Amal Unbound – A Middle Grade Novel

My daughter is beginning middle school in the fall.  Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed is a book I would love for her to read; but she doesn’t read recommendations from me.  However, I thought she might be interested in this book because one of her favorite authors, Laurie Halse Anderson, quote on the back cover states.  “This heroic story about a girl’s struggle to become educated against overwhelming odds will open readers’ eyes and hearts.  A gorgeous and compelling read.”

She has a cousin and a friend or two who actually like for me to recommend books.  So AB, SJ, B and M this one’s for you.

ML Loved This Picture Book

Pictures After Storm

My first love were picture books; and it’s still my number one love when it comes to books.  ML’s past sitting down, snuggling and reading picture books with me.  However, I want her to appreciate picture books her whole life.  Every once in awhile, one arrives I know she will love.  Instead of insisting she read it.  I lay it on the couch.  Eventually, she picks it up and reads it.

My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille is one of these books.  ML thought it was clever and hilarious.  You will too!  A book for all ages.

Women in Science

I took a poll of friends on Facebook.  “Who is the first scientist that pops in your head besides Einstein?”  There were a variety of men named; but only two women.  Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.  My friend, Liz, who graduated from MIT response was Rosalind Franklin.  (Liz’s daughter’s name is Rosalind.)  I hadn’t heard of Rosalind Franklin.  Luckily, she was included in the book Women in Science:  50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

I’m appalled; but not surprised by what I learned.  “We should all know it was Rosalind Franklin who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, not James Watson and Francis Crick.”  For too long female scientists’ contributions have been overlooked.  Thankfully, publishers are taking notice.  A variety of beautifully illustrated biographies about female scientists have been published in the past few years.

I INSIST YOU SHARE THESE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELF.  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.

Grace Hopper:  Queen of Computer Code by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu

Caroline’s Comets:  A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington

Out of School and Into Nature:  The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jessica Lanan

Ada Lovelace:  Poet of Science:  The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Marie Curie by Demi

 

 

Not So Different

Not So Different:  What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw and photographs by Matt Carr is a must read.  If I was in charge of the world, every third grade teacher would be required to read it to her class.

Shane answers questions kids are curious about; but may not ask out of fear of offending someone.  You know . . .  how one eats, poops showers and moves.  The crisp photographs show Shane’s just another guy who needs to do some things differently.

However, don’t wait until third grade to read it with your child.  I want it required reading in third grade because this is when children start becoming more self-conscious about appearances.

Shane is awesome.  The sooner you meet him the better.

 

Mock Newbery 2018

Last year, I read many books that were included on various Mock Newbery 2017 lists.  This year, I haven’t read as many books.  Usually, the awards are presented in January.  This year, they will be presented February 12th.  So I still have a 18 hours to read.   One’s I’ve read and finished from Mock Newbery 2018 lists are below.  I’ve tried to read around 10 books I’ve seen on many lists.  However, I only have so much time between work, home and hoursmothering.

The book I most want to win is The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  It’s a sequel; so I doubt it will.  The first book, The War That Saved My Life,  was robbed in my opinion.  It received a Newbery Honor last year.  It should have received the Gold.  Everyone I recommended this book to from age 9 to 92 loved it and couldn’t wait for the sequel.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming:  And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups by Chris Harris

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

 

Book I Will Finish

Undefeated:  Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

 

Books I Want to Finish

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

Train I Ride by Paul Moiser

Vincent and Theo:  The Van Gogh Brothers

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary Lambert

Undefeated:  Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

Tumble and Bumble

Patina

Siren Sisters by Dana Langer

Here We Are: Notes For Living on Planet Earth

Here We Are:  Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers is spectacular.  I want to buy a copy for everyone in the world to remind each one we are different but the same.

And we should follow the advice of Oliver’s Dad, an all-round good human.  “There are only three words you need to live by, son:  respect, consideration and tolerance.”

Pashmina

pashmina

I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions years ago.  However, this New Year’s Day I read the graphic novel Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani.  At some point each day since, I’ve remembered the quote below.

“Do not look at the dirt.  Look at the people.”

This quote is in reference to a visit to the slums in India; but I’m using it as a reminder in my daily life that people are people.  All with a story and deserving compassion.

 

Awesome Authors of the Triangle

triangle

I’m fortunate to live in an area with so many people interested in children’s and young adult literature… including authors of fantastic books for kids and teens.  From board books to YA books, the Triangle is filled with amazing writers.  Here’s what I read from local authors published in 2017.  I’m sure there are others.  If you know of an author who published a book this year, post it in the comments.

This Little Trailblazer

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer by Joan Holub – Learn all about influential women who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for trailblazers-in-training!

Paving the way
to a future that’s bright.
Helping the world
with their skills, smarts, and might. 
Little trailblazers cause great big changes.

In this follow up to This Little President and This Little Explorer, now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering female trailblazers in history! Highlighting ten memorable women leaders who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this girl power primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

 

Williams Winter

William’s Winter Nap by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Chuck Groenick – Just when William is ready to fall asleep in his cozy cabin, there is a tap on his window. A chilly chipmunk asks to stay, and Will scooches over in bed. “There’s room for two–I’m sure we’ll fit.” The chipmunk is just the first in a parade of mammals, each bigger than the last, until the bed is full. Then a note is slipped beneath the door: “Do you have room for just one more?” William tugs the door to see who’s there . . . only to find a great big BEAR! Is there enough space to spare? Will the other animals be willing to share?

Kids will delight at each new guest’s arrival and enjoy counting along as the animals keep scooching over to fit in William’s bed. Linda Ashman’s clever rhymes set up each page turn with suspense and humor, and the expressions on Chuck Groenink’s characters are perfect. This is must reading for the dark time of year when everyone wants to hibernate!
Jada Jones

Jada Jones:  Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton – Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.

When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?  (publisher’s site)

 

Unicorn in Barn

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline Ogburn and illustrated by Rebecca Green – For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.  One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.  When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.  A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turn. (publisher’s site)

 

Nyxia

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen – What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?
 Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.  Forever.  Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. (publisher’s site)

What’s Coming in 2018?

I’m eager to see what is published by authors in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill next year.  Most especially, Brave Girl by Kati Gardner.  It’s being published in the fall of 2018 by Flux Books.  I had the honor of reading one of her drafts.  Prepare to be wowed.

Brave Enough by Kati Gardner – Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She’s never really had a choice on if she wanted to dance or not, her mother the artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. It’s all changing. Cason has been hiding an injury and it’s much worse than anyone imagines. Davis Channing understands all too well what it is like to give up all control in your life. He’s survived cancer, but it was his addictions that nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital.
But it all changes. Davis’ ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life bringing with it a type of carnage he hadn’t expected. Cason and Davis are not friends. But now they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds? (Goodreads)

New Christmas Books from 2017

I’ve loved Christmas books my entire life.  I treasure my copy of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree from childhood.  I’m always eager to find new gems each year.  Below are my favorites this year.

Pick a Pine Tree

Pick A Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and illustrated by Jarvis – A festive read-aloud brimming with all the joy and excitement of Christmastime — beginning, of course, with picking out a tree!

Little Reindeer

The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen – An enchanting Christmas story about a magical yet unlikely friendship between a little girl and a lost reindeer sure to be a Christmas classic lovingly told and illustrated with red foil highlights and interactive die cuts.

 

The 12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli – Elephant is delighted to get a gift, but as the twelve days of Christmas continue, presents pile higher and higher! A partridge in a pear tree? Cute! But soon, her dad despairs. Two turtle doves? THREE French hens?! And just what are they supposed to do with ten lords a-leaping? Kids will love each silly spread in this raucous take on the classic carol that is perfect for reading aloud around the fireplace.

Merry Christmas Peanut

Merry Christmas, Peanut! by Terry Border – A sweet (or is it salty?) Christmas story with heart, humor, and plenty of punny holiday cheer.

All summaries from publishers’ websites.

 

 

Ame Dyckman and Zachariah Ohora Do It Again

Lemmings

I’ve yet to read a book written and illustrated by this duo which hasn’t resulted in me laughing out loud.  Ame Dyckman’s writing and Zachariah OHora’s illustrations are always a perfect match.

You must read, Read the Book, Lemmings – “The team behind the New York Times bestselling Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear! is back with with new Arctic characters in this hilarious learning-to-read adventure!

Aboard the S.S. Cliff, First Mate Foxy reads an interesting fact: “Lemmings don’tjump off cliffs.” But Foxy can’t get the lemmings on the Cliff to read his book, too. They’re too busy jumping off.

After a chilly third rescue, exasperated Foxy and grumbly polar bear Captain PB realize their naughty nautical crew isn’t being stubborn: The lemmings (Jumper, Me Too, and Ditto) can’t read. And until Foxy patiently teaches his lemmings to read the book, he can’t return to reading it, either!” (publisher’s summary)

And if you haven’t read Wolfie the Bunny or Horrible Bear, check them out today.

 

 

2018 Goal

Life Hacks

I’ve been very slack this year sharing great books.  I’ve learned the older your child gets the less mental capacity you have to write.  In 2018, I plan to share brief posts about new books arriving at the library.  At least three a week.  If I have time to elaborate on the titles, I will.  If not, I’ll include the publisher’s summary.

We received a big shipment today.  I immediately checked out one title.  It’s certain to be a hit with my DIY girl.  I’ll probably stock up on the supplies for the Groovy Lava Lamp before showing her the book.  Otherwise, she’ll drive me crazy begging to drive to our nearest grocery store for supplies.  I need to stock up on ear wires for Duct Tape Earrings too.  I can see it now.  A new trend will start at her school  because she loves to make gifts for people.  Luckily, I read the Let’s Get Pranked Hacks chapter.  She “gets me good” all the time.  No new ideas needed.   Maybe I’ll try one on her before I give her the book.

Life Hacks for Kids with Sunny Keller – Packed with 35 popular “hacks” from the top rated YouTube show Life Hacks for Kids, this book is sure to be a hit with fans of the show as well as kids who love to make something out of nothing. Featuring original photographs and behind the scenes insight from show’s star, Sunny Keller. (publisher’s summary)

Claymates – My Favorite Picture Book of 2018

When Claymates by Dev Petty and illustrated by Lauren Eldridge arrived at the library, all the Youth Services staff loved it.  Then, I used it at a program for Kindergarten – 2nd graders.  They loved it even more.  This summer, I’ll share it with 3rd-5th graders.  I should warn the library staff before the program.  I know the kids will scream with laughter while I read the book.  When I share the book trailer video, there will probably be a noise complaint from the apartments across the street.

 

The activity for this book was fun. We viewed this Book Chat first.

 

Then, each child received a paper plate with a generous pinch of two colors of play dough and googly eyes.  They were encouraged to create characters.  Around ten minutes later, toothpicks were added to the mix.  Ten minutes after the toothpick distribution, colorful plastic straws and scissors to cut the straws were placed on the tables for use.  They spent half an hour molding a variety of  creatures.  The parents loved this program as much as the children.  Many asked if there were extra materials so they could participate.  Parents and children alike created their very own Claymates.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday from Aunt Kerri and ML

Today is a special day.  It’s the day ML was due to arrie in 2006.  She didn’t.  But a few years later my nephew did.  Every year, I send him books for his birthday.  This is the first year I wasn’t sure which direction to go.  He’s at the age where children could be reading Easy Readers or as some parents like to brag, “books on a high school reading level.”

I did what every responsible Aunt does.  I asked what he’s enjoying reading.  My sister-in-law quickly responded Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid but thought I’d be hard pressed to find one he hadn’t read.  This was music to my ears.  My nephew has entered the independent chapter book reading stage of life.  One where series are king.  In later years he will reminisce about these characters he met and fell in love with as he was truly learning to be a reader.  Not just someone who sounded out words.

I had a few ideas but consulted with ML too.   A Diary of a Wimpy Kid series read-alike was easy.  Timmy Failure started the amazon shopping cart.  Mr Pants was added as  T’s next graphic novel series to explore.  I knew I wanted to send an I Survived book; but was at a loss of which one to order.  ML helped with this.  She suggested The Shark Attacks of 1916.  Then, she reminded me how much she loved Geronimo Stilton at this age.  With the edition of Geronimo Stilton:  The Karate Mouse, our order was complete.

After the order shipped a new graphic novel arrived at the library.  I read it Thursday night and there’s no doubt it would have been a perfect edition to the list.  With Christmas around the corner, I’ve started a new cart.  Yes, I am THAT aunt.  The one who gives books.  Come December 25th my nephew will also own Toby Goes Bananas.  And a few other yet to be determined titles.

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

It wasn’t until I read It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozah Dumas that I delved into the history of the Iran Hostage Crisis, as an adult, instead of relying on my childhood memories.  I’ve never insisted ML read a book.  That may change.  This book captures the awkwardness of middle school and the prejudices of others during a time in history that her old mother lived through.  The summer before sixth grade is a perfect time to introduce this book to she and her friends.

This synopsis created by the publisher does a much better job than I could describing the book.  “Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can’t distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.”

A day before I turned seven the Iran Hostage Crisis began.  My only memories are the yellow ribbons, a man from the town over was a hostage, every night the news would update the number of days the hostages where in captivity and they weren’t released until Ronald Reagan was sworn in.  They were hostages for 444 days.  All of which I enjoyed the freedoms of living in a country where a girl could go to school, wear whatever clothes her mom would let her, climb trees, swim and compete with the boys.  I had no knowledge that in a country across the ocean girls my age were losing rights.

Where I lived at the time, diversity of skin color was almost nonexistent  Surrounded by White  Anglo Saxon Protestants, the most diverse children in my grade where two Christian African Americans.  I had never heard of Islam. Judaism or Catholicism. At that point in my life, you were either Methodist, Baptist or Presbyterian.  My family was probably considered liberal.  We were members of the Methodist church, I attended  preschool at the Presbyterian church and graduated from kindergarten at the Baptist church.  I don’t think kindergarten started at my elementary school until 1979.  My first year of elementary school coincided with the Iran Hostage Crisis.

While I was making cookie monsters and learning to read, I had no understanding of the challenges children around the world and even the United States suffered.  In theory I knew there were starving children in Africa but (spoiler alert) a middle school girl from a different country finding a dead hamster left on her doorstep in the United States out of prejudice would have been incomprehensible.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Catching Up on Picture Book Reading

June and July at the library is comparable to retail’s November and December.  Things are calming down so I’m catching up on my picture book reading.  Last Friday, I read around ten new picture books I’ve missed when they arrived at the library this year.  My favorites are below.

ML is starting fifth grade.  I’m no longer invited to be a guest reader; and if I was she wouldn’t let me do it.  I need to find a kindergartner or first grader to adopt so I can read these books to a group that’s old enough to enjoy the humor; but not too old to turn their nose up at picture books.

Moo Moo in a Tutu by Tim Miller

Samson The Piranha Who Went to Dinner by Tadgh Bentley

Girlology: There’s Something New About You

 

Recently I read an email from a librarian to a teen librarian group.  It reminded me I had a draft in the works about the book, Girlology:  There’s Something New About You by Dr. Melisa Holmes and Dr. Trish Hutchison.

Hi all,

Anyone have recommendations for good, recent (published within the last year or so) books for tweens about puberty?

Thanks,

Ivy

My response:

My daughter’s pediatrician recommended Girlology:  There’s Something New About You.  It’s the best I’ve ever seen.  It’s written by two ob/gyns who have daughters and were disappointed with the resources available when their daughters were entering puberty.  Check out their website.  It has fantastic information.  www.girlology.com

At ML’s third grade physical, I asked her pediatrician about resources to share with ML about puberty.  I’ve seen what’s out there and it seemed to say too much or too little.  I’m pleased with the book Dr. Shaw recommended.  After reading it, I found myself wishing it had been around when I was near puberty.  It’s much better than that film shown after school in the cafeteria for moms and daughters to watch if they wanted around 4th grade.  I wish I could remember the the title.  I’d love to see it again.  I remember being horrified by it.  Driving home in the red station wagon with the fake wood paneling my mom asked, “Do you have any questions?”  I shook my head very fast.  I’m sure the look on my face was a grimace.  Anybody else have the Mother/Daughter film in the cafeteria after school experience?

To respect ML’s privacy, I won’t share details about her reaction.  I will say it’s a great book for moms to read themselves.  It reminded me of my anxiety at this age about body changes, emotions and friendships.   I asked her dad to read it and encourage you to do the same.

My pediatrician has two daughters a little older than ML.  She explained she gave it to each of her daughters the summer before fourth grade.  The older daughter went straight to her room and read it straight through that afternoon.  When her mom asked if she had any questions she said, “No.”  The younger daughter took it and put it in her room.  Then went back to whatever she was doing.  A few months later, she came to her mom with questions.  She said the reactions didn’t surprise her.  Each one fit their personality.

 

Next summer I’ll buy a copy of A Girls Guide to Stuff That Matters.

And the summer before high school, I’ll buy Hang-Ups, Hook-Ups and Holding Out.  Although, it may have a different title by then.  When you peruse the website, you will see these doctors stay up to date on what’s happening with middle and high schoolers.

For all my friends with sons, don’t fret.  There is also a book called Guyology.  If it’s anything like Girlology, it’s excellent.

 

The Green Umbrella

The Green Umbrella by Jackie Azua Kramer and illustrated by Maral Sassouni is perfect for this rainy day.  I’ll understand if you don’t run straight to the library to get it today.  However, you should request it immediately; so its waiting on a shelf to be picked up the next sunny day.

This book celebrates creativity; and the illustrations are delightful.