Friday, November 28, 2008

Overheard in the library...

"...well C had the cheese touch. But he was really smart and gave it to the tennis coach. Nobody knew him. We think it's in Texas now!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Antsy Does Time

Antsy Bonano and his buddies Ira and Howie are spending Thanksgiving flipping channels between the big game and the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. They are just making fun of a marching band dressed in orange and pink when Ira notices the giant balloon featuring Roadkyll Raccoon is bucking and swinging in the wind. Next thing they see, Roadkyll is heading north with 3 balloon handlers still hanging on! The balloon alights atop of the Empire State Building, deflates, and the handlers are still there swinging from their tethers. Anthony turns to his friends and says, "Let's go".

On the train, they see school-mate Gunnar Umlaut. Antsy has known Gunnar since elementary school, but they don't really hang out or anything. In fact, this is what Antsy has to say about Gunnar:

"Gunnar's got long blond hair he makes no excuse for, and a resigned
look of Scandanavian despair that melts girls in his path. And if
that doesn't work, the slight accent he puts on when he's around
girls does the job. Never mind that he's been living in Brooklyn
since he was six. Not that I'm jealous or anything -- I admire
a guy who uses what he's got.

After the attempted rescue is over, Gunnar sways slightly and stumbles and Antsy asks him what is wrong. Gunnar surprises Antsy when he says that it's just part of his condition. He then tells Antsy that he has 6 months to live.

Now, Antsy has never had a friend who was dying before, and he has a need to do something Meaningful for Gunnar. Antsy comes up with the bright idea of donating one month of his own life to Gunnar. Sure it's only symbolic, but it's the thought that counts, right.

The problem is that everyone in the school hears about it and lots of kids want to get involved. Which would be fine, unless Gunnar is not telling the whole truth.

Antsy Does Time is filled with memorable characters, and Antsy's voice will have readers smiling. Even if one hasn't read The Schwa Was Here this title stands on its own. Antsy's family is having problems during this time, and apparently so is Gunnar's. Though the topics are heavy, Neal Shusterman uses his trademark humor to make the reading easier, and to add depth. Funny and sad all at the same time, this read for older tweens will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Around the Blogs

I have been reading, honest! Quite a bit actually. I just pitched a book across the room the other day. Not because I didn't like it, but because it ended just as it began! I will blog about it later once I figure out how to explain the crazy plot that works on a bunch of different levels.

Until then, I am hoping to get going with a new "Around the Blogs" feature. I do enjoy the round-ups at places like Jen Robinson's Book Page, and while this first round up is small, I hope that you find the links interesting!

First off, over at Kane/Miller there is a post about Canadian Children's Book Week. I have been a bad Canadian, obviously, since I hadn't heard about this week before. So head on over and check it out!

Next, Toad Hill has a review of The Diamond of Darkhold, by Jeanne Duprau. This is a series that I do not need to sell at school, and I have sadly not kept up with it. Those darn "to read" piles!

As part of the Blog Blast Tour, Mother Reader is hosting the fabulous Mitali Perkins. Mitali talks about her First Daughter series, and the companion Sparrow blog, along with her new book Secret Keeper as well as what she is working on currently.

And last but not least, PixiePalace has a piece about favourite fictional rooms. Jen Robinson and she have obviously been thinking quite a bit about this. I am thinking about writing the other side...what fictional rooms would you never want to wake up in? Hmmmm.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Much Ado About Anne

The girls are back! School is about to start and Jess, Emma, Cassidy and Megan are all heading into the seventh grade. Life has been swimming along for the girls, but there have been a few changes along the way. Cassidy's mom is still taping her show "Cooking with Clementine" and on top of this she has a new boyfriend - Stanley Kincaid. Cassidy is not thrilled about this. "Stan the man" is short and bald and an accountant of all things! Not at all like her dad, who Cassidy still misses like crazy. Emma is trying to let go of her crush on Zach. Megan is still finding it difficult to be in the middle of friendships with the book club girls and with the Fab 3. And lastly, Jess is feeling the stress at home. Her mom is back home at Half Moon Farm, but Jess knows there is something going on. She is hoping her mom isn't thinking of going back to the soap opera again.

It is time for the first book club meeting of the year and the girls are in for a surprise. The mothers went and invited Becca Chadwick and her mom to join. They figured the invitation would help "build bridges" between the girls and Becca. Emma especially, isn't pleased with this addition, because Becca does fling an inordinate amount of torture her way.

Once the first meeting is in full swing, they moms and daughters set about the big task of choosing the next bookclub read. Little Women won't be easy to top. Many titles are tossed about, but either Emma has read them already or they don't meet Mrs. Chadwick's criteria for appropriate themes. Finally they settle on Anne of Green Gables.

What will happen to the dynamics of the book club once Becca has access to what really goes on? Will the girls be able to be themselves with Becca around? Can the mothers survive having Mrs. Chadwick in the book club as well?

Along the way Jess discovers why her parents are stressed. Her mom isn't leaving, but Half Moon Farm is in trouble. If they don't raise the money to pay their taxes in time, Jess may be on her way to NYC to live! The girls must band together to try to help out, and they must use their talents along the way to ensure success.

Heather Vogel Frederick has written a delightful sequel to The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Each character grows within the story, and the girls are growing up in a realistic fashion as well. In these crazy times where so many lives are filled with stress, it is refreshing to sit down and read a book that highlights family and simple pleasures like ice-skating, book clubs, and camping trips (ill-fated though they may be!) Heather Vogel Frederick manages to pull this off without seeming too good to be true or treacle in the least. Fans of the first book, as well as those who enjoy Birdsall, and Lucy Maud Montgomery will eat this up.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Sisters 8

Annie, Durinda, Georgie, Jackie, Marcia, Petal, Rebecca and Zinnia are sisters. In fact, they are octuplets. On New Years Eve 2007, their lives suddenly changed. Their mother went to the kitchen to get some eggnog, and their father went outside to chop some wood, and they simply never returned. The girls frantically go around the house looking for their parents but all that they find is a note. An unsigned note telling the sisters that they each possess a power, and will each find a gift, before they can discover what happened to their folks.

How can eight girls (and their eight cats) find their powers, gifts, and parents while figuring out how to do things like paying the bills, making breakfast, and driving to school?

Each book is an adventure that leads the readers through a mystery where all of the sisters are involved, but the action focuses on one of the girls. Annie's Adventures highlights Annie and her power, whereas book 2 Durinda's Dangers highlights Durinda. Each girl has a distinct personality and the mix of all of them together results in something quite hilarious.

Part Snickett, part Dahl with a little dash of Gorey, author Lauren Baratz-Logsted along with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted have created a series that is perfect for the younger tween set. I have already test-driven the first two titles with my 4th graders, and they are bugging me for more. With 8 sisters, there is a character for every reader. Fun, fun, fun.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And the winner is ...

First off, a big thanks to the folks who commented regarding historical time periods, and books that they like to share with their kids. I wish I had books for everyone, but I do have the names of the 5 winners this time.

The Grand Prize winner of the books Take Me Back, Do Not Open, Pick Me Up, Cosmic, Dr. Frankenstein's Human Body Book, Cool Stuff Exploded, Eyewitness Expert: Knight, Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia, is Sunny!

The 4 folks receiving a copy of Take Me Back are Kelly, Jen W, Susan, and Librannie. So email me at with your info and I will make sure the books make it on over to you!

I had so much fun with this give-away that I think I will try to have some more! So stay tuned!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bookfest 2008

Well. Who knew that Brian Jacques was so funny?

After getting up early on Saturday morning, I headed over to the 42nd Street library, to take part in Bookfest 2008. Brian Jacques was the keynote speaker, and if you ever have a chance to hear this amazing author speak, you need to do so. After Jack Martin listed off his job descriptions prior to being an author, I knew that we were in for a treat.

Mr. Jacques told us stories. Stories about growing up in Liverpool. Stories about the library and second hand bookshop that he visited. Stories about his granddaughter Hannah, and about the children at a school for the blind that he used to read to. He told us stories about visiting schools, and the stories of the creations of some of his characters and some of the scenes that are found in the Redwall books. All of this was delivered with panache, and Jen and I found ourselves wiping the tears from our cheeks, we were laughing so hard.

Then it was time to switch gears and move on to book discussion. My group "Stories of Childhood" was well attended with attendees coming from all around New York State, and a few from Pennsylvania as well. We had a great discussion around the books, with Tasting the Sky, and The King of Mulberry Street garnering much of the attention. We were very privileged when Ibtisam Barakat sat down with us and became part of our group. The discussion became very passionate around the ideas of human rights, parenthood and writing outside of own experience.

The hour passed too quickly with a break for lunch where new and old friends could keep on talking books!

The afternoon brought an esteemed panel of Jeannette Winter, Ibtisam Barakat, and Walter Dean Myers discussing the timely topic of War and Peace in books for young people. Margaret Tice moderated, and each panelist spoke eloquently about why she or he wrote on the topic of war, and the tricky business of writing for young people.

Over all the day was inspiring and thought provoking. If you have never attended Bookfest before, do try it on for size if you are in the area. It is an amazing day!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bookfest 2008

Up early on a Saturday morning!

I am heading over to the 42nd Street Library where I am taking part in New York Public Library's Bookfest 2008. I am a discussion leader again this year, and my group is called "Stories of Childhood". We will be looking at five fabulous books including A Thousand Never Evers, Tasting the Sky, The Red Necklace, The King of Mulberry Street and The Dragon's Child. I am so interested to get the participant's take on these titles.