Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Find Beauty Challenge - My entry

I did it! I go my video done for Justina Chen Headley's Find Beauty Challenge, part of her North of Beautiful . It's my first time to ever post something on YouTube. It's pretty exciting :) If you'd like to watch it, it's linked below.

You can also find my video and many other entries in the contest HERE and vote for your favorite. Everyone's a winner in this contest, though, because for every entry, Justina's donating $10 to help children in third-world countries born with cleft lips and palates. That's beautiful!


6th Grade Entry - The Lightning thief

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is KC’s entry. Thanks, KC!

The Lightning Thief
Author Rick Riordan
Publisher First Scholastic printing, 375 Pages

Percy Jackson is a kid who has been kicked out of most boarding schools in New York City. Percy feels that gods, goddess and monsters seem to be coming after him, for some unknown reason. Percy has dyslexia and ADHD, but as time goes by he learns these will be his greatest tools. He has angered the king god, whose name is Zeus and this is where the trouble begins. Now Percy and his friends must retrieve Zeus’s Master Bolt, which was used to defeat Kronos, his father. Percy and his friends are trying to stop a war, which would destroy the western civilization. They have ten days to retrieve the Bolt and find the true thief.

Annabeth has a cap that can turn anyone who wears it, invisible. She ran away from home because her stepmother was very rude and mean to her. Annabeth met a satyr and two other kids who were trying to get to Camp Half Blood. Annabeth is rude to Percy because of who their godparents are.

I liked how much fiction was in the book. I also liked how many weird creatures were in the book. Mythology is one of my favorite subjects, and that is why I liked this book so much. The book got more interesting with each chapter. The ending was so good and amazing it totally surprised me.

This book is great for kids who like fantasy. It is also good for people who like mythology, they can learn about creatures and gods. I would recommend this book for kids between the ages of six and fourteen.

Submitted by K.C.S.

Monday, March 30, 2009

6th Grade Entry - Torn to Pieces

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Raquel’s entry. Thanks, Raquel!

Torn to Pieces – Margot McDonnell
Harper Collins, 258 pages

In Torn to Pieces by Margot McDonnell, Annie is hoping that she won’t have to move again. Her mom has dragged her around with her grandparents since she was a little kid, and she really wants to settle down. She’s just made a friend when two mysterious boys arrive at her school. Although she doesn’t know it, as Annie gets closer and closer to the boys, she’s also getting closer to her mother’s past. Led by a phone message left by her mother Annie finds a bunch of thousand dollar bills in a hollow book. Soon after, her mother disappears. Annie knows that her mom must have been dealing with drugs. What happened to her? Is her employer after her? Is she dead? Read the book to find out.
Annie has bright orange hair, the color of maple tree leaves in the fall. Boys are a mystery to her since the only person who dated her was using her. The only person who like-likes Annie is a how-low-can-you-go pants kid named Junior who has baggy, pink, eyelids. She plays a saxophone called Beastie Boy and has a cat named Zorro. I wish I had hair like Annie’s.

I liked that this was a mystery without the detective as the main character. Usually the whole story is about the detective. The book was more interesting that way. Detectives don’t get into a lot of fights, they just solve the crimes. Torn to Pieces was very suspenseful. Also, Annie was an interesting character.

I think that mystery-lovers should read this book. Also, people who like romance with action. People who like suspenseful books would like this book. Finally, people who don’t mind blood, hair loss (not because of old age), and broken bones should read this book.

Submitted by Raquel G.

6th Grade entry - Twilight

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Bailey’s entry. Thanks, Bailey!

Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company, 498 pgs.

Isabella (Bella) Swan has just moved to the small town of Forks, Washington, to spend some time with her dad Charlie since she didn’t want to go out on the road and travel a lot with her crazy but loving mother and her new step-father Phil. Bella was so used the hot weather of Phoenix, Arizona, that she just wanted to go back home because Forks, Washington is one of the wettest places on earth. That’s what she thought until she met the beautiful Edward Cullen. He’s hiding something from Bella and she can’t figure out what it is. So Bella decided to do some researching on what she knew about the mysterious Edward Cullen. She knew he was incredibly fast, strong, and cold-skinned. Will Bella find out Edward’s secret and will she be able to resist his beauty?

Bella Swan is a seventeen year old girl in her year of being a junior in high-school. She has a crazy and loving mother who just got married to a minor league baseball player named Phil. She lived in Phoenix, Arizona until she didn’t want to go traveling the road with her mom and Phil, so she moved to Forks, Washington to stay with her dad.

I loved how Stephenie Meyer made everything so real to me. She did a really good job at choosing her word choice too. I recommend this book for people who love mystery and excitement. People who love that kind of stuff will love this book, I know I did.

Submitted by Bailey A.

6th Grade Entry - The Lightning Thief

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Sergio’s entry. Thanks, Sergio!

The Lightning Thief
Rick Riordan
Hyperion Paperbacks, 375 pages

Percy Jackson always gets kicked out of school. Percy lives in a small apartment in New York with his mom and stepdad. His real dad left to a sea voyage before Percy was born. Percy thinks he is dead. Eventually, he has to go to a camp his dad wanted him to go. It is called Half-Blood Camp. There, he is granted a quest to find Zues's stolen lightning bolt.

Percy has ADHD and dyslexia. Before the quest, Percy didn't even believe in gods. The quest turned him into a different person.

Percy is a great character to put in a mythological book. This book makes mythology fun, easy, and funny. Humor is perfectly placed in the right spots to give this book a two thumbs up.

I'd recommend this book to readers that like mythology or know a lot about it. If you like humor, pick this book up and read it.

Submmitted by Sergio S.

6th Grade Entry - Peter and the Starcatchers

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Sage’s entry. Thanks, Sage!

Peter and the Starcatchers Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson Hyperion Books for Children/ New York

Peter and his five friends, who are orphans, aboard a boat called the Never Land with a strange trunk on it. The whole crew is talking about how it’s the greatest treasure in the Seven Seas. Peter meets a new friend aboard the Never land. Her name is Molly. When Molly reveals a secret to Peter the mystery of the strange trunk begins to unravel. When Molly, Peter, and the trunk wash up on an unknown island they meet savages, a huge crocodile named Mister Grin, beautiful, but ferocious mermaids, and ravage pirates. They also discover the true powers of the trunk, and Peter’s powers. Everyone is after the trunk. Who gets the trunks? You’ll have to find out.

Peter is a sneaky and tricky boy. When all the boys and Molly are in danger, he shows affection. Peter is incredibly brave and almost gets killed several times to save the lives of the boys, Molly (who seems to be in the most danger) and a fellow sailor whose name is Alf. He also saves the chief of the savages (Fighting Prawn), and Molly’s father. Peter is courageous, but has a soft side.

Poor Peter. He’s already an orphan and has to take care of five boys, because he’s their leader, and on top of that he has to be brave and act like he’s not scared when he feels like he’s so scared he could pee in his pants. Now on top of this he’s responsible for nine lives. I question if this responsibility helps Peter by knowing that he is the one who is in control and gets himself and the others through this stressful time. The reason that I loved this book so much is mostly because of the suspense. I loved how the writers wrote the chapters. They would write about what was happening in one part in the story and then the next chapter would be about what was happening in another part of the story. For example: The writers would write about what was happening with Peter and Molly and the boys. Then the next would be what was happening with Black Stache. This way the chapters where always left at a cliff hanger.

I greatly recommend this book to people who like suspense and to those who like (or love) Peter Pan. Whoever enjoys a good book, I highly recommend this book. This is a great book if you’re bored or have nothing to do. Once someone who likes the things I said above picks up this book, I’m sure that they’ll get lost in it.

Submitted by Sage D.

6th Grade Entry - Fire on the Wind

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Kendra’s entry. Thanks, Kendra!

Fire on the Wind
By Linda Crew
Delacorte Press, 198 Pgs.

It is the year of 1933 and the driest season of the year. There are so many trees everywhere that could start on fire any minute. Storie is a young girl who is a logger’s daughter. Storie’s father and the other loggers have discovered a fire in Gales Creek which is pretty close to Blue Star Camp which is where Storie and her family live. The fire is spreading uncontrollably through the forest. There is no moisture in the air from the fire and a lot of the streams and lakes have evaporated from the ground. The loggers try to stop the fire but it is too much to handle.

Storie is a logger’s daughter and is fairly young. She has long brownish-blonde hair that is wavy. The girl is very courageous, not very lady-like, and she thinks she knows everything when she hasn’t ever been to school. Storie is a lot like her father because she wears overalls and she gets dirty all of the time and doesn’t really care about it.

I liked Fire on the Wind because it was adventurous and there was a little bit of a love story too. It also reeled me in and I wanted to keep on reading it. I couldn’t suspect what was coming up next until I read what happened. This was one of my favorite books. I didn’t ever get tired of reading Fire on the Wind because there was always another problem or new happening.

I would recommend Fire on the Wind to people who are interested in historical fiction, people who like a little bit of a love story mixed in, and people who would like to see and feel what it is like to be living deep in the woods and to have a logger as a father.

Submitted by Kendra T.

6th Grade posting - A Great and Terrible Beauty

6th graders at WOMS have been invited to post guest entries on my blog for YA books they’ve recently read. This is Rosita’s entry. Thanks, Rosita!

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Libba Bray

Delacorte Press 403p.

The plot in this book is that Gemma Doyle has special powers. Her powers are that she attracts the supernatural. She becomes entangled with the school’s (Spence Academy)most powerful girls. She also discovers her mother’s connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It’s there that her destiny waits .. if only she could believe it.

Gemma Doyle is a very proper young lady is very elegant. She has a dream of that she will overlook her father that she will go to Spence Academy.

Poor Gemma: I feel sad for her because she just had lost her mother, Virginia Doyle two months ago. The way the book was so mysterious it just kept on getting better this made me keep on reading the book until I finish it. And how it was old fashion in the 1895 how it describes the setting.

To me as reader I was interested in mysterious books some people I think would like this book are people who I ghosts and mysterious books or just like old fashion books.

Submitted by Rosita S.

Spring Break Reading - 7 books

Over Spring Break I was lucky enough to go to the Virgin Islands for some serious time on the beach. There's no better place to read a book, if you ask me. I finished 7 grown-up books this week. I took no kid books, because those are mostly books I've checked out, not ones I own, and I don't really like to take library books on vacation. So here's a SHORT review on each.

*Blind Spot - Scary and creepy. Could not read at bedtime.

*a Jennifer Cruisie novel - Silly and goofy, but fun.

*British Mystery I already forgot the name of - I actually liked this book, but the name escapes me, and I left it there, so I can't go look for it...unless I go back...

*Astrid and Veronkia - I was so hoping this was going to be fantastic becasue it had one of hte prettiest covers ever, but it left me a little flat.

*Tortilla Curtain - Disturbing and depressing. NOT a good beach book.

*The Last Time I Was Me - A light and easy fun romance novel. Set in Portland and surrounding areas.

*The Middle Place - I cried my eyes out on this one, but I really loved it. A memoir that everyone who enjoys the genre, particularly if you're a woman in your middle years, should not miss. I would not, however, recommend reading this one in the middle of a crowded airport, as many people will wonder, "What is WRONG with that woman?" if you do.

I'm back at work this week, and ready for some more teen lit, so stay tuned!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poetry Friday - 365

Well, baseball season is about to start and then I'll be hearing the Chicago Cubs on every radio in my house nearly every day until October. In honor of all the baseball fans out there who can hardly wait for next week and opening day to arrive, here's a poem for you.


~Jack Buck

When someone asks you your favorite sport
And you answer Baseball in a blink
There are certain qualities you must possess
And you're more attached than you think.
In the frozen grip of winter
I'm sure you'll agree with me
Not a day goes by without someone
Talking baseball to some degree.
The calendar flips on New Year's Day
The Super Bowl comes and it goes
Get the other sports out of the way
The green grass and the fever grows.
It's time to pack a bag and take a trip
To Arizona or the Sunshine State
Perhaps you can't go, but there's the radio
So you listen-you root-you wait.
They start the campaign, pomp and pageantry reign
You claim the pennant on Opening Day

From April till fall
You follow the bouncing white ball
Your team is set to go all the way.
They fall short of the series
You have a case of the "wearies"
And need as break from the game
But when Christmas bells jingle
You feel that old tingle
And you're ready for more of the same.
It will be hot dogs for dinner
Six months of heaven, a winner
Yes, Baseball has always been it.
You would amaze all your friends
If they knew to what ends
You'd go for a little old hit.
The best times you're had
Have been with your Mom and your Dad
And a bat and a ball and a glove.

From the first time you played
Till the last time you prayed
It's been a simple matter of love.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poetry Friday - Vacation

Can I tell you how very excited I am to be heading to St. John in the US Virgin Islands for spring vacation? It is going to be an amazing week of sunshine, sand, and snorkeling in Caribbean blue waters (yes, of course there will be books, too, but it doesn't fit the alliteration pattern). I plan to come back tan, rested and ready for the end of the school year. I thought this was a fun poem to start off vacation. Enjoy your break!

by Rita Dove

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Wake - Lisa McMann

I just wanted a book I could read for a few minutes before I went to sleep, but instead, much like Janie gets sucked into other people's dreams, I was sucked into this book with no chance of escape before the last page was finished. One of my students recommended this book, and I must have seen it elsewhere as well (again, NO clue where -annoying!) because it was already on my to be read pile (mountain). WOW was it amazing.

It's just a little bit scary, but not so scary that I couldn't read it in bed (until 11:30!), super suspenseful, enough hopeful that it's not depressing, tinged with a little bit of romance, strong in character development, but in a very unusual way - just a great book.

Janie, as I mentioned, gets sucked into people's dreams. If anyone around her is dreaming - in class, on a bus, through an open window of their bedroom as she's driving by, she'll be sucked into their dream and see exactly what they're dreaming. It begins when she's 8 or 9, and now she's in high school - where there's plenty of drama as is, let alone if you can see into your classmates' dreams. When this happens to her, she sort of blacks out and goes into a seizure-like state. It can be pretty scary for her, depending on what's in the dream, and it can be really scary for anyone else who sees. She doesn't want people to know about this, so she tries to be sure no one does see, but sometimes it happens.

The one person she lets in is Cabel, a boy from school whose dreams she's seen, and she's pretty afraid as a result of it. But Cabel likes her, and is kind to her, and Cabel has some big secrets of his own.

I thought this was a fantastic suspense story. It has some mature content, so I probably won't be getting it for our library, but older readers who like suspense stories are sure to enjoy it. Just be sure you set aside some time becasue you won't want to stop once you start!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer

This book was this month's choice for my grown up book club, and it is one of the best books we've read in all our meetings. I can't wait to get together to talk about it with everyone. I also am really, really hoping they make this book into a movie. The whole book is done in letters back and forth between many different people, and I can totally see all the different ways they could do the letters - some as flashback, some as people reading, some writing. It would be wonderful!

This novel is set in London and on the Isle of Geurnsey (near France) just after World War II has ended. A young author is looking for a subject for her new book, and just at that time a man from Geurnsey writes to her asking for help finding more book by a certain author. Thus begins an extraordinary communication between Julia (the author) and many members of The Geurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Since this blog is really mostly about kid lit, I'm not going to spend a lot of time reviewing this book, but if you're at all interested in (post) WWII fiction, you love strong character development, you like novels written in letter form, or all of the above, you should run, not walk, to put this book on hold at your library. It's awesome and I highly recommend it this brilliant novel. (I also heard the audio is excellent, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet.)


This Full House - Virginia Euwer Wolff

First of all, how brilliant is this cover? It's just so pretty! And, those curlicue ribbons aren't just for show, either, but you'll have to read it to figure out what that's all about. I will give you a clue, it has to do with science, something which LaVaughn, the main character in this, the third in the Make Lemonade trilogy, is really, really great at. I have been waiting so long for this book that I thought it might never come, but Virginia Euwer Wolff is not a woman to be rushed because great things take time! I have been getting so lucky with all the new stuff that's coming out lately. I've read the new Mitali Perkins, the new Justina Chen Headley, the new Meg Cabot and now this! Wow! This was totally worth the wait!!!!

Why did I love this book so much?
*It's written in poetry form - a form I really enjoy in novels (see Shark Girl entry, here)
*ALL the important characters from the other books are back - Jolly and her two kids, Jody, LaVaughn's mother. It was like old home week to meet up with them again.
*LaVaughn is a ROCK STAR at science, which is why she gets invited to join the Women in Sicence program which invited only forty-five girls. I love books about smart girls!
*LaVaughn is not perfect, but she's a good person, and I am proud to be her friend in the pages of this novel.

This novel could be read as a stand alone, but I wouldn't recommend it. I think LaVaughn's backstory plays a huge role in understanding a lot of what's happening in this novel and makes this story much richer. Knowing about Jolly and how she has struggled with raising two kids and trying to get her GED makes you cheer that much more loudly when she succeeds, and makes your heart go out to Annie that much more. Knowing about what happened to Jody makes the sweetness of the final pages that much better. Knowing how her mother has felt about her babysitting for Jolly since the start makes you realize the depths of her empathy when she still goes out of her way to bake Jolly a cake for her party.

This novel has a huge ethical dilemma in it which would make it an excellent book to read with another person to try and decide what you might do in LaVaughn's shoes. Does she make the right choices? Would you have done the same if you were in her shoes? I'd be interested to know, so leave me a comment if you've read the book!

Available at Multnomah County Library.

Forever Princess - Meg Cabot

I can't believe it. It's the end of the Princess Diaries series. Admittedly, I have had enough of Princess Mia myself, but it's just that she's been around so long and I've read all of the other books, too, I find it hard to believe there really won't be any more. I'll kind of miss her, actually.

In this book Princess Mia is getting ready to graduate. She'll finally be off to college - but which one, which one? This is a big issue for Mia, who really wants to go to a college that didn't just let her in because she's a princess but because she deserves it. Mia has a boyfriend in this book who takes up a lot of her time, and an ex-boyfriend who's back in town and taking up a lot of her mind. She's still not speaking to Lilly, sister of said ex-boyfriend, and that's another big plot point in this novel. And then there's her whole historical fiction romance novel...So much going on in this book. Mia has grown up a lot over the course of these books, and it's nice to see her being more mature about a lot of things. There are some areas in which she still has some growing to do, but hey, she's just graduating from high school, so of course she does.

Did I mention Sean Penn's in this novel? LOVE Sean Penn. Do not love that Sean Penn sanctions JP's lame, self-aggrandizing play, but still, LOVE Sean Penn.

I read a review that said this, "Mia is where readers love her: insecure and self-deprecating." I think that about sums it up, and I'll be looking forward to whatever Meg Cabot writes next because she's a fantastic writer and you know she's got plenty more great stuff hiding in that oh-so glam girl head of hers!

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Operation TBD & WOMS book exchange

April 16th is Support Teen Literature Day, and the WOMS library of course supports teen literature, so we're going to have a celebration. Through the efforts of readergirlz, GuysLitWire, YALSA, and publishers, teen patients in pediatric hospitals across the United States will receive 8,000 new young-adult novels, audiobooks, and graphic novels.

Inciting all to participate in Operation TBD in its drive to spur reading on a national scale, readergirlz invites teens and YA authors to leave a book in a public place on April 16th. So here's what we're going to do at WOMS:

We're going to have a book exchange.

To get in on the action, here's what you need to do:

*Between now and April 14th, bring middle school appropriate books from home to the library for donation (PLEASE ask your parents FIRST).
*Get a ticket when you donate

On the 16th, we'll have a book exchange at lunch. Students who have tickets will get first chance at the books, and then anyone else who wants to may take a book.

Fun and FREE!!!!! Woohoo!

Watch this video for more info on the Teen Book Drop project and be a part of the reading community by participating.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Poetry Friday - The Bat

I tried to find a good Friday the 13th poem today (our second in a row!), but I couldn't find one I really liked, so I chose this poem by Theodore Roethke instead cuz bats are pretty creepy when you really look at them.

The Bat - Theodore Roethke

By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.

His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.

He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.

But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:

For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.

This is a picture of some fruit bats I took at the Oregon Zoo recently.

Monday, March 09, 2009

North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley

You have no idea how many times I tried to win a copy of this book - entering every North of Beautiful blog contest out there, but I could never beat Justina Chen Headley's super fast fans at finding the answers. Until last week. My heart practically skipped a beat when I got a note from the author herself (super rock star status for authors when you're a librarian, you know) saying I'd won a prize in her geocaching contest. I wasn't sure if it was a book or one of her cool geocaching tins, but did it really matter? I was getting a prize from Justina Chen Headley herself! You can imagine my excitement when I went to my mailbox on Friday and found a copy of the book, inscribed personally to me!!!! There was dancing in the office, I will tell you that. Other weekend plans were put on hold. The carpet didn't really need vacuuming, did it?

This book has gotten a lot of good reviews, and after spending my weekend with it, I know why. It's amazing in so many ways. There's the whole restorative power of art angle which I always love to see because it's so true. Whenever I'm struggling with something, it seems like all I want to do is go create something. I feel a lot better about everything when I can physically create some sort of art. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular, either. It could just be stringing some seed beads on an elastic string. but I feel better.

I also love the geocaching in this book. It's a fun seek and discover past-time that some of my friends are into, so it was fun to read about it just in that sense, but it's so symbolic here as well. Terra, her mother, Jacob, Norah - they're all seeking something much deeper than a geocache. this would be a great way to teach extended metaphor!

Terra's dad's verbal abuse of her mother and her is a major piece and very difficult to take for me. I've never been what anyone could describe as passive, so it's hard for me to imagine putting up with that kind of thing. But I've never been in a situation like that, either, so I try not to judge. My parents - and everyone around me - have always been ultra supportive of whatever I do, whoever I am, whatever I look like. I can imagine that if you're always told the opposite, you might be a different kind of person. I can't help judging the dad, though. He is a total jerk. But now I hear my friend Suzanne's voice niggling at me to try and be empathic toward him as well. He must really be hurting to lash out in such a way. But he needs to move on from his grief. He's hurting everyone around him and may very well lose them. It's unfair!

The power of friendship and the need for connection is a huge part of this book as well. I hear my friend Suzanne again - she was always reminding everyone around her of the importance of connection between people. She would so have loved this book. Jacob and Terra, neither of whom necessarily fit the typical definition of beauty - she due to a large port-wine stain birthmark on her cheek and he due to a cleft lip - have some insight into one another's lives which gives them a strong connection right form the moment Terra nearly runs Jacob over. Together they struggle to determine what makes something beautiful, both in art and in life - a question which will linger with readers as well.

I also loved the whole China part of this book. Jacob and his mother are returning to China to visit the orphanage where Jacob lived for three years before his mother, and Terra and her mother have been invited by Terra's brother to visit him in China, so they all end up traveling together. The sights and sounds of China made their travel seem very real to me, and since China is a place I want to visit someday, I really enjoyed that. The author spent some time living in China last year, but I'm not sure if she had actually traveled to China before that or not. It seems like she must have because she had so many details in her writing, but I'm sure she's a good researcher, too, so maybe not. Perhaps if we're lucky she'll read this entry and make a comment telling us the answer (hint, hint).

Finally, I loved how there was a cameo in the novel of some characters from Girl Overboard - that was so fun and, you know me, I loved the romance piece.

Another fabulous novel from a fabulous lady. Available in the WOMS library soon. And don't forget about her Find Beauty Challenge video contest - it's open until the end of March. I'd love to see some WOMS entries. I can even help you make it if you want to come in at lunch and use our video camera.

Here is a picture of my cat Hummer trying to sneak in and read North of Beautiful. I was reading in bed on Saturday night (I am a wild girl, I know), and I got up to get a drink or something. Next thing I know my cat has commandeered both my spot AND my book. He didn't get a chance to finish reading, but he assured me he liked what he saw.

Secret Keeper - Mitali Perkins

Well, it was quite a week for me last week. First, Mitali Perkins' new novel Secret Keeper came in at the library, and then her friend and readergirlz co-sponsor, Justina Chen Headley's new book showed up in my mailbox (see next entry). It was a banner week of reading, I'll tell you that. Mitali was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and has lived all over the world. Here's what she says about her writing: "When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures." This is her fifth book for young adults, and I've loved every single one of them. Could be my "in my former life I was from India" thing again maybe, but probably it's just darn fabulous writing!

Raise your hand if you know what my favorite element of writing is - plot, setting, writing, or character development. Did you pick character development? Well done! And Mitali Perkins is a master of strong character development. Sisters Asha and Reet have moved to Calcutta in the mid 1970s to live with their grandparents while their father travels to America to try and find a good job. As soon as he's found one, he'll send for them. Unfortunately, it's taking a long time, and it's very stressful for the girls and their mother.

Asha has dreams of becoming a psychologist, but the time and place of this story make this highly unlikely. Asha is not even allowed to walk anywhere by herself or talk to a boy. She can really only talk to her journal, who she calls SK, Secret Keeper. I've never really been a journaler, but I know many people who are, and they find it very comforting and a good problem solving method. Certainly it helps Asha; it's practically the only thing keeping her sane. Well, that and her secret friendship with her neighbor, a friendship that would be totally forbidden if any of her relative found out because the neighbor is a boy.

Poor Asha; I feel so sad for her because she's so hemmed in. And then on top of all her loneliness and unlikely dreams, she has to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister from a bad arranged marriage. It's got to be a devastating blow to her, but she does it anyway. I wonder if the feeling of having some control, in a time and place where she had so little control, helps her survive this. It does lead to some good changes. I was grateful for this, as a reader. I needed to have some hope for Asha because she was so real to me.

I love how this author makes the sights and sounds and smells of India as real as her characters, too. Setting isn't the biggest thing for me, but it's a really important piece, especially when a story is set in a place I've never been.

I'd definitely recommend this book. It's currently at the Multnomah County Library and I hope to have it in our library soon.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

When Irish Guys Are Smiling - Suzanne Supplee

Recently I read Now and Zen, one of the Students Across the Seven Seas books, a fictional series about exchange students which I enjoyed, but I liked this one a whole lot more. Maybe it was because one of the characters was named Mrs. Fitzpatrick?? :) Or maybe it was because I married one of those smiling Irish guys!

In any case, I enjoyed this book a lot, even though I don't think that it was too realistic. Delk Sinclair, a seventeen year old from Nashville, Tennessee just wants to get away from her new stepmother who's about to have a baby,her father and all the debutante balls she's supposed to be attending. What better place to get away than Ireland? There she meets an Irish young man who, like her, has lost his mother, and he helps her to begin dealing with that because she never really has, she just holds it inside. She also meets a lot of great new friends. It was a fun story with a sweet romance. Fans of the teen romance genre and those curious about other cultures are sure to enjoy it (although the culture piece is a little too "typical" to give one a good view of what Ireland's really like).

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Poetry Friday - Daffodils

This is my favorite poem ever and it's by William Wordsworth. I love the imagery, in part because I love daffodils. I'm looking forward to the daffodils poking their bright yellow heads out soon. 6th graders, if you weren't so narcissistic you might remember the scientific name for daffodils which we talked about when we studied mythology...

Update, March 6, 2009: I had picked this date for posting this poem nearly two months ago, so you can imagine my surprise when I went out into my yard and found the very first daffodils blooming on the same day this poem was posted! Fate :)

"Daffodils" (1804)

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This is a test post

I am having a little trouble linking a specific entry, so I'm just doing a test post here to see if I can figure it out. I hope you are having a fantabulous day with no hiccups in your technical life...

YA Book Challenge 2009 - you can join, too

UPDATE MARCH 3, 2009 - I FINISHED THE CHALLENGE!!!!!! You can see my list below. That was so fun. Lots of great books in that list. It's so exciting to find so many great new books out there. And it only took me about two months! Now maybe I'll go look for another challenge that I think I can finish. There's still time for you to participate in this one if you want - join the fun!

Today I came across a book challenge here that I am 100% sure I can meet, and I'm way excited, because I often see book challenges on people's blogs that overwhelm me, and I don't like to start something I'm pretty sure I won't finish. Therefore, I am announcing my entry into the 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge, and I invite you to join me, too!

Guidelines for 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. Read 12 Young Adult novels. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

3. Challenge begins January thru December, 2009.

4. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009.

I'll be coming back to this entry to post the titles I read, but I'll do a regular review as well.

1.Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
2.Now and Zen by Linda Gerber
3.Paper Towns by John Green
4.Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
5.Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
6. Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
7. Violet By Design by Melissa Walker
8. Violet in Private by Melissa Walker
9. Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
10. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
11. Peeling the Onion by Wendy Orr
12. The Opposite of Invisiible by Liz Gallagher

If you're a WOMS student who would like to join, just make a comment on this entry, and I'll give you your own entry to post your titles. Hope you can join me!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Blueberry Girl - Neil Gaiman

Although I mostly focus on writing for middle schoolers, I've reviewed a few picture books this season, and when I came across this video on Fuse#8s site I had to share it, even though I haven't even yet seen the book. I'm actually not even sure it's out yet, but I'm totally in love with it. Written and read by recent Newbery winner Neil Gaiman, it's awesome. Watch, listen and enjoy!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks - E. Lockhart

I LOVED listening to this 2009 Printz honoree. It's a very fun story about a high school girl who decides it's completely unfair that she, because she's a girl, cannot join the secret Basset Hound Society that her boyfriend belongs to. Especially since her dad was one of the early members of the group. So she comes up with a way to infiltrate the society without anyone knowing it's her...and she does some amazingly creative projects. Well, she orchestrates the projects anyway. She can't really DO any of them herself, of course, or she'd get caught.

I thought this story was very cleverly crafted, with an awesomely strong female character. She is a little obsessed with her boyfriend, but that's pretty true to form for teenage girls, even though I'm not thrilled with that idea. And, she doesn't quite think things all the way through sometimes, but she does take responsibility when things go haywire. And things do go haywire, because whenever you undertake to overthrow a group, there will be some serious consequences. That's not to say it's not worth it, but you need to be ready. I'm not sure Frankie was entirely ready.

This book is a great read, but it does have a lot of smarty-pants vocabulary in it because Frankie is a smart girl, so you need to be a strong reader to enjoy it.

Available at the WOMS library.

The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

This book was loaned to me by another teacher friend, and it's a grown up mystery book, although from the cover I totally didn't expect it to be a mystery. I really, really enjoyed this book, and I'm so happy that I had a chance to read it.

The story is set in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the famous Salem Witch Trials, but it's set in present day. Towner Whitney, whose female ancestors have a long history of mind reading and fortune telling, is the protagonist. Towner herself can read minds if people are open, but this is NOT something Towner wants to do. In fact, Towner really wants nothing to do with Salem at all, which is why she left long ago, determined never to come back. But the mysterious disappearance of her Aunt Eva, to whom she has a very strong connection, forces her back, and she becomes ensnared in events from which she is having difficulty escaping.

The title of the story comes from the fact that many of the women in Towner's family can read lace. They look at a piece of lace and see a story in it. Sort of like reading tarot cards or something. Again, towner can do this, but she does not want to. Towner's mother, who lives on one of the Salem islands, along with other women who are seeking shelter on her island, still make lace, and the women of The Circle, as they're called are, in fact, quite famous for it. Each chapter begins with a bit about the history of lace making and lace reading, and it's an interesting addition to the story. Sometimes I don't like those kinds of intros in books, but these are a really nice addition.

The conclusion of this story is quite startling, and I was totally unprepared for it. I really liked that, though, because I'm not often caught so unaware. This is a fabulous read for adult lovers of mystery and character development. Available at the Multnomah County Library.

The Opposite of Invisible - Liz Gallagher

I didn't, at first, remember where I'd heard of this book, but when I was uploading the cover, I DID remember. Interesting that a picture stuck in my head. This is a book from one of the authors in the "Class of 2K8". I won some books from this great group of new authors recently, and they let me pick which of their books I wanted. I have to say, it was a very hard choice because so many of them looked interesting. I didn't ultimately choose this one for our library, but it sounded so good that I checked it out for myself. I did this one on audio, too, and I really enjoyed it.

Alice, the main character, is an artsy type girl who is not in with the popular crowd. She mostly just has one very best friend, Jewel (his real name i Julian but hardly anyone calls him that). Jewel is a very talented artist who looks down on the popular crowd with disdain. Alice, however, kind of wants to be part of the popular group. She's got a major crush on Simon, one of the popular football players, and she wants to know what it would be like to be the "opposite of invisible" which is how she feels now.

Suddenly, Simon starts paying attention to Alice. He even kisses her! But nearly the same day, Jewel kisses her as well. Now she's totally confused. She's never liked Jewel as a BOYfriend, just as a boy who's a friend. Has she? But then why did she kiss him back? And why does she still want to date Simon? Does she still want to date Simon? Will she lose Jewel completely if she does? This is a lot of questions, and her only "friend" she can talk to is a poster....not the most helpful confidante in this case.

Wound throughout the novel is a wide variety of typical high school characters, all of whom can be, and are, stereotyped by others, including Alice. Are the artsy types willing to accept that some jocks might have feelings? That some cheerleaders can be artsy? That beautiful people might also be insecure? Can they coexist peacefully?

I thought that while this novel is a bit predictable, there are enough twists and turns, enough thought-provoking scenarios, and enough fun Seattle references to make it a really good read for those who like the romance genre.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Peeling the Onion - Wendy Orr

HOW did I miss this book that's been out for ten years? AND how did I stumble across it now? Sometimes I know exactly how or why I'm reading a particular book. I remember that it's won an award or I remember who told me about it, but then there are other times when I just have no clue. Did it just strike my fancy as I walked past it in the library? Did I see it mentioned on someone's blog? Did a student tell me about it? I need to start keeping track of that I guess...Or at least paying better attention.

Anyway! This is a really powerful book which explores the feelings of a young woman who's been badly injured in a car accident. She has, in fact, broken her neck as well as her ankle, and, in many ways, even her spirit. In the morning she is a karate champion, by evening she is in the hospital trauma unit, no one knowing what her future holds. In fact, the accident has drastically altered both her present and her future.

The book delves deeply into Anna's thoughts and feelings as she struggles to find a way for herself in this "new" body of hers, one which works so poorly compared to her incredibly athletic pre-accident body. She fights constant pain, fear, anger, frustration, and personal relationship issues. Her family supports her but clearly they are all affected by her accident as well, and have their own issues to work through as well. Some of her friends stick by her, and some don't. Among those who do is the boy who was driving the car, her new boyfriend, Hayden. And yet this relationship somehow holds her, and him, back, stuck in a time before, one that no longer exists.

Whether Anna will be able to find a way to manage the pain and work through the suffering is at the crux of this novel. There are many days when she'd rather not see things through. Many times when she feels everyone would just be better off without her. A new friend, some counseling, and small victories along the way do give her some hope, but will hope be enough? Will she be able to peel away the layers of her self and find the brightness she needs to live in a meaningful way, so different from what she'd envisioned?

This was another book I listened to on my ipod and ended up in tears as I was driving.

I just learned that Australian Wendy Orr worked as an occupational therapist until a severe car accident changed her life. No wonder she had such great insight!

This book is available at the Multnomah County Library. There is a similar book in our library called Izzy, Willy Nilly that you might take a look at if this title sounded interesting but you can't get to the public library.