Monday, January 31, 2011

Long, Cold Days of Winter

Winter days are not long, except when you feel cooped up inside. This is a great time to visit the library and stock up on read alouds for all ages, craft books for boredom, and cookbooks for children. All of this means involvement, but that is the best part of family.

I've been trying to display books, especially ones with Readers' Advisory cards, telling you how much Mrs. Brown or I enjoyed a specific book. I just pulled Julie Andrews Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies to display. This is a beautiful book, great for read alouds, plus there is a CD with Julie Andrews reciting selections from the book. Check this out, put this on your CD player, and start baking with the kids. You'll find the book at J808.81 JUL; and cook books for kids at J641.5.

As for craft fun, don't go out and buy any supplies. Cut up some fruits and vegetables. Use an apple cut in half (so you see a "star"), peppers, mushrooms, whatever looks interesting in the refrigerator. Pull out some paint, and newspapers, computer paper, or wrapping paper, and check out the possibilities of stenciling. If you are having fun, make stationary from the computer paper and have the children write notes to friends and relatives. Don't forget to take pictures of these special times. The library starts the fun!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Historical Fiction - American History

This week I was travelling and chose to read a book that I've had on my "to-read" list, but had never tried. It is The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume 1, The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson. Quite a mouthful of a title. This book won a Printz Honor Award in 2007,and the National Book Award for Young People. The second volume also won a Printz Honor in 2009.

First, let me say that it was wonderful. It was also a book that took time. I read it on my new Nook, which has the capability of looking up words in a dictionary by placing your finger on a word that you want to check. I love this feature! I can see students using this technology and looking up words. It wasn't that I didn't understand the sentences, but Iwanted to check, to make sure I was correct. The Nook also gave me the derivation of the words, too. (Most were from Latin.)

This book is set in the pre-revolutionary Massachusetts colony. A group of subsidized scientists study an African-American slave in all ways to see what he is capble of learning, thinking, and accomplishing.

Octavian was born on a slave ship and purchased with his mother. He is the ultimate experiment. He and his mother are treated like guests or members of the household until funding for the scientists is changed and the revolutionary war looms closer. Octavian and his mother are then treated and worked as slaves. When Octavian's mother dies from small pox (given to her and all attending a "pox party"), Octavian is determined to have freedom.

Anderson has done a masterful job of writing in the style of the 18th C. It is high school level, but certainly not a problem for good readers of any age interested in American history. I can't wait to start volume 2!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Young Adult Literature - The Printz Award

It seems that I was wrong about every book that should/would win an award, including the Printz award. However, I have read Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, the Printz medal winner. Do you want a rip-roaring, page turning, nail-biter of a book? Well, this book is certainly for you. I do have a caveat. It is another violent dystopia! If you thought Hunger Games was violent, Ship Breaker takes it up a notch.

In the near future, with global warming, coastal cities will be underwater. There will be money to be made and industries thriving as companies search the world for fossil fuels, and any metal that can be found. There will also be the scavenger crews that will search for any metal they can get their hands on. It's a hard life to be part of these crews. Nailer, a teenager, works "light crew" because of his small size, with his friend, Pima. They find a wreck filled with great materials to scavenge, but also a girl, barely alive. They decide to keep her for the reward, or a ransom. Nita does not give them much information before she is kidnapped by others for a much bigger payment.

The book was very intense and I had to put it down at times. Nailer's father is a horrible character: a brutal, lying, angry, drunken crystal-meth scavenger. Every time he came into the story, I had a hard time handling the violence. That said, I bet both guys and girls will want to read Ship Breaker for the roller-coaster ride!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Awards! Awards! Awards!

The American Library Association will be announcing the major youth book and media awards Monday morning. I've been thinking about my favorite books read this past year. I've met some wonderful characters and been to places I never imagined, all in the pages of books.

The awards are fun; it's a guessing game to see if I can predict what will win or if I'm disappointed by a committee's choice. In truth, I am in awe of the work that these committees undertake. They must read almost a book a day, if not more. They must evaluate, appraise, thoughtfully consider, and try to think of young people who will read the book with a golden or silver sticker on the cover. What a large responsibility.

There have been years where it was an easy prediction. There have been years where the buzz in "library world" has been all over the place.

If you are wondering, here are my predictions:

Caldecott (for illustrations): City Dog, Country Frog. Story by Mo Willems; Illustrations by Jon Muth
Newbery (for the writing): Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine or One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Printz (for Young Adults): Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan or Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
Sibert (nonfiction): Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; Illustrated by Brian Floca

Check back this week to see how I did!