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The last leg

4 Jul

A week ago, I returned home from Chicago. It was a breeze.

I got to the airport in a timely manner. My first flight boarded and left on time. I had a Goldilocks layover in Seattle- not too long; not too short; just right. I landed in Portland on time and my bag was one of the first on the carousel. As I exited the terminal, the bus to long term parking was waiting. I got to my car and was home when I expected to be. I dropped off my very heavy suitcase and went to pick up Lucy.

And that is when the breeze ended.

After a happy reunion, Lucy and I got into the car for what should have been a 20 minute drive home. But it wasn’t. As soon as we got off the side street and onto the major street that would begin our journey home it was clear something was wrong. It took 10 minutes to go one block.

I stayed calm and turned on the radio, seeking news about traffic woes. There were many, but they were all on the highways. Where were the details about street traffic? I stayed calm, talking to Lucy, who had curled up in the passenger seat as she was wont to do, giving her pats and cuddles.

Another 10 minutes, another block. What to do?

Looking ahead, nothing seemed to be improving, so I made the decision to go a less direct route. I had several options and chose the one that seemed most reasonable. I think other people had the same idea. The next ten minutes moved us along, but not exactly in the direction I wanted to go. At least we were moving.

When I finally turned the direction of home, the traffic was still slow, but moving. The closer I got to the Burnside Bridge, the better things became.

Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon

Once I was over the bridge, we were travelling at the speed limit and were home shortly afterwards.

As she always does, Lucy took a big drink of water, glad to be home. And I drank in the joy of being home, with a whole summer stretching out in front of me.

 

A Day in the Windy City

27 Jun

 

images Although the ALA Annual Conference runs through Tuesday, Monday was all about visiting Chicago.

The day opened with breakfast, a few blocks from my hotel,  at the Eleven City Diner on S. Wabash.

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There were many good things to choose from, and I finally settled on Lox & Latkes, with cream cheese.

The service and food were both excellent.

 

 

Full and happy, my sister and I walked over to the Field Museum, enjoying the panoramic vistas along the way.

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As we entered the Field Museum, we were greeted by Sue.

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We arrived just after opening and left just after noon, and our timing was great. The museum was pretty empty and was only just starting to get busy when we were ready to leave. There were lots of amazing things to see but the unexpected treasure was a display of the sculptures of Malvina Hoffman.

Museum Summary: In the 1930s, The Field Museum commissioned talented sculptor Malvina Hoffman to create bronze sculptures for an exhibition called The Races of Mankind. A gifted artist who studied under Rodin—and a woman in a male-driven art world—Hoffman travelled the globe in order to sculpt many of her subjects from life. The resulting sculptures were intended to portray “racial types,” as the theory of the day categorized them.

These sculptures have recently undergone conservation treatment, and fifty of the most beautiful are now featured in The Field Museum’s new exhibition Looking at Ourselves: Rethinking the Sculptures of Malvina Hoffman. The new exhibition is a rich inquiry into the concept of race, which has changed drastically over the past eighty years but is still very much with us today.  Hoffman’s artworks embody the complicated ways we look at culture and race, but they are also detailed and nuanced portraits of individual persons.

My sister had to take a conference call. so we returned to the hotel, walking along the lakefront before cutting across through the park.

After the call we headed out again, taking a water taxi to Navy Pier, where we took an Architectural River tour. Several people had recommended this tour and it was well worth it. I learned about architecture in general, in addition to the history and architecture of Chicago.

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Although it was a long walk – we ended up with over 22,000 steps for the day – we walked from Navy Pier, down the Magnificent Mile to the Lou Malnatti’s pizza near our hotel. I was a little hungry, tired and cranky, so the wait for a table was hard, but the deep-dish pizza was delicious.

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I am probably at some point in my return journey as you read this, happy after an excellent visit to the  Windy City, but looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight.

 

A jam packed day #alaac17

26 Jun

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All of Monday morning was taken up with a very productive Sibert committee meeting. After the meeting most of us piled into taxis and headed over to the Palmer House for a lunchtime presentation on the creation of art in picture books, hosted by Simon & Schuster.

Peter Brown, Jessie Sima, Marla Frazee, and Brendan Wenzel were four of the six artists who explained the process they went through to create the art for these books.

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After the luncheon, I went to meet my sister in the exhibit hall , where she had saved a place in line for us for the 2 p.m. book signing by Anna-Marie McLemore. I got an arc of Wild Beauty, which will be out later this year.

While in line, I noticed Little, Brown was nearby so I had my sister hold my place while I popped over to ask for, and receive, an arc of Jade City by Fonda Lee.

 

 

 

 

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From there we attended Booklist’s  on 50 years of YA, which featured  a panel of YA authors including Daniel Jose Older, Nicola Yoon, Kristin Cashore, Neal Shusterman, and Megan Whalen Turner.

We returned to our hotel after the presentation to rest, then get dressed for the Caldecott Newbery Wilder dinner. Although the speeches were excellent, the best moment of the evening occurred as Ashley Bryan was being escorted off the stage after receiving his Caldecott Honor Award. He turned to the audience and recited, in call and response style, Langton Hughes’ Motto:

I play it cool
I dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive
My motto
As I live and learn
Is dig and be dug in return

Monday will be our day to pack in as much of Chicago as we can…and get some Chicago style deep dish pizza!

Work & Play #alaac17

25 Jun

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Saturday is always the busiest day of the conference. Mine started with the always excellent “Rise & Shine” breakfast with MacMillan. Several great authors spoke and we learned about some great books that will be coming in the fall.

Then my big mistake happened. Breakfast wrapped up around 8:30 and my first meeting didn’t start until 10:30. I knew where my meeting was and figured it would either be a two shuttle bus ride or a 15 minute walk. I decided to walk. It wasn’t until I arrived at the WRONG Hyatt Regency that I realized I had walked in the wrong direction. Fortunately, I was early and the shuttle buses were right where I needed them.  When I got on the shuttle to, I learned I wasn’t the only one to have made this mistake. Finally, at the right Hyatt Regency, my first meeting was excellent and productive.

Lunch with Penguin Random House followed. Then a quick tour of the Exhibit Hall. I had a list of arcs I wanted and got a few of them. The exhibit hall can be overwhelming, so I headed back to the hotel to drop off the books and have a little quiet time before my second meeting. It, too was productive and I feel that we are really getting a sense of ourselves as a group.

Saturday’s highlight was dinner with MacMillan. Four authors, Katherine Applegate, Gene Luen Yang, Steve Sheinkin and Jennifer Chambliss Bertman each sat at one of our tables and we got to question them, talk and just generally enjoy a pleasant evening together.

I slept well last night.

 

 

More riveting than Rosie

8 Jun

I stayed up a little later than I should have last night. I just had to finish Silver Stars by Michael Grant, the second in his Front Lines  series.

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Goodreads Summary: The summer of 1943, World War II. The Germans have been bloodied, but Germany is very far from beaten. The North African campaign was only the beginning of the long journey for Frangie, Rainy, Rio, and the millions of other Allies.

Now the American army is moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily. Frangie, Rainy, and Rio now know firsthand what each of them is willing to do to save herself—and the consequences. With their heavy memories of combat, they will find this operation to be even tougher.

Frangie, Rainy, and Rio also know what is at stake. The women are not heroes for fighting alongside their brothers—they are soldiers. But the millions of brave females fighting for their country have become a symbol in the fight for equality. In this war, endless blood has been spilled and millions of lives have been lost, but there could be so much more to gain.

The women won’t conquer Italy alone. But they will brave terrible conditions in an endless siege; they will fight to find themselves on the front lines of World War II; and they will come face-to-face with the brutality of war until they win or die.

I wrote about the first book, Front Linesback in May. I was riveted to the stories of these women, fighting in WW2.  Michael Grant manages to maintain the momentum of the story and my interest in the story of these three women. Sometimes the second book in a series can seem repetitive, or drag, but this one doesn’t. And, Grant’s characters are so well written, you can;t help but fall in love with them, warts and all.

Unfortunately, I have to wait until January 30, 2018 for book three, Purple Hearts, to find out how the war ends for Frangie, Rio and Rainy. Fortunately, Grant has written two digital novellas that accompany the series. Alas, my library doesn’t seem to have them…yet.

The New Anne

29 May

I was excited but skeptical when I heard that a new Anne of Green Gables series was in the works. I had read all the books as a child and, like many Canadians, watched Kevin Sullivan’s 1985 television mini series with a heart full of love. I was thrilled when they filmed part of the second series (Anne of Avonlea) in the Allan Gardens near my apartment in Toronto when I was at U of T. I walked right past the filming one wintry night and saw Anne &  Morgan Harris (Megan Follows & Frank Converse).

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My emotional attachment to Kevin Sullivan’s production is strong, and my concern over Anne With an E, understandable.

And so, I began watching this weekend.

My heart leapt with joy when I heard the The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”.

“This might be okay”, I thought.

And it was more than OK!

Yes, they have added background stories and added some pieces, but, as a lifelong fan of Anne, I don’t find these non-canonical additions uncomfortable.

The actors portraying Anne, Marilla and Matthew (Amybeth McNulty, Geraldine James, and R. H. Thomson) are fantastic and capture the essence of each character. I think my heart will always hold Jonathan Crombie as the perfect Gilbert. Lucas Jade Zumann is just a little too broody, but he has moments when I see the Gilbert I love. I think, as the series progresses, I might soften towards this new Gilbert.

So, to sum up, I will continue watching enthusiastically. If you haven’t watched it, or have been hesitating like I have, fear not. You won’t be disappointed.

This week’s book talks 5/22-25

26 May

We began our Ancient China unit so, I pushed books with some connection to that topic.

I started the week with Grace Lin and ended with Faith Erin Hicks.

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Goodreads Summary: In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

 

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Author’s Website: The moon is missing from the remote Village of Clear Sky, but only a young boy named Rendi seems to notice! Rendi has run away from home and is now working as a chore boy at the village inn. He can’t help but notice the village’s peculiar inhabitants and their problems-where has the innkeeper’s son gone? Why are Master Chao and Widow Yan always arguing? What is the crying sound Rendi keeps hearing? And how can crazy, old Mr. Shan not know if his pet is a toad or a rabbit?

But one day, a mysterious lady arrives at the Inn with the gift of storytelling, and slowly transforms the villagers and Rendi himself. As she tells more stories and the days pass in the Village of Clear Sky, Rendi begins to realize that perhaps it is his own story that holds the answers to all those questions.

Newbery Honor author Grace Lin brings readers another enthralling fantasy featuring her marvelous full-color illustrations. Starry River of the Sky is filled with Chinese folklore, fascinating characters, and exciting new adventures.

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Goodreads Summary: Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide.

Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.

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Goodreads Summary: An unlikely friendship forms between Nameless City native Rat, and Kai, whose country has recently conquered her city.  The two of them must find common ground between their cultures and foil a sinister conspiracy.  Hicks has created a beautiful and intricate world inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road in which the besieged inhabitants of an ancient city are desperate to learn the secrets of the perished civilization which carved the city out of living rock.

 

 

 

 

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Goodreads Summary:Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself.

To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he’s stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City. . . . But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

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