Showing posts from August, 2012

many views

Continuing on (still! *grumble grumble*) with my Newbery quest, I read and absolutely loved E. L. Konigsburg's 2nd Newbery Medal winner, The View From Saturday.

We start the book wondering about the whys and hows of Mrs. Olinski's choosing of her four 6th Grade Academic Bowl team members: Noah Gershom, Nadia Diamondstein, Ethan Potter, and Julian Singh. In the telling, Konigsburg wove together characters whose past experiences help define a moment in their future; a tea brings the kids together and the Souls are formed. The book takes place in Epiphany, NY, and before the story is finished you'll realize that the name is apropos. LOVED LOVED LOVED this book.

Would I recommend? Absolutely.

Age:  Amazon lists 8 and up

a storyteller at heart

"I am a storyteller at heart. So each project begins with the question, 'Is this story worth telling? Is the manuscript an interesting read? Is it surprising and challenging? Will I, in the process of making pictures, learn something new?' --Jerry Pinkney

A traveling exhibit of Jerry Pinkney's beautiful artwork--organized by the  Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA (not far from where I used to live!)--is celebrating Pinkney's 50 years as an artist and author. Best known for his depictions of the African American experience, Pinkney is also well known for his illustrated retellings of fables and fairy tales, stories like The Lion and The Mouse (pictured right), which won him the 2010 Caldecott Medal--making him the first African American to win it!

Here is a link to his impressive bibliobgraphy.

And the dates for the traveling exhibit: June 14, 2012 - September 9, 2012 - The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit, Michigan *For those o…

peased to review

I fell in love with Keith Baker's peppy, perky, pandemonious (yes, I just made that word up...hey, Shakespeare did it all the time!) peas in LMNO Peas, not long ago and was peased as punch whenI got my hands on his latest book, 1-2-3 Peas!

The book begins: "One pea searching- look, look, look, Two peas fishing- hook, hook, hook," taking the reader along for a ride which combines lovely, colorful, humorous illustrations, rhyming page after page; the reader follows along, counting up to 20, then on to 100 by 10s. (I fought the urge to count all of the adorable peas on every page after 40). Some great things about this book: it goes past ten (so many counting books don't and we often times get teachers looking for just that). Another thing I like about Baker's take on counting is that he puts the number (numeral and word) in large, legible font--great for little learners.

This is definitely a must read and another great Kindergarten Readiness read!

Ages: 3 and up

a simple life

This weekend Mom (who's visiting with us until next weekend) and I drove up to Michigan for a family gathering--my Uncle, my Mom's oldest brother is in the midst of chemo--which wound up being an amazing time spent visiting family, many who I haven't seen in ages; laughing and telling stories; catching up on our "grown up" lives. My Uncle, who just a few weeks back could barely walk, seemed his spry, normal, always laughing self; aside from his shaved head, he was the uncle I remember. At one point during our gathering, I looked up and realized that there were 4 generations of our family at the table, eating pizza. Amazing. Weekends like this past one make me long to be back home, closer to the people I come from, closer to the source of our stories.

On our way to the family gathering, Mom and I stopped at the Father Solanus Casey Center in Detroit to say prayers. Raised very Catholic I find that even as an adult, and in the midst of my personal struggles with t…

the next frontier

Neil Armstrong, best known as the first man on the moon, and as having said the iconic words:
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." passed away this weekend. He was 82 years old. (NY Times obit here.)

Neil A. Armstrong bio:
Born August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Married. Two sons.Bachelor of Science degree, aeronautical engineering, Purdue University; Master of Science in aerospace engineering, University of Southern CaliforniaFrom 1949 to 1952 he served as a naval aviator and flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War  Armstrong joined NACA, (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), NASA's predecessor, as a research pilot at the Lewis Laboratory in Cleveland and later transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards AFB, California. In 1962, Armstrong was transferred to astronaut status, serving as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission, launched March 16, 1966. He performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in sp…

I just have to watch this every so often

Ray Lamontagne & Damien Rice - To love somebody

Love this video so so much. I know I've posted it here before, but have to re-gift it. :)  Happy weekend!

since we were talking about space

The Muppets: Pigs In Space

Mars on the mind

If the recent news about the NASA Rover making tracks on Mars is inspiring interest in astronauts, the planets, or space, check out these great resources:

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet
You are the First Kid on Mars
The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Scientists in the Field Series)
I Want to be an Astronaut
There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library)

Young Adult/Adult:
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Ender's Game
The Martian Chronicles (the station where the NASA rover departed is named Bradbury Landing after Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles and other sci-fi titles.)
The John Carter of Mars series
The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Five Years on Mars(National Geographic) PBS Explorer Collection: Mars: The Red Planet
Apollo 13

And some facts about Mars:
Was discovered by the an…

August is Kindergarten Readiness Month

It's that time of year; the kiddos are heading back to school or already have started, and we all know it can be an especially overwhelming time for the Kindergarten crowd. Did you know that kids learn more in their first 5 years than they do in the rest of their lives? And just imagine, Kindergarten means the culmination of all the things that children have learned over these past years; they are taking all they've learned about communicating with others, sharing, playing with others, sitting still, going to the bathroom, coloring, cutting, etc., and are finally applying it somewhere where it matters.

What we are called to do as Parents, Educators, or Librarians is to continue teaching and reinforcing the skills that these kids are learning. Many libraries are aiding this process through Kindergarten readiness storytimes, info on their websites, or the created space (sometimes separate rooms) where the Babies-Kindergarten crowd can work on their pre-school skills--I think the…

stop it Ryan Gosling, just stop!

I love Ryan Gosling. Probably way too much. And I am not alone. This girl wrote the funniest letter to Ryan Gosling and blogged it. Thank you. I nearly peed my pants!


A little trivia for you: E. L. Konigsburg is the only author to have won the Newbery Medal and a Newberry Honor (the award for runners-up) in the same year. In 1968 Konigsburg won the Newbery Award for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, taking the Newbery Honor for, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. That's pretty impressive.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler'sheroine, Claudia feels unappreciated at home and so hatches a plan to run away to New York City, to the Metropolitan Museum no less! Along with her younger brother, Jamie, (he's the money) they set out upon an adventure they'll never forget.

The book was fun. I would have enjoyed it as a kid. The only thing I didn't like was that the book definitely feels dated (the kids start out with just over $28, and buy meals for under $0.75/a piece), but kids might not mind that so much because the adventure of the story is the focus and moves things …

that kind of day

Everyone should listen to a little Coltrane.

nine lives

In Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 bestseller, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, we meet Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned U.S. Olympic runner; but what makes his story special is Zamperini's exploits during WWII. Trained as a pilot after the war begins, Zamperini lives through a horrendous crash, only to be stranded aboard a life raft, eventually discovered by the Japanese--but I won't say more because I don't want to give anything away!

Hillenbrand tells a good story with enough details to be interesting, but not boring; Her storytelling is absorbing and moves things along at a rapid clip. I read this book in two nights. I even read the Acknowledgements at the end of the book and I never do that. I loved this book. And now I want to read Seabiscuit (though I've seen the movie).

Would I recommend this: Hells yes! I already have. SO. GOOD.

There is another synopsis of the book here (the article also talks about an allege…

the sweet life

A while back I posted about some parts of Cleveland that I'd explored and enjoyed; I've since been meaning to post about a trip to Little Italy.

Driving Little Italy's main drag (Mayfield Road), a street made for tourists--a shop advertised wine tasting; a peek into a restaurant window provided a glimpse of snug round tables, full to the edge with wine and bread and plates of pasta--was an exercise in patience. Cars drove slowly up the road as people jay-walked to greet familiar faces. Others weaved around tables covering a sidewalk, coming nerve-wrackingly close to the street and bumpers of passing cars. Cliche Italian music filtered into my open window, a cacophony representing all the restaurants. Those in for the best pastries and coffee were sitting outside Presti's.

Trying to park is an exercise in patience here. I checked side street after side street, finding no parking, but enjoyed the sight of little houses complete with nonnos and nonnas (grandpas and gran…

mo money, mo problems

In case you're interested in who the highest paid authors are these days, click here.

be jealous

Right now the Cleveland Animal Protective League is selling fixed and up-to-date-on-their-shots cats and kittens for $8 (kittens are normally $95). I went on Friday and adopted this adorable guy. Four months old (a week older than my niece--CUTE!), he is a domestic short hair. His name was Frisky, I've since renamed him Hemingway after, yep, you guessed Papa Ernest. He is still a little skittish around me, but we're getting there. 
Also had to get glasses on Friday, apparently all these years of reading are starting to take their toll.  I guess I am really starting to take this Librarian thing seriously, eh?

a ghoulish tale

My only experience with the genius that is Neil Gaiman was the movie "Coraline," based on his book, which I didn't really enjoy. In my Newbery quest I read The Graveyard Book last week, and found the experience to be much like a snowball rolling down hill--as it gained momentum and grew I got swallowed up by it.

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, grew up in a graveyard. Educated by the ghosts in both the traditional and non-traditional sense of the word--fading from view, for example--Bod yearns for the company of other living persons, but is warned of dangers to him in the outside world.

As the book unwinds we see how the lessons Bod has learned from his guardian, Silas, and teacher, Miss Lupescu, help him in his quest to learn who he is, and about the crime that took his family and led him to his life in the graveyard.

I really enjoyed this book. I WOULD recommend it. It also would be creepy to read around Halloween.

Age: Amazon lists 5th grade, I would say 4th grade woul…

I'm tired just from reading

the 1943 Newbery award winner, Adam of the Road, Elizabeth Janet Gray. Adam is a minstrels son with two loves, 1. traveling with his minstrel father (appropriately named Roger the Minstrel)  and 2. his dog, Nick. After many months spent together, entertaining a lord and his manor, Nick gets dognapped, and Adam, in his pursuit to follow the napper, loses his father. Months and months and months go by with no sign of pa or pooch in sight...will he find them? Will he become a minstrel? What is to happen to your young hero?

The book was ok, a little slow (as I am finding all earlier Newbery winners to be). I don't think kids today would enjoy it as much as the kids of old. Would I recommend it? Probably not. There are definitely more engaging books out there.

Ages: I would say 2nd and up

For a longer review than I cared to write, click here.

eagerly anticipated least as far as I've been concerned!

Mumford & Son's new album "Babel," will be out in the States September 24th. Click here for "I Will Wait," from the new album. Enjoy! And yes, more library posts or reviews or both soon.

Did I mention I might be getting a kitten? That feels adultish and more permanent...doesn't it?

30 Rock on Cleveland

Oh, Liz Lemon, how I wish it were all true.

a badass female character for girls to look up to!

1973's medal winner, Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, while not my favorite by the author--that is still My Side of the Mountain, which was a Newbery Honor book--this book was great. We follow as Miyax (Julie is her English name, Miyax is her Eskimo name) flees a marriage (at age 13!) and heads out into the tundra, making her way south with the hopes of eventually reaching San Francisco. Her survival is based on befriending a pack of wolves and her survival skills--passed down to her by her father. Along the way are many cool hunting and gathering sequences and a run in with a wolverine and a bear! Miyax (aka Julie) is a total badass, strong female character--Moms out there, I hope you're listening!

The story held some surprise twists--like the END!--and overall was a fun and fast read. Would I recommend it? YOU BET! And not just to girls, I think this book offers enough adventures and is well written enough that boys would enjoy too. I just really loved that Geo…


There is something so perfect about swimming in the rain. Surrounded by the orchestra, a million little drum beats; the band warms up, starts slowly until one by one it's uniform sound. The sound grows, intensifies. You lean back into the music, float on your back, lean into the beat, get as close to the sound as you can without the water swallowing you up. You realize you are in the band too; you unwittingly add to the cacophony, the rain slapping your skin, insistently tapping your head.

While the music continues you explore. You realize the shifting, tangible veil. Swimming in the rain means each stroke pushes you through another layer in a water blind; you are in a room whose walls you'll never find. You learn the vastness of the sky that mirrors your lake. You learn the solitary tread of staying alive, staying afloat--movement.  Your body relaxes and remembers itself. You spread and contract and feel vast in this water. You learn the smallness of yourself in the world.


intense Newbery

1974's winner: The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox

Yikes. This book was...umm...unhappy. INTENSE. A young boy is kidnapped and taken aboard a ship bound for Africa; the boy learns that though the U.S. no longer supports the stealing of Africans (to be brought into the Americas and sold) some captains still make the dangerous voyages. The story paints a vivid picture of the cruelty involved in acquiring slaves, and the miseries of life at sea among an untrustworthy group of men. This book is like a mini kids edition of parts of Roots. Holy cats! It was intense, though important, for sure.

The Slave Dancer isn't a book you would read for pleasure, that's for sure, but this book might work well in a school unit on slavery. One thing to be aware of is the use of the "n," word, which pops up a bit.

Recommend it? To teachers
Age: Amazon lists 10+

"Ye villains, ye rebels”

1944's winner, Johnny Tremaine (Ester Forbes), was a slow starter for me, but once I got into it I was hooked. JT is a gifted apprenticing silversmith, though vain and cruel to the other boys he works with; an accident which leaves his crippled, ends life as he knows it, but opens a door into a whole new world.

The story starts on the edge of the Revolutionary War and includes some of the real life drama, i.e. the Boston Tea Party and the "shot heard round the world," and there's a little, "one if by land, two if by sea," thrown around to boot! I found the historical parts fascinatingly woven into Johnny's story (or vice versus) and enjoyed the persona that Forbes gave to Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and other members of Boston's secret Sons of Liberty.

As you can tell I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! Recommend?: YOU BET!

Ages: Amazon suggests 10+

Also, now I want to read Ester Forbes' Pulitzer Prize winner: Paul Revere and the World He Lived In

homeward bound

I am heading to Michigan again today after work, for a summer party, but really just a grasping chance at trying to see someone whom I'm sure won't even be in town for the weekend anyway. Life really is a maneuvering game, no? I am riding up with a friend, her boyfriend, and another one of her friends; feeling in a funk and nostalgic and so glad that I packed Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and a full iPod o' music--I can either giggle to myself or fall asleep to my nostalgic mix. Think the nostalgia is because today is my bro A2's birthday--HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Brother! I love you--and August also marks my Dad's birthday...*sigh* I miss him so.

So, as I think back on our time in Michigan and shoot north, I will listen to this, one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs: Homeward Bound. Happy weekend all!

whipped into shape

Sid Fleischman's 1987 winner The Whipping Boy, brought me back to medeival times (and laughter), with a fun story full of ridiculousness--I mean, the bad guys names is Hold-Your-Nose-Billy, for Heaven's sake (this because he eats so much garlic!)

Spoiled and snotty, Prince Horace is a terror despised by all, but since royalty can't be whipped, Jemmy, (aka the Whipping Boy) takes the beatings for him, while dreaming of escaping back to the sewers to join his father, a renonwed rat catcher. But before this can happen, the Prince runs away, taking Jemmy with him, and of course disaster ensues! The pair are picked up by bandits (the aforementioned Hold-Your-Nose-Billy and company); in their attempt to escape Jemmy cooks up a rouse that he is the Prince and the Prince is the Whipping Boy...but will it work?! What happens? Lessons are learned, friendships forged. This book was short, silly, and fun. I obviously enjoyed it.
Would I recommend it: Already have.
Ages: Amazon suggest…

wish I could hit(ty) her with something

While reading 1930 Newbery medal winner, Hitty,Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field, a few thoughts kept popping into my head:
Do people really enjoy this book?I hate reading this book as much as I hate working out This should be Hitty's theme songI absolutely HATED this book. I found it uber tedious and boring and believe me I love a good adventure tale, but SNORE!!

Doing some reading after I finished the book, I was amazed to see how many people like it, and was also surprised to learn that the original Hitty doll is housed in the Stockbridge Library Museum in Stockbridge MA, not far from where I used to live.

so true


a magical summer

Thimble Summer, Elizabeth Enright's 1939 Newbery medal winner, falls into that category with Caddie Woodlawn;Anne of Green Gables; and the Little House on the Prarie series: stories about country girls and the mischief that they get into. The added twist to Thimble Summer is that main character, Garnet, finds a magic thimble and loads of things happen as a result.

While I enjoyed Thimble Summer, nothing spectacular stuck out as to why this was a medal winner--maybe while the world was on the verge of another war people were just looking for feel good, magical stories...?

Would I recommend it? Sure.

Recommended age: Amazon suggests 10+