Author: mlreads

Happy Birthday SJ – 11 Books and One to Grow On

ML’s best friend moved a little over a year ago.  It was hard for ML.  There have been times when she was in tears over various things this past year.  The only thing she wanted was to talk to SJ.  Some were friendship issues.  Some were when she was mad at me.  One was when her hand was pouring blood from squeezing a wine glass.  That’s a blog post in itself.

ML and SJ became friends without parent involvement.  Which is unusual for 5-year-olds.  They met at Y Camp the summer before kindergarten.  SJ’s mom says it best; “People search their whole lives for the kind of friendship ML and SJ have.”

We’ve worked hard to make certain the girls see each other every few months.  Tomorrow, we’ll drive four hours to spend Labor Day Weekend celebrating SJ’s birthday.  I’m fully prepared to hear “Are we there yet?  How much longer?” every five minutes.  I’m excited as ML because SJ and her family are like family to us.

Last fall, we picked up SJ on our way to a wedding in Georgia.  I wish I had a video of their hug when they first saw each other after almost two months apart.  In January  SJ, her mom and brother came for the Woman’s March.  They came up for a portion of spring break too.  (Note to self.  Check to see if they have the same spring break this year).  Then, SJ came for a week this summer.  ML and SJ met at a YMCA Day Camp the summer before elementary school; so they spent their days at the camp.  At night, I enjoyed watching these two make slime, eat at Moes, and the one that made me smile the most… lying on the bed reading books before lights out.

At the beginning of last year, ML put in words how hard it was at school without SJ.  “SJ’s the one who helps bring people together.  When people are mad or disagreeing, she helps find a solution.”  To celebrate this amazing girl, who should be president… and very well may be one day.  I’ve put together a list of 11 books for her to read this year.  It’s based on books I know she loved, her interests and to grow her already compassionate self to see a variety of viewpoints.  This might seem like a lot of books to “assign”  I feel confident several of these books she will read in one night.  I’ve purposely included a variety of genres and writing styles.  I’ve read all but one.  I’ll write a post soon about the one I’ve yet to read; but I already know it’s a winner.  I’m not going to quiz SJ on these books next year; but I do hope she gives each book at least 30 pages.  In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about her Birthday Book List for when she starts middle school next year.

 

bubble

Bubble by Stewart Foster

Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

 

George

George by Alex Gino

Awful Falafal

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafal by

Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

march

March, Book 1 by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

moo

Moo by Sharon Creech

nine ten

Nine, Ten:  A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Roller Girl

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

 

Summerlost_BOM.indd

Summerlost by Ally Condie

Under The Egg

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitgerald

And one to grow on; because not only did SJ meet Cassie Beasely when she came to our local bookstore to promote Circus Mirandus, she and her mom read it aloud and loved it.

Tumble Blue

Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasely

 

 

KidLit Cares – ML Does Too

On Sunday, I posted a picture of an abandoned lemonade stand on Facebook with the comment.  “I know some local entrepreneurs who will soon realize one of the first rules of making money. Don’t leave your cash box unattended.”  Last night, I picked the two entrepreneurs up  from gymnastics.  I was going to wait and see how long it took for them to realize their lemonade cash was missing.  Then, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey happened.  Knowing these girls’ sweet spirits, I chose a different route.  To set the scene there were two sweaty girls in leotards sitting in the back seat surrounded by backpacks, binders and lunch boxes.  Our conversation went like this.

Me:  Where’s the money you made from the lemonade stand?

ML:  In the box.

Me:  No, it’s not.

ML:  Did you spend it?

Me:  No.  I stole it.  You shouldn’t leave your cash box unattended.

ML:  MOM!!!

Me:  I had an idea.  Would you like to donate it to the Red Cross to help the victims from Hurricane Harvey?

ML and Friend:  YES!!!

Their $13 won’t buy anything from the auction KidLit Cares is holding.  But it might if I add to it.  I’m thinking about approaching parents from fifth grade to see if any of them want to join in a bid for a Skype visit with an author.   I have my eye on a few and feel certain their ELA teacher wouldn’t object.  Especially one who is having her students read so many wonderful books this year.

People who write children’s books don’t do it for the money.  Writing is hard work and takes lots of time.  I already knew authors of books for children were amazing.  But their willingness to share their time and promote the love of reading while benefiting Hurricane Harvey victims speaks volumes.

Kate Messner says it best on the KidLit Cares Auction site.

“People who write children’s books and work in this industry have a wide range of interests and talents. As authors, illustrators, agents, and editors, we do different jobs, and we love and create different kinds of books. But one thing we all tend to agree on is using your powers for good in the world.

We are heartbroken that Hurricane Harvey and related flooding is having such a devastating effect on those in the storm’s path. Today and in the weeks to come, the Red Cross will be serving thousands of families displaced by Hurricane Harvey and related flooding. Those families include so many kids who read our books. We’d like to do what we can to help, and that’s what KidLit Cares is all about.”

199 authors, illustrators, editors and agents have donated their time or books.  Take a look and consider bidding if you can.  If you can’t, consider giving what you can to the Red Cross.  Small amounts from many people add up quickly.

Follow the link below for more information.

http://www.katemessner.com/kidlit-cares-our-hurricane-harvey-relief-effort/

 

Fifth Grade – 30 Pages a Night

 

Ml started 5th grade yesterday.  Word on the street was one of ML’s teacher’s has high expectations; and middle school will seem easy after having her.  All good words for a mom to hear.  BUT I didn’t know how much I was going to love this teacher until yesterday.  Here’s a portion of the email she sent yesterday.

“They also received their first assigned novel to read. Typically students are accustomed to hearing “30 minutes” of reading per evening, M-F. However, in my 18 years of teaching I have learned that 30 minutes for one child may be 3 pages, while for another it may be 40 pages, depending upon concentration, interest, and other factors.  I have told the children that I would like them to read 20-30 pages per evening, rather than counting minutes. It is more tangible. If your child finds the book too difficult to read 20-30 pages in a reasonable amount of time, then I can get them another book more suited to their level. We will be using these assigned novels for writing assignments. Thank you for your patience and support!”

ML’s first assigned book is Gregor the Overlander.  As pictured above, the other books they will read this quarter are Hatchet, Wait Till Helen Comes, and Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  Those are the ones she remembers.  I’m eager to see if there are others.  And wondering the total amount of books ML will read this year.  Based on a secret algorithm I created using my knowledge of number of days of school and average number of pages in a chapter book for fifth graders, my guess is 15 books.

I’m giving myself homework too.  Thirty pages a day of contenders for the 2018  Newbery Award.  The four books I’m starting with are below.  I feel certain I won’t read all the books completely; but I’ll at least give them thirty pages.  And if I end up reading the entire book, you can bet it will make my list right before the awards are given on what I think should win.

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Solo by Kwame Alexander

I hope I remember the lesson I learned from this novel written in verse, Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, in my personal and professional life.

“I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.”

Libraries are the great equalizer; but sometimes when planning programs and services, we forget to ask our community what do you need?  Below is my favorite poem in this book of striking poems that create a beautiful narrative of a young man coming into his own.

People Are People

Two hundred dollars is more than a kind gesture.  I will ask
Elvis to accept half.
That’s not necessary.  I just want to get on with this.  I’m tired of waiting.

. . . .

. . . .

Are you nervous?
Very. But I’m excited too.  This is finally happening.

I’m happy for you.  I am glad you came here.
Me too.

Your father does not need to build as a dormitory, please
tell him that.
He seems serious, and I mean, you do need it.

How do I say this without sounding ungrateful?
Huh?

The people who come here to help never ask us what
need.  They tell us.

. . . .

One church started the school, another promised to fix it.
One group built two wells, but didn’t leave any tools or
show us how to repair it.
That’s why you to have to walk so far for water?

I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.
What do you want?

A stove would be nice.  Perhaps a washing machine, she
says, laughing.
Really?

The women spend half of the day washing clothes.  There
is no time for their own self development.  There is not time
to help their children with homework.  We are so busy
cleaning.
I see.

 

Story Time on Aisle Three

I’ve been known to say, “I could do a story time at a moment’s notice in a grocery store with no books.”  It’s not a joke.  I just haven’t tried it yet.  The thought of it doesn’t scare me.  Of course, I prefer to read a few books during story times.  But in a pinch I could pull one off without books.

Recently, I read three books which are begging to be read at story time.  As the librarian in charge of programs for elementary age children, I rarely do story times these days.  Maybe I should pack these books in my purse and do an impromptu story time at the grocery store.

Still a Gorillla! by Kim Norman and illustrated by Chad Geran – If you go to Publix and hear children yelling “Still a Gorilla!” over and over, you can bet it’s me.

Little Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee – If you go to Harris Teeter and it sounds like a pack of wolves,  rest assured I’m instigating this crowd howling up a storm.

I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora –   If you go to Whole Foods and you hear children whispering “good night” over and over, it’s me.’

If I get a chance to do a story time this fall, these are the books I plan to read.  If I don’t, the likelihood you may see me on aisle three come December is high.

 

The Solar Eclipse Is Over – Time to Read

A few weeks ago, I started reading The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  I was captivated by it; but was busy preparing for an interview.  Then, what I will refer to as The Solar Eclipse of 17 frenzy started.  It will live in infamy with librarians throughout the country.  After answering calls and in person questions about eclipse glasses all day, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was read a book with sun in the title.  Actually, the last thing I wanted to do at all was read.

Now that the eclipse is over, the world hasn’t ended and my book holding arm wasn’t injured passing out eclipse glasses at our program, I can start reading again.

All this sun and moon conversation reminded me I’ve yet to read the 2017 Newbery Award winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  Once I finish The Sun is Also a Star, I’ll start The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

 

 

Rain Wizard by Larry Dane Brimner

I need to connect with the dead tonight.   Charles Mallory Hatfield, to be exact.  I read a fascinating biography about him a year or so ago.  It was titled The Rain Wizard by Larry Dane Brimner. The book jacket description said, “Renowned nonfiction writer and longtime Sand Diego resident, Larry Dane Brimner delves deep into the life of the man who carried his rainmaking secrets to the grave.  Was this man of mystery a scientist as he claimed or simply a fraud playing on people’s desperation?”

For weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it rain on August, 21, 2017.  Six weeks ago, I didn’t even know there was going to be a solar eclipse.  One week ago, I started having nightmares about it.  I dug myself in a hole without knowing what I was getting into.  Around six weeks ago, it was mentioned my library system might order solar eclipse glasses for a program.  If they did, how many would our location need?  Based on previous program attendance, I sent in a number and didn’t think anything more about it.  Until a few weeks ago.  The PR arrived and I put it up in the library.  I did not set up registration for the event because the number of glasses we ordered were plenty for the number of families that usually attend our special programs.  Then, an evil person provided the media with fake news.  (Sorry my anxiety took over the keyboard for a sentence.) I don’t think it was a conspiracy just poorly written headlines.

Here’s an example from one news source.

Need Solar Eclipse Glasses?  They’re Free at Libraries Across America

weather.com/science/news/free-eclipse-glasses-available-at-libraries-across-america

Most people probably only read the headline.  Knee deep in the article was important information.  “The Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning and STAR_Net Libraries have teamed up to provide more than 2 million solar-viewing glasses at 4,800 public library locations across the nation, partially funded through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.”

Across the nation, library phones started ringing off the hook.  From the beginning, we told people we weren’t doing registration.  We’ve never needed to do registration in the past at my location.  It would be first come first serve, one pair of glasses per family.  Then, the phone kept ringing.  We realized we needed to order more.  We did.  I even ordered a pack of ten for my daughter planning to donate the rest to the library.  With the extra order and mine, we would have more than enough.  Then, I received the Amazon email informing me they were recalling the glasses I ordered.  Seeing that we ordered the extra glasses for the library from Amazon, this did not bode well.  That afternoon, my manager received the illustrious Amazon email.

Librarians across the nation have been having online group therapy… sharing their experiences and ideas.  Here are some of my favorites.

needed: brilliant ideas for keeping eclipse glasses seekers as lifelong patrons
My Favorite Answer:  Winter Solstice Glowstick Party?

*ring ring*
*Coworker picks up*
“Sarah, it’s your mom”
“Omg, she never calls me at work, I hope everything is ok!”
*I pick up*
“Hi Mom, is everything alright?”
“Hi honey, I heard libraries have free eclipse glasses…”
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. E TU BRUTE???

so … what happens to all these eclipse glasses on tuesday?
My Favorite Answer:  I heard on the radio that libraries are glad to accept them as donations (along with the M – Mil volume of a 1986 encyclopedia set)!

And most importantly – What’s the best way to hand out glasses?
My Favorite Answer:  Make it like an Easter Egg Hunt

I’ve let every person working Monday know they are welcome to send all unhappy people to me.  I’ve lived long enough to know that admitting your mistakes is usually the best way to handle difficult situations.  I just need to remind myself throughout the event that this too will pass.  If that doesn’t work, there’s always bourbon.  I’ll be too busy with crowd control to see the eclipse.  Luckily, someone has a bottle of bourbon on hand for me to have a post eclipse drink or four.

As for me, I learned a lesson.  Our Slime Fest in September is a Registration Required event.