Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Reading Hat Trick!

The reading gods have blessed me with a third snow day this year and it was just what I needed to finish the third book in the Hunger Games series.

People, you need to read these books.  They offer great writing, suspense, and most importantly, concepts that deserve our thoughts.  Panem is a world filled with fighting, war, hunger, and a struggle to survive everyday.  I read these books and thought about the world we currently live in.

This is the stuff of which good young adult literature is made.  Heck, good literature for all folks.  These books, and other books like The Hunger Games, force us to see injustices in our own world, our own lives, and make us think about what we are willing to fight for.

Read em, it does a brain good.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lorem Ipsum

Hint: Do NOT google this book!
There is nothing like a Sunday afternoon and a really good used bookstore.  Today my friend and I wandered into a new one on our way home from lunch.  Lorem Ipsum, located in Inman Square, Cambridge, is a quiet unassuming little store.  I was deceived at first by the simple arrangements and seemingly few bookshelves.  I noticed one tiny spot labeled, "Good books for kids" and figured it was the only kids book section.  In this section of 20ish books they did have two books on the list in my brain of "Good Books to Buy."

"This store is pretty cool, but their children's section is seriously lacking," I mumbled to my friend.  Oh me.  Turn the corner and there was the kids book section I was looking for, which was NOT seriously lacking!  Although it was restricted to two and a half book shelves, these shelves were packed with the best of the best.  Soon I had a stack of books I had to have.  Then I added some numbers in my head and quietly re-shelved a few of the books. 

My favorite section was the quirky children's books.  (It had a really cool name but I can't remember right now...)  Here I found old copies of books, strange children's books never heard of, and titles that made me laugh out loud, such as: Peep Show: A little book of Rhymes. Ha!

I left the store with some winners.  Here they are in no particular order:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
A book I have heard about but have yet to read about an imagined history of our world.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Said to be the first picture book ever published.

John, Paul, George, & Ben by Lane Smith
Lane Smith, of It's a Book fame and also the illustrator of many of Jon Sciezka's books.  This book tells about the childhood of America's famous rebel-rousers.  "Say, you want a revolution?" the book asks.  It treats you to some fact and some fiction surrounding these men and then in the back lists all the parts that were fact and the parts that were fiction.  For example: "George chopped down his father's cherry tree."  False"  or "Silver buckles on shoes sure look goofy.  True."

I hope each of you is blessed to have your own local bookstore where you can wander around for an hour.  If not, maybe I will open one in your neighborhood someday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ambiance of Reading

My friend Marcus and I always talk about how there are some books we strongly associate with the places or times in our lives when we read them.  I remember reading The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway on my first plane ride back to Seattle in college.  Being in the air, the sun setting while we were flying, Hemingway's tales of a crazy life in Europe, these all inspired me to travel more.

It will be the same with the Hunger Games series.  Book one was read on a snowy day over winter vacation.  Book two was read on the first snow day of the year. 

Yesterday my librarian left book three in my box at school and today...SNOW DAY!  I know I will always associate these books with the content that can only come from being snuggled up, snow falling, and nothing to do other than read.

I must not waste any more time...going to make Mockingjay happen!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Books became her friends..."

Whew, I finished Catching Fire in such a hurry you would have thought I was caught on fire.  Now I am on the darn waiting list and I might just hop over to my local bookstore and buy the third and final book of the series.  Mockingjay will hold all the answers to my questions, and hopefully more!

Some fun and exciting things are happening in my book world.  I have had a lot more people asking me about the store, for book recommendations, and I even had the opportunity to read through a story that someone is trying to get published!  I should have started this adventure years ago!

While I am waiting for my copy of Mockingjay I have been reading...a grown-up book! (Shocking, I know.)  My grown-up book tastes tend to steer toward magical realism (think Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and the classics.  I am currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  Love, love, love this book and not so surprising why.  It is told from the perspective of a young girl growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Of course the first grown-up book I read in months is about kids!  As I was reading the other night I read the chapter when Francie, the main character learns how to read.  Of course.  Lots of love for books and little kids these days!

"Oh, the magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!...She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement.  She wanted to shout it out.  She could read! She could read!...From that time on, the world was hers for the reading.  She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends.  Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.  There was poetry for quiet companionship.  There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours." ~ A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And the Award Goes To...

This has got to be one of the best book weeks ever!  Not only am I blessed with an amazing book, and then the time to read it thanks to a snow day, bit it is also award season.

The American Library Association announced book winners in a variety of categories.  The Newbery Award for the "most distinguished children's book" was awarded to Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  The Caldecott Medal, awarded to "the artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year," was given to Erin E. Stead for her work in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.

Other notable awards, such as the Coretta Scott King Award, were handed out.  For a full listing visit the Horn Book's website:

Now I have some reading to catch up on.  I make sure to read the award winners and the honor winners (like the silver medal) each year, just so I know what the fuss is all about.  I'll let you know when I finish reading them!

P.S.  Thanks to my friend Rachel for reminding me that the awards were upon us!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive!

I LOVE my school librarian.  Before school started she walked in with a copy of Catching Fire (I have been on the waiting list.)  Catching Fire for those of you who missed my last obsessive post, is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. What perfect timing!  She told me the Mockingjay list is quite long but put me on the list anyway.  This is the first school I have worked at that has had a library, let alone a librarian.  I have to rocks and so does she!

And now, to crack open this lovely little present!  Cheers!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

And a Happy New Year!

Happy 2011 folks!  I am excited at the possibilities of moving forward with the bookstore idea.  I have been doing more research and asking questions over the vacation.  Starting your own business is hard work!  Fortunately, I have a job which fosters my love for children's literature, even if I don't have a bookstore.

I finished reading The Hunger Games over vacation.  It was everything they said it would be!  The author, Suzanne Collins, writes with such incredible detail that I was transported, every time I opened the book, into the world of Katniss.  The Hunger Games is a book about what happens in the future of North America.  The continent is split into twelve districts and all are controlled by The Capitol.  Every year, to remind the districts of who's boss, the Capitol selects two children from each district to compete, to the death, in these televised games.  Katniss's younger sister is chosen but Katniss steps forward to take her place.  What follows is a tale of both despair and courage.

My school librarian suggested I have the other two books in the trilogy in hand because I would want to read them immediately after finishing The Hunger Games.  I should have followed her advice, because I couldn't put the book down! I will soon be heading to my local library to pick up Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

This is a must read for any child ages 12 to 15.  It will open your eyes to what could be, a world of injustice and the role we each have in changing that.  Happy reading!