Monday, August 26, 2019

Library Haul ACHIEVED!

I went to the library on Friday and checked out four middle grade novels.  Oh, no! I have to go back to the library and check some more because...I read them all.

Middle grade novels are short - ish.  200 pages or slightly more is a common size.  And the print is not big but it is not tiny either.  Still, I have been in a reading slump this summer.  It looks like I am back.

First book:
Song for a Whale by Lynn Kelly.  Iris is a spunky techie nerd who is Deaf. Her parents and older brother are Hearing.  Iris is the only Deaf person in her school and is having trouble because no one speaks her language.
When the science teacher shows a video about a whale whose song is higher than any other whale's song and who travels alone, Iris wants to fix things for the whale, (called Blue 55 in the book).  She comes up for a plan to "call" the solitary whale using her electronic knowledge and with help from the music teacher and her rebellious recently widowed grandmother.

The start of the book promises frustration and difficulty but things morph into a truly empowering - and fun - adventure.

Second Book:
Ra, the Mighty: Cat Detective by Amy Butler Greenfield.  Ra is the Pharaoh's cat, living the life of luxury.  His best friend, Khepri, a scarab beetle (dung beetle), convinces Ra to help a kitchen cat clear the name of a little girl servant.  This is light and fun.  Ra is not as inscrutable as he wants his friends to believe.  Egyptology fans and cat fans will enjoy this romp.  This is the first book in a series. The next book comes out in October.

Third Book:
The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly by Rebecca Ansari.    No one remembers Charlie's brother, Liam.  There is no trace of Liam anywhere.  Even Charlie's best friend, Ana, who believes that Charlie had a younger brother, has no memory of the younger boy. His father travels a great deal for work, and Charlie's mother's depression grows worse daily. Charlie knows if he can find Liam he can slow his mother's illness down.  Then, someone messes with Charlie's comic books - just like Liam used to. And he finds a note telling him to talk to the assistant baseball coach, Jonathan.  The note looks like Liam's writing. What Jonathan tells Charlie and Ana leads everyone down a dangerous path.  I did NOT see the huge twist coming - not at all.
The past, regret, grief and forgiveness all play important parts in this novel that combines fantasy, time travel and horror in one. (Light horror but scary!)

Fourth Book:
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams.  Genesis comes home to find her family has been evicted - again.  Her unreliable Dad never paid the rent.  When he moves the family - Genesis, her mother and father, into an empty house in an upscale housing development on the outskirts of Detroit, Genesis has to start at a new school.
Genesis is convinced that her father hates her because, instead of being light-skinned and "pretty" like her mother, Genesis is dark black like he is. This preference for light skin seems to be a generations long attitude.  The only person who doesn't hold this opinion is Genesis' Mom.
Trying to find real friends, dealing with self-loathing, learning for the first time what she wants to do, all adds up to an obstacle filled adjustment in the new school. Then, there is the specter of another eviction.

Good reads and all different.  I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Book Haul

A bookstore chain that I frequent is running a Book Haul for its members. I don't usually buy books.  I do the photo thing and then go to the library. But 50% off every book on the table - many of them 2019 books - how could I resist that?

Then, I added a new Phoebe and her Unicorn (I promise I will stop it. Honestly. Someday. But they are just so heavenly - like Marigold's Nostrils.) And a middle grade novel for which I might never read a review but the the subtitle "or We Nearly Died. A Lot." just called my name.

Here they are in their colorful glory.

 I will now explain my selection process.
1. A book by Gary D. Schmidt. That should be enough of a reason but this book features a butler.  Who doesn't love books with butlers in them? Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

2. A book about food - doughnuts in particular. (Turns out, it's the second book in a series.)  It has doughnuts on the cover!  Come ON! The Doughnut King by Jessie Janowitz

3. Roller skates.  I can't roller skate.  I am obsessed with roller skates.  I am also afraid, as most people my age are, of breaking a hip. So I read about it. The Astonishing Maybe by Shaunta Grimes

Those are my 50% books.  The bookstore chain promised me a tote bag but, surprise, they were out of them.  When I asked the young - very young - maybe college aged clerk for a rain check, he did not know what I meant. "Rain check" dates me.  I am old.

The other books in the photo include Unicorn Bowling by Dana Simpson. We know why I bought that. Now, I want to go bowling, at which I do not dominate.

Last book - the one with the alluring subtitle; Shipwreckers: The Curse of the Cursed Temple of Curses - or - We Nearly Died. A Lot. by Scott D. Peterson and Joshua Pruett.

Problem: I went to the library yesterday and checked out these books. Sigh. These must be read first (except for Unicorn Bowling. Read it.).

Friday, August 16, 2019

Old Friends

I am now in the habit of reading out loud to myself, almost every night.  Well, not just to myself.  I make sure I have a stuffed animal or two in the room and I pretend to read to them. I pretend they interject from time to time.  Um, no, I don't think I need to seek professional help - yet.

Ah, you want to know what I read to the stuffies?  Well, I finished Winnie-the-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner, then I found some Uncle Wiggily books and read those.  I went through several story collections. Eileen Colwell's Storyteller's Choice got quite a few visits.

But the best ever of all sources of stories - the most beloved, - the trip into my childhood and into timeless stories - are these two collections.

My Book House - edited by Olive Beaupré Miller - is 12 volumes of stories, poems, rhymes, excerpts arranged in accessibility by age.  Each volume covers a different type of story and each volume is more complex and more challenging in readability and concepts than the volumes before it.

My favorite books right now are Collier The Junior Classics.  This 10 book set taught me my Greek and Roman myths, Celtic tales, animal tales that were considered the best in the 50's and 60's.  The series was first put out in 1918. In the 1970s, Junior Classics underwent some changes.  I know this because I had lost a volume from my husband's 10 volume set - almost identical to the set that ended up in one of my sibling's homes.  The local used book store got me that volume from a 1970's printing.  Wrong stories!  Different illustrations!  My childhood had been tossed away. 

Bless them, the ladies at The Old Library Shop found the book I wanted. The set is complete.  The stories I loved are all there.

See the source image

It's way past bedtime.  I have to "get ready".  Now, where did I put Felina Fairyfox and Nutty Romomlia?

Read an old story - out loud if you choose.  Good night.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Discontent - Lyrics

A while back, I found myself looking through Sunday paper's ads obsessively.  I realized I was looking for an answer.  Since then I pay attention to the way things are advertised. "Your life is incomplete," advertisers say. "There are better cars, medicines, cleaning products, etc., than the poor things YOU own."

No, they don't make fun of people who don't own the things they're selling. But they make their products appear iconic, liberating, empowering.

I wrote this. Now, I need a melody and a guitarist.

 Every thing’s for sale

 Every thing’s for sale and I scan the gaudy pages
For the key, the map, the clue that will unlock my goal.
I will save each cent and dime and then when I have found it,
 I will hold it in my palm and it will make me whole.

I will know it when I see it.  It will stand out from the others.
I will ring it up and bag it and clutch it to my chest.
I will know it when I see it, that one thing to ease my sadness,
that one shiny little trinket that will give my soul a rest.

Every week my hope rises as the ads come to my door.
Is the answer at the Walmart or at the Dollar Store?
I have bought so many gadgets in hope of some relief.
I have heard so many promises I’m losing my belief.

The ancients scanned the skies for the answers to the future.
The sailors ranged the seas in search of treasure and of home.
I wander down these aisles looking for the purchase
That will finally make me smile and not feel so all alone.

Every week my hope rises as the ads come to the door.
Is the answer at the Target or at the Superstore?
Can I fill this hole with objects made in far off distant lands?
Can I find peace in just being who I am and where I am?

Today I think that I will lie upon the hillside
 and watch the clouds until the very first star’s light.
I’ll walk through growing gloom to the home we shared together
I will unchain my bike, pedal off into the night.

Every week my hope rises as the ads come to the door.
Is the answer at Best Buy or at the Discount store?
Can I fill this hole with objects made in far off distant lands?
Why can’t I just find peace in who I am and where I am?