"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And the Liebster Award goes to...

A few weeks ago I was surprised and flattered to be nominated for a Liebster Award.  Nominations come from other bloggers and mine came from Gigi McAllister over at The Late Bloomer's Book Blog. Thank you, Gigi! 

This Liebster Award is given to recognize new "up and coming" bloggers with less than 200 followers. It is always a bit scary putting my ideas and my words out there, so this type of encouragement is nice! Please check out Gigi's blog. Her Liebster post is wonderful. (I, too, have atrocious handwriting, Gigi - I blame it on being a lefty.

Rules for participating in this blog award are as follows:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees by commenting on their blog or sending them an email to communicate the nomination.

Here are my answers to the 11 Questions she had for me:

What are some of your hobbies?
Apart from reading, I enjoy photography, running, hiking, singing and writing poetry.

Use 3 words to describe yourself. 
Energetic, personable, engaged

If you could meet one person, who would it be and why?
Either Eleanor Roosevelt or Eleanor of Aquitaine.  At this point in my life, I think I would choose Eleanor Roosevelt because of her concern for the welfare of all human beings and her belief in equality and human dignity.

What is one of your pet peeves?
Not sure I have one.

What is the hardest thing about your job?
There is never enough time to do the things I want to do with the students. Our fixed/flex schedule only has 30 minute classes each week.

What is the greatest thing about your job?
Spending time at this magic place where readers and stories intersect.

Do you have a favorite book or series?
I read Jane Austen often.  There is always one of her books on my nightstand.  It is my comfort reading. Thinking back to my childhood, The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper stands out. 

Why did you start blogging?
As a way of reflecting on what is happening in my library and as a way to promote and share what is happening in the library – like a diary for community outreach.

If you could travel to anywhere, where would you go?
I haven’t really been to that many places, so there are too many. I'll choose Antarctic (before it melts) and hope that I could stop by Ecuador (and the Galapagos) and then Argentina along the way!

Complete this statement. In the next year I hope to...
…continue to grow as a teacher and learner.

What are you reading right now?
Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone.

11 random facts about me (in no particular order)
1. I sing and dance in my kitchen
2. I enjoy hiking, especially in the White Mountains
3. I take a lot of photographs
4. I enjoy watching sunsets
5. I love waterfalls
6. I love finding old cellar holes 
7. I am married and have two children
8. I listen to all types of music
9. I love playing word games or games that involve quick responses
10. I spend too much timing playing Words with Friends
11. I love the movie This is Spinal Tap and the number eleven always makes me think of the movie (it has to do with an amplifier that goes to eleven - don't ask - too difficult to explain...).

I would like to pass on nominations to the following bloggers to receive a Liebster Award. Please visit their blogs and check out the great stuff they are writing about!

1. Jessica Lodge at Mrs. Lodge's Library
2. Louise Capizzo and Cathy Potter at The Nonfiction Detectives
3. Margie Meyers-Culver at Librarian's Quest 
5. Natalee Stotz at Ars Longa - Vita Brevis

Questions I have for them:

Why are books important to you?

Name three books that you read this past year that stand out.

Use 3 words to describe yourself. 

Which three people would round out your dinner for four and why?

Why did you start blogging?

What makes you excited to go to work each day?

What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday morning?

What are your hobbies?

Where would you like to go on your next vacation?

Complete this statement. In the next year I hope to...

What are you reading right now? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

I was heading to the river for a swim and picked up Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.

It seemed fitting to bring this book with me to my own wild haven.

I gave Mr. Tiger a tour.

Settled him on a rock
and went for my swim.

I then sat down to read the book.

I do not make predictions on this blog,
but this book should win something, 
something big, like say, a Medal.

I could talk about this book as I do with my students when we are learning about the Caldecott, about how the illustrations compliment and extend the text, how the execution is excellent, how the use of pencil, ink and watercolor creates an organic feel, but that would do this book a disservice. So I will tell you how I feel about this book. 

I love it. It is brilliant.

It is a book that calls you to explore each page.
The weight and feel of the paper make the page turn significant.
The page turns themselves are perfect.
The color palate, textures and patterns draw the eye to look, over and over again.
It is a book that reminds each of us to find our own path
and going a little wild (in the right time and place) 
is not such a bad thing.
In a society lacking ample 
unsupervised and unstructured play 
for children, 
this book reminds us of its importance 
and hopefully inspires some good, clean, wildness.  
Who hasn't experienced this moment 
of knowing you are about to do something 
that goes against the grain?
It's a celebration of the natural world!
Peter Brown's suns ignite the page.
I love the delicate and energetic tendrils that spiral out of it.
I am drawn to the the wild country.
The green hues and patterns beckon the reader 
to explore each leaf.
There's humor!  
The illustrations capture  moments of whimsy or absurdity 
and allow the reader to quickly identify 
with Mr. Tiger and his friends. 
I come from a family that frolics in the absurd. 
Ministry of Silly Walks, anyone? 
There's so much to share about this book, 
but that would spoil the pleasure of reading it for the first time. 
  This book wants to be read, 
and it wants to be read over and over again,
Which it will be, 
by children and adults alike.

Unfortunately, you will have to wait until September, when the book comes out!

Wake Up Missing

Thanks to Kate Messner, I woke up missing...a day that is, well, okay an afternoon. 

Wake Up Missing is a riveting thriller.

I was not able to recreate the Everglades, a swamp, or hospital setting, or any alligators, so I decided to take this book down to the dock, on the lake, where the water snake has been in residence.  
photo courtesy of www.nhtourguide.com
I have not had the presence of mind to take a picture of our snake, so I found this one to show you.  There are snakes in all the lakes around here.  They're not poisonous, but their bite hurts like the dickens and they are just plain scary. Scary, that is the operative word.  I needed to read this book in a spot that would create empathy with the characters.  Sitting on the dock, with the water snake potential was sufficiently scary for me. (FYI - I swim across the lake, not getting near the shores because OF COURSE the water snakes ONLY swim the perimeter of the lake, of this I am sure...or at least want to believe and don't tell me otherwise).

I opened the book and began to read...and for the next few hours I read - I read through my husband going to the store to buy dinner and I read through my daughter and her friend setting up a lovely sunset snack for us--at which point I stopped reading, but when the house was quiet at midnight, I picked my book back up and read until the end.

This is one exciting read.  

I love how Kate Messner throws the reader into the story and how quickly the action picks up.

I love the characters - all broken in their own way, all needing to be healed. Cat, Sarah, Ben and Quint (as well as Trent and Kaylee) quickly become people for whom the reader cares.  

I love the setting - swamps, mangrove trees, dirt roads, and an abandoned military base.  I have driven through the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee and I can't imagine a better place to have these kids fighting for their survival.

I love the plot - good versus evil, right versus wrong and all the grey area that exists in between wrapped around questions surrounding scientific discovery, crooked politicians and evil doctors.

I love the ending - leaving enough uncertainty for the future of the characters.  I don't always like when books tie up everything neatly at the end.  I was happy that Kate Messner left enough questions for the reader to continue the story and sort things out in his or her own mind.

I love Kate Messner's inspiration for this story.  The premise is incredible (taking DNA from dead scientists and implanting it in young children with head injuries), but what is more incredible is that it is based upon science and scientific potential in the future. Read Kate's Author's Note, it is fascinating.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guys Read: Other Worlds

In the better late than never category, here's my It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post. I read the latest installation in the Guys Read franchise.  Guys Read: other Worlds. Given that I was reading Sci Fi stories, I figure that time is relative and I can claim that this is Monday...where I am from (dum.dum.dum).
Kudos to Jen Vincent, who blogs over at Teach Mentor Texts, who created this meme. You can follow it on Twitter with the #IMWAYR hashtag. 

Trying to stay on target with my reading in place theme, I took to the hammock.  I figured that looking up into interstellar space while reading these stories would remind me of the world beyond our own.
This is a great collection of short stories. I would have been hard pressed to call one volume better than another in the guys read series, until I read Guys Read: Other Worlds that is. I think this is the tightest volume yet. Each story leaves the reader eager for more. Luckily, the reader is not disappointed for long as another gripping and intriguing fantasy or Sci Fi adventure follows!  It is easy to get lost in these stories, 
for who would not want to come to Earth to witness such beauty?

I really enjoyed the rhythm Scieszka has created - the flow of stories allows for a shift in tempo and perspective.  Scieszka balances the length and style of the stories. Each voice is unique. Each story is a departure from the last, yet tied to it by a common bond. 
like this double rainbow

This collection has a story for everyone.  The setting! The plot! The characters! It's all there. There are: heros and heroines; ghosts, robots, aliens, and intrepid explorers; mythical netherworlds, canyons, deserts, and spaceships; talking cats and shoes(!) along with a host of unexpected twists and turns. Rick Riordan, Neal Shusterman, Shannon Hale, D.J. Machale, Eric Nylund, Rebecca Stead, Shaun Tan, Keneth Oppel and Tom Angleberger have honed their craft and like the characters in their stories, they have safely delivered their precious cargo. 
There are stories that I really enjoyed: D.J. Machale's The ScoutNeal Shusterman's The Dirt on our Shoes, Rebecca Stead's Plan B and Shannon Hale's Bouncing the Grinning Goat.  I was saddest when they ended and I loved the plot twists.

I want to thank D.J. Machale for writing a story that kept me on the edge of my seat and then threw me for a loop in the end. What does it mean to be a scout?

I want to thank Neal Shusterman for creating a world that I could never imagine.  I wanted to visit the Transtellar Biologic Incapsulation craft, just to walk that road. 

I want to thank Shannon Hale for creating yet another heroine worthy of admiration.  As a rock hound, I too have held tight to a stone hoping to understand something greater or feel the pull of the centuries.

I want to thank Rebecca Stead for creating a story that had me guessing from the beginning and loving the ending, plus this one had cats. Enough said.

All the stories in this collection carried important lessons and messages, but these four resonated with me the most.

It is easy to get lost in the idea of worlds beyond our own.  The sights this summer seem to echo this idea:
Something mystical this way comes
Magic happens when worlds blend together
Portals when sea and sky join
Sapling-sized mushrooms populating the forest floor

It is a mystical, magical world.

The final story by Ray Bradbury, Frost and Fire, is sufficiently scary and disturbing yet like all the stories in this collection also celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit and carries messages about working toward the greater good of the community and the power of hope.
I like this planet and I hope that whomever comes to visit will like it as well...

Friday, August 2, 2013


I am not a dog person. I am a cat person. There. I said it. You are aware of my bias.

I wasn't sure how I would relate to this story, but somewhere around page 13, I forgot my own bias. 

Duke by Kirby Larson is a wonderful story. It is a heart-wrenching story. It is a story that will generate conversations. It is a story that will resonate with readers.

Here's an excerpt from the synopsis on Goodreads:

"A poignant World War II story about a boy and his dog and his dad, and the many meanings of bravery, from Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson.

With World War II raging and his father fighting overseas in Europe, eleven-year-old Hobie Hanson is determined to do his part to help his family and his country, even if it means giving up his beloved German shepherd, Duke."

"With powerful storytelling and gripping emotion, critically acclaimed author Kirby Larson explores the many ways bravery and love help us to weather the most difficult times."

I first, second and third this statement.

Kirby Larson has created a story that young readers will love.  She has brought a new perspective on WWII - that of the dogs who served and the families that gave up their pets for this service.

In my summer theme of reading a book in the right place, I took Duke to the Wright Museum, a museum of WWII history.
I have taken my children to The Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, NH. a few times and have learned many interesting things about WWII and life on the home front right along side them.

Kirby Larson has done a fabulous job of capturing various perspectives from World War II.  Readers will have a better understanding of the lives people lead on the home front, as well as life for those serving the country abroad.

I love this dog and his boy. No spoiler alerts here, but I held my breath through Chapter Twenty.

I love the slice of life moments.
Kirby Larson gives readers just enough of a scene to include us, but not so much that we lose sight of the journey.

I love this close knit family.

Readers have no doubt that Hobie will be okay. His father's 

I love the letters written by Hobie's father. 

I love the perspective on WWII. 

Readers are given insight into: the sense of duty people felt; the concept of rations; the importance of household items in the war effort; the difficulty of having a loved one serving in the army; the loss many experiences; and, the prejudices some experienced on the home front.
I love t
he letters written by Private First Class Corff.

I love that Hobie and Duke are surrounded by characters with whom readers will connect.

~Uncle Tryg - who never wastes words

~Catherine - whose unwavering kindness helps others see the right path
~Max - who needs a friend
~June - who understands and who says what Hobie cannot
~Mrs. Lee - who provides stability in an uncertain time

Well Done, Kirby!  I don't expect I will actually see this one on my library shelves very often...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nelson Mandela

I think it would suffice to use only one word to convince readers to pick up this book. 

That word would be a name.

That name would be

That's the only word you would need, BUT that would do both Kadir Nelson and his art a huge disservice.  For each of his books is unique and each one deserves it own place. Nelson Mandela is a lyrically-written and stunningly-illustrated biography.
The cover illustration is arresting, arresting in how much it embodies Nelson Mandela - his energy, his understanding, his quiet powerThis is a knowing face. This is a kind but resolute face. This is the face of a man that has seen and understands.  Kadir Nelson has captured the qualities of Nelson Mandela that resonate with me -- his eyes, his mouth, and that wrinkle across his forehead. I think that wrinkle came from his concern for his people, the people of South Africa. 

Kadir begins the story at the first turning point in Mandela's life - the period when his father dies and he is sent off to Johannesburg for school. The story follows Mandela's life, from his Xhosa roots to his eventual election as President of South Africa. Readers learn of Mandela's time learning from the elders, his education, his rise to power, and his arrest.

The spare and poignant verse is accompanied by rich and glorious illustrations. 

Kadir Nelson understands people.  The expressions on his faces convey more information and impart more understanding than words possibly could.  I love that Nelson Mandela's worry wrinkle caries throughout the book.  I love those eyes that have seen so much, that have called him to be a witness, that saw South Africa to freedom and a new journey.

Kadir Nelson understands light.  I love the way the light falls upon the people and their faces.  I love the way the light brings the reader exactly where Kadir wants him or her to be.

Kadir Nelson understands perspective. Kadir shifts perspective through the story to ensure the reader understands the context in which Mandela lived.  This shifting perspective also gives the reader a sense of the people working in and around Mandela. Kadir brings the reader right up close at the moments in Mandela's life when we, the readers, want to be right up close. 
Kadir Nelson understands.  He understands the need to share hope and dignity of a person like Nelson Mandela to today's young readers.  His understanding of and respect for Nelson Mandela is apparent throughout the book.  I was in college when the Specials released their song, Free Nelson Mandela.  I had heard of Nelson Mandela before this time, but this song made him a hero for my generation.  
It was a short six years later when I remember being glued to the television at work waiting and watching for Nelson Mandela to step into freedom.  That day was February 11, 1990. This excerpt is from his speech that day.  

"My friends, comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all. I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people."

Kadir Nelson has included additional details on Mandela's life in the author's note.  You can also read about Mandela's release on the NPR and BBC Websites. 

Nelson Mandela brings to life a modern-day hero. A hero who showed South Africans, and those of us in the rest of the world, that people, those with and without power, can effect change.