105 Ways to Give a Book

Summer's End

It's the last week of what I'm calling the Lost Summer, and I'm just ready for it to be over. It's not I love autumn, but because I'd rather get on with the schedule of the school year if I'm not going to get the fun of summer.

I ended up with another week helping my mom through her radiation therapy. She is at her home now and feeling much better, though it will be a while before she feels like herself. The good news is that the treatment is completed with a ninety to ninety-five percent success rate for holding her vision in check. Obviously, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my prayers with her.

With my mom's treatment, my new job, the girls' theatre/arts program, and scheduling conflicts all over the place, we lost out on our normal summer of sun, sand, and swimming. Only twice did we made it to my old home, Virginia Beach, and each of those for only a couple of days. We canceled our membership to the community pool, but didn't go to my in-laws pool much either. My work schedule was often opposite the girls' program, so I wasn't seeing much of them. And tacking on the Kid's rehearsals, we never seemed to be all together much at all. Our closest thing to a vacation was New York, but again we were only together in the evenings and that was only when Bill was able to join us at the end of the week.

At this point, I'm happy to close the book on the whole thing and get ready for a new, exciting year. We start off with MPAT's performance of 13 on September 7th and 8th - if you're anywhere near Northern Virginia come to the show, which will be fantastic! Then both girls start off with their school's theatre programs, which includes A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Teen. For me, there is KidLitCon in September and the start of a new Cybils year. (Last days for judge applications!) And always, books, books, books to read. And occasionally to write about.

Poetry Friday: A Mirror to Nature

While I was helping my mom in Baltimore, I had a little reprieve every day. I took each opportunity to head down to the Inner Harbor, finding a bit of peace by the water even with the crowds. There's a magic to water that I find reflected in today's poetry book - reflected being a key word.

A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection
by Jane Yolen, photographs by Jason Stemple

Wordsong 2009, review from library copy

A Mirror to Nature: Poems About ReflectionBringing together photographs and poems is only the first layer of pairing in this picture book of poetry. Each spread features a photograph of an animal, reflected back in a body of water, along with a descriptive poem and a fact about the animal. The photographs have a simple, natural artistry composing and shaping the mirror theme, as the concepts of reflection, pairs, and water weave throughout the poetry. The most eye-catching photographs in the book feature deeper contrast between the represented animal and the landscape, but many of the selections have more subtle distinctions and a muted color scheme. Even the cover itself - lovely with its play of light, water, and reflection - seems like a hard sell for kids. The poems hit the right note, featuring haiku, couplets, and free verse and clever interpretations of the motif. As a sample, here is my favorite:
Coyote Landscape

For the moment, you are as still
As the roots, rocks, snow.
Only the water runs fast,
As fast as you, when you go

Whipping the wind, blazing the trail,
Following the panting prey.
But now, for a moment, you stand statue still
Reflecting on the day.

- written by Jane Yolen
Poetry Friday is hosted today at Dori Reads. Don't forget to apply to be a Cybils judge - especially in the Poetry category!


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There and Back Again

Oh New York, why do you tease me so? Beckoning with your warm embrace only to blast me with your sauna-like subway tunnels. Luring with your bustling streets only to wake me at dawn with the noisiest garbage collection procedure known to man. Teasing with dollar slices of gooey pizza while leaving me with the hotel bill for many, many dollars. New York, you are a cruel mistress.

There you have it. A bit of poetic tribute to my city stay of two weeks ago. It was not our smoothest visit. The hotel was small, and I hadn't realized how much we count on an extra room in an apartment to get a little space from each other at the end of the day. We all went into the trip tired from our various things, which didn't help our stamina or mood. Things simply didn't gel the way they have in the past.

But it was still New York and we made the most of it. We loved seeing RENT again from prime orchestra seats and enjoyed the energy of Newsies. We reluctantly passed on Shakespeare in the Park's Into the Woods as being too involved, but went to TKTS booth to get great seats for One Man, Two Guvnors. It was as funny as they say.

We hit the free Friday night at MoMA and decided we prefer it to the pay-what-you-wish hours at the Guggenheim where they shame you into paying more than you might wish to. In fact, we took advantage of free things as much as possible taking in Broadway in Bryant Park, the Staten Island Ferry, and the Folk Art Museum. (Foe more free museums, check out this listing) We walked along Riverside Park and visited with good friend and semi-tour guide Tim Bush along the High Line.

Teen and I did some shopping at the discount stores, sample sales, and consignment shops. She found a great collection of New York style clothes and one fantastic dress that had people turning heads as she walked by. She looked like she had stepped out of Vogue. The Kid worked very hard at Broadway Artists Alliance and was thrilled with the guest speaker, Megan Hilty of Smash. It was so perfect that she could tell her that she was performing her version of "Crazy Dreams" at the BAA Showcase - and that she sang it masterfully! The Showcase itself was amazing to see with the amount of stunning young talent.

Buying an extra day with an evening departure, we went the Bronx Zoo as the close to our family trip. It turned out to be the perfect way to end our visit, with a relaxing walk around the peaceful zoo grounds. We even came away with a new family saying from the ticket pricing structure listed at the zoo: "Total experience does not include camel rides." How true that is... on so many levels.

On my return, I was immediately sick with fever, back at work, and dealing with my mom's health. The last of which sent me back to Baltimore to oversee the last days of her treatment. I'm hoping that with the conclusion of this therapy and the beginning of the school year, that I can get back to blogging more regularly. Of course, I've said that before. In any case, my personal trip is now cataloged and broadcast for posterity, whatever that's worth.

Searching for Cybils Judges

CybilsLogo2012-Web-ButtonThe call for judges for the 2012 Cybils went out last week, and we already have tons of potential volunteers. Now I am always the one who procrastinates - the lateness of this post is an apt example - but I would encourage you to apply soon. Chairs of the categories start to pull together their panels right from the start, though we'll continue to reassess, swap, and agonize until the very last day. While we consider everyone, you do yourself no favors by holding back.

If you are worried about the application itself, don't. Just follow directions and show your passion. Also, while Young Adult and Sci-fi/Fantasy will be swamped with candidates, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Early Reader categories would love to see more love. My own category, Fiction Picture Books, usually falls in the middle with a lot of passionate volunteers and I have to share with related categories. Would that I could keep you all.

But we can't take you if you don't put in your application. So get on it!

Poetry Friday: The Cat and the Fiddle

The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
by Jackie Morris

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2011

The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery RhymesNursery rhyme collections are so common that it takes true artistic interpretation to set one apart. This title has that down with gorgeous watercolors and inventive illustrations that raise the simple rhymes to new levels. A two page spread joins “Lavender’s Blue” and “Lilies are White” with representations of the colors and flowers, but also of fairy queens riding atop an adorned white bear, curiously small against the lilies, as a small boy watches the procession in wonder. Delicate and detailed illustrations take the reader into a medival and magical world where weasels may take over the kitchen and the black hen gives her languid lady a ride. The animals particularly are so beautifully rendered that bird’s feathers seem iridescent and sheep’s eyes sparkle with life. Every page is a visual delight, with gentle and cool colors of bedtime and mystical places. The collection covers many of the standards with a few less known selections, but the reason to visit this title is to slip into the enchanting world. For Poetry Friday, hosted today On the Way to Somewhere, here's a little rhyme:

Baby’s Bed’s a Silver Moon

Baby’s bed’s a silver moon
Sailing o’er the sky,
Sailing o’er the sea of sleep,
While the stars go by.

Sail, baby, sail.
Far across the sea.
And don’t forget to come
Back home again to me.

Baby’s fishing for a dream,
Fishing near and far,
Her line a silver moonbeam is,
Her bait a silver star.

Sail, baby, sail,
Far across the sea.
But don’t forget to come
Back home again to me.

While I won't be sailing, I am heading out to New York for a week. While my thirteen year old attends her Broadway program, Teen and I will be exploring the city yet again. I'm hoping to get some posts up during my time away, but in case I don't, know that I'll come back home again soon.



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Working Hard

Another update knowing that What Happens on Wednesdays, Stays on Wednesdays.

With week I took off for Baltimore and the week I will take off for New York, my part time hours were all crammed into these two weeks. It's exhausting! How do you people manage to work full time, like all the time?

Granted, I'm also continuing to monitor my mother's care in Baltimore. That requires an hour phone call a day, because while she doesn't always speak well, but she always talks long. I did arrange for a home health aide to transport her to an from treatment, but I'm still involved in the logistics somewhat as my mother gets confused about what this person is supposed to do. I tell her that the aide's job is to do anything she finds difficult, but that's too open-ended for my mother.

Somehow I woke up in the middle of all this and realized that our big trip to New York - the one where Also-Teen goes to her Broadway program - was a week away. I had booked a hotel and sent the kid's headshot, resume, monologue, and song selections. But no other planning had taken place. These last few days have been a frenzy of figuring out the schedule, arranging transportation, buying theatre tickets, and even a little packing. Yup, my bag is ready to go.

We'll go to see RENT on Sunday, because we love the show and got free tickets for our obstructed view seats last time we went. Score for asking! On Tuesday, we'll see Newsies, because that is the show that Erin's program is attending and they'll offer a cast talk afterwards. I had wanted to try for the Shakespeare in the Park's Into the Woods Wednesday or Thursday, but it looks like getting tickets involves waiting from 6:00 a.m. to distribution at 1:00 p.m. and there is nothing I care about that much. We'll try the online lottery option, but otherwise may head to TKTS booth on Thursday and see what we can find.

At this point in our New York visits, we've done the big sights and so we spend time wandering, shopping, and revisiting our favorites. Lots of our favorites are - perhaps unsurprisingly given our show ticket orders - free. We'll take in the High Line, Broadway in Bryant Park, and MoMA on Friday night. I've also found the free or pay-what-you-wish hours at the Guggenheim and the Frick Collection, so I'll be heading there too. All of this comes from this listing of free and discounted museums in New York. You're welcome.

I know I will love this trip, but am finding it hard to get excited because I am just so tired. I can't find the time or energy to feel the anticipation. But weary or not, this is happening, folks. If you'll be in the neighborhood next week, give me a holler.


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