"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=========

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Taking a blogging hiatus

Photo Credit: NBC NewYork
I will be taking a short hiatus from blogging for a week. I hope to be back here by December 10th.

Never fear. I am taking a break from blogging to take a break (vacation) to New York City. Rockefeller Center, Rockettes, Broadway, and museums here I come.

See you in a week!



Review: Uprooted: The Japanese-American Experience During World War II

Last year marked the 75th year since the bombing of Pearl Harbor which catapulted America into the Second World War. Our efforts in that war were marked by bravery and sacrifice both in the Pacific theater and in Europe. However, at home less than honorable things were happening. The government, by order of President Roosevelt, rounded up over 100,000 Japanese-Americans and essentially imprisoned them in internment camps, not too far from what the Germans did with their prisoners who were place in concentration camps.

The year was 1941. The Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor and killed over 2400 people, while sinking or damaging a good portion of the Pacific fleet. People at home were understandably angry and scared. With pressure from others, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to evacuate and detain persons of Japanese descent living on the West Coast of the United States. Japanese-Americans, many of them who were born in the USA, were given very little notice to vacate their homes, were moved into holding facilities, and finally relocated to quickly erected camps in various locations around the country. Behind barbed wire and guarded day and night, Japanese-Americans were treated like they were the ones who attacked Pearl Harbor, like the U.S.A. was at war with them. To make this all the more galling, no similar camps were set up to imprison German or Italian-Americans even though we were clearly at war with them, too.

In Uprooted: The Japanese-American Experience During World War II author Albert Marrin takes a close look at the racism in America that led to the internment of its citizens and back-fills the events with historical events that led to that fateful decision. He also allows to reader to get up close and personal with life within the internment camps and introduces us to many of the prisoners in a personal way.

Even though I was on vacation in China I was determined to keep up with my readings for Cybils judging. As we traveled from Beijing to Xi'an via a bullet train, I settled in with my Kindle to read Uprooted. I expected to only learn a few things about Japanese history and then onto the American story, but I was surprised to find myself reading about Chinese history in the opening chapters of the book. Apparently Japanese history is very tangled up with its neighbor to the west, China. As I was rocketing past the Chinese landscape at 300 km/hr I learned about how WWII started in China in 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria in Northeast China and eventually drove further south and west attempting to capture the whole country and all its resources.  This long involvement in China is what ultimately led to Japan invading us at Pearl Harbor. Their commanders thought that involving the USA in a war would allow them to get the fuel they needed to prevail in China! How fascinating to be reading about this while I was in China! When I mentioned some of what I had learned to our guide the next day, he was quite impressed that I was so interested in their history.

Though we weren't at war with China, many Chinese-Americans felt the racism directed at them after Pearl Harbor, too. It really was not our best moment as a country and our ugly racism surely showed itself for what it was.  After the war ended, those who were interned were just released. No reparations were made for the businesses and homes they lost during the internment years. Many had to return to communities where they were met with the continual ugliness of racism. Not until 1988 did the government officially apologize to the 100,000 Japanese-Americans who were treated so unfairly. They also received a small monetary compensation of $20,000 each, which barely touches all they lost.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I like this book. It is superbly written and researched. The photos added to an understanding of how much devastation was done to a race of people even though they were American citizens. I highly recommend it to all readers, not just to the target young adult audience. May this book serve as a reminder that we will never again do such a dreadful thing to our own citizens.






Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Book That Made Me: a Collection of 32 Personal Stories

The Book That Made Me: a Collection of 32 Personal Stories edited by Judith Ridge is my kind of book. So when I saw it on the list of nominated titles for the Cybils, I jumped at the chance to read it.

32 authors and illustrators each wrote an essay for this collection highlighting a book, or several books, that came along sometime during their formative years and really spoke to them or changed things for them, possibly starting them on the path that led to writing.  The power of the written word--- it never ceases to amaze me how it changes lives!

Below are a few of my highlights from a book fulling of reading/bookish highlights...

Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Australia but is of Muslim-Palestinian Egyptian heritage. As a young girl she loved books but always found herself reading books about girls who looked nothing like herself. "And then I read Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi...I read it in one sitting. And then I read it again. And again. Something inside me changed." For first time in her life she found a character who didn't "fetishize" a migrant's upbringing. She identified with the character's world and challenges. "I couldn't believe that I'd opened a young adult book that spoke to my life. It was wildly empowering and gratifying."
There are books you read that make you hold your breath. It's only when you get to the end that you realize you need to come up for air. In fact, the origins of the word inspiration stem from the act of inhaling. There is something sensuous and visceral in the experience of being inspired. It felt it with Looking for Alibrandi (7).
Mandy Hager is a young adult New Zealand author who found her voice for activism when she read Nineteen Eight- Four by Orwell.
One of the characters in  Nineteen Eight- Four says: 'Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.' I say, rebel and be conscious! Let's all have a damn good stab at proving him wrong and making sure his dystopia can be forgotten as we work to build a utopia instead! (35)
Bernard Beckett is a drama teacher and playwright from New Zealand. One day when he was in the car with his preschool-aged twin sons he popped an audiobook into the CD-player of George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl, read by June Whitefield. The audiobook delighted his sons and they giggled away in the back seat. "And that moment reminded me of something that I, as a writer, should never have needed reminding of. That storytelling in its purest form---some words, a voice---is compelling in a way that no other medium can be" (55).
Who was it who said that 'literature in the only art form in which the audience provided the score'? I don't remember, and Google is being unhelpful. Never mind, the point is an important one. When we read a story, or indeed listen to one, the only way to comprehend it is to fully engage with it. The words must become alive in our heads... We own the story because we are, to such a large extent, creating it (56).
Ambelin Kwaymullina is a native Aboriginal person from Australia. She believes in the power of storytelling to pass on important information and traditions.
I want everyone who will come after me to inherit an earth bursting with diversity...and I know that the future is a story to which we all contribute. So look. Look ahead. Dreams matter. Every story matters, and we all have the power to influence the future (67-8).
Jared Thomas is a Nukunu person from Australia and a playwright. He identified The Power of One by Bryce Courtney as a book which helped him see racism for what it is and helped him on his professional path as a writer hoping to highlight injustices around the world. I honed in on this example because I, too, was deeply touched by The Power of One.

Shaun Tan is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. His drawings are distributed throughout this book. Each illustration captures one of the aspect of why he loves books so much. Below is just one of those as an example.


This book, which was first published in Australia in 2016 is a treasure, for sure. One criticism is that none of the highlighted authors are from North America. Though each of the 32 highlighted authors have important messages about the power of books to change lives, I wonder, as a librarian in the USA, how my students will relate to it, if they aren't familiar with the authors themselves.



Monday, November 27, 2017

TTT: Books On My Winter TBR Pile


Top Ten Tuesday: 
Titles I hope to read this winter...and an update on how I did on my similar list for Fall.

1. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. This is my Classic Club Spin book. I need to have it finished by December 31st.

2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A book club selection. This one I need to have read by our meeting in February. Can you believe I haven't read this book, yet?

3-5. American Street by Ibi Zoboi; Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham; and Release by Patrick Ness. These are the last three books on the Bethel SD Mock Printz list that I haven't read yet. I have until Feb. 7th to finish all three.


6. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. This is a book club selection for March.


7. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. This is the National Book Award winning title this year for Young People's Literature. I've heard wonderful things about it.


8. The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iture, because, um, isn't it obvious?


9-10. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.
These are two titles I will be suggesting we read in my other book club. I've heard so much about The Atomic Weight of Love, and Sing, Unburied, Sing is the National Book Award winner for fiction. If selected I may have to read one of these titles by the end of January.


Update: How did I do on TBR list from the Fall?





Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Salon... Thankful edition


Daniel, my son-in-law, with Ian. Photo credit: D. Bennett
Today I am thankful for:
Autzen Stadium, Nov. 25, 2017. Note the sky! Photo credit: D. Bennett
Weather: I may not like it, but I am grateful for the rain as we had a very dry summer and we need the rain to fill up our reservoirs and nourish the plants.
My parents, great-grandparents to Ian. Photo credit: D. Bennett
My parents: 88 and 89 years-old they are both plugging along. They were like the king and queen of the huge family gathering we had this weekend. Bet they will spend a days sleeping-in after we all cleared out today.
Thomas, the turkey chef. Photo credit: D. Bennett
Thanksgiving gatherings: this year my sister and her husband, Kathy and Tom, hosted the meal at their home. It is a lot of work to pull off a successful meal for fifteen people and they did it in a wonderfully warm setting with delicious food, too.
Nephew, Andrew and brother, Tony. Photo credit: A. Parr
My brother: His cancer, melanoma, is in remission and he seems to be doing so well. I am so grateful for the doctors who are treating him and for my sister-in-law, Becky, for her loving care for him over this past year while he received seriously difficult treatments.
Rachel after she found her wedding dress. Photo credit: K. Kingsbury
My niece: Rachel and Michael got engaged recently and this weekend we had a shower for her and were included in an event at a bridal shop where she tried on lots of gowns and actually said yes to a dress! What fun.
Ian with quite the hairdo! With Grand-aunt Becky in background. Photo Credit: K. Powers
Ian: our little grandson met his great-grandparents, his great aunt and uncle, and several second cousins this weekend. He was the star of the weekend.

Me (dark hair) and my siblings, July, 2017. Photo credit: G. Ruddy
Siblings and nephew: My brother, sisters, and I bought a dishwasher for our parents during the Black Friday sales. My brother and his son, Andrew, put in a new support handle in the bathroom to assist my father, (it doubles as a towel bar.) My husband put in some suction cup handles in the shower. Now we hope he will feel a bit more secure in the bathroom.
Bobby, my niece's husband, reading. Photo credit: A. Parr
Daniel and Bobby: My son-in-law and my nieces husband are such good guys and have integrated into the family so well. Dan engaged Dad and had him tell his old stories about his own father's adventures building the Panama Canal and exploring the Amazon river. Bobby is so helpful and friendly.
Rita and Ian, Nov. 25, 2017. Photo credit: D. Bennett
Carly and her friend Kelsey horsing around before Thanksgiving. Carly spent Thanksgiving with Kelsey's family.

My daughters: Rita, mother of Ian, is such a friendly, happy person and such a sweet mother. I heard her talking to my sister this morning and I felt so proud of the woman she has become. Carly spent Thanksgiving with a friend in Pennsylvania. I know she missed being with her family but she was in a good place with a family who also likes to play games. So that was good. She will be home December 15th for a month, but first she gets to host me and her aunt Kathy in New York.

Don and I at the game. Photo credit: D. Bennett
Football: I admit it---I love Duck football. Yesterday was the Civil War game vs. Oregon State. My mom bought tickets for ten of us to go to the game. Fun.
Bridal shower with the bride-to-be's mother, grandmother, three aunts, two cousins, mother-and sister
-in-law-to-be, and one friend. 

Prayers for:
  • Rocky---recovering from his surgery on his elbow tendon.
  • Andrew---for his job situation
  • Tony---for relief from neuropathy in his feet and legs. 
Books:
  • Locked Up for Freedom: Civil Rights Protesters at the Leesburg Stockade by Heather Schwartz. Read as part of the Cybils judging. Completed. Print.
  • La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman. The prequel to the Golden Compass series. Loved it. Completed. Print.
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. A bit of magical realism set in the Colorado desert. 78% complete. Audio.
  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Funny. 83% complete. Audio.
This video: Christmas season is upon us. The first Christmas video of the season from me to you.



You: I am thankful for all my readers. Thanks for spending a bit of time with my blog and be sure to leave me a note in the comment section. I'm thankful for comments, too.






Monday, November 20, 2017

TTT: Books I am Thankful for

Top Ten Tuesday: My gratefulness extends to books this week. Here is a list of books I am thankful for:

1. The Bible. I thought I'd get that out of the way "in the beginning" (yes, that is a pun!) This book is a life-changer.

2. Pride and Prejudice. I know. Everyone loves this book (and movie) but honestly this book and all of Austen's novels have really helped me as a reader...to not be afraid of reading classics; to ;understand that there is a good feeling of accomplishment when one finishes a challenging book; and recognizing that it is OK to love a book and reread it when I need  it.

3. Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden. When I discovered the Ten Poems series by Housden suddenly poetry was revealed to me. In his books Housden highlights ten poems and explains aspects in each against modern life. I read and reread these books for inspiration and I am no longer afraid to read poetry, in fact I crave it.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird. No book speaks to me more about being ethical as a person as TKAM. Atticus Finch is not only a good lawyer but an excellent parent, someone I try to emulate in my life. Plus, I love Scout and Jem.

5. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Western Edition. Bet you weren't expecting this, huh? I consult my bird book often as I sit and look out at the backyard when birds visit it. I love identifying a bird I haven't seen before.

6. The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved this series as a child. I read them to my children when they were little. We read them together after they grew up. I am grateful for all the positive moments spent with these books.

7. The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever. My mother read this book to us when my sibs and I were kids (actually the book was just a short story from a magazine at that time) and I have read it aloud for my family every Christmas since I had a family. I am grateful for special moments spent with family and special books.

8. Looking for Alaska. Before I became a teen librarian I hadn't been reading YA lit as a practice. I remember my first year of torturous book talks since I basically had no books to talk about. Then I read LFA by John Green. I was blown away by it and realized that YA lit had a lot to offer. The book also won the Printz Award that year, so I became aware of other fantastic books through that gateway.

9.  Cold Sassy Tree. If you have read my blog for years, you will notice that I list this book often because it is the book which brought me back to reading. I read a lot as a child and a young teen then basically abandoned reading (except books for classes) until I was around 30. Then I read this book. It blew me away and whet my appetite for reading good books.

10. The Book of Dust: La Belle of Sauvage, or my current read. This book represents my gratefulness for the book I am currently reading. There are so many great books and when I start a new one, I am always grateful for authors who think up the stories and write them down,  for publishers who make them available for readers, and for libraries where I can get them for free.

What books are you grateful for?


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Salon, Nov. 19

Part of the Summer Palace in Beijing. Photo Credit: Don Bennett
Weather: Novemberish

This week: I practically did nothing and hardly even left the house. First I think I was a little time warped after returning from China, then I came down with a humdinger of a cold and didn't want to go anywhere or see anyone. I'm home right now instead of at church for that very reason. Ugh.

Don and I on the Great Wall. Notice the poor air quality. 
Read. Read. Read: Because I was essentially house-bound I did a lot of reading, mostly as part of my role as judge for Cybils nonfiction. I didn't necessarily read all of each book but enough to judge the book properly for its award-worthiness

       Cybils candidates
  1. Earth Hates Me: Confessions of a Teenage Girl by Ruby Karp---written when Ruby was 16 years old. Fun and lighthearted, Ruby dishes out advise and wisdom for teens from a teen. (Read 50%)
  2. The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum. As the title suggests this book is about the last march of the Civil Rights era and about how Black P0wer emerged. It is a sad note on the inspiring movement and is not a remembered moment during it. Read my review by clicking the hyperlink on the title. (Read all)
  3. A Soldier's Sketchbook: The Illustrated First World War Diary of R.H. Rabjohn by John Wilson. Wilson was speaking at an event about WWI. Afterwards a woman approached and showed him her grandfather's diary which he wrote during his experiences as a soldier in WWI for Canada. This book has entries from that diary and the illustrations Rabjohn, who was a good artist, made of his experiences. (Read most)
  4. Geoengineering Earth's Climate: Resetting the Thermostat by Jennifer Swanson. Interesting and inventive ideas of ways that scientists are considering trying in an attempt to offset the effects of global warming. one idea is to launch little mirrors into the stratosphere to reflect back some of earth's rays. (Read 25%)
  5.  Game On! by Dustin Hansen. The history of gaming, starting with Pong. One could really geek out on this book. (Read 50 pages.)
  6. Far From the Tree, Young Adult Edition: How Children and Their Parents Learn to Accept One Another... by Andrew Solomon and Laurie Calkhoven. A rewrite of the National Book Award nominee by the same name. At 450 pages it is hard to see how this one qualifies as young adult, but the original is over 900 pages long! Topic: how we view ourselves and how to accept our children looking through the lens of deaf culture, dwarfism, homosexuality, etc. (Read 75 pages)
  7. To Look a Nazi in the Eyes: A Teens Account of a War Criminal's Trial by Kathy Kacer. A true account of a teen's experience attending the trial of Oskar Groening, the bookkeeper of Auschwitz. (Read 25%)
  8. How Dare the Sun Rise: A Memoir of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiymana. Sandra and her family were living in a refugee camp in Burundi when rebels came into the camp and slaughtered over 100 people, including her sister. After Sandra and her family relocated to the USA, she became an advocate for refugees worldwide. (Audio. Listened to all)
      Other books:
  1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. A boy hops onto an elevator on his way to kill the person he think killed his brother, an honor killing, when he is met by ghosts of those people he has known in the past who were also killed by guns. Written in verse. Very impactful.
  2. The Book of Dust, Vol.1: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. A prequel to The Dark Materials series. I am about 45% complete and racing to finish, as it is due back at the library in three days.
Outside the Forbidden City in Beijing with Ken and Carol. Mao was watching. 
Prayers for:
  • Mary, who lost her mother this week
  • Louise, who was hospitalized due to complications from shingles
  • Susan, who is receiving treatment for breast cancer and it is taking a toll on her energy
  • My father, he fell last week and is having trouble with dizziness and energy
  • Janet, who lost her father two weeks ago
  • For Bethel High School staff and students. Their principal died suddenly last week.
My China Update: I  published my last Sunday Salon on Tuesday and many of my friends didn't appear to see it. So I am trying again. Please click the hyperlink to read about our China trip. Thank you.
Statue guarding the Sacred Way, near the Ming tombs, China. Photo credit: D. Bennett

Terracotta Warriors in the Shaanxi Province museum. Photo credit: Don Bennett
Another cute Chinese kid. This guy was fascinated by Don.



Saturday, November 18, 2017

The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum, a review and a call to action

My nonfiction reading for the Cybils Award is progressing nicely. So far I have read 35 of the 64 books nominated. There are so many good books on a variety of topics. I am just blown away by the quality of writing and the topics which are covered. Today I want to talk about one of those books which has percolated toward the top of the list for me due to strong writing and the coverage of the topic.

The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum.

The year was 1966. The setting was Mississippi. In the beginning the march started out as a walk. James Meredith, the black student who integrated Ole' Miss University a few years earlier, decided he wanted to walk from the Tennessee border to Jackson, Mississippi in support of voter registration and to prove that he was not afraid. But by the end of the second day things turned around after Meredith was shot at point-blank range by a man with a shot gun. He survived but had to spend a long time in the hospital and recuperating afterwards. When members of the Big 5 of the Civil Rights Movement found out about Meredith's situation, they picked up the goal and turned it into a march.

Often called the March Against Fear, King, Carmichael, and many others started toward Jackson, stopping off to register black folks to vote in the towns along the way. The march took over 20 days and the marchers met lots of opposition along the way. In Greenwood, Carmichael was arrested for attempting to set up the tent where the marchers slept. When he was released, he spoke to the assembled crowd about the need for black power. His words became a chant. With these words the Civil Rights Movement seemed to turn, from nonviolence to something else. Suddenly supportive whites from the North turned their backs on the movement.

Thus this march was historic on many sides: it was the longest and most expensive march of the movement; it was the first time that revolutionary words of Black Power were spoken; and the movement never again held a march of any magnitude. In a lot of ways people want to forget it.  There was no happy ending to it, like Selma or the March on Washington.

A year after the march Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "It is necessary to understand that Black Power is a cry of disappointment. For 12 years I, and others like me, had held out radiant promises of progress. I had preached to them about my dream...I had urged them to have faith in America and white society. Their hopes had soared...They were now hostile because they were watching the dream that they had so readily accepted turn into a frustrating nightmare" (Bausum).

I read this book with my mouth agape. I had never heard of this event from the Civil Rights Movement and how things dissolved from here out. I know from my history lessons how things continued to degrade to the point of the race riots of 1968 and beyond. In fact, today we are still seeing the ugliness of racism in our country with the resurgence of the white supremacists movement and the negative reaction to the slogan "Black Lives Matter." It makes me feel sick.

I am so grateful for authors like Ann Bausum who continue to write about events from our past so that we can hold them up to examine and, hopefully, make some needed changes. After the election of 2016 when Trump was elected and the events that have followed it is very obvious that we cannot ever take out eyes off the prize. We must all hold voting as dear and not abdicate our responsibility to vote and allow others to do so, too.

I don't think this will be everyone's favorite book, but it is good to read books to educate ourselves and to make us squirm. Maybe that will cause us to get up out of our chairs and do something to better mankind! Read it! And, I want to point out if you are a teacher, Ann Bausum has a whole lot of resources on her webpage that you can use with your classes on this topic. Check it out.



Friday, November 17, 2017

Classics Club Spin Number is ...

The 16th Classics Club Spin Number is...

4!

If you joined the game last week, find number 4 on your Spin List! That’s the title you are challenged to read by December 31, 2017
As always, the prize is the reading experience. 
My book is: My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin.

Initial thoughts: About time! I've wanted to read this book since I saw the film back in the late 1970s. My mother thought I was like the main character: I guess because we both are headstrong with frizzy hair. 
What’s your #4 title? Are you glad, hesitant, excited about your title? Do tell!
Twitter hashtag: #ccspin