Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Three books and a weird knitting project.

I have some catching up to do!  I've been busy knitting and listening to audio books and they are starting to pile up in my mind so it's time to put them to blog page.

You may remember a few weeks ago I saw Tony DiTerlizzi at Hicklebee's for a book signing.  He was promoting his new book A Hero for WondLa, which is the sequel to The Search for WondLa, which I read last year.  I was so excited about this book that I bought one for the library, then I bought the ebook for my iPad, then I bought the audio book so I could knit while listening to it.  The story picks up right where the previous book leaves off; Eva Nine and Rovee are on their way to New Attica to find a new home for Eva Nine.  However, New Attica is not all it's cracked up to be and while in the city, Eva learns more about her past, the planet's past, and the terrible future plans of the city's leader.  This felt very much like a bridge book.  Some questions from book 1 were answered but more questions arose.  The main conflict in the book is resolved however, the larger conflict of the story remains to be dealt with in the next book.  I liked this book, but not quite as much as the first one.  It was worth buying the ebook for the illustrations.  Beautiful!

The next book I listened to was Cold Cereal, by Adam Rex.  Adam Rex is a fantastic author and illustrator.  He wrote one of my very favorite books The True Meaning of Smekday and wrote and illustrated Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Frankenstein Takes the Cake, both very funny books of monster poems.  In Cold Cereal, fairy folk and mythical creatures are popping up in the real world and an evil cereal company is trying to exploit them for their magic. There is a lot of spoofing of real life cereals and their commercials in this book.  If you like Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books, or Tony DiTerlizzi's Spiderwick Chronicles, or J. T. Petty's Clemency Pogue books, I think you'll like this book as well.

Finally, I just finished listening to The Mysterious Howling; Book 1 of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood, illustrated by our old pal Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back). This audiobook had been sitting on my iPod for quite some time.  I don't even remember when I downloaded it.  The first time I tried to listen to it, it just didn't grab me.  I couldn't get into it.  But having finished Cold Cereal, I was looking for something else to listen to.  There are several audio books sitting on my iPod that I plan to revisit because they didn't hook me the first time.  So I finally gave this book my attention and found that it's delightful!  The story takes place in England in the mid 1800's, a time when wealthy families hired governesses to care for and educate their children.  Penelope Lumley is a young lady, newly graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, who has accepted a position as governess at Ashton Place.  What she doesn't know is that the children who will become her pupils were found roaming the forest completely naked and obviously raised by wolves.  Undaunted, Penelope accepts the challenge with all the pluck she can manage.  This book is the first in the series and so the mystery of the children is not wrapped up at the end.  I have book 2 queued up and ready to listen to.

As to what I've been knitting all this time, well, I've been doing some test knitting for a sort of crowd sourced design project.  I've talked about Nerd Wars here before, I'm pretty sure.  The nerd warriors are designing a scarf.  Each team that participates in Nerd Wars was asked to design a 6x6 inch square - both knit and crochet - to contribute to a larger project, the scarf.  The design of the square is supposed to represent your team's theme or nerdery.  I helped design the knit square for our team, Team Macabre, which is the eyeball you see to the left.  Once all the teams had their designs submitted, the designs needed to be tested, to make sure the patterns were written clearly and that the square would turn out as written.  So I've been testing squares for the last week or two.  Some of them are so creative and fun to knit!  The next picture is one designed by Team Fraggle who are muppets fans.
Cute, huh? So I ended up testing about 12 squares out of 24.  Now they are working on designing the border and how to connect all the squares together.  Once that is done, they'll need test knitters to try that out.  I'll be on the knitting team that will be testing the final scarf pattern so I'll be working on that this summer.  It's going to be epic!  I'll keep you apprised of my progress.

That's all for now.  The library is closed for the rest of the year but you can still leave book reviews by logging in to the library catalog from home.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Truth About Poodles

Outside playing with my poodle.  She won't fetch a ball.  If you toss a tennis ball to her, she'll chase it, grab it, and then hide in the bushes with it, tearing off the green fuzz.  Mr. Richards says "She doesn't care about fetching the ball.  She aims to possess it and destroy it.  It's the same attitude she has towards humans."  This is truth.

Friday, May 11, 2012

In Which Mrs. Richards Hobnobs with Authors

Well, my little blog has seen some action this week.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may have seen that my last post crossed paths with the eyeballs of Mr. Neil Gaiman.  I follow him on Twitter so I know that sometimes he retweets bloggers who mention him or his work in a review or as an inspiration for creative work.  So I thought, what the heck, I'll use his Twitter handle in my tweet about my new blog post and see what happens.  Nothing to lose.  Well, to my utter surprise, less than a half hour later, he retweeted my tweet with a comment:

He said my post was funny!  Which means he read it!  He read my post, thought it was funny and worthy of a retweet!  Then I got all excited and school girly and started screen capturing and humble bragging.  And I forgot to thank him, which I did the next day.  So, Neil Gaiman has more that 1.7 million followers. Even if just a small fraction of those followers click the link and read my blog, that amounts to a lot of people.  Here is screen cap of my Gaiman Bump:

Of the 2,960 hits I've gotten this month, 2,640 are from the Mr. Wednesday Learns to Knit post.  I guess that's my 15 minutes of Internet fame.  

Anyway, back to books.  This one specifically:
You may remember last year I wrote about The Search for WondLa.  Tony DiTerlizzi has written a sequel called A Hero for WondLa with the same glorious, fantastical illustrations as the first book, which I didn't really see because I listened to the audiobook.  I saw Mr. DiTerlizzi at Hicklebee's Bookstore this afternoon. Here's a picture so you know it happened:
Mr. DiTerlizzi said he is a "product of daydreams and boredom."  What he meant is that when he was a kid, he used to doodle a lot while daydreaming in class and one summer, he had nothing to do but stay in his room and draw.  So he filled a note book with drawings that would become the inspiration for the Spiderwick Chronicles.  

He went on to explain how he was inspired to create Eva 9 because he had read books like The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carol and Peter Pan, by Sir James Barrie as a kid.  He liked the clever and strong female characters who all had the same goal - to find their way home. He also confessed that he didn't always like to read books without pictures until his 5th grade teacher told him he could draw pictures to go with his book reports. He said that teacher changed his life.  He said from that moment on, reading books was like reading instructions and he was finally able to imagine for himself what a scene might look like, rather than depend on the illustrations of other artists.

I realize there is only one week left of library this school year so I'm going to do my best to get A Hero for WondLa shelf ready as quickly as I can.  Come and be the first to check it out!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mr. Wednesday learns to knit

I was thinking the other day about all the different skills I've learned as a knitter.  I began listing in my head the 8 different techniques I know just to cast on. And I know that there are more ways to cast on that I haven't done yet.  There are also many ways to cast off.  And as I was listing these skills in my head, it reminded me of a scene from one of my all time favorite books, American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, in which Mr. Wednesday lists all the charms he knows.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be funny if Mr. Wednesday learned to knit, and then he could list all the cast ons and other skills he knew.  I decided I wanted to see what that looked like so here is my interpretation of Mr. Wednesday, who has learned to knit, listing all the skills he knows.

     Wednesday said nothing for long enough that Shadow started to wonder if he had heard the question, or if he had, possibly, fallen asleep with his eyes open. Then he said, staring ahead of him as he talked, "I know a cast on that's easy and simple and is good for beginning knitters.
     "I know a cast on that requires a long tail.
     "I know a cast on that is very stretchy and good for 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing.
     "I know another cast on that starts from the middle of a circular piece.
     " A fifth cast on: I can use waste yarn to cast on and then pull out the waste yarn to create live stitches.
     His words were quiet, urgent. Wednesday spoke as if he were reciting the words of a religious ritual, as if he were speaking something dark and scratchy.
     "A sixth cast on: It's like knitting but you put the new stitches back on the left hand needle.
     "A seventh cast on I know: I can use two needles to start a sock from the toe up.
     "An eighth: it's sometimes known as Old Norwegian and is favored by sock knitters.
     "A ninth: I can cast on by putting the needle between two stitches and putting the new stitch back on the left hand needle.
     "Those were the first nine cast ons I learned.  Nine nights I hung out at the yarn store, my thumb pierced by a darning needle.  I swayed and blew in the cold winds and the hot winds, without food, without water, a sacrifice of myself to myself, and the wools opened up to me.
     "For a tenth thing, I learned to use a drop spindle, to spin them around in the air so that the yarn will never unwind again.
     "An eleventh: if I store the yarn properly, the wool will go uneaten by moths or other pests, and will last a very long time.
     "A twelfth thing I know: if I see a knot, I can undo it, no matter how large, and return the yarn to a neatly wound ball.
     "A thirteenth: if I sprinkle water on wool, it will felt.
     "A fourteenth: I know the names of all the breeds of sheep. Every darned one of them.
     "A fifteenth: I have a dream of merino, cashmere, and angora, and I can make people believe my dreams.
     His voice was so low now that Shadow had to strain to hear it over the plane's engine noise.
     "A sixteenth thing I know: if I need yarn, I can spin the fiber of any animal.
     "A seventeenth, that no animal will give its fiber to another.
     "And I know an eighteenth thing, and that thing is the greatest of all, and that thing I can tell to no man, for a secret that no on knows but you is the most powerful secret there can ever be."

And that's based on a scene from Chapter 10 of American Gods, a book I highly recommend you read if you haven't already.  If you have read it, I hope you enjoyed my little parody.

  If there are any kids reading this, I recommend that you wait until you are an adult to read American Gods and in the mean time, you should read lots of mythology books.  Especially Norse mythology.  And fairytales, folktales, and legends.  And about world religions. This will get you ready to read American Gods so that you understand all the references.

And thank you for your indulgence.