Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Poetry Friday - Birdsong

The day that Auschwitz was liberated, January 27, is now an International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust. This week's poem was written by one of the children at the Terezin concentration camp. There's more information about the camp below the poem.


He doesn't know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn't go out.
He doesn't know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.

When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth's aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to open up your heart
To beauty; go to the woods someday
And weave a wreath of memory there.
Then if tears obscure your way
You'll know how wonderful it is
To be alive.

Anonymous Child
Written in Terezin Concentration Camp

Terezin (Theresienstadt) Concentration Camp

As Hitler transported tens of thousands of communal objects to Prague, their owners were rounded up and shipped first to a city built northwest of Prague in 1780 by Joseph II. Ironically, this city served as a fortress to protect Prague from invaders to the north. Joseph II named this village after his mother, Maria Teresia, calling it Terezin.

Hitler, the world was to be told, had built a city for the Jews, to protect them from the vagaries and stresses of the war. A film was made to show this mythic, idyllic city to which his henchmen were taking the Jews from the Czech Lands and eight other countries. Notable musicians, writers, artists, and leaders were sent there for “safer” keeping than was to be afforded elsewhere in Hitler’s quest to stave off any uprisings or objections around the so-called civilized world. This ruse worked for a very long time, to the great detriment of the nearly two hundred thousand men, women and children who passed through its gates as a way station to the east and probable death.

Of the vast majority of Czech Jews who were taken to Terezin (or Theresienstadt), 97,297 died among whom were 15,000 children. Only 132 of those children were known to have survived.

Find out more about the concentration camp here.

A book containing more of the childrens' poetry and art called I Never Saw Another Butterfly
is available in the WOMS library.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New game added to the library games page :)

A student made a terrific suggestion that I add the Winged Sandals site to the library games page, so I did. The site has these mythology related fun games on it:

Rockabye Cerberus:Orpheus charms Cerberus with his music - can you do the same?

Icarus and Daedalus: Catch chicken feathers to make your wings and fly away - but be careful, don't fly too close to the sun!

Amazons v Athenians:Choose your side - its girls vs boys!


Groove Pentatonica: Make your own music with our ancient scales and moody gods.

There are also other links on the top of the Winged Sandals page where you can explore more about ancient mythology. Look for the tabs that say things like Storytime, Make and do, Who's Who, etc.

Have other suggestions for links? Leave a comment here or send me an email.

Here's a quick link to the library games page if you want to go check it out. Enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Poetry Friday - Jackie Robinson

Having just celebrated Martin Luther King Day, I thought a poem about another great person from the civil rights struggle would be fitting. And also, I've been thinking about baseball because I'm going to Arizona for spring break with my husband to watch the Cubs in spring training. I am looking forward to some sunshine and wondering if I'll see anyone there who will be another Jackie Robinson.

There are many, many plays on words in this poem, giving it lots of layers of meaning.

Jackie Robinson

ran against walls
without breaking.
in night games
was not foul
but, brave as a hit
over whitestone fence,
entered the conquering dark.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

OBOB Wordle

Here are some wordles (wordle.net) we created today in our after school class.
A very cool website! You should try it out.

2010 OBOB Teams - Woop Woop!

Meet the 2010 WOMS OBOB Teams! They'll be competing for the chance to go to the regional competition in March. Wish them luck :)

The Awesomeness

The Platypi

The Unknowns

Elmo's Crew

Lexile 5000


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This one only took about five tries :)

Here's a great Blabberize by Dallin about Sarah Weeks's So B. It, a fabulous story. Enjoy!

The Angel Experiment gets Blabberized

Fabulous screenwriting by Quincy and great acting by Tanner make this a fantastic Blabberize about James Patterson's OBOB book The Angel Experiment. Enjoy!

How many times did this take do you think?

Dallin showed impressive tenacity in working over and over to get the wording just right on this blabberize for Margaret Peterson Haddix's Oregon Battle of the Books title Found. Enjoy!

Blabberize this!

Check out this awesome blabberized blurb made by Tanner and Everett about the Oregon Battle of the Books title The Alchemyst by Michael Scott!

Winners! Winners! Winners!

The winners of most of the big book awards for kids were announced yesterday. Here's a rundown of many of the top awards and their winners. Congratulations all! Now, for a big shopping spree to get copies of the ones we don't have :)

2010 Newbery Medal WinnersThe Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It 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.

Book cover image: When You Reach Me
The 2010 Newbery Medal winner is

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Steads.

Twelve-year-old Miranda encounters shifting friendships, a sudden punch, a strange homeless man and mysterious notes that hint at knowledge of the future. These and other seemingly random events converge in a brilliantly constructed plot.

2010 Honor Books

Book cover image: Claudette Colvin
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
by Phillip Hoose.

Hoose reveals the true story of an unsung hero of the Montgomery bus boycott. Hoose’s work stands out for its creative approach to narrative biography. Colvin’s own recollections are merged seamlessly with the narrative voice, providing a uniquely personal view of Colvin and the Civil Rights Movement.

Book cover image: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly.

On the eve of the 20th century, 11-year-old Calpurnia awakens to new possibilities, and through her evolving relationship with her naturalist grandfather, learns to think like a scientist. Kelly’s rich, evocative language captures Callie’s distinctive voice and lively observations of the natural world.

Book cover image: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin.

A rich tapestry of stories, both original and traditional, transports readers to a fantastic world where Dragon joins Minli on a fortune-changing quest.

Book cover image: The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. FiggThe Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.

This rollicking yarn, presented through the voice of 12-year-old Homer, uses humor and pluck to mitigate the horrors of the Civil War.

2010 Printz Award Winners The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

The 2010 Printz Award winner is
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

2010 Printz Honor Books

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey,
Punkzilla, by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973, by John Barnes

2010 Pura Belpré Author Award Winner The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, 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.

book cover image: Return to Sender
Return to Sender
, written by Julia Alvarez.

Julia Alvarez explores the thin line that separates American citizens and undocumented persons in her brilliantly told novel, “nder.” After Tyler’s father is unable to maintain the family farm, he hires undocumented workers, resulting in an interdependent relationship that mirrors current social and political conditions in the United States. Alvarez humanizes a situation by giving a voice to millions of immigrants experiencing similar hardships. This outstanding novel about the solidarity between two children of different cultures will resonate in the hearts of readers of any age.

2010 Illustrator Award Winner

book cover image: Book Fiesta!
Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros
, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora.

2010 Author Honor Books

book cover image: Diego, Bigger Than Life
Diego: Bigger Than Life
written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand weaves through the life of Mexican artist Diego Rivera in “Diego: Bigger Than Life.” A series of chronological poems delve into his controversial life. The poetry resonates with the passion that Rivera had for his art. The words that Bernier-Grand expertly uses to paint a picture of the artist’s life resemble the artistic process Rivera used to create his masterpieces. Bernier-Grand touches on many aspects of Rivera’s life and summarizes it like only another artist can. This book will pique the interest of readers across all ages and introduce them to a true master.

book cover image: Federico Garcia LorcaFederico García Lorca, written by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro.

Written in Spanish, Georgina Lázaro’s lyrical poetry evokes the spirit and style of the beloved 20thcentury poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca. Lázaro gives children a close personal experience with classic Spanish literature in a picture book biography. She uses the cadence and style of Lorca to paint a picture of the artist as a fragile, sensitive young boy who finds his strength in stories, songs, plays and books. “Federico García Lorca” celebrates the beauty of the Spanish language and the healing power of words.

2010 Schneider Family Book Awards The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Django written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen won the award for young children. Django is the biography of musician Django Reinhardt, who was in an accident that severely burned his hands and threatened to end his career. Through perseverance he went on to become one of the world’s most recognized and appreciated jazz guitarists

Nora Raleigh Baskin is the winner of the middle-school award for Anything But Typical. While Jason Blake who has autism, considers himself to be anything but typical, his life is that of a conventional 12-year-old boy. He wants a girlfriend, to fit in and to be recognized for his creative writing.

The teen award winner is Marcelo in the Real World, written by Francisco X. Stork.

Marcelo in the Real World tells the story of Marcelo Sandoval who has Asperger Syndrome. Marcelo is pushed beyond his comfort zone when he is forced to take a job in his father’s law firm. Over the course of a tumultuous summer, Marcelo learns what it is to be a friend, to stand up for what he believes in and that he can create a place for himself in the real world. I predicted this winner!!!!!!

2010 Sibert Medal Winner The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year.

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, written by Tanya Lee Stone.

Women in space – not a big deal now, but it took more than 20 years for NASA to recognize that women have the Right Stuff. “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream,” published by Candlewick Press, tells the story of the women aviators and aspiring astronauts known as the “Mercury 13,” who in the early 1960’s repeatedly proved themselves capable but could not overcome prevailing prejudices. Meticulously researched and handsomely illustrated with archival materials, Stone’s insightful, passionately written chronicle is sure to inspire.

“Stone has a less-is-more approach that really packs a wallop,” said Sibert Committee Chair Vicky Smith. “Readers will come away with their blood boiling. It’s a heckuva story.”

2010 Honor Books

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, written by Chris Barton.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, written and illustrated by Brian Floca.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, written by Phillip Hoose.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poetry Friday - In Memoriam

I love the repetition in this beautiful poem by Tennyson, and the line, "Ring, happy bells, across the snow." I hope you enjoy it. Happy Friday!

In Memoriam
, [Ring out, wild bells]

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

OBOB class Blabberizes

Here's a great little promo made by Dallin, Everett and Tanner about one of the Oregon Battle of the Books titles, The Wednesday Wars.


Art Contest for Summer Reading Program

Attention Artists!!!

Multnomah County Library is sponsoring an art contest for teens in grade 6-12. Teens are invited to create a design which will be used on the 2010 Summer Reading gameboard. The theme is "Make Waves."

Get your entry form from Mrs. Mandis or from Mrs. F-B.

DUE DATE February 26!!

The Taker and the Keeper - Wim coleman and Pat Perrin

I received this book from The Cadence Group who will probably never send me another book again because it took me a long time to get this one read and reviewed, but I hope they will if this book is any indication of the quality of the materials they're marketing. It is a great story!

Gregory and Yolanda are typical middle school kids who have no plans and really no desire to time travel. In fact, they don't really know anything about it. Their science teacher has talked about these strange things called wormholes, but who really listens to their teachers? It's kind of like that teacher on Charlie Brown "wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-waaaah." Right? So when Gregory finds a red monocle, he has no idea it's about to change his life. Perhaps the tingling feeling ought to have given him a clue that something big was happening, but he missed the clue.

All he knows is that the tunnel he can see when he puts the eyepiece on is irresistible. Scary, but irresistible. Have you ever been in a situation like that? You wanna do something, but you're really scared to. But you can't not do it, you just can't. That's what it seemed like when Gregory sees the tunnel entrance. And this is when the story starts to get really good. I love a good bit of suspense. It keeps me reading! His first visit through the tunnel is not much fun. It's a bit scary, very dark, AND he gets called a demon and beaten up. That would probably be enough to keep me out of there for good, but you'll notice I say his first visit...

Of course Gregory goes back, this time with his friend Yola, but only because the two of them think things have gone very wrong with the world. A big sign for Yola is that one of her favorite books, the story of King Arthur, has changed! It's all different, all wrong. It turns out that Gregory, the TAKER of risks and Yola, the KEEPER of stories, have to right things inside the tunnel - the land of King Arthur and the evil Morgan LaFey - to keep their own world in balance. It's a big responsibility and fraught with danger. Merlin is there to help, along with Palemon, but Merlin is weak, and his help is as well.

Are they up to their tasks? Can they avoid the dangers awaiting them, rescue the sword Excalibur in time, and save the world? Read this very exciting and suspenseful story and find out!

If you're interested in reading a guest blog entry by the collaborating authors of this book, you can check it out here.

Fans of Fablehaven, The Alchemist, and King Arthur stories are sure to love this novel. It's the first in a series. Available at the WOMS library. THANK YOU Cadence Group!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Malik

Malik's all about the sports - he's even having a bowling birthday party - so he knew exactly where he wanted to go when I told him to pick a book to recommend - the sports section. He chose a book about snowboarding to recommend on his birthday. We do have a collection of sports books and lots of biographies of sports heroes, so come on down and check them out.

Bowl a gutter ball in my honor at your party, Malik! Happy birthday :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice Book 1 The Ruins of Gorlan Blabberize

Along for the Ride (again) - Sarah Dessen

This first picture is, of course, the cover of the book, but the second picture is a photo I took of my cat Hummer with the book to make this poster that hangs outside the library. I thought it was so fun how the bike in the photo with Hummer (just one that was parked in my neighborhood) nearly matched the bike on the cover. I couldn't resist doing the photo, but I have to say, Hummer was not too pleased about it. He whined and cried the whole time we were doing it. It turned out great, though, didn't it?!

This book came out this summer, and of course I read it the first week it was out (thanks again, Ms. Frisk). IF you want to see that review, go here. But now I read it again, a little more slowly. I've been preparing for a talk I'm going to give to other librarians later this year by trying to find read-alikes. You know, books that are kind of like other books, so if you like book A, then maybe you'll like book B, too. So anyway, whenever I read a book now, I'm thinking of it in terms of what other books are like it. And because Sarah Dessen is so popular in my library, she's one I'm really thinking hard about. What makes her so popular? What is it about her books that's so special, and what other authors might have a little of that magic in their writing that I could recommend to students who've now read and re-read all of Sarah's books? so that's kind of what I'm going to focus on in this entry as opposed to the story itself. You can go to that other entry for that.

As I thought about it, there are a few things that came to mind. One is voice. Another is tension. A third is romance.

Sarah Dessen characters always have very strong voices. Sarah's books always have a main female character, and that's the character who does most of the talking and the character readers know the best. Most of the stories (all? I can't remember and of course there are none on the shelves for me to check) are told in first person, allowing us deep into the minds of these young women, all of whom have difficult situations to deal with. And when I say deep into the minds, I mean the girls do deep thinking, but they don't always start out that way. In fact, as I think about it, they often start out avoiding thinking about their issues. Or at least they're only thinking about them superficially. As they go through the story, they are moved by different situations and different people to focus on their issues,and it's always a journey. Through it all, their personal voice shines through, making them seem like real people, not just characters in a book. Interestingly, I felt that Auden, the main character in Along for the Ride, had a lot of Sarah Dessen's personal voice as well. I read her blog all the time, and it was funny to hear Sarah coming through, just in some personal mannerisms. Like how Sarah and Auden both say, "Really?" It's kind of funny. Her minor characters nearly always have very clear voices as well, and they add a great deal to the story, in voice but in plot development as well. So strong voice is one thing that Sarah Dessen's books definitely have.

Another element that her books have is tension. Now most books have some tension. Books are generally boring without it. But the tension seems to me a little more real in her books than in some others. You're just not sure how or if it's going to wok out right up until the end of the story. You know how you think it should go, how you want it to go, but you just don't know if that's what will happen. I never skip ahead to the end of a story, I mean never, but when I get into one of her books, I'm so unsure of what will happen and so sure of what I think should happen, I am sorely tempted. I get so invested in her characters that I feel my heart start to beat faster, I feel my blood pressure rise. when I read books about other characters, even when I'm interested in their story, I'm not often physically stressed. I cry in other books, which interestingly I rarely have with a Sarah Dessen book, but its not the same. I think Laurie Halse Anderson builds a similar kind of tension in her recent novel Wintergirls, and the recent book by Amy Efaw called After did this to me as well, but it's a rare skill. I think it's kind of interesting that I'm still a little anxious even when I'm RE-reading one of Sarah Dessen's books, even though I already know the outcome. Hmmmm. What does that say about me do you think? I blame Sarah!

The third thing that Sarah Dessen does remarkably well and that girls especially like (me included) is romance. First off, she always has male characters you just know are cute. She might tell you that, or other characters might tell you that (sa-woon), but in any case, you know it. She never overdoes romance. It's not all googly eyes or sicky-sweet, and it's not trashy or sleazy, either. Usually it's a bit of a rough go for the characters, too, at least some of the time. I appreciate this, because relationships are hard sometimes, especially when you're young and a little less experienced in dealing with people and emotions. Books that show relationships as easy all the time aren't giving a true picture of life, and I think they're setting readers up to hope for and expect scenarios that might be pretty impossible in real life.

So what are some Sarah Dessen read-alikes you could recommend? I'm always on the lookout. Let me know what you think.

Have a great day everyone.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scarpetta Factor (on my new Kindle) - Patricia Cornwell

This book was my first Kindle purchase - VERY exciting. A Kindle is an electronic reader, if you haven't heard of one before. You can see all about them here. I am loving my Kindle. I can fit 1500 books on this thing!! And I can get bunches of books for free. I will still use the library for most of my at-home reading, when I travel, which is a lot, this will be the first thing I pack. I got a killer red cover, and a new purse it will fit in, and I am good to go. The only problem I've found so far is how to spend those first ten minutes in the air when they wont' let you use any electronic devices. That puts a bit of a cramp in my style, but if that's my biggest problem, I think I'm doing ok. My sister got this gift for me, and she basically rules.

Now on to the book. The Scarpetta Factor is a novel by Patricia Cornwell who's written a long series of murder mysteries featuring an awesome female coroner named Kay Scarpetta. She's also written some other murder mysteries, but I like the Scarpetta's the best. However, I haven't read her last few novels because for a while there they just weren't very good. She was in a bit of a writing slump, it seemed, although she was still getting published. but I heard this one was better again, so I got it. I enjoyed it, but it's not nearly as good as her earlier books, and that's always kind of disappointing.

There are a few points where the writing seems really dumbed down, and I did not like those parts. This story is also full of flashbacks, which are necessary in a novel that's a ways into a series because a reader may have missed some of the first books. However, there are too many of them, often repeated ones, and they're not very well done, so that was a negative, too.

One of the reasons I have really liked Scarpetta is because she's a smart, no-nonsense, powerful woman. She's a scientist, so she's logical and rational, but she's also thoughtful and has strong relationships, most notedly with her niece Lucy and with a detective friend she's worked with forever. however, some of these things seem to have broken down in this novel. The super smart Kay Scarpetta is making stupid mistakes - doing things even I know better than to do, and it's an inconsistency in her character that does not help the novel. Well, I guess it does help the plot along in this case, but it makes it less believable because really, Scarpetta would NOT have done some of these things. It's a little annoying.

The way mystery novelists weave a bunch of characters together is always amazing to me, and Cornwell really does this in this novel. All these people who seem to be unrelated are, in fact, highly interconnected. If you think about it too long they're actually TOO interconnected, but it's a story, right? You've got to let some things go.

Overall, this was not a classic crime novel, but it was good and it was a fun first purchase for my new Kindle.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

this was another Kindle download, but this one was a freebie! books that were published a long time ago don't really belong to anyone - there's no copyright on them - so anyone may use them for free. Such is the case with this book, so I'm allowed to download it for free. Of course I had to read this one over Christmas break even though I've read it many times before and also seen the play.

This is the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, a not very nice, miserly man who treats pretty much everyone poorly and won't part with a penny of his money without a fight. Ebeneezer is visited on the eve of Christmas by three ghosts - the ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. The visions he sees are not pretty, and he's pretty afraid, wondering if there's time for him to change or if his fate is sealed.

This is a wonderful classic tale, and I am wowed by it every time I encounter it. It is a little challenging because of the language - it was written an awfully long time ago.

This book is available at the WOMS library and is highly recommended for strong readers, especially around Christmas time :)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Poetry Friday - Thank-You Note

'Tis the season for writing thank you notes for all the things you got for the holidays - and maybe there were one or two not on the top of your list. Probably best NOT to write this thank you note, though, even though it is funny.

Thank You Note

I wanted small pierced earrings (gold).
You gave me slippers (gray).
My mother said that she would scold
Unless I wrote to say
How much I liked them.

Not much.

~Judith Viorst
from If I Were in Charge of the World.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Marcelo in the Real World - Francisco Stork

This was a fabulous book that I listened to on my iPod. It was listed by Booklist as one of the best audiobooks for young adults of the year, and it was fantastic. I listened to nearly all of it in one go while I was baking Christmas cookies, and that's about as good as it gets, listening to a great book and cooking!

This is the story of a young man named Marcelo who has a communication disorder similar to Asperger's Syndrome. Marcelo is very high functioning, but he doesn't have all the same social skills most kids do. Marcelo goes to a private high school and he loves it there. It's very "safe", and geared very much towards children with all kinds of learning disabilities. Marcelo even has a summer job waiting for him there, taking care of the ponies. He's really looking forward to it.

Marcelo's father, however, has different ideas about how Marcelo should spend his summer. Marcelo's father thinks Marcelo should work at his law firm over the summer, learning skills he'll need to better function in "the real world." He makes Marcelo a deal he can't really reuse. Either Marcelo works at the law firm all summer and is successful, OR Marcelo goes to public high school the next year. Neither of these is an option Marcelo would choose, but in the end he decides a full year at Patterson is better than a summer working there.

While at the law firm, Marcelo discovers an injustice he feels strongly that he must repair, even though it may hurt his father. This scenario is very difficult for Marcelo, though, because he's someone who really functions best in an ordered and logical way, and this is neither. It's real life, just like his father promised him, and real life can be messy. Marcelo goes to uncommon lengths to get to the bottom of the situation because he's a little bulldoggish in his personality ,and he can't let go of the problem like many people might be able to.

Aside from Marcelo, there are two other strong characters in this novel. One is Jasmine, Marcelo's supervisor in the mailroom who is not happy about him being there, but who is amazingly patient and kind to him. Their friendship begins to deepen into something more over the course of the story, and it's the only part of the storyline that troubles me. I'm not sure I can buy it. I want to believe, because I'm a romantic, but I'm not sure I do. Jasmine seems a bit too wise beyond her years. But there are some reasons for that. It's not a dealbreaker, it just niggles a little.

Creepy, slimy Wendell, law-school son of one of the other attorneys in the firm is the other strong character. Wendell is pretty much all about Wendell, and he uses Marcelo to try and get what he wants. All the time. Mostly what he wants is Jasmine, strictly for nefarious purposes, of course, but also he wants someone else to do his work for him. enter Marcelo. Marcelo's father doesn't (want to?) recognize Wendell's shortcomings, so he continues to try and foster their friendship. Wendell's a jerk, however, and Marcelo, in the end, recognizes this. Whether he will act on that recognition, however, due to the serious consequences it will bring, is what brings the events to a head. Can he give up Paterson, which he so dearly loves, can he jeopardize his father's position and, in fact, his whole firm? And will it be worth it?

The best thing about this novel, I think, is the authenticity of the voice of Marcelo. He almost always talks about himself in third person, and although it's a bit jarring to the reader, it works. It gives him just the right quirkiness, just the right tone. I wonder, not having read it, if that tone would be as evident as it was with the audio version. I hope it is at least similar for readers because that's what made this book for me - I'd like to know what you thought if you read it as opposed to listened to it.

I predict this will win a Schneider Family award. We'll see if I'm right in a few weeks here.

This book will be available in the WOMS library soon. The audio version is available at Multnomah County Library.

The Christmas Cookie Club - Ann Pearlman

I've actually read it now! This was a fun book to read right before Christmas. It's book for grown-ups that is a story of Christmas cookies, yes, but more it's a story of enduring friendships of women over many years and the traditions they've built with each other. I enjoyed many parts of this book, but there were some things I thought could have been done better to make this an even better read.

The thing I enjoyed the most was the storyline of how he women have this Christmas Cookie Club tradition of getting together every year without fail on a certain day and exchanging cookies. I also loved the WAY they did it. Everyone prepared a special cookie that had some special meaning for them. Everyone put their cookies together for everyone else in a special, fancy containers of some sort. Everyone had to tell a story about their cookies - the why, the how, the where, whatever, about their cookies. I loved those things.

They also have another rule. If you're going to miss the actual party, you must send your cookies or you're kicked out of the club. I kind of like this rule, because I sort of have this thing about signing up for clubs. Either you're in, or your not. Of course, people have to miss meetings occasionally for something special or important or if you get sick. I get that. But I don't like when people join a group and then don't follow through by actually participating as part of the group most of the time. That's just me, and it's not a very tolerant side of myself, so I'm trying to let that go more, but I did love this rule for that reason. Commit, or don't, but you can't do both.

I also really liked that they put cookie recipes in the book, but they didn't put them all in there, which was disappointing. And I couldn't figure out why. It was kind of annoying, and threw me off in my reading experience, so that was disappointing.

The other thing I thought was a little jarring was the inclusion at the end of each chapter of information about an ingredient. Like there was one thing about flour, one about vanilla, one about sugar, etc. I kind of liked them, actually, but they were a little awkward at the same time. I think the placement was off and they were a little long.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book which I read about on another blog I like to follow called She Is Too Fond of Books, so I thank my friend Dawn for that recommendation!

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

I listened to this book on my iPod, and at first I was not really sure about it. It was kind of weird and futuristic, and just not my kind of book at all. But I gave it a chance because I knew there was SOME reason I'd picked it (not that I ever remembered what that reason was, exactly). It turned out to be quite excellent. so good, in fact, that I'm going to have my husband read it I think he'd like it a lot.

The premise of this book is that at some time in the not too far future, but a time when we're a lot more tech-y than we are even now - there's a terrorist bombing in San Francisco that causes a lot of trouble. The government goes a little crazy, and a totally innocent high school boy, Marcus, also known as W1nt50n (that's Winston to the non-techno geeks) gets himself into a lot of trouble by not giving up his passwords to the Department of Homeland Security and ends up being interrogated for days. This both frightens him and angers him, and he decides to fight back using his considerable skills in technology.

Marcus becomes the voice and the brains behind what nearly becomes a complete overthrow of Homeland Security via young people, their Xboxes and the Internet on a global scale. It's pretty amazing, really, and pretty believable. Doctorow pulls no punches in expressing his dislike of the Patriot Act or Homeland Security in this novel. And the more he describes the possibilities, the more he makes his point. Big Brother is watching - can Little Brother do anything about it?

Doctorow, who is a techno-guru, weaves a lot of lessons about how computers work, and he does it in a way that even people like me, who don't know a ton about computers, can understand. He actually had me believing for a minute there that I could write computer CODE!!! If you knew me, you'd never believe that, but I did! And not only that, but I thought it would be FUN!!!!

This book takes someone willing to do a little thinking and not afraid of some techno-info. Fans of MT Anderson's Feed, or Orwell's 1984 are sure to enjoy this book. This book is available at the Multnomah County Library AND it's available for FREE via the Internet under a Creative Commons license.

Here's a video trailer some kids made for the book. Enjoy!

Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith - Anne Lamott

This is a grown up book I actually RE-read by a wonderfully honest woman who's had her share of struggles in life. This is her faith story, and I think it's so great because it's so REAL. She knows and readily admits she's not a saint and that she's still searching. It's nice to know others are still searching!

This book is definitely not a traditional or a conservative Christian memoir, so folks looking for that would definitely want to look elsewhere. If you're looking for a realistic, funny book about the role faith can play in everyday life, Anne Lamott is great.

Happy birthday Taylor!

Taylor gets to celebrate his birthday with basketball practice!! That doesn't seem quite fair, but he's okay with it because he's a good sport :) His book recommendation is one of my favorites - Peter and the Starcatchers. If you haven't read it, you're missing out. It's amazing. The 4th book in the series recently came out and I checked it out from the public library just last week. I can't wait to read it.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Twins separated at birth? Maybe not...

We have two fabulous students with birthdays today - Dillon and Katie. Dillon recommends the Kidnapped Series by Gordon Korman, and Katie chose a monstrous book, one of the longest we have in the library, The Host, by Stephenie Meyer. It's not a vampire book, though. It's sci-fi, and pretty weird. I'm still not sure if I liked it, but Katie does, and today's her day.

Happy birthday to both of them!

Monday, January 04, 2010

First birthday of the new year!

Shelby chose The Outsiders as her recommended pick for her birthday and said she likes the movie and the book. She also said That Was Then, This is Now, also by S.E. Hinton is really good.

Both books are available at the WOMS library!

Friday, January 01, 2010

After - Amy Efaw

This book was a heart-wrenching read for a Friday night (yes, I am a wild and crazy gal, I know). I sat on the couch and cried and cried. I ached for this young woman who was clearly in such a horrible place inside that she literally had no idea how to deal with what was happening to her.

Devon Davenport has always been an excellent student, a great athlete, an all around top-notch kid. No one would have predicted this sophomore girl be in jail, but that's exactly what's happened to Devon who is accused of attempted murder after an abandoned baby was found in a trash can behind her house and Devon herself was found covered in blood.

This is certainly not the first time I've heard of a mother abandoning a baby in a trash can. I usually hear about it around once a year on the news. It's been such a problem that most states have even created laws that allow mothers to abandon babies at hospitals or fire stations with no criminal charges. But I've ever understood how a mother could do it. How could she take this small, helpless child and leave it - probably to die? It's hard to imagine. But Devon Davenport gives a very human face to this situation, and she helped me to understand how it might happen. How someone might be in such denial that she could do something so horrifying, something that might even be horrifying to HER if she were in her right mind. You see, Devon is NOT in her right mind.

The reader sees this by her responses and reactions which are vacuous and vacant. the reader sees this through her inability to process even simple directions. The reader sees this in her snippets of flashback scattered throughout the text. It's disturbing, frightening, distressing, and helped this reader, at least, to be more empathetic toward this kind of situation.

I read another review where the reviewer referred to this book as emotionally raw, and I think that's a great description. It is both powerful and plaintive. Fans of Walter Dean Myers' Monster or Picoult's My Sister's Keeper will enjoy this riveting story with its surprising conclusion.

Poetry Friday - Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope it's the best year ever!!!!

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Robert Burns