"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 Printz Award winners...a little editorial comment

The American Library Association announced its book awards yesterday. After a long and tense Fall the Printz awards were finally revealed.

Award winner:
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick 
Honor books:
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner 
  • Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susan Cokal
  • Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
My thoughts:
     I was thrilled that three of our Mock Printz reading list selections were chosen, including the winner: Midwinterblood, Eleanor & Park, and Maggot Moon. Every year I worry that I will lead my students through reading books that are not even considered for the real Printz Award. In addition, several of my readers identified these three books as potential winners and fought for them valiantly. Midwinterblood wasn't anyone's favorite book but several students recognized its literary excellence.
     I was also thrilled that Eleanor and Park won an honor. In the weeks leading up to the Printz announcement yesterday the blogosphere was abuzz with chatter about books that were worthy and those that were not worthy of the big prize. Know-it-alls kept saying that they didn't think that E and P was good enough, that it wasn't perfect. I am so relieved that the committee didn't listen to all that chatter. After my deep disappointment over The Fault in Our Stars being passed over last year, I was really worried. Whew!
     Maggot Moon, which won the Carnegie Medal in UK back in June, was a very deserving book that didn't get the love I think it deserved during the period of chatter this past month. Students, especially my male readers, recognized it as superior writing, though many confessed that they weren't completely clear about all the action in it.
      The books I was sad/disappointed/dismayed that didn't receive any award were Boxers/Saints by Yang, and Far Far Away by McNeal. I am a fan of the latter book and thought it deserved something but one of the winners is a fairy tale, so it is understandable.  But Boxers and Saints were so, so excellent.  My only thought as to why the books didn't win is because alone each book was only half the story and the committee would have had to award two spots for the set or leave them both off. I'm guessing that is what they decided, two or none.
      By and large, however, I am quite pleased with this year's list of Printz winners. Congratulations to all the winning authors. What do you think of the list?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Read the ALA Young Adult Award Winners Challenge...just announced today, January 27

Just announced today: the American Library Association Book Awards. Join me in reading all the YA winners this year. Several of the categories have winners that I would consider Middle Grade books. I will note those and you can decide if you want to skip them. Sign up to join me by adding your name and website or email in the comment section.

See the whole list at the ALA website here. Honor books for each category will be listed there. This challenge is to read just the winners.

YA Titles, ALA Awards

1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
2. Schneider Family Book Award (Living with a disability)
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
3. Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences (Pick one of ten)
  • Brewster by Slouka; Death of Bees by O'Donnell; Golden Boy: a novel by Tarttelin; Help for the Haunted by Searles; Lexicon by Barry; Life of Tao by Chu; Mother, Mother: a novel by Zailckus; Relish by Knisley; The Sea of Tranquility by Millay; The Universe Verse Alex Wood by Extence.
4. Margaret A. Edwards Award (Read one book by the winning author)
  • Markus Zusak (Choose one: Book Thief; I Am the Messenger; Fighting Ruben Wolfe; Getting the Girl)
5. Mildred L. Batchelder Award (Translation)
  • Mister Orange by Truus Matti, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson (Book is aimed at the young end of YA or possibly middle grade readers)
6. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBT)
  • Fat Angie by E. Charlton-Trujillo
7. William C. Morris Award (First novel by author)
  • Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
8. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
  • Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Capture the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb
9. Odyssey Award (audiobook)
  • Scowler by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne
10.Pura Belpre Author Award
  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
11. Coretta Scott King Author Award (African American Author)
  • P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Aimed at middle grade or junior readers)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Salon, January 26

Lego Church
Weather: sunny and cold; it was foggy until 3 PM. Yesterday was gorgeous. Sunny and warm, around 50 degrees. People were out washing their cars, including us.

Pomegranates: I've decided that pomegranates are the perfect diet food because they take so much work to eat with each seed being so difficult to extract from the fruit without popping it. My husband bought some pomegranate yogurt and it not only had the fruit and flesh but the seeds. That is not my idea of a ladylike way to eat ones yogurt---taking a bite of yogurt and then spitting out the seeds. I just took a look at the health benefits and I'd say this is a very worthy fruit to eat.

Church leadership retreat: yesterday I attended a one-day workshop on church leadership. It really was well-done and gave me a lot to think about. One of the gems that has caused me to pause and think is the issue of people that volunteer to do everything at church (or in any organization) make it so that others won't step up. Our church is going through a time of change. One thing is for sure, we are not lego church. (See picture above.)

Mock Printz Workshop: Thursday, January 23rd after school, 25 of the 52 participants stayed after school and we talked books and voted on the books they thought would win the Printz Award this year.  That announcement comes tomorrow. The students passion for books and reading was palpable. It gives me goosebumps to think about it.  What fun.  If you want to know how I go about doing a Mock Printz event, here are the steps I follow. I wrote this up last year. The results of our 2014 Mock Printz vote is listed here.

Jane Austen week is coming soon: right after the Mock Printz was over a girl came up to me and asked when Jane Austen week is going to be this year. I was so tired from the big event I couldn't get my brain around turning around immediately to next big event in the life of my library. But on my drive home I thought about it and decided that she was right. We need to turn our attention to the next thing before we lose the momentum. So stay tuned for details soon.

Spicy soups the order the week: Mulligatawny Soup which is an Indian-spiced soup with lots of veggies, and Senegalese Peanut soup which has pureed garbanzo beans and peanut butter along with more curry. Tonight we are having roasted vegetables---a new favorite dish to make.

Lacuna at book club a hit: This month my SOTH Book Club read Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna which is over 500 pages on the dense topics of the politics of the first half of the twentieth century, mainly in Mexico and United States. It touched on the labor movement, socialism, Trotsky, Communism, and McCarthyism. I was just sure that I would be the only one to finish the book, let alone like it. But I was wrong. We had our best book club discussion ever. Of the fourteen gals in attendance, only two didn't like it/finish it. Everyone else really liked it and our discussion was so stimulating.

The Hobbit, Part two---my hubby and I finally got out to see the second of three parts of The Hobbit. I enjoyed it but it didn't seem to follow the book very well.

Books completed this week:

  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown---last week I reported that reading this book was a little like doing homework. Around page 250 the narrative finally picked up and I was able to quickly finish the book. It is a very inspiring story, worth the effort to read it. A RHS book club selection for this coming Wednesday.
  • The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje---a thought-provoking book about events that change the whole trajectory of our lives. This is about a boy who has a 21-day voyage from Ceylon to Great Britain in the 1950s and how this trip changed his life. Another SOTH book club selection

Currently reading:

  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth, It is the third book in the very hot Divergent series. This is my audiobook selection right now.
  • The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell---yet another RHS book club selection. This one I am not enjoying. I sincerely hope it improves soon or I think we have a dud on our hands.
  • March (Book One) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, with illustrations by Nate Powell---this graphic biography is about the early life of Congressman John Lewis and how he became involved in the Civil Rights movement.
Prayers for: our friend Marty and his wife, Janet. Marty has Lupus and is not responding to any treatments. Janet is so frustrated and sad.

Prayer for the week: "O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by aths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that you hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."---from the Lutheran Worshipbook

Have a lovely week. Look for the ALA Award book announcements tomorrow!  Can't wait!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Mock Printz...the results are here

Today was the Mock Printz Workshop at GKHS!

Before I give you the results of our votes, let me tell you a little about the event.

Around 25 students joined me after school for two and a half hours of bookish fun. I started with an introduction to the Printz Award and talked about literary excellence. Next I asked seniors to read a portion of what the Printz committee said about some of the winning books in the past. I reminded them, with the exception of Looking for Alaska, most Printz winners aren't the most popular books of the year. I wanted them to hold this in their minds as we started to talk about the books. Next we voted without any discussion. Students were asked to only vote for their favorite book that they read. We were working off a reading list of 17 books. Most kids only read five of the books. I wanted them to identify what they liked in their favorite before they were swayed by talk from louder voices in the room.

At this point only three books were kicked off the list because no one voted for them. Now the book discussions began and kids were very articulate and passionate. After our second round of voting our winner was very clear. We continued our discussion to select three honor books. Two books that didn't end up with enough votes to make our list were valiantly fought for by several students, In the Shadow of the Blackbird by Winter, and The Summer Prince by Johnson. At this point a school administrator walked through the library. I was so proud of the passion this group of students showed toward books and reading and how well they articulated their arguments for their choices.

After the event was over and students were packing up to head home, two students stopped off the ask me how one becomes a high school librarians because THEY WANT TO BE ONE.  How fun! After a super fun bookish event to have a student recognize what a cool job I have.

Now for the results:

Winner of the GKHS Mock Printz Award:

Winger by Andrew Smith--- students just gushed their praise of this book. One student spoke for the group when he said that the author got teenagers just right. It was spot on.  They could imagine having the conversations, or being in the exact situations that were part of the story. The language, the drinking, the peer pressure, all of it was perfect,  just right.

Honor Books:

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell--- students actually didn't talk about this book as much as I expected but they sure voted for it. One girl said that this was by far the most touching book of the year. Another commented about the wonderful use of two narrators. Some students were unsure what they thought of the ambiguous ending. Others felt that it wasn't ambiguous at all.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal--- three of the five senior boys on the team argued passionately for this book. They were very convincing and it ended up tying E & P as our second choice. They felt the development of the plot was so clever. McNeal obviously understands fairy tales.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick--- students felt that this was such an important story and the characters were well developed.

My one disappointment of the day was that Boxers/Saints had only one advocate. It was a late addition to the reading list so only a hand full of kids read the set. Unfortunately only one of these students was able to attend the event today. She just couldn't sway votes her way.

Now we wait for the actual Printz Award announcement on January 27th. I sure hope that we picked a few of the winners!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My publishing wishlist

My reading wishlist could be summed up in a few words: more books for high school boys!

More specifically:

  1. Adventure books for high school boys. I can't tell you how many times I have heard boys ask for books like the last book they liked, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. There are adventure book out there but most are written at and geared toward the middle grade boy. 
  2. Sports books for high school boys. They don't have to have a romantic aspect to them either, or an emphasis on steroids. How about a sports book where a kid works hard and makes the team and learns about himself in the process.
  3. More teen mysteries where the main characters are boys. It is such an odd thing. Girls will enjoy books where the main character is either sex, but boys seem to only want to read books with male protagonists. So we need more of those type of books.
  4. More nonfiction written for high school researchers. It is my observation that publishers of nonfiction either gear their books toward middle grade researchers or adults, skipping over high school readers. Now don't get me wrong, high schoolers are happy to use middle level books for their research so they don't have to work very hard to find the information. But we need to encourage students to read at or a little above their grade level, not below, particularly in this day and age of Core Standards.
  5. More humorous books with male lead characters. I can't emphasize enough how important this request is. Boys love humorous books best and there just aren't enough of them to go around.
  6. More books about Greek and Roman mythology. Boys love Rick Riordan books. Once they are done with his series they want to read something similar. Just wish these books were written at a higher level.
  7. Books set in Pacific Islands. We have a lot of students whose heritage is the Pacific Islands (especially Hawaii, Samoa, and Philippines.) It is difficult to find books in these settings where the main characters are high schoolers.
  8. Books about young soldiers. There are many of these books being published right now, but keep them coming. Boys want to read about the horrors of war and the heroic acts of young soldiers. These books are very popular in the library especially since we have a strong JROTC program at our school.
Not ten this week but if the publishers would get busy on my list, I'd be one happy librarian.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Salon...January 19, 2014

12th-man flag proudly displayed on our house. We are part of the 12th-man fans of the Seattle Seahawks.
Weather: foggy and cold. Yesterday was lovely, though. Clear with blue skies, the mountain looked spectacular.

12th-man: Seattle Seahawks (NFL football team) fans are called the 12th-man because they are so enthusiastic, loud, and spirited. It is as if the team has one extra man on the field with them for every home game. Everywhere in the Seattle area one can find 12th-man flags flying, including our house. (See photo above.) Our Christmas lights this year were blue and green. Don left them up and now they are Seahawks lights with a spotlight on the 12th-man flag. Go Hawks!

Musical memories: Yesterday as I sat in the chair at the hair salon I listened to the music in the background and was treated to a rush of musical memories that took me back to hppy times in my life:

  • Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)---when my parents were missionaries in West Africa our aunt sent my sister Kathy the Revolver album by the Beatles. It was our first Beatles album and we played it endlessly. Listening to Eleanor Rigby instantly called up that time, living in Liberia with my family yet loving the popular music of the day.
  • A Horse with No Name (America)---when I was a senior in high school I went to an America concert with my friends. I was such a huge fan I uncharacteristically stood on my chair and screamed.

  • Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet)---Don and I went to a Jimmy Buffet concert at the amphitheater on the gorge near George, Washington about 150 miles from our home. It was a warm evening as we sat on the grass and ate our picnic dinner and watched people around us getting drunk. I wore my parrot earrings. When the concert was over, and it was a very dark night, we couldn't find our car because the landmark, a big motorhome, had moved. So we wandered around the field doubling as a parking lot. It is a funny memory.
  • Below is a darling YouTube video of a young Elvis fan. Do you have a happy musical memory? Please share it in the comment section.


From the kitchen: lots of soup. Especially yummy---Coconut Chicken Curry soup. Also I made a delicious batch of chicken cacciatore with lots of vegetables so I could eat more with less guilt.

Books finished this week:
  • Round House by Louise Erdrich ---a modern classic, for sure. Can't wait to discuss this one with my book group.
  • Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman, designed by Chip Kidd---a graduation speech given by Gaiman last year, the book is a graphic design treasure.
  • I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano---bad poems but many are funny (see my favorite below.)
  • Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters---the #1 book in the Seven series, seven grandsons, seven adventures. This one is set in Africa and a climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 
I'm free!
I'm free!
I'm free!
I'm free!
I'm free!
I'm lost.
-Francesco Marciuliano (I Could Chew on This and Other Poems by Dogs)

Progress made on other books:
  • The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje---this is my current audiobook. This isn't a book, it is literature. I am savoring it. I just passed the halfway point
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown--- a book club selection; I am having to read this book as if it were homework, slow-going. Page 225 of 370.
  • Earth Girl by Janet Edwards---a dystopian novel. It is on my desk at school. I only read it at lunch so I expect the progress to be slow. Page 75 of 270.
Other bookish things:
  • I transferred Allegiant from a wma file into a mp3 file so that I can transfer it to my ipod. It will be my next audiobook.
  • I was invited to attend the Puyallup Library's 100 year celebration because I read 100 books last year. Cool.
Movie Nights: Don and I have figured out how to get movies on Amazon Prime so we have watched three movies in as many nights. My favorite, starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, is called Stand Up Guys. My husband found it so funny he was laughing out loud.

Remember---please leave a comment of a happy musical memory!

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Review: Boxers/Saints by Gene Yuen Yang

Boxers and Saints is a marvelous, and I mean marvelous, two book graphic novel set by the acclaimed author/illustrator Gene Lue Yang. In these books we learn a bit about the Boxer Rebellion in China from two points of view, because, as the info on the back says, every war story has two sides.

The Boxer rebellion was a violent peasant uprising in turn-of-the-century China. In Boxers Little Boa, a young peasant who learns to harness the power of the opera gods, goes after the European outsiders for destroying their ancient traditions and rituals. In Saints, a young Chinese girl, Four-Girl, converts to Christianity and finds acceptance and purpose that she couldn't find at home. Their stories collide as the two sides come to blows. David Berry, writing for Afterward sums it up this way: "Boxers and Saints is at once historical fiction, mythical tale, and modern dilemma."

I thought a lot about the modern dilemma aspect of history as I enjoyed these books. As a Christian I believe that "Jesus is the way" but do I have the right to go to another part of the world and tell people that their ways are wrong because they don't match mine? I would certainly hate it if someone attempted to do it to me or to my family members. It brought to mind books I've read in the past like Things Fall Apart by Achebe and The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver which speak to a similar subject in Africa. And I continued thinking about the dilemma when I recently read The Round House by Erdrich which touches on injustices to Native Americans by the government and the church.

Because Yang uses the graphic novel so well information about this time period in China will be easily accessible to young adults. I wasn't the hugest fan of his award-winning graphic novel American Born Chinese, but I will fall all over myself with praise for this set and see it as one of the front-runners for this year's Printz Award.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I want to read what I want.

"I want to read what I want." Ever feel like this? I do!

Every day, as a public high school librarian, I feel like I need to read as many YA books as possible so that I can make recommendations to my students. Great books languish on the shelves if I can't talk kids into reading them, and I have a hard time talking them up if I haven't read them. So, even though I do make decisions of what to read within this category, I often feel like I "have" to read books that I'd really rather not read.

In addition, I am in two book clubs. Every month that means I "have" to read two books that may or may not ones I would have selected otherwise. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy most of them. As soon as someone says I have to read book, a part of me turns all teenager inside and I drag my feet about reading it. It must be some psychological phenomenon---as soon as the words "have to" are spoken, I feel the opposite. Ha!

With these feelings of wanting to read what I want to read swirling around in my head I dropped by the public library to pick up a book I placed on hold for book club next month. As I walked in
I stopped off to browse the rack of new books. I ended up walking out with four books I had no idea I wanted to read until just that moment:

  • I Could Chew on This: and Other Poems by Dogs by Francesco Marciuliano
  • How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig
  • Fantastic Mistakes: Neil Gaiman's 'Make Great Art' Speech
  • The Maid' Version by Daniel Woodrell (this is the book I went for)

Now, to be honest, I probably won't read all three of these extra books, but it felt like an act of defiance just checking them out.  My-my, so pathetic, huh?

Am I the only person who experiences these feelings of wanting to read what I want to read and then feeling defiant when I do select them?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Salon...Jan 12

Flowers I gave myself to help brighten the house and the dark days.
Weather: Miserable. Wet, rainy, windy, grey. Really depressing. : The kind of weather that the Pacific Northwest is famous for but it is actually less common that one would think.

Soup this week: my New Year's resolution is to become fit and trim. To get me going I've been making soup for dinner all week...Hearty Vegetable soup; Taco soup; and Zuppa Toscano. Later this week I plan to make curry chicken soup. It is perfect weather for soup.

Wii: In addition to eating soup it is time to get active so I dusted off the Wii Fit Plus. It must be hilarious to see me doing all the little tasks, like flapping my arms like a flying chicken, or twirling a virtual hula-hoop. I've also attempted (and failed) to take the dog for a walk every day. (See the above comment about the weather.)

Back to work after winter break: was a bit of a shock to my system. It is very nice to have my clerk back after her extended illness. She is working hard, making up for lost time.

Here there be dragons and other magical creatures: the highlighted genre of the month is Fantasy.

Currently reading (I didn't finish ANY books this week):

  • Earth Girl by Janet Edwards---This book is my lunchtime book so it make take me a good long time to finish. Dystopian/Utopian.
  • Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters---part of the Seven series, seven adventure YA books.
  • Round House by Louise Erdrich--- my audiobook selection; this book has all the makings of a modern classic.
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown---nonfiction, book club selection about the USA 1936 Rowing team. It is slow going at this point.

Catching Fire: we finally went to the movie theater to see Catching Fire, #2 in the Hunger Games series. Loved it. I tried to recall the items they left out it but it didn't seem like anything crucial. Well done.

Poetry: This week I am hosting the school-wide Poetry Out Loud contest. Poetry feed my soul. Here is a portion of a poem (lyrics) by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan that we sang today in church. Enjoy!

O Christ, Surround MeGod be in the love to search and keep me;
God, be the prayer to move my voice;
God, be the strength to now uphold me.
O Christ surround me, O Christ surround me.
Walking behind to hem my journey,
Going ahead to light my way,
and from beneath, above and all ways,
O Christ surround me, O Christ surround me. 
                                                 by R.B.Colligan
May your week be filled with poetry, too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Applying mathematical approach to 2014 Printz selection

Every year about this time I start obsessing about the possible Printz Award books. In September two other high school librarians joined me in selecting a handful of books we think might be potential Printz award winners. Then we set a team of students to work reading them. This year we selected 15 books. See list here. I had an initial team of over 50 students willing to make a stab at reading at least five of the books on the list. They also agreed to attend the workshop where we, the team, would pretend to be the Printz selection committee choosing the book we think will be the winner. My team has whittled itself down to around 30 loyal readers. I can't wait for the Mock Printz Workshop which will be on January 23rd after school.

For the workshop I like to be uber prepared with information about the books, the authors, and the whole Printz selection process. In addition, I want to have an idea what other bloggers and reviewers are saying about the books. This year I decided to look at this information with a mathematical eye to help me make informed decisions.

Starred Reviews. Professional book review sites like School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist will give starred reviews to books they deem worthy. This is different than the stars given to books on Amazon or Goodreads, so if I say that a book has five starred reviews it means that five of those professional book review sites selected the book as special. If it has only two starred reviews only two of those reviewing sites thought this book deserved the extra special attention. And so forth. Of the books published this year for young adults receiving starred reviews these are the top:

5 starred reviews
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell* +5
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal* +5
  • March, Book One by John Lewis +5
4 starred reviews
  • Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black* +3
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty* +3
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff ** +3
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell +3
3 starred reviews
  • Boxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang** +1
  • Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson* +1
  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry +1
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein +1
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner* +1
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick* +1
  • The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky +1
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winter* +1
 A few years ago the book Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley had only one starred review before winning the coveted Printz Award. Starred reviews are not the be-all-end-all predictor, but they are a tool to use, particularly in guiding book selections for reading.

In addition professional book reviewing sites and some newspapers publish their list of favorite books at the end of the year. At this time they cull through their own starred reviews and select their best of the best. I looked at six sites that published end of the year "FAVORITES" lists:
-New York Times- Notable Children's Books;  (N)
-Hornbook-Fanfare! ;  (H)
-Publisher'Weekly- Best 20 books of 13 ; (P)
-School Library Journal- Best Books of 2013, fiction (S)
-Kirkus Reviews-Best Teen Books of 2013  (K)
-Booklist Online- Editors Choice, Young Adults  (B)

Here is what I found:

On all six lists:
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell* (all) +5
  • Boxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang* (all) +5
On four lists:
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal* (S,B,H,P) +3
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (S,K,P,N) +3
On three lists:
  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry (S,K,H) +1
  • Reality Boy by A.S.King (S,K,P) +1
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty* (S,K,H) +1
  • Picture Me Gone Meg Rosoff (B,P,N) +1
  • Winger by Andrew Smith (B,K,P) +1
Another thing to consider is the National Book Award finalists: (These are announced in November.)

  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal +1
  • Boxers/Saints by Gene Luen Yang +1
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff +1
  • the other finalist and winner are books more geared toward the middle grade reader.

And the Horn Book/Boston Globe winner and finalists: (Announced in May)

  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell-winner +2
  • A Color of White by Jaclyn Moriarty- finalist +1
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman- not eligible for Printz this year because it was published last year.

Now to my complicated mathematical scoring to determine my prediction of the winner and honor books. I will use the scoring method used for dual track meets at the high school: 5 pt for 1st; 3 for 2nd; and 1 pt. for 3rd. I will also give additional points for placement on the National Book Award and Horn Book Awards.  See scoring in red above.

Now for the total points:

Eleanor and Park= 12 pts.
Far Far Away= 9 pts.
Boxers/Saints= 7 pts.
Picture Me Gone= 5 pts.
March, Book One= 5 pts.
A Corner of White= 5 pts.
A Rose Under Fire= 4 pts.

Based on my elaborate and complicated scoring system I predict that Eleanor and Park will take the 2014 Printz Award. Far Far Away and Boxers/Saints should take honors for sure and the judges will have to employ some other scoring system to break the tie further down my list.  Ha!

What do you think of my scoring system? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Let's hear your opinion now.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Must view poem

A poem for today. 
Please listen to it all the way through. 

 Lost Generation 
by Jonathan Reed, read by Brooke Wojdynski

Thanks Laurie at What She Read for posting this on your blog so that I found it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

Last January when the Printz Awards were announced I was shocked, I mean super shocked that The Fault in Our Stars did not win a Printz Honor. All the books that did get recognized by the Printz Committee were books that reviewers on the blogosphere were talking about. All but one, this book, The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna was a complete outlier. No one was talking about this book at all. I didn't even know it existed and it won a Printz Honor? "How dare the committee select such a book when they could have selected TFIOS," I thought. So with those thoughts swirling around in my head it has taken me almost a year before being ready to read the book, and read it with bias, mind you. In fact, I admit that I was completely ready to hate this book, that is until I actually started reading it. It still isn't my favorite book, but it certainly is a good one with a very unique narrator.
Taylor Jane Simon is a nineteen-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome. She travels to France with her mother to be a personal assistant to a boy with cerebral palsy. She wants the job so that she can add a reference to her resume so, when she goes back to Canada at the end of the summer, she can get a real job and eventually gain her independence from her parents.

I know. That description makes the book sound really boring. But what is very interesting about the book is how authentic it feels.  The author, Beverley Breanna, got the voice of Taylor just right. As I read her thoughts and her dialogue with other characters I was instantly reminded of students who also have Asperger's Syndrome. The book is also insightful and instructive about what a person with Asperger's has to struggle with every day to cope in a world where people think so differently than they do.  For example, Taylor's counselor helped her learn some coping strategies such has moving her anger down to her toes where it wasn't likely to hurt anyone. When she got angry every thing turns white and people lose all their vowels so it is difficult to listen anymore.

Just today I checked out a book to a boy with Asperger's syndrome.  The book was about knots and knot-tying. I made a little aside comment that I hoped he would come in and show me how to tie a knot when he was done reading it. He got this horrified look on his face. Not long after that the book was in the book drop. Poor guy. He was probably horrified to think about the prospect of "having" to show me how to tie a special knot, taking me at my word (like Amelia Bedilia) not at the twinkle in my eye. The White Bicycle is a good reminder that there are students/people out there who really do have to struggle with communication and need our help and understanding.

The cover, which I also disliked until I learned about its artist, was designed by a man with Asperger's Syndrome who uses art to help explain his condition.

A White Bicycle is a quick read at just over 200 pages. I think it is worth the time. Give it a try!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Salon, Jan. 5th

Weather: clear and cold. The sky is blue as blue can be and the mountain is visible, cold and distant.

Winter vacation ends today: back to school tomorrow.  How will I manage since I am like a teenager, sleeping half the morning away everyday? How will I cope having to get up at 5:30 AM? It has been a very restful back end to the vacation it will be hard to return to the bustle of work at a large high school.

Undoing Christmas: every year we take such care getting out the Christmas decorations and loving placing them around the house. It usually takes me days to accomplish it to my satisfaction. Then, weeks later, we have to undo it all. This undoing of Christmas also takes me a few days until the house is returned to normal. But this time normal seems so drab and colorless after a month of the house being decorated in lovely, bright reds and greens. I bought a bunch of flowers yesterday to display on the fireplace mantle just give a splash of color.

Games: three games have dominated this winter holiday: Chronology, Cards Against Humanity, and Dominoes.

  • Chronology is a card game one plays with a group of people where you have to properly place a card on your timeline according to it's correct spot in history. It sounds easy until you consider the topics they ask, things like so-and-so invented the paperclip in this year. It is very invigorating. The largest group we played it with was eight people. 
  • Cards Against Humanity is like Apples to Apples for horrible people. The cards are all awful and un-PC, which makes it funny but not for the faint of heart...which happened to be me several times. My kids think this game is hilarious.  I probably should not even mention it here. 
  • Lastly, we played a lot of dominoes, we play the Cardinal Train version and it can be played with just two people up to five or six. We taught a friend how to play and now she wants to come over to play often. My daughter and I played a game that lasted 16 rounds last night. We play until one person gets to 200 points, which is a losing score. She had a score of 140 after three rounds so I thought I was going to beat her in short order but that didn't happen and the game went on and on. Soon the dominoes box will be tucked away in the closet until next vacation. Sigh.

From the kitchen: Sticky Toffee Pudding. One of my favorite desserts of all time is the sticky toffee pudding at the Rim Rock Cafe in Whistler, BC. Last night, after the never-ending dominoes game, my daughter and I decided to try our hand at making this delicious concoction. We found this recipe on-line and it WAS delicious and not as difficult as one would originally think after glancing at the recipe. Visit Thibeault's Table to check out the recipe. Monday I start a diet, so this is the last yummy dessert for a while. (Going out with a bang!)

Our version of Sticky Toffee Pudding, ready to eat.
Books read during vacation:

  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver...another winner by my favorite author. This one about an " epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. "The Lacuna" is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities."-Goodreads.
  • The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna...a 2013 Printz Honor book about a young adult living with Asperger's Syndrome. Very illuminating.
  • Cats in Books: a Celebration of Cat Illustrations Through the Ages by Rodney Dale...I "won" this book as a white elephant at a Librarian Christmas Event. (Ha, we had white elephant books. Some were really funny!) I actually really liked this book.
  • Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff...a YA mystery that I am moving onto my 2014 Mock Printz list. (Click on hyperlink to see the list.)
  • September Girls by Bennett Madison...beside the authors's first name matches my last name there is not much to recommend this book. Which is really perplexing because one reviewer I read said it was in her top five to win a Printz Award this year. Hmm. Did we read the same book?

Books currently reading:

  • Round House by Louise Erdrich...a book club selection. I am listening to the audiobook. I really like the voice of the actor who is reading it.
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown...The boys on the crew team rowed for University of Washington so it has regional appeal. But I understand it is very good. Another book club selection.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snapshot Saturday, Jan. 4th

In a lot of ways undoing Christmas is just as big a deal as doing the house up for Christmas. I usually start by piling up the decorations on the table and from there pack them back into their boxes. I gave my husband a new, fancy camera for Christmas and then I asked him to take a picture of the undoing Christmas. These are the photos he snapped.

1. When my mother-in-law died I inherited her collection of Byers Choice Carolers. Here they are lined up ready to be wrapped up in a box for another year.
2. This batch of Byers Choice Carolers are still merrily singing away on a table nearby.
 3. The table contains items from the family room, items in the living room are still on display. I hope to get to them today before my daughter goes back to college.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

YA Audiobook Challenge wrap-up

At the beginning of 2013 I joined the YA Audiobook Challenge hosted by  book and a latte.com. I like to listen to books-on-CD so thought this challenge would be a good fit. Part of the challenge was to also complete a review of the audiobook. How did I do? I listened to 26 YA audiobooks, my goal was 24, and wrote reviews for all but three of the them. Not bad. I was pretty terrible about posting those reviews over at my host's site, however.

Below is the list of YA audiobooks with hyperlinks that I listened to in 2013. The highlighted books were my top books based not only on the storyline but also on the work of the voice actor who read the book.
  1. Dodger by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
  2. The Girl Who Fell Below Fairyland and Led the Revel There by Catherynne Valente, read by the author
  3. Railsea by China Mieville, read by Jonathan Cowley
  4. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, read by David Kelly
  5. Impossible Rescue by Martin Sandler, read by Malcolm Hillgartner
  6. The First Test by Tamora Pierce, read by Bernadette Dunn
  7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, read by Kate Rudd
  8. Dead to You by Lisa McMann, read by Aaron Tveidt
  9. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra
  10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read by Tim Burton
  11. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, read by Ari Fliakos
  12. Jepp, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh, read by Paul Michael Garcia
  13. The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr, read by the author
  14. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, read by Kevin T. Collins
  15. Etiquette and Espionage, Finishing School, Book the First by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quirk
  16. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, read by Lucy Raynor
  17. What We Saw at Night by Jacqueline Mitchard, read by Rebecca Gibel
  18. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, read by Barrett Whitener
  19. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan, read by Nick Chamian and Jesse Bernstein
  20. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama, read by Katherine Kellgren
  21. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, read by Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strohl
  22. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick
  23. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, read by W. Morgan Sheppard
  24. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, read by Christine Lakin
  25. The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer, read by Raul Esparza
  26. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
I really enjoy reading books in this format and can recommend just about all these books without a moment of hesitation.

2013 Challenge Grade Card

Happy New Year!

Here is my 2013 Challenge Grade Card. I participated in eight reading challenges last year.  How did I do? (Check out the specifics on my Challenges Page here.)

1. Big Book Summer Challenge: My goal was one book over 400 pages. I read five big books over the summer.

2. YA Audiobook Challenge: my goal was to listen to and write reviews for 24 audiobooks intended for young adults. I listened to 26 books and wrote reviews for 23 of them.

3. Goodreads Challenge: to read 108 books. I read 117. Woot. Woot.

4. Reading from my Shelf Project Challenge: my goal was ten books. I read ten+ books from my own shelf. Why not A+? Because I purchased five of the books new so I didn't really diminish my personal books pile as much as I would have liked.

5. Read the 2013 ALA Award Books Challenge: this is one of my favorite challenges, reading all the award winning books each year that the American Library Association selects each January. There are ten categories of winners for YA books. This year I read nine of the ten. Join me in reading the 2014 award books, which will be announced the end of January.

6. The Printz Challenge: Every year at the ALA midwinter meeting The Printz committee selects the best four or five YA books of the year. This past year they selected one winner and four honor books. I read all of them, finishing the last one today. In addition to reading current year selections I am attempting to read all past winners as well. I didn't do so well on that part of my challenges reading only two other winners from previous years.

7. Books I Should have Read in School...But Didn't Challenge: my goal was six classic books. I read five books that I should have read in school or earlier in life. Not bad but that is an 84%, a B.

8. Read all of Chris Crutcher's Books Challenge: this is an open, on-going challenge. Crutcher published a new book this year, Period 8. I read that book and no other books by this author all year. Not very good, but passable.