Tag Archives: Jonathan Auxier

We are saved by saving others

27 Jun

I left New Orleans Tuesday before dawn. The friendly cab driver and I chatted amiably despite my exhaustion. I checked my very heavy book-laden bag, made it through security quickly and sat at my gate, often with my eyes closed.

The man  who sat down across from me had a piece of tissue stuck to his bloody chin. An early morning shaving accident, I surmised. A little later, an airport attendant wheeled an elderly black lady to our area and settled her in a seat just down from the man with the bloody chin. The little old lady’s husband joined her and the attendant was trying to talk to them. I listened, my tired eyes often closed, and I realized the attendant was concerned because the elderly couple did not speak English, but Louisiana Creole.

I watched as the attendant went to speak with a gate attendant. I could see they were discussing the need for a French speaker, so I stood and went over to offer my help. I explained my French was rusty, but they were grateful nonetheless. It turned out my French was up for the task. They just wanted the couple to know the time and gate for their flight. Later, the woman caught my eye and I went over. She asked me something and I wasn’t completely clear on what it was. She asked again and I discerned she wanted to know where the nearest restroom was.

“Ah, le salle de bain?” I said, hopefully.

Her eyes lit up and she nodded. Then she added what sounded like, “Oui, dudu.”

I didn’t actually know where the nearest restroom was, but I explained where one was likely to be ( we were near the food court) and the signs to look for. She smiled and set off. My row was called so I didn’t see her come back.

I slept through the take-off for the flight to Dallas . I woke up for the snack and beverage and then promptly fell asleep again. When we landed, I had to take the Skylink train. As I awaited the train that would take me from Terminal C to terminal D, A woman approached me and asked, “Do you speak Spanish?”

She just needed an explanation about which train she should take. But I couldn’t help marvel that I helped out in two languages within a few hours.

On the flight to Portland, I read Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier.

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It is a beautiful story and I marked an idea that spoke to my heart: We are saved by saving others.

Publisher’s Summary: For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys”—orphans owned by chimney sweeps—to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived—and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life together—saving one another in the process. By one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

 

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#alaac18 – Day 3 in New Orleans

25 Jun

I came to New Orleans with a list of arcs I wanted. I also came intending to take only as many books as would fit in my suitcase.

I shipped two boxes yesterday.

I was at the post offcie by 9 a.m. because I wanted to avoid the lines that would be inevitable Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. The process was quick, efficient and pleasant. I walked the exhibit hall floor, looking for a few more books – really, just specific titles I had on a list but hadn’t yet found – on my way to the Pop Top Stage to listen to the Pura Belpre winners speak.

From there, I was off to lunch hosted by Abram books, at Calcasieu, private dining rooms above Cochon. We were given some meal choices and, even thought my vegetable consumption this week has been limited, I opted for the Gumbo starter and Shrimp with Grits for my entree. Both were divine.

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Four middle grade authors were present and two spoke between each course. Nathan Hale and Rebecca Petruck went first. Nathan spoke about Raid of No Return and Rebecca spoke about Boy Bites Bug.

As we finished our entrees, Laura Geringer Bass spoke about The Girl With More Than One Heart and Jonathan Auxier spoke about Sweep.

All of these books will be perfect for my classroom library and I look forward to book talking them in the new school year.

After the meal, I walked back to the hotel, intending to rest before dressing for the Newbery Caldecott Banquet. I was so sleepy I decided to have a nap, but didn’t set the alarm, not really expecting to sleep long. I awoke with a start at almost 5 pm. YIKES!

I slicked down my bedhead and dressed quickly. I was out the door in 5 minutes to walk to the shuttle bus at the convention center that wold take me to the Hilton where I would meet up with my Sibert committee colleagues. We got a table together for the banquet.

As the banquet is wont to be, the food was okay, the conversation excellent, and the speeches brought us all to tears. Matthew Cordell, Caldecott winner for Wolf in the Snow,  went first. That’s when the waterworks started flowing. He was followed by Erin Entrada Kelly, author of  the Newbery winning Hello, Universe. She had us laughing at examples of her first, self published works from elementary school and crying as she spoke about her family experiences and what the award meant. Final, Jacqueline Woodson, winner fo the newly renamed Lifetime Legacy Award who called us to action.

I had another great sleep and I am out early this morning for the presentation of the 2018 Robert F Sibert Medal. I  can hardly wait to share that experience with yout tomorrow!

The Power of a Story

23 Jul

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The cover looked scary, so I almost rejected The Night Gardener  by Jonathan Auxier without opening it. When I did, I looked at the subject headings:

1. Ghosts – Fiction

2. Household employees – Fiction

3. Brothers and sisters  – Fiction

4, Orphans  – Fiction

5. Storytelling  – Fiction

6. Blessing and cursing  – Fiction

7. Dwellings  – Fiction

8. Horror stories

Number eight was worrisome because, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I have an aversion to scary stories. I have learned over time, however, many are not as scary as I fear. If you think of this list as you would an ingredients list on a food package, horror is only the 8th ingredient. Ghosts are first, but the things in between are not so bad.

So, I decided to give it a try, and like Mikey, I liked it. Do you remember Mikey?

Back to  The Night Gardener.

Molly and Kip, unaccompanied minors are driving their fish cart, pulled by their horse, Galileo, to a house everyone warns them not to go to. They feel they have no option. They are alone, unskilled, in a foreign country, and are willing to work for room and board. Molly does possess a very useful soil, aside from her willingness to work hard. She is a story-teller. The house they arrive isn’t what it seems. Something mysterious is happening and the family seems to be wasting away. The children encounter a mysterious stranger and an ancient curse. along the way, Molly tells stories and Kip wonders how a story differs from a lie. Molly thinks, “Both lies and stories involved saying things that weren’t true, but somehow the lies inside the stories felt true.” As the story unfolds, and Molly and Kip realize that they must end the curse and save the family, she elaborates:“A story helps folks face the world, even when it frightens ‘em. And a lie does the opposite. It helps you hide.”

I had a little trouble getting into the story at first. The drama unfolds slowly, but it is worth persevering. By the middle of the book, I was hooked and wanted to see how it would end. I don;t think this is a book I would read aloud in class, but I’d definitely recommend it to some of my students who love middle grade fiction. The book feels as old as a fairy tale and is very well written, aside from the Irish Brogue, which I think Auxier could have left out.

 

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