Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 9: A song I can dance to

Barely got this done in time, but here it is. I've not only danced to this song at a friend's wedding, but it's fun to sing along with in the car, especially when I'm feeling particularly sassy. 

Day 9 - A song I can dance to: The Commodores - Brick House

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 8: A song you know all the words to

My original intention was to use Brianna's song,  Salt-N-Pepa's Shoop, which was my very favorite song through middle school. However, I was listening to this in the car the other day and realized that I also liked it and knew all the words. This one is from university though, and reminds me of the last two years, especially as Sugar Ray was going to do a concert at VCU but I missed it because I was in Italy. 

Day 8 - A song I know all the words to: Sugar Ray - Every Morning

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 7: A song that reminds you of a certain event

This one is pretty easy, as the first thing that popped into my head was our wedding a little over 5 years ago today. This was our song that my hubby and I danced to at the reception, and my hubby originally picked the song. I guess it's kinda of a weird song to pick but we liked it. 

Day 7 - A song that reminds you of a certain event: Stereophonics - Just Looking

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 5: A song that reminds you of someone and Day 6: A song that reminds you of somewhere

I'm a bit behind on songs, but I figured I would do my two now that I have thought of which ones to use. Day 5's song reminds me of my husband John when we were dating, and he was still living in England. The Darkness started out as a Led Zepplin cover band, but morphed into something more. Most of their album's Permission to Land and One Way Ticket to Hell...and Back were filled with songs that we both were listening to on opposite sides of the ocean. Yes they are corny, but they are fun to listen to. 

Day 5 - A song that reminds me of someone: The Darkness - Girlfriend

Day 6's song is a bit of an odd choice, but true. I never listened to Bruce Springsteen at all growing up, I was more interested in hip-hop and defying my parents mostly. But the one place that I did eventually listen to this song was in Italy, specifically Florence/Firenze when I was doing my study abroad my junior year in university and it was just the beginning of the 80s revival that lasted from about 2001-2005 or so depending who you ask and where you are. I thought it was hilarious and a bit ironic that they were playing it in the American club in Italy.

Day 6 - A song that reminds me of somewhere: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 4: A song that makes me sad

This song was hard for me to pick because I mean who wants to name a song that makes them cry? But anyways, I searched a bit online to see what others had said, but found I didn't agree with most of their choices. So I turned to opera, which has a tendency to have some very sad songs in it due to the nature of the content. I haven't actually seen this live, only on video and in clips, but La Boheme is an amazingly beautiful opera and the basis for Rent, the modern day adaption of it. I found this online today and had to share, though it cuts off a bit too quick at the end. 

Day 4 - A song that makes me sad: Giacomo Puccini - Final scene end of Act 1: La Boheme 

Teen Services Exchange Workshop

Yesterday I went to our State Library for Teen Services Workshop, which was done by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) member Erin Downey Howerton. She works at a library in Kansas City, Kansas. It was nice to be able to go to a professional function with other librarians and learn about how to improve services to teens, a group that I am very interested in working with in the future. A lot of times they get ignored because administration or other librarians don't want to deal with them, because they don't come to the library that often. However, as the people who like to work with them know, they are the future. If you can hook them now, you will have them later when they grow up and have kids of their own. 

The first part of the presentation was on Erin's book picks from 2010, which a worksheet that was divided into categories. There were books for younger teen (tweens, age 8-12), nonfiction and poetry, graphic novels, older teens, Michael L. Printz winners & honors (Erin had served on the Printz committee in 2010, so these were ones she helped nominate), and trends for 2011-12. I like lists like this as I am always looking for new books to read (this need is emphasized by my recent book slump) and to recommend to other people. She also discussed how to handle controversial books, and gave resources on select groups of books such as edgy/gritty books and historical fiction. I asked her a question about a book I recently read, Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman. Since the book is pretty graphic and I think would mostly appeal to boys, how to you get girls to like it? I mean I found it fascinating, but most girls aren't into nonfiction/slightly gory topics. Erin and a couple of the other librarians mentioned that to make it appeal to girls, you talk about the feelings and emotions of the book, i.e. how Phineas changed over time personality-wise. I still need to work on book talking, but that gives a good head start on the kind of things I could say while giving one. She also mentioned that on August 5, in libraries across the country, there will be a nationwide Teen Lock-In. The organizers in California are trying to get teen authors to video Skype chats with the teens for the event. A lot of librarians complained about their administration not allowing them to do something like this, so Erin suggested that South Carolina get a discussion group going that includes libraries that want to do the lock-in  and those that have already done them successfully. Issues would include how to secure the building and insurance complications. 

The next part of the presentation was on the benefits of joining YALSA, and outlines their extensive online virtual opportunities, the different committees you could join, and the resources available to its members and the general public. I liked that you could join the listservs and view the blog without being a member. Since I am not currently a full-time library professional, I think I will wait till I am before I decide which organization to join. 

The third section was on Tech Trends. She discussed social networking trends for teens and tweens, as well as internet research that studies these trends so librarians have ammunition to take to administrators who might think social networking sites are a waste of time. She discussed something I knew very little about, namely QR codes, or Quick Response codes. These are 2-D barcodes that hold a lot more data than traditional barcodes. Her example was an ad from the Utah State Travel Board, which included a QR code. When you scanned this with your smartphone, it led the user to the site that requests travel guides for Utah. We found out that they are using them everywhere, from magazines and billboards to flyers that promote events and even in libraries themselves. Erin said that she has done a scavenger hunt in the science section of her library. She also discussed devices and cool apps to check out, the most interesting being Quickcite (which scans a book's barcode and you pick a citation style and it creates and emails you the citation), Kinect for XBox 360, Nintendo 3 DS (glasses-free 3D), Layar (augmented reality, which could be used by libraries to show patrons where specific books/items are located. The final part of the discussion was on E-book restrictions and the future of E-content. All in all, it was a very interesting day and it was nice to not only talk to other librarians but also the instructor. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 3: A song that makes me happy

This was an easy song to pick. I started listening to it about two or three summers ago after I discovered the artist on youtube during one of my random browsings, and I found his song Caroline. Now I only understand very rudimentary French but I listen to him more for his beats/melodies than anything else and because his styles are so varied. He goes from salsa-inspired to jazz rap to more hardcore stuff. I find him interesting because he was born in Senegal but raised in Paris, plus he apparently introduced rap to France. This song is just a happy song. The video is just something someone added to the song (not the original), but I picked it because it contained the entire song. 

Day 3 - A song that makes me happy: MC Solaar - Bling Bling

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 2: Your least favorite song

Ok, I'm sure I will get a lot of complaints about this one, but here it is. Normally when it comes to church music, I prefer pretty traditional stuff, the stuff out of the blue hymnal or fancier stuff like Handel or Mozart. However, the one song that I absolutely hate listening to is this song: 

Day 2 - Your least favorite song: Amazing Grace

The reasoning behind this is that it is so overplayed at churches or to make anything vaguely religious. Esp funerals. I have banned this from my funeral. Usually I think things played on the bagpipes sound better, but for this song I make an exception. I will sing it if I have to but I don't like to. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 1: My favorite song

30 Days, 30 Songs
So for the first day, we have my favorite song. I will say first it is impossible for me to limit it down to one song out of all the ones I've ever listened to, so I will pick one of my favorites. 

Day 1 - My Favorite Song: The Raveonettes - Love in a Trashcan

I discovered this Danish band my first time around in grad school, at St. Andrews. My next door neighbor and friend Nikolaj, was Korean-Danish and bought me their latest album at the time, Chain Gang of Love, for my birthday because I had admired their first album. This song is off their third album Pretty in Black, which I bought for myself after I came back to the States. They are such a crazy mix of new and old rock that you can't help but listen to them. I've missed seeing them live, but I know it would be an awesome show. 

30 Days, 30 Songs

I got the idea of this from my friend Brianna, whose blogs 100 Recipes and Off the Wal(cott) I subscribe to. She is currently doing it on Facebook, but I thought it would be fun to do it on my blog. The idea is to share a little about yourself by choosing a song a day for 30 days. As she did, I will add my song titles to this master list as I go along with the project. As Brianna has already pointed out, it is hard to pick just one song for some of these categories. Luckily some of them repeat themselves, so hopefully it wouldn't be as bad. I know there will be some that I have no clue what to put down for a particular day, but we'll give it a shot anyways. I will say that some of the "songs" will not be exactly songs but maybe pieces of music, i.e. classical. Like her, I tend to have varying degrees of favorites based on the day/week/month and what I am feeling like. 

The 30 Day Song Challenge

Day 1 - Your favorite song: The Raveonettes - Love in a Trashcan
Day 2 - Your least favorite song: Amazing Grace 
Day 3 - A song that makes you happy: MC Solaar - Bling Bling
Day 4 - A song that makes you sad: Giacomo Puccini - Final scene end of Act 1: La Boheme 
Day 5 - A song that reminds you of someone: The Darkness - Girlfriend
Day 6 - A song that reminds you of somewhere: Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
Day 7 - A song that reminds you of a certain event: The Stereophonics - Just Looking
Day 8 - A song you know all the words to: Sugar Ray - Every Morning
Day 9 - A song you can dance to: The Commodores - Brick House
Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep: Johann Pachelbel - Canon in D major
Day 11 - A song from your favorite band: Mika - Big Girl (You are Beautiful)
Day 12 - A song from a band you hate: Justin Bieber - Baby ft. Ludacris
Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure: NKOTB - Summertime
Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love: Alan Jackson - Chattahoochee
Day 15 - A song that describes you: Avenue Q Soundtrack - Purpose
Day 16 - A song that you used to love but now you hate: Green Day - Boulevard of Broken     Dreams
Day 17 - A song that you hear often on the radio: Katy Perry - Firework
Day 18 - A song you wish you heard on the radio: Pogo - Joburg Jam
Day 19 - A song from your favorite album: Tim Minchin - Mitsubishi Colt
Day 20 - A song that you listen to when you're angry: Tim Minchin - Some People Have It Worse Than I
Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you're happy: The Eels - God Damn Right, It's a Beautiful Day 
Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you're sad: Avenue Q Soundtrack - There is Life Outside Your Apartment
Day 23 - A song you want to play at your wedding: Tony Bennett - The Way You Look Tonight
Day 24 - A song you want to play at your funeral: J.S. Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh: Monty Python and the Holy Grail soundtrack - Knights of the Round Table
Day 26 - A song you can play on an instrument: 1940 Fantasia soundtrack - Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony Pt. 1
Day 27 - A song you wish you can play (or in my case sing): Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) sung by Teresa Berganza - Una Voce Poco Fa
Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty: 
Day 29 - A song from your childhood: 
Day 30 - Your favorite song at this time last year: 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My two latest obsessions

So lately I have been rather bored and started searching for new shows to watch since the last show I started watching on Hulu was Mercy, which only lasted 22 episodes and just as it got all cliffhanging, I found out that they had canceled it. I had heard from several friends that they liked Bones, and since I tend to like true-crime shows, I thought I would give it a whirl. Now I'm totally addicted. I started watching it last weekend and am already on the third season of 6. Thankfully Netflix has it on the online queue for free, so I've been watching it there. It's just so nice to find an intelligent woman with an interesting job that I'd actually consider doing, provided I had unlimited resources of course (even less jobs out there for forensic anthropologists than there are for children's librarians, which I know as I have friends who are cultural anthropologists). I wasn't really a fan of David Boreanaz, but the more I see of him acting as Booth, the FBI agent, the more I like him. I also love the other cast members, the incredibly social awkward guy who's really good at his job and super smart, the smart sexy female coroner, the beautiful artist girl with a past, and the insanely rich bug and dirt guy who just wants a normal life. And even though the show has given me a few nightmares, especially after watching 3 or more episodes in a row, I am still fascinated by it. 

The other thing I've been obsessed about, and part of the reason I can't sleep (the other being my hips hurt like crap and are all out of alignment due to my current state of pregnancy and being unable to sleep on my back) is Dragon Age II. Originally when my hubby and I played the demo, I was impressed with it, but didn't really care when we got it. My hubby decided to preorder it and we got it by Thursday, and I've been playing it ever since. The storyline just sucks you in from the beginning, well after you make it Kirkwall (your future home) anyways.  This one is following a similar timeline to the Dragon Age: Origins (the first game in the series) but in a totally different location and with different characters for the most part. The romance aspect of it is very intriguing as all the people you have the option of starting something with are damaged in major ways, so it is interesting to see which one you choose and why. The storyline so far is a bit depressing, but fascinating because it is all told from the viewpoint of a dwarf who is in the company of "the Champion" from the beginning, as he is being interrogated. So I am very interested to see where the storyline eventually ends up. I haven't gotten this into a game since Origins came out. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Second half of book reviews from 3/7/11

Children and Young Adult
The Great Gilly Hopkins
by: Katherine Paterson
My version of the book had 148 pages, not 160. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile, and I do think that if I ever managed to do the library survey that I created for class last semester in my research class about "Foster Kids, Reading and The Library," that I would definitely use this book as part of a reading list on foster care. I really wanted to like this book, but was a bit shocked by how mean-spirited Ms. Smartypants Gilly Hopkins was, even though I know a lot of it was based on how she was treated in her foster homes and how she learned to survive. However, Gilly or to use her real name Galadriel, whose name I loved from the beginning, eventually learns that she doesn't have it so bad at Ms. Trotter's house and that William Ernest is like the dorky younger brother she never had and Mr. Randolph is pretty cool too. It sucks that she learns this as her real grandmother, who she has never met before, comes to take her to live with her permanently. And after meeting her real mom in person realizes that life isn't fair. 

I liked this quote from the book on page 124: "No, what she wanted was something Trotter had no power over. To stop being a 'foster child,' the quotation marks dragging the phrase down, almost drowning it. To be real without any quotation marks. To belong and to possess." Phrases like that are what make Katherine Paterson a great writer. I would definitely use that phrase in a booktalk, if I ever had to do one for this book. I give this book 3 1/2 stars. 

Love That Dog
by: Sharon Creech
Cute story, in free verse, about a young boy named Jack who discovers that he likes poetry and does journal entry-style poems talking about his daily life and his dog, Sky. Jack reads poetry in class, which is included in the back of the book, and gets to meet author/poet Walter Dean Myers. Would be a good way to introduce boys to poetry, in a short easy-to-read format. 3 stars. 

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver
by: E.L. Konigsburg
I'm sure there are some who didn't like this book, but I thought it was pretty well done especially since it was written in the late 1970s. The book is about Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is one of my favorite historical women in history. I especially liked how the tale was narrated from heaven by contemporaries of Eleanor, and how she has been in heaven for 500 more years than her husband Henry, who is about to find out if he can come up to heaven. I thought it was amusing that both Eleanor, the Abbot and the Empress had to spend a little time in hell before making it up to heaven. The first narrator was Abbot Suger, who helped design the first Gothic Cathedral (St. Denis) and the first use of stained glass in a church, and talked about her first marriage to King Louis VII. The title alludes to Eleanor's love of luxury, in a statement made by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. The second narrator is Empress Matilda/Maud, daughter of Henry I and mother of Henry II, who discusses Eleanor's eventual marriage and life with her son Henry. The third narrator is William the Marshall, a knight who served Eleanor's family and tells of the time between Matilda's and Henry's death. The final narrator is Eleanor herself and discusses her son's Richard and John's rule until her death in 1204. 4 stars. 

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by: E.L. Konigsburg
Weird that I never read this as a kid, as it is a great book now and would've been an even better one then. A summary of the book is as follows: Claudia is bored with her life and needs change, so she enlists the help of her younger brother Jamie, in order to have money to run away from home. They got to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and while there discover an Italian Renaissance sculpture, which might or might not be the work of Michelangelo. Only Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the former owner of the statue, knows for sure. So they must make a journey there to find out. 

I love that Claudia decides to run away to the Met, as it is a great museum and one that would fun to explore after hours as well during the day. The art history nerd in me would love to be able to do that. I love Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler's character as she seems like just the sort of feisty old lady that I would like to be when I grow up. This version was interesting because it featured an afterword by the author, celebrating the 35th anniversary edition of this book, in which she mentions that a real Angel/Cupid statue possibly by Michelangelo was later found in the museum (although the author made that part of the story up in the book itself).  4 stars. 

Rumi: Persian Poet, Whirling Dervish
by: Demi
Gorgeously illustrated and well-done biography of the Sufi mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi, more commonly referred to by his last name, which was really more like Da Vinci's name (aka Rumi or the man from Rum). A word on the illustration first, as that was originally what drew me to the book. As Demi explains on the inside flap of the book, the book is based off Turkish minatures and is done with "Turkish and Chinese inks and gold overlays," and book was inspired by a trip to Turkey that she took with her son and Turkish daughter-in-law. I also really happen to be fascinated with Sufi poets (as their main message is about love),so I figured this book would be a good introduction to Rumi and his poems, and it was indeed. Although this book would be best for older elementary school children and early middle schoolers, I thought it was complex enough for adults to get a basic idea about the poet/teacher as it included samples of his poetry, including some of the "Mathnavi" and the "Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrizi." 5 stars. 

Young Adult
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science
by: John Fleischman 
Fascinating book on Phineas Gage who managed to survive 11 years after a tampering rod, used for blowing up rocks while creating the American railroad system, was driven through his brain by an explosion. Normally I don't go in for scientific books, but the story was so interesting (yes and a little gruesome, definitely not for the faint of heart), that I couldn't put it down. The author even managed to make the complexities of brain study and science easy enough for a novice like me to understand. Yes I know this book is really meant for young adults, 6th grade +, but the volume was short enough to catch my interest and make me read a longer volume by the leading expert on Gage and his injury. 4 stars. 

What My Mother Doesn't Know
by: Sonia Sones
This volume of free-verse poetry by Sonya Sones shows a girl's journey while dating three boys, her parent's increasing fights and pending divorce, and falling in love with a boy she thinks she shouldn't date. The first part of the book was pretty shallow, but I was intrigued by her constant fascination with Murphy and how she likes him from the beginning but doesn't think he is cool or good-looking enough to date. That is until she gets to know him and realizes they are a good fit together. Yay for nerdy arty boys! 4 stars. 

Pinocchio Vampire Slayer: Volume 2
by: Van Jensen
Well I have waited forever for this one and actually read the Carlo Collodi's original story in the meantime. I did a lot of thinking after reading this volume and decided that I liked it. In this book, Pinocchio is joined in the vampire hunting by the Great Puppet Theater, which includes 6 other magical puppets and his friend Carlotta from the previous book. They are joined by the undead almost vampire Master Cherry, the decrepit Blue Fairy and the Ghost Cricket. The story has many twists and turns, but the ending was rather sudden, giving way for a third volume. I give it 3 1/2 stars. 

The Ring of Solomon (Bartimaeus #4)
by: Jonathan Stroud
When I was reading Ptolemy's Gate, the third book in the Bartimaeus saga, I couldn't get through it. But I had recently seen the description for this book and thought, hey a historical version of Bartimaeus, that is something I could get into. It was a great book, with hilarious footnotes as usual. One of my favorites being when he and the Sheban are trying to get the ring and she asks if he has a plan to which he mumbles in a footnote: "Can you define 'plan' as 'a loose sequence of manifestly inadequate observations and conjectures, held together by panic, indecision and ignorance'? If so, it was a very good plan." 

The story was set in the Middle East, primarily in Israel and Sheba (which, in the book, would be located in modern day Yemen, though the actual site has yet to be confirmed), with a few jaunts over to Mesopotamia. In this version, Bartimaeus kills his master at the beginning of the book and spends most of the rest of his time serving Khaba, one of the other 17 magicians that serve the great King Solomon. Khaba is a nasty guy who likes to imagine all sorts of nasty punishments for his spirits. Meanwhile, the Queen of Sheba has received another marriage proposal plus a threat from Solomon saying that if she doesn't accept the proposal, she must give up 40 sacks of frankincense. She is infuriated at his request and sends her First Guard, Asmira to kill him and take the ring. Bartimaeus is sent, by Solomon after a little indiscretion, to clear up bandits that have been attacking merchant caravans in the desert. He does so and discovers Asmira as the sole survivor of an attacked caravan. To discover the rest of this well-written tale, you must read the book. 5 stars. 

Anna and the French Kiss
by: Stephanie Perkins
I picked up this book based on author John Green's vblog recommendation, because he said he loved it. So I figured I would give it a try, and I loved it too. Anna is a high school senior whose father decides to put her in boarding school in Paris, and it is here where she meets a whole new group of friends, including Etienne St. Clair. He spends pretty much the whole book in a relationship, and Anna is alone, thinking that he doesn't like her and that she likes someone else. As the book progresses, she starts developing feelings for him even though they are both "just friends." The author's description of kisses was awesome, right up with there with Cassandra Clare for me. Overall, it was a bit predictable and girly, but I really enjoyed the story and couldn't stop reading it. 5 stars. 

Doctor Doolittle, Pele, L.Frank Baum, and others

So lately I have been a bit of book funk. I had checked out 6 books at the beginning of February, but once they ran out, I had no idea what I had wanted to read. I keep checking between Goodreads, which has my list of books to read, and my local public library to try to find something good. That and I started on an authors I haven't read yet and try to read some of the Newberry award winners, as I've not read many of them. I think I might try to tackle Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe, which won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for 2008, and which I have been putting off for ages as it is 816 pages and I didn't have the time before. I'm on the wait list for the audiobook version of Water for Elephants, which I'm hoping to read before the movie comes out. Ooh and I really need to read a Patricia Reilly Giff book before she comes to Columbia for the Augusta Baker's Dozen. I'm hoping I can get a book autographed by her. I'm currently listening to Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days, which I'm loving and will probably read her Princess Academy, as it is Newberry Honor book and I've heard it was good. I'm also reading the children's graphic novel The Dodgeball Chronicles by Frank Cammuso. So now I have a new list of Children/YA book reviews to post that I've been reading that last month or so. 

The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle
by: Hugh Lofting

I used the 1998 hardcover edition of this book, published in New York  by Grosset & Dunlap, which has 276 pages. I am glad to have finally read this book, although I am fairly sure that it is an edited version as I had heard before reading it that some of the character descriptions were fairly racist, as well as some of the illustrations. I found this blog article, which outlines the changes made by Christopher Lofting, the son of the author: 

That being said, I thought it was a delightful fantastical book. And even though it is one of the worst movies ever made, according to the critics, I loved the 1960s musical version with Rex Harrison. It was part of the reason why I wanted to read the book in the first place. The description of the Doctor's house and gardens with the zoo I found particularly fascinating, as was his study of shellfish and eventually meeting the Great Sea Snail. It is sad that the first two books are the only ones in libraries nowadays, when the author wrote fourteen books in total. 3 stars. 

Pele, King of Soccer/ Pele, El rey del futbol
by: Monica Brown

I just realized that this is the same author that did another bilingual children's biography that I loved, called "My name is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez," which also has brilliant illustrations by Raul Colon. 

This book was a short but well-done biography of Pele, one of the greatest football (soccer) players to ever have lived. He came from a very poor area of Brazil, but joined the Brazilian national team at age 17 and went on to help Brazil win the World Cup three times. He was the first person to score 1000 goals during his career, and even played for a US MLS team. Good for boys and is bilingual (English & Spanish). I loved the end pages and illustrations within the book for their bright colorful designs. 5 stars. 

The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum
by: Kathleen Krull
Being a huge L. Frank Baum fan, I really wanted to read this biography. Kevin Hawkes did a fantastic job with the illustration, esp the end pages and the mini-drawings of Ozian characters at the bottom of every 2 pages. The story just seemed a bit disjointed, like the author just grabbed a bunch of facts about Baum and threw them together to make a story. Baum had a large number of failed business ventures before he finally made it big with the publishing of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in 1900, and from there he because more prosperous and led a more comfortable life. I was glad the author included the storyteller's note in the back, which I thought gave a more complete view of Baum's life. I liked that he was a supporter of the women's rights movement and his own mother-in-law was famous for helping Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association. The author also has a short list of sources she used and his bibliography of Oz books. 3 stars. 

by: Margaret Wild
Encouraging book about a baby puffin, which are apparently called pufflings, who must one day be big, brave and strong enough to leave the nest and start a family of his own. The author features a tiny factual 3 paragraphs on the title page about puffins and their babies. I gave this book 4 stars mostly because of the brilliant pastel and watercolor pencil illustrations inside. 

Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
by: Mo Willems
Didn't like this as much as original Knuffle Bunny book, but a cute story about mistaken identities and growing up. 3 stars. 

It's a Book
by: Lane Smith
I loved this short story about a computer using donkey and a monkey with a book. The monkey is so calm as he explains to the donkey that the book doesn't need to be plugged in, scrolled down, blogged with, make music or need a password. Even so, the donkey is intrigued and gives it a try. The only comment I've heard from Children's librarians about the book is the last page, which says "It's a book jackass," which really has a double meaning and I think parents shouldn't get upset with the word ass. Love the illustrations and the mouse under the hat. 4 stars. 

Otto's Orange Day
by: Frank Cammuso and Jay Lynch
Cute introduction to young children who may have never read a graphic novel before, which features Otto the cat who wishes everything to be orange. The moral of the story is to be careful what you wish for. I mostly picked up this volume because I love Frank Cammuso's more adult work, "Max Hamm, Fairy Tale Detective," and was thrilled to know that he also did children's graphic novels. 3 stars. 

Baker Cat
by: Posy Simmonds
Cute British picture book about a cat who does all the work for the lazy baker and his wife but doesn't get fed much until he catches some mice. So the mice decide to help him and eventually he gets his own bakery. 3 stars. 

Lulu and the Brontosaurus
by: Judith Viorst

I was recommended this book by a fellow librarian and since it was written by the author of "Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day", illustrator Lane Smith and a dinosaur, I decided to give it a try. Lulu is a very spoiled only child who always gets what she wants, that is until she decides for her birthday one year that she wants a brontosaurus for a pet. Her parents won't give her one and she throws tantrums until they ignore her and she goes out on her own to find one. The results are amusing to say the least. 

Overall, I thought the story was cute. The main character was rotten and spoiled in the beginning, but by the end, she learned the error of her ways and was much more tolerable to live with. Another Goodreads reviewer has said that this book was a great read-aloud to a class book, and I agree with that, as well as it being used as a bedtime story. You could even do a chapter or two per day, with the exception of the ending. I give it 3 1/2 stars. 

The Littlest Dinosaur
by: Michael Foreman
Cute story about a tiny dinosaur that proves to himself that he is worthy and can do anything he puts his mind to, despite his size. Love the illustrations. 4 stars. 

by: Kyo Maclear
Cute picture book story about a spork, who's mom is a spoon and dad is a fork, who never quite fits in with the other cutlery. That is, until the messy thing arrives and takes over the kitchen, and they are a perfect fit. 3 stars. 

The Duchess of Whimsy
by: Randall de Seve
Adorable picture book story about the Duchess of Whimsy who is creative and energetic, and the Earl of Norm who is the exact opposite, but he loves her. They think they have nothing in common until the day the cook is ill and her guests bring their own food, including the Earl who brings his grilled cheese sandwich and milk. She finds out that she loves it too and they get to talking, and suddenly discover that they really liked each other. I absolutely loved the illustrations, which totally made the story more, well whimsical, especially the duck in a fez and the Earl's dog. 5 stars. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Distracted by real life...

So my life is usually pretty boring, I'll admit that. Not much going on now except being pregnant and trying to find a more permanent job (not very successfully I will add). At least we now know what I am having for sure: It's a boy! So I can at least pick out colors for the room/baby clothes. Honestly the hardest thing about this, aside from not having the room for said baby things, is the selection. Baby boy's clothes are on the whole not as attractive as girl's clothes, in that there aren't as much cute variations. Unless of course you have unlimited funds, which we don't.  I do like that there are dinosaurs and zoo animals, though giraffes tend to be neutral (for boys and girls). 

My pregnancy is half over. This is both a good and bad thing. Good because we will have the baby, and bad because I will be thrust into parenthood at alarming speed, which is something I'm not sure I'm 100% prepared for. I'm not sure anyone is really ready when they have a kid, I think it is more of a "you are thrust into the situation and you learn to adapt" kind of thing. At least this is what I have observed from other people, including my family members. I am excited that the baby is finally coming, but scared that I won't be good enough. For me, what makes things more complicated is being so far away from friends and family, and only being able to talk to them via phone or internet. I'm thinking I need to join a Mom's group in Columbia, so I can get to know some people. 

To detract from my over-worrying about everything, I thought I would include this funny video I found today about naming your babies, which has also recently been on another friend's blog. I'm not sure if everyone knows about the vblog brothers, YA author John Green and his brother Hank who weekly post videos on YouTube to each other, but I think they are hilarious. In John Green's post proceeding this one, he discusses five funny real names of people in the US and Hank's response is to post this video about how to name your children, according to seven rules (which he outlines).