Thursday, December 26, 2013

Winter Storytelling for Kids

Join us at Godfrey Daniels Listening Club on January 5th at 2 pm as Mary Wright presents Stories with Spirit* to children of ALL ages, even - pr perhaps especially - those who are children at heart.

Mary's performance kicks off the 2014 Children's Winter Series for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild.  She is the first of six fine performers who will spark children's imaginations on cold Winter Sunday afternoons.  Every First and Third Sunday in January, February and March, Godfrey Daniels will host performers who will tell, sing and play stories for children.

Admission is $4.50 for adults and children aged 5 and up, and free for little ones under the age of 5.  Cops'n'Kids will be at Godfrey Daniels to hand out books to every child in attendance.

Check out Mary's website here.  Then, hear her tell in person on January 5th.  See you there!

Back again with Santa Goes Everywhere

First, there was a cruise!  Whoopee! and totally needed.  Internet access is very limited on those big ships. (But, we missed the East Coast snows!)
Second, we got back on Dec. 23rd. Christmas was falling on us like an avalanche.
Third, there was the Christmas Eve service story - only one copy anywhere in the Lehigh Valley, and it was a 30 minute drive away.  The Best Christmas Ever by Chih-Yuan Chen.  I love that book.
Fourth, there was Christmas, with wrapping and cleaning and baking and cooking - all compressed into 3 and a half days.  It was WONDERFUL!

So that is why I have not been around.  I am back!

And look what I found over on readertotz - Santa Goes Everywhere!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ugly Sweater Tour

Ho!  Ho!  Ho! 

(BTW, wear an ugly 

holiday sweater!)

Coming soon -- a buffet of holiday storytelling hilarity!

Sunday, December 1, 2013.
2 pm Matinee.  

Who?  Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, and Andy Offit Erwin

What?  The Ugly Sweater Tour of the Uncalled For Trio

Where? Godfrey Daniels, 7 East 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA

Cost? $15 adult, $10 student

Purchase tickets: Godfrey Daniels box office.  610-867-2390, hours 2pm-6pm Tuesday through Saturday

Workshop Opportunity

The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild is looking for tellers who are interested in a two to three hour workshop with Kim Weitkamp, Bil Lepp, and Andy Erwin on December 1st, after their 2:00pm show at Godfrey Daniels.  

Andy Erwin on using characters in your storytelling.

Bil Lepp on how to twist the truth.

Kim Weitkamp on blending humor and heartache.  

Register your interest with Charles Kiernan

Bad Week for Book Lovers

Barbara Park (66) and Charlotte Zolotow (98) both passed away this week.  No more Junie B. Jones.  No more books like William's Doll.

I am grateful for the love and toil these two women poured into the books they wrote and edited over the years - for the laughter and joy and poetry and understanding they sparked in young readers.

Hooray for their lives!  Hooray for the gifts they have left behind!  And hooray!  Some of their readers will become writers and the legacy will continue.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Whatnot

I so enjoyed Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar last year that I was thrilled to find the sequel, The Whatnot, on the library shelves this month.

The faeries have been expelled from human London.  They and anyone who has anything to do with fairies are hunted down, jailed and executed.

Street urchin, Pikey, knows that he has to keep his faery-plucked eye hidden. Somehow, he can see a different world and in that world he sees a changeling, branch-haired girl, wandering.  Then someone steals his eye patch and his attempts to hide this evidence of faery involvement land him in jail.

Meanwhile, in the faery domain, Hettie and her faery butler savior are struggling endlessly towards a cottage that gets no nearer.

Bartie and his friend from the House of Lords are searching for a door that will allow them to save Hettie.

Yep, time for some adventure, battlefields, weirdness, clever twists and sudden revelations.  Those revelations all have little clues leading up to them but the reader is still surprised.

I found myself skimming a little bit.  The emptiness of the fairy realm depressed me. So I glossed over some of the descriptions.  Don't do that.  I had to go back for the breadcrumbs that Bachmann dropped so I could understand what happened next.

Pikey, Hettie, Bartie and the young Lord, whose name I simply can't remember - poor thing, all come together with a bunch of faeries, some evil, some benign, in an attempt to stop bloodshed and treachery from destroying their world.  Whew!  Bachmann pulls it off.

I give this book four out of five stars.  In a sequel, the element of delight in a new setting wanes.  And the faerie world, caught as it was in its self-appointed King's power struggle, was bleak.   Those were the only complaints.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

John Lithgow - Storytelling Thursday

On Saturday, (Dec. 16th, 2013), John Lithgow will present his one man show, Stories by Heart, at Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh University.  I will be in that audience because stories are dear to my heart.

Members of the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild will tell their own stories from 7 to 7:30 pm.  (Not me.  I just want to listen this month.) 

It will be a wonderful event.  Meet me in the lobby!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Texting the Underworld??

Texting the Underworld by Ellen Booraem.  

When I found myself tearing up this morning just thinking about this book - something the intended readers will most likely NOT do - I realized it deserved 5 stars. (Grades 5 through 8)

  It's not like Conor doesn't have problems already.  He's short - so short that his nickname is Pixie.  He's scared of - oh, just about everything, but especially spiders. His father wants him to be a hockey player and go to BU; Conor, not so much .  His younger sister is a pain.  And now a 1600 year-old redheaded female banshee, who died when she was around 12, has moved into his game closet.

Conor knows a lot about banshees, thanks to his Grump who lives next door.  Grump is an expert on Irish mythology and obsessed with banshees.  So Conor knows that each family has a banshee and this girl is in his room waiting for someone in his family to die.

This is a complex book with details that make the characters fully realized.  The cause of Grump's obsession with banshees made me tear up this morning.  And that cause explains Conor's painful choice at the end of the book.  Problems with friends, the banshee's irrepressible personality, the mixture of world mythologies with present day technology - so many things add up to make this an enjoyable read.

Older readers may be touched by the impossible things Conor is forced to do - younger readers, too, perhaps.  But we can all be grateful that he has a cell phone and knows when to use it!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

LVMM Craft Fair

I LOVE planning events.  I do!!  Until the event is right around the corner and then ...AAAAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH!! 

And the Quaker Meeting Craft Fair is right around the corner.  Say it with me!!!  AAAAAUUUUGGHH!

So tonight I made my Special Chocolate-dipped Orange Sticks to sell at the "Bake" Sale table.  My craft this year is Paper Bead Stars.  I hoped to be able to make more but the planned-but-never-realized cruise and its destroyer, the-mother's-hospitalization sort of stole my crafty time and inclination.
One of our earlier craft fairs - beeswax ornaments!!

The Chocolate-dipped Orange Sticks are - need I say? - awesome.  And I priced them accordingly - as in not too cheap.

So, what are Orange sticks?  They are old fashioned candied orange peels.  But, when you dip them into a mixture of quality chocolate chips and candy melts - dark, of course - they become something so much more.

 I truly hope they all sell because I do not need them hanging around my house.  And my father, God rest his soul, is no longer here to help me eat them.  Hub is not a big sweets eater.

So, this event is October 26th from 10 am to 3 pm at Lehigh Valley Quaker Meeting - 4116 Bath Pike, Bethlehem, PA 1/2 mile north of Rte. 22 on Rte. 512.

Jewelry, pottery, glassware, miniatures, ornaments, knitted goods, soups and bread and baked stuff, delicious honey from our resident beekeepers, some vendor-y types like 31 Gifts and Tastefully Simple and a rather impressive used book sale - AND live music from 11:45 to???

Please come if you are in the area.  I will be there - thinking wistfully of Florence - but only if I have the time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Disappointment - and relief

The Hub and I were supposed to be winging towards Venice, Italy, right about now.  Off on an adventure that included St. Peter's Basilica and Mt. Etna and the walled city of Kotor in Montenegro.

We have one aged parent left between us and she is dear to both of us.  So when she ended up in the ICU last Sunday night we had to consider what we could do.  Our adventure seemed too far away and took too long to leave her.  So, we postponed it.  Sigh.

Mom is home and the only wear she seems to have borne is the wear of spending six days in the hospital.  No one knows why her body did what it did.  Further tests will wait until she heals a bit more.  She is fine.  She's at a play right now.

So disappointment is followed by huge relief.  And the need to scurry around preparing for three weeks of travel - and a Craft Fair - has disappeared.

I wish I could say I have been reading and taking copious notes for reviews.  NO.  I have not.  I have been trying to make sure everything was ready for the Quaker Craft Fair this coming Saturday.  (Stop by.  Even I don't know what is going to be there.)

So this blog post is really all about letting you know I am still here.  And soon, I hope to get back to the business of books.

BTW- Fright Night was a lot of fun.  Next Wednesday, Oct. 30th, stop by Godfrey Daniels for more spooky fun.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fright Night Approacheth

The Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's Fright Night events will be Saturday October 12th at Dutch Springs off of Hanoverville Road.  This is an outdoor event so dress warmly.  Click here for details.

I will tell on October 12th.

The other event is at Godfrey Daniels on October 30th - for those who prefer warmth while their blood runs cold.

Both performances charge admission.  Both will be super scary and fun!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Star Wars Reads Day!!

October 5th is Star Wars Reads Day.  Pull out your copy of Origami Yoda (or other books in that series), or Darth Vader and Son or any of the hundreds of Star Wars novels OR any of the DK Star Wars compendiums, including the Lego(r) books and READ.

I wonder if reading something else while dressed as a Star Wars character might count.  Hmmmm.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Reading List and Halloween Books!

Booklist Online has a great Halloween list of 2013 titles for young readers - most of which are picture books from well loved authors and illustrators.

Click here to reach the list.

I had to return two books to the library unread.  Big Fail!  Here are the reviews of the other three that I DID read.

Goblins  by Philip Reeve.  We meet Scarper, smarter than the average goblin and literate besides, just as he is catapulted from a tower. He ends up teaming up with a less than brilliant human to rescue a princess from a giant but all is not what it seems.  And then, there is the Lych King's tower, those three traveling mages and the weird case of the exploding cheese that came to life.  Oh, and a comet and a prophecy and some men made of bones and...goblins and boglins and flying lizards????  Yep.  This is a fun romp through the standards of fantasy.  Grades 4 and up.  Older fantasy fans will enjoy it, perhaps even more.

The Watcher is the Shadows is Chris Moriarty's second entry into the Inquistor's Apprentice seriesReading the first book is recommended.  Sacha, Lily, Mr. Wolf and Payton are still monitoring New York City for magical crimes.  But there is a strike against working conditions in one of J. P. Morgaunt's sewing mills and suddenly all of the NYC police force, including the Inquisitors, are on riot watch.  In the meantime, the mysterious death of the Klezmer King proves to be more than just an accident.  And then there are the sudden unexplained deaths of mobsters and a not-quite-invisible watcher in the shadows.  Set in an alternate turn-of-the-20th-century New York, and infused with Jewish mysticism, this series is a fascinating read.  Grades 6 and up.  Not for the easily frightened.  I made sure NOT to read it at night.

The Great Trouble  by Deborah Hopkinson was my favorite of all the books I read in the last week and a half.  When Eel is accused of stealing the money he has saved, he runs to the tailor for proof that he has been working more than one job.  But the tailor is one of the first victims in the London cholera epidemic of 1854.  Left without a roof over his head and desperate to protect his secret, Eel turns to another one of his employer's, Dr. Smith.  Hopkinson skillfully weaves in historical facts and allows Eel and Dr. Smith to be the sleuths that solve the mystery around the epidemic.  This book was fascinating, with an excellent sense of place and time.  For historical fiction buffs of ALL ages, especially those 10 and up.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reading List

My public library kindly reminded me that I have 8 books due soon.  BUT  I only read FIVE of them.  NO!

So here are three of the books I read this week:

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein.  (Grades 5 through 7) Our hero isn't much for reading but he does like to play games.  No, make that LOVES to play games.  And his game designing hero is Mr. Lemoncello, a rags-to-riches game board, video game designer.  Mr. Lemoncello owes a great deal to his public library so he builds an enormous, incredible new public library and runs a contest for children to win a lock-in overnight at this amazing place.
Our hero's original entry into the contest is awful but he decides to try again, inspired by some of the odd rules in Mr. Lemoncello's games.  And he wins.

He wins more than just an overnight full of games, food, fun, with some treachery thrown in to spice things up.  Our hero learns about trusting his own strengths, teamwork and some interesting new rules to the game of life. 

This is a quick, exciting, action packed read with enough trickery to keep easily bored readers amused.  I hope the publisher's put out a board game based on this book.  I'd buy it!

The Apprentices by Maile Meloy. (Grades 7 and up) Janie Scott hasn't seen the apothecary's son, Benjamin, for two years but she still feels connected to him.  Her memories of him are foggy thanks to the tea Benjamin's father gave her.  (Read The Apothecary to learn more.)  The year is 1954 and the world is still reeling from the impact of the Atom bomb - a danger that Ben's dad and friends are working so hard to contain.   Ben finds a way to communicate with Janie even though they are continents apart.  Janie's roommate's father wants the knowledge that Janie, Ben, their friends and the mystical book the Pharmaecopia have and he will do anything to get it - kidnap, steal, even murder....

Reading the first book is recommended.  But a first reader can muddle through.  Ben and his father are caught up in the battles in Indochina when Janie is....OK.  No spoilers.  This is an adventure for a more practiced reader since the narrative bounces from character to character.  Readers may learn something about the period after WWII and a bit about the Cold War, too.
The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher. (Grades 4? through 7, maybe older)  Sophie Young and her best fried, Grace Yang, love to spy on their neighbors but the new guidance counselor is far and away their weirdest subject.  When they witness a scene of "HORROR" through her windows, the two girls find themselves disgraced and beleaguered.  Things go from bad to worse and soon the girls don't know who to trust.

The writing is lively and fun.  Sophie and Grace come from such different backgrounds that their friendship eventually falters.   But does it fail??  Sophie's disgrace pushes her into an odd friendship at school.  And that counselor??  She's pretty freaky, all right.

Tune in tomorrow to read reviews of the other two books - or maybe even three that I managed to finish.

THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kittscher

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If the World Was a Village

When the book If the World Was a Village by David J. Smith came out in 2002, I was intrigued.  The author imagined the world as a village of 100 people and then he showed how many would have enough to eat, safe places to live, money to spend and how many would have less.  The book is visually appealing and makes the sharing of the world's resources accessible to young readers.

A second edition of the book will come out in February, 2014.  Order your copy now!

Check out David Smith's website,, for lots of free info on geography. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Liniers' US Debut: The Big Wet Balloon - A TOON Book

Karen Chace and Mackin BookTalk- KBWT

It's Kids Book Website Tuesday.  Thanks to Chaz Kiernan, storyteller, author, blogger and book lover supreme, I can offer you the blog of Karen Chace.  Right now, she is doing clean-up on her blog.  So I linked to a post that is all about Fall, school, stories and books.  Check it out.

Karen links to storytelling sites, school websites, educator's resources and lots and lots of other fun places.  I am teaching Preschool First Day again and Karen's links to scarecrow resources is sure to come in handy - with fingerplays, a host of scarecrow books, craft ideas and more.

Finding a blogger who takes the time to research a plethora of useful links is a gift.

Mackin - a book jobber that sells primarily to schools and libraries - has a BookTalk site for teachers, parents and children.  Want to more more about the book Creepy Carrots (One of my favorite carrot books, by the way).  Mackin BookTalk gives a summary of the book, information on the author, a place where readers can rate the books they read AND suggestions for more age appropriate books on similar subjects.

You can choose books from various States Best list for the most current school year, too.  Alas, Pennsylvania is not among those states.  But, wait, Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth!  Hmmm, must think about this.  Never mind.  The other states pick excellent books, too, I'm sure.

And now for your convenience, I will separate out the sites I've linked to in my blog above:

Karen Chace and her excellent list of Fall resources can be found here:

Chaz Kiernan's website is here:

Mackin BookTalk lives at this URL:

Peter Brown's website - he's the illustrator of Creepy Carrots - can be found here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Storytelling -Original Social Media

For weeks now, I have been practicing my stories for the Lititz Storytelling Festival which approaches like an avalanche this coming weekend.

Yep!  I knew what stories I was going to tell.  I really only needed one or two or maybe three.  I have timed them and written them out and re-arranged them.  I gathered props.  Yep!  I was ready.

Then, yesterday?  I tossed them out.  Well, not literally.  I just felt that the first one was  not right for this venue.  And the other one?  Too gimmicky.

Now what could I do?  I closed myself up in my office and dragged out all the stories that I knew.  And I picked four different, shorter stories - stories that I love.  Then I called a fellow storyteller - who was not home - but his lovely wife was.  She listened to my dilemma and said, "Tell the story YOU want to tell."

This is excellent advice.  If I am not in the telling business because There are stories want to tell, then what I am doing?  I have stories I want to share.  Some are personal.  Some are those rare stories that speak to you when you read them. 

It does raise the problem of how one designs a storytelling performance.  My Friday night stories mesh well together.  My Saturday afternoon stories, well, I think I can make the link.

But do they need to mesh?  Does the audience want continuity?  So many questions, so little time.

Come to Litiz.  If my stories don't speak to you, perhaps Ed Stivender's stories will; or Kim Weitkamp's stories, or Chaz Kiernan's stories or one of the other fabulous tellers' stories.  Come. 

Storytelling - as the T-shirt says - is the Original Social Media.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Books update

Mister Max : The book of lost things by Cynthia Voigt was excellent.  I loaned it to my mother:

Mother:  I am just calling to tell you that I can't put this book down.

Me: Good.  What do you think of the librarian grandmother?

Mother:  I can't talk right now.  I have to finish the book.  But thank you for lending it to me.

I am now reading Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.  It is hard for me.  But I am a grandmother who is not all that into cars, explosions and hit men.  Also, a little fantasy-weary right now.

 HOWSOMEVER!!!  if you are into hot cars, kissing dilemmas, explosions, and creepy-not-entirely-unsympathetic-hit-men types, also tortured young men and sassy know-it-all teen girls, AND a huge magical mystery, you will gobble this book up.  Even I, jaded as I am, can see that.

Enough about me.  What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lititz Storytelling Festival

Fall is coming and so is the Lititz Storytelling Festival!!!!!!!  On Friday September 13th the fun begins with workshops and performances from 10 am to 10 pm???

ON Saturday, it begins all over again - workshops, a story swap and more and more and EVEN MORE STORIES!!!!!!!  I am in exclamation mark heaven! Because I love stories that much.

And also, here are very important things you should know about this year's festival in Lititz.

Jay O'Callahan will be performing.  Be still my wildly beating heart.

My friend, Charles Kiernan, will also perform.  I need to sit down.

Other tellers include Ed Stivender - he of the Morris Dancers -, Kim Weitkamp, Charlotte Blake Alston - oh yeah! - Rita Clarke, Ken Sensenig (say that 10 times fast), Marie Winger, Terri Mastrobuono and David Worth.

Now, I have made myself very very worried because........

I will be telling at this festival, too - with all these great storytellers.  I am feeling faint.  Do you think I will be up to the task?

Here's how to find out.  Come to the festival and listen to my stories and to the other tellers to find out if I measure up.  Watch for a weekend pass giveaway - on this blog - very very soon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lost Things

On Wednesday, I headed off to a meeting with the Summer Staff from PCL, my former hangout.  One of these staff people is my successor; two are teen volunteers I have known and loved - and trained - for years; one is my trusty sidekick who is now my successor's trusty sidekick - and the only person there who wasn't at least 30 years younger than I am!!!!  Guess which one got sick and couldn't show up.  I miss you, Trusty Sidekick.

There is a certain joy only attained when you spend time with people who ALSO read books, lots and lots and LOTS of books, and who ALSO enjoy talking about books.  It's like a reunion of the tribe.  The BooksRockians together again.  So awesome! (Even if they ARE all 30 + years younger than I am.)

But to make this outing even more awesome, I found an ARC of Cynthia Voigt's Mister Max : The Book of Lost Things on the doorstep as I raced out the door.  Ooh baby, and no, kind successor, the book is NOT for you.

I started the book and I can foresee trouble at the start.  Max's parents are actors - trouble right there.  Max's parents have been offered a job working for a Maharajah in far-off India - nonononono!  Don't take that job.  At first, Max is not included in this offer.  Now, that was the most ominous of the conditions of the job - because the book is about Max.  It says so in the title.  So, if Max is not invited, then something is amiss.  So far, that something has not happened.  But it will!!  And it will probably involve things that have been mislaid - such as ...children?  elephants?  bicycles?  Stay tuned.

Or buy the book yourself.  It's in bookstores on September 10th.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stories about stories

So, what did you do today?  Really?  Hmmmm.  Whoa!  What happened then?

Please don't ever tell anyone that you can't tell stories.  Everyone tells stories.  It's how we touch each other.

I just finished two fine new children's books, Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, and The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt.  And stories - and the telling of stories - featured in both of them.

Bo loves hearing the story of how she ended up with her two huge papas in a gold mining town in Alaska.  And she loves hearing the stories of how the "boys" who work at the mine got to Ballard Creek.  Everyone has a story - however short.  Little Bo gathers adventures that will turn into stories, too.  This book has been compared to The Little House on the Prairie series.  The descriptions of life in a gold mining town in 1929 and 1930 are lovingly detailed.  Bo is a character I hope to read about again.

The Sugar Man is just a story to most of the people around Sugar Man Swamp, but not to Bingo and J'miah the new information scouts of Sugar Man Swamp.  They know he's real and they know they must only wake him up in an emergency.  What the two raccoons don't know is that an emergency is heading their way.
Bingo, J'Miah and a grieving 12-year-old boy named Chap must protect the Sugar Man Swamp from greedy developers.  Throw in 17 rapacious, destructive and awful wild boars and you have stories to the top of your ears!  Short, short chapters keep the pages turning.  And stories about the Sugar Man and his friends and enemies crop up over and over.

Long Live Stories!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jabba the Puppett and Best Books!

Children's Book Review offers several lists of favorites here.  Keep The Children's Book Review on your favorites list.  Hmmm, I wonder.  Can I Pin their site?  I can, but only one book at a time. 

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger is on sale TODAY!!!  Oh, why did I give away my entire Tom Angleberger collection to that school librarian?  WHY? 
I must read this book!

 So much to do.  See you soon.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Question Mark Tail

So, what is it about mice and people who write for kids?  Stuart Little, The Tale of Despereaux, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Mousehunter, Whose Mouse Are You? - my brain is freezing right now but I KNOW that there are dozens, nay, scores of books with mice as main characters.  (Please comment with titles below so I can groan in recognition!)

Richard Peck - you remember him, right?  Newbery Award winning author of A Year Down Yonder, A Long Way From Chicago,  the Blossom Culp mysteries, and suspense stories of great renown - yeah, that guy!  Well, with the publication of Secrets at Sea, Richard Peck got his feet wet in the world of "mouse literature".  That book?  Quite enjoyable.

His most recent mouse book, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, raises mouse literature to new levels.  Set in the underground world of the mice of the Royal Mews during the reign of Queen Victoria, Peck tells the story of Mouse Minor.  Mouse Minor has no family.  His "aunt" takes care of him, sews his school uniform and teaches him how to behave.  Small for his age - and a "nephew" to boot - Mouse Minor has to defend himself from bigger and more established students.  He runs away and finds a whole new world on the grounds of, and inside, Buckingham Palace.

This is historical fiction mouse literature at its best.  Of course, off the top of my head, I don't have any other historical mouse literature in mind .....Oh wait, Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.  Well, Peck's book may occur on the other side of the Pond but it gives Franklin's mouse friend a run for his money.

GoodReads has a list of mouse books for young readers in grades 3 through 6 - just in case you think I exaggerate the prevalence of scurry, furry rodents in children's books.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The shicken did it - storytelling!

Summer is a great time for stories.  All us sleep-away camp veterans remember the campfires and our counselors warning us of the Witch Lady or the Evil Bear.   Ooohhhhhh! Scary.

But stories do more than just titillate and keep the timid awake at night.  Stories solidify our memories.  They create a family legend that helps us with our self-identity.  Stories teach.  Stories inspire.  And they are just plain fun.

When I was just learning to talk, I developed a great fear of chickens.  This was a problem since my grandfather owned a farm.  Those chickens freaked me out.  And if I got a scrape or a bruise or stubbed my toe, I pronounced, "The shicken did it."
Pretty close to the original scary chicken.
Someone gave me an inflatable chicken but my parents had to put it on top of the corner cupboard, it scared me that much.

My mother told us all stories about when we were "little".  She told me about my stint of blaming everything on "shickens".  "The shicken did it", was a phrase we shared. And when I was old enough to explain things, I remembered a dream I had had.  "Oh", I said.  "When I was little, I dreamed that that rubber chicken was chasing me and pecking me."

This is a tiny memory.  If my mother had NOT told me stories of when I was "little", I would have forgotten the chicken dream and the brightly colored toy that haunted my early childhood.  And a little part of who I am would remain a mystery.  I am still not terribly fond of chickens, unless they are fried or served with dumplings.

Yesterday, my mom and my youngest sister and I visited Illick's Mill which has been turned into an Environmental Center.  The Center is working on the public side of the "pond" that edges my parents' property.  Illick's Mill and I have a history and the building has changed from my teen days.  We got the grand tour and the summer intern walked back to the pond with us and explained what they were doing. My sister and mother and I shared stories of how things were when we were young. 

To remember your stories, you must tell them.  Repetition makes then stick in your brain.  Find a willing listener and tell them a story about who you were, who you are, where you went and where you are going.  Then help them tell a story to you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spaghetti Book Club - KBWT - Good Books for Kids

By accident, I found this very cool website where kids review books written for kids; the Spaghetti Book Club.

You can find reviews by clicking on the Titles link and then on the title of a book.  Reviews are often accompanied by picture drawn by the reviewer.

Check it out for the reviews.  Some of the other links on the homepage are no longer active.  But a website that encourages children to read and to write is always awesome, in my mind.
Thanks to the Rye School District for this graphic.

Good Books for Kids is a well organized site with book lists and links to find books for all ages.   The site is run by 3 educator/librarian/parent types who love books for children and teens.  The site makes money indirectly through  Some of you in the Save Our Bookstores community - like me - might not like that.  But this site is Very Useful.  Just don't click through to Amazon, if you don't want to.

Another online Summer Reading Club for you... Sylvan runs the Book Adventure site with book lists and contests - and for those results oriented adults - quizzes.  Nothing like some book related quizzes to spark up our summer, right?  Check it out.  Maybe you'll win something.

Today, I got Gordon Korman's upcoming book, The Hypnotist in the mail.  Tell you all about it in a day or two.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Reading

This is the very first Summer in 30 years that I am NOT involved with a public library's Summer Reading Club.  Do I miss it?  Um..... Actually, yes, I do. 

So in memory of 30 Summer Reading Clubs - which doesn't include the ones I belonged to as a child or helped with as a teen library page - I will offer you some online Reading Clubs.

JetBlue and Random House offer Soar with Reading.  This year, Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House series is the inspiration behind the club.  Readers are encouraged to dream of places that Jack and Annie can go in future Tree House Adventures.  The website offers activities based on the Magic Tree House series and a sweepstakes for parents and kids.  Each entry into the sweepstakes earns a book for under-served classrooms.  And the prizes for the sweepstakes include round-trip arifare.

This reading club doesn't ask much of participants.  The only things parents and children need to do to participate is fill out a sweepstakes form online.  The website doesn't even offer age ranges for the participants.  I'd guess first through fourth grades - 6 through 9 years old. 
Here's  a summery book - Kate Coombs' Water Sings Blue.

Don't forget the Summer Reading Club at Barnes & Noble.  Children in pre-K through grade 6 earn a free book by filling out a Barnes & Noble booklog with the 8 books they read this summer.  The link gives you all the necessary paperwork and rules.

Scholastic offers a great summer program and they partner with classroom teachers as well.  Readers log the time they spent reading and win virtual prizes.  There is also a sweepstakes.  Classrooms can  "compete" if the teachers log the children on early enough. 

Scholastic's child and teen friendly web pages are always fun to navigate with author info, games, book trailers, and lots of familiar characters.  Parents and children should check the FAQ if they have questions.

I suspect that the TD Summer Reading Club is limited to the residents of Toronto - I decided not to delve too deeply  - but the website is awesome.  Check it out.

And check with your local bank.  In past years, TD Bank, and other local banks have offered money to children who finished a minimum number of books.  The money has to go into an existing account at that bank, but hey, it's free money, right?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maurice Sendak - a smart smart man

 I, blessedly, had very good parents.  But, not everyone has very good parents.  Parents try to be good - for the most part.  But sometimes we/they are not.

Here is an illustrated interview with Maurice Sendak on how hard it is to be a child.  He is truly missed.
Thanks to Betsy at Fuse#8 for sharing this.  Check out her other Sunday videos.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lockwood & Co

Jonathan Stroud  (remember Bartimaeus?) has a new series.  Yippee! Lockwood & Co follows the adventures of Lucy Carlyle after she joins the ghost investigator firm of Lockwood & Co.  Luminous emanations, chains, screams, grisly skeletons and dripping blood -these things can actually kill you in Stroud's haunted London.  Only children can find the Visitors that keep everyone else locked in their iron bedecked homes from sundown to sunup.  Children and teens guard factories and streets.  The more sensitive children actually hunt dangerous visitors and destroy them.  And that is what Lockwood, Lucy and nerdy George do night after spine-chilling night.

Can you say awesome?  Repeat after me.  AWESOME!  I got an e-galley and this series will be great.  And I don't even like ghost stories.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2,000+books = Awesome

Seattle Public Library kicks off their Summer Reading Club with the longest book domino chain ever!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bakery Books for kids!

So many books - for all ages - in a great many genres - feature recipes that has put together a short list of new fiction for middle grades and up that revolve around cupcakes, bakeries and sweet treats.  There are a couple of notable titles missing - Sarah Weeks' Pie, for instance, and Patricia Reilly Giff's Gingersnap - but the other titles look awesome.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Checking in - Sandwich Bag art

In a very round about way, I discovered the Flickr pages of a man who draws on his children's lunch sandwich bags and has done so since 2008.   His name is David LaFerriere.  His drawings are all whimsical and super creative.  Wish I thought of that.

Here's a video of his explanation for what he does.

Thanks to Betsy at Fuse#8 and Crooked House for sharing this.

Happy Dad's Day to all the Dads out there.  You don't need to do artwork on your kids' food to be a super Dad.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Favorite Author tour with Hilary McKay

I am going on a blog mini-hiatus which means; don't expect much in June.  Tomorrow, my remaining parent goes in for surgery; my son is finishing his degree which means we are babysitting more; and I must battle bunnies in the garden - oh, and weeds.

I suddenly got an urge to re-read Exiles at Home by Hilary McKay.  This was the first McKay book I ever read and the the way the girls' project intersects with another family member's project delights me.  I want to revisit the details.  Why exactly DID they send in that magazine coupon?  How did they manage to meet their commitment?  What happened to that nice older couple?

So, a visit to the library is in order.  I may re-read all the Exiles books, and then, who knows?  The Amber Cat?  The Casson Family series?  It's summer.  Time to go on a Favorite Author tour.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Let's make stuff!

I will do anything to avoid housework, especially if the distraction allows me to play.  Check out my tower made of magazine-insert origami boxes.  Then, visit my Let's Make Stuff page for directions and the story behind this piece of silliness.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barefoot Books

Forget all blog-related "schedules".  I will post what I want when I want.  This week's KBWT is KBWThursday.  (I was off doing something else on Tuesday.)

Barefoot Books has been one of my favorite publishers since they arrived on the scene.  Their folklore anthologies are attractive and fun to read.  Barefoot Books is committed to providing colorful books that provide children with access to diverse cultures and activities.

Visit their Kids page to download craft activities, watch videos and listen to stories.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Family Tree Quartet by Ann M. Martin

 Family Tree Book One: Better to Wish by Ann M. Martin

The Prologue of the first book in the Family Tree Quartet warns us that sometimes, as the title says, it is Better to Wish than to know what is in the future.

Abby's story starts in 1930 when she is 8.  We learn that times are tough but that her father works hard.  Abby's mother still grieves for the two children she lost.  Abby has a good friend, Orrin, that her father doesn't want her to play with.  This first chapter sets the stage for the challenges Abby faces as a girl coming to age in the Depression.  Her father's intractable ideas about people and their worth, her mother's inability to stand up to her husband, the fact that under it all these are people who are just trying hard to do their best, all these things make Abby's choices hard but understandable.

This book sees Abby from childhood through adulthood, from carefree days to brave decisions.  It's a lot for one 200+ page book to do.  Martin does it well.  Her language does not burden young readers with all the concerns that an adult reader will glean.  The book has just enough introspection for the audience which is girls between the ages of 11 and 14.

I look forward to reading the other books in the quartet.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Children's Book Week

It's Children's Books Week!  Kids' books are awesome.  Go to the Children's Book Week Kids site.  There is a project there where you can print out the stories started by excellent children's book authors and you get to finish the story!!  This is a great classroom activity and a fun activity for story-minded children everywhere.

Vote on your favorite children's books.  Check out Children's Book Week events around the country.  Print out bookmarks.  Check out the latest list of Best Books. 

Go to your local library and check out some books!  Children's Books are for every day, not just one week a year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jessica Day George - HMH Books for Young Readers

Just so you know, when I feature a publisher's website I get no remuneration.  I just feature those websites because I like them.

Today, for Kids Book Website Tuesday, I offer you the HMH Books for Young Readers Blog.   This is a book review blog touting the latest and greatest of HMH's offerings.  You can watch book trailers.  You can choose to view only Teen titles or Kids titles or both and there are categories among all these books for you to choose from.  The blog is colorful and a teensy bit interactive.  I like it.

I also want to feature an author today.  I just finished Jessica Day George's Wednesdays in the Tower, and my reaction to the ending was WHATTTT!!!???  Because we are left hanging and that is almost exactly what happens.  Read the book - or if you hate suspense - wait until ALL the Castle books are written and read them in one fell swoop. Or, and this is my choice, read them one by one and THEN in one fell swoop. Anyway,  I checked out Jessica's website and, from there, her blog.  If you liked Tuesdays at the Castle, you will thoroughly enjoy Wednesdays in the Tower. Check out the pages!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Talking Donuts, Superheroes and Melancholy Lions

Years ago, when I was a young mother and babysitter, I rode the bus with my son and my young charge - everywhere.  What else do you do with two five-year-old boys with endless imagination and energy?  We rode downtown, to libraries, to parks, to the next town over, to visit friends.  We also walked and later, in the summer, we rode bikes.

Everywhere we went, we told stories.  After reading William Steig's The Amazing Bone, we came up with a story about a talking donut.  Every bus trip for a month or so, we added adventures about the donut and King Rupert, the donut's best friend. 

And then there were the tales of Llewellyn the Lion, who worked as a late night radio host and rarely went out in the day.  He rode a motorcycle and had a tab at the butcher's.  He lived in fear that people would realize that he was not just a gravelly voiced, hairy recluse but a lion - a real lion.  As time went on, Llewellyn told us of his friends - all graduates of the Philadelphia Zoo's secret Animal Intelligence project - and we met Llewellyn's teacher, Professor Freeman.  The animals were tricked into a reunion and were drugged and kidnapped to become stars in a traveling animal act.  Fortunately, one of Llewellyn's friends was a dainty gorilla.  Along with the Jaguar, ocelot, rhinoceros, several lions, a seal and a rhinoceros, they all managed to escape.

I wrote that story up and shoved it into the glove compartment of my old black Impala.  When the car broke down and we had it hauled to the junk yard, the story was lost forever.  The rhinoceros - or was it the seal? - was a poet and some of her poems were in that story.  They were haunting and surprised me.  Stories can be pieced together.  Poems evaporate.

And then there was Super Anders and his sidekick Critter Man.  These stories were made up bit by bit of the things that my boys suggested, cartoon characters that they enjoyed. Danny Dunn and his friends got tossed in there, too, since we read every Danny Dunn book we could find.  I liked these stories best of all.  The boys were always trying to save Little Annie, the Orphan Apple Selling Girl from danger.  But Little Annie just as often had to save our heroes.

I miss Llewellyn and his friends.  I miss Critter Man, who ba-a-a-a-rked!  And I miss King Rupert and his talking donut. 

Perhaps, I will ride the bus for nostalgia sake and remember small boys, stories and a time when I was young.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Testing

When my Thursday night dinner guest opened my screen door, she found an ARC of The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau resting against my front door. 

I actually hopped with excitement.  I DID score an e-galley during the week of StoryFUSION.  Guess what didn't get read in time?  So having a 3 dimensional paper copy in my hands - Wow.  I was not disappointed.

Definitely worth the hype!  A solid addition to the dystopian kids-against-the-pretty-weird-government trope.  (Is "trope" even a word??? Make that "genre" instead.) Except in this case the government is trying hard to help - or at least that's what the kids who get chosen for The Testing think.

The beginning of the book shows a very functional community of like minded colonists doing their best to survive and thrive after the Seven Stages of War.  The heroine's family is loving and hard working.  When the heroine is chosen for the Testing - the only route into the University - her father offers her vague warnings and advice based on dreams he has had about his own Testing.  Everyone who is Tested has their memory of the event erased.

That's all I can tell you without spoilers.  Once the heroine hits the city the suspense builds and never ends.  Book Two comes out early in 2014.

The Testing is being recommended to fans of The Hunger Games with good reason.  The purpose for the Games and the purpose for the Testing are far apart.  President Snow designed the Games to punish and threaten the Districts in The Hunger Games. The Testing is designed to sift out the best of the best to insure the country's continued survival.  "Good" intentions aside, the designers of the Testing have some pretty ghastly things planned for our young friends.  And the young test-takers provide the rest of the suspense. After a slow start, the pages just flipped themselves. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grace Lin -KBWT

It's Tuesday!! Time for a Kids' Book Website.

Check out  Grace Lin's website.  Grace wrote Starry River of the Sky, which was a Battle of the Kids Book contestant.  I loved it.  But I have liked Grace's picture books and chapter books for several years.  Her Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was a Newbery Honor Book.

Her website offers activities based on her books, Chinese lessons, a link to her blog and a bio.
And here is a book trailer for her novel for 3rd and 4th grades, Dumpling Days, the third novel about a Chinese American girl named Pacy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Farewell to E. L. Konigsburg

E. L. Konigsburg died on Friday.  The author of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and  The View from Saturday, both Newbery Award winners, and countless other great books, will be sadly missed.
Good-bye and thank you so much!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


StoryFUSION was so much fun.  All you people who did NOT attend, well, too late now.  You will have to wait until next year.

There is a chance...just a chance...that Antonio Sacre will be in the Lehigh/Berks County area next year.  He is clever, amusing, touching, dramatic, and engaging, among other things.  I saw his Children's Show - funny and enthusiastic.   He had 200+ 4th and 5th graders eating out of his hand.  I saw him interact with high school students.  Antonio was so respectful and encouraging of the teens' storytelling efforts.

And then I watched his short presentation on Friday night and his Feature Performance on Saturday and I am a true Antonio-ite, now.  Today, I took a workshop from him that concentrated on how to become a successful working storyteller.  This man WORKS for his money.  He is relentless in pursuing storytelling excellence.  So, see what you missed?  So Like him on Facebook, please.  He deserves it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

StoryFUSION & Book List

I am telling tonight at StoryFUSION. (Northampton Community College's Lipkin Theater at 7 pm.) I will tell the first story of the night.  I admit to being nnnnnnnnn-nn-nervous, a lll-l-little.  So come out and give me friendly faces in the audience, please.

Also my Kutztown University Favorites of 2012 (and the very beginning of 2013) Book List is up on my Lists page.  Check it out.

Must practice.  Once upon a .... no, that's been done.  A Little, maybe I should just do a little aside about domestic tranquility.  But I only have 15 minutes to tell my story.   Whewww. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stories Forever

StoryFUSION begins soon, very soon.  Go to the StoryFUSION page for all the details but it is fabulous stuff.

Check my Storytelling page - above - for the Guerrilla storytelling events on Tuesday, April 16th and Wednesday, April 17th.  These events are FREE and out in public places near you.

On Thursday, NCC and the members of the LVSG are offering FREE workshops at Northampton Community College.  I am offering "Story in a SNAP", a workshop that will use improvisational exercises to combat both writer's block and stage fright.  It will be a lot of fun and it would not be possible without the help of Professor Susan Petrole.

Story in a SNAP workshop - Thursday, April 18th at 11 am at Northampton Community College, in Room CC 165.  (CC stands or College Center - the BIG building in the middle of the main campus.) FREE and open to everyone.  Please join me.

To keep us all in the storytelling mood, I must share this video from just a year and a half ago.  Kelly will be telling on Wednesday.  Look for her.

Friday, April 12, 2013


TOON Books offers 11 of their titles for FREE online viewing.  AWESOME for young readers, these books have a Read to Me option for younger kids, too.   I love TOON.

The TOON library is all part of Professor Garfield's website.  (That's Garfield, as in the orange cat?)  Check it out.  It looks like fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I have two passes to StoryFUSION!!!  They can be used on Friday, April 19th OR Saturday, April 20th to hear Antonio Sacre - who is every bit as much fun to hear as he is to see!  Honest.  If you want these tickets, comment below.
You totally want to see this guy!  Honestly!

I also have the COMPLETE hardbound works of Tom Angleberger, including  Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling.    However, I am giving these away at my Book Review session at the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference ONLY.  That's this Saturday, April 13th, at Kutztown University. So, sign up NOW!  You will not only get a chance to win awesome books, you will also hear presentations by these great authors: Suzanne Fisher-Staples, illustrator Christopher Soentpiet and Janet Wong.  Amazing.

I have to go read more books.  Good luck.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Saturday - Pillow Fight Day

April 6th is National Pillow Fight Day.  Is that not awesome???  Truly.  Grab a couple of pillows and swat away - on Saturday.  You might want to practice beforehand.

Here are some picture books to share in preparation for - or during - National Pillow Fight Day.

Caterpillow Fight by Sam McBratney.  When little caterpillars start a pillow fight, the big caterpillar has a creative solution.

What! cried Granny by Kate Lum.  Patrick stays overnight at Granny's house where Granny has to make him a bed, a pillow, a blanket, a teddy bear, all from scratch.

Good Night, Pillow Fight by Sally Cook.   Look inside a block of apartments as parents try to get their children to sleep.  And then, someone yells "Pillow Fight!"   

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.  Little Red Chicken interrupts every bedtime story her father begins.

Once upon a time, the end : asleep in 60 seconds / by Geoffrey Kloske and Barry Blitt.  Here is a collection of the shortest bedtime stories - ever.

 Piggies / written by Don and Audrey Wood ; illustrated by Don Wood.  A finger counting rhyme ends up with a kiss goodnight.

 Charley's first night / Amy Hest ; illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  A little boy is eager to be the best puppy owner ever and spends the whole night with his new dog.

Snoozers / by Sandra Boynton. Seven short bedtime stories from a favorite picture book author.

So fluff up those pillows!  Ready, set, go! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas

TOON Books offers some of the liveliest picture books out there.   Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas by Philippe Coudray is just one of the colorful comic style books put out by TOON.  Each page is divided into several panels and tells a complete story.  Watch above to see how easily the stories can fit in with Common Core standards.  (Warning: Since this video is "educational", the presentation is much more static than the book.) 

Benjamin's adventures are sometimes funny, sometimes head-scratching, but all delightfully illustrated with a slightly retro vibe.  The stories are designed for early readers and budding logicians ages 4 and up.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Goodbye Dad

March 23rd, 2013
Today, finally, we say goodbye to our Dad, Franklin J. Chiles.  Wish me luck that I don't stumble, sob uncontrollably, hiccup, or otherwise mar this solemn day.

March 24th, 2103
Dad right before he is ordained as a deacon in the Catholic Church
I started this post yesterday.  I did just fine at the funeral.  My brothers and sisters who read managed to get through their readings with hardly a hint of a sob.  My older brother wrote and delivered a moving eulogy.  There were more clergy, including the Bishop, all decked out in gold and red vestments, than I have ever seen gathered in one place.

And the follow-up luncheon went well.

By late afternoon, we all needed naps.

Today is another story.  I was fine until my teeth started to hurt.  And, suddenly, I felt very, very, very sorry for myself.  Very, very, very, very... So I turned my hand of Hand and Foot over to my Mom.  (Who can concentrate on cards with a toothache?)  And I started home.  I called Hub for a ride and when he picked me up -  I dissolved.  It was a me-sized puddle of pitiful, pain induced tears that crawled into bed.  I am not as devastated as all that wailing implies.  Sometimes weariness, stress, and pain induce a huge physical need in me to howl.    It's like a dam breaking.

My teeth still hurt.  I am still sad.  But I don't feel so very, very sorry for myself.  I had my Dad for a good long time.  He loved me all my life and that love is with me still.  I'm a lucky woman.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

Today, Wednesday, March 20th, is The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!  Such an amazing book, it deserves its own day.

Visit Penguin Book's Hungry Caterpillar page for a video of Eric Carle, printables, activities and a listing of Eric Carle's other books.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Title generator

How many titles are formed by two nouns connected by "and" or "or"?  How many titles use a verb that ends in "ing"?  Sometimes titles follow patterns.  Take the titles for today's competitors in SLJ's Battle of the Kids Books. Splendors and Glooms and Liar and Spy.  See what I mean?

Do you need help coming us with a superb title?  Check out this Title Generator  from Fiction Alley. Do it for fun.  Do it for profit.  A good title can encourage sales - I think.

Just for fun, I entered ten random words.  Here are my results.

Your Titles

Title One: frivolous barns through windswept tantrumsTitle Two: the windswept pieTitle Three: the fern through frivolous barnsTitle Four: frivolous pieTitle Five: the turning fernTitle Six: whispering tantrumsTitle Seven: turning barnsTitle Eight: windswept whisperingTitle Nine: whispering for tantrumsTitle Ten: turning and whispering

I like Frivolous Pie, Turning and Whispering and The Turning Fern.  Have fun.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crystal Ball, Crystal Ball

To predict tomorrow's Battle of the Kids' Books winner I need only my "incredible powers of book discernment".  But first I must cogitate.

   Both titles reference the stars:  Jepp, who Defied the Stars vs Starry River of the Sky.
   Neither book's action is from around these here parts - geographically or chronologically.
   Both books champion hope.
   Hmmmm, yep, I think that's about it.

   Jepp is historical fiction and describes the indignities suffered by people who appear different from the norm.  The writing avoids being ponderous even when considering the time period and the weight of Jepp's indignities and difficulties.   There is a touch of wishful thinking in Jepp's story that may toss the book overboard in this round.  For instance, I found the ending to be anachronistic - far too modern for the time period, even though the main historical character, Tycho Brahe, was famous for his wildly unorthodox behavior and teachings.

   Starry River of the Sky is fantasy through and through.  The author alternates the main character's story with folk tales that seem to move that character's story along.  The audience for this book seems to be younger than the audience for Jepp, Who Defied the Stars.  Because of that the plot is simpler and the problems the characters meet are more immediate - the heat, the darkness, grouchy neighbors.  The writing is more lyrical.  The pacing has more drama.  Less happens but more emotional ground seems to get covered.

Oh dear, what have I done?  When I started this post, I thought my choice was clear.   I must pause here and think carefully.  If I was the esteemed judge, truly, which would I choose?  (Note to BOB organizers:  I NEVER want to be an esteemed judge.)

(Deeeeep breath).  I stand by my initial inclination.  I choose Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh.  The books have different purposes and both purposes are worthwhile.

Jepp teaches us about a swatch of scientific history and gives us insight into the constant battle of all human beings to be treated with respect.   Jepp also encourages the reader to look inside for his or her own talents and pursue a path that is meaningful and satisfying. 

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin is about anger, betrayal but most of all, this book is about forgiveness.  How Lin gets there is a journey worth taking.  The stories are like pearls disbursed on a strand with earthen beads.  Did I love this book?  Oh, yes, yes, I did.

And still, I choose small and sturdy, young and indomitable, clever, sometimes clueless, but eventually courageous Jepp as the winner of this battle.