Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Violet on the Runway & Violet by Design - Melissa Walker

"I can never see fashion models,
lean angular cheeks, strutting hips
and blooming hair, without thinking of
the skulls at the catacombs in Lima, Peru."
Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), U.S. poet. "Morning Paper, Society Page," lines 1-4 (1994).

I just happened to see this quote from Naomi Shihab Nye this morning when I was looking for a poem by her, but it fits so beautifully with the novels I just read, I'm including it here. Plus there's the fact that I can't get the doggone book cover pictures to load, so this is going to be it for now.

Anyway, this is a very interesting series which I cannot decide if I like or I don't like. Well, actually, that's not true. I like the series, I'm not sure if I like Violet. I want to, I really do, but she just keeps making bad choice after bad choice and treating people in her life so poorly that I find it difficult to like her. Violet Greenfield, a high school senior when the stories begin, is 6'1" tall, and blessed with a high metabolism so she's quite thin. Needless to say, people notice her, but she tries her best to blend in, not believing she's special in any way. I kind of have a hard time with this. Everyone is special in some way. Granted, some people have more talent in some areas than others, no one can argue with that, but we all have something to offer. And if you don't believe that, I feel sorry for you, but I'm also kind of irritated if you don't try and figure out what that something is but are just content to wallow in a "poor me I'm so plain" pity party. ANNOYING! And guess what, that's kind of how Violet is. Except, she gets offered a modeling contract and goes off to New York.

In New York, Violet feels like she is someone worthy, and she gets WAY caught up in the whole party scene, which first of all is an unlikely scenario for too many people. But even considering that, it has TOO many people involved in it. And they're not really good people. They're conniving, anorexic, drug using, underage drinking, back-stabbing, not nice types for the most part. And Violet, who is smart, and beautiful and has some really great supportive friends at home, totally goes for all this. Did I say ANNOYING before? Yeah, well.

Of course, this kind of stuff does make for a pretty good story. And I read both books, didn't I? And I'm going to the library to get the third this afternoon, too, even though I already have THIRTY-SEVEN books checked out form the public library...I'm not sure what this says about me. I guess that I'm clinging to the hope that after the debacle that was Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the next debacle that was Madrid, Spain, and the further debacle that was Paris, France, maybe, just maybe Violet will have come to her senses and will actually stand up for the things she really does believe in without being sucked in to this nonsense of the modeling world. Please?

These books do have some mature themes in them. They are available at the Multnomah County Library.

Hate That Cat - Sharon Creech

This is a companion book to Sharon Creech's Love That Dog which even though I'm not the biggest dog fan, I did love. It's the sweetest story about little Jack in Miss Stretchberry's second grade class who learns to write poetry even though, according to Jack, "Boys don't write poetry. Girls do."

Now if you know me you know that I LOVE cats. In fact, I have two of the sweetest cats ever, Hummer and Bonkers, so you may think I'd be hesitant to read a book called Hate That Cat. But I know Sharon Creech never lets me down - she's one of the best YA authors ever - so I took the plunge. Excellent choice!

Jack is back and just as adorable as ever. Miss Stretchberry has moved grades along with Jack, and he's learning even more about writing. I love seeing his progress and his poetry. It's nice that Jack becomes more well rounded in this book, too.

This is a super quick read, told all in poetry form, and it is ac treat. I highly recommend it.

Available at the WOMS library courtesy of the GB Education Foundation.

Here's a picture of our cutest kittes, Hummer and Bonkers.

Notice they like to hang out by the books!

The Possibilities of Sainthood - Donna Freitas

Loved, loved, loved this book. Having gone to Catholic schools for 16 years, and having read more than one "Lives of the Saints" books myself (Saint Therese and the Roses by Homan, published in 1955 being my very favorite) this book resonated with me in many ways - not that I ever had a PRAYER of becoming a saint myself, mind you.

Antonia Labella, the main character in this novel is determined to become the first living Catholic saint. And she's not just pining away wishing for it, either. This girl's got a plan, including saints journals and a vigorous writing campaign with a new petition to the Vatican (perferably to the Pope himself if he's available) each month proposing a new idea and offering herself as the model candidate.

Antonia is a very funny young woman with so many great ideas and possibilities. What she doesn't have is the sense God gave her in the boy department. I mean, hello, Antonia. Open your eyes once, girl. Saints be praised, there's resolution in that department finally, too, but it's a long time coming.

This book, by ckass of 2K8 first time novelist Donna Freitas was a delightful read which I highly enjoyed.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

The World to Come - Dara Horn

I read this book for my grown up book club, and although I enjoyed many things about it, I found it a bit too choppy for my liking. I mean, I don;t mind thinking when I'm reading a book, in fact I love that, but I do mind when so much of the thinking isn't because of a natural flow. I will look forward to reading this very young author's work in the future, because she has great things to say and I think she'll smooth out and be a great read in the future.

I did ADORE the fact that my friend who did our book club dinner made us an entire Jewish feast to go along with the book. Who knew kugel was so amazing?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Poetry Friday - Yes

This poem is a favorite of mine that my very good friend Suzanne gave me several years ago. It's good to remember!


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

~ William Stafford ~

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Find Beauty Challenge contest

Justina Chen Headley, author of Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), Girl Overboard, and the about to be published North of Beautiful (Feb. 1) is sponsoring a community service contest. Here are the details:

You tell the world what's really beautiful to you.
In 90 seconds.
On YouTube.

You might win fabulous prizes...like an iTouch. AND you help a child in a third world country.
For every video about beauty that fans upload, author Justina Chen Headley will donate $10--up to $1,000--to help children in third-world countries born with cleft lips and palates.

Be sure to ask your parents if it's OK before you do this. To enter, create a YouTube account, upload your video, and send a link to north@marthabee.com. She'll add it to the North of Beautiful channel (http://www.youtube.com/northofbeautiful). Tell all your friends to vote for you!

Monday, January 26, 2009

ALA Awards - Today's the BIG day!!!!

You know I've been waiting for the awards to be announced, and today was the big day! Turns out I haven't read many of the winners, but we DO have some of them in our library, so woo-hoo for that. Here's a list of some of the winners. For all the award winners, go to this link at ALA.

HAPPY, HAPPY reading, and congratulations to all the winners of this year's awards!

Margaret A. Edwards Award
This award honors outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens.

The recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award is Laurie Halse Anderson, also the winner of this year's Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction (see entry from a few days ago).

Newbery Medal

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Title Author

Newbery Medal and Honor Books and Poster 2009 -----------
Graveyard Book WINNER
The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman
The Underneath Kathi Appelt
The Surrender Tree Margarita Engle
Savvy Ingrid Law
After Tupac And D Foster Jacqueline Woodson

Caldecott Medal

The Caldecott Medal is presented to the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Title Author

Caldecott Medal and Honor Books and Poster 2009 -----------
The House in the Night WINNER
The House in the Night Susan Marie Swanson
Couple Of Boys Have The Best Week Ever Marla Frazee
How I Learned Geography Uri Shulevitz
River Of Words: The Story Of William Carlos Williams Jennifer Bryant

Coretta Scott King Awards

The Coretta Scott King Awards recognize an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults that demonstrate sensitivity to "the true worth and value of all beings". The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award is presented to a writer and/or illustrator at the beginning of their career as a published children's book creator.

We Are The Ship
We Are The Ship Kadir Nelson
The Blacker the Berry Joyce Carol Thomas
Keeping The Night Watch Hope Anita Smith
Becoming Billie Holiday Carole Boston Weatherford

Pura Belpré Award

The Pura Belpré Award is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

The Surrender Tree Margarita Engle
Just In Case Yuyi Morales
Reaching Out Francisco Jimenez
The Storyteller's Candle = La Velita De Los Cuentos Lucia M. Gonzalez

Robert F. Sibert Award

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished informational book published in the English language during the preceding year.

Title Author
Robert F. Sibert Award 2009 -----------
We Are The Ship
We Are The Ship Kadir Nelson
Bodies From The Ice: Melting Glaciers And The Rediscovery Of The Past James M. Deem
What To Do About Alice? Barbara Kerley

Michael L. Printz Award

The Michael L. Printz Award is presented to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

Jellicoe Road
Jellicoe Road Melina Marchetta
Kingdom On The Waves M. T. Anderson
Disreputable History Of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart
Nation Terry Pratchett
Tender Morsels Margo Lanagan

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In a Blue Room - Jim Averbeck, Ill. by Tricia Tusa

So I heard this might have a chance at the Caldecott, and since I never look at picture books, and I'd love to have read a winner in any medal category, I decided to check it out from the public library. I really have no clue about what's out there om picture book land, but I do know I liked this one.

It's a very sweet story about little Alice who's having hard time sleeping. Her mother tries everything she can think of, but Alice keeps saying she needs a blue room. In come lilacs and lilywhites, tea, a quilt, bells, everything a little girl could possibly want for sleeping, but none of it blue...until her mother gently turns off the light and the blue light of the moon streams in, bathing everything - lilacs and lilywhites, tea, a quilt, bells, even little Alice - in the perfect shade of blue for sleep.

A sweet and charming book which may very well win the Caldecott. I hope so, and then I'll add it to my list of already read winners! Let's cross our fingers. Now I'm off to sleep...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poetry Friday - Praise Song for the Day

Well, I see these Poetry Friday posts on other people's blogs all the time, but I've never been organized enough to do it myself. Today (I'm writing this on Tuesday for posting on Friday - my friend Stacie showed me how you can schedule things to post later - way cool!) was all about change, and I'm motivated to make this change. To post a poem every Friday and become part of the community. Poetry Friday is becoming quite the event in the children's literature blogging community. Kelly Herold at Big A Little A is credited with generating the excitment for this often neglected area of literature. So here's the poem I'd like to post this first week. If you saw the Inauguration ceremony, you'll recognize it as the poem Elizabeth Alexander wrote for today's ceremony.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I read a winner!!!!!

OK, the biggest of the bigs are being announced next week, but they made a pretty darn big announcement early and I actually read it and reviewed it just recently. I doubt I'm as excited as Laurie Halse Anderson herself, but I'm pretty excited. CHAINS is the winner of the 2009 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!!!!

You can read Laurie's delighted reaction (doing the happy dance in her longjohns, no less)here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Paper Towns - John Green

Remember I told you I was trying to read some of the books that might just win awards this year? Well, there's been quite a bit of buzz about this one - many people think John Green is going for the three-peat with this one - a third Printz win/honorable mention. And I wouldn't be surprised. It's fabulous.

I often laugh out loud when reading books, and I often cry when reading books, but I really don't remember a time when I was laughing so hard that I was crying for the entire first chapter of a book. My husband was looking at me like I'd gone off the deep end, and then even he started laughing, just watching me laughing. I tried reading some of it out loud to him, but I couldn't even get through two words at a time because I was just laughing hysterically. John Green is seriously funny. But he can also be seriously serious, and this book has its share of serious parts too, after Margo leaves town and no one knows where to find her. Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, her neighbor and classmates has some clues which he tries to follow but he doesn't get too far, and sometimes he's not even sure whether he should be trying to follow her. But he has to follow his heart.

I love that John Green has awesomely developed male main characters because there just aren't enough of those in YA literature still - even though more and more are coming. Yeah, authors! This book is another amazing piece from John Green and I'll wait anxiously to see if he wins another award with it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mitali Perkins' new book is out today!

Following my "I love everything from India" post of just a few days ago, you'll probably not be surprised to find out I really enjoy Mitali Perkins' work. She's the author of Monsoon Summer, The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, First Daughter and others, and today her new book, Secret Keeper came out.

In keeping with my resolution to try and jazz up my blog a bit, let's see if I can embed the YouTube trailer I saw for it today on the Readergirlz blog. Wish me luck! Here goes...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Author visit to our book club!

If you haven't yet head, there's a fun new mother-daughter book club at WOMS called GAB (Girls and Books). Our first book was The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, and she was kind enough to come to our meeting last week and share about her writing. It was super fun to have her here, and I'd just like to give a shout out to Heather and to all authors who visit book clubs. An author visit to a book club is a pretty special event! Here's a photo from our visit.

If you haven't yet joined the GAB club but you're interested, feel free to contact Mrs. FB (leave a comment here or drop me an email) and I'll give you the details.

Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson

I'm hoping this year that I might have read at least one of the books that gets a Newbery Honor at least, since often I haven't read even one of those, let alone the winner before the announcement, and I heard some buzz about this one, so I checked it out from the public library. Newbery or not, this book is flat out amazing. I LOVED it. I am a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, especially Speak and Fever, 1793, and this one exceeded my expectations.

I read this book in nearly one day over the winter break because I simply could not put it down. The book is set in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. Isabel, the main character in this novel, is a young slave girl, who along with her sister was supposed to receive her freedom upon the death of her mistress. Enter the greedy, evil son of the mistress, and suddenly not only is Isabel not free, she's been sold to a pretty awful New York couple who are Tory Loyalists.

Desperate to find freedom for herself and her sister, Isabel uses her invisibility as a slave to eavesdrop on her master's conversations and then reports her findings to the Patriots. Unfortunately, her work does not lead to the conclusion she was hoping for, and Isabel finds herself facing difficult choices.

The characterization in this book is incredibly strong, and I found myself deeply attached to Isabel. The themes are also tremendously powerful, exploring freedom, power and humanity in complex and thoughtful ways. Clearly Ms. Halse Anderson did amazing research to create this vivid portrait of slave life and the Revolution, and readers will feel themselves being pulled into the time period as thought watching a movie.

Except for the ending, which left me extremely disappointed and frustrated - you'll see why when you read it - I'd say this was pretty nearly a perfect piece of historical fiction. I'd be interested to hear how others felt upon turning to the last page.

This book has not yet been ordered for the WOMS library, but its sure to be on the order list soon.

Now and Zen - Linda Gerber

This is another good installment in the Students Across the Seven Seas series (say that five times fast!). In this book Nori Tanaka travels from Ohio to Tokyo, Japan, where even though it looks like she belongs, really she's as foreign as all the rest of the kids. But don't tell the cute guy from Germany, OK, because maybe he'll like her if he thinks she's from Tokyo...

I enjoyed this book for what it was, a chick-lit light romance with a few lessons thrown in and some cultural information about Tokyo. It's not an all time classic, but it's entertaining. I'm quite curious as to whether the whole part about sumo wrestlers not washing that diaper thingy they wear because they're afraid their skills will be washed away, too, is true. That's nasty!

Thanks to Mrs. Yingling for a link to this author's blog.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Born Confused - Tanuja Desai Hidier

I think I must have been born in India sometime in a previous life, because for some reason I'm kind of obsessed with India. Give me a book about India, a movie about India, a Bollywood flick, anything. I love them all. So of course when I saw the cover of Born Confused, even though I already had a zillion books checked out from the library, I had to get it.

In many ways this is a typical coming of age novel, where the protagonist, Dimple Lala (and how great of a name is that??!!) is trying to figure out who she is, who she wants to be, and how to get there. But the cultural pulls, both from her Indian born parents and her American roots, make Dimple's coming of age a bit more challenging.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I think this book is more suitable for older readers for a couple of reasons. One is its complex and thought provoking themes such as arranged marriage, race, cultural identity and the power of art and creativity. I think older readers would appreciate these themes more and be able to think about them with more depth. The other reason is the writing itself. Not only does the author use a lot of Indian words without a glossary, the writing itself can be pretty complex, and less sophisticated readers might be lost. The writing is amazing and beautifully done, but it might overwhelm some readers.

This book is available at the Multnomah County Public Library, and if you are a lover of all things Indian like I am and are a mature reader, I'd highly recommend this excellent novel.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Want to be notified when I make a new post?

For the new year, I'm trying to learn some new tricks in the blogging world, and today I've learned two! Thanks to J. Kaye's Book Blog I learned how to link to a specific blog entry, which is a pretty spiffy little trick but not that intuitive if you ask me.

And now, all by myself, I figured out how to add an RSS feed of my blog. Now you can my site to your Google or My Yahoo or Netvibes or Newsgator or Bloglines page, and whenever I have a new post, it will pop up there. Kinda cool. Click on POSTS under the "Subscribe To Mrs. FB's Book Blog" for this option. It's on the right hand side of this page. There's a little orangey-yellow square with some white lines in it. See it?

You are also welcome to request email updates, which will send you an email whenever I make a new posting. Request an email update by posting in the comment section or by sending me an email at erin_fitzpatrick-bjorn@gbsd.gresham.k12.or.us

Now it's your turn to go out and learn something new!

It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health - Robie Harris

I received this book from the publisher via The Picnic Basket website, and I have been procrastinating on writing my review for this book because I am so conflicted.

I think this book is a fantastic resource and a great choice for kids age 10 and up IF they're reading it with an adult available to talk about it. The book is illustrated with cartoony pictures, and is quite frank about a wide variety of topics on sexuality and the changing bodies of adolescents. The "story" is narrated by a bird and a bee cartoon characters who are quite funny, but also very reflective of the nature of an adolescent. The book has great information, and plenty of it. All adolescents could learn things from this book, I am quite sure, and it addresses

That aside, I don't think I can put this on my middle school library shelves due to immaturity of user. It does have fantastic information that kids want, and NEED, but some kids would parade it around the playground pointing out the pictures, and then we'd have a passel of trouble.

I will probably keep it in the professional section for health teachers who may want to use some parts of it.

Any parents looking for a great book to use with their children to talk about sex, however, should look no further. This one is terrific.

Monday, January 05, 2009

WOMS Library wins!!

Wow! I'm so excited. I just found out that I was a winner in a contest for librarians! Way back in October I saw a posting on this blog called Class of 2K8, a group of YA authors whose first books were being published in 2008. Here was the contest information:

School librarians rock, and we know it! Help us spread the word about the Class of 2k8's new fall contest, just for some of our favorite people on Earth. It's easy to enter and fun!

School librarians can enter by sending us an anecdote about books, reading, or life in the school library, or a snappy quote about books and writing. We'll be posting our favorites on our Class blog during November, but winners will be chosen randomly from among all entries. In addition, if you pass this on to other school librarians and they mention the referral, you and your school will be entered in the drawing twice--double the chance to win!

Prizes include:
First Prize: Your choice of a full set of Class of 2k8 books OR a free author visit from a Class of 2k8 author in your region (if available)!

Two Second Prizes: A $50 gift certificate from Indie Bound (formerly BookSense) plus three books from the Class of 2k8 to add to your school library.

Three Third Prizes: Three books from the Class of 2k8 to add to your school library.

So I sent in a poem a student of mine had written about the library, and they posted it, which was pretty fun in itself. But then today they wrote and told me I was one of the third prize winners. So we'll be getting copies of three of the books people in this group published. Very exciting!!

Here's the official entry where you can see my name announced as a winner :) Look for new books soon!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Best Girl - Emma Harrison

This was another "beach" book, but it takes place in the mountains of Colorado, so I felt right at home since I was surrounded by snow myself!

Farrah, who prefers to go by Jane (and can you blame her since she was actually named after a Charlie's Angel), has just finished her first semester of college, and is about to spend ten days trapped at a posh resort preparing to be the Best Girl (instead of Best Man) in her older brother's wedding. Perhaps the word trapped may have given away the fact that she's not too excited about it. Until she discovers that the boy she's been crushing on all semester, Cute Conner, is actually working at the resort. Even better, she discovers he likes her. What he has not yet discovered, and what she's trying desperately to keep him from discovering, is that she's actually part of the wedding party - the one that he constantly complains about because these rich people are always so demanding, like they own the planet. What can it hurt to tell him she's just hte family's nanny? He'll never find out, right? Riiiight!

Of course the plot becomes more and more complicated as she has to go to crazier and crazier lengths to keep the truth from Conner. And of course he finds out and of course it's not too pretty.

This is another quick read with a bit of romance and some great things to keep in mind about love and just life.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.