Thursday, June 28, 2012

July Events - Where's Waldo and Meg?

Look for this poster in July!
I may not wear my red striped shirt, hat, and glasses, but look for me in a city near you this summer! I will be making my way to the second star to the right, and straight on back to the East Coast this weekend and I am looking forward to attending bookish events in Buffalo, Boston, NYC, and possibly Vermont.

It makes sense that I will be wandering from city to city because the popular Where's Waldo book series celebrates it's 25 Anniversary this July.  Bookstores all over the country are hosting Where's Waldo events in honor of the sneaky guy who likes to hide.  Most events involve searching for Waldo in local stores and then returning for a prize at the bookstore.  Check your local bookstore to see if they are participating!  Need to find one?  Click Here

In the meantime, check out the events in some cities and bookstores I may be visiting this summer!

Los Angeles

July 5
* Author and illustrator Jason Chin will present Redwoods and Coral Reefs, 4-5 pm, LA Public Library, Central Library

July 7
* Carolyn Washington-Gaines will be signing copies of Blues!.. Why Blues and Latin Music?, 1-3 p.m., Chevalier's Books

July 21
* Bethanie Deeney Murguia, author of Zoe Gets Ready, 10:30 a.m., Children's Book World

July 28
* Nina Berry, Brigid Kemmerer, & Marni Bates present and sign Otherkin, Storm, & Awkward, Vroman's, 3 pm


July 1
* Tracey Campbell Pearson, author of Bob, will read and sign books, 2 pm, Eric Carle Picture Book Art Museum

July 2
* Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha Van Leer present their first YA novel, Between the Lines at the Coolidge Corner Theater, 6 pm.  Tickets are $5 at Brookline Booksmith

July 13
* Kathy Price presenting, The Bourbon Street Musicians, 2:30 pm, Boston Central Library

July 20
* Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, aka the Fug Girls, present their new book Messy, 7 pm, Brookline Booksmith

July 21
* DO NOT MISS THIS EVENT!!! Premier Screening of the new Mo Willems Films, Q&A and book signing with Mo Willems, 10:30 am, Eric Carle Museum

*  Illustrator Nicole Tadgell reads from her newest picture book First Peas to the Table, 2:30 pm, Eric Carle Museum

My Mecca...Books of Wonder, NYC

* Check out the Books of Wonder events here!


* No events but going to visit B is For Books, this Children's Bookstore my mom has told me all about! 

Montpelier, VT

July 12
*  Jennifer Gennari, author of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer will speak at Bear Pond Books, 4 pm

July 19
* Jo Knowles, Kate Messner, and Linda Urban authors of See You at Harry's, Capture the Flag, and Hound Dog True, respectively, will speak at Bear Pond Books, 4pm

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer!

Old Cover of Leaf Storm
Today is the first official day of Summer and my first day of Summer Vacation!  How about that for timing?  Yet again, I will be traveling all summer.  I've decided I don't want to pack lots of books as I wander around the east coast so I will be checking out some of the books from libraries as I travel.  With the help of award winning books, some recommendations from friends and students, and Twitter's #summerreading following, I have finally decided on a Summer Reading list.  In keeping with tradition I am reading another Gabriel Garcia Marquez book. This summer I have chosen Leaf Storm which is a collection of short stories.  This sucker was hard to find. I'm tackling more adult books this summer than in the past (usually I read one Gabo book) so we will see how that goes.   In addition to the summer reading list, I am also giving you a list of book recommendations from my 4th graders.  These were their favorites this year.

My Adult Books
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Children's/Young Adult Books
Pendragon by D.J. MacHale
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Fourth Grade random order
ANYTHING by Shel Silverstein
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate diCamillo
True...sort of  by Katherine Hannigan
Ook and Gluk by Dav Pilkey
Math Curse by Jon Sciezka
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Magician's Elephant by Kate diCamillo
Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sis
Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman
Eggs by Jerry Spinelli
Magyk Series by Angie Sage
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
Warriors series by Erin Hunter
Pokemon books
Shark vs Train by Chris Barton
39 Clues series by Rick Riordan
Super Fudge by Judy Blume
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Sunday, June 17, 2012

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

In high school, Papa Bear and I always rocked out!
Happy Father's Day!  Once again, I am 3,000 miles away from my parents on a day when I should be celebrating them.  I guess that is how this blog comes in handy.  Whenever I need to feel closer to the people I miss...I can find a good book and send a message to them!

There are a many things that make my dad super amazing.  For example, every year for the past 17 years he has played Santa Claus for the local elementary school.  He also produces concerts in our small town, hosting young musicians, Irish bands, budding young singers, and more.  He raises bees.  He is a spectacular grandpa.  He recently learned how to play the mandolin. And, he makes the best darn goat milk fudge anyone has ever had.

However, what makes my dad (I call him Papa Bear) the best dad is that he truly lives the saying, "When the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin."  When I was much younger, living back home on the farm, our family found ourselves in a tough situation.  Due to a lot of random circumstances, my parents found themselves without jobs, with 4 kids, living in a trailer on 32 acres in the middle of nowhere.  With lots of hungry mouths to feed, I can't imagine the amount of stress this brought my two young parents.  However, my dad did what he had to do.  I remember building picnic tables and selling them through the local Penny-Saver to help cover costs.  He took odd jobs that, with over 18 years of experience in the restaurant industry, he was way over qualified to take.  He made us chocolate chip cookies.  He always let us have the extra food if there were ever left-overs. My dad, being a Catholic man, read to us from the Book of Job reminding us that things could always be worse.  Yes, times were tough, but my dad got goin'.

Last year when I moved to LA, for the 2nd time, my dad took the trip with me.  At the Grand Canyon, when our tent leaked, and we could only fit one air mattress inside, he volunteered to sleep on the floor.  When I worried that I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to be, he replied, "Meg, I will drive across the country with you as many times as you need to."  As a 30-something single lady in the world, I have to say that I'm not quite sure I will ever find someone like my dad.  It seems lately that when the goin' gets tough, many of the young men I know run for the hills.  This is not to say they are all like that.  I happen to know a few dads my age who are rocking the dad role like superstars, just like my dad.  However, I have to say...they don't really make em like they used to!

Today, for Father's Day, here are some of my favorite dads from kid's books. 

Knuffle Bunny Too: A case of mistaken identity by Mo Willems

Trixie's daddy, making things happen...
Last Christmas, I blogged about Knuffle Bunny, in which Trixie loses her beloved stuffed animal.  Well, Mo Willems came back with the second Knuffle Bunny book.  (He actually has a third, Knuffle Bunny Free: An unexpected diversion, out as well.)  In this sequel, Trixie is older and the dad gets to play hero again.  Trixie accidentally gets her Knuffle Bunny switched with another Knuffle Bunny at school.  Why do I love this dad?  Because at 2:30 am when Trixie wakes up and realizes she has the wrong bunny, her dad does what he has to do to get the bunny back.  He and another exhausted father meet up to make the switch.  What great dads!

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle

"Papa got a very long ladder."
Eric Carle is known for his beautiful artwork and this book is just as impressive.  When a little girl sees a big, beautiful full moon in the sky she asks her dad to get it for her.  What else would an amazing dad do but grab the biggest ladder he can find and climb on up to the moon.  One added bonus to this book is that as the dad grabs the ladder, climbs to the moon, and converses with the moon about coming on down to his daughter, the pages of the book contain flaps that open up to bigger pages so the reader can get the full picture of this dad's dedication.  Does the dad succeed?  Of course he does!  Any good dad would find a way to bring the moon to his daughter!

Tom by Tomie dePaolo

Tomie dePaolo can do no wrong in my mind.  I have read dozens of his lovely stories, many coming from stories from his own childhood.  I love this authentic, personal touch to his tales.  A few years ago I happened upon his book Tom.  It is about a special relationship he had with the grandfather he was named after.
Tom showing Tommy how to "use" a chicken leg

For many of us, our grandparents are just as important in raising us as our parents are.  In this story, Tom is a butcher and Tommy often spends time with him at the shop.  One day, his grandfather shows Tommy how you can pull on the tendon of a chicken leg, after it has been chopped off, and it will make the claws curl.  (Too gross?  As a girl raised on a farm, I have to say this was my favorite part.  Who writes this stuff these days??  Nobody!)

My Grandpa McCullough, challenging my sister
and me to a seed spitting contest.
So Tommy, armed with a new talent, takes the chicken legs to school and frightens a few children...and then the teacher.  The school is not so happy and they send a note home with Tommy, probably for his grandfather as well. This is a beautiful portrayal of the special kind of relationships we can have with our grandparents.

Happy Father's Day everyone!  Make sure you tell those dads just how amazing they are! 
Papa Bear and I traveling across 'Merica

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Standing Proud

Before I even get to this post...I have to say a big congrats to the LA Kings.  A month ago LA didn't even know it had a hockey team. Tonight I found myself right outside of the game...amidst the "calm" before the storm...watching the game a good ten feet away from the game and it was exciting!  I left as soon as they scored their 5th goal to avoid the madness. So now we have a Stanley Cup and a whole lot of pride!

This weekend, many cities across the US celebrated another pride.  Pride Parades all over celebrated the freedom to love and be loved, with whomever and however you want.  As an educator, I have seen many different families.  Some have one mom, a mom and a dad, grandparents raising grandkids, step-parents, two moms, two dads.  As one of my students mentioned this year, it doesn't matter who is in your family, just that you love each other.  Today, I bring to you family books.  These books celebrate and honor ALL families.  I love that kids today live in a place where they are encouraged to welcome everyone, whatever their family looks like.  It is certainly a time when we can all stand PROUD!

The Family Book by Todd Parr

This book, which is banned in some places, celebrates the diversity of families.  Some families are big, some are small, some are the same color, some are different colors....but all like to hug!  Todd Parr knows just how to make everyone feel welcome.  Who doesn't love his wacky illustrations that feature people and animals as members of families? A great book to add to your collection!

You Are Not the Only One...Whose Parents Were Never Married by Ranada C. Shepard, photographs by Donyell Kennedy-McCullough

Ranada C. Shepard wrote this book, the first in the "You are Not the Only One..." series, for kids who might want to understand more about why their parents never married.  Kadin, the narrator, walks us through his two families and explains his feelings as he goes along.  Sometimes he feels lots of love, sometimes he feels confused.  There aren't many (if any??) books that guide kids through what it feels like to be moved between two households.  Kadin's feelings are honest and helpful to other kids who may be living in the same family situation.  I recommend this book for anyone whose child needs to hear what it is not be the only one.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Roy and Silo are two male penguins living at the NYC Central Park Zoo.  However, there is something different about them.  They cuddle, they spend lots of time together, and it is pretty clear to everyone...they are together for the long haul.  When a zoo keeper notices their efforts to try to raise an egg of their own, they are brought an egg to keep warm until it hatches.  Pretty soon, the egg hatches and they welcome their daughter, Tango, into the family.  Based on a true story, and a penguin family you can STILL visit in NY, this lovable little tale reminds us that love is everywhere.

I hope wherever you are tonight, whatever your family all give each other a proud squeeze.  A mom and a dad, grandparents, one mom, two adults with no kids and lots of cats, two moms, two dads, step-moms, step-dads, foster kids, adopted, inter-racial, four people or twelve people...whatever it is!  We are the future and our families are whatever we want them to be... with lots of love.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Summer

Where will I be reading this summer?  Boston...
In the past few weeks, Twitter has exploded with suggested summer reads.  For all you tweeters, check out the #summerreading lists. (follow us @EverAfterAlice) I am gearing up for my own summer reading list and it is going to be difficult to make my final decisions.  My students have been giving me lots of recommendations and all the lists posted online aren't making things easier.

In the meantime, here are some of the links I checked out via Twitter for you to peruse.  Do you have any suggestions?  Post 'em here!

Monica Edinger's 4th grade class posted their picks here.

Scholastic's recommendations here.

The Huffington Post suggests 50 positive books here.

And last, I found this amazing flow chart below on this website.  Kinda fun.

...and probably in a hammock somewhere!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June Events

Happy June!  With only 14 1/2 days of school left it seems like time is moving quickly and at a snail's pace.  Here are some events for you folks in Boston and LA.  Happy almost summer!

Los Angeles

June 3
* James Mihaley, signs and presents You Can't Have My Planet, But Take My Brother, Please at Vroman's, 12 pm.

June 4
* Leah Bardugo presents Shadow & Bone, at Skylight Books, 7:30 pm

June 5
* The Fierce Reads Tour stops at Mrs. Nelson's, 7 pm

June 6
* Michael Scott presents The Enchantress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel), at Vroman's, 6 pm

June 7
* Marissa Meyer presents Cinder, at Once Upon a Time Bookstore, 7 pm

June 9
* Stories in the Garden...with me! Micheltorena St. Garden, noon to 1 pm

June 23
* Francesca Lia Block presents Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat, at Vroman's 3 pm
* Tom Angleberger (of the Origami Yoda series) and Michael Buckley (Sisters Grim series) will present at Mrs. Nelson's, 4 pm

June 24
* Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan present Messy, at Vroman's 12 pm


June 3
* Ammi-Joan Paquette to read Track Mermaids at Wellesley Books, 2 pm

June 7
* Mother and daughter Cynthia and Meira Levinson share their new book Kid's Can Change the World, at Brookline Booksmith, 7 pm

June 9
* Children's Book Festival at The Carle! A Baseball Bonzanza from 10 am to 5 pm.

June 23

* Eric Carle himself will be at the Carle Museum signing, 10 am.  A limited amount of tickets will be available that day but they are limited.  Please go...because I won't be back in Boston yet!