Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Show Me A Story

Title: Show Me A Story: Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World's Most Celebrated Illustrators
Author: Leonard S. Marcus
Pub Date: 4/24/2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press

I think I've told y'all before that authors are my rock stars. I mean - it's probably like that for most everyone in the kid-lit-osphere but really. Authors. Unf. And illustrators? Those people who take words and perfectly encapsulate them into art? UNF! So when I saw this book was coming out I got super excited. SUPER excited. This book has interviews with:
Mitsumasa Anno
Quentin Blake
Ashley Bryan
John Burningham
Eric Carle
Lois Ehlert
Kevin Henkes
Tana Hoban
Yumi Heo
James Marshall
Robert McClosky
Helen Oxenbury
Jerry Pinkney
Chris Raschka
Maurice Sendak
Peter Sís
William Steig
Rosemary Wells
Mo Willems
Vera B. Williams
Lisbeth Zwerger

OH EN GEE how perfect does this sound? I can't wait to read it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Incarnate

Title: Incarnate Author: Jodi Meadows Pub Date: 1/31/12 Publisher: Harper Collins

Ok, so, I hate this cover. I almost scrolled on by this book because this cover is just so ... I don't even know. But the description caught me:

For the last five thousand years, the same one million souls have always been reincarnated into new bodies, retaining their minds, memories, and skill sets of past lifetimes. Always, that is, until once. Eighteen years ago Ana, the newsoul—nosoul, some call her—was born in another’s place.

INCARNATE is the story of this one new soul, raised in isolation by a mother who is ashamed of her. On her eighteenth birthday Ana decides to set out alone for Heart, the capital city, to find out why she was born. Ana hopes knowing why will show her what she is supposed to do with the one lifetime she’s been given. Led to believe that nosouls are worthless, she has trouble accepting the kindness of Sam, a (5,000–year–old) teenager who rescues her from a frozen lake she jumped in to escape Sylph, shadow monsters. Sam offers to take her to Heart, where he is assigned as her guardian. They begin to develop feelings for each other, but that is complicated by the fact that Sam is afraid to love someone who, for all they know, will only live once, who will disappear from his world too quickly. But in Heart, Ana is surrounded by people who see her as a danger and an ugly omen for the future—what if nosouls replace more people? The only way Ana can save herself is to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, and find the answer to the question of whether she will be reborn like Sam and the rest of the inhabitants of Heart.

Now TELL me that doesn't sound like way to much fun!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sunday Links

I had great fun looking through this database of what Americans checked out of the library a century ago. Thank you to Nancy Picchi for the link

John Pappas linked to this great article about a library that has a mobile devices display where you can check out the different types of ereaders and tablets there are so you can make a more informed decision before buying one. I'm on the Overdrive team at my library and we've had a couple of petting zoos with lots of devices and informed people around to ask questions of but I love the idea of a permanent display!

Anne Slaughter of the Oak Park Public Library took Ranganathan's 5 laws and updated them for the Virtual Library. I love this. But then again I'm a Ranganathan fan - I've often thought that if I ever get another tattoo it will be either "The Library is a growing organism" or "every book it's reader." Thank you Jeffrey Hamilton for the link!

Being the Fairy Tale fan that I am I loved reading Are Fairy Tales Ready for Children - it was a good discussion of Fairy Tales without falling straight into "Fairy Tales have sex and violence and therefore nobody should ever read the originals ever ever ever."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Advent Calendar

I just finished wrapping our advent calendar. A book a day for 24 days - and that will be our first bedtime book that night. At the end of January I’ll put the Christmas/Winter books away for a year so we can do this again next December. I did this last year - I got the idea from this lovely blog post.

I wasn’t thinking much - I wrapped everything, putting it into piles and now I don’t remember which book is which. Hopefully The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming is on #20 and hopefully the 2 I Spy books aren’t next to each other but if so whatever.

Last year half of the books were library books. This year they’re all ours! Many are thrifted and some are paperbacks that are about on their last legs but I’m glad that I’ve got an excuse to get a handful of fun new Christmas books every year. I’m thinking in 2013 the first book will be the best Christmas Pageant Ever and we’ll do a chapter a night. I’ll probably have to get a second chapter book for #15 or so. You know I love love love the ages the girls are and I don’t want to seem like I want them to grow up right away but I love thinking about things they’ll be able to do in the future.

Do any of y’all have a favorite Winter/Christmas/Holiday book for me to add in future years?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Magic Kitten readalikes

I recently talked with a group of first graders who all loved the Magic Kitten series. And I realized that there are a whole huge pile of books about magic kittens. And since I like creating booklists about esoteric topics here is my list of early chapter books about magic kitten (with a little bit of branching out at the end). (all summaries are from the publisher) (picture is of one of my adorable cats. His name is Furygosa and he's the sweetest little magic user in the world.)

Tiger Taming by Julie Sykes
When animal lover Max sets up a pet-sitting business, he finds himself looking after some very unusual pets. Max can't wait to take care of Miss Warble Itchy's black cat, Tiger. But a witch's cat can really be a handful-- talking back, drinking forbidden bat juice, and getting kidnapped by an angry wizard.

Paw Power by Kitty Wells
After Maddy buys a set of three ceramic cats at a mysterious flea market stall, one of the statues comes to life to help her stop a school bully.

Katie the Kitten Fairy by Daisy Meadows
When Katie's kitten is missing, her fairy friends help her find it.

Fashion Kitty by Charise Mericle Harper
After a stack of fashion magazines falls on Kiki Kitty's head while she is blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, Kiki turns into Fashion Kitty, a feline superhero who saves other kitties from fashion disaster.

Babymouse : Queen of the world! by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
An imaginative mouse dreams of being queen of the world, but will settle for an invitation to the most popular girl's slumber party.
(not about a kitten but I always like adding things to book lists that are slightly out of the exact specifications that will lead off into other passions!)

If you want to branch out to more middle grade fiction you can add in some of my favorites!
No Flying in the House by Betty Brock and Wallace Trip
Annabel Tippens seems like an ordinary little girl, with short blond hair and very good manners. But Annabel is actually quite unusual. Instead of parents, she has Gloria, a tiny white dog who talks and wears a gold collar. Annabel never wonders why her life is different, until one day a cat named Belinda tells her the truth -- she′s not just a little girl, she′s half fairy! But now that she knows the truth, will her whole life have to change?

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
Jason and his magic cat Gareth travel through time to visit countries all over the world during different periods of history.

And this list only has one familiar cat! If I opened the list up to all witch's cats it'd really explode.

What do y'all think? Do you have any favorite magical cat books? I'd be especially grateful for more very early chapter books because it seems that all the first graders are devouring everything I have!

Sunday Links

So my good friend Hummingbird Heart* has started a series on her blog called Origin Stories where she and some friends write blog posts about books that inspired us as children and how they have shaped who we have become. Her first one is on Enders Game and her second is on Harriet The Spy. I'm going to write one (I have a couple of books in mind, don't worry - I'll link over when I write it) - there are so many books that have made me who I am today and so many things to say about those books! Anyway - if you want to read some beautiful love letters to/about books then click on over.

New York Public Library has a children's librarian who has done some great youtube book recommendations! Her astronaut recommendations are below:

I'm inspired! I might have to make some of my own!

The Huffington Post, of all places, made a great infographic about banned books week. I can only hope they start adding previous years in because it really is a fun visual!

*Not sure if you wanted real names on other people's blogs, HH, so I'm sticking with this!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald

Title: Reel Life Starring Us
Author: Lisa Greenwald
Publisher: ABRAMS
Pub Date: 09/01/2011
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher
Grades 4 and up

Ok, this one was fun. I've been meaning to read My Life In Pink and Green for ages - I have a coworker who raved about it! So I absolutely jumped at the chance to read Lisa Greenwald's new book. Reel Life is one of those rare books that tackles huge issues but very much does it as just something that happens when you tell a good story as opposed to being a book about huge issues. The new girl Dee and the most popular girl Chelsea are thrust together to do a project for school. Dee wants to be friends! Chelsea does too but her friends think Dee is weird because she's so into filming everything. Chelsea is dealing with a lot of stuff - her father just lost his job, boy issues, mono - and while she wants to be friends with the new girl she isn't quite strong enough right then to actually stand up to her old friends. And she's dealing with so much stuff personally that she keeps being an absolute poop head to Dee. I hate feeling preached too (who likes that?) so it's nice when the book just is a great story and there are always important things to learn from great stories.

I especially liked the boy sub-plot. Chelsea's friends are all convinced she has a crush on a certain guy and she doesn't think she does and she spends a lot of time angsting about that but when she finds out that the guy actually likes someone else she gets super jealous for a bit - not because of sour grapes and suddenly now she likes him but because she was still thinking and it jolted her to realize that it isn't just her decision. That isn't an angle I've seen often.

Anyway - if you or one of your patrons is in the market for a good school/friendship book with a heavy dose of film trivia, this is the book for you!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Fun

Friend who had read my last blog post: So what book are you listening to nowadays?
LP: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - I'm absolutely loving it!
FWHRMLBP: Oh! More undead audiobooks!
LP: More like nonfiction medical narrative with racial overtones?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Undead Audiobook Roundup part 1

I feel like Twilight has made the Paranormal Romance genre both explode and also become a bit taboo for the discerning YA reader, ya know?  Who wants to admit to reading VAMPIRE ROMANCE?  Well I recently listened to a whole bunch of books and and then I realized that all of them were about the undead and half of them also had a romantic component to them.  So here is a quick round-up of all the fantastic undead audiobooks I've heard recently.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot narrated by Emily Bauer.
I totally got the impression that Meg Cabot read through Mark Reads Twilight or other criticisms of Twilight before writing this.  Meena Harper is, in many ways, the anti Bella Swan.  She has the ability to tell hwo people are going to die so when she finds out that the man she's falling for is a vampire, the last thing she wants is to be turned into a vampire.  She wants life.  She wants a future that includes her friends and her family and sunshine.

Insatiable is quintisential Meg Cabot.  Fun, quirky, deceptively light (she always packs quite a bit of substance into her fluffy reads, if that makes any sense), and fantastic.  Highly recommended.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross and Chris Sorensen.
At first I was nervous that this book had a severe case of Women in Refrigerators syndrome.  (Spoilers here - but really only for the first disc so unless you're super strict I don't know you'd care?) The first female we met was quickly killed off and the second female we meet has already been kidnapped and then gets drugged and tortured some more right in front of us.  YAY FEMINISM!  But things calmed down a little after that.

Sam LaCroix doesn't even know he's a Necromancer until the had of the local Necromancers comes into the fast food resteraunt where he works and gets super upset at him for not presenting himself to the magical council and then spends the rest of the book trying to kill him.  Not so much fun, yes?  But this book is.  I loved Sam's family (I really love seeing a happy non disfunctional family in a YA book.  Yes there were secrets that shouldn't have been kept so long and Sam totally overreacted when he found out about them but if he hadn't overreacted and instead confided in his mother, she would totally have saved the day right then and there goes the second half of the book.)

The audiobook narration is good.  There are two male narrators, though, for the two main POVs of the book, but I didn't even realize that until haflway through because the voices were so similar.  I had just assumed one guy was doing two slightly different character voices.  Not a criticism - the two POVs were different enough that I was never confused - just an observation.

Three stars!  Fine holiday fun!

Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen by Garth Nix narrated by Tim Effing Curry

These books almost deserve their own post - phenomenal.  Tim Curry needs to quit all his other jobs (and I love all his other jobs) and just read books to me.  Seriously.  Best audiobook narrator ever.  And the books!  So good!  Everybody has been telling me to read them for AGES but I read Mister Monday by Garth Nix and wasn't terribly inspired to read more Nix books after that?  But Oh.  OH!  So.  There is the Old Kingdom (magic, the walking dead, modern technology just doesn't work) conected to a more regular world that reads like a pre WWI England.  Sabriel has been at a bording school in the regular world for most of her life, only visiting the old Kingdom on holidays.  Then her father goes missing and Sabriel goes to find him and discovers the depth of her magical inheritance and oh.  OH!  So.  I'm a sucker for a good world building and the world of the Old Kingdom is perfect.  Flawless.  The magic is divided into two kids - Charter Magic which is the "good" magic and flows from charter symbols that can be used to do most any magical whatnots and free magic which is dangerous and corrupts.  Sabriel's father (and Sabriel and more) is the Abhorsen which is basically the head necromancer in the land.  Necromancy is free magic and therefore forbidden but there is one necromancer, the Abhorsen, who works for and with the Royal family to keep all othe necromancers and The Dead in check.  And there are bells and cats and really?  Just read it.  Or better yet listen to it.  Because every fantasy lover needs to read or listen to these books.

Five enthusiastic stars

I still have 3 more series to discuss but I'm going to stop here for the moment.  Five books in one post is quite enough, thank you!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wisdom's Kiss

Title: Wisdom's Kiss
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pub Date: 09/15/2011
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher

Ok, so, I just realized while finding the Goodreads link that the author of this book ALSO wrote Princess Ben which I've heard of but never read. HA! That's also on the cover! That's the trouble with reading ebooks on my phone. The screen is plenty large enough to do the actual reading but apparently I miss important details on the cover. Seeing as how the dowager Queen in this book is Queen Ben I'm assuming this is a sequel to that. (insert frantic Novelisting here) Hmm - well nothing is saying sequel but same country, one character the same. WHATEVER - the point of this tangent* is that you don't have to read Princess Ben in order enjoy Wisdom's Kiss. I'm thinking that a couple of things Queen Ben alluded to would be more fleshed out and now when I read Princess Ben** I'm going to know that she ends up alive and a Queen. But knowing the Fantasy genre I don't think that was ever in doubt. So. Read Princess Ben first if you want to or go straight to Wisdom's Kiss if you want to. I don't think I am missing out on anything doing it this way.

*is it considered a tangent if this is how I begin my review? Does this make the rest of the review a tangent? WHY DOES ANYONE EVER READ THIS WEBSITE? Questions for the ages.

**The audiobook is currently waiting for me on the hold shelf when I get to work tonight but I'm wondering - I would not have been able to follow Wisdom's Kiss in an audiobook.  The formatting and different POVs would have confused me?  Whatever - I'll try it.OK! REVIEW, LP! STOP TANGENTING!

This book was, in a word, fantastic. I try not to read other people's reviews before I write mine but I accidentally read a blog's "twitter style" review of this the other day and they didn't like it. Lack of characterization, they said. What? The characters were the best part of this - and that is saying a lot since I loved the plot, the format, and the writing style as well. BUT the characters! You've got these great characters - Princess Wisdom (who is just way to exuberant and impetuous to ever be a solid ruler but oh she's wonderful), Trudy (who has the gift of foresight but is somewhat terrified of it and is desperately in love with her childhood friend Tips), and Tips (who left Trudy to "be a soldier" but he has a secret and there may be trouble in his future).  I fell in love with them all.  I loved how they grew and changed and learned to live with what new things life threw at them.  LOVE them.

I loved the format.  Letters, journal entries, a memoir, an encyclopedia, and a play.

Basically if you love fantasy and strong women (oh the strong women) and great plot lines, don't dismiss this.

On a last feminist note, I love that (super huge spoiler here so stop now) neither Trudy nor Queen Temperance end up with love interests in order to be happy.  I mean there's a follow up encyclopedia entry that mentions their later lives and a husband and children for one but the actual story ends with them finding happiness through friendship and their jobs and lives.  LOVE that.  LOVE LOVE LOVE that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - All Men of Genius

Title: All Men of Genius
Author: Lev AC Rosen
Pub Date: 8/27/11
Publisher: Tor

Today I was perusing the recently ordered titles at my library for collections I am not in charge of when I found this little beauty. Listen to this description:

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, All Men of Genius takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet’s alter ego, “Ashton.” Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet’s pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it’s not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it’s surviving that long.

Steampunk Shakespeare retellings? I am SO THERE! I already have this on hold for myself and I've told the YA collection development librarian thank you thank you thank you for finding this gem!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Links

I have been sent over and over again this article from the NY Times about how (gasp) boys aren't reading like they should and (bigger gasp) the problem is all those pesky wimmin writers taking all the good publishing contracts away from men. I have only responded to a select few of those with this absolutely lovely take-down of the article that Katie Coyle pointed me toward.

I don't think I blogged about it but last year's International Read Comics in Public day was way too much fun and I made a lovely little display at my library for it. This year it is being held TODAY! Sunday, August 28th! And DCWomenKickingAss is hosting an online Women Read Comics in Public event. Post pictures of you reading in public on twitter, facebook, tumblr, your blog, whatever! I will try to get some up here today as well!

I have recently gotten absolutely addicted to nail polish and I did this manicure on Thursday where I used every purple nail polish I own. I'm absurdly proud of it! But I promise I won't become one of those nail polish blogs - there are enough of those and I will never be that talented. Books, babies, and social justice is what I'm sticking with! That said, I may have to share some of my favorites with y'all because that is the point of having a blog, yes? Sharing what we're proud of?

And two super fun links from twitter! Nathan Bransford's twitter account pointed me to (not his but on his blog) this absolutely stellar literary agent responds to paperback writer and Meg Cabot tweeted, "Sometimes dreams do come true! Here's a 60 second video of every outfit worn by Cher in the movie Clueless: " How did Meg know exactly what I wanted?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick Note

Don't forget - tomorrow is Read Comics in Public day! So hand some comic books and graphic novels to everyone you can.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Late Night Mommy Blogging

We recently had a chance to read Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Seaside Shenanigans (spoiler alert? It's awesome. Full review closer to the release date), so tonight we had to reread Chico Bon Bon's other exploits. Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem has a repeating (noisy, natch) refrain of AOOOOOGAH BOOM BOOM CLANG CLANG. Kinsie begged to sleep with Noisy Problem tonight and right now I am getting myself ready for bed and every few seconds I hear over the baby monitor* "AOOOOOGAH BOOM BOOM CLANG CLANG." I should probably go warn Kins not to wake up her sister but Pips tends to be a sound sleeper and I am laughing so much over this that I should probably let it be.

Also I'm back from vacation and I'll be back to blogging soon! This phone app will probably lead to too much ill advised late night blogging with no access to spell check****. YAY!

*yes, 4 years old is probably too old for a baby monitor but Pips is only 2 and still wakes up at 4am every other week or so.
**I just realized there is a blogger app on my phone and I have no idea how this is going to format itself so I can't give the picture a proper caption. I just happen to have a picture of the sleeping special heads*** on my phone from a recent 2am cab ride after a full day of flying back to Chicagoland from Colorado. It seemed appropriate to late night blogging.
***my sister has always called the girls each "special head." This photo always makes me think of that.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Links

Want to play Indiana Jones* while you Procrastinate? As muralgirl says, "This website gives you untranslated chunks of ancient Greek papyri texts from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt to transcribe. There are a series of characters for you to match up with what you see on the fragments. It’s kind of a fun puzzle, and it helps speed along the transcription of these documents so that they can be deciphered. Some of them are much harder to read than others, so click next a few times until you find a sheet where you can actually make out the letters. Nerdy fun! *Not the exciting part of his job." I've had way too much fun with this this week - and even got the girls helping! Early literacy - pattern recognition and all that.

Jennifer Egan has written the most fantastic short story here but she has cleverly disguised it as a list. Go read it. Trust me. SO GOOD! Thanks to Galley Cat for pointing me in that direction.

MelissaZD who hosts the fantastic Flannel Friday has created some Pinterest boards for Flannel Friday! I think it's about time I got off my cushy librarian chair and posted some of the Flannels I've made recently! Important question: if I make flannels and don't share them with the internet, do they make a sound?

As you can imagine I was over the moon with this list of pirate picture books. What are your favorites?

Also - I feel the need to point out that I had a daughter named Pippa before it was cool. (Hipster LP)

I am writing this on Saturday (cheater LP is a cheater) and it's the anniversary of the first Defenestration of Prague. And really any excuse to use the word defenestration I take! So! Happy Day After the Anniversary of the First Defenestration of Prague!

I am currently on a jet plane to Colorado to spend a week and a half. I may be even less bloggy than usual! Or maybe I'll be twice as prolific. VACATION - you never know what's going to happen.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Picture Book Round-up!

Title: Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: a lullaby
Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Candlewick
Pub Date: 7/12/2011
Reviewed from: Sitting here on the new books cart at my library

I read this book without looking at the author then when I decided to review it I looked at the author and said, "Oh! Jane Yolen! No wonder this book is so much fun." And it is. So. Much. Fun. Rhyming text sends monster after monster home and off to bed. Kelly Murphy's art is muted and gorgeous! I read Hush Little Dragon in storytime yesterday and recognized her art style immediately! SO pretty! I'm putting this on my "to be used in storytime ASAP" list.

Title: Farmyard Beat
Author: Lindsey Craig
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 6/14/2011
Reviewed from: Sitting here on the new books cart at my library

Yet another new book that I couldn't wait to use in a storytime! Last week I had a dance theme and when I saw this on the new books shelf I couldn't resist. One animal can't sleep and starts making their very own beat and then they all wake up. At the end they all make their special beats together for a rousing chorus! I think it would be great fun to record that end piece - or with older kids (in our 4,5,K) give each child their own beat - so we can have all the sounds going at once! I am proud of my storytime skills but I can only be saying one thing at a time. Anyway - this is lovely. Check it out and use it in storytime!

Title: Moo, Moo, Brown Cow, Have you any Milk?
Author: Phillis Gershator
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 6/28/2011
Reviewed from: Sitting here on the new books cart at my library

I want to pair this one with How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World by Marjorie Priceman. This is How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World for beginners, though. Drawing on the poem Baa, Baa, Black Sheep the poem tells you what humans use from each animal (sheep - wool, chickens - eggs, cow - milk) and tells you how each thing is used (down feathers - pillow, honey - spread on bread, etc) all while sticking with the rhythm of the nursery rhyme it's building on. This one is nice and sweet and is perfect to recommend to the person who loves reading the quiet, gentle books during storytime.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Links

My friend* Julie wrote this great piece about how getting an MLIS could be so much better. My favorite part was where she said that, "children and teen librarians need to take courses in Child Development. The one class period spent during a materials class is not sufficient." As I said in the comments, I’ve been debating going back for some early childhood classes but lack the free time/money to do so so I’ve been self-educating with my library’s parent-teacher collection and TED talks (talks tagged children and education). It isn’t quite the same but it’s keeping me in the game! Do y'all have any favorite continuing education resources? I'm going to start sharing my favorites here - in a very thinly veiled effort to get me doing more!

Harry Potter. What can I say about HP7.5 except that I absolutely loved it and cried and cried and cried. That said (and despite my absolute love for Harry Potter) I also loved Sady Doyle's quite brilliant In Praise of Joanna Rowling's Hermione Granger Series.

Peter Dickinson wrote a gorgeous post called In Defense of Rubbish that made me super happy. It's from 2002 but I just discovered it!

*By friend I mean wonderful lady who I met once at a DLS conference who I have been blog-stalking ever since. I am an absolute hermit so I tend to count blog-stalking as friendship.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors by Donald B Lemke

Title: Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors
Author: Donald B Lemke
Publisher: Capstone
Pub Date: 08/01/2011
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher

What can I say? I loved Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors. I'm a sucker for fairy tales. I'm a sucker for graphic novels. Take those two, combine them, and do them well? I'm yours forever. Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors doesn't retell any of the fairy tales - you never know why the witch so desperately wants a baby in Rapunzel or why the parents seemingly give her up without a fight. You just get the basic story and you get absolutely gorgeous artwork. Seriously. Look at this cover! The artwork is beautiful. I just wanted to lick the pictures. But I didn't because, ya know, egalley. No licking the electronics.

This is a short review just because what else is there to say? We all know these stories and the artwork just needs to be seen! Kinsie especially was a fan of these graphic novels and despite graphic novels being a pain in the keister to read aloud I have read them to her every night for a week and I am not complaining one iota.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Awaken - Katie Kacvinsky

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pub Date: 05/23/2011 (on shelves NOW!)
Reviewed from: egalley received from publisher

Awaken is a dystopian book* set in a future where school violence has let to all school being done at home on the internet. Everyone has become completely disconnected from everyone else - meeting someone face to face is rare. Ok, can we start by noting the weirdness of reading this book as an e-book?** And I read the majority of this book on my phone so every time they mentioned the ubiquity of everyone's "flipscreens" and how everyone seems glued to said flipscreens? I felt a huge pang of guilt.

*insert obligatory "all YA books nowadays are dystopian" comment
** I have a feeling that, since they gave out a lot of egalleys of this book that this has been a fairly common sentiment in the blogosphere. But I try to avoid reviews of books that I'm going to review because my opinion is easily swayed so I'm going to pretend that I'm original and brilliant here, ok?

Our hero, Maddie, is the daughter of the founder of digital school. A few years back she aided some hackers to try to take down digital school which broke her father's trust in her and she's been grounded ever since. Her father monitors everything she does online and the only bit of face-to-face socialization she gets is at soccer. Then she meets Justin online who convinces her to come to an in person study session and all heck breaks loose.

Overall this was an absolutely fun dystopian that made me want to grab a paper book*** and go read it outside in the sunshine. The romance was a bit heavy handed but I don't think a teenager would think so. I did wish I knew more what Justin DID. Everyone in the resistance keeps talking about how important Justin is to the resistance and oh mah geeze he's risking himself for some girl this will bring the whole resistance down tragedy tragedy tragedy! But what did he do for the resistance that was so special?

I very much appreciated that this book didn't try to say that technology is evil. The resistance lives a simpler life but not a completely lacking in computers/cars/lights/running water sort of life. I appreciate that! BUT! I do wish that dystopians would quit saying that in the future we're going to get all our food in convenient perfectly balanced nutritional pills/bars/crap. People absolutely love food and I don't think that we're going to let the government take that away from us any time soon. (Seriously - first they came for the pies and I didn't care because pie is evil. Then they came for the cakes and I STARTED A GOSH DARN REVOLUTION!)

Feminism quotient****: I got annoyed in the beginning because every dystopian ever***** has a girl enmeshed in the dystopia and then some enlightened man comes and enlightens her. Seriously - think about it. Have you ever read one with an enmeshed male and a female comes and enlightens him? Half a point for 1984 where Winston and Julia enlighten each other. As I read Awaken, though, her rebellion years earlier took on larger meaning. Justin was recruiting Maddie to the cause, yes, but her rebellion years ago had made her a hero to Justin and she had inspired him. Awaken is fairly heteronomative but in a book where you only get to see the inner life of two people I mostly forgive it. Overall I give it two feminist thumbs up.

***I love digital books. I am not one who thinks that ebooks are heralding the end of paper books or lamenting what was - but Awaken did give me a feeling of nostalgia for paper books and seeing my neighbors! So reading in the park it was.

****Yes, this is a new thing. FEMINISM QUOTIENT. Hush. I'm trying to get more critical because I tend to just like all things at all times.

*****Slight exaggeration

Check out Anna's much more nuanced review for a less enthusiastic opinion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Way belatedSunday Links

So - life has been full of hospital visits and wildness and thankfully everybody turning out ok but I've been way behind in both my RSS feed and my blogging (I keep making resolutions to blog more but pfft!) so please forgive me if some of these links are a bit old. They're just things I loved around the innertubes.

Abby the Librarian (who I probably link to way to much but whatevs. She's my blogging idol and if you don't read her you should) has continued her "help me help you" series with a post about summer reading. It's a pretty comprehensive list - the only thing I would add is Just because you've signed the kids up for summer reading doesn't mean you're done with sign-ups! Off you go to the adult services department to sign yourself up then get some great family reading time together!

My friend and fellow librarian linked to this awesome craft for making glowing firefly jars. My library doesn't allow us to do crafts that involve paint but I absolutely love this anyway. Someone in the comments mentioned donig the same thing to the inside of christmas ornaments - I'm thinking that may be a brilliant idea! Only then I'd hang them up in the girl's room? Maybe - we'll see.

I just read this post about the 10 hottest men in YA fiction and I only agree with maybe 2 of them but it got me thinking about who I think are the 10 hottest people in YA fiction. I feel like it changes every time I read a new book! What do y'all think?

I just read that Borders is going to officially close all stores which makes me sad. While I try to shop indie whenever I can, Borders closing seems to me to be one step closer to an Amazon monopoly which doesn't seem like it would be the best idea.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Mystery of the Blue Ring by Patricia Reilly Giff

Title: The Mystery of the Blue Ring*
Author: Patricia Reilly Giff
Publisher: Open Road Media
Pub Date: rereleased on 06/28/2011
Reviewed from: Review copy from NetGalley

After reading the Net Galley article I linked yesterday I went over to NetGalley and found this fantastic book by Patricia Reilly Giff that I devoured instantly. The Polka Dot Private Eye has been around since I was a child but I'm not a huge fan of mysteries so I hadn't read it 'till now, and now that I've read the first one I feel rather guilty that I've let so much time go past without having read them.

Dawn "borrowed" her friend's unicorn awhile back and now they're not so much friends anymore. The interactions between Dawn and Emily are perfect. Dawn keeps trying to decide if she still likes Emily but Emily is taking up too much room when washing her hands! And Emily picked the vegetable that SHE wanted during art! So clearly she must be out to get Dawn still. Giff always seems to GET how kids interact, ya know? If you already semi resent someone (for being justifiably mad at you) then everything they do is obviously done just to upset you.

Anyway, Emily's blue ring goes missing and half the class thinks that Dawn did it because of the aforementioned unicorn incident so Dawn pulls out her new polka dot detectives hat and decides to solve the mystery herself.

This book is perfect for those just starting chapter books. I in fact have a special patron in mind who is just starting chapter books and who especially likes books where THINKS HAPPEN! who will be given this book on Wednesday. Fingers crossed that she likes it!

*I know normally I link to indiebound but I couldn't find this book there so y'all will have to deal with Amazon.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunday Links

I adore NetGalley - I haven't read anything from then in ages but that's my fault, not theirs. OliveReader has a fantastic blog post about how to craft a good NetGalley Bio. I hadn't looked at my bio in ages when I came across this and I definitely went back and looked over what I have on there! Fortunately I seemed to pass muster.

Do you want to absolutely pull your hair out with frustration? Then read this absolutely awful article entitled "Save the Library - Fire the Librarians. Many thanks (I think?) to Librarianbyday for tweeting a link. Warning: the link is rage-inducing and awful.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Title: Bestest. Ramadan. Ever
Author: Medeia Sharif
Publisher: Flux
Pub Date: July 8, 2011

The summary from goodreads:
During Ramadan, we're not allowed to eat from sunrise to sunset, for a whole month. My family does this every year, even though I've been to a mosque exactly twice in my fifteen years. My exercise-obsessed mom—whose hotness skipped a generation, sadly—says I could stand to lose a few. But is torture really an acceptable method? I think not.

Things wouldn't be so bad if I had a boyfriend, but my oppressive parents forbid me to date. This is just cruel and wrong. Especially since Peter, a cute and crushable artist, might be my soul mate. Figures my bestest friend Lisa likes him, too.

To top it off, there's a new Muslim girl in school who struts around in super-short skirts, commanding every boy's attention—including Peter's. How can I get him to notice me? And will I ever feel like a typical American girl?

Doesn't that sound like SO MUCH FUN? I cannot wait to read this one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Realistic Fiction for the Fantasy Lover: Also Known as Not Necessarily Magical but Highly Improbable

Being a librarian I tend to put books into categories and a few weekends ago my coworker and I were discussing a fantastic new trend that we call:

Realistic Fiction for the Fantasy Lover: Also Known as Not Necessarily Magical but Highly Improbable

Among the books for this series are:
The Series of Unfortunate Events
The Kneebone Boy
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (side note: I'm only halfway through the second book of this one and I have a feeling that before the series is done someone will be outed as a werewolf? But I'm not positive about that yet and the first book is firmly non-fantasy so I stick with it being on this list.)

I know that there are more books I've read recently that would fit into this category but right now I can't think of any. What about y'all? Any Not Necessarily Magical but Highly Improbable books on your recently read list?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Linkedy Links

My husband pointed me in the direction of this Periodic Table of Storytelling that I think is absolutely amazing. I've definitely printed it out for putting above my desk.

J K Rowling is about to launch a new website called Pottermore and she has some sort of big announcement on the horizon? Color me SUPER EFFING EXCITED! As you all know by the last few books libraries and bookstores around the country were throwing huge parties every time a book came out. I was working at Barnes and Noble when book 6 came out and it was a blast. But since I technically worked in the cafe I wasn’t involved in the PLANNING or the ORGANIZING. I had just had a baby and was working at Oak Park Public library when book 7 came out but since I was an intern I wasn’t invited to work at the party and since I’d just had a baby I chose not to go. Ya know, be the creepy adult who clearly doesn’t sleep enough but who comes to the kid’s party anyway? And some bookstores/libraries have parties for the movies but that’s just weird. Those parties should happen in line to see the midnight showing.

So … I am BEYOND excited about this. I want my chance to plan a kick-ass Rowling party. I even have my costume all picked out. I’m going to wear Brandon’s big ole penguin slippers, a tutu, my pirate hat, and probably my red military jacket. Whenever anyone asks me what I’m supposed to be or what I’m dressed up as I’ll say a little too loudly and quite nervously while looking around, “why, I’m a muggle! Just like you! I got these clothes in one of your … er … our Muggle Garment Stores.”

Edit: Perhaps nevermind? I mean I'm still excited but according to Entertainment Weekly, "Scholastic told EW that the announcement will not be a new book." WHATEVER - A GIRL CAN DREAM, RIGHT? I WILL WEAR MY MUGGLE COSTUME SOMEDAY!

Am I the only one who got all teary when Fuse #8 had her baby? SO BEAUTIFUL!

I've been an absolute slacker on reading blogs lately. My google reader overfloweth! If any of y'all see me commenting on random posts from months ago don't be alarmed, I just am behind everywhere.

I love this! Author Mary Roach tweeted, "This is a first: Guy mailed a fan letter, a $10 bill, and apologies for having downloaded a pirated copy of Packing for Mars. Forgiven." While I am not a book pirater, I remember a story of a woman who was TOTALLY NOT my mother who's children were obsessed with a library book called Andrew Henry's Meadow*. At the time the book was out of print and we her children checked it out over and over again and she couldn't find it used anywhere so eventually she just photocopied the whole thing. Is it really that unethical to photocopy an out of print book if you then send $10 to the author?

*eeek! It's back in print! I am SO buying myself a copy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways

Title: Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, and The House of Many Ways
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Narrator: Jenny Sterlin
Publisher: Recorded Books
Pub Date: 2008, 2009, 2009 (recording pub dates)
Reviewed from: My library's copies that I checked out with my very own library card

Another post about three books at once! What is up with me? I don't post for ages and then I pull out three books at once three twice in a week? But since I've listened to the entire trilogy during my haitus I'm just going to do it.

Back when Diana Wynne Jones died I read all sorts of articles about how great she was and it occurred to me that I had never read anything by her. I'm constantly sending fantasy fans her way but I had never quite sent myself her way. So I'm in the process of rectifying that.

While I am not a huge fan of .gifs nor am I a huge fan of swearing, there is a sweary .gif that regularly makes the rounds of tumblr that, I believe, perfectly encapsulates the Howl books and it is linked here for your viewing pleasure. These are books about strong women (at least Howl's Moving Castle and House of Many Ways are) who know what needs to be done and if they don't know then they will figure it out, gosh darn it!

Ok, Howl's Moving Castle is, according to the name, about the Wizard Howl but really it is about Sophie who can do magic mostly because she is so darn stubborn that things have to do what she tells them to. When she gets turned into an old woman she is annoyed at the aches and pains that go along with it but also likes how being an old woman gives her credence to say whatever she wants to say and do whatever she wants to do and just be the kick-butt lady that she is!

Castle in the Air isn't quite as good probably because it's main character is a man and a much less likeable man then most. I'd say that Diana Wynne Jones isn't as good at writing male characters as female characters except I'm not reading The Chronicles of Chrestomanci and she nails it there. I think it's just Abdullah is meant to be obnoxious and dense and unlikeable. BUT totally worth reading because it brings you on to ...

House of Many Ways. I want to know more about Charmain. She's fantastic and all she wants to do is sit down and read a good book, darn it, but unfortunately she has agreed to watch her Great Uncle William's house while he is off getting cured by the elves and Great Uncle William just happens to be the royal wizard and Charmain just happens to get herself involved in shenanigans. And hijinks. There is an evil Lubbock who is trying to take over the kingdom and some misdirected Kobolds who are all in a tizzy about the color of the flowers in the garden and her Great Uncle William's house is a maze of folded space and time. Charmain, as I said, gets lumped into this mess and she fixes the whole thing (spoilers? What, like you didn't know it was all going to turn out? Hush. Read the book anyway to figure out how it happens and why and who. Very much who. The characters are all the best.) pretty much because she wants everyone to leave her in peace long enough for her to get some reading in! That's the kind of superhero I want to be.

These books are all narrated by Jenny Sterlin and she's fantastic. She's got this air about her narration that reminds me of Sophie and Charmain in that she's telling you what happened and there will be no nonsense while she's reading you this story so just sit down and listen. Honestly I got so much cleaning done (I listen to audiobooks while cleaning my house. I am desperately boring) just because Jenny Sterlin's narration did not allow itself to be turned off.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday Links

Oh mah goodness - I have a play date and the internet blew up! So WSJ wrote a pearl clutchingly awful article about the state of YA today. It's full of doom and gloom and we're ruining our kids with darkness. One of my tumblr friends Becoolsodapop wrote a brilliant take-down of it and then Tiger Beatdown, one of my favorite feminist blogs, wrote another great article on it.

There is a great article at Bad Reputation called Princesses, Pigsties, Pirates, and a Publishing problem that is a wonderful talk about the state of feminist literature in kids/ya today.

(I found out about all of this from my friend Anna who is mostly found over here.)

Anyway - my house was recently been invaded by the 5 cutest 6 and unders you've ever seen and my husband has been diligently cleaning while I type this. I should probably go provide some help, right?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Whimsy Fail?

One of Kinsie's favorite things is playing with songs and making them her own. Old MacDonald is a favorite to play with - Old MacDonald had SOME PANTS. Old MacDonald had a BOWL OF SPAGHETTI! Twinkle Twinkle little CRAYON! A B C D E F BOWL OF SPAGHETTI! (Spaghetti is just fun to say, I think)

Goodnight Moon is part of our bedtime routine. After all the other things - nightly ablutions and kisses to everyone, we climb into bed and I read book after book to the girls. The last one is always Goodnight Moon. Kins has had it memorized for almost 2 years now. Tonight Pips and I were both in ridiculous moods so I was playing with the text a little and Pips was giggling and suggesting ideas (that mostly involved inserting blueberries into the text).

"In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a picture of the cow jumping over MOUNT EVEREST! And there were three little bears sitting IN THE BATHTUB!"

Kins kept correcting me but I thought it was all in fun. After, at Pip's suggestion, we discussed the quiet old lady who was EATING BLUEBERRIES, Kins burst into tears. "THAT IS NOT RIGHT! THAT IS NOT WHAT SHE IS DOING SHE IS WHISPERING HUSH AND NOT EATING ANYTHING AT ALL LIKE A BLUEBERRY!" She only calmed down again after I promised to never read Goodnight Moon wrong again. In the future I am going to remember that bedtime is not the time to mess with the Kins's carefully constructed world views.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just wanted to make sure y'all saw this

Make Way for the Ducklings in Real Life!

Firefighters and police collaborating to save baby ducks.

The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Roberts

One of my favorite childhood books was The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Roberts. Tragically the cover is super dated so our copies never circ. But my lovely coworker told me that she'd seen a new cover on the horizon! Look at it! Tell me that isn't a cover that will jump off the shelves? It hints at the strange powers that Katie has and her intense longing to fit in. I can't wait for our new copies to get here!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj

Title: Cat Secrets
Author: Jef Czekaj
Publisher: New York : Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: 2011
Reviewed from: My library's copy

Y'all want to know how it went the first time I read this to Kins, right?

Librarian Pirate (reading): This book is for cats only! (Pauses reading and looks at Kinsie) Are you a cat?
Kinsie (touches her lips and looks thoughtful): well … I sometimes ‘retend to be a cat.

ZOMG this book is far too much fun. I brought it home immediately when I saw it on the new books shelf and since then I've used it at storytime. These cats want to read you the book of cat secrets but first you have to prove that you're a cat. Can you purr like a cat? Stretch like a cat? Are you catty enough to hear all these Cat secrets? Good! It's one of those fantastic books that make the kidlets sit up, pay attention, and move! And at the end I even had a couple of kids come up to me and ask if I had a copy of the book of Cat Secrets here at the library. I brought them to the cat section and they had a merry ole time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So ... now that I'm blogging again (and here to stay! I hope!), let me tell you about the girls.

[image description: Kins and Pips run in wild circles in a field next to Dominican University.]
Pip Facts:
She just turned two
She has a special pillow and blanket she calls bing-bing and po po, not respectively.
I think her favorite color is blue.
She can count her toes. “Fwee, fwee, fwee, four, fiiiiiiie!”
She adores blueberries
Watch out, she bites.

[image description: Kins looking like a hipster in a black tutu-style skirt with silver hearts, a swirly handpainted-looking (yet mass produced) heart shirt and a headband over her hair hipster style. She looks like a total hipster. Pips the snuggler is all ready for bed in her monster pajamas.]
Kins Facts:
She just turned four
She has a special pillow and blanket called (more literally) her buggy pillow and her letter blanket.
Her favorite color is orange and if you let her she will monologue on her love for orange for ages.
She read her first word not sight-word last week! It was a name - Cora - and she sounded it out and asked me who that was. GENIUS BABY!
She hates to eat anything green but she would live on carrots if I would let her (and I somewhat do)
When Pips bites, Kins sometimes bites back (we're working on this with both of them. Don't worry.)

[image description: Pips and her curls walking down the stairs in the rain.]

Friday, May 27, 2011

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman Audiobooks

Title: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass
Author: Phillip Pullman
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks
Reviewed from: Checked out of the library
Stars: Five, Two, and Three and a half.

Back in February I started an* (friendly!) internet fight with some friends about this series saying how much I really disliked it. My friends' impassioned defense of this series inspired me to reread it and I'm very glad I did. I still have issues but a girl can have issues with a book and still enjoy it, right?

*side note, what is the rule for a/an when there is a parenthesis between the article and it's partner? Should I have stuck with an or gone with a?

For this book ramble I'm going to assume yall have read these books because I'm going to be talking about all three, what I liked, what I loved, and what I didn't like.

To begin with, these audiobooks are fantastic. They are full cast and Philip Pullman himself is the voice of the narrator. I tend to be wary of authors who are also narrators of their book but Philip Pullman is really good. He's got a great voice. Sean Barrett is both Lord Azreal and Iorek Byrnison and he is also phenomenal (Ooh! Wikipedia tells me that Sean Barrett was also a goblin in Labyrinth! Score!). Really the whole cast was perfect but those two stood out. The overall audiobook has some sound effects/voice effects but they're subtle and don't take you out of the story. I highly recommend going for the audiobook if you've got the time/inclination!

When I started the internet fight I started it by complaining about the theology of His Dark Materials. I don't care what the theology is, I hate when a book so obviously pushes a message. I remembered the plot as going severely downhill in the second and third books culminating in, as my friend Duckandpenguin said, "It’s as if Pullman kind of gave up on his manuscript and passed it on to Richard Dawkins and said 'here, see what you can do with it, I’ve had it with this story.'" On reread the message didn't bother me as much - maybe it's because I've become so much less of a Catholic and more of an Agnostic (although that is not a discussion for the blog but a point I feel is relevant) - or maybe it's because I had built it up so much in my mind that what actually happened seemed like so much less? I still find the second and especially the third books preachy but it wasn't overwhelming this time. I could let it slide and enjoy the storyline.

When I first read The Golden Compass I remember being so excited about what it was. I've always been a fantasy fan but I was also always acutely aware that there was girly fantasy (basically anything with a girl as a main character) and then there was fantasy that boys could like too. The Golden Compass seemed to me to be a fantasy book with a girl main character that wasn't a book just for girls. I found the adventure and the armored bears and the war and the daemons thrilling and was especially excited that it was a GIRL who was allowed to be the action hero and who got to go out and kick butt and take names and really just be as awesome as she can be. Then the Subtle Knife came along. Rereading these books all the feelings that I felt when reading them the first time came flooding back and I found myself getting more and more frustrated as the second book wore on. The book opens with Will (a more insufferable twat I've rarely met). When Lyra meets Will she is told pretty explicitly by the alethiometer that she needs to abandon her quest and her desires and help Will. Every time Lyra indulges in trying to research the Dust or talk to Mary or pause in a museum everything goes wrong and she ends up completely contrite that she dared to try and have a will of her own. One of the problems with reviewing from an audiobook is that I can't pull up quotes as easily as I could from a print book but there is a part where Lyra pledges to Will that she's abandoning everything to go with him to help find his father. She even goes so far as to deny herself the use of the alethiometer unless Will asks her to ask it a question. I don't think I can explain how devastated I was by this in college. I had discovered these books after the first two were out but before the third was out and I had hung so much hope on Lyra - she was going to be the one, you know? She was going to make it acceptable for boys to read fiction about girls without getting teased (Yes, I know, hegemonic systematic problems will not be brought down by one book but I'm a bit of a Polly Anna)! I had planned on going home and sharing these books with my best guy friend who I had shared the Redwall books with as a child. After he had embraced Lyra I was gong to give him Dealing with Dragons and The Princess and Curdie and all those other great adventurous girls I had loved that I knew he would too if only he'd give them a chance! And then reading the Subtle Knife I felt like that was all taken away from me (again, please don't mock. The ideals of a college feminist, ya know? Don't we all think, at one point or another, that every choice is world changing?). Lyra was being pushed into giving up herself because there's this annoying boy around who takes over and becomes the focal point. They share the spotlight in the third book but Lyra is still annoyingly willing to acquiesce to all of Will's choices and Will continues to be the most demanding obnoxious boy ever.

Can I talk for a minute about my dislike of Will? He's obsessed with who's stronger. When at a standoff he tends to say something like, "Well I'm stronger than you angels/Gallivespian/whatnot so you have to do whatever I say. Plus I have the knife so nyah!" He's the hero of the thing so what he's trying to force everyone else to do is, in fact, the "right" thing but DAMN, boy! Stop and listen to other people's points of view for once! And he has no inner monologue! At the end when they're meeting with the angel and he asks the angel what his future holds and then he says (again - reviewing without text in front of me so this is a paraphrase), "no, don't tell me. I want to make these choices myself. If I do what you say I will I'll always wonder if I did it because you told me to or if it was my choice. If I choose something else I'll always wonder if I messed up and am doing something wrong." Dude, just stop after "I want to make those choices myself." We all understand the rest! And he does that for ALL OF HIS CHOICES! He gives a quick one sentence explanation of why and then he elaborates for a year about that explanation. HUSH UP ALREADY! And then this is the guy that MY Lyra falls in love with? Pfft.

So overall I give the first book five stars the second book two and the third three and a half. I'm glad I read them, I'm glad I reread them, but oof. Issues.

Edit: My awesome internet-friend Parliament Books just directed me to her review here that I had somehow missed that is awesome and y'all should read as well. She goes more into the problematic racial/sexual/etc issues than I did and it is lovely.

Silly side note to end this on - I've become obsessed with Adele recently and her song Turning Tables? Probably because I became obsessed while also listening to this audiobook but I hear "Close enough to start a war/All that I have is on the floor/God only knows what we're fighting for/All that I say, you always say more/I can't keep up with your turning tables/Under Iofur Raknison." Somehow I don't think that Adele was singing about the ex panserbjørn king. I'm going to have to look up the real lyrics one of these days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Screentime Saturday part 1 - Teach Me: Toddler

I know, I know - screentime is evil and we should avoid it all costs, right? Well sometimes, I think, keeping your sanity is just as if not more important and on days like today when everyone in the house has had a cold for a week? And I can't even curl up and read to the girls because speaking is painful? Well that's when screentime is a livesaver. I'm going to spend some Saturdays talking about my favorite ipad/ipod apps for preschoolers, my favorite DVDs, etc. If it counts as screentime, it'll be talked about on a Saturday.

So - my friend blogged the other day about her new favorite app for her child that is a few years older than Kaylee. Teach Me: Kindergarten. I looked and sure enough there is a Teach Me: Toddler. I was a bit worried because at 3, Kaylee isn't really a Toddler anymore - and she's a bit advanced for her age (brag brag brag - I'm sorry!). I almost downloaded the Kindergarten app too (they're just $.99 each), but I decided to go with Toddler and I am so glad I did. This app is right up Kaylee's aisle.

What it does:

A small mouse comes on and tells you what to look for.
"point to the letter that makes the sound wuh."
"find the trapezoid."
"How many pirate hats are there?"
"Where is the Z?"
"Where is the 4?"

Kaylee rocks it on the identifying things - shapes, letters, numbers - it's the application she's not always so good at. She had to stop and count things - and then in real life she likes to be lazy. She thinks there are six things there so she'll say really quickly "one two three four five six - there are six pirate hates." This app encourages her to go slowly, touch each pirate hat, and make sure she knows the answer.

This app is also easily customizable based on your child's aptitude. Do you want her counting from 1 - 5 or 1 - 10? Should she point out all the colors (includes grey, brown, etc.) or just more basic colors?

The one problem I have with this app is not the fault of the app. It tracks your child's progress - it remembers which questions your child frequently gets right on the first try and you can quickly pull up a screen showing you where your child needs more help. Kaylee, even when she knows the answer right away, likes to touch the right answer last. She will show me where the square is but will touch the triangle, circle, and oval first just because she can.

Overall I give this app two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Full disclosure: I was recommended this app by a friend and I paid for this app. No one asked me to write this.

Edit: Ooh - while going back and putting in the links I just noticed that while the Toddler app is usually $.99, the Kindergarten app is on sale for $.99 - I don't know what the app usually is.