Tag Archives: OASL Conference

His tongue to paper

15 Oct

Oh man!

Last night I got to hear Jason Reynolds speak.

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He was the closing speaker at the Oregon Association of School Libraries conference.

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Once, I was a member of OASL and even served on the conference committee. This time, I just showed up for the culminating event.

Though he said he wasn’t feeling well and he clearly sounded congested, Jason Reynolds spoke powerfully. He made us laugh and cry.

He is a storyteller and he told us his story. What he did right and, perhaps more significantly, what he did wrong.

He told us how Queen Latifah inspired him and how he learned to write poetry. At times. he spoke directly to the kids in the audience about writing past the people tells them they aren’t (good enough, white enough) or that are wrong with them (their accent, their clothes) and just be them,tell their own stories.

Because it was an encounter with Christopher Myers, author, illustrator and son of Walter Dean Myers, that helped Jason Reynolds. Meyers told him he needed to tell his own stories to put his tongue to paper.

On October 24th, Jason Reynolds’ newest book Long Way Down,  a novel in verse,  comes out. I already have a hold on a library copy.

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Publisher’s Summary: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 

A Good Time Was Had By All

27 Apr

Every year the Oregon Association of School Libraries holds a big Fall conference. And every Spring, each region hosts a small conference. Fortunately for me, as the region 1 rep, I get the pair up with the region 4 rep to plan this conference. We decided on a poetry theme, since the one day event would take place at the end of April,national Poetry Month. Then came the scramble for presenters. I think we did a great job and ended up with a fun & informative day for people, who have some really great ideas to take back to their buildings.

First up was Nancy Sullivan, librarian at Madison High School in Portland. She shared her experience with poetry slams, which started small 10 years ago and has now gone city-wide with Verselandia.

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Tickets to this event, which is this Tuesday, April 29th,  are only $10! You can buy them HERE! I already have my ticket. Maybe I’ll see you there.

We followed Nancy;s presentation with on e by Deborah Vaughn, who is the Oregon coordinator for Poetry Out Louda contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. 

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Although the official contest is designed for high school students,we all went away with ideas on how to make poetry recitation work at any level.

I was the last presenter before lunch. I shred what I’ve done with NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month.

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After lunch, attendees shred their favorite poetry idea then rotated through three stations:  looking at online poetry resources,  browsing a selection of poetry books selected by  Multnomah County Library’s School Corps, creating a pocket to celebrate poem in your pocket day.

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It was great day and a good time was truly had by all.

 

Happy “I Love Yarn Day”!

11 Oct

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Today is I LOVE YARN DAY and I probably won’t have time to knit. I’m currently working on a Kithara Shawlette, which is the October shawl in my shawlette club at my local yarn shop.

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I’m at a conference all weekend. It is an awesome conference and I am most excited to see A. S. King. She is our Saturday evening speaker. I saw her at Powells last October, on a night of torrential rain & a presidential debate. There were only about 6 of us there, but she was great! Reality Boy comes out on the 22nd. I know it is unlikely, but I’m hoping she has some copies with her.

Tomorrow, I am presenting a session about the Teacher Read Aloud Book Club I ran last year. I am presenting at 3, the same time Kadir Nelson presents. If no one shows up, I will go to his session.

I will bring my knitting along, in case I have some down time. And so I can fondle some yarn on I LOVE YARN DAY!

Come to a great conference October 11th and 12th!

6 Oct

Here’s what I’ll be up to next weekend. i hope to see you there. I am also presenting a session about the Teacher Read Aloud Book Club we had at William Walker Elementary last year.

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The Oregon Association of School Libraries is “Branching Out’ and sending an open invitation to all educators to join them for the annual Fall Conference.  We’re thrilled that the conference is moving to Portland for 2013.  Jesuit High School in southwest Portland will be hosting this year.  We will still have the same high quality keynote speakers, authors, workshops, concurrent sessions and vendors as before.

Click HERE for registration information.

FRIDAY EVENING – AUTHOR DESSERT:  A.S KING

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Amy Sarig King (who writes under the name A. S. King) was an avid reader and thought about being a writer. What motivated her to sit down and start typing on her Swedish typewriter was reading one book a day for six months, with Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses physically moving her into the writer’s chair. Along her circuitous career path, she has been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, summer camp counselor, adult literacy teacher, and pizza delivery driver. After writing seven novels over a fifteen year time span, King’s first book The Dust of 100 Dogs was published in 2009. Her subsequent writing has won numerous awards. Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a 2011 Printz Award Honor Book, as well as an Edgar Award nominee, while Everybody Sees the Ants was one of YALSA’s 2012 Top Ten Books for Young Adults and an Andre Norton Award finalist. Her last YA novel, Ask the Passengers, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for young adult literature, a Lambda Literary Award, and a spot on School Library Journal’s Best Books 2012 list. Three new books will be published in 2013 with King’s work in them (two anthologies and a novel, Reality Boy), which we certainly won’t want to miss.

SATURDAY LUNCHEON – AUTHOR:  CARMEN BERNIER-GRAND

Although she was born in Puerto Rico, Carmen “T” Bernier-Grand lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and their bilingual dogs, Falcon and Lily. She is a multiple national and local award-winning author of eleven books for children and young adults. Recently, she wrote Our Lady Of Guadalupe, as well as the biography in verse Sonia Sotomayor: Supreme Court Justice. In addition to biographies of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Alicia Alonso, Don Luis Muňoz Marín, Pablo Picasso, and César Chavez, she is also well-known for her two collections of folktales, Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico and Shake It, Morena! And Other Folklore from Puerto Rico.

When Carmen was growing up in Puerto Rico, she had no idea that she would become a writer. Her teachers always told her that she had a great imagination, but she wasn’t sure how she felt about that because her sister Lisette used to say that making up stories meant you were a liar. In third grade, her teacher read one of Carmen’s stories to the class, and told them she wanted to publish it in the school newspaper.” Despite such an enthusiastic endorsement from her teacher, Carmen did not initially choose to become a writer. She studied and taught math and later became a computer programmer. After deciding to stay home with her children, Carmen felt the need to write. She took on the challenge of writing a story in her second language of English and submitted it to a Willamette Writers contest. When she found out she had won, Carmen determined that she would write for children with the hope of one day having her stories published in Spanish. We are pleased to welcome Carmen Bernier-Grand to the conference. She is presenting with Rosanne Parry on Saturday’s Session 3, 1:30-2:30.

 
 
 
SATURDAY DINNER – AUTHOR:  KADIR NELSON
 We are all excited to enjoy the work and words of Kadir Nelson, most recently author-illustrator of the children’s biography Nelson Mandela, as well as Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, and the award-winning We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. In addition, his gorgeous oil paintings have illuminated other authors’ work, including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s illustrated I Have A Dream, Matt de la Pena’s A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, and Carol Boston Weatherford’s Moses and Ellen Levine’s Henry’s Freedom Box for which he won a Caldecott Honor Medal. Nelson has garnered both the Coretta Scott King Illustrator and Author awards, a Sibert medal, the NAACP Image Award, the CASEY award for best baseball book, as well as having his fine art collected by major public and private institutions worldwide.
In addition to Saturday evening’s 7pm presentation, Kadir Nelson will be presenting a session from 3:00-4:00 on Saturday.
Click HERE for registration information.
Randy Ribay

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