Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I got to meet so many fun authors recently!

Hard to believe that in the space of just a few weeks I had a chance to hang out with four fantabulous authors!  Authors are like rockstars to librarians, you know, and it was way fun to get a chance to talk to these people whose work I admire so much and who make such a difference in the lives of children.

First I got to spend a whole day with the very fun and sassy Amber Keyser, who visited Highland Elementary School.  She talked to the kids about her books Paddle My Own Canoe and her Max Axiom graphic novels.  In the evening she even helped students make their own comics.  It was a super fun day.  Unfortunately, somehow I never got a photo of me with amber.  Tragic.  I got lots of great ones of her, though, such as this one where she's showing the her own childrens' canoe paddles to the audience .

At my library conference I had the chance to meet and talk with Oregon author Elizabeth Rusch who's written several books, both fiction and nonfiction for elementary readers.  Her lastest book is The Mighty Mars Rover : the Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity. Amazing story, amazing book.  I loved hearing her talk about what she wanted to be when she grew up and then seeing how she made all of those things happen through her diverse collection of writing topics - from art to music to science to sports.  Writing provides some pretty amazing opportunities for the right person.  I also might have the chance to work with Liz later this year on another book she's doing, and I'll definitely post about that if it happens. Exciting stuff.

Young adult author Chris Crutcher was also at our conference, and since he has long been one of my favorite young adult authors, it was really fabulous to have him there.  He's got such a gift for tackling difficult issues and making connections with readers, the theme of our conference - making connections.   He also uses humor in his books, which I love and which I think is what makes his books work. If he just tackled these heavy issues without the humor, they'd be pretty hard to take.  He's super funny in person, too.  If you ever get to meet him, ask him if he wants to do something neat...

Finally, this week I was invited to hear young adult author Libba Bray, winner of the Printz Award, no less, speak.   She was super funny, which I should not have been surprised by, because the last book I read of hers, Beauty Queens, and her Printz book, Going Bovine, were both hilarious.  She was speaking to kids when I heard her, and she was just fantastic with them.  Engaging and fun but also pretty serious at some times. It was a treat to get to listen to her for an hour and to actually meet her.  I'd actually had a conversation with her on Facebook about Beauty Queens earlier, so that made it extra special for me.

So it's been a great few weeks for me, as you can see.  Any authors wanting to meet me this week? Leave me a note in the comments. I'll have my people call your people!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

Loved, loved, loved this audiobook that I checked out from Multnomah County Library based on the recommendation of one of the women in my adult book club.

This is a story told in alternating chapters (or if not alternating every chapter, at least every few chapters) - one chapter by a boy narrator and one by a girl.  Both the readers on the audiobook are excellent. I could listen to that Sean Kendrick reader all day long!

Sean Kendrick is the odds on favorite to win the Scorpio Races this year because he's won it already for the last several years.  Puck Connolly, the first girl to ever enter the races is not.  The Scorpio Races are a horse race, but most of the riders ride on very special horses, water horses, who come from the ocean and have a drive to get back to the water as well.  They're fierce and frightening, and will kill a person or another horse as likely as not.  Puck doesnt' have a water horse, she has no money, she has no training, and many, many people do not want her riding this race.  Sean Kendrick has everything he needs to win, of course, since the owner of his horse is extremely wealthy, but there is one person who definitely does not want Sean riding this race, either.  The two make an  unlikely friendship, and perhaps more (it is the ever romantic Maggie Stiefvater, after all) as they prepare for the competition.

The story draws from ancient folklore but author Maggie Stiefvater said she realized she could pull only what she wanted from the ancient tales, and she didn't need to use it all, so it's more her own talewith elements of the old stories within it. I am generally not the biggest fan of the magical, but this story had enough of the real in it to be extremely appealing to me.  It had incredible tension that was built on many fronts, and it kept me wanting to read (listen) at every opportunity.

I highly recommend this book to middle schoolers and up.  It's a fantastic ride (pun intended, it couldn't be helped)!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

This book was also provided by ABDO as a digital title for preview.

I found this 40 page biography to be a good overview biography of President Obama.  It has information about his childhood, his school life - both elementary and high school as well as college and law school - his career before politics and, of course, his political career.

The biographical portion of the book ends with this election and inauguration and does not talk about the four years since he took office.

The book includes lots of photographs of President Obama and his family members throughout his life.

The last ten pages of the book have general information about the US government, such as the branches of the government, who's in line for the presidency if something happens to the president, a list of all the presidents, etc., and then a glossary and some suggested web sites for further research.

This book was provided in a middle level bookshelf, and it seems like a very appropriate resource for middle schoolers looking for good background information on Barack Obama.

The Adventure of Abbey Grange

I recently received a free trial from ABDO books of some of their online publications, and this was one of the titles I read.  It's a graphic novel of a Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of Abbey Grange", one of the 56 original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir ArthurConan Doyle.

Since this is the story in graphic novel format,  it is re-told in a much shortened form.  I have read a lot of Sherlock Holmes' stories, and they generally have quite a lot of detail in them, although the reader is, of course, also forced to make a lot of conjecture to try and solve the story in the way Holmes does in his mind.  I felt this re-telling perhaps made the reader do even more than normal.

I enjoyed the GN format much more reading this book than I have in the past, and I think it was because I had just heard author Amber Keyser speak last week about graphic novels and did some work creating a lesson for teachers on how to read graphic novels.  I think my heightened awareness of the form helped me appreciate it more.  That makes me wonder if we shouldn't spend more time teaching this genre as it becomes more and more popular so we are sure our students are really getting all they can from it.

As always, Holmes solved it before I did, and I was quite surprised at the ending of this one, but not for the reasons you might think.  Now I'd like to go back and read the original to compare, but since I know the ending, I wonder how I'd like that...