Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And one more holiday themed post

I was lucky enough to meet illustrator Marla Frazee this year, and now her work is appearing on Simon and Schuster's holiday card. Click the picture to see it in motion. So lovely. Enjoy!

A different kind of gingerbread house for the holidays!

How's THIS for a fancy gingerbread "house"? Fully edible! And many of you reading this blog probably do not even realize that people used to create whole books on these things (well, on real ones, not edible ones). Crazy talk, hey?

Here are all the details on this typewriter:

Patti from Baked Ideas made this amazing edible gingerbread typewriter for benefit of City Harvest, and it is displayed at NYC's Parker Meridien Hotel.

So…. typewriter came to mind… a sort of gingerbread house for the letters that live inside!! Christmas unplugged, a letter to santa, granny’s laptop …… it was fun to think about.

First we made a model of the typewriter in cardboard, and then baked all the parts and crafted the roller, paper and metal keys out of sugar paste. The “glue” is royal icing, and cookies, stacked up, are the inner supports. The keyboard letters are cookies, iced in ivory and trimmed in silver. The iced gingerbread alphabet letters are frolicking in the sugar snow, sometimes spelling out words (fun, skip, eat, joy.)

I am glad we chose to make a typewriter. It is an image that is a reminder of a simpler time … wintery, happy and unexpected. I hope both kids and adults enjoy looking at it.

It’s 100% edible, down to the rice paper ribbon.

Thanks to Boing-Boing for the info.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Mistress of Nothing, Kate Pullinger

This was an adult novel I read that was a good historical fiction piece. The main character of the story, Sally, was a lady's maid to a somewhat wealthy Englishwoman who decided to move to Egypt for her health. Sally went along with her and discovered that she quite enjoyed the freedoms she found there.

When she becomes pregnant by an Egyptian man, however, her mistress basically disowns her, and wants to send her back to England without her child. Sally rebels and faces some serious consequences as a result.

I felt cranky at the attitudes of Lady Duff Gordon and stressed about Sally throughout the reading of this novel. It wasn't my favorite, but I found it interesting.

This book was the winner of Canada's Governor General's Literary Award and is available at Multnomah County Library.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy holidays

Hope you have a wonderful winter holiday, however you celebrate!


Friday, December 09, 2011

The Pirate King, Laurie R. King

This is a favorite series of mine which focuses on Sherlock Holmes' fictional wife Mary Russell. She's super sharp too, of course, and also solves mysteries. They're a great team, and I love her spirit and spunk.

This is a pretty convoluted storyline that involves pirates imitating pirates imitating pirates in a play within a play within a play. It's pretty wild and wooly.

This is a great series for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but I'd recommend you read some Sherlock Holmes before trying this series because it will have more meaning for you if you know some background.

Available at Multnomah County Library. I listened to this on audio.


Thursday, December 08, 2011


I stole this from my friend Mrs. Yingling in Ohio, and I positively love it.

Whaddya think?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Powell's Book Fan Friday coming up 12/9

Carolyn Conahan is a great presenter, both an artist and author. She's going to talk about artistic collaboration which is ideal for high school literary magazines, yearbooks and newspapers. As always, kids are welcome to bring work and get feedback.

December 9th
4:30 PM
Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing location

Now Playing- Stoner & Spaz II, Ron Koertge

Well, this book has been a looooong time coming, but it was worth every minute of the wait. I was also excited because I tried out Library2Go and got this book on my Kindle. It worked like a charm.

Way back in 2002, Ron Koertge wrote a book called Stoner & Spaz. That was the story of a very unlikely couple. Ben, who has cerebral palsy and has trouble with mobility, and Colleen, a young woman who has a little problem with drugs. Or actually, it's a big problem. Who would think those two would ever even speak to each other, let alone become friends and then a couple? Well, pretty much no one, especially Ben. But when they meet up at the old town theater watching a movie, these two lonely souls are drawn together. Colleen challenges Ben, in some good ways and some not so good, and Ben challenges Colleen to give up her drugs.

Flash forward 11 years (in our time, not story time) and we're back with the sequel. Ben has become an accomplished filmmaker in the last few years, and Colleen, well, Colleen's still using, although she's trying really hard to kick it. But Ben is addicted to Colleen as ever, and he's unsure whether he can let go, or, more importantly, if he wants to. Enter AJ, another filmmaker and the kind of girl everyone sees Ben being with. She, like Colleen, seems nonplussed with his disability, which from Ben's side of the world is pretty unusual. She wants to hang out. And she's reliable, into films and filmmaking, smart. All the things Colleen's not. It seems like a perfect match, but is it?

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to mature subject matter, this is a valuable book for looking at the many sides of issues such as disabilities, drug use, and relationships. Sure to win some accolades come January.

Orchards, Holly Thompson

I haven't read a novel in verse in a while, so I was really excited to hear there was another good one out there, and I was not surprised after having read it to find out that it was nominated for YALSA's 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults. As most novels in verse are, it's quite powerful. The story is about a young girl, Kana Goldberg, who has a classmate who committed suicide. Kana and her friends face a lot of guilt, both for overt actions of unkindness toward the girl but also of complicity in doing nothing to stop negative behaviors or to make the girl feel less excluded.

Kana, a Japanese Jewish girl, is sent to Japan for the summer following her classmate's death to reflect on her behavior and to help her mother's family with their citrus orchard. Kana has hard time fitting in in Japan, and I think although it is very difficult, this helps her to understand her classmate's feelings in a way she might otherwise never have. Kana does a lot of growing up in Japan, and it is a difficult coming of age journey for her. And then just when she's getting herself in order, the author delivers a second punch that is very unexpected. Personally, I didn't think it was necessary and thought it was a little disruptive to the flow of the story, but I would be interested to hear what other readers thought.

I love the telling of this story in poetry. I think it fits the subject matter and the setting beautifully. I also really like the woodcuts that decorate the pages. I would recommend this story to seventh graders and up.If you read this and like it, try Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones.

I am reading another story right now about a girl going to a foreign culture to meet family she's never known, and it's interesting to make the comparison. That book is called How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, and you can look for a review of it soon.

Girl, (Nearly) 16, Absolute Torture, Sue Limb

This book had some really funny parts, but really, I was fairly annoyed by the main character throughout most of it, making it difficult to decide if I liked the book or not. I don't mind a bratty teenage character for a bit, I mean I was one, I can relate, but sometimes it's too much. It may also have been that I was listening to this book on CD, and there's no skimming when you do that, so I had to listen to every word. However, Jess also went from really bratty to really grown up in some of her thinking which would have been great if it were believable, but I wasn't buying it. She was just TOO grown up. It didn't feel like she'd really think the things she was saying all the time. Perhaps if I'd read the first book in the series I'd have enjoyed this more, although I did not even realize it was part of a series, which is testimony to its ability to be read as a stand alone. Fans of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson books will probably enjoy this, but she's no Georgia.

Liam Campbell mystery series (books 1-4), Dana Stabenow

Adult readers looking for a nice, low-key mystery series may want to check this one out. A little romance, a lot of dead people, and some rugged Alaska wilderness. You will not be too scared to sleep, and you're unlikely to be wandering about in the snowy backwoods accessible only by plane, so it won't probably remind you too much of home (unlike that time I read the Chelsea Cain serial killer book set in part at Cleveland High School right by my house. I had to alter my driving pattern for months). I got all four of these on my Kindle for less than $10 total. They were perfect travel books.

PS I think it's kind of funny that someone whose name is STABeNOW grew up to write murder mysteries.

Friday, November 25, 2011

2 grown up books

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. My new job has me traveling in my car a lot more than my old job did, so I'm getting a lot of listening done! This is a beautiful, sweet, slow-moving story about an older man living in a small town in England and the friendship/romance he forms with the Pakistani shopkeeper in the village. No one approves of it, of course, it's just not done. But it is real, and Major Pettigrew takes his last stand to defend love. Beautiful, moving, funny, and thought-provoking. I also enjoyed the reader of this book very much.

Blood from a Stone by Donna León I also listened to this book, and before I was fifteen minutes in, I was ready to go back to Venice, nevermind the murders that are turning up on every corner. Give me some crusty bread, some cappucino, some gelato, and a view of St. Mark's and I'll be fine. This is another Comissarrio Brunetti story, maybe the third I've listened to, and I have to say, that while I was transported back to Italy, and while I didn't think it was a bad story, I was not dying to get in my car and go somewhere just so I could keep listening. That's the critical test for me. And I also was not really pleased with the conclusion of the story. Again, I'd be interested to hear from others who have read it about whether you thought the ending was the right decision or not. For me, not. I will undoubtedly give Ms. Leon another chance, as she does write well and her stories do help pass the time on the drive, but I will hope for something a little more to my interest next time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yummmm, Thanksgiving's coming!

I thought I'd read some picture books about food topics this week in anticipation of Thanksgiving, which is definitely one of my favorite holidays. Of course, you can hardly go wrong when the whole day is about food (and football).

I started with Luck with Potatoes by Helen Ketterman and illustrated by Brian Flocca. It's a story about poor Clemmon, a farmer down on his luck. Things go from bad to worse for Clemmon, until he's lost his whole herd of cows and is really at the end of his rope. He decides to take his last little bit of money and plant potatoes, and what do you know, they grow like nothing he's ever seen! Turns out those cows he lost have found their way back home inside the potatoes! Clemmon definitely has some Luck with Potatoes. This story is set in Tennessee and has some vocabulary that might not be familiar to all readers, so this would probably be better for a read aloud than individual reading for kiddos in Oregon.

Sweet Dream Pie was my next choice. And I will be having some sweet dreams about pie this week, I can tell you, but I hope they're not quite like these dreams.... This book is by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Mark Teague. The story begins with Pa Brindle begging Ma Brindle to bake him a sweet dream pie. she doesn't want to, reminding him of the last time, but he wears her down and she agrees. I am telling you, you have never seen such a pie! It's full of every sweet treat you could imagine - gumdrops, marshmallows, cinnamon red hots, jelly beans, even cookies. And it's a magical pie. You can tell that for many reasons - one being it's size, but also because it sort of lulls the whole neighborhood in - almost like a hypnotizing pie. By the time it's done, after a whole day, everyone is hoping to get a slice. Ma tells them to just have one, but no one listens. She knows no one is going to sleep well, and she's right. Their dreams come pouring out into the street, "dreams of every shape, size and color drifted up from their dreamers and began to sport and play." The illustrator shows the difference between the real and the dreams in a clever way, I think. This book is a delight visually, and it has a good lesson, especially just before a pig out holiday! One piece of pie, remember that!

Nutmeg by David Lucas was next on the list. Nutmeg is one of my favorite holiday spices, but in this book Nutmeg is a person. And even though she's named for a very tasty spice, the meals in her house are pretty bad - cardboard, string and sawdust. Always. Yuck. Always, that is, until Nutmeg lets a genie out of a bottle, and you know what that means. Three wishes. So what does she wish for? Something different for breakfast, something different for lunch and, you guessed it, something different for dinner. The genie gives her a magic spoon. You'll have to read the rest of this wild adventure to find out what "something different" means to the genie. Will the spoon add some spice to Nutmeg's life?

Helen Cooper's Pumpkin Soup was the last in my pile. Sounds perfect for a rainy fall night, doesn't it? I loved this book best of all of them. The illustrations are beautiful (it's an award winner for art!), the characters are adorable, and the story is funny and sad and worrisome and happy. Cat, Squirrel and Duck live together happily in a cabin in the woods. They've got a system and it works. Everyone pitches in and does his part, and everyone's roles are clear. But when someone wants to make a change, all heck breaks loose. They have a big fight and Duck runs away. No one is happy. Cat and Squirrel go in search of her, but they can't find him. Will he make it back? Has he been eaten by foxes? Did he find some better friends? These are all the questions that Cat and Squirrel ask themselves and all questions that will be answered when you read this lovely little book. Enjoy!

ORCA Read Alikes with the Queens of Teen Literature

Recently the Queen of Teen Literature (that's me) and the Queen of the Madison High School Library (that's Nancy Sullivan) did a poster session presentation at the OASL conference on Read Alikes for the Intermediate and Senior High ORCA books. Don't know what the ORCAs are? Click HERE.

Our Read Alikes lists are available on my website - look for the orca whale logo and click just below there.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story, Eve Bunting

This is a picture book about a family who has to flee their home because they're persecuted and spend many days on a small boat floating on the ocean. It's a scary and difficult time, and Eve Bunting and Beth Peck convey this through words and pictures. A few times the characters think they're on the right track and something forces them back, but ultimately they arrive in the United States and are warmly welcomed. Fittingly, they have arrived in America on Thanksgiving, a day of celebration and thanks begun when other persecuted people arrived in North America.

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, Nancy Springer

If you like a good mystery, this is a good one. The main character is a girl, Enola, but her brothers (Sherlock Holmes, ever heard of him?) are also a big part of the story. There's lots of intrigue and adventure and breath holding by the reader during the book for sure. Enola discovers that a very rich young woman who she met previously is being held hostage, and she has to try and find out where, why, and by whom. And then she has to try and free her. It has a lot of funny parts in addition to being suspenseful, and I think all readers who enjoy mysteries will like this short mystery quite a lot.

It's Not Summer Without You, Jenny Han

Isobel Conklin has spent pretty much every summer of her life at the beach house that belongs to her mother's best friend Susannah with Susannah and her two boys. But when Susannah gets cancer everything changes. Belly, as she's called by the boys, has to come to terms with the changes in circumstances and in her feelings toward the brothers. This book is a sequel to the book, The Summer I Turned Pretty. If you love a book with a little romance, a little mystery, and some tears, this would be a good choice.

Shiver, Maggie Steifvater

Fans of Twilight are sure to love Shiver, a modern day werewolf story by Maggie Stiefvater.

Grace has always been attracted to the wolves that raom the woods behind her house, particularly to one wolf with golden eyes. Even though she was once attacked by wolves, she doesn't think wolves are evil. In fact, she thinks they're special.

Sam has always been attracted to a partcular girl, but since he's not human most of the year, he's been unable, or unwillling, to act on it.

Told in alternating chapters (and read by two actors, one boy and one girl, on the audio version), this is the story of how these two finally come together and look for a way to happiness together.

My Fake Boyfriend is Better than Your Fake Boyfriend

The Mother Daughter Book Club recently read this book and at their meeting, they made caricatures of their fake boyfriends. Can you guess which one is Mr. Bjorn (my real husband)? Hint, he has red hair.

Next month's meeting will be on Thursday, November 17 at 3:30 to 5 PM in the WOMS library. The book we will be discussing is The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet available for checkout at the school library. If you're interested in joining the group, please come to the meeting or contact Mrs. Thompson at the WOMS library for more info.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Check out who I got to meet this weekend!

Former LA Lakers basketball superstar Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a new book and DVD series coming out about the Harlem Renaissance called On the Shoulders of Giants, and he was at the American Association of School Librarians conference this weekend. I was lucky enough to meet him. I also got to meet some pretty sweet Star Wars characters there. Pretty cool stuff!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkins and Pinkalicious, Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann

Did you know what my favorite color is? Think about it, now. Did you guess it? Why yes, it IS pink. So how did I not know about this adorable series that stars a young lady who loves pink more than I do? She loves it so much that she eats enough pink cupcakes to turn herself bright pink. "Just call me Pinkerbell," she declares. "Call me Pinkerella." There's quite a lot of pink in the drawings, as you can imagine, but they're delightful and whimsical, and the text has a lot of vocabulary and wordplay that will be good for readers who are a bit more advanced. There's also a little brother in the book, so as not to completely ignore the boys. This book would be a really fun read-aloud, and both boys and girls would enjoy the story and making predictions about the text. Pinkalicious is only the first of the books which also include SIlverlicious, Goldilicious (sparkles included on the cover, always a plus for me), Purplicious and more. I noticed that the main character's imagination developed more and more in the other books I looked at.

And to top off my discovery of Pinkalicious, LOOK what one of the Deep Creek Elementary students created at home! It's a pinkalicious pumpkin - can you believe it? Right down to the cupcake!

Lots of other pumpkin book characters here at Deep Creek today, too! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Book of Nonsense, David Michael Slater

Twins Daphna and Dexter are excited to turn thirteen, but their father seems even more distracted than usual, and they're feeling bad about it. They're also trying to figure out what is up with the very strange gibberish book he's brought home and why Daphna is being required to spend time with the very creepy man at the bookstore. Something strange is afoot, and they've got to figure out why, and fast. This is the first volume in the Sacred Books series by local author, David Michael Slater, a teacher in Beaverton.

Watch the videos and vote now for the Trailee Awards!

For weeks people have been nominating their favorite videos that promote children’s or teen books. And our panels of judges have reviewed the submissions and narrowed the field to 24 nominees.

Now it’s your turn to vote for the first annual School Library Journal’s Trailee Awards.

These “people’s choice” awards will recognize those videos (and the individuals that created them) that do the best job of promoting books and bringing readers and books together.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Authors, authors!

Had SO much fun this last weekend at the Oregon Association of School Libraries conference in Seaside. Got to hang out with lots of awesome authors. My version of hanging out with rockstars. Great people, all of them. Matt de la Peña, Marla Frazee and her editor Allyn Johnston, Nick Bruel, Barry Deutsch, Matt Holm, David Michael Slater, and Rosanne Parry were all there. Felt so lucky to have a chance to listen to them talk and hang out. Good times!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If I Stay, Gayle Forman

A beautifully written story that is achingly difficult to read. 17 year old Mia and her family have all been in a terrible car accident, and Mia gives a first person account of everything she remembers and sees happening to her as she decides whether to stay in this world or go. What does she have left here? Who? Will it be worth the pain to fight or not? Amazingly well told, but be sure you've got a kleenex box nearby!

A Nation's Hope, Matt de la Peña, Kadir Nelson

A little while back I blogged about Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña. That book is a YA novel, edgy and quick paced, quite fabulous, but definitely for middle school and up.

Here, we have a completely different kind of book by the same author. This is a picture book, illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson. The story is about the 1938 boxing match between the heavyweight champion, an African American, Joe Louis and the German fighter Max Schmeling. Now perhaps that doesn't seem like much, but at the start of World war II, this was a VERY important match, and not just in the boxing world. Max Schmeling was the only man to have knocked Joe Louis down in a match before. Max Schmeling was a sort of poster child for Hitler's perfect race and a symbol of Hitler's regime. the whole country was rooting for Joe Louis, regardless of their skin color. Again, to many of you reading this blog, that probably doesn't seem like much, but in the 1930's, there was a lot of discrimination against people of color.

This is a fascinating story, well told and beautifully illustrated. Highly recommended.

Withering Tights, Louise Rennison

From the woman who brought us Georgia Nicholson, a girl who made me laugh out loud with every installment, we now have her cousin Tallulah Casey who is just as funny as Georgia. Tallulah is an actress , or at least she wants to be, ans she's off to performing arts school - away from home for the first time and not always sure how to handle it. If you're a girl looking for a good laugh, this would be a great choice. Because she's British, she uses some funky terms - be sure to go to he glossary as you read. It will make the reading that much better! Enjoy!