Sunday, June 8, 2014

48 Hour Book Challenge Summary

I ended up with 12 hours and 34 minutes of participation. My goal was twelve hours, and I wasn't quite sure I was going to make thing that this Book Challenge (and keeping track of time spent reading) does, is remind you of all the little moments you have throughout the day to read. Fifteen minutes and here and there add up pretty quickly.

On Friday, I had 3 hours and 26 minutes of participation - reading and listening to an audiobook. On Saturday, I started my morning with 15 minutes of blog reading and commenting (and was reminded that it's hard to comment on blogs using my phone) and the rest of my time was spent reading and listening to an audiobook. I ended the day with a total of 3 hours and 20 minutes of participation. And today, I caught up with 5 hours and 48 minutes. I didn't spend any time posting reviews and would've liked to have spent more time reading other blogs and commenting, but hope to do more tonight and tomorrow.

I started listing to Hold Fast by Blue Balliet and really like it. I have to confess, though,  I'm not always the best audiobook listener, and I'm going to switch over to reading this. I love this family, and their family quote book - reading and quotes and poems are all so important to this family, especially the father. I feel like I'm missing clues as I read and just not getting as much of out of listening to this as I would if I were reading it. More to come on this book when I've finished it. (Side note - I listened to The Wright Three, also by Balliet on audio, and finished it thinking that I should have read it.) 

I also read:
Dog Days by Karen English, with illustrations by Laura Freeman - This was on my radar before the challenge, when I was looking for some good, shorter chapter books. And what I really liked about this one, is that race isn't a factor. It's about a kid who is starting a new school and having to make new friends and dealing with a scary older kid and a bossy sister, and he just happens to be African-American. English is also the author of the Nikki & Deja series, and the girls appear in this book. 

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman - A great middle school story about growing up and fitting in and figuring out who you are. Tara, who is both Indian and Jewish, prepares for her bat mitzvah and struggles with questions about God and how she can be both Indian and Jewish and not lose sight of either. It was a fun read, but with a serious side.

The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami, with illustrations by Abigail Halpin - This is the sequel/companion? to The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. I read that one awhile back, and I was able to jump into this one pretty quickly and pick up where things left off; I think you could probably read this one first, but I always like to have the backstory. This is a fun, younger middle school read (or 4th or 5th grade really), absolutely perfect for Bollywood fans. 

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi - Skye is Japanese-American, and learns quite a bit more about her Japanese heritage and family when her cousin and his parents, and the children's grandfather, move to her city from Japan. This does a nice job of showing both sides of the story - Skye who is learning Japanese to communicate better with her relatives, and learning more about her family's history, and Hiroshi, who is learning English and adjusting to a new way of life. Kite fighting brings them together. Spoiler alert - sad ending. A 2013-2014 Texas Bluebonnet nominee.

The Secret of the Skeleton Key (#1 in The Code Busters Club series) by Penny Warner - Another book with a diverse cast of characters, where race isn't the focus. A group of kids have their own Code Busters Club to solve puzzles and decipher codes, and they find themselves solving a mystery. There are codes for the reader to solve (with the solutions in the back of the book). This is popular in my library.

The Whole Story of Half A Girl by Veera Hiranandani - Another Jewish-Indian teen. Sonia is staring sixth grade in a new school, changing from a very laid back private school to a public school, in part because her father lost his job. As she struggles with friends, her father is also struggling, but in his case with depression.Like Tara in My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, she's struggling to figure out what she wants and where she fits in. I think this was my favorite of all the books I finished this weekend.

My books this weekend skewed on the younger end, but I also started The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, which I've heard great things about, and am eager to finish. I've started a list of books I've discovered on other blogs, and as I read more blogs and reviews, I know it's only going to grow. Thanks to MotherReader for hosting this wonderful challenge!

Friday, June 6, 2014

48 Hour Book Challenge!

Well, the blog is least for the weekend...maybe. I'm really excited about MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge. I participated a few years ago and had a lot of fun. This year, the focus is on diversity in books, and I think it will really generate some great reading lists. And, hopefully, it will get me back in the swing of blogging and reading blogs and commenting. I'm aiming looowwww...summer is underway and this week has been crazy busy, and we officially kick off our summer reading program tomorrow...but I've got a stack of some great looking books and hope to read at least twelve hours. I'm posting now, but will officially start at 5pm with an audiobook (Hold Fast by Blue Balliett) on my way to pick up craft supplies for tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SLJ's Battle of the Kids' Books

For the past several years, School Library Journal has hosted the Battle of the Kids' Books, and this year's contenders were announced today. I follow along each year, but usually have only read about half the titles. This year, I've decided I'm going to have all the books read by the time the competition starts in March, and make my picks. The best thing about this battle is reading what authors think of these books - their insightful, eloquent, sometimes humorous reviews. Check out the website and follow along!

I'm currently reading an adult mystery - Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson. So far, I'm loving it and will tell you more about it when I've finished. I'm also listening to Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, which was just announced as an Odyssey Award Honor audiobook. I read the book back in April, and after following all the discussions on the Heavy Medal blog, I kept meaning to re-read it, and listening to the audiobook seemed to be the perfect idea. The narrator, Lincoln Hoppe, is amazing, and even though I know what's coming, I'm so completely drawn into Doug's story all over again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quick Thoughts on the ALA Youth Media Awards

You can find all the winners on the ALA website, but here are some of my first impressions. I was able to attend the announcements this morning, and it was exciting!

The Newbery went to Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, which I mentioned briefly in a recap.

I LOVED this! The characters and the setting are so wonderfully created, and it's oh-so funny. What I loved, definitely outweighed the problems...that being said, I thought it was a surprise win.

The Robert F. Sibert Medal, for the most distinguished informational book for children, went to Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet.

Truly, I loved everything about this book!

One more book I really want to mention: See Me Run by Paul Meisel is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book, a distinguished beginning reader.

I actually first read this in the Holiday House (the publisher of this title) booth yesterday. Honestly, I picked it up because, cute dogs on the cover! I made a note of it, to find a copy and review it later because I thought it was so good. It's bigger in size than the typical beginning reader, and it has full-page color illustrations, yet the text is very much that of an easy reader. And while it has some repetition in it, it's not overkill. It's funny, and it has a cute ending, and I am so glad it was recognized. It's part of a new series from Holiday House, I Like To Read. This is the only book in the series that I've read, but I'm eager to look for more.

I have had Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley sitting in my TBR pile since reading this review by Patti at Oops...Wrong Cookie. Which she wrote back in August! I keep renewing the book and not reading it, and I'm not sure why. But, now that it has won both the Printz Award, for excellence in literature written for young adults, and the William C. Morris Award, for a debut book published by a first time author writing for teens, and I got to hear Whaley accept the Morris Award this morning, it's what I'm reading tonight. Tonight!

What didn't win...I really expected Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt to get a Newbery Honor, and I'm surprised Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming didn't get any awards, but you never really know what goes on in the deliberation process.

What were you excited to see win this year?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paisley's Pick: Waiting for the Magic

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan
illustrated by Amy June Bates
Atheneum, 2011

It's been awhile since I've had a Paisley's pick...and this book was an unexpected delight. It seems rare these days for me to pick up a book I haven't heard anything about, and this one was totally off my radar until it happened across my desk.

It's the summer before fifth grade when William's father goes away.
"He is a teacher of literature at the college, so he could have said words when he left. He didn't. And this time he didn't slam the door. He shut it with a small, soft sound that made me jump." (p.1)
After he leaves, William's mother takes him and his four-year-old sister, Elinor,  to the pound to adopt a dog. They leave with four dogs and a cat. Elinor is the first to realize the animals can talk. Now, that could easily take the story in a hokey direction, but it works. And one of the reasons is because the dogs' voices are spot on - they're short and to the point, and sound exactly like a dog would sound.

On page 76, when William's father is back, he is reading about dogs and says one of the things he learned is that chocolate is bad for dogs. One of the dogs, Neo, says, "I had a tiny taste of chocolate once. I took it off a table. And I didn't get sick." And another dog, Bryn, says, "I used to find M&M's in the cushions of the couch when I was fast enough." This is real! These are things my dog would say if she could talk!

The other things I really appreciate about this book is that when the father comes back, and it's not an easy adjustment. We see him work to fit back into the family, and we see William struggle his return. Kids know that sorry isn't always enough, and that it doesn't always automatically make things better, and we see the gradual changes and acceptance. It does end happily, and with everyone in the family able to hear the animals talk.

Amy June Bates has created delightful illustrations to accompany the story, and they're sprinkled throughout the book.

For grades 3-5, probably the younger end
Reviewed from library copy

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Good Resource for Picture Books

The 2012 2x2 Reading List has been announced. It's a selection of titles for kids age 2 through 2nd grade. It's always got a wide variety of titles, and I think it's always interesting to see because there's a pretty big difference between a 2 year old and a second grader.

Some of these, such as Blackout by John Rocco and Red Sled by Lita Judge, are books I'm still anxiously waiting for at my library. (Honestly, Red Sled is not even listed in the catalog as being on order...I can't figure that out...Obviously, I don't do any ordering.)

I am incredibly excited to see these two titles about dogs on the list:

RRRalph by Lois Ehlert - a funny tale that reads like a joke. Also, I don't think you can go wrong with Lois Ehlert.

Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley, illustrated by Roberta Angaramo - a cute little dog tries to find the perfect pair of shoes. So fun!

If you're looking for good picture books, be sure to check out the rest of the list.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thoughts on the Comment Challenge

Yesterday was the first check in for the comment challenge. The goal is to leave five comments a day on blogs; I've averaged that. Some days I leave fewer, some days a few more. I'm impressed with the people that are leaving many more than that!

I've found some great new blogs to read, and I've loved getting comments on my blog! My additional challenge is trying to keep up with them and respond, but that's a good problem to have.

I read quite a few blogs before I started this challenge, and even before I started blogging. And while I knew there were tons of book blogs out there, this challenge has been a reminder of all the people that love reading and talking about books. Even though I spend my days in a library, it's sometimes easy to forget this...some days I have lots of people asking for books, and telling me about what they are reading, and other days it seems like all people want are dvds and help on the computer. (For the record - I totally don't have a problem with libraries circulating popular dvds, and I think - no, I know - there are so many people needing computers to use for homework and job searches and the library is their only option, and I'm glad that's a service we can provide. Just saying my job isn't always about books and reading.)

So whether you're blogging about picture books or young adult titles, or writing books, whether you're blogging about your personal reading or about getting books in the hands of kids, it's both wonderful and refreshing to see so many people passionate about reading and sharing that passion with others. It's been an additional benefit of this challenge to see and be reminded of all that enthusiasm for reading.