105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Reach for Me

Today I planned to share some actual poetry from a book and everything, but I've been set upon by a terrible cold that's sapping my concentration. I started feeling unwell on Tuesday, and am pretty annoyed that the worst of it has been yesterday and today. Last night I was so sick I dreamed I was sick. It was like Inception for the hapless.

So you're getting another song as poetry and another Smash song. The poetry of this one isn't solid - lots of repeats in the song - but the few lines are haunting, especially in the music. Even better is the video of the pop diva with some beautiful ribbon dancing.
Tonight when the bright stars
are burning high over Manhattan,
All washed out in neon
And hidden from view.
But when the power goes out
and you look up from Brooklyn,
Will you reach for me
Reaching out for you...

Sorry about the cut to the show's storyline at 2:24, but if you stick it through you'll see some daring moves. TeenReader has given her endorsement to this as one of the hip songs that I share to illuminate those among you not so blessed with teen music knowledge.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Laura Salas. Stop by there to enjoy the best from around the web.


Road trips always sound like a spectacular adventure, but I know my limits. Specifically, five hours. That is the longest I can spend in a car without going crazy. Yes, I've had to stretch that on occasion, but it wasn't pretty for anyone involved. One traffic-plagued trip back from Virginia Beach, I spent the post-fifth hour pointing out houses that looked like they might provide weary travelers with comfort. (Though I did later discover that I had a high fever which may have been part of it.) In any case, I have to limit my love of road trips to books, and this teen title did the trick.

by Hilary Weisman Graham

Simon & Schuster, 2012 review from library copy
ReunitedAt the end of senior year, one girl instigates a road trip with her ex-best friends to see their favorite band reunited for one concert only. Despite their estrangement, they each have a reason to bridge their differences and take to the highway. Alice sees this concert as fate, Tiernan is looking for an escape from her mother, while Summer joins after being dumped by her boyfriend. On the trip, they cautiously reconnect while also avoiding the discussion of why they separated from each other in the first place. The book starts off a little awkwardly – like a pilot of a show introducing the characters in obvious ways. But once the girls hit the road, the book hits its stride. There are plenty of obstacles on the way and lots of character conflict, leading to a fun read. I can't help thinking that it would be a great movie, especially considering that there is a real band, Level3 to use in the flick.

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Poetry Friday: I Heard Your Voice in a Dream

What an awful week it has been. As I write this, police are searching for the second suspect in the Boston bombing. It's hard to get away from the feeling of a world gone wrong.

So today for my song as poetry series, I wanted a piece of escapism where the video is as engaging as the words and music. This song from Smash is part of the "new" musical that they are creating on the show portraying the love of a regular guy and a girl on a path to stardom. The song is amazing, but I'm obsessed with this video because the dancers as obstacles is perfection.
Nothing comes easy when everyone's rushing
The signal's got speed but there's no real connection
I tried reaching out but it was just my reflection
'Til I heard your voice in a dream

So sing to me and I will forgive you
For taking my heart in the suitcase you packed
Sing to me like the lights didn't blind you
Like you blinded me when I heard your voice in a dream

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Irene Latham. Be safe, everyone. Be well.

Thursday Three: Gun Control

This won't be a usual Thursday Three as I couldn't find such picture books as "Don't Shoot Your Friend in the Face!" But I felt compelled to write today in what can only be called outrage. With a touch of depression, I suppose.

Boston's terroism didn't strike me to my core as much as this Senate vote on gun control. As horrible as the bombing was, I could see it as the evil act of a terrible person. I could witness humanity in the caring acts of strangers and the efficiency of our police and federal investigators. I found comfort in the words of Patton Oswalt's statement that made the rounds of the Internet, and honestly, is one of the most insightful, intelligent things I've ever read.
This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.
If you haven't read the whole thing, please do and allow yourself to get to the part where you'll find my new mantra. "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

My faith in humanity was challenged by this Senate vote in a way it wasn't by the bombing because I continue to believe that we go through a process of finding good people to represent our interests in making laws for the country. Even through the worst, most useless Congressional session in history, I have held onto some naive hope that these were good people trying to do the right thing, even if the votes were politically motivated. At least they believed they were representing their constituents.

But even politics have nothing on the vote for universal background checks. It was the least they could do after Sandy Hook. Seriously, the least they could do. And they couldn't manage that. So my Thursday Three?

1. Universal background checks are supported by 90% of Americans.

2. Universal background checks are supported by 88% of gun owners.

3. Universal background checks are supported by 76% of NRA members.

Universal background checks have a higher approval rating than Mother Teresa. Universal background checks have a higher approval ratings than kittens, baseball, and apple pie. Personally, I am for much stronger measures of gun control, but am absolutely outraged that the Senate could not pass this piece of legislation for fear of what the NRA would do. The NRA that doesn't even represent its own membership on this issue. Well, expect the dirty little "secret" that the NRA doesn't speak for gun owners or individual members of its organization, but gun manufacturers.

For once, my state of Virginia is on the right side of this issue. But if your senators are not representing you - and it seems that they are not - please call/email/write and let them know. If you need an extra boost of outrage, read Gabby Gifford's op-ed in the New York Times.
Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

Yes, it was a pretty shameful day in Washington..
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Poetry Friday: This Year

This is a better share of music as poetry than usual for the KidLitosphere because it is from the "Evening of Awesome" at Carnegie Hall with Vlogbrothers John Green and Hank Green. Yes, they introduced us to this song and I fell in love with the chorus - I'm going to make it through this year if it kills me - as a sentiment I need to express so, so often. But I might have made this a new favorite based on this video itself, because John and Hank Green are having so much fun onstage with the band, the Mountain Goats (jump to the 1:20 mark to see). Enjoy!
I broke free on a Saturday morning
I put the pedal to the floor
Headed north on Mills Avenue
And listened to the engine roar

My broken house behind me and good things ahead
A girl named Cathy wants a little of my time
Six cylinders underneath the hood crashing and kicking
Ahh, listen to the engine whine

I am going to make it through this year
If it kills me

If you didn't get to see this show, the whole Evening of Awesome is available and features some pretty cool people. Uh, Neil Gaiman. Lots of fun. For the Poetry Friday roundup, please visit Random Noodling.

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College Search

We've been looking at colleges. That statement both explains my haphazard and lackluster posting here, along with my somewhat fragile emotional state.

In the beginning I was the calm one as my teenager worried about narrowing down her selections. I knew - I knew - we were looking at the same couple of schools as every other good student in Virginia, with a reach school of Columbia. Then the mail starting coming.

So much mail. From schools I had never heard of and also schools that I was surprised needed to send mail. Then I started looking at the books of 371 of the best schools, knowing that such a specific number meant something special. I offered to help teen sort through her emails, because she had hundreds and couldn't deal anymore. It was exhausting to see so many choices, and started to open my eyes to new possibilities.

Add along to that information from other parents about schools that offered good scholarships. And stories from parents about deserving kids who didn't get into this school or that, and I was looking at more safety schools.

So we've been to University of Virginia and The College of William and Mary. We have a trip planned for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. I'm now adding some Pennsylvania schools, Lafayette College and University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University for the Philadelphia thing. Maybe it will compare nicely to New York. Oh, and I'm looking for within a five hour radius from home both because it's important to me and because we have to narrow this down somehow!

As for the fragile emotional state... well, I have to head to work now so it's probably for the best I don't get into it. I am finding myself surprised to have a high school junior - to really understand that she's leaving us next year. I am supremely proud of her and know she is ready to leave the nest, but I'm not as ready.

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Nonfiction Monday: Small Mammals

In my library weeding I had to pull several damaged and dated books about a variety of small mammals. Those titles get a lot of use and love. So I was really excited to see this new book arrive in my library because it was from my request to purchase books more books in that area. So, cool.

Choosing a Hamster, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Rabbit, Ferret, Mouse or Rat: How to Choose and Care for a Small Mammal
by Laura S. Jeffrey

Enslow Elementary, 2013

Choosing a Hamster, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Rabbit, Ferret, Mouse or Rat: How to Choose and Care for a Small MammalFrom the title and cover alone, this seems like a perfect book for kids choosing a pet. The gerbil on the cover - which given the angle of the photo looks pretty much like a hamster or mouse too - looks like he is begging for his forever home and the photographs throughout the book are similarly appealing. Clear language and short sentences are used to describe different small mammals with a focus on their particular needs and benefits as a pet. While not a thorough book on the care of each animal, the care is described in terms of what will be needed when selecting an pet. There are short chapters on health, picking up small mammals (oddly calling 'Preventing Problems') and one page on "living with your animal." It's a worthy title for an early elementary kid pondering the mouse-to-rabbit continuum of small pets.

That said, I did have a few problems with the book. While pros and cons of each pet are described, the hamster falls entirely on the negative side. "They are also known to get upset easily, and they bite or nip at their owners. Because of this, hamsters may not be the best small mammal for you." While the first is true, the direct suggestion is the only one given of any of the animals mentioned, and it bugged me as a hamster-owner. Also the bibliography only lists titles for rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Perhaps this accounts for the hate on hamsters - the author didn't read a book about how certain types of hamsters are better than others for kids. So my recommendation for the book is somewhat qualified. I am intrigued by the rest of the series from American Humane Society, which includes choosing a cat, dog, fish, and horse. Separate books. (I mean, no one is out there debating between a fish and a horse.)

For more great books, visit the Nonfiction Monday round-up hosted today at A Wrung Sponge.

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Thursday Three: Bedtime

Some standout bedtime books that passed through my hands at the library:

Sleep Like a Tiger
by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Houghton Miffin 2012
Sleep Like a TigerAs a little girl insists she is not tired, her patient parents tell her about how different animals that are going to sleep until the child takes their cues and joins them. The lyrical language portrays a bedtime “in a cocoon of sheets, a nest of blankets” while the magical illustrations are a dreamlike world in themselves. Well-deserving of its Caldecott honor win, this is a simply gorgeous book. (By the way, check out the sketches featured at the Amazon page.)

No Go Sleep!
by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Simon & Schuster 2012
No Go Sleep!“One night when the stars were out and the moon was bright, a baby said, “No go sleep!” The mom and dad try to convince the infant to get to sleep, but so do the sun, the bunnies, and even the front door who make sure baby knows that they are there to help with sleep or be ready in the morning. Even with all this support, there is still one last defiant NO! as baby drifts off. This father/daughter team is a perfect pair in showing family life with warmth and humor. Fun bedtime story that parents will really relate to.

by Helen Griffith, illustrations Laura Dronzek

Greenwillow Books 2012
Moonlight Simple text with a poetic feel is doled out phrase by phrase and is accompanied by sweet pictures of sleeping creatures – deer, birds, and of course, the bunny. “Moonlight slides like butter/ skims through outer space/ skids past star and comets/ leaves a butter trace." Acrylic paints give depth to the color in a twilights palette while the gentle illustrations make for an adorable bunny. I'd love to see this as a boardbook for the youngest readers. (Right now you can get it at a bargain price at Amazon.)

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