Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Finished several books this last few weeks

I finished several books this last few weeks, and I also apparently spent WAY too much time in my car the last few also, since 4 of the books were on audio.  That does not make for a very nice carbon footprint. Yikes!

I wanted to talk about these in order of how much I liked them, but the problem is, there's one favorite, one I really didn't like too much, and all the others are basically tied at really excellent books.

And now, after 45 minutes of writing about these books, Blogger wigged out, and all is lost.  Argh. Save, save, save, people.  How many times do I have to tell you???

OK, well,  I do not have 45 more minutes to re-do these entries, so let's go with the one sentence reviews.  If you want more info, let me know. Dang it!

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan - LOVED this book about the intersection of the past and future and the intersection of people and technology.  LOVED. this book was an Alex Award winner for adult/teen crossover.

Death Cloud, Andrew Lane - Really liked how Andrew Lane brought in some of the grown up Holmes to this MG novel of the young Sherlock Holmes.  So much action.  No way could any regular human have made it through all that!

Notorious Nineteen, Janet Evanovich - Well, I am sad to say, I think this is my last Stephanie Plum because I'm kind of over her.  There's not any real character growth, and if I'm going to stick with a character, I need that.

The Birth House, Ami McKay - This book was OK.  I read a bunch of it a while ago and just returned to finish it this week for my adult book club.  Obviously it was not that compelling, since I didn't bother to finish it earlier. Not bad, just not great.  Other friends have loved it.

Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys - An Oregon Battle of the Books grades 6-8 FABULOUS story of Stalin's overthrow of the Baltics, particularly Lithuania.  So much interesting history I didn't know, and really well done characters.  Holocaust genre readers will definitely want to read this one. Get out your box of tissues.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, David Levithan and John Green - Also required tissues, although in several parts I was laughing out loud. Written in alternating chapters, which I like and hate at the same time, these two master storytellers weave the lives of two HS boys, one gay and one straight, and both named Will Grayson, together beautifully.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Battle of the Kids' Books

Ooooh, I love this time of year.  We're coming into March Madness!!!!!!  And I'm not talking basketball here, peeps.  The SLJ Battle of the Kids' Books is coming up, and the anticipation is starting to build.  It begins on March 12th, and here's the list of this year's contenders:

Bomb by Steve Sheinken (Macmillan)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
Fault in Our Stars, The by John Green (Penguin)
Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion)
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Random House)
Moonbird by Philip Hoose (Macmillan)
No Crystal Stair by Vauda Micheaux Nelson (Lerner)
One and Only Ivan, The by Katherine Applegate (Harper Collins)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House)
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (Little Brown)
Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Penguin)
Titanic by Deborah Hopkinson (Scholastic)
Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Random House)

It's gonna be a tough year, folks!  Several that I loved are on the list.  Now I NEED to finish Bomb right away and Titanic.  I'm enjoying it much more this second time around.  Glad my arm was twisted to try it again.

If you wanna play along at home, download the bracket HERE.

Monday, February 04, 2013

I read some of the award winners this weekend

 My nephew Willie let me read three of this year's medalists to him last night, and it was so much more fun to share them with a little person than to just read them to myself.  I haven't gotten to do that nearly enough lately, what with overseeing sixteen schools instead of having one of my own, so it was a real treat for me. And these books were a treat for both of us.  What fabulous work was rewarded this year. Just top notch.  Of course!


I, Too am America by Langston Hughes and Bryan Collier won the Coretta Scott King illustrator award. The text in this book is only that of Langston Hughes's poem, "I Too, am America," so it is quite sparse, but  the illustrations that Bryan Collier created to go with it are simply splendid.  They are mixed media, oil paintings and cut paper, and somewhat muted in color, but they have lots going on in every page.  The book uses Hughes's poem as a backdrop for a focus on the history of African Americans as Pullman porters.  Many of the illustrations show the porters cleaning things in the train cars and then dispersing what they've collected along they're route, spreading words and music to African Americans all across the country.  There is a note from that artists at the end of the book explaining his thoughts and illustrations, but young readers will enjoy the book whether they know the full backstory or not.

(The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.)

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown was a Caldecott Honor and a very fun and funny bunny story about Jasper Rabbit who picks and eats carrots every day, sometimes several times a day, from Crackenhopper's Field (which, in itself, is just fun to say).  However, one day he's sure the carrots are stalking him, and he becomes very, very afraid. He asks his mother and his father about it, but they can't find any carrots after him.  Everyone basically tells him it's his imagination.  But Jasper's sure it's not.  Is it?  Will this story end with a bowl of carrot soup or a bowl of rabbit stew?  Both? Neither?  check this book out immediately to enjoy Peter Brown's very creepy (actually only a tiny bit creepy) black and white charcoal drawings highlighted by many things that are orange.  Some of which are even carrots. Fun, fun, fun.

(The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.)

Martín de Porres, The Rose in the Desert - Gary D. Schmidt and David Díaz - Pura Belpré Illustrator winner. This is a picture book biography of Martín de Porres, the first black Catholic saint in the Americas.  Martin was born illegitimately in Lima, Peru to a former slave and a nobleman.  Later his father took him back to Ecuador to be educated.  The book talks about his young life and then his adult life as a healer and priest.  I learned all kinds of things about Martín de Porres that I didn't know, and I really liked the bright illustrations.  There was a lot of detail in the illustrations that we could talk about while we read. This is an good foray into biography for younger readers, although I think that due to some complexities in the storyline, it is probably one best read together with an adult.

(The Pura Belpré award is presented annually 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.)