Monday, March 22, 2010

Nell's Natural Baby

So, my aunt Sally told me about a great website that sells cloth diapers and other great things for moms. It happens to be owned by a local, Nellie, who offers cloth diaper workshops at her office in Brighton. So my mom and I went to one on Saturday and it was great -- Nellie showed us all the different cloth diapering systems and products available, and gave us plenty of take-home info. I went ahead and created a gift registry on her site.
In other baby news, the heartburn is getting nigh unbearable. Any advice? I am taking Zantac 150 twice a day (prescribed by my doc), chewing gum, eating Tums like candy (not going over the recommended dosage, of course), and avoiding all things spicy or acidic, but still waking up in the middle of the night with heartburn, and having it most of the day as well. Help!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Selection of Published Book Reviews

Just thought I'd do some recycling -- aren't we all trying to be green? -- by sharing some of the book reviews I've had published in the past. (I review for School Library Journal and Library Media Connection.) I'm only sharing a few of my favorites for now...hope one of them sparks an interest!

DOWELL, Frances O'Roark. The Kind of Friends We Used to Be.
Gr 5-8--This insightful sequel to The Secret Language of Girls (S & S, 2004) stands alone, but readers will want to go back and find out more about these engaging characters. Kate and Marylin used to be best friends, but sixth grade changed things.

Now, as seventh graders, they are trying to work their way back to the way things "used to be." But it's not so easy when they are so different; Kate's new passion is the guitar-and her heavy black boots-while Marylin, a cheerleader, is determined to be feminine and popular at all costs. Alternating points of view make it easy for readers to relate to both girls as they navigate friendship, romance, and family relationships. Dowell gets middle-school dynamics exactly right, and while her empathetic portraits of Kate and Marylin are genuine and heartfelt, even secondary characters are memorable. A realistic and humorous look at the trials and tribulations of growing up and growing independent.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI (School Library Journal 55.3)

PAULSEN, Gary. The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West.

Gr 6 Up--Drawing on newspaper accounts and his own fertile imagination, Paulsen tells Reeves's story. Brief sections give the known facts of this hero's life, set in historical context, and longer, narrative sections (the longest being about his boyhood) fill out the details. The result is a compelling tale of the runaway slave who lived as a fugitive among the Creek Indians for 22 years, until the Emancipation Proclamation freed him to become a cattle rancher in Arkansas and, finally, a federal marshal appointed to help bring order to the Indian Territory. Bring order he did, with thousands of arrests and 14 gunfights to his credit. Paulsen doesn't romanticize the Wild West or flinch from descriptions of the lawlessness (including murder and prostitution) that was rampant in the Territory, but this dark backdrop only serves to illuminate Reeves's heroism. The protagonist is a fully fleshed-out character whose story is made all the more satisfying by the truth behind it.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI
(School Library Journal 52.8)

SCHWABACH, Karen. The Hope Chest.

Gr 4-6--In America in 1920, "proper young ladies" are expected to behave in a certain way. But when 11-year-old Violet Mayhew discovers that her parents have been keeping her disowned older sister Chloe's letters from her, she abandons propriety and runs away to find her in New York City. There she meets Myrtle, a "colored" girl who is happy to leave her own training as a maid and join Violet in finding her sibling, who has left the city. Their travels take them first to Washington, DC, and then to Tennessee, where Chloe works on the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Here Violet and Myrtle join the fight for women's suffrage. The girls confront heavy issues such as racism and sexism, but the narrative is leavened with humor. The story is packed with period details--Jim Crow laws, Bolsheviks, Palmer agents, Prohibition, shell shock, autocamping, just to name a few--but Schwabach's attention to character and plotting ensures that it never bogs down. Readers will cheer along with the "Surfs" as the victory in Tennessee grants women the vote. The book concludes with historical notes and a voting time line that includes black-and-white photos. Illuminating a time period rarely featured in children's literature, this is a fresh choice for historical fiction fans.--Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI (School Library Journal 54.3 )

SLJ Battle of the Books Reminder

If you're not following School Library Journal's Battle of the Books, in which famous children's authors judge the best books of 2009, it's not too late to catch up! Click here to see what has won -- and lost -- so far. Gary Schmidt, one of my favorite authors (and one I've gotten to meet a few times!) just had to choose between Marcelo in the Real World and Marching For Freedom. The battle is brutal, people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Could spring be here?

Our friends Bernard and Punam came for dinner on Saturday (I had to work, so Mike did all the cooking -- his to-die-for Yankee pot roast and yummy cheddar dill muffins) and brought us a taste of spring: these beautiful flowers! The weather is warming up, I've seen daffodils sending up those first tentative shoots, and I've even heard birds chirping! Does this mean spring has arrived? Well, we do live in Michigan, so I'm not ruling out the possibility of another snowstorm, but I am hopeful!

Today I am 25 weeks! Evan is growing quite rapidly now and I thought some photographic evidence was in order. I'm enjoying his acrobatics throughout the day and can't believe we will be meeting him in just a few short months. When I signed the 3-year lease for my two-door Focus in January 2008, I remember thinking a 2-door was fine since it was highly unlikely that I would even be married in three years, let alone needing car seat access! Perhaps a minivan is in my (near) future?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SLJ's Battle of the Books is Back!

School Library Journal has gathered the best kids' books of 2009 -- and the best kids' authors as judges -- to battle it out for a second year. For more info, go here. And, you have until Sunday the 14th to vote in the "Undead Poll" to resurrect an eliminated title for consideration. Last year's victor was Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, one of my personal favorites. To see the match schedule, click here. To see the judges, click here. Who do you think will win this year? Let the battle commence!

Monday, March 8, 2010

If you have 5 minutes...check this out!

What fun! A great way to celebrate reading...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Two Winners in a Row

How often does it happen that you read two winners in a row? In this case, both books were ones that I had eagerly anticipated, so I shouldn't be surprised, but it's such a nice feeling...And, incidentally, these would both make great middle-grade "boy" reads.

After Ever After is the very worthy sequel to Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. This one focuses on Jeffrey, who is now an eighth-grader in remission from leukemia. Despite some serious issues and sad events, After Ever After is a very funny book that will have you rooting for Jeff from the beginning. (And you don't need to have read the first one to enjoy the sequel, but I guarantee that you will want to after finishing this one!) Another book I love by this author is Notes from the Midnight Driver. He writes great books for those in-between kids who want more mature reads without the edginess.

Cosmic is the latest by Boyle, author of Millions and Framed. You will love Liam, a 12-year-old who can pass for an adult because of his "mutant" height and his facial hair, and who -- after a series of very amusing events -- ends up the sole "adult" in charge of a group of kids in space! He also learns a thing or two about being "dadly." A great adventure made all the more enjoyable by Liam's wry voice.
What winners have you read lately?