Friday, May 26, 2017

Rescued by Social Media

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos  By the time that Oregon state legislator, Jared Stone, discovers he has an inoperable brain tumor, the nasty thing has already done some damage.  That's probably why he thought that putting his life up on eBay was a good idea.  The auction ends - (it's illegal to sell a human life on eBay, FYI) - but not before it's been noticed.

A TV producer offers Jared a lot of money, if he will allow the entire family to be televised until Jared's dying breath.  YIKES!  Jared's wife and older daughter hate the idea.  Jared just wants them to be taken care of when he dies.

The older daughter, Jackie, gets in touch with her best FB friend and an online role playing "fan" of the show and using social media - AND World of Warcraft - they fight back.  They pit their collective wits against the frightfully clever and unscrupulous brain of the TV producer.

The book is shocking, clever, scary, embarrassing, and sad.

See You In the Cosmos by Jack Cheng.  11-year-old Alex has a dog, Carl Sagan, named after Alex's hero.  Though his dad died when he was only 3, Alex has an older brother in LA, and he still has his Mom.  As long as he makes sure there is food in the fridge and the laundry gets done, he can do whatever he wants.  What he wants to do is make a recording of earth sounds on his golden iPad and launch it into space with the rocket he built himself.

So, he buys tickets to an amazing convention of rocket enthusiasts - he learned all about it online at Rocketforum - and he and Carl Sagan head to Arizona from Rockview Colorado, by themselves.

A random email from Ancestry.com, about a man with Alex's father's name and birthdate, and a couple of college students on a summer mission, sends Alex to Las Vegas where Alex finds questions - lots and lots of questions. 

SO... somewhere along the way, Alex ends up in the hospital in serious condition. (Read the book!)  AND Rocketforum comes to the rescue.  Cue the William Tell Overture - lots of brass!!!  Ta DAH!!! 

Alex does more thinking than most people, no matter their age.  As he tries to grasp the complexity of what he is learning about his family, he makes some poetic connections between emotions, humans and the cosmos.

Life is complicated.  Sometimes, social media can help.
(I just noticed something.  BLUE must be the hot new color for book covers!!!!)


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cricket Media Giveaway

iPad!  Free magazines from my all-time favorite children's magazine company!  Or, sample their magazines for $5.

Here's the link: http://bit.ly/2qhk8np

Cricket Media produces advertisement free magazines for toddlers through high school on a variety of subjects.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who knew?? 5 Things I Learned from Books


Image result for Cream with Hot Coffee

Who knew??? 

Over the years, I have picked up tidbits that had little or nothing to do with the plot of the book I was reading.  I have carried these things with me, years after I forgot where I read them.

1.  Who knew that if you put the cream in FIRST, you don't have to stir your coffee?  No idea what book that came from - just that it was YA and starred a Renaissance Fair following Mom.

2.  Who knew that a wet paper towel is an excellent way to pick up those little glass shards that you can't see?  Just wipe the area of the floor where the glass broke with the wet paper towel and you will be amazed at what it picks up. Use a disposable wet mopping cloth as a substitute. (They weren't invented when I read that book.) This middle grade book featured the son of his school's headmaster.  That's all I remember.

3. Who knew that tuatara have third eyes on top of their heads?  This came from a Nocturnals book.  It's a fun series for young readers (third grade and up) that features a team of problem solving nocturnal animals.

4. Who knew that a messy bedroom can signal a lack of self-respect?  OK.  That one is an opinion but I think it holds water.  A messy bedroom can also signal a lack of discipline, a sense of entitlement (as in, someone else should clean this up), an over scheduled life, a sense of rebellion... but the lack of self-respect made me stop and look at myself. It's from one of the Anna Pigeon National Park Ranger mysteries by Nevada Barr.

5.  Who knew that halfway down the stairs was "somewhere else instead"?  Sit there.  You'll see. Oh, A. A. Milne, I love you!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2 Chances To Learn Storytelling

I TELL stories.   Powerpoint, YouTube, videos, TV, - you CAN use all of these to share a story.  Painting, music, dance, animation - without a story at the basis, these things can be mere exercises.

I can teach your children and teens what makes a good story and how to be a better storyteller and I don't need this computer - or the Internet to do it.   Want to find out more?

The Allentown Public Library will offer Build a Better Story Workshops (led by me) on Wednesday nights at 6 pm, beginning June 28th.  This series runs for six weeks. The workshops are open to young people (and their adults), preferably 7 years old and older.



Teens and tweens can come to Storytelling Workshops at the Emmaus Public Library on Tuesday afternoons from 2 to 3:30 beginning June 20th.  The dates are not consecutive so please check with the Emmaus Public Library for registration information and all dates and times.

Both workshops will end with a performance.  Workshop participants get to show off what they learned.  Don't worry.  You will love it!  I am good at telling stories.  And I am good at playing.  Come tell and play a story with me this summer.

Contact the library is question to find out when registration opens and how to sign up. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bike to Work Day

Happy Bike to Work Day - even though you biked home by now!

I have a bike in the garage.  Its tires are flat and no one has ridden it for years.  The thought of setting out on our increasingly congested streets both exhilarates me and scares the bleep out of me.  I have fond, fond memories of taking my son and his friends on bike hikes long ago.  What an awesome feeling of freedom!  Is it too late for me to start biking again?

If more people rode bikes on short journeys, we'd be healthier; we'd use less fossil fuels; our streets would be friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.  So much GOOD on just two wheels.

Bikes feature in a lot of books.  Kids on bikes?  Must be an adventure in the offing.  So here are great books about kids (and grown-ups) on bikes.

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli.    The world of Hokey Pokey is childhood.  Bicycles are the best friends of this odd and mesmerizing book about childhood.  In Hokey Pokey, adults do not exist.  It is a land of games, riding, popsicles, dreaming.  When a boy's bike is stolen - by a girl! - his attempt to get it back begins his journey out of Hokey Pokey.  I think this book is for adults - like me - who never really wanted to grow up.

The Red Bicycle by Jude Isabella.   Follow Big Red as the bike journeys from its original owner in the USA to a girl in West Africa who uses it to help in the sorghum fields.  Then Big Red moves on to a young woman who needs to carry medications to sick people and even bring those peopl to the hospital.  Perhaps, that bike in the garage should find a more useful home.

Wheels of Change : How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom by Sue Macy. Macy gives an overview of women's quest for equal rights by showing how two wheels added mobility to women and impetus to their struggle.

Messenger, Messenger by Robert Burleigh.  This picture book, illustrated by Barry Moser, celebrates the bicycle messengers who weave in and out of city streets.

Off we go: a Bear and Mole story by Will Hillenbrand. Today is the day!  Mole is ready.  Bear takes off the training wheels and hovers as Mole careens off the road and through the fields!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.   This is the first of several mysteries starring pre-teen sleuth, Flavia DeLuce.  On her trusty bicycle, Gladys, Flavia tools around her small British village in the early '50s.  Every book features multiple scenes of Flavia flying along the roads, her braids flapping in the wind.  If any series champions bicycles, it's this one.  BTW, the series is intended for adults but hardy young readers can handle the slight goriness and disguised adult behavior.

Around the World by Matt Phelan.  This graphic novel chronicles three around-the-world adventures from the late 1800s.  One of those adventures is on bicycle - undertaken by Thomas Stevens, a former miner.  His feat is even more impressive since it was done on a high-wheeler, a bike with an enormous front wheel and a high seat.

Summerlost  by Allie Conde.  New to a small town, a girl looks out the window to see a boy in medieval dress fly by on a bicycle.  There you go, an adventure on wheels.

Genevieve's War by Patricia Reilly Giff.  How Genevieve ends up at her Grandmother's farm in Alsace as the Germans march into France is only part of this World War II story.  After the Germans steal MeMe's horse and cart, it is her father's bicycle that allows Genevieve to run errands and even, to help the Resistance.  Vivie le velo!

Personal note! My nephew is a coach for Pennsylvania Interscholastic Mountain Biking.  Mountain bikes can go almost anywhere - to work, to school and over the hills!   Check out the PAMB's Facebook page here.

Monday, May 8, 2017

8 odd memes

Memes travel like sound waves, but without any discernible trace of their movements.  Since most books are in development for a year or more, these odd details occurred to two or more authors, miles apart, at almost the same time.  It is a mystery.

1.  Ships that sail the skies salvaging junk. This shows up in two novels this year and one from two or three years ago. Carve the Mark, Jed and the Junkyard War, The Fog Diver. (I really enjoyed The Fog Diver - the others, too, but that one sticks in my mind.)

2. Travel by suitcase.  No, really.  Two books this year.  The Crooked Sixpence, The Glass Town Game.  The suitcase is your vehicle.



3.  Kids who end up being something else - and I don't mean special or talented or immortal or magical.  I mean something else entirely.  Three books last year, one this year. Rebel Genius, The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn, The Kidnap Plot, Jed and the Junkyard War

4.  Strokes.  Yep.  I've read two books in the last year.  Falling Over Sideways, Cyclone

5. Heretics of the 13th century - only two books that I am aware of, both last year, but really? The Inquisitor's Tale, The Passion of Dolssa

6. Co-habiting with the dead.  Ghostly Echoes, The Crooked Sixpence, Ghosts.  This is not a new meme. Usually, only one character can see or hear the ghosts. In the Crooked Sixpence and in Ghosts, the dead are regular residents of a community.

7. Literary works, characters or authors as main plot devices.  Tash Hearts Tolstoy.  The Glass Town Game.  Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen also figure prominently in new fiction.

8. Kids who live in prisons. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook. The Warden's Daughter. The Executioner's Daughter.


Here are two things that crop up a lot. One concept is fun but I could see less of it.  The other is just depressing - even for a survivor. 

1. Renaissance fairs.  Why not sports camps?  Just asking, here.  (I actually did read a book about sports camp.) A Properly Unhaunted Place, - I loved this book, BTW.  Setting Free the Kites,

2.  Cancer.  It doesn't matter who has it.  I am tired of it.  Of course, every time I say this someone writes a really good book for kids and teens about the subject. Still. 





Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Winnah!

The Giveaway ended last night at midnight.  The winner is Suz!  Yep!  Her initials are SC and her identifier is Suzy.  Send your snail mail address to me at bookkm@gmail.com and I will send the books your way.  You have until Tuesday, May 9th, to send me your snail mail. 

Thanks to everyone who entered.