Tag Archives: David D. Levine

Learning on the Go

23 Oct

Driving home last week, a few days after my one-on-one lesson on all the features of my new car, I found myself stuck in traffic. This was no bother, I always have an audiobook on the go and I lost myself in the steampunk world of my book, Arabella, the Traitor of Mars by David D. Levine, while I crawled along the Sunset Highway. And then I got distracted.

What would happen if I adjusted my headrest, I wondered as Arabella and Captain Singh led Martians and colonists to independence. I pulled up on the headrest, a device not designed for short drivers like me. Suddenly, the back of my head could fit in the space between the bottom of the headrest and the top of the seatback.

Not ideal, but not as big a problem as Arabella and the Captain were facing. I reached up to push the head rest down, Instead of pushing the headrest back to its original position, my action caused it to tip forward. Now, I was sitting with the headrest perched on top of my head, and, try as I might, I couldn’t get anything to budge.

The traffic crawled along and I knew Arabella wouldn’t be daunted by as small a problem as this. When traffic stopped for a moment, I reached over and grabbed the owner’s manual from the glove compartment. I waited for the next lull to find the right page.

Tilt the head restraint once as far forward as it can go. The head restraint will automatically return to the fully upright position.

I did and it did. Success!

The next part was trickier.

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As I stopped and started through traffic, I tried to find the little button the manual assured me was there. Poke and prod as I might, I couldn’t find that darned button. I continued the drive home with my head nestled in the space between the seat and the headrest.

Once home, I jumped out of the car and could see the button immediately. One push and Presto! the headrest was back to normal and I was happy. I had to wait a few more days to finish the audiobook, in which Arabella returned Mars to a new normal – independence from the British Empire. Arabella and I were both satisfied with that happy ending.

 

This week’s book talks 1/15 – 19

19 Jan

Because of MLK Day, we had no school Monday, but I gave the kids a twofer on Tuesday.

Tuesday, I booktalked David D. Levine’s two books in the Arabella Ashby series: Arabella of Mars,  and Arabella and the Battle of Venus.

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Wednesday, I shared Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson.

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Thursday, because my class LOVED Posted,  I shared John David Anderson’s Ms. Bixby’s Last Day.

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Friday, just for fun, I shared To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Gimme a second

17 Jan

Second books in series are sometimes disappointments. Not so the second book in David D. Levine’s Arabella Ashby series, Arabella and the Battle of Venus.

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Publisher’s Summary:  Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain. To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire galaxy if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

I love the mix of actual history and fantasy. The Napoleonic Wars have spread to space. Despite many obstacles, Arabella remains a plucky heroine with a can-do attitude. Cameo appearances by Napoleon and Admiral Nelson made me grin and willingly suspend my disbelief. Of course they went to Venus!

Although written with an adult audience in mind, I have added this series to my 6th grade classroom library and boo-talked the series this week. I think I hooked a few kids!

Alas, i will have to wait until next year for the next volume,  Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

The Further Adventures of Arabella Ashby

19 Jul

Last night, David D. Levine spoke at Powells and introduced the second novel in his Arabella of Mars series to a very enthusiastic crowd.

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Publisher’s Summary: The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire galaxy if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

It was a very entertaining evening that opened with Mr. Levine announcing that two books makes a series and every series needs a theme song – and he played a theme song for Arabella! This got the crowd excited for the read aloud from the book that came next and the short talk that followed. Next came a Q&A where Levine explained how he worked around the laws of physics, and where and how he changed human history. Finally, we were treated to a read aloud from the third and final Arabella book. We all promised to keep silent about it, so I can’t tell you anything other than I look forward to this third book.

 

2017 Oregon Book Award finalists

12 Jan

The 2017 Oregon Book Award finalists were announced this week.

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The Oregon Book Award winners will be announced at the 30th annual Oregon Book Awards ceremony on Monday, April 24 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory. You can read the complete list of finalists here. The Children’s & YA Lit finalists are listed below.

ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
Judge: Mac Barnett

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Kate Berube of Portland, Hannah and Sugar (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

 

 

 

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Cathy Camper of Portland, Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Chronicle Books)

 

 

 

 

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Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Steamboat School (Disney * Hyperion)

 

 

 

 

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Kathleen Lane of Portland, The Best Worst Thing (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

 

 

 

 

 

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Cynthia Rylant of Portland, The Otter (Beach Lane Books)

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
Judge: Malinda Lo

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Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark (Scholastic)

 

 

 
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Amber J. Keyser of Bend, The Way Back from Broken (Carolrhoda LAB)

 

 

 

 

 

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David Levine of Portland, Arabella of Mars (Tor)

 

 

 

 
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Eliot Treichel of Eugene, A Series of Small Maneuvers (Ooligan Press)

Two book talks and a field trip

8 Jan

I only managed two book talks this week. It was a four-day week because of Monday’s observance of the New Year.

On Tuesday I book-talked The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove.

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I chose this as my first book-talk of the new year because of its ideas about time and  The Great Disruption, which we experienced with Snowmageddon.

On Wednesday, I book-talked Arabella of Mars by Davide Levine.

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There were no book talks Thursday or Friday because each day half of our 6th graders went on a field trip to Mercy Corps.  Their international headquarters is in Portland and their mission, to

Alleviate sufferingpoverty and oppression by helping people build secureproductive and just communities

ties in nicely with our model UN unit, the book clubs we just finished, and our writing unit on teen activism.

We met in the Action Center, which you can drop in and visit Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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The lobby has displays and information about the work they do around the world.

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The kids learned about Mercy Corps and then were taken into a discussion where they had to think about how they use electricity and how certain aspects of life would be different without electricity. Then, they were actively engaged in trying to accomplish a series of tasks ( collect water & firewood, cook, go to school, etc) . Each group was assigned a country and, based on this, their tasks were easier or harder.  Friday’s “Haiti” group moaned loudly about how unfair the process was because other groups had advantages they didn’t. They were actively engaged and got the point of the simulation!

Jólabókaflóð 2016

26 Dec

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Another bookish Christmas…I should be Icelandic! Without further ado, here is the list of what I gave & what I got.

BOOKS I GAVE:

To my niece, a first year university student, I gave Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. 

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My brother-in-law can be a tricky choice, but I thought a collection of Stanley Elkin Essays, Pieces of Soap, would be just the right thing.

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I chose two for my twin sister:one for a birthday gift, one for Christmas. I like to get her a book with a connection to Oregon and something else that is just a good read, So I got her Cat Winter’s Yesternight  and Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett.

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To my teaching partner, who has just discovered steampunk, I gave  Arabella of Mars  by Portland author, David D. Levine.

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I have a pretty little pile of books that I can hardly wait to dip into. My birthday book was the winner of the Giller Prize, the Man-Booker Prize and the Governor General’s AwardDo Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien.

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Two other Canadian novels round out my Jólabókaflóð. The first, The Night Stages,  is from  Jane Urquhart, an author I have long loved.

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The second is from an author who is new to me, Saleema Nawaz.

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I’d love to hear what books you gave & received this holiday season.

 

 

Calling all thinking girls

14 Aug

My brother in law’s friend one described someone (Debbie Gibson?)  as “the thinking girl’s Tiffany”. The phrase has stuck with me through the decades. It recently popped back into mind with David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars.

This is such a fun book, full of the adventure and the chaste romance you would expect of a Regency novel, but it is set on Mars. Thinking girls just want to have fun, too!

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Publisher’s Summary:Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of theDiana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

It reminded me of a lot of books and series I like. It has the “dress up as a boy and go on an adventure during the Napoleonic wars” adventure of the Jackie Farber seriesIt has adventure in space like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. It is an alternative history like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series. And, it is by a local Portland author.  Although I started y talking about thinking girls enjoying this book, I can think of a number of boys in last year’s class that would enjoy reading Arabella of Mars. 

This might be one of my favorite  reads of the summer and I think it would be highly appropriate for the kids I teach. It might be one of my first book talks of the year.

 

 

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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