105 Ways to Give a Book

Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

48 Hour Book ChallengeHere we go with the official announcement of the Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge — that weekend readathon of legend. Sign up in the comments today, and talk it up. It’s go time!
  1. The weekend is June 8–10, 2012. Read and blog for any 48-hour period within the Friday-to-Monday-morning window. Start no sooner than 7:00 a.m. on Friday the eighth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday the eleventh. So, go from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday... or maybe 7:00 a.m. Saturday to 7:00 a.m. Monday works better for you. But once begun, the 48 hours do need to be in a row. That said, during that 48-hour period you may still have gaps of time in which you can’t read, and that’s fine.
  2. The books should be middle-grade, young adult, or adult books. If you are generally a picture book blogger, consider this a good time to get caught up on all those wonderful books you’ve been hearing about. Graphic novels can be included in the reading. One audiobook can also be included in your time and book total — helpful if you have somewhere to drive to or need to prepare dinner, etc.
  3. New this year, three winners will be chosen at random from each of three levels of reading commitment - 12 to 23 hours, 24 to 35 hours, and 36 to 48 hours. Since each level will progressively have less participants, the more you read the better your chances. Also it makes it necessary to track your time carefully. Top readers will still win individual prizes. International winners may be given gift cards instead of books due to mailing costs, unless a U.S. address is provided.
  4. It’s your call as to how much you want to put into it. If you want to skip sleep and showers to do this — and some people do — go for it. If you want to be a bit more laid back, fine. But you have to put something into it or it’s not a challenge. Twelve hours is the benchmark for winning prizes.
  5. The length of the reviews or notes written in your blog are not an issue. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, or a full-length review. Up to you. The time spent reviewing counts in your total time.
  6. You can include some amount of time reading other participant’s blogs, commenting on participating blogs and Facebook pages, and Twittering about your progress (remember the #48hbc tag!). For every five hours, you can add one hour of networking. This time counts in your total time.
  7. On your blog, state when you are starting the challenge with a specific entry on that day and leave the link to that post at the Starting Line post at MotherReader on June 8th. And please link to the contest on your post.
  8. When you finish, write a final summary that clearly indicates hours — including partial hours — you spent reading/reviewing/networking, the number of books read, and any other comments you want to make on the experience. It needs to be posted no later than noon EST on Monday, June 11th. Also, check in at the Finish Line post on MotherReader that will be posted Sunday and please link to that post from your final summary post.
New this year, we'll be making ourselves a real readathon with a dedicated beneficiary. For the last few years we've been able to connect the 48HBC to charitable causes, while not officially being a fundraiser readathon. I would like to do so now with a pledge to Book People Unite and collect money for Reading is Fundamental. All participants should sponsor themselves with a pledge for the number of hours spent in the 48HBC and donate that amount directly through Reading is Fundamental This donation is on your honor and at your financial comfort level. You many also look for additional sponsors in your online and "real" life, which if nothing else, promotes the ideas of us book people, you know, uniting. While there are many great libraries and literary causes that need help in these difficult times, I think the timing of the Book People Unite is perfect for us to join forces for the greater good.

I’m always looking for donations for winners’ prize packages and other “door prizes” to be awarded to participants selected at random. Past prizes have included original sketches from Mo Willems and Matthew Holm, signed and sketched books from Adam Rex, loads of signed books, t-shirts from Threadless, artistic blank journals, jewelry, gift cards, notecards, and more. Good stuff. If you’d like to contribute to the prizes this year, shoot me an email at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

Sign up now in the comments and block of the dates on your calendar. Questions can also go in the comments, and I will respond in the comments and add to FAQ if needed. Which means, you might check there first. Talk this up, people! Let's have some fun!

Thursday Three: Books for Ballou

"Books for Ballou" is not a hot new title for the preschool set, but instead a book drive for Ballou High School in Washington DC. The book fair is run through Guys Lit Wire with all the info available there, but basically the project has a wish list of books at Powells to be purchased for the far-too-empty library shelves at the high school. Also, while this project is not a chance to get rid of your leftovers, if you have new copies of books on the list, contact guyslitwire (at) gmail (dot) com to see if you can send those along. Here are three titles I am sending, with publisher copy since I haven't read them:

Under the Mesquite 
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall Under the Mesquite
"Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother's battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse. Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita's journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience."

My Name is Mina 
by David Almond
My Name is Mina"A blank notebook lies on the table. It has been there for what seems like forever. Mina has proclaimed in the past that she will use it as a journal, and one night, at last, she begins to do just that. As she writes, Mina makes discoveries both trivial and profound about herself and her world, her thoughts and her dreams. Award-winning author David Almond reintroduces readers to the perceptive, sensitive Mina before the events of Skellig in this lyrical and fantastical work. My Name is Mina is not only a pleasure to read, it is an intimate and enlightening look at a character whose open mind and heart have much to teach us about life, love, and the mysteries that surround us."

Paper Covers Rock 
by Jenny Hubbard
Paper Covers Rock"At the beginning of his junior year at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there's more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex's writing for class."

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Pre-Announcement

48 Hour Book Challenge There are a few things I need to work out, but let's call this the pre-annoucement for the Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge and set the date for the weekend of June 8rd–10th. It isn't the first weekend in June, but it is after Book Expo America where I tend to get prizes, so it makes sense. I will put up the official sign-up post with rules on Monday, April 30th, but feel free to start spreading the word. For a refresher on the rules, check out my 48 Hour Book Challenge standard information. If you can donate signed books, crafty ventures, illustrator sketches, reading paraphernalia, and other prizes, I’d really appreciate it. Email me with those at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com.

I have a couple of changes I'm looking at. In the efforts to open up the challenge to more levels of commitment, I want to give out a prize package to a random winner within each of three levels - 12 to 23 hours, 24 to 35 hours, and 36 to 48 hours. I would give signed books as individual prizes to those who hit 48 hours. I have the greatest respect and more than a little awe for our 48 Hour Readers, but I want to give more folks a chance to win.

Also, while I've encouraged the idea of reading for a greater good, I haven't pushed one particular benefactor. I would like to do so now with my pledge to Book People Unite and collect money for Reading is Fundamental. I'd like all participants to sponsor themselves with a pledge for the number of hours participating in the challenge and donate that amount directly through Reading is Fundamental. You many also look for additional sponsors in your online and "real" life, which if nothing else, promotes the ideas of us book people, you know, uniting. While there are many great libraries and literary causes that need help in these difficult times, I think the timing of the Book People Unite campaign is perfect for us to join forces for the greater good. So mark your calendars and watch this space for more info!

Thursday Three: Chapter Book Classics

Along with my top ten picture books, I submitted my top ten chapter books for the SLJ's Top Children's Novels poll. Since I have some write-ups, I thought I'd share a few of my selections today. Again, I was surprised that I wasn't finding the love for newer titles, but was going back to my own childhood books as favorites. I think I have some attachment issues to work out.

by Sydney Taylor

All of a Kind Family A classic about a poor, immigrant, Jewish family living in New York City in the early 1900's. The book is about the everyday - chores, market trips, make-believe games - mixed with a helpful and healthy dose of Jewish traditions. It's historical fiction at its finest, putting the reader in the world while celebrating the time period. As for why love this book, well, it's because the joy that the girls had in choosing what to spend a nickel on outweighs most of the excitement I could imagine then or now. It made me crave a dill pickle from the barrel, which is just crazy.

Little House on the Prairie
by Laura Ingalls Wilders

Little House on the Prairie While this title is not actually the first book in the series - that would be Little House in the Big Woods - this is the one that really kicks it off, letting the reader get to know Laura, Mary, Ma and Pa as they travel and set up a homestead on the prairie through difficult times. When I was a kid I loved the first books in the series, finding the other ones boring, but as an adult, I think that the later books are better written, with stronger characterization and plotting. The early books have extensive descriptions of scenery, food, and house-building, which makes for some slow reading.

A Little Princess
by Francis Hodgson Burnett

A Little PrincessHere's a book about triumphing in the face of adversity, and keeping a positive spirit and nature throughout tough times. When I was young, I read it, lost it, didn't remember what it was called, and for some reason didn't seem to ask anybody, but kept looking for the book for years. I remember the joy of finding it again, on the shelves of a bookstore, and going home to read it again and again. Sigh. I loved this book as a kid, but reading it again as an adult I couldn't capture that same feeling. That's okay though, because my childhood memories of the tale completely trump my adult sensibilities and it still feels a little bit magic to me.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Falling Into Place

Recently things have been falling into place. So of course, I'm very nervous. It seems about time to find out that my attic is infested with bats or that Ted Nugent is my half-brother.

First, a friend told me about a local theatre doing Tween's new favorite musical, 13: The Musical, with auditions starting right after she finishes her musical revue show. It's a very exciting possibility for a summer program, so wish her luck. Also, she's no longer Tween but also-Teen. We'll see if it sticks.

Teen and I went to a driving information session together, and I left feeling pretty good. I saw that I have a conscientious, careful, and intelligent girl I'm sending out on the roads. I also kept my head down and doodled through all of the scary, crash videos, because I don't need that. Though the music video at a crash site was quite something. Teen deadpanned a comment to me about the new trend of musicians showing up at accidents, to which I added, "Like flash mobs, but much smaller. And really, really sad."

But other than our obvious bonding time, I realized that Teen will be driving soon. As in driving herself and her sister to places. As in I will not always be the one driving Teen and also-Teen around the greater Northern Virginia area. Which leads me to my next breakthrough: a working mom schedule is now a pretty workable thing.

Actually, it was another friend who helped me realize that I was being overanxious and rigid about my responsibilities and what I can do. While I have commitments to the needs of my daughters, my mom, and my Girl Scouts, I also have a desire to work and a need to earn some money. I mean, Columbia isn't going to pay for itself. (Actually, according to their financial aid calculator, it kind of is going to pay for itself, at least in part. So besides the whole "getting in" thing, we could do this.)

If I were going to make a toast - and let's say I'm doing that with a bottle of Funky Llama I picked up at Safeway - I'd have to raise a glass to friends, to perspective, and to falling into place. And what the hell, to Ted Nugent. Cheers.

Top 100 Picture Books

This post would have been sooooo much better if it had been in time for voting in the SLJ's Top 100 Picture Books, but I barely got in my list myself... and then found out that there was an extension. At this point it's all over but the shouting. You know, with the exception of the tons of work it's going to be to go through all those votes and crank the numbers and do the write-ups and... wow, do I ever admire Betsy Bird.

So, here are the books I put forth. I really went my favorites, as opposed to systematically analyzing the Iconic Picture Books of Children's Literature. Given how much time I've spent in the company of picture books in the public library and as organizer/panelist of that Cybils category, I was surprised how few new books made my list. When it came down to choosing, as much as I have loved some books in the last ten years, my heart went out for those I read to my own kids - especially if I read them myself as a child. The list also didn't change much from when I did it for Fuse #8's first list.

  1. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
    Funny, clever, and the perfect read-aloud, this is the book that started my Mo obsession.
  2. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems
    and this is the book that sealed that obsession evermore. Mo-tastic.
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin
    If you watch the video, you'll never get the tune out of your head when you read the book aloud. I'm still not sure if that is a good or bad thing.
  4. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
    A wonderful reflection of the love and relationship between parent and child.
  5. On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier
    I never get through this book without tearing up. It’s a great baby shower gift.
  6. The Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle
    It's hard to pick just one Carle book, but I reading with the grouchy voice.
  7. Bark George, by Jules Feiffer
    So fun to read!
  8. Corduroy, by Don Freeman
    A story of the one special toy for one special girl hit my heart as a kid and as a mom.
  9. Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban
    I loved all the Frances books and can only choose this as a favorite by a slight margin.
  10. The Monster At The End Of This Book
    I remember this book from my childhood more than any other. And now it's an app.

I know that I've seen the contributions of 100 Scope Notes and Book Nut. Anyone else sharing their list?

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Science & Stories Program: When the Wind Blows

There’s a new meme in town. STEM Friday focuses on books that promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And the round-up of posts is hosted at, well, STEM Friday.

Over the year I’ll be sharing the preschool program I created for the library and that I’m presenting once a month. The concept behind the program is to introduce science topics by combining fiction and nonfiction, songs and mini-experiments, action rhymes and hands-on times. As a preschool program the information conveyed is basic, and intended to encourage a questioning, observational approach to scientific topics. At the end, I leave up the mini-experiments for the kids to explore with me or a parent, and I explain that experiments should be done with a grown-up.

Wind and Air

Early Arrival Book: One Windy Wednesday, by Phyllis Root

Book: Flora’s Very Windy Day, by Jeanne Birdsall

Experiment: Catch the Wind
Open a large plastic bag. Make sure there are no holes in it. Spin around so it puffs up. Twist it closed to trap the air you caught. Explain how air takes up the space in the bag.

Book: The Windy Day, by G. Brian Karas

Experiment: The Wind Blows
Create your own wind with an electric or paper fan. Which items will move more from your wind? Try things like light things like leaves, feathers, cotton balls, tissue paper. Compare with heavier objects, like marbles, cardboard, pencils.

Book: I Face the Wind, by Vicki Cobb

Experiment: Wind on the Water
Fill a tray with water. Blow air across the water’s surface. Blow gently then harder. Waves form on top of the water. The energy from the moving air is transferred to the surface of the water. Now blow the boats across the water. Can you do it? You are the wind force pushing the boats.

Action Story: The Sun and the Wind
Tell the fable of the wind and sun who tried to remove a person's coat having the children blow for the part of the wind and make sun's rays with this arms for the sun. The storyteller is the person with the coat.

Experiment: Make the Wind
Make your own paper fan by folding a piece of paper over and over and stapling the end. Try out your fan on you and things around you.

Alternate Craft: Wind Sock
A wind sock lets you “see” the wind blow. Take a piece of construction paper and glue on five or six streamers. Curve into a tube and staple the ends together. Staple a handle on top. Hold it up outside and watch it move with the force of the air.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Thursday Three: Rock the Drop!

Wow, I almost forgot about Rock the Drop! Fortunately, my social media connections tuned me in, answering the eternal question "What has Twitter done for me lately?" So I went to my bookshelves - okay, book piles - to find something special to share with teen readers. Unfortunately, I had recently done a purge which made my search a little more difficult. But digging deeper, I am parting with some Bloomsbury ARC's so they can find new homes with a new readers.

The Fool's Girl
by Celia Rees

The Fool's GirlThe book boosts of "a lush, epic historical novel with an added Shakespearean twist." Well, if that doesn't bring in the readers I don't know what will. In today's market it would be a better sell to add "and zombies" to the end of any description. But it would be unfair to dismiss this smart book for smart readers. Set in Shakespearean times - with actual Shakepeare included - the story follows the royal Violetta and her fool on a mission to find a holy relic and restore a kingdom. Spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, the historic details are well-balanced with adventure, intrigue, romance, and suspense.

Going Underground
by Susan Vaught

Going UndergroundI'm in a tagline mood so... "When does falling in love become a crime?" With that question and the intriguing cover, the reader is pulled into the story of a good kid on the wrong end of a bad law created for the right reasons. Del is seventeen and digging graves without prospects for college or love because of something that happened three years ago that made him a social outcast - and a felon. Through flashbacks, the reader learns about his past and comes away with a timely cautionary tale. An interesting story based on real-life sexting cases, this is a book to open discussions and open minds about complicated issues.

Fallen Grace
by Mary Hooper

Fallen GraceContinuing the trend, a bit from the jacketflap: "Mary Hooper's latest offers Dickensian social commentary, as well as malicious fraud, mysterious secrets, and a riveting read." Following my earlier note, let's add "and zombies" to this description and move some books. The Grace of the title is - along with her sister - penniless and struggling to survive in Victorian London. Giving birth to a stillborn baby conceived through terrible circumstances, sets Grace into a series of connections and let's say great expectations. (Dickens reference for the win!) A detailed historical setting, strong characters and plot twists make for a fun read.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Star Volunteer

My home library branch has recognized me as a star volunteer to my Fair County. I feel very honored and also a little bit guilty. After all, I spend maybe three hours a month on the Science & Stories program and an hour doing it. Now granted, when I do a children's program I am flippin' on fire, but I'm not sure about Star Volunteer. Meteorite Volunteer seems closer.

It is a well timed distinction for my service to the library system as I am thinking of going back to it. Not that it has been a choice in the last few years, because it hasn't. The system was still in the process of layoffs or the few random openings were too far from my home. But things may be changing in the near future, and I can only hope that my years of experience, my work in children's literature, my obvious passion, and hey, even my Star Volunteer recognition can trump some adjustments I might need in scheduling.

Leaving my program today, I felt so energized. Completing a great session is such a rush for me. I remember talking to colleagues who were ready to take a nap afterwards, but I always felt charged after storytimes. It's something I've really missed about my job. Honestly, I had more energy at home when I was working than I do now and I was also forced to budget my time better.

Anyway, I don't know what will happen or when, but for today I feel a little bit like a star. How about you? What's making your day?

Thursday Three: Poetry Month

I was going to give three bunny books to read if you missed the Easter selection at your local library, but then I looked up such books in my own library's catalog and found over three hundred picture book titles. Clearly, you don't need my suggestions as you would be much better off planting yourself in front of any picture book shelf and pulling out books at random - though as a hint, you'd have an easy time in front of the Rick Walton, Rosemary Wells, or Beatrix Potter books.

Now is the first week of National Poetry Month and there is so much going on, much of it listed at KidLitosphere Celebration of Poetry Month. Since this is the Thursday Three, I'll share three sample sites to start you off.

1. Irene Latham introduces a fantastic new activity in the KidLitosphere Progressive Poem. Watch a poem grow day-by-day as it travels across the KidLitosphere. If you lose track of the process, you can check the schedule for the next participant.

2. Greg Pincus brings back 30 Poets/30 Days with previously unpublished poems by favorite children’s authors. Some great poetry happens here, so don't miss it!

3. Author Amok offers a series 30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets with guest poets sharing their writing rituals. There will also be features on famous poets, writing prompts, and poetry.

It's coming to a close just as Poetry Month starts, but let me give a shout-out to Ed at Think Kid, Think! for leading us into the month with a spectacular Poetry Madness Tournament! Pitting poet against poet tournament style was certainly competitive, but it was at the same time a community building experience. And it was absolutely brilliant!

Finding the Track

I am so ready to get back on track, if only I could find the track itself. I wouldn't have thought that when I wrote about taking a bit of a blogging break that I would be writing it from a high point of my search.

Then I felt like I was being pulled back into the working world, not altogether reluctantly. Yet didn't know which form that work would take. Well, last month was a tsunami of stay-at-home mom responsibilities that gave me pause. Teen needed glasses for the first time and started driving lessons. Tween had organizational issues with homework and you know, not turning it in, that needed addressing. Also Tween was cast in a community theatre musical revue, which is fantastic, but does require someone to drive her there a few times a week. (Pssst! Guess who that would be.) My husband hurt his back, and is still struggling with pain and stiffness. Meanwhile, I was both leading and managing cookie sales for two Girl Scout troops because my co-leader for each troop were having their own issues.

I came into this Spring Break week like I was sliding into home base - exhausted, relieved, and elated to have made it. All through this I was struggling with writing. Like, anything. I was getting writer's block on review summaries and Facebook updates. Even now, with most of the problems past, I feel clumsy on the keyboard. I'm not finding the flow I've always counted on. (Well, except for my Grow-Up post which I'll count as one of my new favorites.)

So today's post is one part explanation and one part inquiry asking this:

In terms of writing, how do you get back on track?

I'd love to hear from my writing friends, which is to say any or all of you.

Nonfiction Monday: How Many Jelly Beans?

With Easter on the horizon, I've been buying candy for our annual egg hunt. It started off years ago in our old neighborhood, but the girls came to expect it as another facet of the whole Easter bunny thing. Then just as we could have given it up by handing each girl a gift card to Aeropostle, my niece came along and the tradition continued. So the night before Easter you'll find me loading up a ridiculous amount of plastic eggs with candy fun packs, Hershey's kisses, and jelly beans. Oh, so many jelly beans. I would have estimated a million jelly beans, but with this book I now know better.

How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers
by Andrea Menotti, illustrated by Yancey Labat

Chronicle 2012, review copy sent by publishers
How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant NumbersThe first thing you notice about the book is the size. It's a large book, perhaps to emphasize the enormity of the mathematical concepts and certainly to accommodate the pull-out page in the back where one million jelly beans are represented. But at the beginning, we start with Emma and a reasonable number of sweets. But as her brother requests more, they continue to top each other with the number of jelly beans they would want up to a million. (Which Aiden has to admit is a bit much.) Very large amounts are conveyed with simple, bright graphics that make the numbers more real and understandable. It would be a particularly fun choice for a preschool or early education classroom. It would also be great in an Easter basket, but to fit you're going to need a bigger basket.

For more nonfiction selections, visit our Nonfiction Monday host, Rasco from RIF

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Grow Up

I remember when I could be sliced to the core by the words, "Grow up." Delivered with an offhand, disdainful superiority that only a teenager can perfectly master, it was a phrase from my past. But not anymore.

After reading the NYT opinion piece on how adults should read adult books, the phrase jumped into my mind as clearly as if the author Joel Stein was sneering it over his shoulder in the high school cafeteria. Grow up. And I heard it like the wake-up call it was. Yes, it is time to grow up.

It's time to give up children's books. And I'm doing it.

Seriously, I'm not even sure what I've been doing all this time with apparently three thousand years of adult literature just waiting for me. Kidlit and YA can't give me the adult things that an adult needs in reading. For instance, sometimes there aren't enough big words. You know, like pretentious. And while there might be some sex in teen books, it's always played down and rarely described with "throbbing" or the naughty words for our... parts. Okay, so maybe that's not the literary argument, but it is adult.

How is it I've been straying from the subtle shades of literature that only an adult book can employ? I remember this book where the empty chairs in the room so clearly stood for the existential loneliness that lies at the core of each one of us, and yet that isn't revealed in the brightness of day but only in darkness. Though come to think of it, that may be from Goodnight, Moon.

Really the point is in the type of book that can lead us to discover our existential loneliness. Or even that can make us want to use the word existential in a write-up. Oh, and the ennui! How I have missed the ennui. Certainly we can all admit that a teen's struggle to define himself along the expectations of society, parents, and peers all while trying to tune in to his own ever-shifting internal compass is trivial when compared to that sad, bored woman who eats, prays and loves.

So I'm making a pledge with a few others, that as an adult I'll only be reading adult books starting today, April Fools Day.