Thursday, March 31, 2011

This has been a slow month for reading. I keep thinking I've forgotten something I've read, but I don't think that's the case. I have, however, watched almost all of Season 3 of Mad Men and all of Season 1 of Six Feet Under.

Love Letters by Katie Fforde - adult fiction - Fforde, a British author, writes delightfully charming romantic comedies. I've read almost all of her books; this wasn't my favorite, but was still enjoyable. If you like this kind of book, I highly recommend Stately Pursuits - my favorite of hers.

Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald - juvenile fiction - I picked this book up because the cover is sparkly - don't judge me. Then I realized I had read and enjoyed Greenwald's other book, My Life in Pink & Green. Most of the book takes place over the course of one day, Valentine's Day, which turns out to be a snow day for three seventh grade friends who live in the same apartment building. What I really like about this book (and My Life) is that it deals with the dramas of middle school - the difficulties of friendships, feeling left out, crushes on boys, families - in an innocent way. And, the parents are involved; I don't have an issue with parents not being present in books, but lots of kids have involved parents in middle school, and it's nice to see that reflected in books.  It's perfect for those girls who want realistic fiction but aren't ready for anything too serious or heavy.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart - adult fiction - discussed here - I'm glad I got someone to read this book! It's a enjoyable book.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - a classic - I reread this for a book discussion through this site. I was surprised by how little of this I remembered, but I really enjoyed it.
Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy - adult fiction - I have been reading Maeve Binchy for ages, and always look forward to a new book by her (she's got one out now - Minding Frankie). She's a wonderful storyteller, with the ability to wind the lives of lots of different characters together. Her books are just, for lack of a better word, comfortable. Most of them take place in Ireland, but this one is set in a tiny Greek village. It's my favorite, and it's what I pulled off the shelf to read at 3:30 in the morning when I couldn't sleep.

What have you read this month? Any recommendations?

Conversation of the Day

While I was shelving books in the children's area today, I was talking to two little boys. One of them (a first grader) asked me how much a book was, and we proceeded to have the following conversation.

Me: Well, it's not for sale. It's free to look at here in the library, and if you have a library card, you can borrow it and take home, but you have to bring it back.
Boy: Is that what you do with your little boy?
Me: I don't have a little boy.
Boy: Are you going to get one?
Me: I don't know.
Boy: I know how you get one.
Me: (silence)
Boy: You have to drink a lot of milk.
Me: Oh, okay.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Checking Out A Dog

Next week, students at Yale Law School will be able to check out a "therapy dog" along with books from the library's collection. The dog, Monty, will be available at the circulation desk; students can check him out for 30 minutes at a time for stress relief. You can read more in the New York Times article.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

Today, the first day of spring, is also the Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!

Don't have a copy of the book on hand? Click here to watch Eric Carle read the book.

You can find a coloring page of the caterpillar and all the food he eats here.

If you happen to be in Amherst, Massachusetts, you can visit The Eric Carle Musuem of Picture Book Art. Or, you can check out Eric Carle's blog.

Happy Spring! Happy Very Hungry Caterpillar Day! And, most importantly, Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Reading in Snatches

I have several books that I've been reading in snatches - they are written in ways that I can easily pick up the book and choose a section to read, then put it down and come back later. These are great books, and I'm enjoying making them last. Plus, it is always nice to have something to pick up and read when you only have ten or fifteen minutes.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From A Children's Book
edited by Anita Silvey
This is a collection of essays by a wide range of notable people. Each person discusses a book that impacted his or her life. Each entry also contains a selection from the book mentioned, as well as a bit of background information on the book and author. I got this book for Christmas, and every now and then I take it off the shelf and read an essay or two. I'm not going through the book in any particular order, I just read what catches my eye at the time. Highly recommended, especially for anyone who loves children's literature.

Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful,
Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By
by Lesley M.M. Blume 
I am loving this! In the format of an encyclopedia, Blume writes about an array of things that she would like to bring back. It's a fascinating look at history, and it's interesting to me, that many of the things she writes about I have learned of from reading other books. She writes of calling cards, and immediately I was reminded of Laura's pa giving her money to purchase name cards from the printer, and the time she spent deciding on which design to select (Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder). And, I am personally vowing to start using the term acquaintance more.
(Blume is also the author of several wonderful children's books.)

A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literatureby Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano (editors of the The Horn Book Magazine)                                 This book contains so much information! I'm taking my time my reading a library copy, and have just about reached my limit on renewals. Geared toward parents, it covers reading from birth to teens - board books, young adult titles, poetry, nonfiction...this is a book you can easily pick up and simply read the section that pertains to you and the age of your children.
I feel like this quote from the introduction sums it up perfectly, when Sutton calls this a book "for parents who wish their children would be a wee bit more understanding when Mom or Dad is lost in a book." (p. xiii) If I had kids, that's totally the kind I'd want. But seriously, this is a great resource.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Currently Reading

I wanted to find a good balance between writing about adult, young adult and children's books, but adult books take me longer to read, so I feel like I've done more posting about children's books, especially picture books lately.

I'm going to periodically post what I'm currently reading, and hope that you will chime in with a comment about what you're reading and what you're liking about it. Or not liking, if that's the case.

Right now I'm reading Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart.  This book was published in 2007, and I've had it sitting in various places in my house since then. I was so excited to get a copy of it; I'd read great reviews and was looking forward to reading it, but I was waiting for just the right moment to read it. You know, when I'd time to really appreciate it. It's okay to think that sounds crazy. Anyway, I picked it up the other night and finally started reading it, and it has not disappointed. It's proving to be a quick read, a delightful trip back in time to the summer of 1945.

That's the summer when Marjorie and one of her sorority sisters from the University of Iowa move to New York for the summer. They are certain they'll get jobs at Lord & Taylor, but end up working at Tiffany & Co. There, they are the first women to work on the sales floor - they work as pages, delivering packages to the repair and shipping departments and the book is full of tales and behind-the-scenes glimpes of the store. They are working when Judy Garland visits the store on her honeymoon, when Marlene Dietrich stops by to shop, and Marjorie even models earrings for a notorious gangster.

Even though they spend the summer pinching pennies to be able to afford living in New York, the two have some really incredible experiences, including being in Times Square on VJ Day.
This is a great mix of a biographical tale of a young woman living on her own for the first time, as well as a different, and personal, look at New York in the summer of 1945.

What are you currently reading?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Few Things

  • I have been doing some thinking about my blog. I started it for a couple of reasons, the biggest being that I just wanted to discuss books I was enjoying. I knew I also wanted to include good dog books, and so I started Paisley's Pick. I also knew I wanted it to be a kind of "one-stop shopping place" in that maybe you find something for yourself to read, and then the next time you find something for your child. Beyond that, I didn't really have a plan. I've got a couple of more ideas for features, so watch for come new things in the coming week or so. I would love to be that blogger that lets you know you can find adult titles on a certain day, picture books on another, but...I'm not that organized yet. But - good things (I think) to come.
  • Check out this video about books being organized on shelves. It's more fascinating than it sounds! Link via the Swap-bot blog.
  • I've been meaning to share this website, which is part of the Morton Grove Public Library's website. It is a great resource when you're looking for something new to read. It has lists arranged by books with a particular type of character, or a particular setting or subject, books geared toward a certain audience, etc. It also has lots of lists for author read-alikes, in that if you like this author, you'll probably like these authors as well. It is often one of my go-to sites when recommending books.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Paisley's Pick - Loki & Alex

Loki & Alex: The Adventures of A Dog & His Best Friend
by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
Dutton, 2001

I had a little helper for this review...

Amy: This is a story about Alex and his dog Loki, and an outing they have at the playground. The story alternates between Alex's and Loki's perspectives, as do the photographs.

Paisley: And, because dogs see a little bit different than people, everything Loki sees is a black and white photograph and everything Alex sees is a color photograph. It is great to see what Loki thinks. Sometimes he does not think the same thing as Alex, like when Alex thinks Loki is naughty because he digs in the trash but really Loki is being a good dog because he is getting his own treats!

Amy: It is very cute to see how differently they think some times. I liked seeing Loki go down the slide.

Paisley: But do you know what? In this book, Loki gets to run free without a leash at the playground. Where I live it is the law I have to be on a leash.

Amy: That's true. And even if it were not the law, you need to make sure your dog will come when called if you take her off the leash. So that is definitely something to talk about when you read this book.

Paisley: I'm not very good at that, am I? But I have some funny stories! Maybe I will tell one of my own stories next time.

Reviewed from library copy - Actually this book is out of print, so definitely look for it at your library.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Couple of Picture Books*

Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake
by Thomas Taylor, illustrated by Jill Barton
Boxer Books, 2010

This book just came in at my library and I can't wait to try it out in a storytime. The pictures are big enough for a large group to see, and with great eating noises like slurp, yum and chomp, it should be lots of fun.

Little Mouse finds a cupcake - a yummy looking chocolate-chip, raspberry-cream cupcake. But it's too big for him to carry home. As his friends come by, they all say it is too big for them to carry as well, but everyone wants to taste it. Being a kind and generous mouse, Little Mouse lets everyone have a bite. Or two. And it's cute, because he's so generous and happy to share, but if you look closely in the next scene, he's often got a slight look of worry and disbelief on his face as the cupcake gets smaller. Will there be enough for him? Will he be able to carry it home?

Who Said Coo?
by Deborah Ruddell, illustrated by Robin Luebs (They are twin sisters!)
Beach Lane Books, 2010

This is another title from the 2x2 Reading List. It's nighttime, and cozy and quiet, and Lulu is ready for bed...until, her two mischievous friends, Pigeon and Owl, start making noises. Lulu hears a coo, and a whoo, and even a moo! And, again with the too-cute animal faces - when Lulu asks who makes the noises, the others have these little "not me" looks on their faces. I'm amazed at Luebs's ability to communicate that with the reader through a few slight changes in the animals eyes.

The rhymes in this book flow perfectly (and the book may actually be found in the poetry section instead of the picture book section at your library). I read this in just a regular storytime, but it's a perfect pick for bedtime story.

Reviewed from library copies

*I have got to work on coming up with cuter post titles!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Recap

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan - young adult fiction - It feels like a very long time ago that I read this always, Cohn & Levithan work so great together, taking turns telling a story. This one alternates between Dash and Lily, who correspond with each other through a notebook.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Clearly - children's fiction - I love Ramona. I felt the need to re-read this after referencing her "I can't believe I read the whole thing" book report last month.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass - children's fiction - I'm not sure how I haven't read anything by Mass. She's popular with kids, and she's had several titles appear on Texas reading lists. This book in one word? Wow. A national competition is being held for twelve year olds to create a new kind of candy. We're introduced to four of these kids, and the story is alternately told by each of them. With each new narrator comes new information and/or a different perspective. I found myself constantly flipping back to see how things were first presented, and I mean in a good way. It's very clever! If you liked The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, you'll like this.

The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum - children's fiction - read this again for a Paisley's Pick

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - young adult fiction - This was a fun read, and something different from all the other paranormal books out there...until I got to the end. I thought I'd missed something until I realized this is the first in a trilogy. And I decided I'm completely done with ya paranormal trilogies for awhile. I shouldn't hold that against this book, lessened my enthusiasm for it.

The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek - adult fiction - I discussed this here when I was about halfway through...this is one of those books that I read at just the right at time. I could have picked it up at a different time and been completely annoyed by the characters.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - a classic for a reason!

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee - young adult fiction - I've been waiting for my library to get a copy of this forever and it did not disappoint! It's about a female spy in Victorian London - full of detail and so well-written and engaging with great characters. It's a mystery with a hint of romance. It's the first in a trilogy, but it's not paranormal, so it's okay. I already have the second one in my hot little hands, but the third won't be out until next year!

Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work by Tim Gunn - nonfiction - Back in the day when I had cable, I loved watching Project Runway and Tim Gunn. This had some amusing anecdotes, but I also skimmed lots of it.

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone - children's fiction - Loved this! I intended to post a review, but never got my act together. I picked it up because of this sentence in a review in Publisher's Weekly - "Stone's intricate and lyrical novel, set during WWII, resembles The Secret Garden in all the best ways." I highly recommend it.