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?