Tag Archives: M. T. Anderson

A book to die for

13 Jun

I am currently lost in Tudor England, deep in the depths of Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VII Tell All by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, and Deborah Hopkinson

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Publisher’s Summary: He was King Henry VIII, a charismatic and extravagant ruler obsessed with both his power as king and with siring a male heir.

They were his queens–six ill-fated women, each bound for divorce, or beheading, or death.

Watch spellbound as each of Henry’s wives attempts to survive their unpredictable king and his power-hungry court. See the sword flash as fiery Anne Boleyn is beheaded for adultery. Follow Jane Seymour as she rises from bullied court maiden to beloved queen, only to die after giving birth. Feel Catherine Howard’s terror as old lovers resurface and whisper vicious rumors to Henry’s influential advisors. Experience the heartache of mothers as they lose son after son, heir after heir.

Told in stirring first-person accounts, Fatal Throne is at once provocative and heartbreaking, an epic tale that is also an intimate look at the royalty of the most perilous times in English history.

Who’s Who: 

M. T. Anderson – Henry VIII
Candace Fleming – Katharine of Aragon
Stephanie Hemphill – Anne Boleyn
Lisa Ann Sandell – Jane Seymour
Jennifer Donnelly – Anna of Cleves
Linda Sue Park – Catherine Howard
Deborah Hopkinson – Kateryn Parr

First, what a collection of fabulous authors!

What I really want to tell you is why I am so smitten (obsessed) with this book. Each author writes about their character in chronological order, with a few scenes that overlap. They write so well, you can’t help feeling sympathy for the character. Then, when the character changes, you see things from another perspective and fall under the influence of the new character. It really shows you the power that the person you listen to can have over your opinions. A good lesson for our time taught through history.

Because each character has a different author, their voices are truly unique.

Even though I am pretty familiar with these stories, this format gave me an opportunity to re-engage with them in a whole new way.

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What I’m Reading Now…mostly

21 Jan

Although I’ve been free range reading a bit in these post Morris Committee days, I still have some required reading.

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I am a round 2 judge in the CYBILS YA Nonfiction category. Fortunately, as a round 2 judge I only have to read the finalists the round 1 judges selected. And these are what I am (mostly) reading these days.

Unknown-1I Will Always Write Back: How One letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Symphony for the CitySymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

UnknownTommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal

Unknown-2Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

Unknown-4Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long

Unknown-3Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger

Most DangerousMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

YALSA’s 2016 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-in #3

3 Jan

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I’m rereading the Morris award finalists in reverse order: my favorite first, and working my way down to number 5. My logic is this: I have a favorite, but I need to give the other four an objective opportunity to convince me that they also deserve to be the winner. Reading them in this order, I will arrive in Boston with my #5 fresh in my brain and ready to discuss all five finalists well. I hope my strategy works.

I also managed to reread two nonfiction finalists this week, before I have to go back to work tomorrow . (It is a good thing I love my job!)

Symphony for the City

My first journey through Symphony for the City if the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad,  by M. T. Anderson, was via audiobook. This time through, with the hard copy in hand, I was able to enjoy the text along with the many photos included.

When I first heard that Margarita Engle’s Enchanted Air was a nonfiction finalist, I was a little surprised because, although it is a memoir, it is written in poetry. I love this bold move on the part of the committee!

Enchanted Air

I always talk to may students about the need to reread and a second reading of Enchanted Air,  was a real treat. If nonfiction isn’t your thing, this would be an excellent place to start.

I still have one more nonfiction book to go, and my hold is waiting for me to pick it up at the library this afternoon.

It is hard to believe that, in a week, I will be a in Boston and on a week and a day, we will know the winners. The 2016 Youth Media Awards will be announced at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, January 11, 2016, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Boston. If you can’t make it to Boston, you can watch the presentation live HERE.

…Hello 2016

1 Jan

Lucy and I welcomed the New Year, snuggled in bed.

Lucy_Christmas2015.2

Before falling asleep, she told me that her 2016 resolution was to refrain from sleeping in the middle of the bed to give me more room. I hope she keeps it!

She wasn’t feeling very well last night, and I am now in debate mode: do I take her to the emergency vet or wait until tomorrow to see my regular vet? I wish she could tell me what is wrong.

I am especially worried because, one week from today, I am off to the ALA’s 2016 Midwinter meeting in Boston and I don’t want to worry about Lucy being unwell while I am gone. I am excited about the events I am scheduled to attend. I don’t anticipating having to ship home another box like I did at the Annual meeting.

Today also marks the official start of my second year as a round 2 CYBILs judge for YA Nonfiction.

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The announcement of the finalists in all categories has been made and I can now tell you that the finalists I will be reading are

Symphony for the City Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson

Most DangerousMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Unknown-1 I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

UnknownTommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal

Unknown-2Courage and Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

Unknown-3Give Me Wings: How a Choir of Former Slaves Took on the World by Kathy Lowinger

Unknown-4Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist by Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle and Michael G. Long

 

блокада Ленинграда, or The Siege of Leningrad

23 Nov

From September 8, 1941 to January 27, 1944, 872 days,  the city of Leningrad was under siege by Nazi German forces whose mandate from Hitler was to wipe Leningrad off the face of the Earth. It is estimated that over a million people died, mostly from starvation, stress and exposure. The perseverance and defiance of the people of Leningrad was remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that Dmitri Shostakovich decided to dedicate his 7th symphony to the city of Leningrad, his hometown.   The work remains one of Shostakovich’s best-known compositions.

In Symphony for the City of the Dead, long listed for the National Book Award, M. T. Anderson weaves together Shostakovich’s life, work, hometown, and the siege.

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The book is told in three parts. Part one tells Shostakovich’s story. Born in 1906, he was really a child of the Revolution. A prodigy who embraced the art and music of Russian futurism and the avant-garde. Eventually, though, he fell foul of Stalin and feared that he would be swallowed up in the purges of the 1930’s banished to exile or to the Gulags. Eventually, he regained his footing and, by the time of the outbreak of what the Russian;s call the Great Patriotic War, he was more or less safe.

Part Two covers the period of the war and the composition of the 7th symphony. Anderson provides excellent background information to the war and, although I consider myself fairly well read on the subject of WWII and the Soviet Union, having read a lot of Solzhenitsyn in my youth, I learned facts about Stalin I’d never heard before. We see Shostakovich composing as the situation in Leningrad deteriorates, composing the first three movements in besieged Leningrad. Eventually he, along with his wife and children and other  important residents of Leningrad, are evacuated and we see him struggle to finish the 7th symphony in exile while he worried about family members who were left behind.

Part three covers the post war period and the rise of the Cold War. Shostakovich found himself once more a victim of Stalin’s criticism and denounced by former friends and colleagues. Stalin’s death in 1953 saw Shostakovich’s rehabilitation as a creative artist.

The book includes extensive photo, notes and a bibliography. It is an excellent piece of research and shines a light on the importance of the arts in a world gone mad.

Publisher’s Summary: In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.

 

 

On my radar

30 Sep

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My “to be read” pile is an every changing collection.

These days, my Morris pile of “to be reads” is very small. The Morris “to discuss” piles is shrinking and the “nominations” pile has become two piles.

The other shelves in my house also shift continually, but there are a couple I am currently keeping near the top. I hope to get to them soon. Here are my top three at the moment.

Unknown

Publisher’s Summary:Firefly. Cricket. Vole. Peter. Can four creatures from four very different Nations help one another find their ways in the world that can feel oh-so-big? Delve into this lush, unforgettable tale in the tradition of Charlotte’s Web and The Rats of NIMH, from the author of the New York Times bestselling Someday.

Firefly doesn’t merely want to fly, she wants to touch the moon. Cricket doesn’t merely want to sing about baseball, he wants to catch. When these two little creatures with big dreams wander out of Firefly Hollow, refusing to listen to their elders, they find themselves face-to-face with the one creature they were always told to stay away from…a giant.

But Peter is a Miniature Giant. They’ve always been told that a Miniature Giant is nothing but a Future Giant, but this one just isn’t quite as big or as scary as the other Giants. Peter has a dream of his own, as well as memories to escape. He is overwhelmed with sadness, and a summer with his new unlikely friends Firefly and Cricket might be just what he needs. Can these friends’ dreams help them overcome the past?

Unknown-1

Publisher’s Summary: The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can’t have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth.

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn’t really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who’s long held a secret regarding Carson’s grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson’s dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the “Porcupine of Truth” in all of their lives.

Unknown-2

Publisher’s Summary:In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the LeningradSymphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives. Symphony for the City of the Dead is a masterwork thrillingly told and impeccably researched by National Book Award–winning author M. T. Anderson.

The National Book Award Longlist

17 Sep

Well, they’ve been announced and here are the nominees for YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE.

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  • Becky Albertalli, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • M.T. AndersonSymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad (Candlewick Press)
  • Ali BenjaminThe Thing About Jellyfish (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Rae Carson, Walk on Earth a Stranger (Greenwillow/HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Gary Paulsen, This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
  • Laura RubyBone Gap (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon, X: A Novel (Candlewick Press)
  • Steve SheinkinMost Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Neal ShustermanChallenger Deep (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Noelle StevensonNimona (HarperTeen/HarperCollins Children’s Books)

I’ve only read three of these so it looks as though I will have to make some adjustments to my “to read” pile…again.

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