Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Multnomah County Reading program starts today!

If you didn't already sign up at school, you can go to your local branch to sign up starting today. Materials for people who signed up at school have been given to teachers at WOMS, so they should be delivering them very soon if they haven't already. Happy reading!

Anahita's Woven Riddle - Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Phew! I'm finally caught up. I've been reading a lot lately, but I haven't done the best job of writing my review right when I read the book and they sort of got piles up. But I saved the best for last. I LOVED, loved, loved this story.

This story is set in 19th century Iran and revolves around the nomadic family of Anahita, who is, herself, like many in her community, a weaver of rugs. As is typical of her people, when she was 15 years old, her father said she needed to get married. I cannot even imagine! He also told her that there was a rich and powerful man, one who could affect the welfare of her people in important ways, who had asked for her hand. This rich and powerful man is also quite old and not kind, and Anahita really does not want to marry him.

Anahita tries and tries to think of a way out of her situation, and finally she decides to ask her father if she can create a riddle inside of her weaving and hold a contest to see which man can guess the riddle and its answer. She says she could not be happy with a man who did not enjoy riddles, and since this is one of the joys she and her father share, he eventually consents to her contest, even though it may, and indeed does, cause some problems.

There are several men who vie for her hand, and their stories are woven through Anahita's story in clever ways, person by person. As I read about each one, I found myself rooting for that one. Then when I'd read about the next, I'd be rooting for him. Except the old khan, I never wanted him to win. In the end I was torn between tow, but I think the better choice was made, and not without some tension and excitement.

This was fabulous, beautifully written story. I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages. It is on the order list for the WOMS library, so you can look for it there in the fall, or go to your local branch of the Multnomah County Library now.

Twisted - Laurie Halse Anderson

I'd read some reviews for this book and was excited to see that a young adult author whose work I really enjoy had a new book coming out, particularly one from the male point of view, so I was happy when it finally came to my turn on the library hold list. I was not disappointed, and this book will definitely appeal to both girls and boys.

Tyler Miller has never been a popular boy, and so he creates a plan that he thinks will turn him around...a little graffiti painting on the school ought to do the trick. That is, unless you drop your wallet at the crime scene and are apprehended and assigned to community service the judge. Oops.

There is a bright side to his manual labor, however. Tyler turns into a pretty studly lookin' senior with lots o' muscles. Enter Bethany Milbury. She's cute, popular, and the girl of Tyler's dreams. And she's diggin' him. things are going well for Tyler. Until he makes a big mistake and shows up at a party where there is a lot of drinking and other bad things happening, and he gets accused of a crime that happened there. He did NOT do it, but it's difficult to get other people to believe that. This is an important lesson in how one bad choice can follow you around for a long time and make things pretty miserable for you in ways you never imagined. In making a choice about how to deal with everything that's happening, Tyler considers suicide as one of his options.

This is a book for mature, older readers because of the content, but it is another book from this author that really makes readers think about many important issues, and I appreciate that there is someone out there addressing these things for young adults.

The Higher Power of Lucky - Susan Patron

this was the Newbery medalist this year, and I really enjoyed it, although I personally did not like it as much as I liked the Honor book Rules by Cynthia Lord. this was a sweet and also a little bit sad story about Lucky, age ten, who lives in a TINY desert town under the guardianship of her father's former girlfriend. Got that? Her mother died, and her father wasn't ready to take on parenthood full time, so he asked his former girlfriend to come over from France to take care of Lucky. And this was quite lucky for Lucky, indeed. Brigitte loves her very much, although it is sometimes difficult for Lucky to realize this. She lives in fear that one day Brigitte will decide she's had enough and return to France, leaving her all alone.

In order to try and cope with her fears, Lucky, who overhears parts of Alcoholics Anonymous and other various "Anonymous" meetings by sitting outside the hall where they have them and putting her ear up to a hole in the wall, attempts to search for her Higher Power. She's not really sure what that means, but it sounds hopeful. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Lucky encounters a giant duststorm and one tiny tennis shoe that throw her whole plan into chaos.

This short book packs a bunch of life's lessons into a small package and is a good read. This book is available in the WOMS library.

In Real Life: Six Women Photographers - Leslie Sills

If you've read my bio, you know that I also have a portrait photography business, so I was very interested to read this book about six women in the field, some of whom I've heard about and whose work I've admired, and some of whom I've never even heard of. the artists were Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Carrie May Weems, Elsa Dorfman, and Sindy Sherman.

My work focuses primarily on people, although I do a little landscape work, but these women have a very broad range, and so it was interesting to read about a variety of approaches to photography and an array of possibilities out there that I don't normally thin about with photograph. Imogen Cunningham, for example, likes to focus on natural objects up really really close, looking at textures and patterns. I do that sometimes, but often if I do, it wasn't really my intent. Dorothea Lange and Lola Alvarez Bravo were recording events to enlighten people. One as an activist, one as a historian.

I liked how this book was put together with lots of pictures interspersed with a good amount of text. Some photography books are really heavy on photos but without much information about them, and sometimes that's ok, but often I want to know more, and this book gave me that.

If you're interested in photography, as a hobby or a career, you can learn a lot from this book, and I'd definitely recommend it.

Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult

This book was hard for me to read as a teacher because it was about a school shooting, but it was very compelling and I was reminded of some things that teachers need to think about. Peter, the main character in this story, the school shooter, was a teenage boy who all his life was teased, humiliated, and bullied at school. This does not justify his going into his school and killing ten people and injuring many more, but it does help explain it. And the adults around him did not give him the help he needed. It was really sad - for Peter, for the families who lost children in the shooting spree, for the other students who were there, for the whole town that lost its feeling of safety. There were very few good outcomes, although there were some.

Picoult is a fabulous writer - her novel My Sister's Keeper was a senior division young Reader's Choice nominee - and like this one, both had shocking endings. I would not recommend this book to middle schoolers because it is too raw and too real. I would recommend it to other educators and adults. Available at Multnomah County Libraries.