Emerging from my cocoon

7 Jan

I spent the last two weeks in a delightful cocoon of my own making, filled with books and knitting.

It is hard going back.

But, back I must go.

I read several wonderful picture books during the break that touched my heart. One of them was Adrian Simcox Does Not Have A Horse  by Marcy Campbell.

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From the Author’s Website: Adrian Simcox tells anyone who will listen that he has a horse–the best and most beautiful horse anywhere.

But Chloe does NOT believe him. Adrian Simcox lives in a tiny house. Where would he keep a horse? He has holes in his shoes. How would he pay for a horse?

The more Adrian talks about his horse, the angrier Chloe gets. But when she calls him out at school and even complains about him to her mom, Chloe doesn’t get the vindication she craves. She gets something far more important.

Can I just say that this is the book we all need to read these days, when we are so quick to judge and spout our opinions. This is a book about empathy – getting to know ‘the other” and seeing their perspective. It teaches us that being right isn’t always the most important thing.

Corinna Luyken’s illustrations — in black ink, colored pencils, and watercolor — remind me of books published when I was young and makes the book feel timeless.

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My Cybils Nominees

4 Jan

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I was thrilled the first time one of my Cybils nominees made it to the finalists list. This year, I had five nominees make it to the second round of judging.

In the Easy Reader category – one of my favorite books of the year:
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin.

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In the Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels category:
The Cardboard Kingdom  by Chad Sell

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In the Junior High Nonfiction category:
Spooked: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America  by Gail Jarrow

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In the Senior High Nonfiction category:
Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling

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In the Young Adult Fiction category – one of my favorite YA books of the year:
Darius the Great is Not Okay  by Adib Khorram

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Cybils Reading, Part 2

3 Jan

Today, I would like to introduce the Senior High Nonfiction titles I’ll be reading over ht next six weeks.

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Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend
by Karen Blumenthal
Viking Books for Young Teaders

Bonnie and Clyde became legends of the outlaw world. Even today their names are known and used–Blumenthal does an excellent job of giving as clear a picture as possible of what is known (or thought to be known) about Clyde and Bonnie and what led them to become outlaws. After reading about the shocking number of people they killed it’s understandable why these two became so famous, but it’s a sad commentary on American society is the fact that these two are still so famous yet their victims have been all but forgotten.

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults)
by Bryan Stevenson
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

Based on his own experiences as a nonprofit lawyer defending people whom others have tossed aside and/or tried to forget about, Stevenson offers readers an in-depth look at our all-too-often dysfunctional and biased justice system. His flowing narrative allows us to get to know the individual clients, which drives home the often life-or-death nature of their various legal battles. This is a powerful, impactful, and enlightening book that has the power to transform the way this country thinks about justice, mercy, and compassion.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
by John Hendrix
Amulet

A heavily illustrated biography of German theologian and resistance figure Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Hendrix’s almost-graphic novel makes excellent use of color, portraying Bonhoeffer and his allies in blue, and Hitler and the Nazis in red, and the visuals add to the dizzying and terrifying changes in Germany as Hitler’s power grows. A fitting and appealing way to tell the story of a man willing to die for what is right.

The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century (Scholastic Focus)
by Neal Bascomb
Arthur A Levine

Neal Bascomb tell the compelling tale of a group of World War I prisoners who plotted and executed an almost unbelievable escape from a German prison camp. The daring individuals who came together to set this escape into motion are briefly described along with their backgrounds, but the focus is on the circumstances that led up to the escape, the escape itself, and the aftermath. The book reads like a thriller, with near misses, plenty of setbacks, and failures detailed along the way. A fabulously told story that proves the adage: truth is stranger than fiction.

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot
by Winifred Conkling
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Me!

Spanning almost 100 years, this book takes an unflinching and comprehensive look at the fight for (and against) women’s suffrage in the United States. Reading it evokes a wide and ever-changing range of emotions: outrage, shame, shock, awe, empowerment, and, ultimately, hope. Never once, however, does it evoke boredom. The compelling narrative, primary source material, photography, and rich backmatter make this book highly recommended reading for all genders.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide
by Carol Anderson
Bloomsbury YA

A sobering look at how the US’s laws and court decisions have systematically disenfranchised African-Americans. Bolden’s Young Reader’s Edition of Anderson’s adult title White Rage focuses not just on landmark court cases but also the smaller moments, putting them into the broader American context. It excels at making complicated legal and judicial proceedings clear and easy-to-understand, showing how these issues are still current, and not just stains on our past.

We Say #NeverAgain: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists
edited by  Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner
Crown Books for Young Readers

Students in the newspaper and TV broadcasting classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida write about the shooting and the aftermath, from putting out a memorial issue shortly after the tragic events to covering the March for our Lives. Along the way, they deal with their own feelings about the shooting and wrestle with how to cover a story when they’re part of it. A moving and important collection of teen voices.

Cybils Reading, Part 1

2 Jan

For the fourth time in five years, I am a Round 2 Cybils Judge for Junior and Senior High nonfiction. Guess what I’m reading (or rereading) for the next month. Yup, excellent nonfiction for older kids. Here are the Junior High Nonfiction Finalists.

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Apollo 8: The Mission That Changed Everything
by Martin W. Sandler
Candlewick Press

1968 was a difficult year for the United States, but it ended with at least one bright spot—the successful mission to orbit the moon. 50 years later, Sandler expertly reveals the true tale of Apollo 8 from many important angles: the science and technology behind the mission, the lives of the individuals involved in making it happen, and the cultural and historical relevance of both the mission itself and its most iconic image, the Earthrise photograph. The gorgeous design and absorbing storytelling combine to offer something for every reader.

 

Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam
by Elizabeth Partridge
Viking Books for Young Readers

A stirring account of the Vietnam War told in a mix of profiles of prominent Americans and memories of those who were there. Context and large black-and-white photographs are woven in, but the focus remains on the personal stories, creating a moving, compelling, and immediate look at the war.

Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster
by Patricia Sutton
Chicago Review Press

Patricia Sutton explores why the Eastland disaster has been unknown for so long in a riveting, page-turning history for YA readers. Capsized! is told through firsthand accounts of responders and survivors of this Chicago River passenger ship tragedy. Archive photos give readers glimpses into the lives of the passengers and stand as reminders of forgotten history. A highly worthwhile read and exceptionally documented history.

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin
by James L. Swanson
Scholastic Press

Swanson has written another compelling narrative account of a heinous crime. Just as in his two previous assassination accounts, Swanson gives the reader both the before and after of King’s assassination. While the book is not a full length biography of Martin Luther King Jr. Swanson does provide enough information to give the reader context and understanding as to why someone might want to kill the man. Using a plethora of sources (which are thoroughly documented at the end of the book), Swanson walks the reader through the days leading up to the assassination and the days following. The book takes the reader past the violence, past the funeral, past Ray’s sentencing, followed by his ongoing efforts to prove his innocence and his escape attempts. The photographs provide a particularly powerful picture of events shared in the book. But after all is said and done, after the burial, and the sentencing, and everything else, one question remains: why did Ray kill Martin Luther King, Jr.? We will likely never know as Ray spent the remaining years of his life denying that he’d done it at all.

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man
by Tonya Bolden
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Author Tonya Bolden believes there is more to reveal about one man known mostly for his autobiography of emancipation. She has written this illuminating, well-researched biography for YA readers about his character and contributions as a statesman, publisher and suffragist. A unique design feature of Facing Frederick is the use of famous daguerreotype photos of Douglass as focal points on the timeline of his life.

Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America
by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek Books
Nominated by ME!

Author Gail Jarrow reflects on how far hoaxes can undermine trust in legitimate sources in this exceptional history about the 1938 radio broadcast of a Martian invasion. Hoax aficionados will find the well-designed book both informational and engrossing reading. A nifty graphic spread reveals the level of audience outrage from excerpts of letters, postcards and telegrams CBS received following the radio broadcast. Published complete with timeline, a “More to Explore” section, source notes, selected bibliography and index.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Young Readers Edition)
by Sam Kean
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This young reader’s edition of a 2010 title takes readers on a rollicking journey through the periodic table. In addition to the science of each element, Kean focuses on the personal stories of the scientists involved and the history of the element—including everything from what it’s been used for to the role it plays in current and historical pop culture.

The New Calendar

1 Jan

Mom once told me it was bad luck to hang up a new calendar too early. Or look through the pictures. Or Hang it open. To be honest, I can’t really remember what superstition she told me. Whatever it was, it has morphed into my own tradition of prepping the new calendar on New Year’s morning.

I used to spend a lot of time in bookshops picking out the “right” calendar that would set the tone for year. Nowadays, I order two different basset hound calendars from charities and hang one at home and one at school. The school calendar is on my desk at school,  waiting patiently for me to return next week.

I’ll set to work on the home calendar shortly. It is a bittersweet job. I get to look at the year that was as I flip through the old to add the birthdays and anniversaries I mark. There are some happy events and some sad memories that come together to give me sense of the year that was. When I have finished the writing, I will place that calendar on its spot on the kitchen wall and start building new memories.

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Jólabókaflóð 2018

26 Dec

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My Jólabókaflo∂ always starts on my birthday, December 23rd. This year, I received The Knitter’s Dctionary by Kate Atherley from my sister. I gave her Fab 4 Mania by Carol Tyler.

 

For Christmas, I received two books of short stories and a novel, The Deal of a Lifetime by Frederik Bachman,  Island by Alistair MacLeod, and Women Talking  by Miriam Toews.

 

I gave some good ones: Fear by Bob Woodward, Belonging  by Nora Krug , and The Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras.

 

I hope you also had a lovely Jólabókaflo∂. I’d love to hear what you gave and received.

This week’s Book Talks 12/17-21

21 Dec

I am looking forward to spending the next two weeks with my dog, Lucy, so this week was dog book week.

Monday

A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin

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Tuesday

White Star by Marty Crisp

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Wednesday

Sit, Stay, Love by J. J. Howard

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Thursday

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

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Friday

A Dog in The Cave by Kay Frydenborg

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