Hi kids and kittens! I did a thing and booktalked some of my top picks for upcoming Fall 2013 releases. Picked totally on me personal preference and excitement. I’m shameless like that. Enjoy and leave a comment with what you’re most looking forward to.
Posted by Amanda M. on September 15, 2013
Hi and thank you for reading my twice yearly blog updates! Ugh, I really should be better at this. It’s kinda like, what I do, blog. So besides failing last year at posting anything close to a regular schedule I also made little progress on my Nerd Printz Challenge. I started off strong, working through what my library owned on audio but then slowed considerably.
But this year, this year will be…probably more of the same. I’m taking the microscopic momentum I had last year and plan to build on it. To that end 2013 is only 16 days old and I’ve already finished a Printz! YAY! On with the review!
Why We Broke Up, novel by Daniel Handler, art by Maria Kalman, 2012 Printz Honor.
- Story: Min Green writes a long letter explaining why she broke up with her ex-boyfriend Ed Slaterton. She uses the letter to explain each item in a box that she is returning to him that played some role or had significance in their brief relationship. Through the letter we see how popular jock Ed and “don’t say arty” Min first started dating, the brief and rocky course of their relationship before the aforementioned break-up. Usually I don’t enjoy books that present the end and then work backward to tell the story. I like reading to figure out the unknown. But in this case the structure works because although we know Min and Ed break up we don’t find out way until well into their story. I also love the art and how each object opens a new chapter in the story. The objects represent a different aspect of their relationship, good, bad, bittersweet and pointed.On a roll of undeveloped film, “But we never developed them. Undeveloped, the whole thing, tossed into a box before we really had a chance to know what we had, and that’s why we broke up.”
- Voice: Nailed it. Told in Min’s voice, Handler does an amazing job of creating a unique voice. Yes, it sometimes veers into overly complex but always maintains a conversational and authentic voice. One of my favorite parts of the book.
- Style: Long form break-up letter with great art.
- Setting: An unnamed middle class town, an art house theater, a high school, two houses and a cemetery.
- Accuracy: Sure, although it kept bugging me that the movie and cultural references weren’t real. Like I get why they were invented, so we all have the same frame of reference (none) but at the beginning I thought, maybe they are. Then I thought, for sure, not they’re not. Then I got sad because I would love to see Greta in the Wild.
- Characters: Min – Maybe my one complaint of the book is how singularly we’re focused on Min. She’s a great character. Honest, vulnerable, naive, hopeful, lost, and yes, artistic. But by using the letter we only have Min’s perspective. I’m not sure I really need Ed’s but everything we learn about other characters, like her mom, her friends, Ed’s friends, are all from her perspective. Ed – Typical jock with hidden layers, like good math skills and ability to steal sugar from diners. I found Ed interesting but wish I could see him from another perspective from Min’s. We get some from his sister but not enough at times. Al – Min’s best friend. Joan – Ed’s sister. Annette, Jillian – Ed’s ex-girlfriends. Jordan, Lauren – Min’s friends.
- Themes: Love, Relationships, Friendship, Heartbreak, Honesty.
- Illustrations/Design: Incredible. I’ve already mentioned the art by Maria Kalman as amazing and tied very well with the story. The cover and end papers are also art by Kalman and set the story very well. The book is printed on heavy-weight, high quality paper which is rare in YA books but was necessary to showcase the illustrations. And the author blurbs on the back are stories of their own break-ups like David Levithan’s “The boy I loved didn’t know I existed. Then again, he was obsessed with Camus, so he didn’t know if any of us existed.” Very nice touch.
Thoughts: On the surface this book is in no way my cup of tea. Break-up story, told in flashback. But with incredible writing, sly humor and amazing honestly, I found myself liking it more and more. Not sure if this it hits all my buttons to be “the bestest book ever!” but it is a great read and I’m glad I finally got around to it.
Four out of Five Printzmobiles
And in other good news I’m re-reading Looking For Alaska for a book group so I’ll have my first re-read post going up. It’s been about six years since I’ve read it. Hope I still love it since I go on and on about it being John Green’s best.
Posted by Amanda M. on January 16, 2013
Confession time. If you invite me to your baby shower I will completely ignore your registry. I’m not being mean, or willful. In fact I’m doing the best thing I can for your soon-to-be-child. I’m starting his or her very own library. I’m buying your kid books. Deal with it.
I know it’s popular to ask for a book instead of a card and that’s a great idea. But I don’t feel one book is enough. In fact I know one book is never enough. Do you give your personal childhood favorite? Go with a fancy new bestseller? Board board? Touch-n-feel? Softcover? Hardcover? All tough questions with a simple answer. All of them. You get all of them.
So here’s my go-to list of Baby Shower Book Gifts. I’m always adding to this list so feel free to add your favs too.
Board Books – Good for little hands and nibblers. Sturdy. Handy. I recommend anything by Sandra Boynton or that has a manipulative feature like touch-and-feel or lift the flap. Some popular picture book titles also come in board book format but be weary, not all titles translate well to the format.
- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss – I buy this for every single baby shower since it was my favorite book. I inscribe the cover to make sure no one returns it.
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – A classic for a reason. Get the original, no substitutions.
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – Hardcover only, wear and tear expected.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle – Or any title by Carle. Works well as a board book.
- Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anne Dewdney – The rhyme is great and the story sweet.
- Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems – Actually you can’t go wrong with Willems but these are nice because they can grow with kids when they’re ready for independent reading.
- A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka – This 2012 Caldecott winner is a gorgeous, mostly wordless picture book that lets you and baby tell the story.
- Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea – I believe the title says it all.
What’s the most fun is finding a book that I think the parents will love reading as much as the child will. Because for the first few years its you, my friend, that I want excited about reading and books. You’re the one who will pass on the love of reading and stories, not the books.
Posted by Amanda M. on August 10, 2012
My second tween program this summer was Urban Legends. I conceived it as a fun program that incorporates learning about Urban Legends and creating some of our own. My original brainstorming was inspired by a post for YA Program Activities blog which I highly recommend checking out. I had 16 tweens that I divided into four groups evenly. Which made me super excited because that almost never happens.
- Icebreaker: I like doing icebreakers since it helps the kids loosen up but I’m still hunt for the “perfect one.” This one was kinda silly which is what I was going for. Called “Shoe Factory” you make everyone throw their shoes in a circle and instruct them to pick two shoes that are 1) not their own and 2) do not match. Once they have shoes they have to find their mates and line up. Mostly they just found who owned the shoes until they swapped enough to get their own back. Oh well.
- Introductions: I do this so they know each others name and I know their names but I make them say one thing about themselves to help break the ice. I also used this time to find out how much they knew about Urban Legends and if they knew any good ones.
- Cleaning Pennies with Coke: Each kid received a dirty penny and a small amount of coke in a cup. I warned them to not touch their cup until the end of the program. This would give the coke about an hour and a half to “clean” the penny. I also warned them that if they got soda on the floor they wouldn’t let me do programs anymore. This scared them significantly and they didn’t touch their cups until the end.
- Fact/Fiction Quiz: Each team had two sheets of paper, “Fact” and “Fiction.” I read a question and as a team they had to pick, fact or fiction. I got the questions from the Mythbuster’s website. Here’s the ones I used (Urban Legends Quiz) summer/ocean/bug related questions. Seemed fitting. The winning team got candy. (I had other candy for snacks so everyone got sugar eventually.)
- Two Lies and a Truth: I used a version of this icebreaker as an activity. I gave each team a true myth, most were from scopes.com, and as a group they had to make up two “fake” myths. Then they acted the three myths out and the other teams picked the true myth. I gave them about 20 minutes to create and plan the skits and then another 10 to present. This worked well and they had fun being goofy.
- Pop Rocks and Soda: Passed out pop rocks and more soda and let them test this myth. What I found hilarious was the few who were very concerned that they would be hurt. I didn’t want to come out and say, of course you’ll be fine, because that would have taken some of the “danger” out of it. But one kid was so concerned I finally said, “Do you really think I’d let you try something that could hurt you?”
- Mythbusters: While they were finishing their pop rocks and soda I brought out the rest of the snacks (chips, cookies and aforementioned candy). I let them serve themselves and we watched part of the Mythbusters episode that tested the pop rocks and soda myth. They were appropriately impressed and disgusted.
That took us to about the end of the two hours. I had a stack of pre-pubs and let them pick out one to take home. I had loads of fun planning this one and the kids had fun too. For next time I’d probably have more props for the playacting part since they grabbed anything that wasn’t tied down in the room to use. And once again I was too busy running things to take any pictures. Some day.
Posted by Amanda M. on August 7, 2012