of fresh air.  (I argue that there was little to no fantasy in Icefall, but I'm not sure people agree with me.)  And Jack's voice as narrator is pitch perfect.

To read what other books won the American Library Association's annual carnival of book awards, click here.


Chickens are the new In domestic animal - with plans for chicken coops showing up in mainstream women's magazines.  Everyone wants chickens.  I love the idea, but I am not so sure I have the temperament for livestock.  You can't choose to feed the chickens "later" like you can with housework.  ANYWAY, Timber Press has a new book, Free-Range Chicken Gardens : How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom about gardening with chickens.  Watch the book trailer.

Dad update:  He's home.  He took a shower.  Mom and My Brother the Doctor (who lives several hours away, alas) came up with an ingenious way to put pressure on Dad's wounds.  Mom sounded happy and pleased with the way things are going so far.  I am giving them a break from me today.   I love still having parents.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Things I Love

I love: 

Snowy days
Fresh sheets and a crisply made bed
Found containers like the zippered cases bed linens come in
Chocolate dipped orange peels (I ate them ALL!)
Laughing babies
A new book, like The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Christopher Moriarty
A new craft project
Finding stuff I wrote long ago like this list of New Year's Resolutions from 1999:

I resolve to get more sleep. I read somewhere that Americans are in a chronic state of sleep deprivation.  I intend to do my part to reverse that trend.
I resolve to read more mysteries.  Mysteries are under-appreciated as a literary art form.  I will work tirelessly - when I am not sleeping - to give mysteries my full attention.
I resolve to do more lollygagging.  Few people lollygag anymore.  Expect to see me lollygagging in public before the year is through.
I promise to linger over coffee, whenever I get the chance, alone or with friends, at home or at one of those pretty little coffee bars...It's the lingering that is important.
I will develop my cobweb collection through benign neglect.  Do you realize how much effort goes into each cobweb?  I resolve to let my cobwebs age before I collect them.
I will stroll this year.  Power walking is for other folks.  I will meander, amble, lope, perhaps occasionally slouch as I make my way through the months ahead.
I will stay out of the loop.  What I don't know can save me a lot of headache.  (Not so good for an election year, sigh.)

I love this blog, too!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dad, the Storyteller

The storyteller I want to feature today is my Dad - Franklin J. Chiles - builder, desgner, husband and father, father, father, father, father, father, father, father and father.  After he retired from his business, he worked as a Deacon in the Catholic Church.  Right now, he is a patient in the Heart and Vascular Critical Care Unit of a local hospital.

One of the first things I remember about my father is the stories he told - true stories of his growing up years.  My Dad was no choirboy - and not just because he can't carry a tune in the bucket.  Made up stories just to make us laugh.  My Dad came home and preached to us with stories of the people he met during the day - the ones who struggled against unbelievable odds and managed to smile - hint hint!!

Here is a story he told often to my younger brothers and sisters as Mom and Chris and Eric and I put supper on the table.

He was walking up to a house on the hill as the sun dropped blood red and bleeding in the western sky behind it - casting a black and eerie silhouette.  
Broken toys and debris were scattered across the weedy overgrown yard.
The most dreadful screams and hollers echoed from the house.  
Banging and pounding and scraping sounds - as if a huge battle waged - came from this creepy house.  But my father was tired and he had worked a long hard day.  
There was no other house in sight.  
He needed a place to stay.  
He trudged up and up the hill to the front door.  
A false step almost sent him into a pit of vipers, coiled and hissing beside the front door.

The woman who answered the door looked crazy.  Her hair sprung from her head in all directions.  She carried a screaming imp in her arms and two others - with wild red eyes and black mouths, clung to her legs.

She looked at my father and screeched.  "You're late for supper, Frank, and these kids are driving me crazy.  Where have you been?"  My Dad was home.

Here's hoping and praying that Dad has many more stories to tell. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Support Libraries and Literacy

Wednesday - Whatever! 

As a public librarian, I sometimes feel that school libraries get more attention and kudos than we who work with people of all ages, and from all walks of life.  However, I have to admit that more American children will enter a school in their lives than will enter a public library.   This is truly disgraceful but I believe that  ANY library is better than NO library.   So, thanks to the blog at readergirlz, I can ask all my readers to sign a petition demanding that every public school offer a qualified school library program to its students.

If you agree that access to a good library is part of a good education - and it IS!  It is! - then please sign the petition here.  Please sign this petition.  A literate public will surely support all kinds of libraries and that public begins in our schools and our homes.  Support school libraries by signing that petition.  Here is the link again; http://wh.gov/Wgd .

While we're on the subject of literacy - (and no, I don't know why I can't remove the italics - let's pretend I am doing it on purpose) - in the 1990s, a study discovered that 35% of kindergartners entered school without the skills to be literate learners.  That's more than one in every three 5 year-olds!!

One of the main reasons for this was that these children did not have books in their homes.  First Book has distributed 85 million books to children of all ages.  A $10 donation will purchase four books for children who may not own books any other way.  

Support school libraries with a click.  Support public libraries any way you can.  Support literacy in children's homes through First Book.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


What a day!  Dad had his lung tumor removed today so a bunch of us - those who live in town - took over the waiting room with our travel scrabble and our biscotti and sleep-deprived silliness while the good doctors worked hard to banish cancer from our dear old dad.  Surgery was successful!  (YAY!)  But poor Dad has a month of recovery ahead of him.  Pain goes away - eventually.  Bless you, Dad.

Needless to say, Kids Book Website Tuesday was the farthest thing from my mind.  Still, it is Tuesday.

So I asked myself, where do children and their parents go for a little sit-down respite every day?  Where are shows brought to us by the Number 3 and the letters Q and I?  Where can princesses save kings from dragons through the power of reading?  PBS!!!  Today's Kids' Book Website - though not entirely dedicated to Kids' Books - is dedicated to turning its watchers into competent readers.  So here it is!  PBS KIDS!

PBS KIDS is not just for preschoolers anymore and has shows on science, nature, reading, friendship, geography and more.  And NO COMMERCIALS!  (Except sponsor identification - still better than those annoying cereal and toy commercials.)  Check out PBSKids website for games, videos and even geocaching!  For that, look on Dinosaur Train's Parents' and Teachers' page.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Those pesky crocheted rectangles from a past post now have a new life.  This view shows the Mug Shrug (c) and how it is constructed.  I added a contrasting border and two crocheted button loops and then added two buttons. 

This project is really a one size fits all project as you will see in the next photo.

Just fold back the top to drink!

I started with just one button which worked perfectly - buttoned under the handle - for standard straight-up-and-down mugs.  But on a slightly larger tapered mug like this one, the second button - above the handle - was necessary.  The shrug insulates the mug which is great for me.  I am forever pouring myself some tea and then walking off and forgetting about it.  Now, when I finally remember, the tea is still warm - if not hot.  Warm is so much better than cold when it comes to most teas.

On shorter mugs, simply fold up the bottom and fold down the top to make the Mug Shrug fit.

Can you guess what I will feature at the October Crafts Fair???  Hmm.

I am working on my first giveaway of 2012.  Watch this blog!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Heart Full of Kindness

I just received a copy of Mara Rockliff's new book,  My Heart Will Not Sit Down.        I cried.

 Although the story is fiction, Rockliff was inpsired by a true event.  In 1931, New York City received $3.77 from the people of Cameroon.  The money was to feed the hungry children, victims of the Great Depression.

How did the illiterate and poverty-stricken people of Cameroon even know about the Great Depression?  Rockliff imagines a mission teacher telling his classroom about the hungry children in his home village, New York City.  One of his students, a girl called Kedi, wants to help.  "Her heart will not sit down" after she hears of children who have no food. She knows what it is like to go to bed hungry.  She cannot imagine how sad it must be to have no food at all.  So she asks everyone in her village for a coin or two.  Coins are rare in her village.  The next morning, her mother gives her a tiny coin and the thought that this is all she has to share makes her sad.  But her village knows the right thing to do when someone is in need and her small coin is joined by many others.

Rockliff's words carry this story along like a song.  Anne Tanksley's bright, chunky, almost childlike illustrations give the book an accurate sense of time and place.  The story stands alone as a lesson in caring and kindness.  I highly recommend that everyone read Rockliff's Author's Note which explains where the story came from, the life of the people of Cameron in the first half of the twentieth century, even where she found the descriptive phrases such as "my heart will not sit down".

In a time when we are all busy protecting what we have, this book points out that even a small kindness is meaningful, to the giver and to the recipient.  This book reminds us that one small coin can become many and that small gifts can lift a heart.

My heart will not sit down now that I have read this book.  I want to pass this kindness on.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thank heavens for Folktales

Last night's Story Swap at Godfrey Daniels was so much fun.  The usual suspects trotted out great stories.  I told Singing Together from one of Margaret Read MacDonald's collections.  My little camcorder died with storytelling videos trapped inside.  Technology is a blessing and a CURSE!!!!

I so wanted to share Bob Heffelfinger's version of Jack and the Beanstalk - funny and fun!, Tom Egan's convincing first attempt at an Irish accent with "The Hag's Brown Leather Bag" and Ingrid Bohn's engrossing telling of "The Acorn Tree'.  I didn't catch Gerry's story, "Brian Anderson", about passing a good deed along, or Joe's dramatic retelling of a Jack London story because I forgot I had the camcorder in my bag.  (So sad to have an older brain.) That is the reason I missed Chaz Kiernan's version of the Scandinavian story, "The Great White Cat".  Every time Chaz tells this story it gets better and better.

Next month, LV Storyteller members will audition for the opening slot at StoryFUSION during the Story Swap.  We are talking powerful and talented tellers trotting out their best stuff for FREE.  You have to be there.  The date should be February 8th.  I'll remind you.

Has anyone else noticed how many novels for young people include folktales and stories?  In Joanne Rocklin's The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, the main character helps her younger brother deal with their elderly cat's illness by telling stories of the cat's five former lives.  The stories reflect what is going in their lives and help the reader understand the family and neighborhood dynamics.  The storytelling tradition was one the kids learned from their deceased Dad and it even included a trade mark gesture that signaled that a story was about to begin.  I LOVED this! The book comes out in the Spring, so put it on your to-read list.

Books like Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer and last year's  A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz all owe their existence to fairy tales and folklore.  I love the little heading on Marissa Meyer's blog.  "It always starts with 'Once upon a time....'.  Yes, it does.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whatever Wednesday

Today is Whatever Wednesday and I can blog about whatever!  So here goes randomity:

Happy birthday to my little sister, Christine!  Oh, yeah, you rock, little sister.  BTW, I need a haircut.  Call me.

Granddaughters rock even when they are fussy.  (Grandmothers, too, even when they're fussy.)

Totally, soooooooo jealous of Hannah who will get an autographed copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green possibly from the great Mr. Green himself -  on Friday.   Watch the book trailer here.  I like the song, too.   (She might even meet Hank Green, John's amazing brother, songwriter and squirrel impersonator).

If you like John Green, you will love Nerdfighters

I am going to the FREE Open Mike Story Swap at Godfrey Daniels tonight (7:30 pm). I have no particular story in mind.  Sometimes that is the best way.  I am taking my little camcorder and maybe I will have storytelling video to post tomorrow.  Lehigh Valleyites, if you have nothing to do tonight, join me at Godfrey Daniels.

I have come up with something to do with those crocheted rectangles I complained about, not so long ago.  I am working out some of the design inconsistencies and will post the amazingly simple and, I think, clever results here, soon.

And tomorrow is Storytelling Thursday.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

KBWT & Crafts

Since Thanksgiving I have been obsessed with making things, crocheting and baking and gluing and sewing.  Tea cozies, fingerless mitts, troll dolls, snowmen, paper beads, candied orange peels, muffins and music.  I love making things and winter is the time to do it.
Hang this fellow on your tree.
 Kids love to make things, too.  So today's Kids Book Website combines two of my loves - books and crafts - into one.   Welcome to The Best Kids Book Site!  If you click on the Books tab at the top, you can search for books by title, character name, subject or author.  If you choose Book Wizard, you can describe a book that you can't find and the people who work for this site will try to find it for you. 

A LOT of work has been done to put The Best Kids Book Site website together.  With so many activity options and book choices, some projects and book suggestions are better than others.   Still, if you are trolling the Internet at 9:05 pm - after your local library has closed - for one last idea for  the next day's scout troop or play date, this site is a great place to wander through.  And, if you live in the back of beyond where access to a library is limited or unavailable, the book search options on this site are wonderful. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bookstore at NIght

Someone shared this on Facebook so I will share it with you here.  A bookstore owning couple made this video of their bookstore at night.

Where is your favorite book store?  My life long favorite book buying emporium is the Moravian Book Shop on Main Street in Bethlehem, PA.

My favorite used book store is The Old Library Shop on Center Street, also in Bethlehem, PA.

And I have to send a shout out to Otto Bookstore on Fourth Street in Williamsport, PA.  Over the years, it has changed but still remains a cool, cool independently owned book store.  I think of it as Otto's, though.

So do you have a favorite bookstore?  Let me know.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Money, money, money, money

Money is on my mind.  It appears to be on the minds of a lot of authors, too.  Take the book I'm reading right now, The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader (9780547550787, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, publication date Feb. 9, 2012).   Tucker wants to earn a college scholarship for his Mom so she won't have to work full time and go to school full time.  In the meantime, he and his very cute special needs brother, Beecher, try to save money anyway they can.

Gary Paulsen's Flat Broke is all about money, how to earn it, how NOT to earn it. (Hint: running poker games?  Not a good idea.)  What to do with it when you get it, being responsible with it and living without it.  The book is funny and functional all at the same time!

In a lot of the books I read this Fall, the undercurrent of economic strain added to the tension between characters.  When parents have to work all the time to pay the bills, they have to leave their children unsupervised.  This opens the door to all kinds of misbehavior and misunderstandings.  And since overworked parents are more and more common in the lives of American children, the plots are so believable.

Even in a fantasy like Small Persons With Wings, the difficulty of making ends meet works for the plot.  When the very odd lawyer shows up and tells the heroine's father that his own father left him the family Inn, they move.  Why?  Because they won't have to pay rent if they live in the Inn and the heroine's father is having trouble with his business.  (I wish I had the book in hand.  I think the father is a stone mason.) BTW, the small persons have their own kinds of "economic" crises.  Money is not the only currency out there.

In Marissa Meyer's Cinder, Cinder's family depends on her to provide money for clothes and food and lodging.  Even still, she is treated badly and not just because she is "stepchild".  The way Cinder uses the money she earns gives her step-mother a reason to throw Cinder out of the family home.

Money problems fuel family break-ups, moves, weird child care arrangements, unusual food choices, vacation disasters, holiday disappointments, wardrobe insufficiencies, even changing schools.  Money, or the lack of it, formed loveless marriages, caused wars, created the environment for disease, and pestilence.   Some of these are crises that kids face every day. Others are trials we hope our kids will only read about.

Money problems allow kids to vicariously make choices, such as saving rather than spending, making gifts rather than buying them, making their own fun rather than playing/buying expensive games, using their imaginations rather than their parents' wallets, being responsible for their free time or learning to live with a "baby-sitter", whining or dealing. In more dramatic books - dystopian fiction, historical novels - readers get to choose between food OR shelter; safety OR warmth, fighting or fleeing.  All because of money.

Money is on my mind. I can't seem to get away from it.  Sigh.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sadness in the Storytelling World

In honor of Storytelling Thursday I have created a separate page for Storytelling.  Right ... up...THERE!  See it?

You will be missed, Kathy.
Unfortunately, the very first thing I have to post on that page is the passing of Kathy Pierce, a fine storyteller and a storytelling pioneer.  Kathy was a long time member of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild.  She traveled with nationally acclaimed teller (and StoryFUSION 2012 featured artist) Elizabeth Ellis in her younger days.   Kathy had been plagued with a series of illnesses and finally succumbed to a stroke on New Year's Eve. 

I am having a hard time getting my head around Kathy's departure.  She had the best laugh and I know that I will expect to see her sitting at the counter at Godfrey Daniels as I walk in the door.  I will hear a voice of similar timber and I will turn expecting to see her red hair and her smart-ass smile.  And her stories, oh my.  I hope that somewhere along the line someone recorded Kathy as she told. 

Here's the thing.  Some tellers will decide to add in a whistle or a prop, or a gesture, or expression, and it comes off staged.  Everything - everything -  Kathy added to her stories felt just right, comfortable.  Kathy invited us into her stories and we saw what she saw, heard what she heard.  Of course, her expressions, motions and the few props she used - and she never needed props even when she used them - were a joy to experience.  But Kathy could be the visible performer and the invisible vessel of story - all at the same time. 

There is sadness in the storytelling world this week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Girls Read - Of Course

Yesterday's post was a little guy-centric.  So today I have to share a great list of books for Courageous Girls put out by The Children's Book Review.   The books are timeless and fun and there are books here for smaller courageous girls, and bigger girls, too.

Of course, girls read! And write and sing and do amazingly brave things.   So, all these active reading girls will love that there is a SECOND Daring Book just for them!  I get a little emotional thinking that I might be able to share these books with my granddaughter in a few years.  (Sniff!  Won't that be wonderful?)

And for all of us grown-up girls, romance author and apologist (as in supporter -NOT apologizer) Maya Rodale put out an eloquent trailer on why Romance Novels have been considered DANGEROUS for centuries.  I doubt that I will rush out and buy a bunch but my respect for romance as a genre has jumped after viewing this.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


A year or two ago, Jon Scieszka got a bunch of his author-ly buddies together and started a series of anthologies called Guys Read!.  The trailer for the first book, Guys Read : Funny Business is pretty funny itself.  The second Guys Read anthology, Guys Read : Thriller is out now as well.

Well, Mr. Scieszka has a website dedicated to Guys Who Read - and to Getting Guys To Read.  It's called.... are you ready? Guys Read!  Yeah.

Now, teachers and librarians know how hard it is to get guys to read - or to admit they like to read.  Walter Dean Myers - you know who HE is, right?  He used to hide his books when he was a kid, so his friends wouldn't make fun of him.  Now he's a big Newbery Award winning author and...(fanfare please)...he has just been chosen to be the next National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a post first held by Jon Scieszka himself and which was most recently held by Katherine Paterson

Anyway, the Guys Read website has booklists written by some awesome guy authors and other people like YA librarians and you can download Guys Read bookmarks and find out how to open a Guys Read Field Office and even buy Guys Read paraphernalia.  It truly is a Guy friendly website.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Power of Habit

I am reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg - not at all my usual type of book.  The subtitle is Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It.  Isn't that a perfect book for the beginning of the year?

Since this is neither fiction, nor written for younger folk, it is taking me a little bit longer to read this book.  So far, it is fascinating.  I try not to read too much in one sitting because Duhigg gives his audience a lot of information.  Scientific research is sandwiched between case studies.  The stories of neurologically damaged people, people who have successfully overcome destructive habits - even a football coach that leads a failing team to victory - underscore the research that is ably and accessibly explained. 

The book is due out in March of this year.  By then, I will have used the information in here to overcome MY destructive habits and become a whole new ME!  (Smile!)  Sigh, that might not happen.  But already I am more aware of the way habit controls a lot of what I do.

While reading this book I realized something.  I resist routine.  I guess I am a contrary person.  This book explains that routine - of the right sort - could simplify my life.  But I fight routine.  I wonder why.  Hmmmm...  I will go off now and do some self-examination.  I'll be back tomorrow for KWBT.

In the meantime, put Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit on your list of must-reads for 2012. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Here's wishing all of you a wonderful 2012!  I decided that the only resolution I need to make for this new year is this:  I will finish projects that have been hanging around for a while - or get rid of them!

Earth tones, pastels and knock-your-eyes-out red - quite a combination!
Project #1:
To begin, I dug out a bin of crocheted rectangles - a complete underbed storage bin of rectangles approximately 10 inches by 7 inches.  There was a group project I was working on and then the group lost interest - or maybe I did.  I forget.  The problem is that the rectangles are mismatched colors.  What to do???

My shawl/scarf thing - cozy but I won't be wearing this out in public.
I took 17 of the rectangles and pieced together a shawl/scarf sort of thing.  It really is something only a mother could love but it is warm and perfect for watching TV or reading in bed.

Here are a few of the other unfinished projects ahead of me this year:
2. 3 novels - 2 are finished but need rewriting - a LOT of rewriting;
3. Comb through 20 years of Cricket magazine (OK, maybe only 10 years- I am prone to exaggeration) and then find a home for the ones I don't want;
4. 2 quilts - or at least the tops;
5. Figure out what to do with Bill's Mom's china and knicknacks - the pretty ones I have stored away;
6. Find new homes for stuff that is tucked away in the attic and cupboards and that I have forgotten about - like the fire engine red electric wok I never took a shine to;
7. Pare down my personal library to the books I actually use;
8. Figure out how to borrow library books on my Nook;
9.  Write reviews for at least half the books I read and post them on this blog;
10.  And then there is my Advent project - years in the making.  It would be fun to get that off the ground. 

If I finish Project #2- or a third of Project #2 - it will be a banner year indeed.  It's pretty clear that I will not run out of things to do in 2012.

I hope that your new year is full of wonderful things and people who love you!