Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

OBOB Winners! Lexile 5000

Here's a photo of the fabulous Lexile 5000 team - the WOMS Oregon Battle of the Books winner. They'll represent WOMS on Saturday Mach 6th at the regional competition at Estacada Jr. High. Wish them luck if you see them! All the teams did a great job and had fun. Thanks for playing, everyone.

Happy birthday, Jeff - finally!

Well somehow Jeff's picture never got posted, even though his birthday was a LONG time ago! So here it is now - we call that a birthday FEST! He's chosen one of our fabulous Civil Rights books about MLK as his birthday promotion book. Hope your day was great and that your FEST continues all the year long, Jeff!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Poetry Friday - from Dr. Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go!

Dr. Seuss's birthday is coming right up - it's March 2nd. It's a day to celebrate reading - wahoo!!! Here's a short poem by Dr. Seuss, one of the great kings of rhyming, from his book Oh, the Places You'll Go. It's a fabulous book, but better for older kids, like middle school and up, than most of his other books, which are great for younger kids.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Notes from the Midnight Driver - Jordan Sonnenblick

Love, love, love Jordan Sonnenblick! I first read his OBOB book, Zen and the Art of Faking It, then Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, and now this one. I'm so happy that there's still one waiting for me, his newest book called After Ever After. His writing is just so great. He's funny and has spunky characters who are constantly making mistakes but also figuring out how to fix them, and they're dealing with tough issues, but the tough issues don't make the books total bummers. Sometimes a book gets really heavy, and that's fine, but it's also difficult sometimes to recommend a book to a middle school student that is just too deep and dark.

Jordan Sonnenblick has this knack for mixing the right amount of other stuff - good things, funny quotes, regular everyday occurrences - in to let readers get a feel for the difficulties that the character is encountering without getting mired down in it. Which is really good, because we can learn from those characters about living our own lives. Sometimes life IS hard - maybe your parents, like Alex's are splitting up. That's hard stuff to deal with. And sometimes we make bad choices, like Alex, about how to deal with that. Although hopefully you won't drive under the influence, and definitely hopefully you won't behead an innocent garden gnome. But then we have to decide where to go and how we're going to get our lives back on track. another thing this book does well is to show we're not just talking about kids when we say that, either. Grown ups sometimes need to get their lives back on track, too. It's kinda sneaky how he weaves this in, but I liked it a lot.

For Alex, there are a few someones helping him get back on track - namely the judge and his mom. But he could have been a jerk about completing his sentence at the nursing home, and he wasn't. He tried to make the best of it, and what he got back in the end was pretty amazing. I think life's a lot like that, too. When you least expect great things to happen, you're often surprised. Watch and see. I'm not saying someone will give you a guitar, though.

I highly recommend this title and any book by Jordan Sonnenblick. He rules! All three of these books are available from the WOMS library.

Sleepaway Girls - Jen Calonita

Summer camp - I never got to go to summer camp, really, well except day camp for Girl Scouts, which was fun but did not involve sleepaway girls. I liked this book. It was fun and had just the right amount of trouble, but no really negative or nasty kinds of trouble. It reminded me a little of The Parent Trap kind of trouble. Girls sneaking out and playing pranks, but no one really getting hurt by them. There was also a healthy dose of life lessons in here, and girls having to work things out together, which when it came right down to it, wasn't actually THAT bad. Great skills for living.

There's also a little romance in this novel - girl of course pines for wrong boy, but luckily figures out who the right boy is just in the nick of time.

This book is currently available at the Multnomah County Library.

My Most Excellent Year - a Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park - Steve Kluger

OK, granted, it's only the beginning of February, but this is one of my favorite books of the year so far, and it's going to be hard to beat. It's pretty much got it all going on. I mean, come on, Mary Poppins? How can you beat out a book with Mary Poppins in it? And a cute little kid? And a sweet, sweet older boy? Great storylines, funny voices, Plus, it's got some non-traditional formatting going on which gives it a plus one from me.

Three high school juniors (two boys, one girl) narrate this book which is supposedly an English assignment in which they chronicle their "most excellent" freshman year. There are a lot of storylines going on - some with each character's individual life, and many with their intertwined friendships. the two boys have been best friends forever, so much so that they consider themselves adopted brothers, and Alejandra, daughter of the Ambassador of Mexico.

There are love interests (both straight and gay), musicals, two boys longing for their mothers, and an obsession with baseball. Not to mention all the usual angst of high school. The three tell their story/stories in a mix of emails, IMs, class essays, theater reviews, letters, and more. It's a very interesting mix, and it works beautifully, although perhaps might be jarring for some readers.

This book will be best appreciated by mature readers with an open mind and a good sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three graphic novels

I'm gearing up for a booktalk with 7th graders about graphic novels, so I'm trying to plow through a bunch. Just recently I read Stitches, by David Small. We don't have that one at our library, but it's powerful! You can read that review here if you missed it.

Last night I read The Dreaming by Queenie Chan, a manga book; Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel; and To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, a memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel and Mark Siegel.

Although they are all graphic novels, the three are very different kinds of books, so that made for an interesting evening. The Dreaming is a manga book, with they typically big-eyed girls and has the least text of the three. I think I liked the manga's drawing style best of the three I read, but it was too light on text for me. Also, it was classified as a drama/horror, and although there was nothing horror-ific about it, I didn't really enjoy the story line because it was kind of creepy. It's set in a boarding school in Australia that's supposedly haunted and has some weird rumors about twins (which the two main characters are) There just wasn't enough development in this particular story to draw me in. There are three books in this series, so I'm sure there's more development in that second book. Fans of creepy, eerie, horror-type books and Manga fans will probably enjoy this.

To Dance is a non-fiction graphic novel, so that was interesting because it was like reading a quick autobiography. Anyone who loves dance is sure to love this story. The drawings in this one are much more detailed and were my second favorite drawings. There was definitely a lot of sub-text in the drawings of this book, which is what graphic novels are all about. Also, these drawings are all in color, so I liked that better than The Dreaming. While I thought the storyline in this GN was much more interesting, than that of The Dreaming, and it had a lot more text, it was still too short for me and seemed a little choppy. The ending was all wrapped up in about two pages also. I would have liked a little more fleshing out, but I guess that's what regular biographies and autobiographies are for, right?

Re-Gifters is the most "typical" graphic novel of the three I think. It's what most people expect, anyway, when they think of comic books. Lots of panels, lots of drawing, lots of word bubbles. I found myself a bit overwhelmed by all the "stuff" coming at me. I've just this second realized that perhaps that's why I don't love graphic novels as much as I love regular books. I find reading regular books to be calming and relaxing,even when they story's intense. I find graphic novels to be a little frenetic. There's so much going on that my brain gets overstimulated and I can't focus. Which also explains why most young people, who are quite used to being visually stimulated and who are generally quite good a multi-tasking find them so appealing. Ack, more evidence that I'm old!!

Anyway, Re-Gifters is about a young Korean American woman who does hapkido, an ancient martial art. And she's super good at it until she lets a boy get in her head and it throws her game off. She makes some stupid choices and next thing you know she's almost ruined her chances at getting into an important tournament. I liked the cultural references in this book ,although they could have definitely included more, and I liked the self reflection the character showed in the end. If you're a fan of martial arts, or just a fan of graphic novels in general, you will probably enjoy this one. There is a little bit of swearing in this book, but not a lot.

These three books are available at our WOMS library.

WOMS library, now on Facebook!

Are you a Facebooker? Become a fan of the WOMS library! Just type WOMS library in the search box and it will pop up. We'll be having contests and giveaways coming soon! Hope to see you in cyberspace :-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Poetry Friday - I Know

This week's poem comes from a book called Things I Have to Tell You, a book of poems by teenage girls and photographs that go with the poems/girls. I really love this book. I love how powerful the words of these girls are. It's an amazing book by some pretty incredible young women. Enjoy!

by Laura Veuve, age 15

I know I am strong
both in my convictions and myself.

I know I am beautiful
both inside and out.
I know I am powerful
and growing more so.

I know I will do just fine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do you like ice cream?

Do you like ice cream?
I do!

I slurp up the stories!
Stay tuned for how to win ice cream for you and your whole first period class!

Happy birthday, Richard!

Happy birthday, Richard. A little crazy to think that Richard is now a teenager, but it happens to the best of them :) Richard chose the very popular Bone series by Jeff Smith to advertise for his birthday book selection. This is a great graphic novel series, much beloved by middle schoolers. Happy birthday, Richard, and thanks for the great suggestion!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Friday - Snow Day

Well, I'm still disappointed that we had no real snow days this year, so I'm going to post a poem this week to publicly announce my dismay!

by Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the ding-dong School is closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
The Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School.
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and- clap your hands- the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls where plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

OBOB Round 1 standings

Round 1 has been completed. Here are the standings:

36 points - Lexile 5000
33 points - Team Platypi
33 points - the Unknowns
22 points - Elmo's Crew
17 points - Team Awesomeness
13 points Team KOHKOH

Round 2 will happen Wed. for all teams - it's still anyone's game!

Come to the library at recess on Wednesday to watch the competition.

The Boy Book AND The Treasure Map of Boys by e. lockhart

If you are looking for a book with a strong voice, you need look no further than E. Lockart. She's a master of the teenage girl. And she's funny! These books are the second and third in a series of books that began with a book called The Boyfriend List [(15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, and Me, Ruby Oliver) I told you, funny!

Ruby Oliver is quite a girl. She's flailing through high school, as most students do, but she does have it kind of bad after that whole boyfriend list thing that spiraled completely out of control (not to mention out of context) last year. Ruby deals with it all in a way that's mostly admirable, if sometimes a little atypical, but also sometimes in ways which are completely out there and not at all work-able in real life.

Both books are peppered with footnotes, a little gimmick that works fine for me but which I know does not work well for some readers. They are a little disruptive, so if you're a very linear person, you probably wouldn't like them. The Boy Book also begins each chapter with a chapter from a "book" written by Ruby and her friends when they were in junior high that tried to explain boys and their behaviors. It's pretty hilarious, and always relates to something happening in Ruby's high school world, showing that not much really evolves in the world of adolescent relationships...

One thing I really enjoyed is seeing Ruby grow up some and develop better personal skills over the course of these novels, even though she's still got a ways to go. She does think about others, and she tries to put herself in other people's shoes sometimes. This is a good thing for all of us to do, and it's not always easy, especially in high school, and especially when you've been badly hurt like Ruby has.

Ruby has a clear and distinct voice that is true to a high school girl and both these books are quick, fun reads. Available at the Multnomah County libraries.

Stitches, A Memoir - David Small

This was a bleak and heartbreaking graphic memoir by David Small, but it was also incredibly well done. I read a dreview of this book from Kirkus that called this book "emotionally raw" and I don't think there's a better way to say it than that.

David Small grew up in a household where there was not a lot of love or affection, and in fact one in which there was a lot of negativity. That in itself would have been difficult enough, but then, when he was 14, David went in for what he thought was a simple throat surgery. Instead, it turned out he had throat cancer caused by his father frequently subjecting him to "curative" x-rays when he was growing up (although he only finds all this out accidentally later). Instead of it being a small, simple operation, they had to cut out one of his vocal cords, leaving him mute. The story is told in sparse prose and illustrated with stark black, white and gray "comic" drawings which are anything but comic.

Although there is a bit of saving grace in the end via a skilled therapist and the power of art, I still felt at the end that the scars on David's heart were as unlikely to vanish completely as the ones on his throat.

This book is recommended only for mature high school readers and up.

Two girlfriend books

I read two "girlfriend" books recently: Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor and How to Take the Ex out of Ex-boyfriend by Jeanete Rallison.

Girlfriend Material
is about a young woman with grandiose notions about what life should be, what (who) she thinks she wants to be, and how she thinks things will go. But life sometimes steps in and insists on foisting reality upon us, and so it is for young Miss Kate. Kate wants to spend the summer playing tennis, writing, hanging out with her friends. Kate's parents, however, want a separation period, so Kate is forced to go to Cape Cod with her mother for the summer instead. Admittedly, I don't think the words "forced" and "Cape Cod" can legitimately be placed in the same sentence, but this is Kate's world, not mine.

On Cape Cod, of course Kate meets an adorable boy, Adam, and falls madly in love with him. She also gets a job and discovers things about herself, about love, and about her parents marriage that she hadn't really faced before. Kate is a great narrator with a very authentic voice, and although her cluelessness about the state of her parents' marriage seems a bit unrealistic, I'm thinking that perhaps this was just a survival technique and although she knew deep down things were pretty bad, she never let that rise to the top. I'm thinking differently about denial since reading After by Amy Efaw. Fans of romance and coming-of-age stories will enjoy this book.

In How to take the Ex out of Ex Boyfriend, the main character Giovanna (and really, is that not one of the world's best names?), is dating super cute and sweet Jesse. That is, until he starts supporting the opposition in the student council race for President. you see, Giovanna's twin brother Dante is running, so Giovanna feels like she HAS to support him. Plus, there's the fact that the other guys is pretty much a jerk. Giovanna can't understand why Jesse is supporting this guy, and he won't tell her his reason (which is finally revealed in the end, but it's a long time coming...). So, she breaks up with him. I'm wondering how many siblings would take that strong of a stance. I mean, I think it's great, but I'm not sure it's too realistic. Choose my brother over a cute, sweet boy? In high school? Really? Rallison makes it work, though, in part, no doubt, because Giovanna realizes pretty quickly that although she doesn't understand what he did or why, she still really likes him.

It's a light, fun, funny read that romance fans will love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy birthday McKenzie

Birthday girl McKenzie picked one of our fabulous OBOB books to promote on her birthday. She said it's her favorite book she's read all year even though it was a little bit scary in some parts! We have lots of copies available, so come on down and check it out for yourself. Happy birthday, McKenzie.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Poetry Friday - RED BROCADE

February is the month of all things red, and I love Naomi Shihab Nye's poetry, so this is a match made in heaven. Enjoy!

by Naomi Shihab Nye

The ARABS used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine Nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What's your favorite book series? Vote now!

Take the Read Across America Online Poll

NEA’s 13th annual Read Across America Day is just around the corner! More than 45 million readers nationwide are expected to participate on Read Across America Day, March 2. It will be a phenomenal Seuss-ccess!

As a part of this year’s celebration, the National Education Association wants to know which one of the book series below is your favorite!

Harry Potter
Percy Jackson
The Chronicles of Narnia

It was a tough choice for me. Guess which one I voted for. If you get it right, you can come to the library and claim your prize.

Click HERE to take the survey yourself!

Happy birthday, Braden!

Braden chose one of my favorite non-fiction books called Eagle blue for his birthday recommendation. It's an awesome book. It reads like a story, but it's all true. A writer went up to Alaska and spent a whole basketball season living with the team. Super interesting. Great choice by a great birthday boy!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Happy birthday!

FOSTER and Eli had their birthday photos done today, and they had a couple of great classic choices - Who Killed Cock Robin and The Black Pearl. We have lots of fabulous new books in our library, but some of the old titles are awesome, too, and sometimes kids are reluctant to check them out because the covers don't look so hot. Maybe I ought to have a cover design contest...

Anyway, happy birthday, boys!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Happy birthday!!

It's been a while since we had any birthday posts, so I was excited to have Devin, Josh and Melanie down here over the last few days. Check out some great birthday book choices, and wish them a happy birthday!