Saturday, March 27, 2010

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls

This sweater is what I was working on, actually finishing, while I listened to Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls; Moving Day, by Meg Cabot. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Cabot has a charming wit and a keen sense about elementary school girl friendships. Allie is a smart and funny fourth grader who appreciates rules in her life, they make it easier to manage sticky situations. She keeps a notebook of rules that she thinks are the most important. In this first book of the series, the family is moving across town, meaning a new school and new friends, which does not please Allie, nor her best friend Mary Kate. Allie is a very likeable character who tries to do the right thing, even when it gets her trouble. I think that 3rd and 4th grade girls will easily relate to Allie's troubles with her friends and may be inspired by how she deals with them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Coming soon to the Marshall Lane Library!

The next shipment of books from Junior Library Guild will be here soon!  Yeay!  Here's what's coming:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Look who's honorary chairman of National Library Week 2010! Squeeee! If you haven't read The Graveyard Book yet, then there is a gaping hole in your life. What are you waiting for? Get reading! Also, you should read Odd and the Frost Giants. The greeks aren't the only ones who had gods!
Also, April is National School Library month so I guess I better get ready for that as well! Anyway, there it is. I just wanted to put a picture of Neil Gaiman on my blog. You've read Coraline, right?

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Amber Spyglass

This is the hat I was working on whilst listening to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I finished the hat during The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, the third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, which I finished 2 nights ago. Again, more tedious exposition. Pullman creates not just one world in this series but several worlds and with each new world we visit, we are given a history and physics lesson. He does it with wonderful detail so if you like that kind of thing, this series is for you. But I have to say I appreciate stories that build on previous knowledge of myths, legends and fairy tales. I also felt that Pullman was a bit heavy handed with his views on religion, and while I respect his views, I felt like he was beating me over the head with them.
So I finished my hat, and now I'm working on a cardigan that I started last September and I'm listening to the second book in the Artemis Fowl series The Arctic Incident. I've also been digging in to some fairy tales for my literature class. I love fairy tales and modern and fractured retellings of them so I will post more about that later. Until then, happy reading!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Esperanza Rising, The Subtle Knife, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I read Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan recently for a children's literature class I'm taking and I enjoyed it very much. It's a beautifully written story inspired by the author's grandmother's experiences as a child immigrating from Mexico to California. In Mexico, Esperanza was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, but when her father is murdered by bandits, her wicked and powerful uncle, with intentions of taking over the family's ranch, threatens to force Esperanza's mother to marry him and send Esperanza away to boarding school, Esperanza and her mother flee with their servants to California where they all must work in the fields of the San Joaquin valley to survive. Life is very different for Esperanza in California but she rises to face her challenges and learns to be grateful for the little things in life.

I also recently finished listening to The Subtle Knife, by Phillip Pullman, read by the author. I had listened to The Golden Compass a couple weeks ago. This has been an interesting listen. It's performed very well by the author and a cast of voices. There is a lot of exposition to slog through in these books and there is a lot to say about idea of Lord Azreal setting out to kill the 'authority' but I don't want to get into that discussion here. I'll just say that I'm enjoying the books and that they are too sophisticated for an elementary school audience. And I finished the elephant while I was listening to it.

I started knitting a hat while I listened to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, read by the author. This was a short book and I listened to it in a single evening. It won the National Book Award in 2007 for young adult literature. The story is about Arnold Spirit, a Spokane Indian boy living on the rez who, on the advice of a teacher, decides to attend high school off the reservation, knowing it would be the only way for him to have a chance to escape the cycle of poverty, depression, and alcoholism that affects his community. The story is sad and funny and sweet and brutal and hearing it in the author's voice allows you to hear what he describes as "that sing-song accent that makes everthing sound like poetry."

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chasing the Falconers

I finished listening to 'Chasing the Falconers' by Gordon Korman this morning and I can see why so many teachers and students like it. The story is about a brother and sister whose parents are wrongly convicted aiding terrorists and are sent to prison. Because the case was so high profile, the kids, Aiden and Meg, are sent to a minimum security work farm for juveniles. When Aiden accidentally burns the farm down, the siblings, along with some other inmates, take the opportunity to escape the farm so they can gather evidence to prove their parents innocence.

The story moves along at very good pace. The action is exciting and suspenseful and the kids are often faced with difficult moral choices in the course of their adventure. These dilemmas increase in their gravity the further and longer they run, starting with stealing clothes from a clothesline to stealing a car and breaking in to a house. I look forward to listening to the rest of the series to see how the story resolves.

Here is what I've been knitting while I've been listening.
I've been working on the stripey elepant. It has button eyes, just like the Other Mother from Coraline!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rescuing the blog from neglect

Well, I'd totally forgotten I had this blog!  But I'm ready to clean out the cobwebs and give it another go.  So let's talk about what I've been reading/listening to lately.  
I have discovered the joy of audio books! Until recently, I often lamented the fact that there were not enough hours in the day to do as much reading as I'd like, because I also like to knit and these are two sedentary activities that I can't spend all day doing, as much as I'd like to.  So, I've combined my two great loves by listening to audio books WHILE I knit!  Genius!  So I've been gobbling up the audio books.  I recently finished Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer which I enjoyed very much.  I didn't realize the title character is actually the villain! Anyway, it's a terrific story about a human boy who sets out to steal gold from the fairies.  It is smartly written and the action is exciting, and the voice of the reader mesmerizing!  I highly recommend this book.  

So after finishing Artemis Fowl, I have started listening to Chasing the Falconers, by Gordon Korman after hearing such positive reviews from students and teachers who have read this series and I'm enjoying it very much, I have hard time putting it down!  I'll post a review when I've finished it.  

So that's it for now.  Please feel free to comment, whether you agree with me or not, or recommend a book that you think I should read or listen to.  And have a great day!