Archive | February, 2017

The 2016 Cybils Awards

15 Feb

Well my term as a Round 2 Audiobooks judge for the 2016 Cybils Award is over. It was great fun doing something new, and listening to Audiobooks is a different way. The award winners were announced yesterday on the Cybils blog. But I wan to tell you about our winner and my nominee that won.

As a committee, we chose The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, for the Audiobooks award.


Read by Vikas Adam, Mark Bramhall, Jonathan Cowley, Kimberly Farr, Adam Gidwitz, Ann Marie Lee, Bruce Mann, John H. Mayer, and Arthur Morey.
Listening Library

Nominated by: Katy Kramp

In a 13th century French inn, travelers including a nun, troubadour, and brewer, exchange stories of their encounters with three miraculous children who are set to be brought before the king for treason. Jeanne is a peasant girl who has visions; William, a teenage monk with incredible strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy who has healing powers. They are accompanied in their adventures by Gwenforte, Jeanne’s faithful greyhound, who has returned from the dead.

Using a style reminiscent of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the oral story telling traditions of the past,The Inquisitor’s Tale is narrated by a full cast of characters, each of whom adds a new layer to the story, building to a satisfying conclusion. The variety of voices and accents makes the unfamiliar setting come to life for middle grade readers, who will also appreciate the slightly off-color humor, a dragon quest, and courage of the young heroes. Along the way, listeners get to know the three children and the multiple narrators, one of whom is the author, Adam Gidwitz.

The book I nominated in the poetry category, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan, was that category winner! This is the first time one of my nominees has won, so I am rather excited about this award.


When this school year ends,
I will have spent
one thousand days
in this building.
I want a thousand more
so I’ll never have to say
goodbye to friends.

From “First Day” by Rachel Chieko Stein

Eighteen narrators, from diverse backgrounds and experiences, tell the story of their final year at elementary school before moving up to middle school.  Their final year also corresponds to the last year of Emerson Elementary itself. The school is scheduled to be demolished to build a supermarket in their food insecure neighborhood.

The fifth grade has been asked by their teacher, Ms. Hill, to write poems for a time capsule to be incorporated into the new building project. The poems in various forms reveal the distinctly personal stories of each student and the classroom dynamics. As the year unfolds, students find their voices by organizing and protesting the demolition of their beloved school.

Of all the candidates for this year’s award for poetry, the committee found The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary to be the most appealing in its diversity, its capturing of the emotional lives of children on the brink of adolescence, and its poetic acrobatics.  Laura Shovan’s writing is masterful.  Readers will find themselves reflected in the experiences of the fifth graders.  A thumbnail illustration of each character accompanies the poem helping the reader further identify the character.  An introduction to poetry and poetic forms at the end completes the package.

Visit the Cybils blog to see the  annotated list of winners.






Hope Springs

14 Feb

This morning in the merry, merry wood

The trees with laughter shook.

They’s seen old Winter hobble past

A-leaning on his crook.

The crocus called good-bye to him

And the violet from her nook,

For Spring is here in shoes of green

Everywhere I look.

Our grade eight vocal ensemble sang this madrigal in three-part harmony. It was the late 70’s so I doubt any recordings remain, but the lyrics spoke loudly to me this weekend, from decades long past.

I had stepped out my back door to take out the trash, when my eye caught sight of something unexpected.


What was the source of that splash of green under the leaf debris? Upon closer inspection, my hopes were realized.


The daffodils are coming up!

It has been a hard winter. Unexpected snow and ice had us miss 10 days of school. Last week, we had torrential downpours that have caused landslides. The weekend gave us sunshine and you could feel the hearts of the city rise.

Saturday, as I took Lucy for a longer walk that we’ve had in a while, I heard birdsong. Actual birdsong! I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had heard anything other than the cawing of crows. My heart swelled with this mellifluous sound.

I know we are in for more rain, and true Spring is still a few weeks off, but this little foretaste of Spring has put a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

TGIF: A Monday Retrospective

13 Feb

It was a tough week. I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say, I was looking forward to Friday night. And not for the reason you think. Yes, it was the end of difficult week, but it was the night that Leah Thomas and Len Vlahos were going to be at Powells in Beaverton!


It was a small but devoted group of fans who assembled. For us, it was nice because it was less formal. I got to reconnect with Leah and chat with Len, both of whom were William C. Morris Award finalists in different years.

They talked a lot about how they came up with the ideas for their current novels:


Publisher’s Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone’s father is dying.

When Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can’t imagine how she’ll live without him . . .

Then, in a desperate act to secure his family’s future, Jackie’s father does the unthinkable–he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.

But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever . . .

In this brilliantly written tragicomedy told through multiple points of view–including Jackie’s dad’s tumor–acclaimed author Len Vlahos deftly explores what it really means to live.


Publisher’s Summary:Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

Both have some odd things happening in their book ( a brain tumor as one of multiple narrators in Len’s book and the Blunderkids in Leah’s). I bought both books and got them personalized. I got an arc of Nowhere Near You at ALA and had already read it. I will send the autographed arc to my twin sister. I’m planning on reading Life in a Fishbowl this week during independent reading time at school.


It was a really fun evening and a great way to end a long week.

Last Week’s Book Talks- 2/6-10

12 Feb

I started Monday with the book I missed last week:


This week, I worked my first five-day week since the middle of November! Here are the other books I talked about:

Monday, I did a two-fer:

9781250072467 url

Wednesday was rough, so I went for some humor:


Thursday, I finished Me & Marvin Gardens and was excited to share it.


Nonfiction Friday rounded out the week and we talked a little bit about introverts and extroverts.


AS goes MG

10 Feb

I have made no secret of the fact that I love A. S. King. I will read (and probably buy) anything she writes. Unfortunately, I cannot put her books in my 6th grade classroom library. Until now.

Yes, Amy Sarig King has written a novel for middle grade readers!!!!


Like her books for older readers, there is a fantasy element. yes,let’s call it that. The eponymous Marvin Gardens is a plastic eating creature that resembles a cross between a dog and a pig…with amphibian-like skin.

I book talked it yesterday, reading aloud the part about Marvin’s first poop – sixth graders still love that sort of thing – and I had them hooked. I told them about Obe’s problems with his friends, with Marvin, and with his neighborhood; problems they can all relate to. I’m hoping this one won’t spend much time on my shelves.

Publisher’s Summary: Obe Devlin has problems. His family’s farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn’t like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks.

One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags… No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there’s never been a creature like this before. The animal — Marvin Gardens — soon becomes Obe’s best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

In her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King tells the story of a friendship that could actually save the world.

In translation

9 Feb

After a tough day at school, I came home for some bibliotherapy, only to realize I’d taken the book I wanted to finish to school…and LEFT IT THERE. I will put it in my school bag as soon as I get to work, so I have it to finish at home tonight.

Instead, I read a stack of picture books I’d borrowed from the library. Two stood out because both have been translated from French.

The first was My Baby Crocodile by Gaëtan Dorémus. It is a quirky book.


Publisher’s Summary: Told from two different perspectives, My Little Crocodile is about a chance meeting between a crocodile and what he believes to be a “baby crocodile.” This meeting profoundly changes their lives, which then continue along their own individual paths, though the bonds of love and intimacy remain. The story plays with ideas about the relationship between parent and child as well as with those about how deeply chance and the choices we make affect us throughout our lives.

The second book was also an animal story,  A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy.


Publisher’s Summary: A hilarious story about why manners matter

One morning, a young wolf eagerly sets out on his first hunting trip. But before he can devour his prey, he must honor their final wishes, just as his parents taught him to do. But the wolf’s would-be meals aren’t quite as honorable as he is! Can common courtesy prove effective amidst the wild laws of nature?

Perfect for fans of Jon Klassen, this wryly humorous book demonstrates that good manners can bring unexpected results.

They weren’t the bibliotherapy I was expecting, but they certainly took my mind off the day.

The Blustery Day

7 Feb

A gust of wind hit me full force as I exited Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t surprised, though. It had been blustery all day.

My first inkling that it would be a windy day was during my morning commute. I grasped the steering wheel tightly after I felt a strong gust push my car towards the lane to the right. Good thing I drive in the slow lane, I thought.

Throughout the school day, I could see the neighborhood fir trees bowing and swaying. I have a windowless room, but can see outside through the 6th grade locker room. Teachers with windowed rooms commented how distracted the ids were by each mighty gust. I was grateful for my lack of windows.

I drove home from school, gripping the steering wheel tightly once more, knowing I should anticipated wind gusts. The forecast called for snow and ice overnight so I stopped at Trader Joe’s just in case we had a snow day the following day. And that brings me back to Trader Joe’s exit.

I walked to my car and opened the trunk to put in my groceries. It’s the sort of thing you do mindlessly because you’ve done it a million times. This time was different, though. A gust of wind caught the trunk lid just right, send it down on my forearm. I stifled a cry and squeezed my eyes shut to hold back the tears. I was surprised to see no mark when  I opened them.

By the time I got home there was a bump, but no discoloration. That came on slowly.As the bump receded, the discoloration developed.


Five days later, it is fading to that sickly, yellowy post-bruise color. Good thing it wasn’t any worse, I keep thinking.



My never ending TBR pile

6 Feb

The TBR pile never seems to get any smaller. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. And a good problem to have.

Besides binge watching season 2 of Narcos  this unexpectedly long weekend,   I read two picture books from my pile. Bothe are  nominees for the Oregon Book Award’s  ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE.

First,was Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube. This is a sweet story about a girl overcoming her fear of dogs. This can be a difficult thing to do. I once brought Clara to the kindergarten summer school for migrant kids I was working in because they were so scared of dogs.


Publisher’s Summary: Every day after school, Hannah’s school bus is greeted by her classmate’s dog, Sugar. All of the other kids love Sugar, but Hannah just can’t conquer her fear of dogs. Then, one day, Sugar goes missing, so Hannah joins the search with her classmates. Will Hannah find a way to be brave, and make a new friend in the process?

Next, I read The Otter, the newest in The Lighthouse Family  series by Cynthia Rylant.


Publisher’s Summary: Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant brings the peaceful sounds, sights, and characters of the coast vividly to life in the sixth book of the Lighthouse Family series, in which the family assists an otter in need.

On a lovely summer day, the lighthouse family hears the bell on the fog buoy ringing. It is an otter, whose sister is trapped in an old fishing net! With the help of some friendly dolphins and sawfish, the lighthouse family devises a plan to free the trapped otter—and makes two new friends along the way.


Announcing the 2017 Hub Reading Challenge!

5 Feb

I hadn’t heard anything about the 2017 Hub Reading Challenged and feared it might not happen this year. Then, lo and behold, the announcement came!


The HUB Reading challenge s 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.

The goal is to read any 25 books of the titles from the above lists and awards. There are almost 100 this year and I have listed them below.

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.

There are a few rules that you can read on the link above, but the most important one is this: 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.

I’ll be updating my progress on Sundays, so stay tuned.

Here is the official list:

2017 Hub Reading Challenge Eligible Titles

    1. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by MIsty Copeland
    2. The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande
    3. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
    4. The Diviners by Libba Bray
    5. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
    6. The Good Braider By Terry Farish
    7. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
    8. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
    9. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
    10. Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel
    11. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
    12. The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales
    13. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford
    14. Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart
    15. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
    16. Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
    17. Die Young with Me: A Memoir by Rob Rufus
    18. The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar by Matt Simon
    19. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
    20. March:  Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
    21. Hillary Rodham Clinton:  A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal
    22. In the Shadow of Liberty:  The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis
    23. Samurai Rising:  The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune written by Pamela S. Turner, illustrated by Gareth Hinds
    24. This Land is Our Land:  A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne
    25. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
    26. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
    27. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
    28. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
    29. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
    30. What Happened to Goodbye? by Sarah Dessen
    31. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
    32. Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
    33. The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
    34. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
    35. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    36. Anna and the Swallow Man written by Gavriel Savit, narrated by Allan Corduner
    37. Ghost written by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockard
    38. Dream On, Amber written by Emma Shevah, narrated by Laura Kirman
    39. Nimona written by Noelle Stevenson, narrated by Rebecca Soler, Jonathan Davis, Marc Thompson, January LaVoy, Natalie Gold, Peter Bradbury, and David Pittu
    40. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
    41. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
    42. Rani Patel In Full Effect by Sonia Patel
    43. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
    44. Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin
    45. Beast by Brie Spangler, read by Andrew Eiden
    46. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, read by Carla Corvo, MacLeod Andrews, Steve West, and a full cast
    47. Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky, read by Barrett Wilbert Weed
    48. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, read by Marc Thompson, Rebecca Soler, January LaVoy, Peter Bradbury, Jonathan Davis, David Pittu, Natalie Gold
    49. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Christopher Gebauer
    50. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, read by Jorjeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch
    51. Star Wars Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston, read by Ashley Eckstein
    52. Traffick by Ellen Hopkins, read by Kirby Heyborne, Julia Whelan, Madeleine Maby, Rebekkah Ross, Jacques Roy
    53. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke, read by Michael Crouch, Alicyn Packard, and Caitlin Davies
    54. The Reader by Traci Chee
    55. The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge
    56. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
    57. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    58. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys
    59. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxam
    60. Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word by Nadia Abushanab
    61. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
    62. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
    63. Plutona by Jeff Lemire
    64. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
    65. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
    66. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
    67. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
    68. The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
    69. When We Collided by Emery Lord
    70. as brave as you by Jason Reynolds
    71. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
    72. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
    73. How Many Letters are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
    74. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
    75. Dryland by Sara Jaffe
    76. You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Leviathan
    77. When the Moon Was Ours Anna-Marie  McLemore
    78. This Song Is (Not) for You by Laura Nowlin
    79. The Root by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun
    80. And I Darken by Kierstin White
    81. Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman
    82. Black Panther, Book One:  A Nation Under Our Fee by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
    83. Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer by Diane Stanley, illustrated by Jessie Hartland
    84. Balcony on the Moon by Ibtisam Barakat
    85. Becoming Unbecoming by Una
    86. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
    87. Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
    88. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
    89. Take It As a Compliment by Maria Stoian
    90. Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle
    91. We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out by Annie E. Clark and Andrea L. Pino
    92. Filmish:  a Graphic Journey Through Film by Edward Ross
    93. Prez, Volume 1:  Corndog in Chief by Mark Russel Ben Caldwell, and Mark Morales
    94. orange:  The Complete Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano
    95. Paper Girls 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
    96. We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce, and Matt Hollingsworth
    97. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, written by Cathy Camper



This Week’s Book Talks 1/30-2/3

3 Feb

I intended to bookend the week with nonfiction.

Monday I talked about this classic:


I saved this one for today, but the weather prevented me from book talking it. Yes, we have another day off due to freezing rain. The streets are covered in ice. I guess I will start next week with We’ve Got a Job.


In between, I talked up these three gems:51hhnx3g3jl-_sx334_bo1204203200_

I will read anything Stuart Gibbs writes!



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