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I have a new technique for getting myself out of bed in the mornings this week.  It’s not the healthiest technique, and not a good long-term solution, but I actually left the house on time yesterday, so I’m calling it a success.  The name of the technique?  Trader Joe’s chocolate croissants.

Bronwen mentioned them back in March, right before Lent got underway, so I waited until I was doing my “restock on dairy, dairy, and more dairy, oh, and some meat” shopping trip during Holy Week.  Then I snatched them up.  I tried the first one this last Sunday, and I was hooked.  You let them defrost and proof overnight, so it takes a little foresight and commitment.  You can’t defrost one of those puppies and then not  bake it in the morning – that would just be wrong.  So you’re committed to the chocolate croissant.

On Sunday night I thought, what if I made one for breakfast on Monday?  This would require getting up earlier to get it in the oven, but there’s nothing to motivate you at 7 am like the thought of a freshly baked croissant.  It worked!  And today it worked again, giving me a little coffee and a dish of yogurt time while it bakes.  And I’m about to bite into it – chocolately and buttery.  Not quite as flaky as a bakery croissant, but an excellent thing none-the-less.

My goodness, three whole days since the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced and I haven’t opinionated on a blessed thing!  What is the world coming to?

I went into work a bit late so I could watch the live webcast – since the announcements were at 7:45 am Pacific time, going to work on time would’ve meant missing a good chunk of the later announcements, with the risk of not getting it work once I showed up!  So stay home I did, and I took notes so I could place an order once I got in (I don’t understand why the press release isn’t put online at the close of the announcements, but there’s often a delay and I wanted to get our order in).

Fortunately we owned most of the titles – there were a few Belpré and Batchelder winners we didn’t have, and no copies of Dave the Potter, but otherwise quite respectable.  Our copy of Moon Over Manifest had already circulated a few times, so no embarrassment there.

Here’s a quick run-down of things I have opinions about:

Newbery

I had my money on One Crazy Summer and was pleased to see it take an honor.  My initial review of it said: “Just go read it already. If this doesn’t get some kind of shiny sticker come awards season, I’ll be surprised.” (It also won the Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction – woot!)

I thought Dark Emperor was absolutely brilliant, but it’s the kind of thing that isn’t “typical Newbery” so I was doubly pleased to see it get an honor – both for being outside the historical middle-grade novel box and for it being all-around awesome.  As I said in my review, “each look reveals new, fabulous details,” and I’m glad this is getting the attention it deserves.

I haven’t yet read Moon Over Manifest, Turtle in Paradise, or Heart of a Samurai, although I just started Turtle and I have Samurai waiting on my shelf.

Caldecott

Hurray for the Steads!  This one caught my eye when I read about it over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and I loved it when I got my hands on it.  Sometimes Caldecott winners are books where I can admire the artistry of the illustrations, or the marriage of pictures and text, but I don’t necessarily like the book aesthetically.  This book does all of it for me (I kind of want to live in Amos’ house).

Honors went to Dave the Potter (which falls into the “admire the artistry but don’t personally respond to it” category) and Interrupting Chicken, which I’ve only looked at briefly (when it came through in a stack of new picture books to process) but I’m happy to see David Ezra Stein get an award, and I’m glad to see something on the sillier side.

Printz

The Printz went to Ship Breaker – which was dark and tense and great for fans of dystopias (although not a personal favorite, something I can stand behind).

A whole slew of honors: Stolen, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, Revolver, and Nothing.  I read the last two for the Mock Printz this year, and can’t argue that they were both finely written (although Nothing was the kind of book that’s so finely written it’s horrifying).  Revolver had fantastic, tense plotting and a great use of setting.  The first two I’ve yet to read.

Coretta Scott King

There are several CSK awards – author, illustrator, and new talent for both author and illustrator (the Steptoe).  Not too much of a surprise here – One Crazy Summer took the author award (yay!) with Lockdown, Ninth Ward, and Yummy as honors – I haven’t read any of the honors yet.

The illustrator award went to Dave the Potter (see my comments on the Caldecott) with one honor book – Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow.  I peeked at Jimi on award morning, since it was on the shelf, and I’ll have to go back to it since at first glance I found the artwork overwhelming – loud and busy, but that probably suits the story.

The Steptoe author went to Zora and Me, which I’ve been meaning to read, and the illustrator went to Seeds of Change, which I haven’t yet seen.

Schneider

This one’s for books that portray the disability experience, and it’s always interesting to see which topics are covered in a given year’s winners.  There are three – one for ages 0-10, one for 11-13, and one for 13-18.  I don’t think I’ve seen The Pirate of Kindergarten, which won in the youngest range.  After Ever After won for 11-13 (I’ve liked Sonnenblick’s other books and meant to read this one), and Five Flavors of Dumb won the teen award (I’ve got this one waiting in my basket at work).

Wilder

This award is for a lasting contribution to children’s literature and went to Tomie dePaola.  Now I want to reread Strega Nona.  This one is interesting because I’m not really aware of who’s won in the past and who hasn’t won yet, so apart from agreeing on whether or not an individual’s work is lasting, it’s hard to form an opinion.  With this one I don’t get the sense of “but another person deserved this award!” because a) that person could still win another year and b) I don’t know who’s been left out.

Edwards

Same idea, but for young adult literature and honoring a specific body of work.  Who can argue with Terry Pratchett?  Really?  Anyone?  (The fun part about the live webcast is hearing the cheers and applause in the room – Sir Terry got a lot).

Odyssey

I’ve started paying attention to this award in recent years, both as an audiobook listener and as the person who orders children’s audiobooks.  If a year goes by that Katherine Kellgren doesn’t get at least an honor for a book she’s narrated, then I don’t know what the world’s coming to.  This year the gold went to The True Meaning of Smekday, which is an awesome book – but can I just tell you how much more I loved it on audio?  Sure, you miss the comics – but in exchange you get Bahni Turpin making the sounds of sheep stepping on bubble wrap.  So happy about this one!

Kellgren got her honor for Alchemy and Meggy Swann, which I just started listening to (I read the book earlier in the year).  Man, can she do voices and ballads!  The other honors went to The Knife of Never Letting Go, Revolution, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I’ve read all three already, but now I’m itching to get my hands on the audiobooks.  Good year!

Belpré

Again, we’ve got author and illustrator awards.  The author award went to The Dreamer, which I quite liked, with honors for ¡Olé! Flamenco, The Firefly Letters, and 90 Miles to Havana (haven’t read any of these yet).

The illustrator award went to Grandma’s Gift, one of the titles my library doesn’t yet own, with honors for Fiesta Babies, Dear Primo, and Me, Frida.

Sibert

Okay, I haven’t read the whole thing yet but I was totally hooked by the first few pages of Kakapo Rescue, which won the gold.  Two honors for Ballet for Martha (lovely) and Lafayette and the American Revolution (I’m feeling a little tapped out on the American Revolution lately, but I’d like to read it sometime soon).

Stonewall

I do believe this is the first year that this award (for books relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience) has been announced with the other ALA awards.  The winner was Almost Perfect, with honors for The Boy in the Dress, Love Drugged, Freaks and Revelations, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which I loved despite the ending).

Geisel

If you’d asked me which three books to give shiny Geisel stickers to, there’s a really good chance I would’ve picked these three: Bink and Gollie for the gold (and if you haven’t yet met Bink and Gollie, you’re missing out – sequel, please?) and We Are In a Book! and Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! for honors.  A splendid round-up of easy readers.

Morris

Now the Morris is nice because they give you a shortlist – very considerate of them.  I’ve read two off the shortlist – Guardian of the Dead and Hush, and both were great in completely different ways.  The others off the shortlist are Crossing the Tracks and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and I have both waiting for me.  The award went to The Freak Observer, which is of course the only one that wasn’t in the library catalog.

YALSA Nonfiction

Another award with a shortlist, which this year included: They Called Themselves the KKK (excellent), Spies of Mississippi (which I was supposed to read for the Mock Printz but didn’t get to), The Dark Game, and Every Bone Tells a Story, with Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing as the winner (hurray – well done and with plenty of teen appeal, I think).

Whew, my typing fingers are worn out and there’s reading to be done – not to mention all those 2011 books that are starting to pop up!

All Clear (Blackout, #2)All Clear by Connie Willis

As with Blackout, I couldn’t put the thing down. Even when I was standing in line to have my copy signed. And, like Willis said at the signing, it’s really hard to say anything about it without giving out spoilers for the first book, so I’ll just say that it was a pretty satisfying conclusion to the story. As to whether the whole thing is a comedy or a tragedy, as one character asks another, you’ll have to read it to find out.

I will say that if you like big, fast-paced novels with large doses of suspense (and a fair amount of humor), and stories that make history come alive, you should give Blackout a try. Don’t blame me if you can’t manage to get anything else done once you start reading.

View all my reviews

It’s getting out of control.  Not my to-read list (that’s always out of control).  Not the number of holds waiting for me to check them out (ditto).  No, I’m reading too many books at the same time.  Book indecision.  I’m having one of those weeks where I pick up a new book at a moment’s notice.

I started in on The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick, the last of this year’s Newbery Honors that I’d yet to read.  I’m reading along and enjoying it, but it’s not quite matching my mood.  So I go for something a little weightier – Jim Murphy’s Truce, another one I’d been meaning to read ever since I heard about it.  I actually manage to finish this one, probably because it’s short.  And has lots of pictures.  And is about WWI, which I don’t think shows up often enough in books.

The next day I faithfully bring Homer to work with me, but I leave it upstairs and am too lazy to run up and grab it on my lunch break.  So I pull Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Death-Defying Pepper Roux off the emergency back-up pile on my desk (let’s not even talk about the fact that I keep “emergency back-up” books at a LIBRARY).  Pepper does the trick through lunch, but when I get home that night I want something with characters that are a little more adult.  I’m just not in the mood for a fourteen year old who thinks he’s cheated death (entertaining as that is).

So I grab Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix off the shelf at home, which I think I picked up when I saw it nominated for OYAN’s Book Rave.  And so far I’ve managed to make it about halfway through this.  I’ve only put it down to quickly skim through the end of Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday to refresh my memory on how they defeated the Gorg before my bookgroup met and discussed it (it doesn’t do to not remember what happened when you’re the one leading the discussion).  More on Smekday‘s smashing success later.

It’s a good thing I didn’t bring home the new Elizabeth Kostova when my hold came in, or I’d really be in trouble…

Given my deep and abiding love for M.T. Anderson’s writing, it’s no surprise that his contribution to SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books is my favorite so far.  In his round, he was forced to choose between Deborah Heiligman’s Charles and EmmaThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and Jacqueline Kelly’s .  For the record, I called the match accurately on my bracket, going with my head over my heart.  Whee!  But that takes a back seat to watching a master at work discussing these two fabulous books.  If you’re not already following the Battle of the Books, it’s not too late!  Tuesday is the last match of Round 2, with Round 3 and the Big Kahuna Round left (plus the winner of the undead poll!  My choice is still in the running, but nothing is guaranteed.)

Things that I particularly enjoyed about Anderson’s commentary:

  • Darwin vs. Darwin, or as he puts it: “I’m forced to compare apples to apples: two books about scientific investigation, Darwinism, and large families, both with yellow foolscap covers ornamented with Victorian silhouettes.”  Two books that are, “if not the same species, then at least, er, a case of convergent evolution resulting in paired traits appearing in separate clades.”  What he said.
  • The idea of an Octavian Nothing-shaped topiary.  There should be a whole children’s literature-inspired topiary garden somewhere in the world.
  • He nails what I loved about Calpurnia (as well as what’s potentially problematic – the episodic nature and lack of tension).  I’d forgotten the line about “pitching woo,” a phrase I always associate with Anne (of Green Gables, of course) being outraged at the idea of “pitching and mooning.”
  • The spoiler warnings.  “*** SPOILER *** Charles Darwin died *** END SPOILER AND BOY ARE YOU SORRY YOU MISSED IT ***”
  • His comments on the Darwins’ many children: “After eight pregnancies, I lost track, and started to develop a wearying sense that no sooner did Emma D. stumble out of the borning-room, a new babe delivered into its swaddling clothes, than her husband was lurking in the corridor, crooking a come-hither finger and whispering about the origin of the species.”  Like all great writers, Anderson does that thing of putting into words exactly what you were feeling, but much more articulately.  See, I feel inarticulate just trying to compose that sentence.

Oh, just go read the thing already.  And while you’re at it, don’t miss my other favorite “can’t wait to check in on it every day” event – Fuse #8’s Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll, which is down to #11.

It’s an overcast, chilly morning that just begs for coffee.  And I never thought this would come to pass, but I’m drinking my coffee black.  Yeah, that’s right – no cream (Lent), no fake cream (yuck), no generous helping of sugar to try to make me forget that there’s no cream.  Just a cup of French press.  What next?  What is the world coming to?

I’ve been on a little marathon lately – in between baking squash and roasting beets and concocting the heaven that is pistachio butter and eating avocados like you wouldn’t believe, which I’ll tell you about later.  My marathon has not been exercise (ha) but rereading Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series (The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia) in preparation for getting my hands on the new book, A Conspiracy of Kings (released today).

If you’re familiar with these books, you know why I wanted to have just reread them.  If you’re not familiar with them, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  First of all, they take place in a world of complex political negotiations, tangled personal histories, and complex, real characters (if you met Eugenides on the street (heaven help you) you’d know it was him).  So it’s good to have all that history fresh in your mind – if I hadn’t reread the books, I know I’d be reading the new one and thinking, “wait, what exactly did Gen get that character to do?”  “How was X involved in Y?”  “Who is Z again?”  You get the picture.  Fresh in my memory = greater enjoyment, because I’m awful at remembering plot points.

Second, and just as important, is the fact that I love spending time with these characters.  Sure, it can be difficult and painful, but it’s oh so rewarding.  A new book is just a big excuse to reread one of my favorite series.  Although series is a slightly misleading term for these books.  Each one as a unique flavor, a slightly different point of view.  They aren’t formulaic and they aren’t predictable, and while plot is key in each story, and the setting is handled magnificently, the characters really do grow and change between books and within each book.  I’d forgotten, for example, how Eugenides is basically a kid in the first book, and he starts out the second book like a headstrong teenager, and by the end of The Queen he’s really done a lot of maturing.  I think he finally turns into an adult in the third book.

I initially read the series in a big rush, devouring each book as I got my hands on it.  I reread The King for a class – to practice writing a book review (I was totally going to say book report at first) – and then of course that made me reread the rest of the series.  This time I read them through in order.  As with all rereading, you bring something different to each reading, and as with all good books, the book offers something fresh to readers who are willing to come back again and again.  As I wrote last time,

These are books that bear rereading.  I found myself flipping pages back thinking “she foreshadowed this, didn’t she?” or “wasn’t that an odd comment?  Will it matter…OH.”  Lots of light-bulb moments.  Lots of clever foreshadowing and hints about what the characters aren’t telling you.  In fact, that might be my favorite aspect of the series.  How much the characters keep hidden.  With clues, of course, for the reader.

“‘We might someday attain a relationship of mutual respect,’ [the magus] said softly. First, I thought, I will see gods walking the earth.”

I still get a little chill reading that.

The post title is a quote from The King, and it was a toss-up between that and “I love stupid plans” from The Queen:

“‘This is the stupidest plan I have ever in my career participated in,’ Xenophon said.
‘I love stupid plans,’ said Eugenides.”

Or “What kind of man refers to himself as safely dead?”

And I’ll shut up now if you’ll just go read the books.

Avocado Salad with Ginger and Peanuts

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
salt
2 tablespoon minced or grated peeled fresh ginger
sprigs of cilantro
2 medium or large avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
Watercress, mâche, or other greens
(I might also add some jicama or sliced mango)

Put the vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the ginger and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, as the dressing bubbles gently and thickens, about 5 minutes. When it gets noticeably syrupy, remove from heat, cool, cover tightly or put in a jar and refrigerate until very cold, at least an hour or so.

To serve, put the greens on a small platter, arrange the avocado on top, and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts.

and,

Beets with Pistachio Butter

4 large or 8 medium beets (about 1.5 pounds), trimmed
1/2 cup neutral oil like grapeseed or corn,
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup shelled pistachios
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped pistachios for garnish

Bake the beets in foil (over at 400F, wash them, wrap them individually in foil, put on cookie sheet, roast for 45 to 90 minutes, until tender). Meanwhile, put half the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook for about a minute, then add the pistachios; cook, stirring often for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and transfer to food processor. Purée until smooth, adding more oil as necessary. The consistency should be thinner than that of peanut butter, just pourable. Taste and adjust seasoning (this can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Slip the skins of the beets and cut them into large chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in a serving dish and spoon the pistachio butter over the top; garnish with chopped pistachios. Serve hot or at room temperature.

More Long Distance Kitchen updates to come shortly!  Last Wednesday’s recipe was for Smitten Kitchen’s chana masala, but Bronwen kindly sent me a spice packet and it just arrived today, so I will be attempting (and hopefully documenting) it for lunch tomorrow.  But do go read her recap.  Then I will try to figure out when to make the recipe I assigned her last Saturday, for Cannellini and Pearl Barley Soup, veganized.  Feel free to follow along!

In the meantime, I thought I’d revisit that whole “read what I order” goal.  I’ve really got to come up with a catchier name for it.  The 5 Books Project?  Let’s go with that for now.  There’s no specific goal for when I read them, but I’d like to do it sooner rather than later.  So, starting with my January order, these are the first 5:

  • The Hunchback Assignments, Arthur Slade.
  • The Death-Defying Pepper Roux, Geraldine McCaughrean
  • Cosmic, Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia
  • The Rock and the River, Kekla Magoon

These weren’t all necessarily published in January, but that’s when I ordered them.  I, of course, reserve the right to switch out titles.  But these are all ones I’ve had my eye on, and I’ve managed to finish The Hunchback Assignments.

For February, my tentative list is:

  • Heist Society, Ally Carter
  • 8th Grade Superzero, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • The Night Fairy, Laura Amy Schlitz
  • Joey Fly Private Eye (Creepy Crawly Crime), Aaron Reynolds
  • Bell Hoot Fables: The Hidden Boy, Jon Berkeley

Now – arg! – I just need to work my way through what’s already on my shelf.

Yes yes, the real deal was announced this morning, but that doesn’t make Mock Printz results any less interesting, does it?  Here is what we read:

I ended up reading All the Broken Pieces the day before the workshop, and most of The Eternal Smile the morning of – and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the latter.

Going in, there were some titles that I knew I wouldn’t vote for – The Eternal Smile, The Miles Between, Crazy Beautiful, and If I Stay.  Some of those I definitely enjoyed reading and would recommend, but they just didn’t strike me examples of excellence.  But among the rest of the titles, I felt like I could be swayed by discussion.  This is where the mock award workshops get interesting, because so much depends on your small group discussion – who’s in the group and what you end up focusing on in the ten minutes allotted to each title.

My group had three other youth librarians, a library page, and two teens.  There was some real support from the teen boy for Marcelo and Heroes of the Valley, and the Heroes discussion in particular got me thinking.  A few people had minor issues with the ending, but the discussion brought out a lot of the strengths of the book that I’d just jumbled into “liking the book.”  We were mixed on Tales of the Madman Underground – a bunch of people had given up on it, but those that finished it thought it was a strong contender.  No one had any significant criticisms of Marcelo or Wintergirls – not enough to talk us out of them.  We thought All the Broken Pieces was strong but no one really lobbied for it as the best.  North of Beautiful got some love, but those of us in that camp admitted it was more of a “recommend to lots of people” book than a literary success.  We were mixed on If I Stay – one person loved it, but thought it would’ve been better if she hadn’t stayed.  The other three we pretty much dismissed.

Did I mention we were a rowdy group?  We broke almost all the discussion rules (discuss positive first, no personal anecdotes, no comparing to books outside the discussion list) but still had what felt to me like a useful discussion.  In short, a lot of fun was had.  I forgot to write down the point spread, but I think my small group voted Marcelo as the winner with Wintergirls and Heroes as our honors.

Then, the five small groups reconvened, revealed our winners, and large group discussion commenced.  I’m not sure why, but at the Mock Newbery, all of the discussions were fairly sedate.  Maybe it’s the teens that get us more riled up at the Mock Printz, or maybe YA librarians are more argumentative than the rest?  Either way, there was some heated debate, particularly about Tales of the Madman Underground.

Finally, we voted again as a large group.  I switched around my personal votes a lot, mostly because I felt like there were five or so equally deserving books – Marcelo, Wintergirls, North of Beautiful, Heroes of the Valley, and Tales of the Madman UndergroundMarcelo was the only one I voted for both times.  What can I say, I was feeling fickle.  The final results were:

Winner – Marcelo in the Real World (87 points)

Honors – Wintergirls (71) and Tales of the Madman Underground (51)

Interestingly, Marcelo and Wintergirls had a variety of votes – first, second, third – to add up to their higher numbers, while Madman got almost exclusively first place votes.  And, Madman is the only title from our discussion list to be recognized by the real Printz committee (same thing happened last year – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks got both real and fake honors).  This year’s Printz titles can be found here.

Yes, it’s 6 am and I’m posting, because I actually managed to wake myself up by 4:45 to watch the Youth Media Awards webcast AND get an order in before the library catalog went down!  I feel so accomplished…and tired.  It looks like all the results are up on the individual award pages already – nice and quick.

It seems like ALA finally managed to get a large enough webcast – or whatever you call it when you can let enough people watch it at once.  I got kicked out during the Batchelder announcements and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back in, but no problems.  Two years ago, the last time I tried to watch it live, there was no room at the inn.  My only moment of panic was when I went to the bookmarked page and was told that I needed Windows Media Player to watch it – which I didn’t have installed.  A little advance warning would be nice for that sort of thing, especially since the placeholder website had been up for quite a while.  Fortunately I only missed a couple minutes waiting for the download, and got on just in time for the Schneider.

Nothing shocking this year for the Newbery or Caldecott – the only thing I had to order for my library was a second copy of When You Reach Me. We even already had a second copy of The Lion and the Mouse – it was an accidental duplicate, since one librarian ordered it for picture books and another for the folk tale collection, and I remember saying, “hey, maybe it’ll win the Caldecott and we’ll already have our second copy!”  But I’m happy for more than budgetary reasons – it’s a stunner.  And I certainly can’t argue with WYRM, although The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate getting an honor seemed more iffy and was therefore more exciting.

And non-fiction seemed nicely represented across the board.  Claudette Colvin kind of cleaned up, with a Sibert honor and Newbery honor on top of that National Book Award.  The Coretta Scott King author award went to Bad News for Outlaws, the Edwards went to Jim Murphy (I had a little fan girl moment there), Charles and Emma got a Printz honor, We Are the Ship got an Odyssey honor, there were a few bios on the Belpre list…

And YA!  I’ve always said that the Printz is unpredictable – or at least it always surprises me.  Last year – well, 2009 was a golden year for the Printz.  I knew and loved every title on that list.  This year, the only two I’ve read are Charles and Emma and Tales of the Madman Underground, and I’m pleased to see both of them on the list.  I suppose now I’ll have to grit my teeth and read The Monstrumologist (it sounds good, but not my thing – look at that cover!)  And Punkzilla hadn’t been on my radar at all (side note – two YA books mentioning Portland and meth in the awards this year – Flash Burnout is the other.  We’re going to get a great image this way).  Going Bovine – interesting choice!  I’ve heard lots of love for it, but also some meh.

I was pleasantly surprised that my library owns all but 9 of the juvenile titles that got awards or honors (there was a lot of the YA that we didn’t own, but that’s not my department, and I didn’t order the audio books because we do that separately).  I can’t take credit for many of them, since I came in halfway through the year, but I was quite pleased when I recognized all of the Batchelder titles.  Big Wolf and Little Wolf was one of my favorite quirky picture books of the year, and I can take credit for ordering the three fiction titles on the list – Eidi, Moribito II, and A Faraway Island (the winner).  Now I just need to actually read them.

Now, breakfast and coffee or a nap?

I keep having dreams about book award announcements.  I’m either transcribing the results or I’ve slept through them.  Why can’t my brain figure out which day it is?  Or at least accurately convey the results to me via a prophetic dream?  That would be fun.  As it is, they just make me feel anxious.

Part of it is that I’ve been charged with ordering any books that my library doesn’t already own, and ordering duplicates of the Newbery and Caldecott winners.  Because Monday is a holiday, the library is closed.  And because the library is closed, our catalog is getting an upgrade that day, while no one needs to use it.  Except ME who wants to get an order in pronto, especially if there are some obscure winners and everyone is scrambling for copies.  And if I can’t see the catalog, I don’t know what I need to order (I’m up on what’s in my section – juv fiction – but not necessarily picture books and non-fiction).  Which means I wait till Tuesday.  And yes, that annoys me profoundly.

On the other hand, I could get up at 4:45 am for the awards and send in an order from home before the catalog goes down at 6:30 am.  HAHAHA.  That’s a good one.  I don’t even know if I’d trust myself to place an order at that hour of the morning, even if I were up.

In other news, my reading has been a little scattered this week.  I finished up Ballad (oh, the snark!  How I love thee!)  I was quite taken by the Morris finalist Hold Still – I kept thinking of Thirteen Reasons Why, because I felt like HS did everything right that TRW did wrong.  Sad, but still lovely.  Then I picked up another Morris finalist, Flash Burnout, which coincidentally also involves photography as a major theme in the story, and which I was intrigued to find out is written by a fellow Portlander and is set in Portland – I came across a street name and immediately had to check the author bio.  Plus, it has a nice sense of place so far – it’s not just set here for the sake of giving it a real location.

Yesterday I real the Mock Printz title All the Broken Pieces in two sittings – I thought it was excellently done and I’m curious to hear how it fares in dicussions (this afternoon!)  I kind of read the last MP title over breakfast – The Eternal Smile.  Which is to say, I read the first story and the last story, and artwork in the middle story is so off-putting to me that I kind of gave up.  After my experiences at the first Mock Newbery I went to (the year Criss Cross won), I never expect other people to have the same reaction as I did – because I couldn’t finish Criss Cross for the discussion, and people at the MN raved about it.  So.  I’m looking forward to the discussion.

In audio land, I finished up Once Was Lost – a fantastic book, I wish it were part of our Mock Printz discussion – and started listening to the full-cast Graceling (because audio books are a great excuse to reread).

I also went a little crazy one night and started Leaving the Bellweathers, one of those juv titles I ordered and then wanted to read and have had sitting on my shelf for ages.  And because I finished All the Broken Pieces before my lunch break was over yesterday, I started another title in that category – Escape Under the Forever Sky – which I’d had sitting on my shelf at work.  The non-fiction that I’m planning on reading has been sadly neglected, and I even added to the pile by picking up Jim Murphy’s Truce, which I’m really looking forward to.

Whew!  Now it’s time to get ready to meet fellow book nerd Kitri for lunch before we head to the Mock Printz.  Back with results later!

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Flickr Photos

I love how much Ben loves vacations. I do not love half hour car naps on the way home.

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Everything was a "fish," even the sea lions.

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