105 Ways to Give a Book

Writer Tricks, Bargain Books, and Amazon Associates

As it turns out, I probably screwed up. I was supposed to write an article for The Edge of the Forest, and I could not get over my writer’s block. I mean, I finally did, but I think I sent it in too late, and I feel kinda bad. The whole thing leads me to wonder about being a real writer, like Pinnochio wanted to be a real boy. What do you do if the inspiration won’t come?

At this time, I take a nap. I find that thinking about what I want to write as I’m resting makes the ideas flow together in interesting ways. Of course, the problem comes if I actually fall asleep and forget the whole thing. Or if other ideas keep intruding on my meditation. I’ll want to think about my article, and instead I’ll wonder if Paris Hilton shopping a kids’ book will make the whole children’s publishing industry silently implode.

Generally, my nap technique works, but apparently not always. So I need some writer tricks. Anyone want to share?

As a token of my appreciation for your inspired help, I offer tidbits from the area in which I excel: bargain shopping. Sometimes at work, I’ll scroll down the lists of bargain books at Amazon. It’s fun when I’m at the reference desk, because it’s a totally mindless thing to do and I can stop at any point to help someone. Of course, it’s always a great reminder of what’s out there — or what’s been out there. Summer is a great time for shopping, because lots of the Christmas books are half off or more, and they dump all the extra Mommy and Daddy books from Mother’s and Father’s Day. Then the list is filled with fairly random titles as well — some good, some... not so much. Here are my picks.

Every once in a while, different books from the Mo Willems collection go on discount. A week later, the titles are back on the inventory list at regular price. I have no idea why this happens, but I take advantage of it to put away presents for friends and family. Right now you can buy Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and The Pigeon Finds a Hog Dog for $5.99, and Leonardo The Terrible Monster for $6.99.

Remember all the fuss about Cathy’s Book? No? Well, in my opinion, it turned out to be a pretty decent teen book with lots of paper stuff — notes, napkins, photos — tucked in a front cover pocket. Now this title can be yours for $5.99.

It looks like I was too late for the bargain Mommy books, but not too late for this funny story: My Dad’s Job, priced now at $4.99. This book was written by Books of Wonder owner Peter Glassman and cleverly illustrated by my New York City escort, Timothy Bush, and shows a boy’s misunderstandings of his father’s work stories.

I managed to score a complete Dragonology set for about $12, in what could only have been a computer pricing error. You can buy one book, Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, for only $4.00. Not a bad gift idea. If the kid in your life isn’t quite ready for the small text of that series, try the younger series from the same company. It features a lot of the same little fun stuff on the pages, but is geared younger. I bought Knight: A Noble Guide for Your Squires at $3.60.

This would be a good time to mention that I am an Amazon Associate, and thus get a small referral fee if you buy a book from that site after coming from here. For instance, I’d collect a whopping $0.36 if you buy either Pigeon book. So, not enough for me to reeeally make money on these recommendations. However, if you wish to support my site in general, you can do so by adding one click to your normal purchasing and it won’t cost you a penny. Before you do any Amazon shopping, stop at MotherReader and click on any book to take you to the Amazon website. Now shop as you wish. You don’t need to buy the book you clicked on, or even a book for that matter. MotherReader is listed as the referral site for whatever you buy, and the small bits that Amazon pays help me justify the enormous amount of time I spend on this blog. Many other blogs are also Amazon Associates, and the same deal goes for them. So I’d just say that if you’re doing Amazon shopping anyway, stop at a supporting site and help out your unpaid blogger friends.

Okay, that ended up long and off my original topic, but I think it needed to be said. To review: I’m looking for writer tricks to write what you’re contracted to write, I’m suggesting bargain books to put away for birthdays and holidays, and I’m explaining the whole Amazon Associate thing for anyone who was unclear on the topic. Carry on.

Knuffle Bunny Too

So I didn’t get talk to Mo Willems at his author signing or hear him serve as color commentator for the book cart drills or see him accept the Carnegie Medal, as detailed at his site.

But I’ve got this, and I’m pretty happy. Notice the curvature of the book? That’s because I had to take a picture of the F&G — or “fold and gather” — because the picture isn’t even on Amazon yet. The distinctly amateur quality of the photo also makes it perfectly clear that I am not showing some sort of publicity shot, but a picture of the book in my very own home. Sitting right beside me on the black desk chair.

Not that I’m excited about it or anything.

Okay, I am excited about it. Not only because I have it early. Not only because I got it personally. Not only because I seem to be the first to review it. I am excited about it because it’s really great. Really, really great.

Start with the title: Knuffle Bunny Too. I love the wordplay of too and two, because both are accurate in this story. There is a Knuffle Bunny also, i.e., another KBunny featured, making two Knuffle Bunnies. Of course it’s the second book. And you know, we could take this one further and say that it could be to, as in Knuffle Bunny goes to PreK, because that’s how it all starts.

Trixie is walking to school with her daddy, and she’s all excited. She’s taking her favorite bunny to school to show all her friends. But then she sees another girl with the same Knuffle Bunny! Trixie is upset, and (in one of my favorite parts of the book) the girls argue about how to say the bunny’s name (“Kuh nuffle!” “Nuffle!”). The bunnies are removed from the girls and returned at the end of the day.

Now the subtitle of the book is A Case of Mistaken Identity. (Actually, it appears that the subtitle is A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems.) I’m sure that you, as an adult reader, can guess what happens next with the two bunnies. I suspect you can even guess at the eventual relationship between the two bunny owners. What you can’t guess is just how well this is done in the book. We follow Trixie home from school, and “at half-past bedtime, Trixie was tucked in, ready for sleep.” When Trixie realizes that something is WRONG (just like the first book), she marches into her parents’ bedroom to solve the problem. “Trixie’s daddy tried to explain what ‘2:30 a.m.’ means. He asked, ‘Can we deal with this in the morning?’”

The next four pictures in the book, all on one page, could stand forever for me as the tribute to the Mo genius. Trixie’s wide-eyed stare at dad never changes. The dad looks at Trixie with a sheepish grin. He looks at mom with a sheepish grin. The mom has one eyebrow raised. The dad looks back with worried awareness. And in the last picture Trixie is in bed with the mom, while Dad is out of the frame walking toward the phone, holding the bunny in one hand and scratching his lower back with the other.

I’ll leave you the rest of the book to enjoy without my commentary, but rest assured that it’s clever and funny, sweet and sensitive. Mo captures the parent-and-child relationship, and the resulting angst and hilarity perfectly. A spectacular follow-up to the first book, brilliantly done.

And did I mention I have a copy now, in my very house? Awesome.

Publication date September 14th for, you know, everyone else.

Seeing the First Light

I am beginning to realize that I have a unique view among bloggers on the subject of authors. See, when I read a book that I love, I don’t feel so much of a fan-type awe of the author as I feel like we are new best friends. I like their book, therefore I’ll probably like them and — here’s the leap of faith — they will like me back. With my mindset, I have no trouble approaching the author, though it has led to disappointment when an author doesn’t answer my email, invite me to lunch, or retract the restraining order.

But now I find myself in the position of reviewing a book by an author that I met and liked before I read her book. I met Rebecca Stead at the KidLit Drink Night in NYC, and had a great time talking with her. She also came to DC, and again we had a real connection. I know I’m probably not the best judge of these things, given the first paragraph of this post, but I honestly believe that if we lived in the same area and all that jazz, we’d hang out.

Which brings me to my new theory on this whole blogger/author/reviewer/friend relationship. If I read a book that I love and feel like I’m new best friends with the author because I’ve felt a connection through the subject and writing of the book, then it stands to reason that if I like the author as a person, I will most likely enjoy the book he/she has written because we probably share the style, interests, and humor that will be reflected in the author’s book. (I should note that I can’t proclaim that I would like the writing of every friend, because they may not have a talent for writing. The “published author” part is what gives me something to go by.)

First LightWhich brings me to First Light, by Rebecca Stead.

I was captured by the first sentence: “Most boys his age had never touched paper.” I was hooked by the last two sentences of that prologue, describing a photograph: “And there was something else — a glowing blur behind them. The sun.” I was only on page two and I couldn’t wait to see where this was going.

The story starts with Peter, a twelve-year-old boy living with his mother and father in the city. His mother is a biologist who gets odd headaches that incapacitate her for days. His father studies glaciers, and divides his time between professorial research and adventures on the ice. Or as Peter explains, “It was a little like living with Clark Kent but never once getting to meet Superman.” But one day, his father comes home with an exciting proposal: He has to go to Greenland for fieldwork, and wants to take the family with him. Peter is headed for the adventure of a lifetime, but it turns out to be even more than he could have expected.

In chapters that alternate with those of Peter’s story, the reader is introduced to another world, cold and secluded and distinctly foreign from Peter’s, but the intersection of the two stories is imminent. How and when and why is the mystery for the reader, not if. The two storylines build in tension and expectation, with descriptive writing of both worlds and characters. It was a hard book to put down.

What I liked best about First Light is the focus on the story. Lately everything I’ve been reading has been about the character, about internal conflict, about Issues with the capital letter I. While there are themes of everything from global warming to alienation to matriarchal society contained in the book, the intent seems to be to tell an interesting and well-developed story.

Personally, I think it would be a great classroom read-aloud for fifth/sixth grade, or a great kids’ book club selection. The boy and girl characters — but no lovey stuff — make this a great book for both genders. The story is strong and not issue-driven, but there are various areas that could be interesting discussions. The book is educational in the details offered about arctic exploration, but not boring. And, of interest to classrooms, no s*e*x.

Today I can say, with no qualms, congratulations to Rebecca on the book birthday of First Light, an awesome book! Oh, and, if you don’t mind, get to work on discussion questions before Al Roker calls.

ALA/KidLit Drink Night Report

Okay, so that went well. Maybe one of my Best Days Ever. Let’s start at the beginning.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m., all charged up. I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up at 5:00 a.m. and decided to read Letters from Rapunzel (great book, btw) since I would be seeing the author at ALA. And what else was I going to do with myself at that ungodly hour of the morning?

Took the Metro into town by 9:00, and shared a seat with a nice YA librarian from Richmond. Together we figured out where to go for registration. It was very helpful to have someone else with me for this because the Washington Convention Center is huge, and I hate navigating around unfamiliar places. Even though it seemed as if there were lots of long lines to sign in, with my online registration I just had to walk up to a computer, type in my number, and my badge printed out. How simple. Everything was already off to an easy start.

The exhibit hall was immense. But I kept in mind my first goal of the day, and went directly (pretty much) to the Horn Book booth to meet Roger Sutton. He was there as promised, and I introduced myself. We talked a little bit, but he had someone else who came up to see him, so I excused myself. I would have loved more time to chat, but perhaps another time. Great to meet him in person in any case.

My goals for touring the exhibits were to see what books were coming out, introduce myself to some publishers to smooth the requesting books process, and get some books signed for me and for next year’s 48 Hour Book Challenge. I was able to get to the signings of Avi, Gregory MacGuire, Jack Prelutsky, Nancy Perl, Eric Kimmel, Laura Schlitz, and Jeff Kinney. The only one I really had to wait for was Jack Prelutsky, and he was very friendly and funny about signing the book “You’re a winner!” for the 48 HBC. Other notables were Avi, who was a little bit cranky about doing the same thing, and Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, who was very sweet and gracious. I may be biased though, in that at least he knew my blog. I bought his book for my daughter, but he’s committed to a donation for next year’s contest and I will remember that.

John Green and Cecil CastellucciSo then I’m minding my own business, walking around, and who should I run into but John Green and Cecil Castellucci! Now they were two of the people I had most wanted to meet, but they were on the Sunday author signing schedule. And yet, here they were. I talked to Cecil about how much I had loved her book Beige and other book stuff, including an interview I’m going to do with her as soon as I can send her the questions. I introduced myself to John Green — who did know my blog, but I had never met him personally — and we talked briefly about his email overload, his Judy Blume encounter, and his Brotherhood 2.0 project. He let me take the picture, as long as I promised to let go of his arm.

M.T. AndersonSo then I’m minding my own business again, but this time at the Harcourt booth, when I ran into M.T. Anderson. After waiting somewhat awkwardly (awkward for him I mean, since he was talking with his publisher and I was all but actively staring at him waiting to talk to him), I introduced myself and he did know my blog (niiice) and we talked a bit about blogs (he mentioned Seven Impossible Things specifically) and book contests (well, mine) and Tulane readers theater (we agreed that asking Kate to sign it was probably inappropriate) and his Brotherhood 2.0 appearance (which, frankly, was why I recognized him so quickly). A nice Harcourt rep took our picture.

He escaped from my clutches, and I turned around and recognized — after a few seconds — Liz from Tea Cozy. As if that weren’t enough for my chance meeting quota, then I saw Rebecca Stead — who I had so enjoyed meeting in NYC — and Sara Holmes — whose book I had read that morning — without moving from the Harcourt booth. Since we were all going to Mitali’s party, I didn’t have to go in alone and got bonus time walking and talking with these cool folk.

Mitali’s book launch party was lots of fun with a reading, quizzes, and a bhanga lesson. I got to meet Mitali for the first time in real life, and she was just as nice and sweet as I’d guessed. Sheila from Wands and Worlds took my dare and came to the party, and even with her tight schedule, Betsy from Fuse#8 made it too! As everyone circulated, I met lots of fun bloggers and publishers and librarians. (Oh my!)

Afterward, about fourteen of us headed over to the KidLit Drink Night. There was some confusion about where to put us, but that was mostly my fault because I didn’t realize that as Julie from Reader’s Carousel (picture already up, so timely) went there first, she’d reserved a great table for us near the bar. I had a little more time — though not nearly enough time — to meet the bloggers from Biblio File, Zee Says, The YA YA YA’s (well, one ya at least), and 2nd Gen Librarian. Book lovers Genivieve and Kristin came into town just for the event, and we were joined by Blue Rose lady Alvina and Summer Blog tour interviewee Justina Headley. Oh, and Rebecca’s friend and fellow Class of 2K7er Karen Day. Oh and Sondra and Jenna from Kane/Miller and Mindy (oh no, is that right?) from Hachette that I loved talking to — and not just because she knows Mo. Oh, and an author, Rhonda Roth, and an independent publisher, Sarah Doyle, stopped by too to chat and meet people.

I love parties, so I had a great time meeting everyone, and I am ninety percent sure that everyone else had fun too. I have to say that after being up since 4:30 a.m. (not my usual practice), eating very little (also not my usual practice), and talking to people all day (which revs me up), I was a little wired. And I’ll admit that. But it was an awesome end to an incredible day.

I have to send out a special thank you to Sheila, who not only came to the book launch and happy hour even though she was headed on a vacation the next day, but helped take care of business at Capitol City Brewing Company. She was great at dealing with the waiter, who was very confused by our using the fourteen seats at the table as some sort of KidLit musical chairs game. Some people had to leave early, some came later, some moved around, some ordered dinner, some didn’t. The poor waiter. She also took over my most dreaded chore — settling the bill and making sure it worked out. Not only did it work out, we had more than enough. So if you are feeling like you overpaid, let me thank you for buying me a beer. (Love and smiles.)

We left about 8:00, and I took the Metro home. I had promised myself that I would not pick up lots of ARCs but I couldn’t resist. Hauling them around all day was enough of a chore, but walking to the Metro I was starting to feel the strain on my shoulders. But today it’s just YEAH, NEW BOOKS!

And I’m going to throw this in because it’s related to meeting bloggers in person. Last weekend I got to meet Kelly from Big A, little a after her conference in the Hampton Roads area. We met in Norfolk with the kids — and I knew they were her kids as soon as we approached the meeting place because the oldest child was reading a book. We took a free, self-guided tour of the battleship Wisconsin, walked along the harborside, and had dinner. Kelly was just like I would have guessed, so engaging, friendly, and and interesting. We had great conversations, our kids all got along well, and we had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to see her again some day. Ah, one more picture. Why not?

MotherReader and KellyBack to yesterday — I hope to get some pictures from people (email me!) since I forgot about my camera phone for almost all of the time. If I missed putting you in my post, I apologize, but it’s a loooong post and I’m losing steam now. I’ll be interested to see what experiences everyone else had at ALA. It was good for me. Was it good for you?

Next week I start talking about books again — I know, amazing — starting with a Very Special Picture Book.

KidLIt Drink Night: Final Plans

Final reminder to join me, Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, and Betsy from Fuse#8 at the KidLit Drink Night in DC. We’ll be meeting around 5:30 at the Capitol City Brewing Company at 1100 New York Ave, NW. Or if you prefer to think of it this way, at the corner of 11th and H Streets, NW. The restaurant/bar is near the Washington Convention Center and the Martin Luther King Library, where Mitali Perkins is having her book launch. I’ll be wearing a bright-red “I’m a Noun!” T-shirt from corporate sponsor of the 48 HBC, Threadless, to make me very easy to find. Everyone is welcome. Authors drink free. (Could happen.)

Meme-palooza

I’ve been putting off some meme taggings. First, because I was involved in the whole 48 Hour Book Challenge thing and didn’t want to break my flow. Second, because I didn’t know what to say. Third, because I’m always one step behind.

So I’m knocking two out with one blow. Snippets and Blabbery tagged me with a Seven Interesting Things meme and Tea Cozy passed on the meme from Robin Brande to re-post one of your older entries. The following is my answer to a Six Strange Things meme — pretty close to the Seven Interesting Things — that I wrote in April of last year.

The meme is Six Strange Things/Facts/Habits About Me. I’m going to approach it in biography form, because I have already listed 100 Things About Me, and I don’t want to repeat myself (numbers 95 and 96). So here goes.
  1. I was a shy child. This fact will only seem strange to those who know me as the raging extrovert that I am today. Or to those who have been paying attention to the fact that I will write about anything personal on my blog — my messy clothes pile, shaving my legs, my overindulgent evening — as long as it is a little funny. But indeed, I was a shy child, preferring my books to people until eighth grade. At that point, I started at a new school, realized that no one knew me, and thought why not act like I was confident and secure and see if it stuck? Apparently it did.

  2. I was raised as the last hippie child. My mother and father were potters for most of my young life. My dad threw pots and mugs on the potter’s wheel. My mom sculpted in porcelain and made wind chimes. They sold some of their work to retail shops, but also traveled around the east coast on weekends to participate in craft shows. My brother and I most often went too, learning the finer points of display, selling, and sitting around. When I was about fourteen, I would go with my father — or sometimes my mother — as the second salesperson. It was certainly a different after-school job for a high school kid, and I had a great time.

  3. I was voted “Most Unique” in my high school senior class. I considered it a badge of honor, and far better than “Most Likely to Succeed,” which would have been far too much pressure. When I started high school, I realized I was never going to fit into this rural, southern school as a northern-bred, half-Jewish, hippie child, so I might as well make the most of it. I was well-liked, but I did not fit the mold, so I drove my 1974 Karmann Ghia, and wore my turquoise blue blazer and dared to look foolish sometimes. Oh my God, I was the Pretty in Pink girl!

  4. I worked in a psychiatric hospital for one year. After majoring in psychology in college, I got a job in a psychiatric hospital working with children who had been committed for short-term stays. I was very good at working with these children. Somehow, though it’s not in my nature, I became patient when I walked through those doors. However, I would come home after an eight-hour shift where I had barely had the time to eat or use the bathroom, and I would cry at Hallmark commercials. I was good at this job, but I just couldn’t take it.

  5. I started my career in libraries by accident. I wanted to move up to the D.C. area, but I needed a job. The whole psych thing hadn’t worked out, and otherwise I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. But I had worked in my college library as a part-time job, and that had been okay, so I decided to apply for library assistant jobs. I worked first in a law library, then in a children’s health library, and then in the public library. It could have gone the other way, and I’d currently be making and selling pottery at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival.

  6. Most of what I live by can be broken down into three tenets (three again). One: We aren’t saving the world here — good to remember whenever I, or others, take things too seriously. Especially useful for PTA meetings. Two: Things usually happen for a reason — many of the bad parts of my life have led directly to some of the best parts. Three: The worst thing about a person is often the best thing about them, in a different way. My youngest daughter cries too easily (can’t imagine where she got that from), but she is also the most loving child. She just feels things deeply, which is good and bad. I try to remember this tenet when I get frustrated with other people — or with myself.
Wasn’t that fun? Actually, I’m going to use this for the meme from Mentor Texts and More, which was about my Personal Policies. I’ve thought about this for quite a while, and I couldn’t come up with anything. However, I’m going to defer to the last point above where I list the three tenets by which I live. Close enough.

I still owe a Summer Goals meme, for ten personal/professional goals. I think that was from Mentor Texts and More too, but I don’t remember anymore. You know, let’s knock that out too. My goals:
  1. Get rid of the donation books at work. Add, buy, or sell them.
  2. Clear out immense piles of paper at work.
  3. Get back to blog reading.
  4. Try JacketFlap to condense blog reading.
  5. Get tree stump removed and plant a new tree.
  6. Devote Monday and Tuesday mornings to clutter removal.
  7. And Friday mornings to paper control.
  8. Use time off in August to write — a book, essays, an article.
  9. Go to pool three times a week — hey, we’re paying for it.
  10. Plan at least one vacation.
I’m not tagging anyone since it’s been so long, but feel free to pick up any of these and move it along.

Later today: how to find me at ALA.

Poetry Friday: Me I Am!

Hold it one minute. Are those bold and italics and
blockquotes
I see on my Blogger template? Wow! Oh Wowie Wow Wow! I can do this and this and
this
without coding on a Mac. I’m going to save so much time! I can even spllchck... I mean spellcheck with one click. And what does this button do? Links! It’s links! I can link here or here for no other reason than I feel like it. Is this what you PC people have been doing all along? Because it rocks!

Sorry, but this is exciting news. But let’s get to Poetry Friday’s picture book selection, Me I Am! by Jack Prelutsky. One poem, from 1983, is adapted into a new picture book with the illustrations of Christine Davenier. The first half of the poem is:
I am the only ME I AM
who qualifies as me;
no ME I AM has been before,
and none will ever be.

No other ME I AM can feel
the feelings I’ve within;
no other ME I AM can fit
precisely in my skin.
I love the way this poem expresses the uniqueness of each person and celebrates our individuality. It’s like a personal anthem.

But for this picture book, I’m giving the nod to the artist, Christine Davenier, who has turned the poem into a celebration of childhood. Each two-page spread is a story in itself, told only in the pictures. Over two pages, we see a girl trying on a frilly dress, rejecting it, putting on play clothes, skating away, falling, and getting up again happy. There is another story for a little boy, and then another little girl, and then in the end they all come together. So much more is going on in this book than the words, and it’s all wonderful. In fact, I’m debating buying ME I AM! today and bringing it to ALA tomorrow to get it signed by Jack Prelutsky. I’ll have to wait to find the illustrator another day, especially given that she lives in Paris. Beautiful, special book for any child.

I’ll be back later with one more ALA posting and a meme-palooza, and next week, oh next week, I have a Very Special Picture Book to review. I’m all tingles just thinking about it.

Bored Non-Academics

This little game won’t even stretch one tiny brain cell. Remember the whole An Abundance of Katherines anagramming thing? I recall trying some gizmo that would anagram your name, but it gave you a long list of possibilities that you had to sort through to find the coolest one. Well, now all that work has been taken off your hands, as this one pops out one — and only one — response. Mine was Human Allowances Rampages — which seems dangerously close to a good band name. John Green, writer of said Katherines book, and who will be signing copies at ALA at multiple locations and times, comes out with the very odd n’ jeer ’n’ hog. I’m going to bet using a middle name would straighten that one out. Mo Willems, who will be signing books at ALA and giving color commentary on the book cart drills, must live with low, slim me. So far it’s Mitali Perkins, with her book launch party at ALA (register here), who wins in my book with Man-like spirit, though Roger Sutton, manning the Horn Book booth, comes in pretty close with Strong outer.

You’re catching all the ALA references, right? Do I need to remind you of the KidLit Drink Night in DC? I’m thinking of handing out flyers to the publishers and the authors as I cruise the exhibits hall. Seriously. There was some concern that another group, Library and Information Technology Association, is having a happy hour at the exact same time and place, but I’m not worried. In fact, in my head, I see the face-off of the two groups with a West Side Story thing going on. That would kick ass.

Bored Academics

Oh have I got the test for all you word nerds. I saw this at Journey Woman and couldn’t resist attempting it, even though I knew I wouldn’t do great and I’d probably get tired of it halfway through. I was correct on both counts. But for the many bored academics out there, this vocabulary test will be pure heaven.

I only scored 62% correct, and I was guessing more than a couple of times. Now Michele got a 95%, which shouldn’t be a big surprise from the writer of Scholar’s Blog. The whole scholar part being right there in the actual name of the blog. If you feel like being back in school for a bit, give the test a whirl. And just like school, you don’t have to share your score with anyone.

You’re Grounded!

I swear, I can’t leave you bloggers alone for a second! I go away for one long weekend, and you have a party in the kidlitosphere! And you invite authors! And you’re serving interview questions, for the love of Pete. What were you thinking!!!???

Now, I know Ray came up with this idea, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be held responsible for your own participation. I’ll tell you what, you stay in your blogspace and think about what you’ve done!

KidLit Drink Night in DC

The location for the KidLit Drink Night in DC is finalized. After my first choice apparently closed, the Capitol City Brewing Company took the lead by being the only other bar I knew in the area. The actual address is 1100 New York Ave, NW. The useful address is the corner of 11th and H Streets. Since Washington, DC, is basically a grid, those numbers and letters are pretty helpful. It’s when those pesky state-named streets come into play that everything goes haywire. In any case, the restaurant/bar is near the Washington Convention Center and the Martin Luther King Library, where Mitali is having her book launch.

So here’s the plan. On Saturday, June 23rd, I’m heading to the American Library Association Annual Conference to see the exhibits and hopefully say hello to some nice folks. I’ll be fielding book deals from, let’s say, 1:00–2:30. Just putting it out there. From 3:30–5:00 I’m going to Mitali Perkins’s book launch party at the DC Public Library. Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy and Betsy from Fuse#8 will be there. If you want to go, let Mitali know you’re coming. After the book launch, we will head to the now-disclosed location and stay until we get sick of each other. All bloggers, authors, illustrators, librarians, and blog-fans are welcome. And by welcome I mean ordered to attend.

Poetry Friday: Unwritten

I was sooo going to skip this Poetry Friday because I am still wiped out from the little logistics of the 48 Hour Book Challenge and wrapping up the school year and packing for my weekend trip to Virginia Beach — where, I might add, I am going to meet Kelly of Big A, little a in actual person.

Then I realized that not only did Susan of Chicken Spaghetti do a fantastic article in Poetry Foundation about the tradition of Poetry Friday, but she also listed me as a Poetry Friday regular. Well, gosh, I can’t skip now!

She is correct. I am a frequent participant, mainly because I love the things that bring the kid-lit bloggers together. To me, that sense of community is the most important part of my blogging. So I participate...

Even though I’m not a huge poetry fan.

Actually, that’s another reason for me to be a part of Poetry Friday, because it forces me to expand my horizons. And perhaps, my unique perspective will bring something else to the table. Like featuring the Haiku T-shirt — not once, but twice for Poetry Friday. Writing a fib, with props to Greg at Gotta Book. Reviewing a book done in verse. Well, I guess that one is pretty normal.

Though I had a book that I could have featured today, as I write this I want to do something different. Once before I gave you a song as poetry. Today I’d like to do that again, with one of my favorite newish songs. It’s possible that the words are a little trite, but it still moves me in the way it expresses all of the potential that girls have inside them.
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
Complete lyrics of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” (click to listen at iTunes) are here.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at The Simple and the Ordinary today — which brings to mind another reason I’m a P.F. regular. I get to learn about blogs that I might not have known about otherwise. Viva Poetry Friday!

Announcement and Prize Package Props

The MotherReader move was not the announcement I had planned to make. That’s all Bill.

There is a fantastic opportunity to find free books (some), collect swag (tons), and meet people (librarians). The American Library Association Annual Conference is coming to Washington, DC, on the weekend of June 22nd and I’m going to be there. In fact, I’m going to Mitali Perkins’s book launch party from 3:30–5:00 on Saturday, June 23rd, at the DC Public Library. I can invite friends, and I invite you and you and you. (Though you should go here and let Mitali know you’re coming). Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy will be there. And maybe, just maybe, if we can pry her away from all those publishers greedy for her time, Betsy from Fuse#8 (now at School Library Journal) will come.

After the book launch, we will head to a now-undisclosed location — undisclosed because we don’t know it yet — for munchies and drinks. Meaning...

it’s a KidLit Drink Night in DC!

I’ve got my people working on possible locations, and I’m sure we’ll know soon. But in the meantime, feel free to mark your calendars, arrange for bus fare, call your cousin in Silver Spring for a visit, and print your business cards. If you aren’t into the whole conference thing... well, neither am I. You’ll see me with the exhibits-only pass, trying to chat up any random authors I find — and recognize. Hope to see some of you folks there.

And now it’s time to give props to the many authors and bloggers who donated prizes to the grand prize packages. TadMack and ZG may want to look away, unless they’re the kind that sneak peeks at their Christmas presents. Thanks go to:Again, thank you to the many people who donated items for prizes. Thank you to all the participants who made the 48 HBC happen. Thank you to all those on the sidelines who supported us with links and love. Great time, everyone.

Moving Up in the World

MotherReader’s handy-dandy editor (FatherReader? Papa Book?) here. We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a brief technical note. You may have noticed something new up in your URL window — yes, MotherReader (the blog, not the author) has now migrated to its new address, www.motherreader.com. This transition has actually been in the works for some time now, but we were holding off until the 48 Hour Book Challenge was complete. The way we’ve configured it, all existing links should still be valid (for now, it’s still technically hosted at Blog*Spot), automatically redirecting to the appropriate sub-page under the new address. But going forward, we’ll want to make sure that any new links (and that naturally includes bookmarks lists and the like) are updated to reflect the new address.

So far, we haven’t seen any significant glitches (although Technorati’s going to be a while catching up with the new address), but if you notice anything funky, please let us know as soon as possible. We may not actually be able to do anything about it, but at least we can commiserate.

That’s all for now. Thanks for your attention (and, should anything go wrong, your patience).

Extra Winners

The official winners of the 48 Hour Book Challenge have been announced here — um, obviously — and to make it super-duper official, at Read Roger. Apparently one School Library Journal blogger wrote about it, and I suspect our own Fuse#8 may have a thing to say about it herself. You know she moved, right? She’s all comfy-like in her new digs at the School Library Journal site and getting paid to blog. Wow, does that phrase have a nice ring to it.

But back to business. While I am assembling the prize packages for our contest winners, I did want to send out a few prizes to random participants just for playing. I used the highly touted “have a kid pick random numbers and find those on the official list” method. Then I went to the selected blogs and did a little digging around to (hopefully) best match the prize choices with the blogger. So here we go.

Chapter Eighteen wins a personalized signed copy of Rickshaw Girl from Mitali Perkins.

Miss Rumphius Effect wins a personalized signed copy of A Girl, A Boy, and a Monster Cat (available June 21st!) from Gail Gauthier.

Lessons from the Tortoise wins a personalized signed copy of The Dark Dreamweaver — with T-shirt — from Nick Ruth.

The Hidden Side of a Leaf wins Robin Brande’s something-that’s-not-chocolate give-away since I saw the photo of her TBR pile, and it seems as if no more books are needed at this juncture.

Saints and Spinners wins a personalized signed copy of Lissy’s Friends — with Lissy doll — from Grace Lin, by request of contest winner TadMack, and agreement by me, for Alkelda’s rough start in the contest and subsequently funny post.

Prize winners, please send me an email and let me know where we can send your prizes and how you want the dedication written.

Authors, thank you so very much for your contributions to the 48 HBC.

Tomorrow will be for giving props for the donations to the winners prize packages. I’ll also make a special announcement about how you can meet at least three kidlit bloggers and at least one cool author before the end of June. Intrigued? I’ll open with the information tomorrow.

48 Hour Book Challenge WINNERS

48 Hour Book ChallengeI’ve allowed as much time as possible for the final statistics to be posted (while I booktalked to eighth graders from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and then went immediately to a Girl Scout final party from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Here are the results.

Fifty people completed the 48 Hour Book Challenge. That is freakin’ amazing.

Almost half of the contestants put in 20 hours or more into the challenge. Wow. Let me point out the 20+ hours club members:While of course, we are all winners for so spending so much quality time with books, two bloggers stood out clearly from the crowd.

The winner of the most books read (and highest page count) is Midwestern Lodestar, with a stunning 20 books, 5,433 pages, and 29 ½ hours. The winner of last year’s challenge takes home the crown again.

The winner of the most time spent is Finding Wonderland/Readers’ Rants, with an amazing 32 hours spent reading and blogging, 15 books read, and 3,688 pages. I didn’t even see this one coming, so what a great surprise.

They will both receive price packages that I haven’t had a minute to pull together, but I’ll give the specifics tomorrow. I will also award some prizes to random participants, but again, it will have to wait until tomorrow when I can see what I have and maybe get a little more.

However, Roger Sutton doesn’t need to wait to write his post mentioning the winners using the word “stoked.” Personally, I think the huge numbers of books read and hours spent are probably deserving of another hip urban phrase of choice.

Congratulations to everyone for taking on the challenge in whatever way you were able. It was a ton of fun for me as a participant and organizer. Many thanks go out to my husband Bill, who kept up the website in a far more timely manner than I would have ever done and checked in with participants along the journey. It was a great ride.

Final Stats for MotherReader

I read for about twenty-six hours, with numerous breaks and interruptions. I finished eight books — four YA, three middle-grade, and one adult book. I read a total of 2120 pages.

I enjoyed the experience, but wish that life’s events hadn’t made it so complicated and hadn’t made my reading and writing so choppy. Due to the logistics of the days, I had to read a couple of books and wait to work on their reviews — which was kind of hard. I also would have preferred to have started on the morning of a full day of reading, but circumstances made that impossible. I met my basic goals for books and hours, and I found at least two, maybe three that I can use in my booktalks tomorrow.

I’ll add that my husband has been a complete dream, monitoring the contest and updating the site. I’m thinking that he’s a keeper.

Enjoy the rest of your reading, and I’ll be back Monday evening with the winners.

Personal Evolution

(I told you I’d be back with the first book I read, but I wanted to do something different. Since my husband read it before me, and the topic is one of his particular pets, he had written a review for the blog that I’m going to share. He has really done an amazing and thorough review of the book, and I’d rather let him tell it for both of us this time. Especially as I am at the very last minutes of my 48 hours and need to get to my niece’s birthday party. Here’s Bill’s review.)

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of NatureBefore we get started, let me make with the disclaimers: I may not be the most objective one in the room to offer up an opinion on Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. First of all, author Robin Brande did just script my latest directorial effort. And second, as a longtime science nut, the ostensible subject of the novel is a bit of a hot topic of mine; I was sold on at least reading the book as soon as I heard about it. So take what you will from this commentary, but in any case, I hope my bias isn’t too distracting.

The first day of high school can be traumatic enough, but for Mena, it’s worse than she could have imagined. Not only does she have to deal with the same trials that all her classmates must endure, but she must do so in the wake of losing all her friends and being ostracized by everyone she has known and loved for years. Her old friends shun (or actively bully) her. Her church — the very institution in which she has sought comfort all her life — has effectively expelled her. And her parents, faced with losing their business, are barely speaking to her. All because she did what she thought (and frankly still thinks) was the right thing. Mena’s one hope is that she can just slide through until everything passes; she even manages to explore the beginnings of friendship with Casey, her brilliant lab partner. But when Ms. Shepherd, their quirky science teacher, starts off the school year with a unit on evolution, she realizes that it’s all just beginning.

On its surface, the novel is the story of a conflict between a teacher determined to teach science and a fundamentalist church with a creationist agenda. And in that regard, it certainly doesn’t disappoint, though — thankfully — it never devolves into a diatribe, nor does it denigrate religion. Quite the contrary: The substance of the so-called “debate” itself is barely touched upon, and spiritual belief is a central theme of the story (not to mention a driving characteristic of the protagonist).

But to dismiss it as just being about that conflict would be to gravely misinterpret it: At its core, the novel is about a teenager learning to deal with the strange new world that opens up to her once she exits the safe confines of her earlier life. The evolution/creationism debate is simply the framework; the true story is in the universally identifiable conflict within Mena herself.

Not that the story bogs itself down with self-reflective ruminations on internal development (had it done so, I would have been the first to put it down). Brande does a masterful job of ensuring that Mena’s path is reflected in action, so that the events around her provide the mechanism by which she undergoes her growth into a young adult. Mena’s transformation occurs in an environment with clear extremes of conflict, but her challenges therefore become more extreme reflections of the same transformation that all teens must undergo. (And frankly, it’s that intensity that makes for an interesting story in the first place.)

The preacher who pursues his agenda out of an outsized sense of personal vanity, or the (former) friends who glory in their maliciousness, are easy to hold up as antagonists (and I’ll confess that at times, I found it hard to separate from my adult sensibilities and remember the helplessness of being a teenager). And it’s easy to identify with Ms. Shepherd, who, far from being intimidated by the manufactured conflict, is both prepared and determined to remain unbowed in her desire to speak the truth against irrationality. But more interesting are the subtler characters, on both sides of the aisle: The church girl whose actions, however misguided, were truly motivated by a desire to be helpful. Or Casey’s sister, Kayla, who — even as she helps Mena out of her shell — has an unmistakable agenda of her own. It’s in those gray areas where the novel really makes its mark — this isn’t a story about heroes and villains, but about the rest of us, and about how we deal with conflict (real or manufactured).

No, scratch that — this is a story about how an individual deals with growing up, with finding first love, with becoming aware of just how big the world is once she steps outside childhood’s protective boundaries. An individual through whom we can all remember our own such development (or, for younger readers, see it reflected in the present). And that’s what makes this book worth reading.

The Bermudez Triangle

The Bermudez TriangleBack to The Bermudez Triangle, one of my first books read in this nutty bout of reading. I’ve been intrigued by Maureen Johnson since hearing about her books from other bloggers, but to be honest her connection with John Green brought her to the front of my mind. My thinking being pretty close to the original idea of Friendster. If I like John Green’s books — which I do — and he’s friends with Maureen Johnson — which he is — than I will like her books. Which as it turns out, I do. At least this one, so far. But I’m moving her others to top of my lists.

I wanted to read The Bermudez Triangle after the whole book-banning issue. I didn’t feel like it was something I could weigh in on without having read the book. Because, in a way, isn’t that what the objection was about it the first place? The book was removed based on one parent’s opinion, but without a thorough reading. So now I’ve read it, and I can see how some parents would have issues with the book, because it’s not about one kiss but the development of a lesbian relationship.

Understand, that I think the book addresses the topic in a mild, pretty unobjectionable way. It’s a very realistic story of how a blooming relationship between two members of a trio of girlfriends can shake everything to the core. The parallel story of the left-out friend and her long-distance boyfriend is also interesting, especially as it echoes that relationships — all relationships — are difficult, messy, emotional things.

Along with being a accurate picture of sexual identity crises and personal connection conflicts, The Bermudez Triangle is well-written and very funny. If I’d been on my game, I’d have been marking passages left and right while I read. Very witty lines, especially from the character Parker, who makes friends with Nina and has/had a crush on Mel. In fact, I reserve the right to come back later and just list funny bits from the book.

What I would say about the Bartlesville book removal is that I don’t condone it. I think books that talk about things teenagers may be experiencing are important for teenagers to be able to read. That said, at least I know that the issue in question isn’t a single instance of a gay character, but is the theme of the book. Today, I guess, no matter how innocent the description, a book about coming to terms with one’s sexual identity is going to draw fire.

I’m very glad I read the book. I liked it very much. And I can’t wait to read more by Maureen Johnson, uncaped crusader for truth, justice, and witty banter.

Beige Review

BeigeI heard of Cecil Castellucci. I liked Boy Proof, though I never got around to writing about it. But it’s Beige that puts me in the Cult of Castellucci, as named at Bookshelves of Doom.

Beige grabbed me right from the beginning and didn’t let go. The booktalk introduction came to me immediately as I read it: “Do your parents ever embarrass you?” Think about putting that line out there in a room full of summer-ready eighth graders. Oh, this is going to be easy.

Katy, or Beige as she becomes known, has to stay with her former punk-rocker father while her mother is on a expedition in Peru. Staying with her father, The Rat, is not Katy’s idea of a good time. She hates his cluttered, dirty apartment. She doesn’t like his music. And she’s had almost nothing to do with him since she was seven. It doesn’t help matters that he is spending his energy getting the old band back together and ready to make it big, which puts Katy on the sidelines with teens she’d rather not meet.

She finds an odd friendship — of a sort — with the daughter of the other band member, Sam Suck. A Suck teen fan also makes his way into Katy’s life with his complete openness and friendliness. It may even be possible that Katy isn’t as beige a girl as she thought she was.

Great characters and great writing make this a fantastic read. I wish I had marked passages as I went, but this particular line made me smile:
I guess I stole Leo’s shirt. It’s cool. It’s from Threadless.
How cool for me that this T-shirt company, Threadless, is donating the haiku T-shirt and a Shakespeare hoodie as a prizes.

I’ve got an interview to do soon with Cecil Castellucci, and now I have to say, I’m particularly looking forward to it. What a cool writer.

Eggs

EggsMaybe I’m not clever enough, but I don’t really get this book, Eggs, by Jerry Spinelli. It reminds me of Lowry’s Gossamer. At least the boy and the grandmother’s relationship does. Then put in some strange characters, vague plot, and mix together. Of course, part of the problem may be reading it in the last hours of my reading time after being up most of the night.

The basic story is that of a boy whose mother died in an accident. He goes to live with his grandmother, since his father travels so much. The boy, David, believes in his heart that if he can just follow all the rules in life, his mother will come back for him. However, he doesn’t follow his grandmother’s rules to make sure that they never get close. Along comes Primrose who connects with him in an unusual way. She’s a notorious rule-breaker and a girl on the edge. The two become thick as thieves, though they fight like brother and sister. Eventually both will have to drop their anger and find someone to hold onto.

Strange book. Interesting, but strange.

Last book read for the challenge, but I’ve got a few reviews to write. That will teach me to put off my work.

Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue DaySomehow I skipped putting this post up about my Saturday reading.

I’m not sure where I originally heard about this book, though I suspect it was People magazine. (Hey, a girl’s got to have a little light reading sometimes.) I had put it on hold and it came in right before the contest.

The full title will explain everything. It’s Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autisic Savant. The book was extremely interesting, and I enjoyed reading it. Okay, review done.

How can I leave you like this? Because coincidentally, Wendy from Blog from the Windowsill was reading the same book at about the same time and I’m going to direct you to her post.

Cop-out?

Well, yeah. But I don’t have much longer in this contest, and I’ve got to start cutting corners.

Why Oh Why?

So Totally Emily EbersWhy didn’t I read So Totally Emily Ebers sooner? It would have been perfect to talk about in the elementary schools for summer reading because (a) I liked it, (b) it takes places over the summer, and (c) I could have mentioned the Lisa’s Yee’s other books to bulk up the booktalk.

It’s probably too young for rising ninth graders... right? Opinions anyone?

So Totally Emily Ebers is the third book in the same universe, actually the same time period, of Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time. The three books cover the same ground, but with a total change of the character perspective. You have to admit, that’s kind of interesting.

But there’s the problem with me and series, which I’ve mentioned before. Other than the basics, I remember very little about the books I’ve read. I know I’ve liked the other two books, I just don’t know exactly what happened. So though I liked Emily Ebers, I had an uneasy feeling of missing an inside joke. (Though, speaking of inside jokes, the Castellucci Collection made me laugh.)

Now I recall why I didn’t read this book. It was because I wanted to go back and at least skim the other books first.

Let me get back to the story. Emily Ebers and her mom have just moved across the country after leaving her father on the East Coast. Her parents are recently divorced, and Emily takes out her anger on her mother while writing her journal entries to her father. Emily meets Millicent as they play volleyball over the summer, a sport that neither of them wanted to play. They grow closer as friends, even though Millicent has some things about herself that she’s hiding. Emily also develops a crush on Stanford, and with her credit card spending, catches the eyes of the popular crowd. The reader can see the truth coming, but Emily can’t, and that’s a big part of the charm of this title.

I loved my sense of Lisa Yee’s humor throughout. I also really felt for the so trusting, so enthusiastic, so open Emily. Overall, a very fun read which will make me go back and re-read the others.

Tired and Wired

As it turns out, it is possible to be tired and wired at the same time. Nothing else could explain me finishing a new book by 6:30 a.m.

Call Me HenriCall Me Henri, by Lorraine López, is on my county’s summer reading list and looked like a good choice for my middle school booktalking session on (gulp) Monday. Good call on my part.

Enrique is a middle schooler himself, living with his mother, triplet brothers, and stepfather in a tough section of town. With both parents needing to work, Enrique is called into service after school as the babysitter. While he loves his brothers very much, and wants to help his family get by, the responsibility is hard for him. His mother is loving and kind, but his stepfather hits him.

Enrique is in ESL classes at school, like everyone else he knows, but he would like to learn French. With some help from his teachers, he may be on his way to a new adventure.

That was a pretty lame description, but it really is early. The thing I liked about the book is its authentic tone and characters. It felt real that all the problems weren’t solved in a tidy way. Many of the kids I’ll see on Monday (gulp again) will relate to Enrique’s situation.

All right, moving on. Adding 3 books, 8 hours, and 678 pages to my total.

Really, It Figures

I may have a cold.

Having made it through the winter with minimal illness, now on probably the busiest weekend in recent history, I’m blowing my nose constantly. I’m not happy about this. It seems somehow unfair.

But whatcha gonna do?

Indigo BlueFinished Indigo Blue, by Cathy Cassidy. It was all right. I had liked her first book, Dizzy, and had the nagging feeling during my reading of Indigo Blue that this book was a sequel. It isn’t, but it had such a similar feel.

Indie’s mom has finally had enough of her boyfriend, and moves Indie and her toddler sister out and to a dodgy area of town. Her mother has clearly been abused by Max, and she tries to keep him out of their lives. But he doesn’t want to let go of his family that easily. Indie struggles with her friendships at school and her new unfortunate circumstances. As her mom loses her ability to manage basic parenting tasks, Indie finds a lot on her shoulders.

I liked the book fine. There’s nothing wrong with it that I can point out. It just didn’t wow me, and I vaguely recall liking Dizzy a lot. Though that book had a hippie parent, and as a former hippie kid, I can relate.

Well, I’m way behind schedule, so I’m going to hit the books. Right after a tall glass of orange juice.

So Very Very Hot

Ohmigod. I don’t think I have ever been this hot. The Sing-Along was fun, and it was definitely warm outside. But afterwards, we took the Metro home; about forty minutes’ ride with rush-hour-like crowds — except all young girls — and no air conditioning.

No. Air. Conditioning.

I know I’ve got to get back to reading, but first we are headed to the pool so I can submerge myself in cool water until I feel close to normal again. At that point, I will pull up a chair and read.

I’m So Sorry

It’s my own contest and I’ve kind of left you hanging like I’m not even there.

I’m here now. It’s all going to be okay.

Like so many things in my life, my reading has started out in chaos. Fortunately, my husband Bill has taken over the adminstering of the contest so I can focus on reading, writing, and singing.

Singing? Huh (you may say)?

Well, I’ve got to head into lovely DC for a Sing-Along event with my Girl Scout daughters and my Girl Scout friends. Because my life wouldn’t be my life if there weren’t an important parent-like activity smack in the middle of everything. I’ll be taking six hours off schedule to do this thing, but I’m going to come back strong and read way into the night to make up for it. Yes, I am.

So how’s it going so far? Fine. Thanks for asking.

Okay, honestly, it’s tough. I’ve been reading, but I haven’t been able to fit in the writing due to both logistics and mental energy. As it approaches the zero hour for my departure, I’m not sure I’ll get a book review post in now either. Crap. But let me tell you what I’ve been doing.

Started reading at 1:00 with Robin Brande’s Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature. Put it down at three-ish to pick up the kids from school. Found out that eight-year-old wore the wrong color shirt for Field Day, and because I clearly don’t have enough drama in my life, she was all upset about it. She’s the sensitive type, and having people tell her all day that “Shouldn’t you be over there with your team?” kind of got to her. It wasn’t our fault, as the sheet I have says light blue. But somewhere along the way it was changed to dark blue — I never understood this part — and I didn’t know. The sad thing for me is that the school is two minutes away, and I would have been happy to bring her the right color shirt if it would have saved her from all this angst. So there was that.

Calmed down eight-year-old, and read for another hour finishing Robin’s book. Really liked it. Talk about it later.

Took the girls, hot and sticky from Field Day, to the pool. Mad house there, OMG, what was I thinking about reading at the community pool on Friday afternoon on the hottest day so far? But I brought a light book, The Bermudez Triangle of Maureen Johnson book-banning fame. Read for two hours at the pool. Didn’t finish, but needed to get home for my birthday dinner, already purchased and waiting on the table.

Ate said dinner. Answered a couple of emails. Opened presents. The Daughtry CD, a movie, a cool book light for reading in the car, and a lovely necklace with three diamonds for my three family members. Or three cats — interpretation remains open.

Back to reading The Bermudez Triangle. Finished 11:00ish. Really liked it. Talk about it later. Tossed up post with picture of huge stack of books because I didn’t feel like writing reviews yet. Checked out email and contest progress. Went to bed and watched the clock change from 11:59 (still my birthday) to 12:00 (no longer my birthday).

Got up at 6:30 a.m., not entirely on purpose. Started Cecil Castellucci’s Beige. Finished it by 9:00. Loved it. Talk about it later — except I will say that I am totally in the Cult of Castellucci. I need the T-shirt, Leila.

Checked contest progress, email, assorted Sing-Along logistics, and wrote this post. Now I have just a short time to pack bags and such for the trip to DC. I’m going to write some notes for my books, and come back later with reviews and more reading. Oh, lots more reading.

So far: three books, 942 pages, twelve hours counted.

See, Here’s the Problem...

The pile of booksReading like mad. The writing? That I think I’ll have to start in earnest tomorrow.

Oh, I’ve Started

My time will run from 1:00 p.m. today until 1:00 p.m. on Sunday and will be fraught with interruptions, including the Girl Scout 95th Anniversary Sing-Along and my birthday dinner tonight. And assorted loads of laundry. And picking up the girls at school and taking them to the pool. And I’d better carve out ten minutes to pay my bills online. Oh, you get the picture. But I’ll be keeping track and making reading my priority. Except for those other things.

I’m starting out with a Mystery Book that I will reveal later. I began reading at 1:00 as I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich — my favorite — and chocolate chip cookies. And a couple of Thin Mints, which can’t count towards the day’s calories because thin is right there in the name. Don’t judge me.

Happy Reading, everyone!

48 Hour Book Challenge Begins

48 Hour Book ChallengeDid I mention that the 48 Hour Book Challenge is officially started? Well, it’s ON, people!

Contestants, make sure that you’re listed and linked in the sidebar. Start at will (or continue reading, since I did say you could begin at 7:00 a.m). Remember to end with a final summary of books read, hours spent, and total page count.

I will continue to accept prize offers through the weekend. I’ll group items together for fun gifts for the winners — which will include some contestants picked at random. I’m not going to put in links this time, but so far there are original drawings from Matthew Holms (Babymouse illustrator) and Mo Willems (Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny author/illustrator). There are signed books from Mitali Perkins, Gail Gauthier, Sara Lewis Holmes, Grace Lin (plus Lissy doll), Bonny Becker, Tanya Lee Stone, and like two people I’m forgetting. There are T-shirts from Threadless and Dark Dreamweaver. There is jewelry, framed photography, a handmade journal, a Tibetan prayer flag, and a stuffed frog cell-phone holder. A picture-book editing/consult session is available. Robin Brande will send something sweet. Roger Sutton will say something funny. Gift cards may be involved.

But I’ll remind you that while stuff is fun, the best prize of all is the chance to make reading your highest priority. Let the reading begin!

Contests, Contests, and THE Contest

There is just something special about June 8th — other than being my birthday, I mean. The date is popping up in contests all over the place.

Parent Bloggers Network, in conjunction with Light Iris, is asking you to write a “Where Does My Time Go?” post anytime on Friday, June 8 (not before or after). Send your posts to parentbloggers@gmail.com and make sure to link both Light Iris and Parent Bloggers Network somewhere in your post. A random winner will receive a Fri/Sat ticket for the Blogher Conference. That’s a $200 value.

The Disco Mermaids are running a contest with the winner receiving tuition for the August 3–6 SBWI Summer Conference. All you have to do is list thirteen reasons why you should be the one to win. Entries must be received by 5pm PST, Friday, June 8th. Tuition for the conference is a — wow! — $425 value.

Then there’s this other contest that starts on June 8th where you give up as much of your weekend as you can possibly manage and you may or may not win some books, a T-shirt, and random stuff from the discount bin at Claire’s.

Anyhoo, to make things easier for you and for me, the contestants for the 48 Hour Book Challenge are now listed in my sidebar. Cool, huh? So now I can carry on with my own book reviewing, but you can look over to the side for a reminder of who else is playing this weekend.

Contestants, I urge you to make sure that you are indeed listed and that the link is going to the right blog.

I am stunned by the number of participants. Stunned, I tell you. How is it possible that I can’t get ten parents to take 48 seconds to sign the Girl Scout permission forms, but I can get more than fifty bloggers to take 48 hours and devote the time to reading? It’s a real head-scratcher.

(Btw, did you like how I put in that birthday reference all sneaky like? I’m so sly.)

48 Hour Book Challenge Rules

48 Hour Book ChallengeIt’s almost time for the Second Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. So I ask you: Are you ready to READ?

Here are the rules:
  1. Read and blog within any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window of June 8–10. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday. So, go from 4:00 p.m. Friday to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 6:00 a.m. Saturday to 6:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But the 48 hours do need to be in a row.

  2. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. I don’t really expect anyone to read and review for the entire 48 hours, though I suppose it’s possible. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this, go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. If you have to take a five-hour break right smack dab in the middle to take your daughters to a Girl Scout Sing-Along, you can do that. Generally, though, you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge.

  3. The books should be about fifth-grade level and up. Think in the two-hundred-page range. Think novels, though nonfiction is fine. Adult books are fine, especially if any adult book bloggers want to play. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful big kid books you’ve been hearing about. No graphic novels. I’m not trying to discriminate, I’m just trying to make sure that the number of books and page counts mean the same thing to everyone.

  4. The length of the reviews are not an issue. You can write a paragraph or a full-on review, but you can count the time writing in your total time. Blog reading doesn’t count. Save it for Monday.

  5. Let your readers know when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry mentioning that detail. After your 48 hours are completed, write a final summary that clearly includes the number of books read, total page count, the approximate hours you spent reading/reviewing, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon on Monday, June 11, to be counted.

  6. The winners will be announced here on Monday, and prizes will be awarded for most books read, most hours spent, and most pages read (if it isn’t the same winner as most books read). I’ll also give out some prizes to random participants, just to make it fun for everyone.
If you have any 48 HBC questions, now is the time to ask. I’ll be back at the end of the day with answers. On Friday morning, 7:00 a.m. EST, I’ll post a list of the contestants based on the sign-ups from the original post. Check in to make sure that your blog is listed, and check the link to make sure it is going to the right place. Oh, and in case I haven’t mentioned it enough, I’d love more PRIZES. If you have something to donate — signed book, original illustration, special handicraft, “extra” Newbery award — please Email MotherReader! (We’ve even relocated the button to make it easier to find — right there at the top right.) It’s not too late!

Bedtime Reading

Usually I leave the BB Blog posts to Fuse#8, because she does generally catch the best ones, but I couldn’t resist these book sheets for your bed. So simple and yet so interesting. You can see more here, but it appears to be an artistic project rather than a commercial product. Darn.

Would the sheets count for the 48 Hour Book Challenge, now mere days away? Probably not, as the books read need to be the teen and older-kid versions, like in the two-hundred-page range. Re-reading books is fine. Adult books are fine. Graphic novels not so much. Not that there is anything wrong with them. Some of my best books are graphic novels. But for this challenge, we don’t want to be comparing apples and oranges in terms of page counts and books read.

I have to mention that unlike what my horoscope said, today did not turn out to be one of the best days of the year. I actually felt kind of sicky a lot of the day, which pretty much sucks. I did enjoy going to the second grade Parents’ Breakfast, where I saw my daughter’s “author’s portfolio” and then ate some doughnuts and scones. The scone was definitely a highlight of the day.

Speaking of sweets, Robin Brande offered to send something delectable to the 48 HBC winner. Chocolate is her trademark gift, but a little melty for the summer. Maybe it will be something in the gummy family. I’ve also had some gift card offers that I’ve got to figure out how to use. Still waiting on John Green and Brotherhood 2.0 to weigh in. Given my horoscope, I thought today would be the day...