Happy 17th birthday, Alexis!

4 Jul

Today, in addition to it being the 239th birthday of the United States, it is the 17th birthday of my niece, Alexis. This year, I sent her All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

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Let me start by saying this one ripped my heart out. It reminded me a little of John Green’s Paper Towns. This is a very sad book about two very sad teens. Violet is overwhelmed by the death of her sister a year before. Finch is depressed and contemplating suicide. They come together accidentally and bond over a geography project.

The story, told in two voices,  unfolds slowly, so don’t give up on it if you get to page 50 and are thinking about abandoning it.

A few things about the novel concern me. First, the inattention and lack of concern for Finch’s mental health on the part of Finch’s parent. Then, the apparent lack of concern of school officials for the suicide attempt in the tower, and the way the school social media made a circus of it.

In spite of that, I highly recommend this to YA and adult readers.

Serendipity with dolphins

3 Jul

In amongst the very famous authors at last Sunday’s YA Coffee Klatch were some lesser known authors. It doesn’t mean they were less skilled authors. When Ginny Rorby sat at our table and held up the novel she was promoting,

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I blurted out, “That is sitting in my to read pile right now!” It was serendipitous.

Publisher’s Summary: Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she has always struggled with him, too. He’s definitely on the autism spectrum–though her step-father, Don, can barely bring himself to admit it–and caring for him has forced Lily to become as much mother as sister. All Lily wants is for her step-father to acknowledge that Adam has a real issue, that they need to find some kind of program that can help him. Then maybe she can have a life of her own.

Adam’s always loved dolphins, so when Don, an oncologist, hears about a young dolphin with cancer, he offers to help. He brings Lily and Adam along, and Adam and the dolphin–Nori–bond instantly.

But though Lily sees how much Adam loves Nori, she also sees that the dolphin shouldn’t spend the rest of her life in captivity, away from her family. Can Adam find real help somewhere else? And can Lily help Nori regain her freedom without betraying her family?

Ginny is also the author of Hurt Go Happy, which won a 2008 Schneider Family Book Award.

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Publisher’s Summary:Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis is used to being left out of conversations. Though she’s been deaf since the age of six, Joey’s mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. She strains to read the lips of those around her, but often fails.

Everything changes when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his baby chimpanzee, Sukari. Her new friends use sign language to communicate, and Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. Spending time with Charlie and Sukari, Joey has never been happier. She even starts making friends at school for the first time. But as Joey’s world blooms with possibilities, Charlie’s and Sukari’s choices begin to narrow–until Sukari’s very survival is in doubt.

I highly recommend both!

Great weather….if you are a tomato

2 Jul

A few months ago, I bought two tomato plants from a friend’s fundraiser. I knew that they’d be Ok while I was away at ALA because everyone knows it rains in Oregon until the 4th of July. Except this year. We are experiencing something of a long-term heat wave and drought. Kind neighbors agreed to water my plants while I was away and they are thriving. I even have my first fruit.

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I am not a fan of the 90+ degree weather we are having and I am thankful for my window air conditioner that makes sleeping comfortable. The forecast seems to indicate that we will be in the 90’s through Tuesday.

While I was at ALA, I got a ridiculous number of advance reader copies of novels. I got a few non-fiction arcs too. One of them was The Rain Wizard: The Amazing Mysterious True Life of Charles Mallory Hatfield by Larry Dane Brimner.

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Publisher’s summary:In December 1915, San Diego’s leaders claimed the town’s reservoirs were nearly dry. Knowing the city would not survive and grow unless it had water, they hired Charles Mallory Hatfield, whose skills at making rain were legendary. But when torrents and torrents of rain came, disaster struck. Roads were closed, people drowned, and dams burst. The town elders blamed Hatfield and refused to pay him. Was Hatfield really a rain wizard, or simply a fraud? Renowned author Larry Dane Brimner examines the man and the myth by relying on personal recollections from growing up in California, as well as extensive research. Readers will be captivated by Hatfield—a man once known as the Frankenstein of the air—and his secret rainmaking formulas. Includes author’s note, source notes, and bibliography.

It’s Canada Day!

1 Jul

Happy Canada Day!

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Today, I have promised myself I am going nowhere, unless it is to walk the dogs. When i picked the girls up yesterday, I was so happy to see them Fiona spent the whole night drinking. She is always a thirsty girl and the Portland heat wave is still going strong. Lucy, on the other hand slept. I think just prefers the comfort of her own bed to a bed away from home.

Being Canada Day, it just seems right to talk about Canadian authors. I finished Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat on the flight home yesterday.

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Today, I plan on reading  We Are All Made of Molecules  by Susin Nielsen.

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Publisher’s Summary:Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless. Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules

It seems the perfect post ALA conference recovery plan.

#alaac15 – Day 5 – Tired

30 Jun

I’m writing this Monday night as I sit in my room. When making my travel plans, I had great expectations of finishing my last session today and then going off and being an ordinary tourist In San Francisco. But I am SOOOO tired. I suppose I could try to get my flight changed and arrive home tonight, but I don’t have the energy for it.

I started my day by carrying a backpack + tote bag full of books to the Exhibit Hall where a Post office was set up.

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Yes, this conference is so big the USPS sets up a temporary post office! To pack the box and get through the line only took an hour, but there were two charming women from Louisiana in front of me and a verily once woman from the other LA behind me, so we passed the time in delightful conversation.

By the time I got out, I’d missed the first session I’d hoped to attend, but managed to get to the rest. I did two sessions after lunch, ending at 4 o’clock. I got myself a bowl of pho and walked home.

Reflecting on this experience, sitting here in the cool, calm of my room, I have learned some things about attending big conferences like this.

1. Pack as you go. If I’d known how many books I’d be receiving, I would have sent some home before Monday, rather than lugging them back to my room, then back again today. Better to ship just after you reach critical mass.

2. If you plan to do some sightseeing, better to arrive early to the exciting location and leave right when things end. We did this when part of my staff went to St. Louis for a Math conference. You are too tired at the end.

3. Bring business cards. Lots of people were handing them out and I had none.

4. Get you certificate of attendance when you register. I forgot to get mine until later today and when I went, they were all packed up. Now I have no proof of attendance in order to get the conference registration reimbursed.

5. Talk to everyone and anyone. I am an introvert by nature and I often feel uncomfortable talking to people, but I had a great time meeting new people I may never see again.

6. I have to attend the ALA Midwinter meeting in Boston in January. Although booking a room with Airbnb worked really well this time, I will book a room in the hotel nearest the convention center in Boston because I don’t have the clothes for Boston in January.

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#alaac15 – Day 4 – quiet, but amazing

29 Jun

Yesterday started off with the YALSA Coffee Klatch with YA Authors. I met up with some Beaverton colleagues and we sat at table 10 of about 50. This was another speed dating event, with authors rotating about every 10 minutes. We only got about 10 authors, but WOW, we got some good ones:

Mariko & Jillian Tamaki of This One Summer

Andrew Smith who was promoting The Alex Crow

Leigh Bardugo talking about  Six of Crows

Marissa Meyer talking about Winter

When it was over, I dashed out to get to Andrew Smith’s book signing & got a copy of his sequel to Winger,  entitled  Stand-off. The I went to watch the parade. I didn’t stay for the whole thing because I was too short to see much and then the crowd was starting to get to me. I don’t really enjoy crowds.

The real highlight of the day were the speeches at the Newbery Caldecott banquet. TEARS!!!!

Dan Santat, who won the Caldecott for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimagnary Friend.

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That man moved the crowd with his soul-baring honesty. If you have a chance to read or listen to his speech, please do so. I am teary-eyed now. I bet you will see yourself in what he has to say.

He was followed by Kwame Alexander,who won the Newbery for The Crossover.

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He essentially gave a spoken word performance that was breathtakingly beautiful.

Today will be mundane after all that. My first stop is the on site post office where I will ship books home. I hope the line isn’t too long.

#alaac15 – Day 3 – Even better!

28 Jun

Day two was so good I didn’t imagine day 3 could be better, but it was!

I started the day by getting up at 5 so I could make my 6:45 breakfast with Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. We got a huge bag of books and got to hear short speeches from Jack Gantos, Katherine Applegate, and a few others!

I went to the exhibition hall next, which I found a little overwhelming. It is CRAZY what they are giving away! Fortunately, I was mostly on a mission for debut YA we the committee hadn’t heard about yet, so I wasn’t being too greedy. My first stop was Little Brown, where i had a lovely chat with the person there. I felt things were going well, so I asked if they had arcs of A.S. King’s new novel, and I got one!

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It turns out the nice person I was talking to was her editor!

From that high, I decided to go back to my room and drop off my load before my committee meeting. By the end of the day, her is what I had, so I am glad I did.

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I am really worried about packing on Tuesday morning!

After lunch I headed into my committee meeting. I had met 4 of the 8 others on the William C. Morris Committee the day before, and we’ve met virtually every month. So this was our first face to face. You never know what you sort of mix it will be, but we are a good mix and got a long well. We talked books and logistics, but mostly books.We nominated a few more, rejected some more and assigned some titles. When the meeting was over a few of us went back to the exhibits before our dinner and panel with Random House.

Let me just say, that  have never been wined and dined like I was last night!

We were at a restaurant on the Embarcadero called The Waterbar, which overlooks the Bay Bridge.

After appetizers and drinks on the patio, we moved indoors to  a panel with 3 YA debut novelists, moderated by David Levithan.  The menu was designed around the themes of each of the authors’ books, which we were given! Each course , and there were 4, somehow captured something about each novel. At the end of each course the authors rotated so we could talk with them about their books. It was a spectacular evening.The four of us who went all felt that this might have been one of the best professional evenings of our lives. One of my colleagues got each author to sign his menu!

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I got home late, but happy.

 

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