Friday, December 5, 2014

Bits & Pieces


Book Expo has opened registration for their 2015 event.  May 27th through May 30th - Wednesday through Friday.  No Saturday.  I wonder if Saturday will be BookCon and only BookCon.  We will see.  Anyway go to for the latest Book Expo news.

I read Way Down Deep by Ruth White.  I read the sequel first so this felt like catching up.  Still, very good.
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.  I am so in awe of Ann M. Martin.  Period.
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen.  What is not to like about a baby centaur and a community that tries to protect one?
I started The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.  It has no trace of hope in it and that creeps me out.  BUT, I did just start the book.

BTW, for some strange reason, Blogger will not let me add links today.  So you will have to search for these books online yourselves.  Sorry.  (Except for Book Expo.  That link works.)

And that's all, folks!


Do you - or someone you know - love cookbooks?  Check out today's Shelf Awareness for Readers.  Oh my! YUM!
Crown: Portlandia Cookbook by Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein

Seriously!  Everyone who is anyone in the cooking world - well, a lot of them anyway - has a new book coming out.  Even Portlandia (see above)!

Even if cookbooks leave you lukewarm, check out Shelf Awareness for Readers for the most current book releases.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

The pumpkin pie is done and so is the rhubarb strawberry crisp.  Soon I will start chopping onions and celery for the stuffing.  The bird is thawed and, for non-traditionalists, there's a ham in the fridge as well.

Tomorrow, I will clean and set up and get down my mother-in-law's china - which is now mine. 

And family and friends will gather.  We will eat and chat and laugh and maybe even quarrel, but I hope not.

Snow has been falling all morning.  I feel warm, full, and grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving, today and every day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Story Cabaret 11/14/2014 8 pm

Oh, you lovelies!  Come out on a dark November night to the warmth of Touchstone Theatre's cafe for Story Cabaret, an event for adults.

The date is Friday, November 14th.
The time is 8 pm.
The place is Touchstone Theatre, 321 East 4th Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015.
The cost is $10 - which includes a glass of wine.
The featured tellers are Chaz Kiernan - and Karen Maurer. 

Yep. ME!  No wait, that's Chaz.

Hey, it was a hot day!!  The things I did for my job!
 That's me, right there is an outrageous getup.  (You should see me with the paper crown.)

And you, too, can tell stories about anything you like.  The theme is "In Celebration of......"  All those dots mean, "Pick something".  Easy, right?

But there are rules.
Rule #1.  The stories must be personal.
Rule #2.  The stories must be true or very, very, very close to truth.  I mean, no one expects you to remember exactly what your physics prof said when she caught you sneaking the spectrometer out the window.
Rule #3.  No notes allowed.  Um, except I think I broke that rule last time.  Because I read a whole book.  It was a picture book, written by Neil Gaiman. Come on!  Neil Gaiman!!! I agree.  That, alone, is worth breaking a rule for.  (And it was only the last five minutes.)

I promise you 30 minutes of true or almost true stories about......... something.   It will be a great evening.  Join me - and Chaz - and that nice glass of wine.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Death of Bees

Any book that opens with teen girls burying their dead parents in the garden is going to be a page turner.  Marnie (whose fifteenth birthday is the day of the secret interment) suspects her 12-year-old sister, Nelly of suffocating their father, Gene.  Nelly suspects that Marnie is the culprit.  Neither of them are overly concerned since all they want to do is stay together.  Hence the hiding of the dead bodies.  (Mom's death was something else entirely.)  Gene and Izzy were NOT model parents.

Lenny, the aging neighbor watches the girls from his window, missing his dead partner, Joseph, and wondering where the parents have gone.

The girls struggle through school, and with friends and boys (Marnie) and social ineptitude (Nelly), until a crisis forces them to seek refuge with Lenny.  They find a safe place there.  But nothing lasts forever.

Sex, drugs, violence - this book may be about teens but it is written for adults or New Adults as 20-somethings are now called in the publishing world.  Marnie and Nelly are both very smart.  As they alternate telling the story, with some help from Lenny, they uncover what a truly neglected life they have led.  All the reader really wants is for them to have a home with Lenny - he's so lonely and he can really cook! - and get on with their lives.  But murder is not a victimless crime.  Someone always has to pay.

I can't get this book out of my head.  Some of the observations attributed to Marnie and Nelly are so apt, so well-put, that I want to memorize them.  Or post them on a sampler on my wall.

When Marnie catches her bible-thumping grandfather swigging whiskey from a bottle she reacts this way:
"I go back to my room afraid, because people like Robert T. Macdonald carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous and I never considered him dangerous before and now that I do I am scared."

"People...carrying righteousness like a handbag are dangerous."  We see them every single day.

Click for Lisa O'Donnell's NPR interview here.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almost missed this! Ivy and Bean

It's still October 18th!  So we can still celebrate those friends-to-the-end, Ivy and Bean.
Check out all the fun here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Craft Fair again????

Oh, dear friends (and Friends), the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting Craft Fair approaches. (Oct. 18th) I should be planning the arrangements of all the tables, setting out yard signs, contacting the crafters and making sure they all show up, sending emails to all the bake sale donors and volunteers.  But instead I want to:
- read
- play the accordion, or the piano, or the kazoo
- bake muffins for me and mine and NOT for strangers
- write another adventure of the Advent Avenger, or the Halloween Hero, or the Thanksgiving Titan; (Titan?? where did that come from?)
- doodle
- do 6 or 10 or 15 sudoku puzzles and a few crosswords
- take down the wash
- make supper

ANYTHING!!!  ANYTHING but what I should be doing.  It is an affliction - this tendency of mine to ignore my responsibilities and just fritter.    Puttering is guilt-free.  Frittering is fraught...just totally fraught.

Anyway, if you are in Bethlehem, PA on October 18th - stop by the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting and spend money.  I will be the heavyset flustered woman in the weird hat.  You will have fun.
10 am to 3 pm. 4116 Bath Pike, Bethlehem, PA 18017  And there will be homemade soup and bread, fresh pressed cider and music, sweet, sweet music.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I have a problem.  I long for days with no to-dos in them - just puttering.  I like puttering.  BUT - but, I have so many things I want to do.

One of the things I want to do is write more song lyric-y poetry.  I even want to write more songs.
So I signed on to a FB group that challenges the members to write one song a month using a prompt suggested by members of the group.  And by write, the group doesn't expect a handwritten score that can be played by a quartet.  No, all the group wants is a YouTube, or an mp3, or an iTunes of the song.  Your phone can record the song, even.

Except my phone can't.  And after the first three or four months, I stopped trying.

Here are the prompts I missed:
one perfect day
an antique photo in a shop
something to love about everyone

I decided to cheat!  I decided to roll all those themes into one song.  Here are the lyrics I wrote:

 On a perfect day, one spent with you,
I chanced upon a scene
Of an old farm house in a dusty frame
So gray it was almost green.

And you smiled as if you had a thought
You had to keep from me
You bought me that dusty frame
Since that old house spoke to me.

There is something to love about everyone
You whispered that night in our bed.
That old farm looked like a promised land
to that farmer when he wed.

There is something to love about everyone
Was your mantra from then on.
That farmer’s work,  or my strange love
for a place that was long gone.

That frame is safely packed away
with the other things you left
When you knew that your time on earth was done
and I found myself bereft.

And your mantra I’ve etched into my skin
A glimmering tattoo
There is something to love about everyone
Because I once loved you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Story FUSION 2014

The tellers are coming!  The tellers are coming!

Frantically, I try to absorb all the research on stories and learning and then I must put all that stuff into context and condense it into sound bites. And then I have to provide adult learners with activities that will make them feel easier about  incorporating storytelling into their work lives.  And then I have to organize all this stuff so that it makes sense.  And THEN, I have to NOT blank out when presenting.

So here's my to-do list:
Create the certificate of participation - because it's the thing I would forget to do if I don't do it NOW.
Make an enlarged resource list - which I will make available here.
Collect definitions of the word story.
Collect quotes from studies to support the research.
Organize how I hope to present this stuff.
Practice it - so I don't blank out when someone takes me down a shady tangent.

Oh, did I tell you?  I'm leading a workshop for teachers and librarians about telling classrooms and storytelling clubs.  On Saturday.  From 9 to 12 noon.  At StoryFUSION.  JOIN ME!

Also, I am the MC on Saturday night - for Mary Wright and - TA DAH!!!  Jennings and Ponder!

This is the MOST wonderful time of the year!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Storytelling AGAIN!!

UPDATE: The workshop was, as the host kept saying, "A-DOR-able!" 16 children, ages 4 through 12, and their various adults met with me and we told stories and played games and made crafts.  I had So Much FUN! Cops'n'Kids does a wonderful job of providing free books to children of all ages.

On Saturday, I will lead a family workshop on storytelling for kids 7 and up.  Younger kids can attend if their parents come along.  The workshop will be at Cops'n'Kids Lehigh Valley at the South Campus of Northampton Community College.  Click on the link to find a complete list of CopsnKids events.

I am reading Story Proof by Kendall Haven.  The subtitle is The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. Haven has studied thousands of pages of reports in brain and cognitive science and they unanimously agree.  Humans need stories.  Humans learn best through stories.   As Rudyard Kipling is purported to have said,

"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

That is the truth.

I keep promising myself that I will make a list of the odd little facts, household tips, and attitudes that I have picked up from stories - either oral or written.

For instance, I learned that if you put your cream in the cup before pouring the coffee you don't need to stir.  And it's true.  I read that in a YA novel about a boy whose mother was a wandering diner waitress.

I learned the best way to clean up a shattered glass from a book.  The book was about a boy whose father was the headmaster at the lad's school.

Things stick in your head when your hear them, or read them in a story.

So join me on Saturday and hear a good story or two.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pop Goes the Page - stories

Over at Princeton University, at the Cotsen Children's Library, Dr. Dana Sheridan posts several times a week about the programs she does.   Her blog is Pop Goes the Page and it is truly worth a look.

Today's post is about kamishibai, a Japanese form of storytelling with colorful picture cards.  Check out this link to read her post.

She mentions Allan Say's touching book, Kimishibai Man, about an aging storyteller whose livelihood is lost to television.  At the end of the book, he decides to take his bicycle and his little stage and look for an audience.  He finds one.  Happy ending.

Kamishibai Man 

  Live storytelling thrives today, whether it is tellers with microphones,or story hours with books.  One person using her voice to tell a story, read, recited or woven from memory is so much more evocative than people acting out a scene.  A spoken story - even with pictures as aids - leads the listeners into their own imaginations where they can depth and detail.  Television and movies, and even theater to a smaller extent, leave little to the imagination.  Well, we can still imagine what the scene smells like.  We can imagine how it feels to hold that little piglet.  But not much else.

I will introduce storytelling to a group of youngsters and their parents on Sept. 6th at Cops'n'Kids in South Bethlehem.  Stop by!  and we can talk about the importance of sharing stories in person.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Why did I wait so long to read this?  It is awesome.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell    

Fangirl    More later.  I have to finish this book.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Storytelling Workshop


How do you teach storytelling in one and a half hours?  It's a trick question because you can't teach storytelling in one and a half hours.

All I can hope to do tomorrow is introduce a group of kids to story structure (the very basics) and the fun of using your whole self to tell a story. 

The workshop will be at the Upper Macungie Community Center - all the heck the way over in Breinigsville, PA and it happens at 10 am.

If you are in that neck of the woods, stop by.

BTW, I am reading two books right now, How We Learn by Benedict Carey.  Whoa!  This book is an eye opener into the workings of memory and into the workings of Learning Scientists.  Non-fiction always takes me longer to digest.

Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuberger is about teaching storytelling to children.  A lot of the activities in this book are about creating stories, rather than telling stories that you have heard or read.  Still, the crafts are open-ended enough to appeal to a wide age range of children.  And the games are great for sharing tales and getting creative juices flowing.

I have downloaded a couple of e-galleys that I am excited to get into soon.  I still have some ARCs from BEA to which I should give my attention. 

Any suggestions on how I can share these ARCs?  Let me know. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014


classic-winnie-the-pooh 4_720x960

I do not want to read books written for teens.  I do not want to read new books.  I want to snuggle down with Winnie-the-Pooh and Uncle Wiggily.

 I want to revisit the flood in which Piglet is entirely surrounded by water and the boat made of an overturned umbrella.

I can not get interested in road trips made by fledgling adults, or the struggles of young people whose best friends have all moved away.  I want to to find Goldbug on every page.  I want to meet Anne Shirley again for the first time.

And I want to sail on the pirate ship with Obadiah, the Bold, chant "Not I!" with the dog and the mouse and the cat - or is it a rooster?

It is the waning of summer, a time of nostalgia and I want to go back, go back, go back to the first time I opened Little Men.

This, too, shall passToddlers turn to school children.  Tigers turn to butter and I will turn to new books some time.

But not right now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chomping on the bit

Two sources have alerted me to some awesome soon-to-be-published books.  Over on Fuse#8, Betsy Bird mentioned titles from a librarian's preview from HarperCollins.  I am drooling.

And PW Children's gave stars to the books they reviewed in today's online edition.  Since I am receiving this e-newsletter after retirement, I won't link directly to the reviews.  I can tell you what the books are, though.

1.  Is this a dream?  I must pinch myself.  Jen Bryant teams up with Melissa Sweet to bring us a picture book biography of Peter Mark Roget, the creator of Roget's Thesaurus.  The book, The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus  is published by Eerdman's and will come out in September.  Bryant has authored some awesome non-fiction and Sweet's illustrations win me over every time.  But the subject matter, a man obsessed with words, a life-saver to writers and puzzle-solvers alike, is so mind-expanding.  Fascinating people don't just climb mountains and rescue tiger cubs.  They solve equations and explore words. 

2. Nuts to You by Lynn Rae Perkins (Greenwillow, 978-0-06-009275-7) comes out in August and it's about SQUIRRELS.  Yes!  Yes!  Squirrels are everywhere my friends.  When a squirrel is carried away by a hawk, his friends go on an adventure to find him.  Isn't that cover so pretty?

3. Gregory Maguire of Wicked fame is back with a Russian folktale styled story that features a futuristic Baba Yaga and a reversal of roles plot.  Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire will be published by Candlewick in September

4.  Last but not least is Meg Wolitzer's "debut" YA novel, Belzhar, brought to us by Dutton and due out in September.  (Wolitzer's The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, a masterpiece about Scrabble must have been meant for a younger audience.)  A broken-hearted teen who is incapable of recovering from her failed romance is sent to a special school where she is given a journal that takes her back in her own life to before her heartbreak.

There are so many books and there is so little time.  I think I ONLY have 24 ARCs to work through, along with the one library book on my bedside bookshelf.  I will tell you about that, later.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

The Luck Uglies

I finished The Luck Uglies last night and I was satisfied to see that it promises a sequel.

When the (evil, disgusting, arrogant, cruel, etc.) Earl of Longchance captures a young Bog Noblin, he invites doom and terror to the village of Drowning.  Rye, her friends, Folly and Quinn, her mother, Abby and the mysterious tattooed man, known as Harmless, must save the village.  Spells, magical beasts, potions, and incredible escape acts, most occurring in the dark of night, keep the pages turning.

I admit I skimmed.  I often skim through battles because reading about swordplay and how the characters avoid decapitation or mangling makes me itchy.  (I am not an 11-year-old boy.)  I took the time to read one such scene and it was cinematically presented - the type of action/adventure sequence that the target readership will LOVE.

I love the cover and chapter illustrations.   I thought that one or two scenes were dragged out for suspense and action's sake.    Even the villains - except for the Earl, who is beyond the pale - have their not-so-awful moments.  So, yes, I think fantasy and adventure fans, boys and girls alike, will enjoy this book.

ASIDE:  Is there a running around the rooftops meme circulating through kids' fiction right now?  This is not the first, or even the second, book that I've read this year in which city rooftops are used as escape routes or roadways.  Just wondering.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Cracks in the Kingdom

Late on Monday night, I finished The Cracks in the Kingdom with a loud moan.  How could Jaclyn Moriarty do this to her readers?  What about the Queen of Cello?  How can Elliot and his father return?  Is Belle really having a mental breakdown?  Will Madeline's mother be ok?  And is Princess Ko as unfeeling as she appears?

I mean, really!!!!  This wild, whimsical fantasy trilogy (I hope it's a trilogy because I want answers SOON if not immediately) keeps me guessing.

This second entry into The Colors of Madeleine series returns to the Kingdom of Cello - where colors can create havoc and the entire Royal Family except for Princess Ko has been abducted.  Elliot Baranski is on the Royal Youth Alliance, an initiative supposedly designed to find ways for the Provinces of Cello to better work together.  The RYA is really dedicated to finding the Royal Family and returning them to Cello before war breaks out.

Since the Royal Family is in the World (That's us, folks.  We are the World.), Elliot needs Madeleine. 

Madeleine in turn needs her Worldly friends, Jack and Belle.  And the reader needs a neck brace from swiveling back and forth from Cello to the World to Cello to the World.

And it all gets scientific, and romantic and then, just like in the first book, A Corner of White, incredibly suspenseful.  WAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  I can't take this.  I need to know.

Who are these Wandering Hostiles who besiege the government of Cello?  Where the heck is Madeleine's father?  Why is the WSU determined to keep traffic between Cello and the World closed?  Can Elliot ever return to Cello?  Will Samuel survive? 

This review does NOT do this book,- the writing, the research, the fitting together of the smallest puzzle pieces,- justice.  Not since the Chrestomanci books of Diana Wynne-Jones have I read fantasies as intricate as this series.  Moriarty's mood is so much lighter that Wynne-Jones, (whom I miss every passing day), that it is easy not to notice how every detail is necessary to tell this story.  WOW!  Just plain wow!  Read these books.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sinner - Maggie Stiefvater

It was Leon, really, who kept me reading.  This poor guy has to drive the returning rock star to the rock star's new gig and the rock star - Mercy Falls fans know that Cole St. Clair is the rock star - keeps asking for Leon's advice and input.  And Leon is so driver-ish-ly polite and even kind.  So for Leon I kept reading.

Because I never read the Mercy Falls books, I didn't know about the passion between Cole and Isabel Culpepper, or the tragedies that befell the Mercy Falls clan.  And I am grateful for Leon because I learned to like and respect Cole and Isabel. 

Here's the story, guys.  I will only take you so far, ok?  Cole is out of rehab.  He has been offered a chance to make a new album - as long as he does it on a reality tv show based in LA.  The band, Narkotika, is defunct.  Jeremy, the bass player, is in LA with a new band.  Mercy Falls readers know what happened to the drummer, Victor, and there's no return from that, alas.

But Cole's real goal is to find and win back Isabel.  Isabel lives in LA with her mother and aunt and cousin, Sophia.  Thanks, Sophia.  I liked YOU a lot, too.

The opening of this book let's you know that there is ACTION, DANGER and DRAMA involved in the book.  The setting of a reality show just pours lighter fluid on the blaze, so to speak.   And through it all, Cole tries to convince Isabel to trust him.  And Isabel tries to remain in control of circumstances that are beyond her reach.

In my opinion, this is not Maggie's best.  But I'm not all that fond of werewolves, either.  However, I am happy and relieved that the book was lively and full of good people behaving pretty ok, mostly, and ordinary people acting like jerks sometimes, and romance and action and love - and minor characters that I wanted to meet in person.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

Humph! In The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore, I did not like Hazel Kaplansky much - at first. She is the smartest person she knows and makes no bones about it.  She is the kind of smart kid that makes other kids - and grown-ups - annoyed.  And she reminded me a lot of....ME!  (And, I was NEVER the smartest person I knew, but I didn't KNOW that.)

 It's 1953.  The Switzer Switch and Safe factory in town has been targeted for investigation into the possibility of Communist infiltration.  Luckily, Hazel's parents run the town cemetery.  But, their new grave-digger, Paul Jones, has all of Hazel's detective senses trembling.  She thinks of him as the Comrade and is this far from proving that he is a Russian spy.

Then Samuel Butler moves into Hazel's fifth-grade class.  Samuel is smart.  And quiet.  And he has secrets.  And he likes cemeteries and research.  Before too long, Hazel has Samuel helping her with her investigation into who the real spy in town is.

1953 was a time of wide-spread distrust, when neighbors eyed each other for signs of disloyalty, a time like....NOW, for instance.  One man used the new media sensation of TV to create panic and spread fear in his need for power and attention.  And 10-year-old Hazel swallows the propaganda whole, even while adults around her warn her to use her brains.

Hazel and Samuel have to put up with the same silly shenanigans that middle graders everywhere have to put up with - snide comments, being judged because of who their parents are or because of where they live.  As investigations into the factory continue, Hazel overhears adults acting just as mean and petty as their children.

Hazel and Samuel uncover secrets, some innocent, some painful and Hazel redeems herself with an act of courage and kindness just when Samuel needs her most.

Add this to the growing list of fine historical fiction from an author who gets better with each effort.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly

I am just about finished with this book and it is rushing to its conclusion like a, pardon me if you've read the book, run-away train.  I hope Jaleigh Johnson has ever intention of writing more about Piper, Anna, Trimble, Jeyne, and green-eyed Gee.  The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson.

Piper is an orphan in the Meteor fields of Merrick (spelling?), the northern kingdom.  Her father recently died while working at King Aron's factories in Dragonfly territory to the south.  Piper can fix any machine that her fellow scrappers can find after a meteor shower.

In an attempt to find a missing friend, Piper finds a strange caravan and a frightened, confused girl who bears the mark of the Dragonfly.  She is protected by King Aron.

Anna, the girl, remembers very little.  When a strange man arrives to claim Anna, Piper decides to take Anna to the southern capital of Noveen on the 4-0-1, a cargo train.  There they meet the rest of the heroes of this book and there they embark on a series of increasingly hair-raising adventures.

Enough, I have about 70 pages to go and things just got even more hairy!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Gollywhopper Games

I subscribe to Bookperk, a splendid e-newsletter that offers ebooks for prices between free and $4.99.  These are mostly books written for adults, sigh.  But every now and then, an awesome kids' book is offered.

I think that's where I purchased The Gollywhopper Games  by Jody Feldman.   If you enjoy books that revolve around puzzles, this book is for you.  I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein and enjoyed it.  The Gollywhopper Games is every bit as good, in my opinion.

One of the things going for Gollywhopper is that the games truly resemble reality games from TV.  Adults are monitoring every step of the way and they intervene when necessary - which only happens once.

Another thing that I enjoyed is that the book's backstory adds tension to the games.  Gil's father once worked for Golly Toy Company and left under accusations of embezzlement.  He was found innocent but his son's life has been very unpleasant ever since.

When Gil qualifies for the games and then passes the first two tests, the Golly Toy Company's president tries to get Gill to drop out.  He offers to pay Gil off! 

Gil's fellow contestants fall into typical kid lit stereotypes; the airhead beauty who just wants to be on TV; the rich kid whose parents spent thousands of dollars to ensure his place in the games; one of Gil's schoolmates who is an athlete and a hothead; and the quiet studious genius.  These are the final five players who must work together as a team and then against each other.  But each player gets a chance to shine.  I liked that a lot.

The puzzles and challenges are fun and well-described as well.

Up until now, I have felt that I don't visualize as well when I read an ebook as I do when I read a paper book.  After reading The Gollywhopper Games, I think that perhaps it is the book itself that causes the problem.  I had no problem visualizing the colorful toy factory, the hallways, or the games.

The Golly Toy Company finds out who embezzled that money.  Gil learns a lot about himself and so do his fellow contestants.  This is a book I might even read again.  High praise from me.

PS.  It appears that the world is demanding another set of Gollywhopper Games and the Golly Toy Company aims to please its customers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Where I have been

I met Philip Gulley at Book Expo.  He is so warm and F(f)riendly. AND I got his new book.  It seems that Sam got "released" from his Friends Meeting in Harmony for standing in for the Unitarian minister for awhile.  I can't wait to read that one.

 I think I will avoid BookCon in the future.  It WAS awesome.  John Green spoke and the crowd waiting for him acted like they were waiting to see the Beatles - except most of them only have a vague notion of who the Beatles were.

Another thing about Book Con that was wonderful was the HUGE number - HUGE! - of younger readers on the floor.  What a great marketing idea!  Give your best now-and-potential customers access to their favorite authors?  Feed the future, publisher-folk.

So, maybe?  I might change my mind about BookCon.  The energy was amazing.   However, the Saturday crowd is always bigger.  The lines to meet authors were extremely long.  And I left my schedule of events on the BUS!!!  I will write my must-see events on my skin next time.

Well, I just remembered that I have MUCH to do today and time is fugit-ing.

Be well.  Read.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Constable & Toop

The folks at Abrams sent me a box of books for the KU Children's Lit Conference.  Among them was Gareth P. Jones' Constable & Toop.

Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

The mood is gray and shadowy - perfect for a rather gruesome book about ghosts and murder. The main living characters are teens. That's the only thing about this book that might make it YA. The murders are awful - although not overly graphic. The lampooning of bureaucracy will resonate with readers of all ages.

Here's the set up. Sam Toop is a Talker. Ghosts come to him for help with those last minute things that hold them here. If Sam is successful, the ghosts walk through the Door into what waits for them. Lapsewood is a ghost - a clerical drudge in the Office that regulates ghostly affairs. Something is amiss in London. The field operative that visits resident ghosts - ghosts held in place by the buildings they haunt - has gone missing. So, although he seems to be incompetent, Lapsewood is sent to find the missing ghost. He finds her and something much, much worse.

There is also an exorcist who rips ghosts apart, allowing that other Evil to grow. And a teen girl, Clare, who is fascinated and enamored with the world of ghosts.

These stories, Sam's, Lapsewood's, Clare's, the exorcist's and the murderer's - I forgot the murderer - unfold alongside each other. Then, they merge.

It's all pretty cool the way Jones pulls each of these strings together. The ghost world of Victorian London promises a lot of stories, should a young Talker have further adventures.

If your copy has an author's note at the end, (my copy is an ARC), take the time to read it.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How it works

Here is how things have been working for the last few months - or years - or lifetime.

My Brain tells my Self that I should stop playing around and get certain things done.

My Self tells my Brain that I DO have time to play seventeen more games of whatever and also scroll through FB posts and "like" most of them, etc.  Also, there are those awesome kids' crafts that I will never have a chance to use, but, aren't they GREAT??

This continues until, finally, my Brain grabs my Self around the throat and forces Self to do what needs to be done - usually in a half-baked manner.

Then I complain - loudly and often - that I don't have time to get things done, read all the books I want to read, exercise, etc.

Repeat. Ad Nauseam.

Then do a blog post about it.

And in disgust go do something that my Brain might approve of.

That's how it works.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty, - a review

Lord and Lady Bunny - Almost Royalty by Polly Horvath  is a little hard to follow. Some people LIKE all that jumping around so... 

Wait!  This is a book about BUNNIES!!!  Jumping around?  Bunnies? Of course! NOW, I get it.  You can't tell a story about bunnies without a lot of motion.  Can't be done.

So, now that Mrs. Bunny is a famous bunny author, she has decided NOT to be a detective any longer (see Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire).  She wants to be queen.  Is that so much to ask?

The Bunnys' human friend, Madeline, is very worried about her college fund.  Her parents have $6.27 between them.  But, Mildred, Madeline's mother has plans to buy 30 more acres for an Organic Farm.

Somehow, everyone ends up taking a cruise ship to Jolly Olde Englande!  Pop-Tarts are involved; also, thieving hedgehogs, snobbery, and magic.

I love Mr. Bunny - for so he is called - and Mrs. Bunny and the way they tell stories.  I also like their enthusiasms and need for adventure.

And the humans in these books are equally likeable - Madeline and her hippie-dippie parents and her brilliant eccentric Uncle and her best friend, Katherine.  And Prince Charles.  And Starlight Heavens - well, she is not actually likeable - at all - but with a name like that?  Come on.

There is a very famous author - besides Mrs. Bunny, that is - in this book, known as Oldwhatshername, and a not so famous translator.  These cameo appearances just add to the mayhem.

Just sit back and enjoy a trip across the Pond with the Bunnys and their human friends.

Friday, May 9, 2014

We Are Liars ARC Giveaway Winner!

Alisonj is the winner of We Are Liars  by e. lockhart and A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd.  Alison, you can email me at with your snail mail address and the books will be sent off tomorrow morning.

Thanks, everyone, for entering.  I have more ARCs to share so, stay tuned.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


I have an ARC of the very soon to be released We Were Liars by e. lockhart.  The book is breathtaking.  So comment below before May 9th - I know, not a lot of time - and I will try very hard to get it to you before its release date - which is May 13th.

We Were Liars

I will include an ARC of A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd in this giveaway.  This is another fine book.  BUT these two books could not be more different.
A Snicker of Magic
Yep.  Different.  You know what to do.

UPDATE:  For those who have never entered my giveaways, here's what will happen.  On May 9th, I will collect all your names and stick them in a "hat" and get my husband to pull one out.  That will be the winner.  I will post that winner's name here and you have to email me with your address.  Those directions will be posted with the winner's name.  So check here on the 9th or 10th.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Say It Ain't So

On Wednesday, as the rains poured down, I read, almost in one sitting, Josh Berk's book Say It Ain't So.   The book starts with a very disturbing holiday scene in the Norbeck household.  I can say no more, because that disturbing scene is very important to later developments in the book.  Just know this.  From a middle schooler's point of view, this new holiday tradition would be very disturbing, although harmless, I guess.

Once the kids are back in school, Lenny and his friends, Mike and Other Mike, are soon back in their element of talking about baseball, or playing video games while friends are talking baseball.  There's a new hitch, though.  Mike is not just talking, he's practicing baseball - all because of what happened in the first book about this trio.  Mike wants to play again.  Yes.  AND, he wants to play catcher.

So Lenny is a good friend and helps Mike prepare by doing what Lenny does best, throwing wild pitches.

OK.  That's the set up.  But this is a Josh Berk book, so there is also a mystery.  Who framed the middle school catcher as a thief, making Mike the starting catcher?  How can we get that obnoxious pitcher to SHUT UP?  And, if I die from laughing, is Josh Berk to blame? 

This book made me laugh out loud and I actually had to stop reading to catch my breath.  I hope Josh  writes a whole bunch more of these books. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

KBWT - Magazines


I decided - last week - to feature magazines on KBWT and then, I saw this cute little clip on Facebook and that led me to my friend's Instagram account which reminded me that my LinkedIn page could use some oomph so I went on YouTube and discovered the Easter videos I uploaded and then I got a.... never mind.

So here a week - and a day- later are some links to kids' magazines that offer parents/educators information, some games and info on how to subscribe.

Let's start with that staple of pediatrician's offices, Highlights.
Highlights offers THREE magazines, Hello! is for babies through 2 year olds and it's so cute!
High Five! is for children up to age 6.
The Highlights that we all know and love claims to be for children between the ages of 6 and 12.  The magazine does offer stories and articles and different reading difficulties.  Personally, I think children tire of just about everything except the hidden pictures - NO ONE gets tired of the Hidden Pictures, EVER - by the time they are 10.  No matter.  This is a solid, well designed, advertisement free, magazine for the whole family.

Next up is MY favorite family of Kids Magazines from Cricket Magazine.
 Kids magazines from Cricket

 The link below leads you to descriptions of all their magazines from the adorably durable Babybug (ages 0 to 3) through Cicada, a literary magazine for teens.  Besides award-winning literary magazines for all ages, Cricket offers FIVE non-fiction magazines for kids - magazines that encourage learning through well-written and well illustrated articles about the world; science, history, math, cultures, geography - AWESOME! 

Kiki Magazine is geared to girls between the ages of 10 and 14.  There are no advertisements in Kiki and the articles center around fashion, finance and entrepreneurship.  Yeah!  Heady stuff!  But the magazine is colorful and age appropriate and no one needs to worry about an advice column that discusses "uncertain" topics.
Here's another magazine that targets the same demographic as Kiki -
New Moon Magazine for Girls
This looks amazing!  I have never seen this magazine in person but the website is cool.  Take a look, all you girls between the ages of 8 and 14.  There is something in here for you.  And it says that the editors and a lot of the authors are girls themselves.

Which brings us to....
Stone Soup Magazine 
Since 1973, Stone Soup magazine has been entirely written and illustrated by kids!  Whoa! And they publish books by kids, too.

 Once boys hit 11 or 12, there is a dearth of magazines geared to their interests.
SI for Kids - mirrors the adult Sports Illustrated, without the swim suits and with kid-friendly advertisement.
Boys Life - the official magazine of the Boy Scouts offers a lot of great articles about the outdoors, sports, technology and the values of the Boy Scouts.  It was a long time ago, but I LOVED reading my brother's copy of Boys Life.

There are dozens of magazines for children and teens - science magazines, sports magazines, classroom magazines that cater to teachers.  A lot of non-fiction magazines offer children's versions, such as National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Little Kids.

And don't forget Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr (formerly Your Big Backyard) and Humpty Dumpty and Boys Quest and Hopscotch...  I could go on and on but it took me over a week to get THIS post up.  I'll stop now.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Clean your sofa!

 What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World

What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World by Henry Clark - now, THAT is a title.  It's the kind of title that will make some kids - and adults - snatch the book up.

Most readers will get exactly what they want - an adventure pitting kids against an evil alien who is plotting to mwahahahahahahaha TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!! and maybe the entire universe.

River, Freak and Fiona live on the edge of Hellsboro, as a section of their small town is called.  Underground coal fires have turned a huge portion of the town into a nightmarish landscape surrounded by tall chain link fences.

One day, a sofa appears at the end of the driveway of an abandoned mansion.  The three search in the sofa and find a coin, a double-six domino, and a zucchini colored crayon.  So which of these items will save the world?

The new owner of the mansion, an odd man named Alf, enlists the three friends' help in flushing out the criminal behind the chemical spill that created Hellsboro.  Is this fiend merely an industrialist with no conscience or is he - dum, dum, DUMMMMM- an evil alien?  Alf makes no bones about the extra-terrestrial nature of this megalomaniac - a person so evil he beheaded his own daughter. 

What follows is pretty exciting - with mind controlled henchpersons that dress up as dogs, furniture that thinks for itself, underground portals, slingshots and a whole bunch of narrow escapes.  Enjoy.  (Foe grades 4 and up.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stoker & Holmes

It took me a long, long time to finish The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason.  But now the foundation has been set and I look forward to more of this partnership between the sister of Bram Stoker and the niece of Sherlock Holmes.

Gleason set herself a monumental task.  Not only did she need engaging characters who somehow embodied their family traits, but Gleason created a steampunk London that outlawed electricity and was built on three levels with steam powered elevators between.  AND she incorporated a 21st century time traveler. 

Young ladies of society are taking their own lives - or so someone wants the police to believe.  Somewhere near each corpse, or in the victim's belongings, a scarab mechanism is found, causing Irene Adler, -yes, THAT Irene Adler - who works at the British Museum, to call on Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker for help in hunting down this connection. 

The atmosphere of suffrage unrest and Egypt-mania that existed in Britain at the end of the 19th century is the perfect breeding ground for this mystery.  

What will Evaline and Mina tackle next?  Will their 21st century visitor find a way home?  And the character they know as the Ankh, just who was she - or he?  Wait for the next book to find out.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Picture book title brainstorm

I am brainstorming picture book titles here and I have come up with a template:

(Name), the brave little (animal, household appliance, vegetable, shape or person) who (verb past tense) to find a (place or group)

So here how it works.

Choose a name - like Hortense.

Then choose a thing, preferably non-human but... well, anyway, how about plunger?

Then insert a past tense verb - how about tabulated?

And last but not least, a place or group.  Usually this is something cuddly but not always.  Let me riffle through my dictionary here.    Hmmmm, pride.

So the title of my picture book will be:

Hortense, the brave little plunger, who tabulated to find a pride.

That will generate a lot of excitement in the publishing world.  I will just wait for the offers to pour in.

You can change the template, too.  Maybe your brave little whatever went on something.

Hortense, the brave little plunger, might go on a mop.  Or, your brave little something-or-other could learn something.  Hortense, the brave little plunger, who learned to sleep.  Awesome!

Yep.  Hortense and I are going to RULE the picture book market.

(Obviously, I am at a loose end, today.  I think I'll take a walk.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Patterson's Latest and KBWT

Homeroom Diaries

Jame Patterson - whew!  When does that guy sleep?  I bet he has electrodes attached to his brain to transcribe his dreams so when he wakes up, he has new ideas.

In July, his latest book series begins, The Homeroom Diaries.  Margaret "Cuckoo" Clarke, back from a brief sojourn in a mental hospital, tries to get all the warring factions of her high school to bury the hatchet.  Really, that's all you need to know.  The possibilities for mayhem that exist in that premise are infinite, indeed.  Patterson's great-grandchildren will inherit this franchise when all high schools will be virtual - but the problems will be the same.  Sigh.  Unless "Cuckoo" is successful and real teens use her stories as a model of peaceful behavior.  Hope springs!

Kids Book Website Tuesday!!!
1.  Cops 'n' Kids  Last Wednesday, I visited the Cops'n'Kids Reading Room on the Southside Northampton Community College campus.  What an inviting - and exciting - place!  While I was there talking to Bev Bradley, who manages this organization, two children came in with parents and walked out with FREE their-very-own-to-keep books.  Studies have shown that children who grow up with books in their homes, books that STAY in their homes, have an advantage in education.  As a librarian, I worry about the unintended slight to libraries a little bit.  I know and understand the deep attachment that children have for their very own books and I applaud Cops-n-Kids for making book ownership a possibility for everyone.  If you live in the Lehigh Valley, visit the Reading Room on Wednesdays or Saturdays.  If you live elsewhere, look at what they do to copy, or find a similar group near you.

2 Slimekids   So this site just might KBWT extinct.  Andy Fine, the creator of SlimeKids collects book review sites, book trailers, links to authors websites and more on this one website.  Thanks, Andy.  Now, what will I do on Tuesdays?

KU Addendum

 Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference  The official logo of the Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference.

My KU Addenda ( or "um", I can't remember which) is up on the Lists page.  But here is the link if you need immediate gratification.

And here is the link to the list I handed out at the KU Children's Literature Conference on Saturday.

Thanks.  Stay tuned for more book stuff.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

KU Children's Lit Conference

The Kutztown University Children's Literature Conference occurred today and it was, as always, wonderful.  Thanks so much to all the people who pull this conference together.  The keynote speakers, Frank Serafini, Jim Murphy and David Wiesner, were amazing and the book reviews were, too.  (She lowered her eyes, modestly.)  The problem with being a book review presenter is that you can't see what the other reviewer is doing.  I put out a booklist.  I wonder if she does, too. My booklist is up on the Lists page but check back in a day or two to see The Titles That I Forgot!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stories - April 6th

My accordion is ready with her very own mustache and so am I.
Ready to sing (badly), play (loudly) and tell lots of fun stories.  I have stories about people with mustaches and animals without mustaches.  I have songs and games to play.

So bring your mustaches with you tomorrow - real or fake - to Godfrey Daniels at 2 pm for the LAST Children's Series Storytelling event of the year.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Winnah! SLJ's Battle of the Books

Winner final whole The Big Kahuna Match: Between Boxers & Saints, P.S. Be Eleven, and Eleanor & Park

Nuff said.  Another great contest, another astonishing result!  Whoo Hoo!

Children's Book Review

The Children's Book Review is 6 years old today.  Check out their Happy Anniversary Win-a-Kindle Contest.

Good luck, everyone! 

Panel 0  PS.  If you win, let me know!

Monday, March 31, 2014

We Were Liars E. Lockhart

Reading about the shining Sinclairs and their private island reminded me of the joys of summer when you live on a large property and you have the run of the land.   My cousins, my sibs and I -not RICH at all, just always together - we had the golden summers that Lockhart describes in her latest book "We Were Liars".

I was swept up in that sense of belonging, of knowing that we would always have each other.  Idyllic.

Of course, even in fiction, life must intervene.  Lockhart takes great pains to dole out the pieces of that intrusion and so, out of respect for her craft, I can't tell you much.  Life crashes into the Sinclairs' lives, like a tornado.  That's all I can say.

So read it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beekle trailer

  I dare you not to have some emotional response to the music for this trailer - to say nothing of the artwork or the book's idea.
By Dan Santat.  I am looking for this the next time I step into a bookstore.

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

The trailer is pretty awesome.  And the book is not too shabby either.  Birdie tells the story of how she and her boss, Alfred the Bogler, rid London of child-snatching demons.  Small and fair, Birdie has an angel's voice.  She sings.  The bogle comes out to snatch her.  (Some are slimy; some are smoky.  All are evil.)  Alfred does what he must.

Two things happen almost simultaneously in this novel.  First, the woman who runs the largest band of child pickpockets and beggars in London asks Alfred to look into the disappearance of several of her lads.  More boys are disappearing than usual.  Then, a learned gentlewoman wants to accompany Alfred and Birdie on their jobs because she has studied every book she can find about these demonic beings. She makes it worth their while - at first.

Well, that's all I can tell you without spoiling the book for you.  Just know that there are some evil doings in here and some treachery - of the human kind.  And Birdie and Alfred get their world shaken up and thrown around.

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks  Check a library or bookstore near you.  I hope the next book in this series comes out soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vacation in Tupelo Landing - with ghosts

 The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing

A good book is like a mind vacation.  And that's what reading The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing was like.  Mo Lebeau, Miss Lana, Dale and the Colonel are back with a local history assignment, a new kid in class, and an auction at the abandoned inn.

Miss Lana and Grandmother Miss Lacy conspire to purchase the inn. (The other bidder was despicable!)  And the inn comes with a ghost - in the fine print of the deed.

The members of the Desperado Detective Agency (Mo and Dale) decide to unmask that ghost with terrifying and edifying results.

I love fiction - because it's not fact.  There are kids out there as quick-witted - or quick-mouthed - as Mo.  We just don't run into them all that often.  There are friendships like Mo and Dale's, too.  Still, Mo's mindfulness about Dale's thinking ("rhetorical" "social skills") and Dale's just plain niceness work to warm the reader's heart. ( Of older readers, anyway.)

There is a little incident toward the end of the book.  Dale has visited his dad, Macon, in jail and Dale's older brother, Lavender, asks about the visit.  "Same dog, same spots,"  Dale says (mixing up the leopard/spots thing.).  Mo notices that Lavender's face goes soft, the way that Miss Lana's face looks sometimes when Miss Lana looks at Mo.  And the reader knows that Lavender truly loves - no, cherishes - his little brother.

Yeah, I wish Tupelo Landing was a real place.  I wish I could visit with the Colonel and Mo and Miss Lana.  And I hope that there's another book about this cozy, folksy little town.

And the ghost part?  It's intriguing and, in the end, it's the stuff of fairy tales and happy endings.  Pan from the strings of lights to the twinkling stars, please.  Fade.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Storytelling, Books, and stuff

This morning, Larry and I met to plan our storytelling workshop at the Bethlehem Area Public Library on Wednesday (March 26th) evening from 6 to 8 pm.  If you live anywhere near the library; if you are at least 12 years old and younger than 18; if you like to tell stories, contact the library and sign up.  OK?  It will be F-U-N! 

So, I DID read more books last week.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell.  Sophie and Charles find each other after a shipwreck.  She's a baby floating in a cello case.  He's a young man.  He decides to raise her as his own. He lets her wear trousers at a time when girls and women never wear trousers.  He uses toast as a bookmark!  She climbs trees and eats off the covers of large books.  Then a child welfare organization becomes "concerned".
Charles and Sophie flee to Paris in hopes of finding Sophie's family and they find a family of a totally different sort in the garrets and on the flat roofs of the most romantic city in the world.
 There is an airy quality to Sophie's pre-child welfare life and a fantastic feeling to her life in Paris.  And it makes a lovely, lyrical story.

Jessica Darling's IT List by Megan McCafferty.  Well, here is another engaging book about How to Be Popular in Middle School.  Jessica's big sister hands Jessica a card with just 4 rules on it.  The card is titled "Bethany Darling's IT List - the Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Perfection and Prettiness". 
Well, Bethany has been VERY popular and VERY pretty all through middle and high school so, of course, Jessica wants to follow these simple tips.  But her attempts to join the Cheer Squad and pick her first boyfriend end in a variety of humorous disasters.  Jessica has to find new friends and new interests in order to survive.  Readers my age will find the book comforting in its predictability.  Middle school readers will find Jessica's survival comforting.  Fun, light and sure to please readers in grades 5 and up.

And last but most definitely not LEAST....
 Seeing Red by Kathy Erskine.  Whoa!  The setting is the early '70s in Virginia.  Red Porter just lost his Dad and now may have to pick up and leave behind the family garage and everything he ever knew because his Mom wants to move back to Ohio.  In his attempt to make the family property unattractive to buyers, he gets involved with teenage racist thugs.  He finds out more than he ever wanted to know about his family's shady past.  One of his best friends outgrows him and the other has family crises that seem insurmountable.  He disappoints a lot of people and has to face his mistakes.  He grows up. 
This is a fast-moving book that treats some BIG issues with sensitivity and grace.  For kids in grades 6 and up.  Mature fifth graders may be able to handle it but there is a graphic description of the Emmett Till story that is very disturbing.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Equilibrium returns

  When one parent has to travel for work and the other parent has to go to his/her daily job, too, babysitting opportunities multiply for all grandparents.  It was a whole week of babysitting opportunities (not every day) including a trip to the local science center and a visit to ducks at the park. 

Still, toddlers make it hard to do things like blog, write, clean - except shoveling up the building blocks -, laundry, and think.

That said, within ten minutes of the toddler leaving, we - Hub and I - looked around and said.  "We miss our grandchild."  Are humans ever satisfied?  I think not.

Now we can get back to other things:

Tomorrow - March 23rd - at 2 pm, Dave Fry has a CD release party for "Playground", his new kids' songs CD with guest stars like Robbi Kumalo and Wendi Bourne on vocals, Kevin Soffera on percussion, Ansel Barnum on harmonica and Rob Stoneback kicking back some brass.  I can NOT wait for this show.

Books I have read this week:  (both for grades 5 and up)
The Water Castle  by Megan Frazer Blakemore.  (I like that author's name!)  Electromagnetism, Peary and Henson and Cook and polar explorations, a little bit of Tesla and some back and forth-ing between time periods - plus kid style adjusting to new people and stressful situations and forming friendships.  I liked it.  I'd give it 3 1/2 stars though because I thought it went on a little long.

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban.  Ruby's story is framed by the events of the Bunning Day parade.  As she waits to read the Bunning Day Essay - she won the competition - the author takes us through the loss of her grandmother, Gigi, and how her grandmother's last day has affected Ruby's life and friendships.  Ruby deals with her loss and the guilt that comes with a loved one's death.  (I relate, Ruby. )  The mood of Bunning day is so ebullient that the reader just knows that everything is supposed to be all right.  And it might be.  There's hope anyway.  This one gets 5 stars because I relate, because it is hopeful and because everything is not tied up in a pretty package at the end - just almost.  I also really wanted a donut after reading this book.  Hmmm, maybe thatmake it 4 stars.

I think I read at least one other book this week.  So check back later for another review.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

First rule of BoB

I neglected the first rule of BoB.  Consider carefully the judge.  Care-ful-ly.  Knowing the judge of each match may very well change a prediction.  Yesterday, I gleefully proclaimed the winner for today without even noticing who the judge is.  Sarah Mlynowski writes books with edge, even when writing for middle graders. If I considered that carefully, I may have guessed that she would pick Far, Far Away as the winning book in this match.  ***strikes forehead with palm!****  Duh.

That said, her praise of both books convinced me that she chose wisely and well.

No more predictions for me.  My arrogance is justly punished.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BoB Gloat

Eleanor & Park has moved on to Round 2 of the Battle of the Books.  Did I not call it?  I did.  And this success has given me enough arrogance to think I can predict tomorrow's winner.

Far, Far Away goes up against the Newbery-winner, Flora and UlyssesOne is about the ghost of Jacob Grimm.  The other is about a squirrel who has a life-changing run-in with a vacuum cleaner.  Hmm, ghost?  Or Squirrel?  Ghost...squirrel...ghost...squirrel.

Before I cast my prediction into InterSpace, let me say I found both books to be great reads.  The language in Flora and Ulysses is delicious.  Far, Far Away is populated by people who appear to mimic stock fairy tale characters... and then, they don't.  One is a romp through family dynamics and poetry.  The other takes breath-taking twists through grief and loss into depravity.  It's pretty much like deciding between a flashlight and a coil of rope.  Both are useful but pick the wrong one and you are stranded.

There.  My weighty analysis is done.  I pick the SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!  (Full disclosure here.  I am a big fan of stories about squirrels.)  And for those who didn't read either book, that would be Flora and Ulysses as tomorrow's winner.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It Started!!!! Battle of the Books

SLJ's Battle of the Books started already.  I missed the first two matches. The results of Round 1, Match 2 are here:  Round 1, Match 1, click here.

BoB2014 MG R1 M2 Round 1, Match 2: Boxers and Saints vs A Corner of White
Here's Match 2.  Just guess which one wins.
 Sometimes, the best part of each match is the anticipation.  In these cases, since I haven't even had a chance to look at one of the entries in each match, the judge's comments will help me a lot.

Check out the brackets below.  I am ready for the next Match and I predict..... Eleanor and Park will win!  Except that Doll Bones was awesome, too.  Glad I'm not a judge!
3 9 BKTS 1RND alljudges The Brackets

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ingrid at Godfrey's!

Ingrid Bohn will tell stories at Godfrey Daniels on March 2nd at 2 pm.  Prepare to be amused! Amazed! and Awed!

Here's snippet of Ingrid's storytelling from StoryFUSION 2013.

See you there.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

So, with my afternoon plans shot to heck, I picked up Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee.  The opening reads like a fairy tale about a boy who is imprisoned by a cruel and beautiful queen from the North. 

Then we meet Ophelia, her father and her older sister, Alice.  They have moved from London to a place where it always snows.  Wait!  Haven't I read this somewhere before?  Does Ophelia find a magic door?  Was this written by a Danish folklorist?

Foxlee takes the story of Andersen's Snow Queen and twists it just enough to make a enjoyable read.  Ophelia and her family are grieving the loss of Ophelia's mother.  It is days before Christmas and Ophelia's father, Mr. Whittard, has taken a temporary assignment in a huge museum in a frozen city.  He must catalog and arrange an impressive collection of swords.  His daughters, teenaged Alice, and 11 year-old Ophelia, are to keep each other amused.  Alice can't seem to rise above her grief to watch Ophelia.  Alice's misery makes her a victim later on.

Ophelia is a practical child and knows magic doesn't exist.  So when she finds the door and looks through the keyhole, she can't believe the boy she sees trapped inside.  She doesn't believe the story he tells her.  And yet, she feels compelled to help him.  This sudden display of bravery frightens Ophelia more than the adventure itself.  And it is quite an adventure.  Releasing that boy may save the entire world!

The book is written for middle grade readers - 4th through 6th grade.  Fairy tale lovers of all ages will enjoy it.  The "lost in a museum"  setting is always fun.  Who knows what we might find in this gallery, or down this hallway?

Crochet mustache

I put crochet directions for this mustache on the Let's Make Stuff page.  It's not hard at all.  I must apologize to all seasoned crocheters out there.  I have never written crochet directions before so I hope you can decipher these directions.   If you don't know how to make the varying stitches, has a directory of stitches here. offers video lessons here.



I cancelled my performance.    The venue has been closed all weekend.  Parking is not good on that side of town.  Folks are still digging their cars out.  These are my reasons for cancelling. 

But, the sun is shining for the first time in days.

Everyone I discussed this decision with thought it was a good decision.  As a matter of fact, I hardly had to convince them at all.

Still, I feel awful about cancelling.  Whatever happened to the "show must go on"? 

Well, there.   A little bit of venting on a sunny icy day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Mustaches!  And more in the works.  If I ever figure out how I crochet them I will post the directions on the Let's Make Stuff page.

Anyway, can you guess why I am producing these fake facial hair products???  Because I will be telling stories at Godfrey Daniels on Sunday at 2 pm - and my stories will have mustaches in them!!!  So I need some samples, see?

So pray for sun and warmth.  Right now, it feels like we will be housebound til April (3 to 6 more inches on the way, they say, bringing our total for the day to what? 14 inches? 18 inches?).  

Time to make some more mustaches!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Guest Teller - ME!!

I'd like to introduce the featured teller at Sunday's Children's Series Show at Godfrey Daniels.

ME!  Karen Maurer :
 Come out and hear me fumble around on the accordion; tell stories about mustachioed people; offer a prize for the best mustache so please bring one along; get people up on stage to march and mug and sing.

The date: Feb. 16th, 2014
The time: 2 pm
The Place: Godfrey Daniels
Admission: $4.50 for people 5 years old and older.  And Cops'n'Kids will be there to hand out free books.
See you there.
It was a long time ago.
I've always been fond of mustaches!  
My first accordion.  I will play the new one on Sunday.
I'm giving last minute instructions to the Reader Theater troupe at Nazareth Library here.

This photo speaks for itself!
I told stories when I was just a youngster - on long car trips after we sang every round my mother could teach us.  Dad ruled the car radio and classical music made us kids itchy.  So I was radio Karen, making stories up, telling stories from memory.

It just followed that I would tell stories as a "profession".  Books and stories; stories and books...we know that stories came first but books were sure to follow.  And I love both of them.