Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I am a member of Jacquie Lawson's ecard community.  (I forget what the subscription costs. ) For the past three years the Jacquie Lawson folks across the pond have offered a digital Advent Calendar.  Download it once and enjoy it for 25 days. Last year, the calendar took us to London where we enjoyed the sights.  This year, we visited an "Alpine" village.  But, best of all, we all got the same cottage living room where we could each decorate the tree, design a wreath and hang stockings.  Here is a photo of my cottage.

As the real world goes crazy, I retreat into this safe digital haven where everything is pretty, peaceful and joyous.  And I think of the friends who might be hanging their stockings in their own digital cottages and it gives me relief and calm.  Thanks, Jacquie and your team of artists and techies, for creating such a lovely diversion.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Wonderful Winter to everyone who stops by this blog and to all their loved ones.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Story Thurs. - Children's Series

It's about time I did another Storytelling Thursday! 

ANNOUNCING:  The Children's Series for 2013 at Godfrey Daniels, the First and Third Sundays in January, February and March.  All these events start at 2 pm and each Sunday a different awesome, amazing, delightful and very talented storyteller will regale children of all ages.  (All members of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, I might add.)

PLUS, Cops'n'Kids will be there to hand out FREE BOOKS!!!!  Heaven!  I'm in heaven!

This is the BIGGEST BARGAIN in live children's entertainment in the entire Lehigh Valley - if not all of Eastern PA and BEYOND!  (It's so exciting I have to overuse my CAPITAL LETTERS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!)  Admission is only $4.50 but that includes free books and a cookie - or fountain drink.  And children under 5 can get in for free. 

Now, don't worry.  You have two weeks to get ready.  The fun begins on Jan. 6th with Larry Sceurman, the Magical Storyteller.
Larry kicks the Children's Series off on Jan. 6th at 2 pm.

Here's the entire line-up:

Jan. 6th - Larry Sceurman
Jan. 20th - Kathy Long
Feb. 3rd -  Robin Reichert
Feb. 17th - Judy England-McCarthy
Mar. 3rd - Kristin Pedemonti
Mar. 17th - Ingrid Bohn

That's at Godfrey Daniels Listening Club, 7 East 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015.   Each show begins at 2 pm. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Window by Tony DiTerlizzi

Tony DiTerlizzi designed this delightful window for his local bookstore, Essentials in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Visit DiTerlizzi's website to follow the creative process behind the artwork.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Best Books on Pinterest - reviews

Augusta County Library has pinned 25 Best Books Lists on their Pinterest board.  Boards like these prove that Pinterest can provide a true service.

It sort of makes my reviews and "best books" lists redundant.  No worries.  I still have a lot to say.

Stuff I've read recently.
One Year in Coal Harbor  by Polly Horvath.  I love Polly Horvath.  This book includes romantic schemes run awry, environmental concerns, money problems, and the ever-popular recipes from the fishing town of Coal Harbor.  (ages 10 through me)

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.  Steam punk/fantasy (Wait,  Isn't most steam punk fantasy?  Or is it more science fiction?)  OK, this steam punk-ish novel includes fairies, goblins, and other magical creatures alongside automatons and utilities formed of mechanical and magical substances.  A boy born of a magical father and a human mother - these despised children are known as Changelings - and a young member of the House of Lords are caught up in a mystery surrounding the deaths of several Changelings.  Touches of horror echo through this suspenseful novel.  (Ages 11 through adult.  The writing is that good.)

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz.  Children trapped inside marionettes;  An aging witch and a magic jewel; cruelty; grief; class snobbery; escapes and captures.  And three very engaging children who form the nucleus of this action packed adventure.  ( 12 and up.  But a good 10-year-old reader who is not squeamish might really like this.)

Goblin Secrets  by William Alexander won a National Book Award this Fall.  Rownie, one of the witch, Graba's, "children", looks everywhere for his older brother, Rowan.  Rownie lives in a world where many people have clockwork limbs and organs and where humans are not allowed to wear masks or perform in theaters.  Goblins, discriminated against, travel through the city with their theater on wheels and perform wonderful shows.  Rownie steals from Graba so that he can see one of these shows in hopes of finding Rowan, who was a gifted actor.  This is the set-up of this spell-binding book.  If you like fantasies, and other-worldly settings, close-knit clans and secret societies, corrupt government and underground resistance, you will enjoy this book.  (ages 14 and up)

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker. Foster kids and a dead foster parent.  Yep.  That's what this book is about - along with summers on Cape Cod, blueberry bushes, interdependence and learning about asking for help.  Two 12 year old girls decide to hide the sudden natural death of their care taker.  One girl just doesn't want to go through the exhausting changes of yet another foster home.  The other girl is related to the dead woman and hopes to make a home for herself and her irresponsible mother on Cape Cod.  How they survive the summer and learn to tolerate and then value each other makes a good story.  (ages 11 and up)

I am in the process of finishing Jepp Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh.  This one is historical fiction.  It is amazing how many books with similar themes crop up every year.  This book also concentrates on performances.  These are the performances of dwarves who live to amuse wealthy nobility.  More on this one later.  This is for 14 and up.

We are sad -

We are sad.  Heartbroken. Confused.  Praying.  That is all I will say.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is it Tuesday?

Is it Tuesday?  I.... yes, I believe it is.  So for today's Kids Book Website Tuesday, I'd like to feature the - Ta Dah - Library of Congress.

The repository for all things literary here in the US of A has a literacy program known as the Curious George Campaign.  The campaign is designed to offer simple suggestions to parents and educators for incorporating reading everywhere.  This site does not have a lot of moving parts or colorful pictures but it is a gateway site.  You might get hooked on books.  Not such a bad habit.

While wandering around the Library of Congress' site, check out Read.gov.  Read books written just for Read.gov visitors.  Or read children's books from long ago.  Learn about this year's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Walter Dean Myers.  And watch author webcasts.  Yeah, the Library of Congress is big, beautiful, full of books, and awesome.

But wait, there's more!  More KBWT, that is, not more Library of Congress.  You will have to explore the L of C, yourselves.  That job is too big for one blogger. 

While wandering around the web, I found Edmonton Public Library's delightful pdf booklet "100 Great Books to Read Together."  The booklet offers lists of books to share with babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  There are even spaces to write in your child's favourite (note the extra "u") titles and reading times.  So cute!! Public libraries rock all over North America! And the world!  Print this booklet out today.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

KBWT - The Children's Book Review

At this time of year I troll Kids' Book Websites to see which great titles I missed during the past 11 months.  Every year there are so many good books out there.

Websites and e-newsletters, like today's featured site, The Children's Book Review, are so helpful to librarians, teachers, parents, reading specialists, booksellers - oh, and young readers, too - who want to keep up with books for young people.

The above link will lead you to the latest newsletter for this website.  Articles include, Holiday Favorites, Best YA, Kids and Questions: Books for Explaining How Things Work and links lead to the New York Times list of Notable Children's Books of 2012, among other useful articles.

Do yourself a favor and scroll down to this month's Book Giveaways and enter.  You might get lucky!

So catch up on the best books for giving and for reading.  Check out The Children's Book Review, today.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Peculiar - Reading again

I have been reading again.  The reasons I stopped are many and varied but mostly boil down to Dad In Hospital, Mom Needed Help.  Dad is out of the hospital but while he was in, siblings from around the globe, including the youngest who lives in Japan, crowded into Dad's hospital room and pestered him until he gave in and got better.  There, Dad!  That's what happens when you have so many kids.
Mom still needs help, though.  So, I need to read.  That helps me to help her.

Review #1
for Middle Grade readers

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.  I dragged my feet about reading this because books by people who have not yet reached 20 are occasionally over-hyped.  No fear, here.  This is a soundly written book, an original and well-drawn world, and a mesmerizing combination of fantasy and steam punk.

The last time I read a book written by a teen-ager and lauded as superb, I spent the first chapter listing all the sources for many of the ideas and phrases in the book.  Hmmph, I said Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Prydain, Rings again, Sword of.. you get the picture.

The setting of The Peculiar did remind me of the Bartimaeus Trilogy.  But the similarities ended there.  It is impossible to write a fantasy book without some reference to other fantasy.  Bachmann's Victorian London, drenched in acrid smog, is populated by human and fay alike.  Children of mixed parentage, changelings, are hated.  Most of the fay are pressed into servitude to human masters. The Sidhe live in the upper classes giving little thought to lower class fay.

Bartholomew Kettle and his little sister, Hettie, are changelings.  And they know enough to stay hidden.  Hettie, with her tree branch hair, would be executed in a trice.  But when several changeling children are found dead and mutilated, Bartholomew sees something that may be a clue to their murders.

Meanwhile, a young member of Parliament wanders down the wrong hall looking for the lavatory and stumbles on who knows what?  He certainly doesn't.  He's not curious either, just intensely uncomfortable about knowing too much.  And what he knows throws him into great peril.

Their paths cross and the way it happens is clever and well constructed.  The pace moves from impatient waiting to heart pounding.

 The ending might as well have a "Tune in Next..." banner printed across it.  The reader is left standing on a precipice or tumbling off a speeding train or  sitting there with mouth wide open.

Now, we just have to wait for the next exciting episode.