Archive | January, 2014

Animals Art(ists)

6 Jan

In   Parrots Over Puerto Rico Susan L.  Roth and Cindy Trumbore   intertwine the  histories of the Puerto Rican parrot and the island of Puerto Rico, culminating with current efforts to save the parrots from extinction.


For the first half of the book, Roth and Trumbore do a splendid job providing young readers with a history of the island, intertwining the birds’ history with its human inhabitants along the way. In the second part they indicate the awareness by Puerto Ricans that the birds are almost gone and then their efforts to bring them back. The book ends with a very informative afterward with photos as well as a timeline and a list of sources.

As always, Roth’s collages are outstanding.

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Tables are turned in Whale Shines  by Fiona Robinson.


Whale is cruising about the ocean, advertising an art expo for sea creatures.   He sees all the other sea creatures expressing their creativity, and  bemoans the fact that he is a mere vehicle for advertising, not an artist himself.


images-1  Unknown-4

With a little help from some tiny friends, though, Whale discovers that, he too, can become an artist.


YALSA Morris/Nonfiction Challenge Check-in #3

4 Jan

Unknown-1   Unknown-2

I transitioned from nonfiction to fiction this week. I still have 1 more NF book to go, but I am still waiting for it to be processed by the library.

The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson  gives the back story on both the target as well as the assassin, then follows the order of events to the finite detail and then the conclusion and epilogue to the story. It is a fast-paced read, full of photos and illustrations that help the reader understand what happened. Swanson is unapologetically a believer in the “long gunman” theory, but adds a section about conspiracy theories. If you think you know a lot about JFK’s assassination, you should read this, because I suspect you will learn even more.

Dr. Birds’s Advice for Sad Poet’s by Evan Roskos tell the story of Walt Whitman loving, tree-hugging James Whitman. James is struggling with anxiety and depression. In telling us of his claustrophobic life, James writes verse in Whitman’s style, hugs trees to maintain his sanity, and talks to an imaginary pigeon therapist. He is looking for help, a way out,  information to explain why his sister was kicked out of the house and expelled from school, but no one seems willing to talk to him.  This could be a very dark book, and it is at times, but there is a thread of humor throughout. The book doesn’t have a happy ending, but it has a realistic ending, which I think is far more important.

A Sticky Situation

3 Jan

My company left yesterday. Not without a little drama. First, when we checked their flight the night before the departure, it was cancelled. A lot of time on the phone with United Airlines later, a new flight was arranged that was even more convenient than the first. Alas, when they got to Chicago, the 2nd leg had been cancelled. They were rerouted to Montreal where they had to spend the night in the airport before getting and Air Canada flight at 6:30 ET this morning. Yes, that have landed in Toronto and are now on their way to the basketball tournament in Stratford, Ontario that will keep them from home until Sunday night.

I had the confirmation number and was following their progress throughout the United  Airlines website and on Facebook.

While they wrangled with air transportation, I read The Gumazing Gum Girl! Chews Your Destiny by Rhode Montijo.


The opening chapter is entitled “A Sticky Situation”.


The main character, Gabby, is not caught in the web of intercontinental travel on the verge of stormageddon. Instead, she is a gum-loving girl who, in fact, wakes up with I’m in her hair. This incident compels her mother to give a terrifying ultimatum: NO MORE GUM! Walking to school, Gabby finds one last piece and defies her mother’s order. She blows an enormous bubble that touches electrical wires, explodes and becomes covered in gum. Gabby is transformed into

imagesFunny pictures and simple text make this a great read that seems to be the start of a new series.

Self help through picture books

2 Jan

Welcome to self-improvement season. It’s the one in which people make resolutions and try to be better in a variety of ways. Fortunately, picture books can help us navigate the sea of possibilities and discover what is most important.

Like Mo does, in Mo’s Mustache  by Ben Clanton.


When Mo decided to start wearing a mustache, everybody liked it.


Unfortunately, everybody included a lot of copycats, which was disappointing.


Mo worked his way through a series of fashion changes in an effort to be unique, only to be copied time after time. Finally losing his temper, Mo asked his copy-catting friends why they keep copying and is surprised by the answer, which gives him a new perspective and makes for a situation in which everyone can be happy.

In Carnivores written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Dan Santat, the beasts at the top of the food chain are feeling a little left out.


So, they set about on a self-improvement plan to fit in better with the other wildlife. The ones they used to eat.


It doesn’ t really work out very well for them and, ultimately, they embrace their carnivore nature.

So whether you are trying to make a change or embrace your essence, these two books are full of humor that will help you on your journey.

Happy New Year

1 Jan

I didn’t stay up ’til midnight last night and I haven’t made any resolutions. I did however have root beer floats and watched my sister watch the end of Season 3 of Downtown Abbey. I had already seen it and enjoyed seeing her reaction. She knew something big happened, but, like most of us, didn’t see that ending  coming.


This is my last day with my company. We’ve shopped and explored various corners of Portland, the coast and the Gorge. We have all been sick with a cold or some variation thereof. We were fortunate in that, although it was grey the entire time, there was almost no rain. Alas, there was no sighting of the elusive Mount Hood. I am posting one here, just to prove that it exists.


Once my company has gone, I have a stack of books to read and a couple of knitting projects to work on before going back to work on Monday. The family is not returning home directly. They have a basketball tournament in Stratford, Ontario and won’t get home until Sunday night. I think I get the better part of that deal.

So far today, I think  we only plan to go to the movies. We are deciding between Philomena, Catching Fire,  and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  

Wishing you all a very Happy 2014!

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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