Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Take Me There - Susane Colasanti

This book is told in three different narrative voices, two girls, one boy. It's full of teen talk, which I normally don't mind, but which seemed to me a bit overdone in this book. Although it is, I'm sure, quite realistic and just got to my grown up sensibilities a bit too much.

This book deals with more high school than middle school topics, but mature fans of authors like Sarah Dessen and Justina Chen Headley will enjoy it.

Available at the Multnomah County library.

Do you read banned books?

Shout it out to the world by showing off one of these cool "I Read Banned Books" buttons. To get one, just come to the library and have a conversation with Mrs. FB about banned books. there's a display all set up to help get the conversation started.

Celebrate your FREADOM to read!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We got FOUR whole boxes of new books today, and I can't wait to share them with you, so I'm not waiting! Here's a sneak peek at a few of the new titles which will be going on the shelves this week!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

When it Happens - Susane Colasanti

I read this book last night before and after the Ken Burns National Park special on OPB. Great show - tune in the rest of this week if you have a chance. Anyway, I digress. Back to the book.

This is a teen romance which was done in alternating chapters - one from the girl's point of view (Sara) and one from the boy's (Tobey). I though that was a really effective way to tell this story, and it provided different insight for the reader than if just the boy or just the girl would have narrated. It also makes it a book boys are more willing to read, which is great.

Sara is looking for the ideal boyfriend, and she thinks she's found it in gorgeous, athletic, popular Dave. Of course he doesn't quite live up to that fantasy. Tobey has had his eye on Sara forever, but he's been too chicken to say anything. And now Sara's dating Dave. This calls for drastic measures.

I really enjoyed this book, but will pass on it due to some of the more mature subject matter in the book. It's better suited for a high school than a middle school library.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Adam Canfield of the Slash - Michael Winerip

Loved this fun little mystery about Adam Canfield, a reporter on the Harris Elementary/Middle School paper, The Slash. It's a 2010 Battle of the Books title.

Adam and his co-editor Jennifer are quite fabulous reporters and this year are in charge of The Slash and Adam is discovering it's quite a big job. Poor Adam has a pretty maxed out schedule thanks to all his activities, and adding this on top of everything else is almost more than he can handle. Luckily, Jennifer is super competent and also pretty forgiving. There's a new cub reporter this year too, third grade Phoebe, and she's about driving Adam nuts. He thinks she should have to pay her dues like he had to, but it turns out she's a crackerjack reporter and it's actually Phoebe who starts unraveling the clues to the mystery Adam and Jennifer find themselves embroiled in.

You see, someone left Harris E/MS a ton of money, but the only thing is, no one seems to know what happened to it! It's up to the award winning Slash to figure out the problem and report on it. But can they risk being expelled if they do? Will anyone help them?

Read this fabulous book and find out! Then read the sequels!!! I just found out one has already been published and a third book is scheduled to be published soon!!! I'm ordering them for the library. Woohoo!

La Petite Four - Regina Scott

You know I can never resist a pink book, and look at that beautiful dress (although that would NOT have been worn in 1815 in Enland by an unmarried young woman, that's for sure!)I had to pick it up. It turned out to be a nice little mystery about four girls set in England in the early 1800s. Lady Emily Southwell is 16 years old and is just about to have her debutante year...but the plans of her father and her betrothed are quite different.Lady Emily knows there's something suspicious about Lord Robert, the young man to whom she's engaged, but she cannot get her father to listen to her.

Enter La Petite Four. Emily gets her three best friends, Priscilla, Daphne and Ariadne to help her in her secret investigation of Lord Robert, a journey fraught with danger and disobedience. Although she does not invite him, there's a fifth person helping her in her investigation, a dashing mystery man. Without him, Emily may not have solved the mystery - and may not even have lived to tell of it!

Here's a trailer I found for the book on Regina Scott's website.

The first in a series that I'm sure will become quite popular.

Available in the WOMS library.

Beneath My Mother's Feet - Amjed Qamar

I read this book this week and while I enjoyed it, I also felt it was missing a little something that would have put it up in the top of its genre.

This story is set in Pakistan where 14 year old Nazia lives with her parents in a family who is making ends meet, but just. Nazia goes to a good school, where she has excellent teachers and does well. All this changes when Nazia's father is seriously injured on a construction job. Her family needs her father's income, but since he cannot work, Nazia's mother takes on household cleaning jobs, a shameful position, and worse, she requires Nazia to drop out of school to work with her.

Nazia at 14 is nearly ready to be married, in a partnership that was forged long ago. In order to be married, she needs a dowry, which her mother has been scrimping and saving for over the years to build up. However, Nazia's lazy, no-good brother breaks in and steals the dowry one day while Nazia and her mother are working, nearly ruining that opportunity as well.

In the end, Nazia must decide if she will be a dutiful daughter and do what her family wants her to do but which she know will make her miserable or if she will be brave and go her own way.

It's an interesting story about another culture, but it lacked spark for me. I felt for Nazia and her difficult situation, but not very strongly. I'd be interested to hear if other readers were impacted differently, so send me a comment!

Two books by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Poison Pen and Death of a Bore I listened to these two Hamish Macbeth mysteries on my iPod. I've listened to some others, too. I love listening to them because they're read by a Scottish actor and I love his accent. But I enjoy the stories, too. They're sort of like Miss Marple mysteries if you've ever read those. Not too easy to figure out, but kind of slow moving and not terribly complex. I walk listening to these, and it really makes time pass quickly. If you like a mystery story, you might want to give them a go, but they'll probably appeal to grown ups more than middle schoolers. A little too slow moving and all adult characters.

Available at the Multnomah County library.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Banned Books Week Sept. 26-Oct. 3rd

Celebrate your FREADOM to read!!!

Here's a great music video about Banned Books for you to enjoy that was written last year
All the book titles and author names in the lyrics are from the American Library Association's "Challenged" list. For more information regarding Banned Books Week, check out the link below:

American Library Association Banned Books Week

Huckleberry (©2008 Keith Lewis & Carl Walker)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Poetry Friday - "How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes"

In honor of Banned Books Week which begins tomorrow, I've chosen this poem from Shel Silverstein's delightful A Light in the Attic which has appeared on the challenged book list for encouraging bad behavior. I wonder if it worked...

How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes

If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
('Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor
Maybe they won't let you
Dry the dishes anymore

~Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't forget - ice cream at Cold Stone this Thursday!!

I don't know about you, but I am always excited about ice cream! A friend sent me this information, and I thought it was worth passing along. Donate any amount to a great cause, The Make A Wish Foundation, and get some ice cream!

Cold Stone Creamery’s World’s Largest Ice Cream Social: Free Ice Cream to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Oregon

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 24, from 5-8 p.m.
WHAT: Cold Stone Creamery® will host the “World’s Largest Ice Cream Social,” a fundraising event to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America and its chapters across the country.
This year’s celebration includes a 3–ounce Creation developed by 5-year-old wish child and 2009 Junior Tastemaster™ Jack. He combined sweet cream ice cream with brownie, sprinkles and fudge to create his special treat.
Donations will benefit the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
COST: Customers will receive a 3-ounce serving of Jack’s Creation in exchange for a donation to this worthy cause

Good Things & Table Manners - Mia King

I read these two grown-up books right in a row - one was old and one was very recently published, but they're about the same two characters. I had read another book by this author last spring, and I belong to a Facebook group that recommended Table Manners, so I took look. I enjoyed the second book much more than the first, and I think it's because Mia King has matured over the course of her career, and it was really nice to see. The first book of the two was comparatively simplistic, slow and underdeveloped for my taste. The second one was much better. Both were fine, but I enjoyed the second one more. I'll look forward to watching Mia King continue to develop as a writer!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Common Murder - Val McDermid

This was a perfect murder mystery for reading when I wasn't feeling great - I have that bug that's going around :( It wasn't too long or too complicated, and it's a book in a series, the Lindsay Gordon series, so I was already somewhat familiar with some of the characters. It also wasn't too scary, so I could read it in bed. One of my fave mystery writers, Chelsea Cain (for grown-ups only and way too scary to read in bed!) recommended this author to me, and I quite enjoy her writing. I'm going to try a different series by her next. Grown ups looking for a fairly uncomplicated mystery might give Scottish author Val McDermid's Common Murder a try.

Available at the Multnomah County Public Library

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poetry Friday - Shrinking Teacher

I have seen a LOT of kids this fall who might be thinking this very thing...

Shrinking Teacher

I saw my last year’s teacher.
Had she shrunk an inch or two?
It took me time to figure,
She was no shorter;
I grew.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Summer Reading Prizes given out at lunch tomorrow!

Bring your completed forms to lunch tomorrow and earn yourselves great prizes!!!

Need new forms? Go the the WOMS library website!

See you in the lunchroom :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ice Cream, anyone?

I don't know about you, but I am always excited about ice cream! A friend sent me this information, and I thought it was worth passing along. Donate any amount to a great cause, The Make A Wish Foundation, and get some ice cream!

Cold Stone Creamery’s World’s Largest Ice Cream Social: Free Ice Cream to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Oregon

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 24, from 5-8 p.m.
WHAT: Cold Stone Creamery® will host the “World’s Largest Ice Cream Social,” a fundraising event to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America and its chapters across the country.
This year’s celebration includes a 3–ounce Creation developed by 5-year-old wish child and 2009 Junior Tastemaster™ Jack. He combined sweet cream ice cream with brownie, sprinkles and fudge to create his special treat.
Donations will benefit the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
COST: Customers will receive a 3-ounce serving of Jack’s Creation in exchange for a donation to this worthy cause

Talk Like a Pirate Day promotion!

AAARRRRGHH mateys, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day this Saturday, and to celebrate, we're having a library special. There's a fabulous display of our pirate books, and if you check one out and talk like a pirate to us, we'll give you a cool prize! The special's running this week and next or until we run out of pirate books.

If you have a pirate book of your own, bring it in and talk like a pirate and you can get a prize, too!

If you're interested in all things pirates and want to help set a world record, you might check out the Portland Pirate Festival happening Sept. 19-20th. Here's all the scoop!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary Pearson

I listened to this very wild futuristic sci-fi book on my iPod, and it was a really weird book. It was good, but it was weird.

Jenna Fox had been in a coma for a year, but just before this book begins, she woke up. and now she's having to try and figure out exactly what's going on, because clearly something's up. One of the ways Jenna learns about herself before the accident is watching DVDs of home movies. Most of the things on the videos are things Jenna doesn't remember at all, but sometime little pieces come back to her. Another way she learns is hints given to her by her grandmother. She sometimes asks direct questions, too, but these often leave her with more questions than answers. Jenna also sneaks around trying to find things out when she gets really desperate.

Becasue this story deals with some complex issues an because it requires a high level of inference, this book is probably best for readers 8th grade and up or very strong an mature younger readers. This book is a fictional story, but it deals with questions of bioethics that we may really have to grapple with not so far in the future. It brings up some interesting possibilities, but I don't know that I'd really want them.

The Wild Girls - Pat Murphy

This is an Oregon Battle of the Books title that I read over the weekend. LOVED this book. It's so much fun. The wild girls are really just two lonely girls who've found each other and discovered writing and all it can teach them. They do act a little wild sometimes, especially Fox. Fox (her real name is Sarah) lives with her dad because her mother left their family many years ago, and she spends a lot of time alone with her imagination building up her defenses around herself. She and her father don't have much money, so their house is a bit run down, as are her clothes.

Jean is the other wild girl. She's just moved to the Bay area with her mother, father and brother, and she doesn't really know anyone else when she meets Fox. Fox decides to call her Newt. Jean is not very wild at all in reality.

The Wild Girls get their name from a piece of writing they do for a story contest which they WIN! The story they write is about some wild girls on a quest through the forest. As a part of their winning, they're required to do a read-aloud of the story. Neither of them is actually too keen about it, and Fox nearly runs out on the whole thing. Sarah salvages the situation by stealing a tube of lipstick and painting their faces. "Hidden" behind the make-up, they do a rousing reading and earn entrance into a summer writing program at Berkeley.

The writing program is a wonderful group for these girls. It's a supportive place where they learn not only about writing but about relationships and friendships and, most importantly, themselves.

This is a very fun story for lovers of writing, especially, but also for lovers of fun! Available at the WOMS library. This is an Oregon Battle of the Books 2010 title.

Best Foot Forward - Joan Bauer

I actually listened to this book on my iPod, but the picture of the CD cover was fuzzy. LOVED this, and I'm glad to say it, because I really like Joan Bauer and I'm glad I can recommend yet another of her books, but also because this was a sequel, and sequels sometimes don't live up to the first book, but this one does! This book is a sequel to Rules of the Road which features a young woman named Jenna who takes a job in a shoe store and is mentored by the much older owner of the store, Mrs. Gladstone. In that book, Jenna is Mrs. Gladstone's driver and drives her all around the country.

In this story, Jenna is still Mrs. Gladstone's driver, but it focuses more on the shoe store than on the driving. Jenna's father is an alcoholic, so she's having to deal with that in this novel. It's nicely woven in to this book so as to clearly be an important piece but not so much that it takes over the novel, because it is only one piece of the story. There's another story line about a boy who steals from the store and then is hired to work there, AND Jenna is asked to mentor him. He's so far from her reality in some ways that she has no idea what to do with him, but come to find out, they have a lot more in common than she thought. Jenna's social life is another piece of the story. Her best friend wants her to have more fun, but she's not sure how. The final component is the current takeover of the shoe store which teaches Jenna quite a lot about the business world.

It's a great story with plenty of adolescent angst, but an upbeat tone throughout despite the troubling things. This is how I like to hear about real life, because for the most part, while we all have to deal with troubling situations, there's a lot to be grateful for as well, and a lot to learn from the good and the bad.

Highly recommended. I'm pretty sure I ordered this book, so it should be in pretty soon!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Poetry Friday - Flying Fish: An Ode

If you read my review on Close to Shore, you may know I'm a shark freak, so I thought I'd start off the year with this shark poem. If you're a shark freak, too, you may want to check out this site, which has a collection of 35 shark poems! they put it together in honor of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I like it :)

Flying Fish: An Ode [excerpt]
by Charles Wharton Stork

How must it be to swim among your kind,
Dull with the cold and dreary with the dark,
Enclosed above, beneath, before, behind
In green uncertainty, from which a shark
At any time may dash
And doom you like some huge demonic fate
With lust insatiate?—
He cuts the water with a seething gash;—
What use to dart aside?
Those great jaws, grinning wide,
Will close your frolic as the long teeth clash.

But I forget your gift; the bonds that hold
The others of your race are loosed for you,
For you alone. The silver dolphin bold
Shoots like a spray-haired comet from the blue,
But may not poise or flit
As you do—. What if but a minute's space?
Hardly a longer grace
Has poet, saint or lover. Nor a whit
Less sure to sink are we;
Our wings of ecstasy
No loftier, no longer joy permit.

Yet joy it is! to scorn the dread of death,
To dwell for shining moments in the sun
Of Beauty and sweet Love, to drink one breath
Of a diviner element—though but one;
To reach a higher state
Of being, to explore a new domain;
To leap, and leap again,
Unheeding the gray menace of our fate
That follows till we fall:
For—fishes, men and all—
The grim old Shark will have us, soon or late.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Kieran Scott Fest

I read FOUR of Kieran Scott's book the week that school started. It was really all I could do to make it home and crash on the couch, and these books were just the ticket. they're fun and funny, have a little bit of substance to them, strong cheracter development, and required virtually no effort on my part to finish. That a great beginning of school book.

Three of the books are in the "Non-Blonde Cheerleader" series about, coincidentally, a non-blonde cheerleader. In fact, she's the only non-blonde in her whole school in south Florida. She's just moved there from New Jersey, and its kind of weird. A totally different world from her old school. She misses some things about her old school, but there are some neat new things waiting for her to discover in Florida, too. The books are all about the cheerleading squad and deal with a lot of issues that come up in teams, among friends, and among not-so friendly groups as well. Plus hter's a little romance, so if you like that, this might be a series you'd enjoy.

The other book is called Geek Magnet, and really, how could I not read that book? It's about a girl who all the geeky guys are attracted to, and she's sort of wishing some other kind of guy would be attracted. but I'm here to tell you, the geeky ones are the best catches. They're the ones who can solve your computer problems, figure out your gas mileage, and keep your checkbook balanced. There are also some awfully cute geeks out there. And they're usually sweet! I oughta know - I got one of the best ones!

Middle school girls will enjoy Kieran Scott's works.

Miss Harper Can Do It - Jane Berentson

Really enjoyed this cute book written by the friend of a friend. It's set in current time and features a young woman whose boyfriend is in the service and has to go overseas to serve. It's the story of how she struggles to deal with all the emotions and situations that arise in this scenario. It's quite a light-hearted look, but it's thoughtfully done. IT was a perfect vacation book. Just a bit of thinking, but not too much. It's our next book club choice, and I'm eager to discuss it with my friends next week.

Recommended for adult women. Available at Multnomah County Libraries.

Jane Austen Addict 1&2 - Rigler, Laurie Viera

I read the first one of these books, but I have to admit, I totally skimmed the second one, and afterward, I decided I'd have preferred if they were actually one book that flipped back and forth between the characters.

The premise of these stories is really good, I think. In the first, a person from our time gets time-traveled back into Jane Austen's time. In the second, it's the opposite. And the two characters who switch time basically trade lives. I did like the main characters, especially the fiery modern day woman trapped in Jane's time when she was not too free to say the things she'd certainly have said at home. There were just too, too many details for my liking. I got a little bored. I still enjoyed them, but I didn't LOVE them like I'd hoped I might, being a bit of a Jane Austen addict myself. One thing's for sure, though, I do NOT want t end up in Jane Austen's world. I'm bit too outspoken for that for sure!

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler

All Hail the Elf, the Shelf Elf, that is. It was from her blog that I won a copy of this book. Yeah!

This is a great book, but for older readers. The main character is a girl, Anna, who had a secret romance with the brother of her best friend and then he died. He had told her that he wanted to tell his little sister, and she'd promised not to tell. But she didn't know he was going to die. So now she's stuck with this big secret and she's having trouble moving on. She's tired of pretending, but she can't face the idea of gong against his wishes. The best friend, Frankie, has been struggling, too, of course, with the death of her brother, and neither of them really knows how to navigate her way through.

The two girls go off to the beach for a vacation with Frankie's parents and hatch a plan to try and get twenty boys to pay attention to them. Thus begins both the unraveling and the way through for both Anna and Frankie.

It's a very well done romance/coming of age story, but it has some mature themes, so it's better for the high school library than the middle school

Found - Margaret Peterson Haddix

I thought this Oregon Battle of the Books title was a very good page turner. It's a somewhat plausible premise at first, but it requires a little more suspension of disbelief as it goes on. Still, it's a very suspenseful storyline, and fans of Haddix will enjoy it. Not sure if I will read the sequel or not.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Close to Shore - Michael Capuzzo

I was trying to read a little more non-fiction this summer, so I picked up this book about the 1916 shark attacks on the New Jersey shore. I'm kind of addicted to shark stuff. Shark Week on cable? I'm sucked in - and I hardly EVER watch TV. I don't know why I'm so fascinated with sharks, because these bad boys are trouble, but I really am.

This book was, as is typical of shark stories, is creepy. It's about a great white that basically got lost due to some strange currents and ended up way up north where it had no business. The first attack it made was in 3 1/2 FEET of water!!!! Then it went upstream up a river! Basically the poor thing was starving and confused, no wonder it started attacking people. But it was a really scary time, and it caused havoc with the tourism of the time in New Jersey.

This book was told in a unique way - half the book was about people and half about the shark. I really enjoyed it. If you're interested in sharks, this is a great book.

The Magician - Michael Scott

Once again, not my favorite writing ever, and I really thought this had too much "catch-up" for those who hadn't read the first book so would need some cluing in, but still, the story drew me in and I was driven to find out what happened.

Some of you may have heard me talk about the four areas of good writing: Plot, Character, Writing, & Setting. My favorite is character, then plot, writing, setting. This book is super strong on plot and pretty good on also setting, so those who are big fans of those areas will really enjoy it. If you like magic, this book is totally for you, too. I would suggest reading The Alchemyst, first, though.

Radiant Darkness - Emily Whitman

Loved this retelling of the Persephone story from her point of view. Since we did the whole mythology unit in 6th grade last year (we're doing it again, 6th graders - yeah!) when we read the Persephone myth and then the 6th graders read The Lightning Thief, I have been looking for more novels with a mythology bent. This one is great, but it's really for a little bit older audience than middle school, so I'll leave it to the high school to order.

London Calling - Edward Bloor

I listened to this story on my iPod, and I have to admit I had to start over three times because I just couldn't get hooked, and then I wouldn't know what was going on. But once I did get going on it, I really liked it. It's a time travel book. Martin Conway, a 7th grade boy, has an old time radio from his grandmother, and it turns out that the radio is a time travel device. It transports him back to London in 1940 during the World War II bombings. There's also a good amount of historical fiction mixed in with the storyline in addition to it being a time travel book, which is not completely unusual in time travel books and makes them appeal to a wider audience I think.

Fans of war books and time travel books will enjoy this Edward Bloor novel. I don't think he's written anything in a while (well, not that I've seen), so it was nice to see something new from this talented author of Tangerine, one of my favorites for boys.

Sun Signs - Shelly Hrdlitschka

This book was fun to read because it was written in emails back and forth between "distantstudybuddies" - kids who were attending school online as opposed to regular classroom work for different reasons. Kaleigh, the main character, is attending because she has cancer, but she doesn't tell any of her online friends the reason.

The story revolves around a science project Kaleigh is doing - all about astrology. That's right, a SCIENCE project about astrology. Hmmmm. But she does a pretty good job of fitting her ideas to the project. She learns quite a lot about science along the way, too, even though it's not all related to her astrology findings.

Kaleigh learns a lot about herself and other people through this distance project, too. It's not all a bed of roses, either. But real life isn't.

I enjoyed this story and will recommend it to middle school readers who like books told in a little bit different style than straight prose.

The Hunted - Gloria Skurzynski

I couldn't find a picture of this book, but this is a great mystery story. It's one of the National Geographic mysteries set in a national park. Last year I went to Denali with my nephew and we read one set there. This year we took another nephew to Glacier and read this one which is set there. We did it as a read-aloud, and as the reader I was having a hard time reading fast enough. This book was FULL of suspense. It was way more suspenseful than the other one we read. It was slightly less realistic in a few of the details ,but we forgave those because it was so exciting.

The main characters in this book are a brother and sister, the same ones who were in the other story. Their mother is a veterinarian and has been called in to help figure out why grizzly bear cubs are disappearing. The reason is a little bit scary, well actually a lot scary. And there's a whole side story about a ten year old Mexican boy as well.

If you like mysteries with a lot of suspense, this is a GREAT choice. Available at the WOMS library.