Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

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.