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A Journey Through Hobohemia

4 Aug

One of my favorite French poems is “Ma Bohème” by Arthur Rimbaud. I had to do a presentation on it in a university french poetry class and it has always stayed close to my heart. As you can probably tell from the title, this poem is a fantasy of bohemian life, and very much romanticizes the freedom of roaming with no cares in the world.

Ceceil Castellucci’s middle grade graphic novel, Soupy Leaves Home,  tells the story of a young girl who flees her home during the Great Depression and becomes a hobo and learns about the freedom and burdens of her “bohème”.

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Publisher’s Summary: Set in 1932, this is the story of two misfits with no place to call home, who build a relationship during a train hopping journey from the cold heartbreak of their eastern homes toward the sunny promise of California.

Pearl “Soupy” Plankette ran away from her abusive father, but has nowhere to go until she stumbles upon a disguise that gives her the key to a new identity. Reborn as a boy named Soupy, she hitches her star to Remy “Ramshackle” Smith, a hobo who takes her under his wing. Ramshackle’s kindness and protection go a long way to help Soupy heal from her difficult past. But Ramshackle has his own demons to wrestle with, and he’ll need Soupy just as much as she needs him.

In case you;d like to read “Ma Bohème”, you can click here for the original French, and/or the English translation.

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Iko’s story

24 Feb

As I was checking out at the library Wednesday afternoon, my eye scanned the nearby shelf of new YA books. I saw this,

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dashed over and grabbed it and added it to my checkout pile. I left the library VERY happy because this is a graphic novel that tells Iko’s story.

Publisher’s Summary: In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new,action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

I book talked it yesterday and the excitement was audible among fans of the Lunar Chronicles. I think the others now want to read the Lunar Chronicles.

The graphic novel is a quick read and is the first in a series. I must say that, though I have a poor sense of smell, the ink smell of this blue-toned book was strong. I was stronger and read despite the inky scent. Now I have to wait a year to see what happens to Iko.

 

Dark Days Make Me Happy

29 Dec

I love the gloom of a Pacific Northwest Winter. Grey skies just fill my soul with happiness. Don;t get me wrong. I enjoy some Winter sunshine, too, but I love the atmosphere of a grey sky: brooding and thoughtful. Perfect for staying at home.

While staying at home the last few days, I read The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

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Publisher’s Summary:London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

This wonderful  blend of Regency romance and dark fantasy was the  perfect read after Christmas. I lost myself in the familiar historical setting and enjoyed the fantastic twists Goodman included. She has created a complex fantasy world without being onerous.

I’m not sure how I missed this one. It was published in January and I have only just heard about it. My timing, however, seems to have served me well. The sequel, The Dark Days Pact,  is due for publication on January 31, 2017, so I don’t have to wait long to find out what happens to Lady Helen following the climactic events at the end of the first book.

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Looking ahead and taking a stand

19 Dec

I’ve been seeing lists of books people are looking forward to arriving in 2017. I have put some on hold. Most notable is Perfect,

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the sequel to Flawed,  by Cecelia Ahern.

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Flawed is a YA dystopian novel. The main character, Celestine, accepts society’s rules. Until she doesn’t. When she speaks up and takes a stand, her whole life spins out of control.

Publisher’s Summary: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Perfect follows Celestine as she lives the life of a Flawed.

Publisher’s Summary:Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Perfect isn’t coming out until April, so you have lots of time to read Flawed before it does.

 

Of hats and other hand knits

12 Dec

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This book, A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, by Michelle Edwards sums up why I knit; why all knitters knit.  It’s subtitle is A Story About Knitting and Love. It is sort of predictable, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty and truth of the story it tells.

Publisher’s Summary: Mrs. Goldman always knits hats for everyone in the neighborhood, and Sophia, who thinks knitting is too hard, helps by making the pom-poms. But now winter is here, and Mrs. Goldman herself doesn’t have a hat—she’s too busy making hats for everyone else! It’s up to Sophia to buckle down and knit a hat for Mrs. Goldman. But try as Sophia might, the hat turns out lumpy, the stitches aren’t even, and there are holes where there shouldn’t be holes. Sophia is devastated until she gets an idea that will make Mrs. Goldman’s hat the most wonderful of all. Readers both young and old will relate to Sophia’s frustrations, as well as her delight in making something special for someone she loves.

It even includes a simple hat pattern in the back…with a pompom!

I am currently knitting a hat in a style I wouldn’t have chosen. It’s for the PussyHat Project.

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The Pussyhat Project aims to provide the people of the January 21, 2017 “Women’s March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard” and “provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent themselves and support women’s rights”.

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On Wednesday, I am meeting the counselor from my old school at a yarn shop. She keeps chickens and refers to her birds as “the girls”. When I saw this pattern in the Winter 2016 edition of Knitty, I contacted her and offered to make it for her.

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If you are a knitter and know a chicken lover, you can access the pattern for free HERE.

My friends, this is why knitters knit.

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Wonderful

17 Nov

The White House’s glass ceiling didn’t shatter last week, but girls and women will continue to fight for their place in society, world, business and academia. It can be helpful to look back at girls and women who defied convention for inspiration, and Jeannine Atkin’s Finding Wonders: Three Girls who Changed Science can help.

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Publisher’s Summary:A gorgeously written novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.

Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.

More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.

Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet—and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.

Told in vibrant, evocative poems, this stunning novel celebrates the joy of discovery and finding wonder in the world around us.

As I read each section, my mind went to other books I have read about these three women of science.

Margarita Engle wrote an excellent picture book about Maria Merian.

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Publisher’s Summary:In the Middle Ages, people believed that insects were evil, born from mud in a process called spontaneous generation. Maria Merian was only a child, but she disagreed. She watched carefully as caterpillars spun themselves cocoons, which opened to reveal summer birds, or butterflies and moths. Maria studied the whole life cycle of the summer birds, and documented what she learned in vibrant paintings.

This is the story of one young girl who took the time to observe and learn, and in so doing disproved a theory that went all the way back to ancient Greece.

Several years ago, I read an excellent adult fiction book about Mary Anning, by Tracy Chevalier.

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Publisher’s Summary:On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, poor and uneducated Mary Anning learns that she has a unique gift: “the eye” to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip, and the scientific world alight. After enduring bitter cold, thunderstorms, and landslips, her challenges only grow when she falls in love with an impossible man.

Mary soon finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who shares her passion for scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy, but ultimately turns out to be their greatest asset.

Remarkable Creatures is a stunning historical novel that follows the story of two extraordinary 19th century fossil hunters who changed the scientific world forever.

Finally, local author, Deborah Hopkinson also published a picture book. Hers was about Maria Mitchell.

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Publisher’s Summary: Maria’s wish burns as brightly as a star. Maria longs to be an astronomer and imagines all the strange worlds she can travel to by looking though her papa’s telescope. One night Maria gets her chance to look through the telescope. For the first time, she sees the night sky stretching endlessly above her, and her dream of exploring constellations seems close enough to touch.
In this story, inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer, “viewers will find the cobalt-blue nights, lit with constellations that make imaginary (and actual) pictures in the sky, every bit as attractive as Maria does.”

 

Perilous Portals

9 Oct

The idea of time travel has spawned all sorts of books for children and adults. One of the latest of  is Once Was a Time by Leila Sales.

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Author’s Summary:In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley and her best friend Kitty McLaughlin are inseparable. They read their favorite books, they play imaginary games, and they promise to stick together, no matter what the future may bring.

But that future is more uncertain than they could imagine, as Charlotte’s scientist father has unearthed a staggering truth: time travel is real. And when this discovery attracts the attention of cruel forces, throwing the two girls into peril, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety, between remaining with her friend or following a portal to another time and place. In a split second, Charlotte’s life changes forever. Alone in an unfamiliar place, unsure of Kitty’s fate, she knows that somehow, she must find her way back to her friend.

Beautifully rendered and utterly absorbing, Once Was a Time is an imaginative and timeless tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship, perfect for readers ages 9 and up.

When Charlotte, Lottie, goes trough the portal, she awakes in a small ten in Wisconsin. It is 2013. Confused at first, she quickly adapts, but always, in her heart, she is looking for a way back. Slowly but surely she gathers information about the people she left behind, even as she creates a new life for herself. The sudden discovery of a clue sends her on a temporal journey where she can finally make sense of what hap end so many years ago.

This short book is a quick read and excellent book for someone who is curious about the emotional impact of time travel, but not that interested in the science of it.

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