Monday, February 24, 2014

Libraries in Books: Story Time

The Quiet Book
Deborah Underwood
Ill. by Renata Liwska

The Latino Holiday Book, Golemito

The Latino Holiday Book
From Cinco de Mayo to Dia de los Muertos – the Celebrations and Traditions of Hispanic-Americans
Valerie Menard, foreword by Cheech Marin

This is pretty much an encyclopedia of Hispanic holidays. The book I checked out is the updated and expanded second edition, and I am considering purchasing a copy for myself. The book is divided into four seasons, starting with Spring and ending with Winter. Holidays covered include well-known days such as Dia de las Madres and Dia de los Reyes, as well as lesser-known holidays such as Dia de la Raza, and a section of special occasions celebrated all year long, such as Cumpleaños, Bodas and Quinceañeras.  There is also a section on Dia de los Niños, and the author has even included Dia de los Libros, the day that was developed under author Pat Mora in 1997. The traditions are very well described, and there are facts, songs, and other relevant and interesting information in the margins. For example, in the section for Dia de las Madres, the author has included the song Las Mañanitas in the margin, as well as a bit of background information on the tradition of the song and its origins. The Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos section includes information on traditions and compares them to traditions from other cultures. For example, the author mentions the calavera, and describes how it must be approached “with a sense of humor” in celebrating this holiday, instead of as a ghoul or ghost or specter from traditional American beliefs. The author also goes into the background of the art of the day of the dead in very good detail. Each holiday and occasion is covered in such detail, making this a treasure of a book.

Ilan Stavans
Ill. By Teresa Villegas

Sometimes when readers begin to read a book that is set in a certain place or within a certain culture that they know, they will view the book within the culture as they see it. Their experiences may shape their views
of that culture, especially if that culture is their own. This is part of what drew me to this book. One of the books I have previously read, Migrant by Maxine Trottier (illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, 2011), reminds me of this, too. Migrant shows us that people don’t always think about Germans living in Mexico and being migrant workers. In the same way, people don’t always think about people in Mexico having beliefs other than Catholic. But the world is a giant melting pot now, and different cultures and beliefs are everywhere.  When I read that this book was about a Golem in Mexico, I wanted to see what this book was about. I find it so interesting to read about different cultures, and I love how this book explores characters with Jewish beliefs who live in Mexico.

The story centers on Sammy Nurko, the friend of the narrator, Ilan, who is brilliant with mechanical inventions. Ilan, while he loves reading and studies Nahuatl in his free time, does not do well in science. Ilan comments that it is not surprising that Sammy was often bullied. I paused to think about this, and I think every reader should. There are two boys bullying Sammy, one of them called a “feline” by Ilan. The bullies begin to steal Sammy’s food, among other things, and when Sammy (cleverly, I think) puts a laxative in his sandwich and the bullies find out that Sammy was the cause of their stomach upset, they vow revenge.

Sammy approaches Ilan (it seems this is the first time the narrator’s name is mentioned) about a story where a rabbit gave life to a clay figurine. One of parts that I really like from this book is when Ilan tells Sammy that this rabbi was alive in the 17th century, “when people believed in magic. Now we believe in Science.” This reminded me of a Witchcraft course I took in college, when the professor stated that we must not make any generalizations or judgments about people or things, ever. Especially about people that lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, because in their daily lives, magic was all too real and all too dangerous.

Sammy is going to go through with it, and Ilan tells him “Perhaps you don’t need a golem, just courage.” I love this part as well. Ilam shares his knowledge of Nahuatl with Sammy and the courageous battle poem he has been studying. The golem Sammy creates is an Aztec warrior with a feather crown, shield, and machete. Sammy’s grandmother had a vial of clay from the Dead Sea, and although there was not much, there was enough to model this tiny warrior, a warrior who understands the Nahuatl Ilan has been studying. The warrior begins to do his work and the bullies not only get in trouble, but when Ilan sees them, they look downright scared.

Golemito is soon no longer a small warrior, he grows and grows. Ilan rushes over and calms Golemito wish Nahuatl words and poetry, but he still seems agitated. At school, the students must recite poetry, and Sammy arrives late, bruised and with a torn shirt. He recites the Warrior Song poem calmly in Nahuatly, perfectly. The same poem Ilan admired and had been studying, and the same poem that Ilan had read to Golemito form the night before.

Sammy tells Ilan that the only way he found to put Golemito to sleep was by reciting the poem over and over. As Golemito turned to dust, Sammy saw him smile. And he reveals to Sammy that his favorite part is “within myself I discover this.” I love that the author included the Aztec warrior smiling as he turned to dust. It was as if he wanted Sammy to see that within him he has the strength and the courage, and that when he saw that Sammy knew the poem by heart, he knew that Sammy would understand, and he smiled. An absolutely beautiful story with equally beautiful illustrations, and great for learning about cultures, beliefs, bullies, friendship, and so much more.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Judy Blume Covers

Can we talk about these new Judy Blume covers?

I think my favorites are Blubber, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, and It's Not the End of the World.


This awesome cover art is by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the Margins

For the past year I have been a part of the In the Margins Book Review & Selection Committee, and I am so excited about the work the committee did, the books we found, and our final lists! The past year's work is featured now in School Library Journal!

Why yes, I did take a small screencap of the website.You can read the article here: Best Books for Teens Living in the 'Margins' | YA Underground

It was a really great experience and I am glad that these books are getting publicity! LSYC hosts all of the information and the lists we came up with.

"In the Margins strives to find the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody - or a cycle of all three. For our 2014 list, we considered over 200 titles. 30 titles made our  ITM Official Nominations List 2014.  25 titles made our  ITM 2014 List.  We also chose a Top Ten!"

In the Margins Book Award & Selection Committee
2014 Founding Commitee

And here is our full list, with asterisks denoting top ten:

*Asante, M.K. Buck: A Memoir. Spiegel & Grau. August 2013. 272p. HC $25.00. ISBN 9780812993417. A broken family and community are where he's from; poetry and music get him to where he wants to be.

Coley, Liz. Pretty Girl 13. Katerine Tegen Books. March 2013. 352p.HC $17.99. ISBN 9780062127372. She's 16 but she can't remember what happened the last 3 years.

Gagnon, Michelle. Don’t Turn Around. HarperCollins. July 2013. 320p. PB $9.99 ISBN 9780062102911, HC $17.99. ISBN 9780062102904. If you run, they will find you.

Goodman, Shawn. Kindness for Weakness. Delacorte. May 2013. 272p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9780385743242. Twelve months in lockup. Weakness is not an option.

Greene, Robert and 50 Cent. 50th Law. Smarter Comics. October 2012. 80p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9781610820066. Keys to power and words of wisdom.

Henry, April. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. Henry Holt and Co. June 2013. 224p. HC $16.99 ISBN 9780805095418. A race against time to solve the mystery of who she is and why two men are trying to kill her.

Jacobs, John Hornor. The Twelve-­Fingered Boy. Carolrhoda Books.February 2013. 280p. HC $17.95. ISBN 9780761390077. Jack's hands aren't the only things that hold secrets.

Johnson, Albert. H.N.I.C. Infamous Books. July 2013.128p. PB $11.95 ISBN 9781617752322, HC $19.95 ISBN 9781617752360. Will Black let Pappy get out alive?

*Jones, Marilyn Denise. From Crack to College and Vice Versa. Marilyn D. Jones. May 2013. 144p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9780989427401. The title says it all.

Kowalski, William. Just Gone. Raven Books. September 2013. 128p. PB $9.95 ISBN 9781459803275. Is someone or something mysterious taking care of homeless youth?

Langan, Paul. Promises to Keep. Townsend Press. January 2013. 151p. PB $5.95. ISBN 9781591943037. Keeping his promise just might save his life.

*Langan, Paul. Survivor. Townsend Press. January 2013. 138p. PB $5.95. ISBN 9781591943044. Avoiding the past is not an option.

*McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Lafance, Daniel. Annick Press. February 2013. 176p. PB $18.95. ISBN 9781554514885. Kidnapped and forced to kill for the Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa.

*McVoy, Terra Elan. Criminal. Simon Pulse. May, 2013. 288p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9781442421622. Dee was everything to her. Until he killed a man for another girl.

*Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Candlewick. March 2013. 272p. HC $16.99. ISBN 9780763658595. It’s gonna happen.

*Nussbaum, Susan. Good Kings, Bad Kings. Algonquin Books. November 2013. 320p. PB $14.95. ISBN 9781616203252. Most of them could make it on their own ­ if they could get out of lockdown.

*Rivera, Jeff. No Matter What. CreateSpace. October 2013. 112p. PB $5.38. ISBN 9781493544141. Will Jennifer wait for Dio? Will Dio get it together?

*Ryan, Darlene. Pieces of Me. Orca. September 2012. 240p. PB $12.95. ISBN 9781459800809. Maddie knows how to survive on the streets alone, but when an abandoned child comes into her care, the rules Maddie has lived by start to change.

Shantz-­Hilkes, Chloe (ed.). Hooked: When Addiction Hits Home. Annick Press. March 2013. 120p. PB $12.95. 9781554514748, HC $21.95. ISBN 9781554514755. Living with addiction can be just as painful as suffering from one.

Stella, Leslie. Permanent Record. Skyscape. March 2013. 282p. HC $17.99. ISBN 9781477816394. New School. Will Badi revert to his destructive ways?

Terry, Chris L. Zero Fade. Curbside Splendor Publishing. September 2013. 294p. PB $12.00 ISBN 9780988480438. How's Kevin ever going to figure out his problems with girls, bullies, friends and the angst of seventh grade if his wise­assed mouth keeps getting him grounded?

Van Diepen, Allison. Takedown. Simon Pulse. September 2013. 288p. PB $9.99. ISBN 9781442463127, HC $16.99. ISBN 9781442463110. How many losses before Darren can takedown Diamond Tony's organization?

*Young, Pamela Samuels. Anybody’s Daughter. Goldman House Publishing. October 2013. 374p. PB $16.99. ISBN 9780989293501. When Brianna gets targeted and tricked into a sex trafficking ring, Uncle Dre, using his connections as a former drug dealer fights against time to save her.

Youth Communications. Rage: True Stories by Teens About Anger. Free Spirit. July 2013. 176p. PB $11.99 ISBN 9781575424149. Manage your anger, create a life of control and a future with possibilities.

Weyer, Hannah. On the Come Up: A Novel, Based on a True Story. Nan A. Talese. July 2013. 320p. HC $25.00 ISBN 9780385537322. Big dreams come true for a teen mom.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

I listen to the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series in the car while driving to and from work. There have been four books released so far, with the last book, the fourth, having been released last Fall. I cannot tell you how in love with these books I am. They go by so fast, and they always make me laugh and smile. Katherine Kellgren, my most favorite narrator ever, does such an incredible job, I can see why she has won awards for her narrating. She does every single voice in the books, and she does them so well and they are always the same, she never forgets how she did a voice before, she always gets it exactly the same every time.

If you are interested, this is Maryrose Wood's blog, All Year 'Round (now illustrated). The books are absolutely hilarious, plus clever and witty. Penelope, the protagonist, is someone that you can't help but admire. She gets a little down sometimes, but picks herself up with the clever sayings by the founder of her alma mater, Agatha Swanburne. One of my favorites is something along the lines of "we will board that omnibus when it gets here, not a moment sooner." What a funny way to put it! I love these books, but I fear that the fifth one will be the final one, and I'm terrified. I love entering the clever world of Penelope and the Incorrigibles.

I really recommend these books, especially for fans of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Mysterious Benedict Society, and the Enola Holmes series (also narrated by Katherine Kellgren)!

I also follow Maryrose Wood on Twitter and I highly recommend that you do, too! She has a really great thing going on called #SwanburneWednesdays where she tweets a clever saying by Agatha Swanburne, and if you retweet it you are entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of the latest book, the Interrupted Tale. I retweeted a saying and to my incredible shock, I got a notice saying that I had been mentioned by Maryrose Wood on Twitter. I checked and I had won!!!!! I nearly had a heart attack and I am still in shock!! A signed copy of this beautiful book!!! I emailed Ms. Wood to give her my address, and she wrote back, and I nearly had another heart attack! It is as if I am exchanging letters with Charles Dickens!!!

Why yes, I did take a screencap of the tweet where she mentioned me!!!!!! (Ahem, please excuse the excessive exclamation marks! It seems I am still in quite a bit of a shock and will be for the foreseeable future).

What I think is also so awesome about this tweet is that it is tagged #ahwoo. I LOVE IT! I will take a picture of my amazing book when it gets here!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Under the Mesquite

Under the Mesquite
Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Under the Mesquite is written as a novel-in-verse and follows Lupita, whose mother is ill with cancer. With her clear voice, Lupita tells us of her family: her hardworking father who saves every penny for their college funds; her mother who can revive even the most frail rose in her garden; and her siblings who, despite their bickering, love each other and are the strength and support Lupita needs to face the difficulties before her. Lupita finds an escape from the harsh reality in acting, and shines in UIL competitions. She tells us of the beauty of Mexico, a beauty she no longer sees since her mother became ill. There is a ray of hope when her mother undergoes treatment, but that hope is soon dashed. Lupita faces her mother's death and decides to leave to pursue higher education hours away from her heartbroken father, but she knows that she must move forward to live her life.

This book reminded me a little bit of The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales, especially when Lupita makes the difficult choice to leave home to pursue a higher education and a better life. Marissa from Ashley Hope Perez's What Can't Wait makes a similar difficult choice. Under the Mesquite is also a Pura Belpre Award winner, like The Tequila Worm.

Black Beauty

Recently a little girl came in looking for classics to read. She had a paper from her school shaped like a shield/crest, and it was divided into sections, with each section having the title of a book and its author. Titles included Treasure Island and Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz and The Wind in the Willows. When we were looking for one of the titles, we passed by the S author last names. She reached up and touched Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and I said, "That's my favorite," and she replied, with a sigh, "I know." She understood.

I love Black Beauty, and I hold it very close to my heart. It is one of the first books I ever read, the first book I read completely in English, and the first book that ever made my heart ache. It is also one of the greatest reasons why I love animals and think there should be stricter punishments for animal abuse. This was the version I had, a paperback Landoll Classic, which I am trying to purchase again:

It came with this matching Robinson Crusoe:

I can't tell you how happy I felt to hear that she loved this book so much. That was a great moment, and she was such an awesome kid. 

The January/February 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine has a really wonderful article titled "What Makes a Good Horse Book?" by Anita L. Burkam. It's such a wonderful article, I highly recommend it. There are so many great titles, and it is so neat to have learned that Ms. Burkam was a former riding instructor! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

After-Valentine Bulletin Board

I had been wondering what to do with the bulletin board outside the workroom after Valentine's Day. A coworker suggested Where's Waldo, which I thought was a great idea, especially because I wanted to keep the red background and white border. I went searching and found an awesome silhouette character idea at A Rainbow of Teaching.  She made silhouettes of various children's book characters on a red background. I decided to do something similar, and this is the result!

Skippyjon Jones, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Lorax
Where's Waldo?, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Cat in the Hat, the protagonist from The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

I saw this bulletin board after I'd already made the one above, but I'm still so glad I found it. The silhouettes are amazing, I especially love the Clifford silhouette. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine Books & Eeyore

I saw these adorable Valentine Chocolate Books at Target. I wish they had had a version with book titles on the spines. These are some of the cutest Valentine treats I've seen.

And just for fun, this beautiful Eeyore mug gift.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Eye Candy by R. L. Stine

R. L. Stine's Eye Candy novel is being made into a mini-series starring Victoria Justice.


Lindy Sampson is a twenty-three-year-old New Yorker with a problem: She’s too beautiful. Guys are intimidated by her. Her roommate suggests Internet dating and writes a Personal ad for Lindy, calling her “Eye Candy.” The responses pour in. Suddenly, Lindy is dating four guys at once–and having the time of her life. Until she gets a terrifying note that warns: “Don’t say no, Lindy. Keep going out with me. I’ll mess you up if you ever say no.”

Which one of her admirers is a deadly freak? Lindy is now forced to say yes to everything the four men ask of her–dates, invitations to spend the night, anything. From the East Village to the Hamptons, panic and paranoia shadow her every move. Lindy suspects everyone, even the one person she thought she could trust. But Lindy Sampson doesn’t know the half of it– and what she doesn’t know could kill her. . . .

Monday, February 10, 2014

Animal Valentines

A really cute Valentine craft we had this year:

An elephant, a cat, a fish, and a dog.
This great idea was from Sassy Dealz. I thought the elephant would be the most popular, but the dog turned out to be the most popular.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Libraries in Books

I've been wanting to create a series of posts dedicated to the portrayal and inclusion of libraries, librarians, books, and other library-related subjects within books. This past week I came across a book titled Francis, the Little Fox that is partly a picture book, partly a chapter book, but altogether a beautiful and highly recommended read.

I was delighted to come across a building labeled "Rare Books" and another labeled "Library" in the story. And with these I kick of this series of posts! For the sake of organization, I shall label all of these posts "libraries in books."

Francis, the Little Fox
Veronique Boisjoly

Como Reconocer a Un Monstruo, Pinguino

Cómo Reconocer a un Monstruo
Gustavo Roldán

This is a very quick and fun book to read, especially out loud to someone. It is an easy guide to finding out how to recognize a monster. The book begins very comically: if you think you have come across something that could possibly be a monster, it is best to be sure. If the creature has large feet and a tail that goes for meters and meters, you may just be face to face with a monster. What makes this book fun to read is that every time you turn the page, you see a new part of the monster, so the book builds up until you are finally sure you are seeing a monster.

Polly Dunbar, 2007
Belén Cabal, traducción, 2008

This is also a very funny book, and would be great to pair with Cómo Reconocer a un Monstruo. Lucas is a little boy that has just received a penguin as a gift. He tries and tries, but Penguin will not speak, no matter what. Finally Lion comes by and Lucas offers Penguin to the Lion as a snack. The ending will make you laugh and will surprise you.