105 Ways to Give a Book

48HBC Prep and BEA Angst

48 Hour Book ChallengeWe're coming up on the 48 Hour Book Challenge! Yay!!! And Book Expo America is this week! Yay!!! But I'm not going... booooooo. I'm really struggling with my non-attendance this year as it looks to be exciting and I always enjoy my time at BEA, which combines my favorite things: books, socializing, and New York City. In my mind it's also linked to 48 Hour Book Challenge because I generally spent a great deal of my time at BEA standing in line for author signings to collect prizes for the 48HBC. For me, it was another win-win. I got a signed book to give away and I got to meet the author in person, which is always nice. Okay yeah, I did keep some of the books. I'm not made of stone, people.

If you're going to Book Expo America and would be willing to collect a signed book or two for 48 Hour Book Challenge prizes, I'd be ever grateful. And not even the least bit jealous that you were there meeting Shannon Hale, Jarrett Krosocaka, Melissa de la Cruz, A.S. King, and/or Laurence Yep while I was not. Okay, maybe ten percent jealous and ninety percent grateful. (Actually, as those names were selected from a quick skim of the signings on just Thursday morning, maybe it's more like 20/80.)

My work life has also tied these two events together, as I couldn't get the time off for both. We've been short-staffed at the library, forcing us all to make accommodations. I suspect others in public library systems will understand. Easier to clear the Saturday for 48 Hour Book Challenge than take off mid-week, and I don't regret that decision at all. Nope. Not me.

So have a fantastic time at Book Expo America! Grab a spare book for 48HBC if you get a chance, make time for lunch with friends, and keep an eye out for the good swag - which sometimes includes glasses of champagne. (If you hang around until the publisher reps are distracted, you can usually grab a second drink - so I've heard.)

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Thursday Three: Diverse Picture Books

Everywhere I go online I am happily seeing references to the cause of diversity in our books. Fantastic! We're going to continue that focus during our 48 Hour Book Challenge coming up on the weekend of June 6th, so please sign-up to participate. I'm hoping in the lead-up to that weekend to share some of the titles I've come across in the library, starting here with three picture books that feature African-American children in stories that have nothing to do with racial issues. I know, what a concept. Enjoy!

Here Comes Trouble!
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Scholastic, 2013
Here Comes Trouble! Emma’s dog didn’t like cats, but it seems for good reason as the cats were never in trouble, but Toby was. The neighbor cat was especially irritating, so when she came to stay for a while, well it was a challenge. The cat does things that Toby gets blamed for, so you can see why he’s mad. But when Pandora gets herself stuck in a tree, it’s Toby’s trouble-making ways – and sudden ability to write out words with mud – that save the day. Cartoon illustrations with bright colors make it an easy choice to share in storytime, and there's bits of humor in the background for closer inspection. It's a good story that shows friendship and problem-solving, but honestly my favorite thing is that it features an African-American family for no reason related to their race. Just ’cause.

Ruby’s Sleepover
By Kathryn White and Mirian Latimer

Barefoot Books, 2012
Ruby’s Sleepover Two girls are having a sleepover in a backyard tent, and as they hear noises in the night, one of the girls solves their worries with her “magic” items. Magic beans to grow a stalk to take a giant back home. An egg that the dragon might be seeking. And rings to wear to sleep to “keep danger at bay.” The focus on imagination and the idea of using your own thoughts to face your fears is a great lesson gently delivered. Nice rhyming couplets with a good rhythm, bright, cheerful illustrations and diverse characters make this a wonderful book to share.

by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013
Rain It’s raining in the city, and two different people – an old man and a child – have entirely different outlooks on the wet weather. The Boy delights in the day with excitement, putting on his green rain gear and froggie hat. The Man frowns and complains as he too ventures outside. At the coffee shop, the two meet accidentally and a good deed by the child clears the Man’s grumpy mood, reminding him of a pleasant way to be. The cute paper illustration is perfect in combination with the subtler paint composition. Excellent diversity in the book, representing a city very well, and featuring a child of color. Simple in language, but great in the message of the power of a positive outlook.

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Existential Emptiness in The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Feeling down and reflective today. Everything seems slow. The morning has moved by me with no effort or action on my part, aside from a writing part of song that has long been tickling the inside of my brain. The Internet is sluggishly loading, my email seems stuck, and even as I'm writing this post I'm reading above the ominous "An error occurred while trying to save of publish your post. Please try again."

Oh I'm trying. Lord knows, I'm trying.

I planned to start the week off with a review but it feels more like a quoting sort of day. And not even from a title that needs to be shared, as it's old news online, but it was a book that truly moved me in an unexpected way. See, I have issues with the darkness of Neil Gaiman's tales where I respect the artistry of his craft but often find it isn't for me. Not so with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was hooked from a haunting description of childhood that felt much like mine:
I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.
Isn't that ridiculously telling for two sentences? The story itself is not like my life, as it then moves into an allegorical fairy tale slash horror story that kept me enthralled slash quaking. Beautifully done and leading to one of the most moving descriptions of the existential emptiness that I've ever read. Though it's towards the end of the book, I don't think it gives away anything - except maybe the heart of the book. But you've probably all read it anyway, so here:
How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you, as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time...


Okay, maybe I need to take a walk or pet a puppy or something.

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BACA Alert! Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Author of the Year

BACAAs Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors founder and let’s say president, I see it as the kid lit equivalent of the four horsemen of the apocalypse when the Children's Choice Book Awards Author of the Year is Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure that there are and will be many thoughtful articles about what happened to make the winner of a prestigious children's literature award for Rush Revere and The Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans. But all I can say is, "Dear God, what have we done?"

The power of the bestseller was a slippery slope for children's literature awards. Certainly the power of the celebrity author - with their top budget promotions and guaranteed WalMart shelf space - was enough for a snarky online cause like Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. But now, we've added to this mixture the nebulous and sometimes nefarious power of the Internet, which allows anyone to vote for this now-less-prestigious award. There is no way - NO WAY! - that children voted for Rush Limbaugh over Rick Riordan or Veronica Roth.

I'll let cooler heads prevail on what happens next, but for what it's worth BACA's back!

Though perhaps, a little too late.

Rush Limbaugh? Are you kidding me?

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Theatre Mom Life

With every thing that the Teen finishes up, I'm all, "thank God that's done." And then the next day, "ohmigod, that's DONE!" College decisions, made. AP tests, taken. Prom dress, selected. And the killer, last high school performance, completed.

Performing Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra was an incredible undertaking for a high school. I'm not usually one to comment on how many lines are memorized - actors know that's the easy part - but in this case, let's give credit where credit is due. For A Midsummer Night's Dream, the leads Oberon, Puck, and Titania each have in the neighborhood of 250 lines. In this production - with a few cuts to the play - Antony and Cleopatra have about 700 each. So, yeah.

Top off that incredible bit of memorization in about two months with incredible, emotional performances by both leads. Of course I'm extremely proud of my Teen, but I have to give credit also to her Antony without whose commitment she couldn't have shined so brightly. The student critics described their chemistry as impeccable, excellent, impressive, intense, dynamic, and unfaltering. And from someone who clearly needs a hug, “fairly believable.” Not too shabby for two teens who aren't dating but need to present one of the most passionate couples in history.

Back to that critic thing. Our area participates in the Cappies program where student critics attend each other's plays and submit reviews for local publication and for local theatre awards. Teen's reviews came in with wonderful acclaims that pass a parent's glowing accounts. She was noted highly in just about every review (with the exception of one where the critic seemed to find the actors a necessary focal point for the lighting) described as a "driving force" with "vibrant physicality,"and "amazing, both sensual and insane," with "constant energy" and a "broad range of emotional acting." And the line that sums it up, "Possessing both a vice-like grip on the audience and a brimming amount of confidence, Coughlan held the audience’s attention from her extravagant entrance to her tragic end."

So yeah again, I'm proud. And glad the practice and performance is over, because it was intense. And sad that it's over too. It's hard being a mom of a Senior, but especially of a theatre kid. She plans to do some Shakespeare in college, but who knows how she'll be able to compete there. But honestly, if this was the last thing she did in theatre, it would be such a high note that I'd take it.

Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge FAQ's

As we count down to reading as a marathon sport on June 6th, let's go over a few points. More questions? Ask them in the comments.

Why does the 48 Hour Book Challenge actually takes place over more hours in the weekend?
With time zones, work schedules, and "having a life," a broader window of opportunity gives more people a chance to participate.

I can't read the whole time because I have a wedding/graduation/recital/monster-truck rally to attend. Is that okay?
Yes. Once you start your hours they are continuous, but that doesn't mean that you won't have breaks - maybe even truly significant breaks - in your time. Though I'd gently suggest that if it is your wedding, you might reassess your priorities.

Like, I have a LOT going on that weekend. How can I participate?
Twelve hours is the minimum for the 48HBC, so if you read for four hours Friday evening, four Saturday afternoon, and four Sunday morning, you've officially participated. I don't know about you, but that's awfully close to a normal weekend at my house. ;)

Do I need to have a blog to participate?
Pretty much. But if you set one up just for this challenge, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. You might find that the 48HBC kicks off a new hobby for you.

Do we have to read diverse books?
I won't be policing participants' reading, but since we are not doing a readathon for monetary contribution, this is our social cause for the challenge. It is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Can I count time reading to my child? Can my kids join in?
You can certainly count time reading aloud to your child. Kids can always play along for the fun of it, but no prizes are offered. However, that doesn't mean that you couldn't give your own prize to your kid.

Can I count hours spent writing reviews during the 48HBC even if I schedule them to post after the challenge? That is so adorably organized. Yes, feel free to write reviews that will post later, though you might note that in your final summary.

How can I contact you to donate prizes?
Write me at MotherReader AT gmail DOT com and let me know what you’d like to donate. I usually pull together a bunch of things — books, jewelry, notecards, T-shirts, etc. — to make prize packages for the winners. I also like to have a few authors who’d be willing to send a personalized, signed book to a blogger for a few randomly selected “door prizes.”

I love this idea! How can I help?
Blog it. Tweet it. Share it. Tell friends. Tell frenemies. Most of all, sign up! Being part of this community event is helping in a big way.

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Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge

48 Hour Book ChallengeYup, it's the Ninth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge — that weekend readathon of legend. Last year, Ms. Yingling graciously hosted this challenge as I had multiple conflicts. Of course, now this year I've ended up busy and distracted with the remarkable adventures of two teenage girls. But then something was percolating around the Internet that inspired me and gave me a reason to engage. So in solidarity of the cause of WeNeedDiverseBooks, this year's 48 Hour Book Challenge is dedicated to reading, sharing and reviewing books that show diversity in all ways.

I'm hoping with lots of participants over the weekend, that we can saturate the blogosphere with dozens - nay, HUNDREDS - of titles that show the beautiful range of the human experience. That's our challenge. And saying that may be a good time to reminder readers that while the window of reading allows 48 hours, you could read for much less and STILL participate. Twelve hours - and not even in a row - qualifies you as an official participant who can join in reading and sharing diverse books for one wonderful weekend. So please consider coming on board. Here are the basics:

  1. The weekend is June 6-8, 2014. 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 sixth and end no later than 7:00 a.m. Monday the ninth. 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. 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. 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 Tweeting 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 6th. 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 9th. 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.

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 a FAQ soon. Talk this up, people! Let's have some fun!

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