Monday, April 28, 2008

Another great character from Spinelli

I just love the quirky characters in Jerry Spinelli's books. He is the master of the odd but lovable kid. In his new book, Smiles To Go, we fall in love with the science geek and his friends.

Spinelli, Jerry. SMILES TO GO

Spinelli, Jerry. SMILES TO GO

Meet Will Tuppence. High school science geek. He and his best friends Mi-Su and BT, play Monopoly and eat pizza and have their own rituals. But now Will has realized that he has feelings for Mi-Su. "It came to me during biology lab today. She was at another table, leaning over her fetal pig, and I couldn't stop staring at her." But it seems as if BT does also. The only person Will can turn to for advice is five year old neighbor Korbet Finn who just happens to be in love with Will's little sister Tabby.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A few weeks ago, my beloved niece Brandee passed away unexpectedly. This has sent everyone who knew her into a tailspin. She was so young and had her whole life ahead of her. And it was so sudden. It is hard to come to grips with the loss. Today's podcast is for Saving Grace about a family who is trying to cope with the sudden loss of a child. Their world is spinning out of control and each is dealing with the loss in his/her own way.

Spencer, Katherine. SAVING GRACE

How would you be able to handle the loss of someone you love? Grace's brother has been killed in an accident and now the world has changed forever. Her parents can't cope with the loss and retreat into their own worlds. Mom gets very involved with the church and has little time left for Grace. Dad spends most of his time in the basement. No one has time for Grace and she is left to deal with the immense grief on her own. But she can't. She find her escape in drinking and hanging out with an unsavory crowd of kids. But through it all, a strange girl named Philomena keeps popping up and helps Grace get back on track. Just who is this strange girl?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Non-Fiction Five Challenge 2008

On the Thoughts of Joy blog, Joy has put up a challenge to read 5 non fiction books this summer.


1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2008

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

3. If interested, please sign up below with the link to your NFF Challenge post (all choices need not be posted and may change at any time)

I usually read fiction but I do like to read non fiction as well so this isn't much of a challenge for me. But I am officially accepting the challenge.

Today's podcast is for my first entry into the challenge. The Book of Time Outs by Deb Lucke. The illustrations in this book are marvelous and show the pouty faces of famous historical figures in their time outs!

Lucke, Deb.

Have you ever had a time out? I'm sure most of us have. Even famous people have time outs. Napoleon Bonaparte, for example. "He saw Italy and said, `Mine.' He pointed to Holland, Spain, Austria, Russia, and England and said, "Mine, all mine,' " which earned him two timeouts on two separate islands. Even Christopher Columbus earned a time out for fibbing to Queen Isabella when he returned from his trip to America. Babe Ruth was given a time out for treating his manager badly. What other famous people in history were given time outs for their bad behavior?

Friday, April 25, 2008


I am really loving the longer days and warmer weather. Instead of waking up to a dark, cold day, I wake up to the sun shining and the sounds of birds chirping. It is a great way to start the day. And it is especially nice when I've been having a good dream. Sometimes it is hard to go from dream to reality. Some dreams are just so real. What if the space between dreams and reality is gone? That's what today's book is about.


Lev is just your ordinary boy living in Oklahoma. He's an orphan with a background that is hard for him to imagine. He is the sole descendant of the creator of the hidden gateway between Earth and the land of Foo. Foo is the land where our dreams are formed and the gateway is needed to keep our dreams and our reality separate. But the evil Sabine is determined to control both worlds. And to do this, he must destroy the only person who can defeat him -- Lev.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A day for singing

The beautiful weather continues. Yesterday it was sunny and in the 80s. It is not supposed to be as nice today but I'll take it. After a very long winter, the sunshine makes you want to sing.

Today's podcast is for a picture book biography. Antonia Vivaldi had always wanted to play music and compose. But his parents had other ideas and forced him to become a priest instead. But you just can't stop the music!

Shefelman, Janice Jordan. I, VIVALDI

Antonio Vivaldi lived a very long time ago. He was a priest in Italy but he was also a composer. Even as a young child, music was his passion but his parents had decided that he would become a priest. But he wasn't a very devoted priest and he was eventually put in charge of a group of orphans and taught them to play the violin. Here he was able to follow his dreams of composing and performing music.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

When I was in college, one of the required texts was Achebe's Things Fall Apart. I wasn't sure if I would like it when I started the book but I did. I loved it. Even after all these years, I still love it. I've reread it a few times over the years especially when my own children were required to read it. While I was in college, Chinua Achebe came to lecture for a semester. I wasn't able to get into the class but I did have a chance to meet him. What a privilege!

Today's podcast is for A READER'S GUIDE TO CHINUA ACHEBE'S THINGS FALL APART by George Shea.

When Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart 50 years ago, he couldn't have possibly known the impact the novel would have on the world. It has been translated into 50 languages and has sold over 10 million copies and has become a standard in schools around the world. Considered one of the greatest African novels of all time, the novel tells the story of tribal life and shows how the coming of the white man led to the loss of the old ways of the Igbo tribe.'s.mp3

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New toy

I got a new book from Raab Associates today. It is a cute book about butterflies. The book came with a new toy. As I opened the book, I heard someone talking to me! The book came with the iRead2you voice recorder. It is so cool. You can record up to 4 minutes on it and then put it in a book. Then, when the book it opened, the recorder begins to play! How cool is that! There are so many things you can do with this. You can send a message to a special child, read the book to a child, and more. Thanks to Raab Associates for this! If you want to check them out, take a look at

Today's podcast is for Gary Schmidt's new book Trouble. I love his books. This one takes place in Massachusetts and Maine so it is familiar territory for me. The story is not though.

Schmidt, Gary D. TROUBLE

“If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.” Henry Smith's father has said this so often that everyone believes it. But is it true? The Smiths live in a mansion on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The family has owned this property for over 300 years and trouble has never visited. Until that night. The night that Henry's older brother is hit by a truck while out on a run. The truck driven by Chay Chouan, a Cambodian refugee who lives in a nearby town. The locals are incensed and tensions between the two towns raise. And things don't get any better when Chay is not sent to jail.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Patriot's Day

It's Patriot's Day! Well, not really. It isn't celebrated here in NH but since I'm from Massachusetts, I'll celebrate anyway. The marathon is in progress and I'm watching the Red Sox morning game. The weather is gorgeous and I have the day off. Perfect.

I've been enjoying just relaxing and reading. But this can't go on much longer. I need to gear up for the last class in the course I'm teaching for URI. And there are labs to grade for the course I'm teaching at NHTI. And I should be studying for those GREs coming up.

Today's podcast is for a biography of Jack Gantos. I enjoyed reading about his life and how it influenced his writing. I'm sure the kids will enjoy it too!


The subtitle of this book is "an author kids love". Well, I'll tell you, he is an author grown-ups love too! I know he is one of my favorite authors. I just love his Joey Pigza books. And his Rotten Ralph books. And all the others. This is the story of Jack Gantos' real life. What he was like growing up. And where he gets his great ideas.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Exploring Dallas

I have most of the day free to explore Dallas before I'm back on an airplane. I walked around a bit yesterday. What an interesting city. I'm looking forward to doing more today.

Since I am in an exploring mood, it is only right that today's podcast is for a book about exploration. But it is about space exploration.


When I was little, I dreamed of being an astronaut. Obviously, I didn't follow that dream. But others have had the same dream and did become astronauts. They fly high above the earth and see things that the rest of us never will. But what is it like to be an astronaut? What do they do when they are up in space?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Texas Library Association Conference

I had a wee bit of problem getting into Dallas yesterday. There was some really nasty weather and our plane was diverted to Kansas City. We spent several hours in KC before we finally got to Dallas. I dropped into bed at 3:00 AM!! But I was up and at the conference by 8:00. I went to a couple of workshops but couldn't stay for the whole time as I really only had one workshop time slot to sample the offerings. I tried to stay out of the vendor area since I knew I'd end up picking up some new books that I would then have to carry home. But the layover in KC meant that I finished one book. I have one for the ride home but I always like to have a backup just in case of delays. So I did go to the vendors and picked up books! I picked up On Rough Seas by Nancy Hull, the sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society, Hurricane by Terry Trueman (the book, not an ARC!) and Moose: a memoir of fat camp by Stephanie Klein. I think I am all set for any airline delays that may come tomorrow!

My session was very well attended. When I first looked at the room, I was shocked by the number of chairs. I figured they wouldn't all be filled but they were. And there were some people standing as well. I love Texas! I got to put some faces to names and met some wonderful librarians.

One of the books that our 6th graders all read is Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson. And they were thrilled when they found out that there is a sequel. I've lent my ARC to the teachers and they are taking turns doing it as a read aloud.


Cole is back from the island. He has learned so much during his time in Alaska about himself. But now he is back in high school and not feeling as in control as he was. He and Peter are bullied and it seems that everything is stacked against him. But if he gets into any more trouble, he'll be put into juvenile detention. Can Cole use what he has learned from the Spirit Bear to survive in the world?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Off to Texas

I'm on my way to Texas for the Texas Library Association Conference. I have never attended this one but I hear it is almost as big as ALA annual!! I wish I could have gone for the whole conference but I just couldn't get the time off. I'll enjoy what I can get to I'm sure. I will be speaking on Friday at 10:00. "The Tech Savvy Booktalker" is going south in search of nicer weather. The forecast calls for some nice warm days. I can't wait.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beginning to feel like spring

The weather is getting nicer and there is a smell of spring in the air. The prediction is that we might even see temps in the 70s this weekend!! Whoo hooo!!!

Today's podcast is for Clem Martini's book Judgment. It is the final book in a trilogy and has the crows seeking freedom. Isn't that what we all want and need?

In the conclusion of the Feather and Bone trilogy, we find Kyp leading the flock of crows on a journey across America. They are only barely ahead of their rivals led by Kuper. He leads a flock of a hundred thousand deadly crows. Kyp's only hope is to find the legendary Urkana flock in Canada. This is their only hope to continue living free.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New England SCBWI

Nashua NH was the site of this year's New England SCBWI annual conference. It was very well attended. To the point where it was sold out on Saturday so I only got to go for one day. Well worth it however. The morning began with a conversation with Laurie Halse Anderson. Melissa Sweet led the conversation and Laurie was very entertaining. From hearing about her rejection letters to her daily writing routine to the breakdown when her hard drive crashed, Laurie was open and we got to learn more about her.

I went to a workshop given by Harold Underdown in the morning. Harold gave us a quick guide to the publishing process. I got some good information from his talk. He gave us lots of time for questions which is always a plus. The afternoon session I attended was given by Emily Herman and Anne Sibley O'Brien. Emily gave us many tools to use during the writing process. Lots of great information. I only wish we had time to go through her whole toolbox!

I love going to this conference as I get a chance to reconnect with people and I am surrounded by people who love children's literature as much as I do. I may never publish a kids book but I love finding out all about it and listening to people who do publish.

Today's podcast is for Dandi Daley Mackall's book Eva Underground. The ESOL classroom at my school is right off the library. As a matter of fact, it used to house the library computer lab. Anyway, I see how hard it can be for some of these kids to adjust to a new country and a new culture. In Eva Underground, we have an American trying to assimilate into a Communist country.

Eva's father has gotten a new job -- in Communist Poland!! Her mother has died, and now Eva and her father are moving away from Chicago. Eva is not happy. She vows to find a way to leave Poland and go back to Chicago for her senior year. But she finds living in a Communist country opens her eyes to a world she never really knew. And she meets a young man who is involved in the underground freedom movement.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Literacy day in NH

Wow! What a morning! The Granite State Literacy Council held a family literacy day today. There was so much going on and so many free books! I took my 3-year-old grandson Jordan and he had a great time. He met Big Bird, Elmo, Cat in the Hat, Clifford, Moose, Strega Nona and clowns and even Miss New Hampshire. There were loads of activities and lots of free books! He even got one of the dinosaurs from Jane Yolen's series. The turnout was much higher than anticipated from what the organizers tell me. But there were enough activities to delight every one. The only thing we didn't do was stand in line for the face painting! Jordan even loved the bus ride from the remote parking lot! After 2 1/2 hours, he was asleep on his feet but a very happy little reader!

The NESCBWI annual conference is going on today but I waited too long to register. It is sold out for today but I have registered for tomorrow. Laurie Halse Anderson is the keynote again tomorrow. I've been catching up on today's event via Mitali Perkins blog. Thank you for doing the live blogging, Mitali!

Today's podcast is for Christopher Krovatin's Heavy Metal and You. This was on the NH Flume Award list for this year.

"Slayer was like Rob Zombie, only without the camp value and with better musicianship. They scared the hell out of me at first, and I loved it. " High schooler Sam is introduced to heavy metal by Slayer. Now he is hanging out drinking and smoking. But when he falls for the preppy Melissa, he begins losing himself who wants him to give up getting wasted with his best friends. She even wants him to give up heavy metal.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring arrives?

After a record breaking winter, I think spring might just be coming! It is a beautiful day today with temps in the 50s. Most of the snow has melted. Our backyard still has a couple of feet of snow but the sunny spots are now just mud.

It is time our thoughts turn to vacation! And this is just the book to read when you are thinking that way!


What did your family do on their last vacation? Maybe visit Disney World. Or travel to a relative's house? Or go to the beach? The mountains? Well, the boy in this book thinks those kinds of vacations would be ideal. His family has a very different idea of what makes a great family vacation. Like the time they encountered alligators in the Okefenokee swamp. Or when they had to dodge gunfire in Mexico on New Year's eve. And usually thing go wrong for the unlucky family. Join them on some unusual vacation experiences. And maybe next time you are dragged into a museum, you might just feel a bit differently about it.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I remember when I was little, I was one of those kids who hid under the blankets with the flashlight reading into the wee hours. And chances are, I had a Nancy Drew book or a Hardy Boys book. It is so great to see them coming back.


Briefing for Frank and Joe Hardy:
Mission: The son of the UN Ambassador is missing. You are to locate him.
Location: St. John, US Virgin Islands
Victim: Esteban Calderon, the son of the Ambassador Don Ricardo.
Suspects: We have hit a wall. There are no suspects.

And so, Frank and Joe Hardy are off on a new assignment. What will they find this time?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

DeMari, Silvana. THE LAST DRAGON

And yet another fantasy book about a dragon. This one is a bit different in that an elf is looking for the last dragon. I just can't get enough dragon books. And neither can the kids!

DeMari, Silvana. THE LAST DRAGON

It's not easy being an elf. Especially when you are alone in a wet, cold world. And that is what happens to Yorsh. He is the target of intolerance and all alone. Until he meets a human who takes pity on him. But now the humans have been condemned to be hanged for helping an elf. They are able to escape but Yorsh reads a prophecy that states "When the last dragon and the last elf" come together, they will save the world. So now they are on a quest to find the last dragon.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dahlberg, Maurine F. THE STORY OF JONAS

Today's podcast is for a book about finding your potential. We all have special talents and passions and we should be following our passions. When I hear about people who hate their job or are bored with life, I just can't imagine it. There is so much to do and so much to experience in this world. Even when you seem to have limited choices, you can still search for your passion.

Dahlberg, Maurine F. THE STORY OF JONAS

Born a slave, Jonas has no larger goal in life than to become the master's manservant. But that is not to be. He is sent to accompany the master's son on his trip to the goldfields of Kansas. This is a journey that will open Jonas' eyes as to the possibilities out in the world. He meets people who don't believe in slavery and he finds that he has skills that he can use in the free world. And now Jonas has a big decision to make. How will the new Jonas fit in the old Jonas' life?

Friday, April 04, 2008


Such a sad week it has been. My cousin Brandee passed away on Sunday and her service was on Wednesday. We traveled to Kentucky to be there with the family. Such a beautiful young woman lost too soon.

Today's podcast is for Elise Broach's book Desert Crossing. Such a good mystery!

Jamie, Kit and Lucy are driving through a desert rainstorm when they hit something. What would you do? The get out and investigate only to find a dead girl on the highway. They run to a nearby home and call for help. And now another person is involved in the mystery. Because it turns out that the kids didn't kill the girl. She was already dead. But who did kill her? And who is she? Fourteen year old Kit is determined to find out.