Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Christmas Cookie Club - Ann Pearlman

OK, full disclosure, I have not yet read this book, but I want to. However, even more, I want to win the fabulous prize offered over at BermudaOnion's Weblog for posting a Christmas cookie recipe, so here's one of my favorites:

Recipe: Toffee Squares
From: Erin Fitzpatrick-Bjorn

1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. sifted flour
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
3-4 7/8oz. milk chocolate bars or 1 ½ c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Cream sugar and butter, egg yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt until well blended. Spread in 13x10'' rectangle on cookie sheet. Leave about 1'' around edge of cookie sheet (it will fill it up. Once I made this and it was all over the oven because I didn't listen to the directions. E.). Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until evenly browned. It will still be soft. Remove from oven. IMMEDIATELY place separate choc. squares on top and let stand until soft. Spread choc. over entire surface then QUICKLY sprinkle with nuts and cut into small pieces while warm.

Rich cookie that tastes like toffee candy. Especially good at holiday time.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Even kids can make these, so go for it, WOMS students. Enjoy!

Welcome back

This is an awesome video from New Zealand about how books can come to life. Amazing artistry. Enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Poetry Friday - The Yawn

Some days, like the day after a big holiday, I spend a lot of time yawning. Seems like my body says, "Ah, I can finally rest." Better listen and get on taking a nap!

The Yawn

Paul Blackburn

The black-haired girl
with the big
on the Queens train coming
in to work, so
opens her mouth so beautifully
in a ya-aawn, that
two stops after she has left the train
I have only to think of her and I
wow !

from The Cities (Collected Poems), 1985
Persea Books, New York, NY

Monday, November 23, 2009

Front and Center - Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This is the third book in the Dairy Queen series, and as is typical for most series I read, when I love the first one, I'm often lukewarm on the second and then I have to decide whether to read the third. This time I decided to go for it, and I am really glad I did! I liked this one a lot.

DJ Schwenk is growing up, and she's still wants to blend into the woodwork as much as possible, but it's not very possible...not at all. Because really, DJ's been a football star, had a bad break-up with a boy she really liked, and had a superstar brother become paralyzed in a football injury. Living in a small town, things like this make hiding nearly impossible. Add to this that her goofy friend Beaner wants to date her and isn't afraid to announce it in front of everyone, and that her coach is pressuring her to be more of a leader on the basketball court, and it's clear that DJ Schwenk won't be hiding this year.

She can't hide from her brother, either, even though he's far away and in a rehabilitation center. He's calling her constantly asking her about college and playing basketball. DJ Doesn't want to really even think about it that much, and she darn sure doesn't want to play at a big school where the pressure is insanely intense, but some other people have different ideas.

There's a lot of introspection in this story. DJ spends a lot of time thinking, about both her present and her future. And she's learning a lot about herself - what she's capable of, what she wants, what she doesn't want. It's a nice finish to this trilogy, although I'm kind of disappointed it's the end. You never know, though, stranger things have happened, and perhaps we'll see a return of DJ later on. We'll just have to wait and see.

I've ordered this for our library, so we'll have it soon, but in the meantime you can find it at the Multnomah County Library.

Sunrise Over Fallujah - Walter Dean Myers

I listened to this book on my iPod, and I finished it in record time. I was really into this book. Mater Dean Myers, as always, packed a punch into this novel, and the narrator enhanced the experience incredibly. In fact, I'm thinking of checking out who the narrator was and trying to find other audiobooks by him he was so good!

I'm not usually a huge fan of war books, I'm pretty much a peacenik, but my nephew mentioned he wanted to read it, so I thought I'd read it and see what I thought about it. What I thought was WOW! As with most war books, there is a lot of heartbreak and death. There is also a lot of action and suspense. But this book, more than most other war books I've read, delved deep into the personal thoughts of Iraq war soldier Robin Perry, a young man who joined the army instead of going off to college, much to the dismay of his parents. Robin proves to be a deep thinker, though, even at such a young age, pondering who exactly are the enemies in this situation, and where God is in all this, or if he even IS at all.

All the scenarios in the story seem quite realistic, from the friendships built throughout the story to the combat scenes to the nightmares and pain. This story definitely does not glamorize war in any way. I do not know whether Walter Dean Myers was a soldier himself, but his writing certainly makes it seem like he has some shared experiences with these young men an women.

I highly recommend this novel for 8th graders and up who are looking for realistic war stories. Available at the West Orient library.

A Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life - Dana Reinhardt

This is a great story about a young woman, Simone Turner-Bloom, who was adopted as a baby and has always known she was adopted. She says she never cared about her birth mother, doesn't even call her that, in fact. She says she never wanted to or wants to know anything about her. And then Ryvka (spelling may be wrong because I listened to this one on my ipod) calls. Simone does NOT want to talk to her, but her parents keep pushing her. They push gently, but still they push. She can't figure out why because they've always said it's up to her but now they seem to be changing their tune. Finally Simone gets out of them that Ryvka is sick, very sick, and she really wants to see Simone.

Now Simone has a hard decision to make. She talks it over with another friend of hers who's also adopted, and he is the one who really convinces her. He tells her how much he wishes he at least had the chance to know his mother, but even though he's tried, it's just not going to happen. Simone decides to give Ryvka chance, and it turns out to be an amazing experience for her. She learns about what happened, and how she ended up where she did, why Simone had to give her up, how Simone's family responded. Thee are things she never thought she wanted to know, but once she's begun this relationship she wants to know more and more. She also finds out about her Jewish heritage, something she's never practiced before. She's never practiced any religion.

The story has a lot of philosophy intertwined in the plot, and I think it's a book that would best be appreciated by mature 8th graders or high schoolers. There's nothing inappropriate for younger readers, but I think they'll just get lot less out of it and would appreciate more as an older reader.

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Ranger's Apprentice - Ruins of gorlan Book I - John Flanagan

Very low expectations sometimes turn out to surprise a person, and this was one of those times. You know I'm not a fantasy fan so much, and the first few pages of this book with all the weird words and names nearly tipped me over the edge, but I was determined to finish the Battle of the Books titles this month, and this was second to last on the list. Surprisingly, once the prologue was over, it wasn't really a fantasy book at all until way far into it, and by then I was so totally hooked I didn't even mind.

This is really a story of self discovery more than anything by a boy named Will who wanted to be apprenticed to battleschool to become a warrior but who was asked instead to be the apprentice of a Ranger. At first Will was very disappointed, but he begins to find that he actually likes the things the Ranger does, although he's not entirely sure what ALL the things are. Seems like he's always learning something new. He finds a lot of adventure and learns a lot about the art of fighting throughout the story.

I thought this was a story with a lot of excitement and action that had great pacing and suspense. It did have some fantasy as I said, but the fantasy elements definitely were not the overriding factor. At the end of the story I could hardly stop reading, even when it was way past my bedtime! I'd definitely recommend this book as a great choice. There are several books in the series for those of you who are series fans. Available on the Oregon Battle of the Books spinner rack.

Still Life - Louise Penny

This book is an adult mystery novel that was reviewed as one of the ten best mysteries of the year. I thought it was a little slow at first, but I grew to really enjoy it. It was one I listened to, and I think that if I had been able to read it, I'd have started to enjoy it sooner. This book is not a thriller mystery, but a bit of a psychological mystery that engrosses an entire small town in Quebec province, Canada after a woman who's lived there for many years is killed by bow and arrow. It seems at first that this was a hunting accident but it turns out not to have been, and this sends the people of the town into a bit of a tailspin.

Many secrets of the town's residents are revealed over the course of the investigation, secrets they clearly would rather have left alone. Some of the secrets turn out to be closely related to the mystery, and some do not, but all dovetail into the answer in one way or another.

There is a whole art component to this story as well, and while it is central to the mystery, it's also quite informative about art, and I thought it was interesting how the author wove this in to the story. I'm curious about her background and whether she knew some things about art before she started or had to research everything. I'm thinking the former, but you never know.

I'd recommend this to adult readers who like mysteries that aren't necessarily thrillers. Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday - The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

It's nearly Thanksgiving, and I wanted to say, "Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone." I hope you have a restful holiday next week and a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends. Jack Prelutsky has some sage advice here for all you cooks in the crowd! Enjoy :)

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

Jack Prelutsky

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book fair starts with a bang!

Wowsa! We had so many kids in buying books this morning they were flying off the carts! It was awesome. Take a look at some of the fun that was had at book fair already. We'll be open in the library all week, and then we'll be in the gym at conferences. Bring your parents to the book fair at conferences and get a prize!

Also, Mrs. FB is looking for a few more kids to volunteer on Monday from 10-noon to move the book fair over to the gym. Pizza for all workers will be served at noon!!! sign up in the library.

Happy birthdays!

This week we have two great birthday suggestions from Brooke and Calvin who actually celebrated their birthdays last week! Thanks for the great ideas :-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poetry Friday- A book

The Book Fair is opening on Monday!! Time for you to dig under the couch cushions an beneath the car seats to see what spare change you can come up with! there will be lots of great titles available for everyone.

A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Emily Dickinson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy birthday, Noah!

Today is Noah's birthday and he's picked a sports book, Summer Ball by Mike Lupica. I was just telling him this morning that I just found out Mike Lupica is a sports reporter as well as a fiction author. I didn't know that until recently when I was listening to a John Feinstein book in which he talks about a lot of real sports personalities and reporters, and Mike Lupica's one of the guys he mentions. When I heard his name, I was like, wait a minute, I know that name...Kinda cool. Happy birthday, Noah! Thanks for a great suggestion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hummer talks about the book fair!

Click the play button to hear what Hummer has to say about the book fair! Hope to see you there!

Happy birthday!

Do you know who our secret birthday person is today? Hint: his first name and my first name start with the same letter. Today's mystery birthday guest recommends Eldest by Christopher Paolini. Let me know if you can guess who he is!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Henry's Sisters - Cathy Lamb

This is the third book I've read by this Oregon author, and although I liked the book, it had a lot more sadness in it than her previous books, and I was looking forward to something a little lighter when I picked it up.

One thing Cathy Lamb does really well is character development, and I had a particularly favorite character in this one, and that was Amelia Earhart. No, not the REAL Amelia Earhart, but don't tell Grandma because she's pretty sure she is. The main characters in this story are three sisters and their brother Henry. The story is focused on their relationships with one another as well as their family history which has deeply affected all of them. Their grandmother has Alzheimer's, and she is sure she is Amelia Earhart, the famous woman pilot. She is never out of character and lends a bit of lightheartedness to a sometimes heavy novel.

Recommended for adult readers. Available at the Multnomah County Library.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Poetry Friday - Lander Evening

In honor of Veteran's Day, November 11, here's a poem about a soldier who fought in Vietnam.

lander evening

from Gloria

Bill used to mention
Vietnam sometimes—
Snippets of story
I heard but never
He might have been describing
Mars or
It was an untouchable
Part of his past.

Last October,
Our Pastor told the Bishop
About Bill's poetry.
While he was here, he
Dropped by.
Bill did his funny ones
Two or three
And mentioned in passing
He had written some
Serious Poems
About his war.

The Bishop asked to hear one, so
Bill went away and came
Back with
"Body Burning Detail."
Halfway through it,
He broke down.

I just remember him
Sitting there,
His agony
His anguish
Pouring down his face
And suddenly,
For me,
It was real.
I could feel
with my heart
and soul
What he could never
I think
I began to

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Guess who I get to meet this week?

I am SO excited because yesterday I received a letter in the mail telling me I get to meet James Patterson this week at the American Association of School Libraries conference and get a book signed by him! Can you believe it? SO exciting. He's the author of the Maximum Ride series which I love and a new series called Daniel X. So I'll be away at my conference the rest of the week, and hopefully I'll have great info to share and maybe even a few pictures when I get back! Hope everyone has a great week!

Birthday boys!

Today's birthday book picks are from Michael who chose Inkheart, a fabulous choice, and from Wesley, who picked the very popular Star Wars The Ultimate Visual Guide.

Happy birthday, boys! Thanks for the great recommendations :-)

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie - Jordan Sonnenblick

It's not often that a book makes me cry and cry and also laugh out loud on the same page, but Jordan Sonnenblick did it in this awesome book, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. Admittedly, it's one of the weirder names for a book I've ever read, but I thought it was terrific.

I actually had this book on my list to read for about two years, but you know how my list gets - if I were to start reading today and read without sleeping, eating, or going to the bathroom for the next three years, I probably couldn't finish my TBR stack. So anyway, I never got around to it. But then I read Zen and the Art of Faking It for the Battle of the Books, and I enjoyed it so much, I decided to move this one up on my list. That was a good idea, because I'd been missing out. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is a powerful story about a boy whose baby brother gets leukemia. Not a funny thing, right? And it's not. But on the other hand, there's a lot of life, even when you or your little brother have cancer, that's pretty funny. And laughing about things is good for your blood pressure. I think it gets those little endorphin things that make our brains feel good move around or something. So we need to laugh, especially when things are hard. I really believe that, and apparently so does Jordan Sonnenblick.

Steven is in 8th grade, so you know there's a lot going on in his life already that's kind of tumultuous; adding his little brother's leukemia to the mix makes a lot of things much harder, and Steven sometimes has trouble dealing. So do his parents. so now you've got a 13 year old boy who's stressed and not very well able to cope without the people he relies on most to help him through because they can barely cope themselves. It's kind of a recipe for disaster. And there are definitely some disasters along the way. But there are a lot of good things that come out of it, too. I think this is an important thing to remember, although often hard to do, when someone gets really, really sick. Yes, it's cruddy and icky, and horrible to go through, but there are bound to be some bright spots along the way, and holding tight to those will help a lot.

I do some charity photography work with the Children's Cancer Association, and so I'm always looking for books that I think would be helpful for kids with cancer and/or their families to recommend to them. This one's going on that list.

Next up is Notes from a Midnight Driver. Jordan Sonnenblick told me (he's my Facebook friend!) it's his mom's favorite, so I can't wait to figure out why. He'd better get going on a new middle grade novel pretty soon, though, because after that, I'm out of novels by him, and I'm not going to be too happy about it!

Girls Dinner Club - Jessie Elliott

I just picked this book up off the shelf at the library the other day - not like I don't already have 25 books out, but what's one more, right? It just seemed to be calling to me. I love books that center around food. Julie and Julia, The Last Chinese Chef, Cathy Lamb's books, Like Water for Chocolate, the list goes on. I was intrigued by a book about teenage girls that involved food, because that's not so common. Probably because I doubt that many kids are spending time cooking, although they definitely should. Talk about a life skill. Anyway, I digress.

This book has three girls as the main characters, two of whom have been friends for a long time, and a third girl who's just becoming their friend. This book is high school chick-lit. Friends, family, school and BOYS are the main topics of conversation, but the part I love is the role that food plays. The girls plan and shop for and prepare food for and with one another and I think it's magical. I truly believe in the healing power of food and in the power of food as a gift, so this book really spoke to me.

Character development is really strong in this book as well, and you know I love strong character development.

This book would be a great addition to a high school collection. I think it might take a little salesmanship to get kids reading it, but that's what librarians are for, right?

Available at the Multnomah County Library.

The Scarlet Letterman - Cara Lockwood

This book was recommended to me by an 8th grader. I liked it a lot, but I think it's a better choice for a high school collection. One thing they did in this novel that I think older readers would appreciate much more than younger readers, is include tons of literary allusions. The teachers at the boarding school where this story (and series, in fact) takes place, are all ghosts who were writers of major works of fiction, like William Blake, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, and Charlotte Bronte. Not many kids at the school know they're ghosts, but Miranda, the main character, and a few friends do.

I thought it was cool how these authors were included and their works referenced - Blake's "Tyger, Tyger" poem is, in fact, a huge part of the story, but I doubt most kids reading it would even get it. Middle schoolers aren't often reading Blake. In high school they probably do - I wonder when? I'm not sure it makes a big difference as to whether a reader would like the story, but I do know that you'd get a lot more meaning from the story if you DO have that background as opposed to not having it.

If you were the person who recommended this book to me, please leave me a comment. Of course you may leave me a comment even if you aren't that person and you have something to say. :)

Have a great day!