This week’s book talks 11/13-16

16 Nov

We had Monday off in observance of Veteran;s Day, so I only talked about 4 books this week.

Tuesday

Skylark & Wallcreeper by Anne O’Brien Carelli

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Wednesday

The Spinner Prince by Matt Laney

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Thursday

The Girl With More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass

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Friday

D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson

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Guest Blogging today

15 Nov

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Last summer, I wrote a piece after watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor, I submitted it to  The Hub and today they are running it. You can check it out here:

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2018/11/15/what-would-fred-read/

The Lost Weekend

13 Nov

I went into the weekend with such high hopes:

  • a grading day on Friday
  • the Portland Book Festival on Saturday
  • a Remembrance Day concert on Sunday
  • book club on Monday

But a tickle started in my throat on Thursday morning. By Friday I had sniffles, so I stopped on the way home from school and loaded up on cold meds. I figured that, well-medicated, I could make it to the Portland Book Festival the next morning.

I sprang from bed Saturday morning and optimistically jumped into the shower, then got ready. for the big day. Before the coffee had brewed I knew it was hopeless. Saturday had brought on the facial pain in my sinuses and I knew I shouldn’t be out in public spreading germs – I had just read two books on the 1918 flu pandemic, after all! So, while friends listened to authors, I snuggled on the sofa with my dog, a box of kleenex, and a cup of tea. As colds went, this wasn’t the worst I’d ever had, but it had me feeling so very tired. I just wanted to sleep.

It was a good call because, though still cloudy headed, I made it to the Remembrance Day concert, entitled They Are At Rest. I wasn’t 100%,  but the facial pain was gone. I was tired and the goldfish bowl about my head was still there, but I was able to enjoy the music nonetheless.

Monday was a get-well bonus day. Although I felt even better, I decided to miss book club in order to keep any lingering germs to myself. I still felt super tired and wanted to get a good night’s rest before going back to school this morning.  This was a tough call because I can’t make the December meeting.

So, here I sit, Tuesday morning, battle-scarred but ready to face the challenges of a four-day week at school. Bring it on!

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This week’s book talks 11/5-9

9 Nov

Monday

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War written by an amazing array of  contemporary YA authors (David Almond, Michael Morpurgo, John Boyne, AL Kennedy, Marcus Sedgewick, Adele Geras,Tracy Chevalier, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Sheena Wilkinson, Ursula Dubrovsky, Timothee de Fombelle) and illustrated by Jim Kay

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Tuesday

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

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Wednesday

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne

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Thursday

I gave students an influenza twofer on Thursday because Friday marks the end of the quarter and there is no school.

A Death-Struck Year  by Makiia Lucier and More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War by Kenneth C. Davis

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The flu to end all flus

8 Nov

Just as we mark the 100th anniversary of The Great War this year, we also mark the 100th anniversary of the flu pandemic of 1918. In Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918,  Albert Marrin deftly shows how the two world issues are connected.

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Publisher’s Summary: In spring of 1918, World War I was underway, and troops at Fort Riley, Kansas, found themselves felled by influenza. By the summer of 1918, the second wave struck as a highly contagious and lethal epidemic and within weeks exploded into a pandemic, an illness that travels rapidly from one continent to another. It would impact the course of the war, and kill many millions more soldiers than warfare itself.

Of all diseases, the 1918 flu was by far the worst that has ever afflicted humankind; not even the Black Death of the Middle Ages comes close in terms of the number of lives it took. No war, no natural disaster, no famine has claimed so many. In the space of eighteen months in 1918-1919, about 500 million people–one-third of the global population at the time–came down with influenza. The exact total of lives lost will never be known, but the best estimate is between 50 and 100 million.

Marin also does an excellent job explaining the science behind the flu and research into it. I now finally understand what they mean when they call it an H1N1 flu! He talks about recent flu pandemics readers might actually have seen, though they might not have experienced directly.

All in all this is an interesting read that looks at the medical and social implications of the flu.

Time travels

6 Nov

After showering and dressing Sunday morning, I strolled into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. As I reached for the pot, I groaned. It was only 5:30. I’d reset all the clocks the night before, but misread my bedside clock when I woke up. I was sure it had said 6;15.

Feeling tired Sunday afternoon, I got back into bed for an afternoon nap. I fell asleep right away, had a dream, and woke up refreshed. Imagine my surprise when I realized only 25 minutes had passed.

I was on top of things yesterday at school, with clocks still on old time. I sent kids to lunch and their next classes at the right time. And yet, as I neared the end of the day and looked at the clock, I did a double take. The clock read 4:45 and it felt odd to be at school so late with kids.

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The Dam

5 Nov

I used to play on a dam.

Dad worked for Ontario Hydro and when I was in grade 2, we moved to Fraserdale. It was an isolated community. Before there was a Polar Express,  we had the Polar Bear Express that ran through our railroad station on its way to Moosonee. We were the last town before you got here.

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Ours was a hydroelectric dam, tapping the power of the Little Abitibi River. As youngsters we ran all over town and into the woods. There was an old boat docked on the dam and we played on it, using our imaginations to fuel our play. Near it was a plaque, on which was written Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Sons of Martha”, in celebration of the care and dedication of workers–engineers, mechanics, and builders–to provide for the safety and comfort of others.

I got all sentimental about these halcyon days of my youth after reading David Almond’s new picture book The Dam.

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A father and daughter go out with a fiddle to sing in the abandoned buildings soon to be covered with water. The language is beautifully poetic and the illustrations, by Levi Pinfold, are exquisite.

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Publisher’s Summary: Kielder Water is a wild and beautiful place, rich in folk music and legend. Years ago, before a great dam was built to fill the valley with water, there were farms and homesteads in that valley and musicians who livened their rooms with song. After the village was abandoned and before the waters rushed in, a father and daughter returned there. The girl began to play her fiddle, bringing her tune to one empty house after another — for this was the last time that music would be heard in that place. With exquisite artwork by Levi Pinfold, David Almond’s lyrical narrative — inspired by a true tale — pays homage to his friends Mike and Kathryn Tickell and all the musicians of Northumberland, to show that music is ancient and unstoppable, and that dams and lakes cannot overwhelm it.

Although the dam is still there, the town where I lived is gone. They moved everyone out  and tore down the houses. Workers now commute in and, as I understand it, stay in a bunkhouse. It is sad to think this town of my youth no longer exists.

Despite the initial sepia tones of The Dam, the book ends more happily than my own tale. Although the residents of the Northumberland community no longer live in their homes, the area has been reclaimed by nature and the people still come.

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