Archive | January, 2016

2016 HUB Reading Challenge Check-in #1

31 Jan

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The start date for this year’s Reading Challenge caught me off guard. The Challenge usually begins in February, because the awards are usually announced in late January. But, with ALA’s early Midwinter Conference, announcements were made earlier, so the Challenge began last week.

Monday found me scanning the list of eligible titles and madly placing holds on library copies. A few have arrived, but, since I am a Round 2 judge for the CYBILS YA Non-fiction Award, I haven’t read much for the Challenge.

I did manage two whole books….both thin, graphic novels. They were very fun graphic novels.

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I read Volumes 1 & 2 in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Volume 1 is entitled I Squirrel Power and Volume 2 is Squirrel You Know It’s True.

Publisher’s Summary for Volume 1: Wolverine, Deadpool, Doctor Doom, Thanos: There’s one hero that’s beaten them all-and now she’s got her own ongoing series! (Not that she’s bragging.) That’s right, you asked for it, you got it, it’s SQUIRREL GIRL! (She’s also starting college this semester.) It’s the start of a brand-new set of adventures starring the nuttiest and most upbeat super hero in the world!

Publisher’s Summary for Volume 2:  Squirrel Girl meets potential new allies including Chipmunk Hunk, Koi Boi and…Girl Squirrel?! Yes! But the two rodent-themed heroines don’t quite see eye to beady eye — and Squirrel Girl’s dislike might be justified! Now, as the world goes mad and the Avengers attack, Squirrel Girl must face Ratatoskr, the Norse God of Squirrels! There’s a theme in this book, I don’t know if you can tell. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, though, we promise. Featuring fights! Feelings! Sass! Punches! Friendship! A character named Hippo who is literally a hippo! And several tails (tales) of Squirrel Girl from all kinds of perspectives!

This is the beauty of the HUB Reading challenge. I pick, read and enjoy books I might never have considered before. I don’t read many graphic novels and the Challenge always sends me to the best.

Just in time!

29 Jan

I’m about 2 discs from finishing Winter, the audiobook I’m listening to on my daily commute.

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And a good thing, too, because guess who will be at Powells in Beaverton on Thursday. MARISSA MEYER! My teaching partner and I are both planning on being there, as are a large number of the girls we teach. We’ve been talking about it and I have it on my homework board.

She’ll be there promoting Stars Above,  a collection of stories about characters from The Lunar Chronicles  series.

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And now I have a confession to make. Unless things change radically in these last two discs. I will not read Fairest,  which tells Levana’s story. I dislike her so much, I don’t want to know what happened to turn her into the manipulative evil queen I’ve come to hate. My teaching partner says she will read it because she would like to know. Maybe I’ll ask for a summary.

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It is a little bittersweet, coming to the end of a series, but I have really enjoyed the journey with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter.

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Not such a modern girl

27 Jan

I was always sort of  a nerdy kid who liked school and did the right thing. I was never a rebel, or anything close to alternative. In fact, when the word “conformist” came up in a grade 10 English class, Alan Giagnavova, the rebelish odd duck who sat in front of me,  turned in his seat, pointed at me and said, “You are a conformist.”

I never listened to really cool bands or followed the music scene.  I am still not that person, but I’m trying to read outside my usual box. As a result,  at 51, I have a number of memoirs by or about musicians on hold. Some are musicians I didn’t really listen to, and whose music I don’t necessarily like. Nonetheless I am interested in what they have to say and how they say it.

I can’t recommend Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl  enough.

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She was, still is, a member of Sleator-Kinney. I first became aware of her on Portlandia. I’ve heard her interviewed on a couple of local programs and I was intrigued by the interviews and impressed by the memoir. The writing is all that I love in memoir: intelligent, honest and emotionally vulnerable.

Publisher’s Summary:Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.

I think what I like best about the book is that it gives a real sense of what it as like to live in a world so unlike my own and it also clearly demonstrates the bands creative process. I don;t have to be a fan of her music to appreciate this fantastic memoir.

OBHR Calling

26 Jan

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“Hi! My name is Adrienne and I am  volunteer with Oregon Basset Hound rescue. Our adoption coordinator forwarded your application to me and I am calling to touch base with you and see about setting up a home visit.”

I’ve made that call 4 times in the last two weeks. It’s been a year since OBHR had an application that called for me to do a home visit. Suddenly, we are inundated with applicants.

It might have to do with this guy.

Sherman

Sherman is the youngest dog we’ve had posted for a while. Most people who have lost dogs want a younger dog who will be with them a little longer than an older dog might. It’s understandable. When I lost Louie, six years ago, I said the same thing, which is why I ended up with Lucy.

Sherman’s adoption is pending. He’s on a visit with a family that, we hope, will be become his forever home, and who will work on his tendency to chew things.

We’ve rehomed one other dog, Ellie, since the start of the year and have another looking for a new home.

Ellie

Walter is a little older and needs to be an only dog.

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And there are probably two more coming in shortly, a bonded pair, that cannot be separated.

2016 might be busy for OBHR.

YALSA’s The Hub 2016 Reading Challenge Begins!

25 Jan

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Let the Challenge Begin!

It’s time to kickoff the 2016 Hub reading challenge! This challenge is intended to encourage librarians, library workers, and YA lit enthusiasts to dive into the award winner and honor books and YALSA selected lists with the hope of providing excellent readers’ advisory and even discovering a new favorite title or exploring a genre outside of your comfort zone.

Eligible books are the YA titles that were named winners or honor titles the following award and selected lists:

This year, based on feedback, they’ve expanded the eligible list of titles to include all YA literature recognized by any ALA division, including:

I am very excited to see the addition on the Amelia Bloomer list.

How to Participate

  • Declare your intentions in a comments on this post.
  • Read 25 of the selected titles to complete the challenge, or the entire list to conquer it.
  • Every Sunday,THE HUB will publish a check-in post. Leave a comment to talk about what you’re reading for the challenge. If you’ve reviewed those titles somewhere online, include links to those reviews!
  • There will be an finisher form embedded in each check-in post, so once you’re done with the challenge, fill out the form with your name and contact information. This is how you’ll receive your Finisher’s Badge, how you’ll be contacted about your reader’s response, and how you’ll be entered into the drawing for the grand prize. Please fill out the form only once.

Guidelines

  • Format matters: a title that has been recognized for both the print version and the audiobook version can be both read and listened to and count as two books, but a book that has won multiple awards or appears on multiple lists in the same format only counts as one title.
  • Books must be read/listened to (both begun and finished) since the award winners and selected lists have been released and 11:59pm EST on June 23. If you’ve already read/listened to a title, you must re-read/listen to it for it to count. The only exception is for titles you read for the Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge; whether or not you finished that challenge, you may count that reading toward your 25 titles.
  • Just about everyone who doesn’t work for ALA is eligible to participate. Non-ALA/YALSA members are eligible. Teens are eligible. Non-US residents/citizens are eligible. (More eligibility questions? Leave a comment or email us.)

Eggstraordinary!

24 Jan

Growing up, we had a number of interesting events in New Hamburg, Ontario, most notably the Fall Fair and  the Mennonite Relief Sale. One year, maybe it  was two years, the town held an Eggstravaganza, celebrating all things poultry. We had an egg factory in town and a turkey farm just outside town. No one I knew raised backyard chickens, though.

I have several friends here in Portland that have chickens in their backyards. Occasionally, I am the recipient of their eggstraordinary bounty. They usually have white schools, but I’ve received gifts of fresh chicken eggs in a variety of hues.

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The difference between fresh and store-bought eggs in flavor and yolk color cannot be overstated. Fresh eggs are more infinitely more flavorful. Their yolks are a vibrant orange, compared to the pale yellow of a store-bought egg.

Budding chicken farmers and elementary aged readers will love Kelly Jones’  Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.

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Publisher’s Summary: Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse….

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

I loved this book! It reminded me a little of The Worm Whisperer  by Betty Hicks,which was one of my favorite 4th grade read alouds,  and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz.

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If you have a 3rd, 4th or 5th grade reader, you might encourage them to pick up any of these three books.

“The Walter”

22 Jan

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January 20, 2016 (New York) – The We Need Diverse Books™ Walter Award Judges Committee has confirmed selections for the inaugural Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature – Young Adult Category. One winner and two honors have been named.

The Walter Dean Myers Award, also known as “The Walter,” is named for prolific children’s and young adult author Walter Dean Myers (1937 – 2014). Myers was a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature as well as a champion of diversity in children’s and YA books.

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The winner of the first annual Walter award (2016) is the young adult novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

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The judges also selected two Walter honor books: Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle

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and X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon.

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The Judges Panel reviewed titles published during the 2015 calendar year by diverse authors whose work featured a diverse main character or addressed diversity in a meaningful way. In the case of author pairs (or author-illustrator pairs), at least one member of the pair must be from an underrepresented community. The books covered many genres and included both fiction and nonfiction works. The award’s mission is to honor the memory of Walter Dean Myers and his literary heritage, as well as celebrate diversity in teen literature.

Walter Award Judges Panel: Rita Painter, Rafe Pose, Edi Campbell, Mindy Rhiger, Todd Krueger, Adeeba Rana, Maria Gentle, Christine Taylor-Butler, Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, Dhonielle Clayton and Kathie Weinberg.

 

What I’m Reading Now…mostly

21 Jan

Although I’ve been free range reading a bit in these post Morris Committee days, I still have some required reading.

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I am a round 2 judge in the CYBILS YA Nonfiction category. Fortunately, as a round 2 judge I only have to read the finalists the round 1 judges selected. And these are what I am (mostly) reading these days.

Unknown-1I Will Always Write Back: How One letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Symphony for the CitySymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

UnknownTommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal

Unknown-2Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

Unknown-4Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long

Unknown-3Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger

Most DangerousMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Booked!

19 Jan

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Home from Boston, surrounded by the piles of arcs I collected, my mind has turned to summer.

This summer, my niece, my twin sister’s only child, graduates from high school and turns 18 in the same week. I got to thinking I’d like to be there for those two big events and checked flights. Prices were very good.

So, in conversation with my sister last night we talked it over. As the Superintendent for elementary schools in her district, her time can be flexible, even though school will still be in session if I were to arrive the last week of June. We looked at the calendar and talked things over. I went online while we were talking and found nonstop, round-trip, PDX to YYZ  flights on Air Canada for $422, a very good price. We talked it over and I though tempted to book it right away, I decided to sleep on it and book it in the morning if I still felt confident.

I am now booked to go and I feel very happy about it.

It makes me amazed, how easy all this is to do now. It used to take days or weeks to make these kinds of plans.You’d make a plan. Then you’d have to go see a travel agent. They’d give you some options. You’d think them over and decide. Later, you’d get your paper tickets. It is all so different now.

I started shopping for my own tickets when I lived in Colombia. Once my Spanish was good enough, I skipped the travel agent and would just call the airlines directly. I can’t remembered how I paid, but it must have been by credit card over the phone. I still have my Lonely Planet guidebook  Colombia: A Travel Survival Kit   ©1988.

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The inside covers refilled with notes, including flight information I scratched down while on the phone with Avianca.

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It is a ratty old book now, but it is a storehouse of memories.

MLK Day thoughts

18 Jan

On Friday, I talked to the kids about an unpopular opinion I hold. As much as I love getting an extra day off school, I think it is a shame that we aren’t in school on MLK Day or Veteran’s Day. Because we aren’t in school, I don’t think kids think about WHY they get the days off. If we were in school, there might be an assembly, an announcement, something I could do in class to make kids mindful of the holiday and why we celebrate it.The President has called to make MLK Day a day of service. It would be a great day to take kids out of the school to serve the community in some way.

Today, I will be doing the second of two Oregon Basset Hound Rescue home visits for new adoption applicants. We haven’t had a lot of dogs or many applicants over the last year. In fact, my last home visit was in January 2015! But , we have a couple of dogs that have generated some interest.

ShermanThis is Sherman. He’s 2 and loves to chew on things he shouldn’t. He also loves to play hard.

1This is Ellie. She’s 7 or 8 and her family is moving and can’t take her with them.

Other than the home visit, the day will be quiet. I started a new knitting project and a new book yesterday. The book is All American Boys  by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.

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It seems to be a good book to read on this day, when we should be thinking about how we treat other people.

Publisher’s Summary A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book.

In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/All-American-Boys/Jason-Reynolds/9781481463331#sthash.e7o6NgFG.dpuf

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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