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Please excuse the silence on this end – all my reading has been one-handed for the last few weeks, and typing one-handed isn’t my favorite thing. Here’s my excuse:

baby

 

We seem to be getting into a bit of a routine, 5 weeks into it, and I’m in the curious position of feeling like my time isn’t my own and like I have all the time in the world (at least until I go back to work). I do have nice chunks of time to myself during the day, while he naps, and I’m just starting to figure out how to put them to my advantage. Depending on the previous night, there are naps to take myself, there are chores to be done, meals to be eaten, and projects to undertake.

So many projects!

Run errands while he won’t cause a fuss.

Take a walk if the weather’s nice.

Write a letter. A few friends and I, mourning the coming loss of Saturday mail service, decided to write 30 letters in 30 days – any type of mail counts, from postcards to packages – and I’m loving it, even when I’m a few letters behind. Right now I have three letters to reply to, which makes the whole project feel real.

Bake – I have a pile of newish cookbooks out of the library and I want to try at least one recipe from each before I have to return them. Right now I have The Sprouted Kitchen, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, and The Science of Good Cooking. Meals are always iffy around here – the baby seems to sense that I’m hungry and work up an appetite himself – but I’ve managed some baking during his afternoon nap, and I might as well try some new things.

Read all those books that I kept thinking would be perfect for maternity leave. At the moment, I’m rereading the Elizabeth Peters books that I happen to own. Leila at Bookshelves of Doom is doing an Elizabeth Peters week, which I think is ending today, but it inspired me to pull out a tattered copy of Naked Once More and now Crocodile on the Sandbank – I haven’t read any of the Amelia Peabody books in years (I went on a reread through the Vicky Bliss books a few years ago) and I’m remembering why I loved them so much (even though they do get a bit repetitive as the series goes on…and on). I’m discovering that mass market paperbacks, which I usually dislike because they don’t lay flat – an important quality if you read while eating – are perfect for reading one-handed while nursing.

More soon, I hope. The creature is stirring.

We are getting to crunch time. I woke up last night and couldn’t get back to sleep, thinking about all the things that need doing. And now instead of doing any of them (except laundry), I’m having a lazy Thursday morning (I work 12-9pm on Thursdays). This is quite possibly my last lazy Thursday morning EVER. For the next month or so, Thursday mornings will involve either a midwife appointment or a trip to pick up milk from the farm. At some point a baby will appear, and my Thursday mornings will still involve time spent in pajamas and puttering around the house, but I somehow doubt that the word “lazy” will apply to maternity leave.

This Thursday realization is as startling as that car seat sitting in the corner. Or the idea that my protruding midsection will lead to a real, live, human baby.

Speaking of real, live, human babies, I had my first weird pregnant encounter with a library patron yesterday. So far I’ve been impressed with how polite and kind people are – I get plenty of questions (when are you due, is it a boy or girl, what’s his name) but they’ve all felt well-intentioned. But yesterday, there was a woman browsing the kids’ DVDs who turned to me as I walked past and said something like “Is it a girl?” All I actually heard was “A girl?” Her attitude felt…weird…so all I said was, “no,” knowing what her next question would be. I REALLY wanted to say, “No, it’s an elephant.” Instead, I just said “yes” to “A boy?” and kept walking. After a minute, I wished I’d said, “What are you talking about? I’m not pregnant.” Even though I look like this now:

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Oh well, maybe I’ll get another weird comment and be able to use that line (although it would have to be really weird/rude for me to actually have the nerve to say that).

In other news, Merry Christmas! I had a relaxing day, made a chocolate tart, ate well, and (along with the rest of my extended family) spent a lot of time thinking about next Christmas with a baby. The youngest person in my extended family (here on the west coast, at least) is eleven, so it’s about time we had a youngster for holidays again.

And now, before I get too lazy, I’ll dig up some book ramblings I’ve been meaning to post. I update Goodreads regularly, even when I’m quiet here. I don’t always write reviews these days, but I do keep track of what I’m reading.

I am alive, although awash in summer reading busy-ness and laziness at home. I wish “summer reading busy-ness” meant I’ve been reading in record quantities, but alas I’m just busy at work. We’ve been down a librarian for five weeks (sob) – two weeks longer than expected – and those of us holding down the fort are feeling the effects. We really do need three children’s librarians during the summer.

But the work is oh-so-satisfying, which helps make up for the occasional insanity. It’s endlessly entertaining to hand out prizes to kids and free books when they finish summer reading. It’s a relief to see some of the shelves empty off, and circulation go up, as people stock up for all that free time that summer brings. I suspect that parents are less likely to limit their school-age kids on how much they check out at once. As a librarian, I want to pile them up with books until they can’t see to walk upstairs!

Storytime is always a delight (except when all the background noise is coming from the parents, not the kids…) Three years into librarianship, I definitely feel like I have storytime down pat – I can throw it together quickly if I need to, and I feel confident in all my usual routines. I can’t decide if this means I should shake things up or leave them be.

Last summer I experimented with a teen craft program – teens have totally been the neglected group in my library for a long time – and it was poorly but faithfully attended (the same three girls came each week). This year I switched from evenings to afternoons and lowered the minimum age from 12 to 10. I think that combination worked, at least for now. I think most of the attendees have been between 10 and 13, but I’ve had much larger groups and they’re focused and enthusiastic. Last week we did duct tape wallets and roses (the wallets in particular required a lot of step-by-step instruction from me) and this week we did ‘make your own postcard.’ Next week we have someone lined up to come in and teach origami. I am calling it a success.

In terms of my personal reading, I’ve definitely slacked off on reviews (I gave myself permission to do that, but I didn’t expect to get this lazy…maybe there was a reason I became a perfectionist about it). Hopefully, after a little break, I’ll get back into the swing of things.

When I was in library school, if someone had asked me what my dream job would be, I’d have answered “being a children’s librarian in the Portland area.” If pressed to be more specific, I would’ve said “being a children’s librarian at the library where I grew up, ordering fiction and doing storytime and recommending books to kids.” The miracle, the insane-that-it-would-ever-come-true miracle, is that this is exactly the job I have now. While I was still in school, I basically despaired of ever getting a job in the metro area, let alone one that was my preferred field, let alone one at my favorite library. So that all came true and I’ve been merrily working along for the past two and a half years doing exactly that.

Two weeks ago, if someone had asked “is there some task you’re not doing now that you would enthusiastically take on?” I’m pretty sure my answer would’ve been “order young adult books.” And then, out of the blue, I was asked if I wanted to take over ordering YA. I pretended to think about it for about half a second before saying yes.

Ever since then, I’ve had this feeling that I’m taking over the world…

The coworker who passed off the task didn’t quite share my enthusiasm, so there’s a lot of ways to make my enthusiasm productive. I’ve already made several read-alike and genre lists and making lists of what I need to buy to fill gaps in the collection. The budget it okay but doesn’t feel as generous as my children’s fiction budget. I placed my first order on Tuesday and am impatiently tapping my toes till it comes in. I found myself wanting to place another order on Thursday, but resisted. I typically order once a month in each category (children’s fiction and audiobooks) but I might take a page from my coworker who orders adult fiction and non-fiction and switch to weekly orders – as long as I manage not to blow the budget in one week. I like the idea of meeting demand more quickly, and having a constant steady trickle of books into the collection.

The best part (apart from world domination!) is that I feel like I finally have a tangible way to use all stored up knowledge about YA. Sure, I’d occasionally field a request for recommendations, but now I feel a great sense of ownership over that part of the library. And pleasantly industrious. I want to weed! Make read-alike lists! Create displays! Add more YA-related content to the library website! Spend some quality time just rearranging things and seeing what’s on the shelves.

Yes, I’m emerging from under the constant stream of reviews here to talk about something that’s not a book (although books will come into play).  I’m getting married next Sunday (that feels like it should be capitalized – Next Sunday) and I’m taking two weeks off – one to get things done beforehand without being stressed out and one to relax afterwards in some sunshine.

Naturally, I have a long to-do list of wedding-related things, and even more naturally, I feel more compelled to get other things done instead.  Last week in my free time I could be found organizing the coat closet and tidying accumulated piles of paper.  Today I can be found catching up on mini-reviews on Goodreads and posting already written reviews here (they’ll show up throughout the week).  Urgent?  No.  Sense of accomplishment?  Yes.  Sense of life being in order before making momentous changes?  More or less.

I miss writing chattier posts – lately it’s just been reviews because I’d write those anyway and it makes me feel like I’m still writing – but something is missing.  I mostly write for myself, and to share what I’ve been reading, but if anyone has any opinions on what they’d like to read here, or things I used to write about and you wish I still would, please do leave a comment.

In other news, I volunteered for the Cybils this year and was chosen as a second round judge for middle grade fiction – we read the shortlist that the first round judges put together, and choose a winner from that list early in 2012.  Nominations are open through October 15th – check it out and see if one of your favorites hasn’t been nominated yet!  I’m super-excited to be participating – I consider applying as a judge every year and this is the first time I did, so it’s an honor to be chosen.  I didn’t volunteer for round one because they start reading a huge list NOW, and NOW is not a good time for me to put more on my plate.  But maybe if I’m feeling crazy another year.

In my final book-related news, I’m trying to decide what to pack to read next week.  I’ve got 13 library books checked out (with a few more on hold that I’ll pick up this week) and they’re almost all big, fat and hardcover.  I’m leaning towards some historical mysteries and maybe Blood Red Road (nice light vacation reading, right?) and a Georgette Heyer, but we’ll see what makes it into the suitcase.  This is what happens when bookworms honeymoon.

Somehow I got it into my head that I should go berry picking today.  It was the perfect opportunity – I have the day off since I worked the weekend, the weather is warm but not too hot, and here in Oregon it’s the tail end of the strawberry season and the beginning of raspberry and blueberry season.  I almost went for the strawberries, but couldn’t resist the allure of raspberries – my parents have a few bushes, and raspberries have always been one of those fruits that I eat in small quantities straight from the bush.  I almost never buy them, but I adore them.  Blueberries I can get from the church property, and those might be getting close – they were still green last weekend when we went to check on them.

So, I went to Sauvie Island and picked 6 pounds of raspberries.  It’s definitely the beginning of the season – there were hordes of red berries that weren’t quite ripe, which makes me want to go back in a week or two and load up again – as long as my freezer can take it.  I was single-minded, and trying not to carry extra stuff through the fields, so no photos from the farm.  Although, while I was waiting in line to pay for my loot, a girl from a group of arriving u-pickers snapped a picture of my box of berries, which kind of cracked me up.  They were all wearing cute sundresses, and I would’ve liked to see what they looked like after an hour or two in the sun, crawling halfway into bushes to get at the ripe ones.


So then I came home with my haul and went into a recipe-hunting frenzy.  I threw a bunch in the freezer on a cookie sheet, shifting them into ziploc bags once they hardened up, and right now I’ve got another sheet-full in the freezer – about 10 cups so far.  Some I’ll leave for eating by the handful.  But I also wanted to find a few recipes – those recipes that I always bypass because they call for fresh raspberries and are thusly prohibitively expensive when you haven’t just paid $10.50 for six pounds of raspberries.


I started with a batch of the super-simple raspberry jam from How to Be a Domestic Goddess – you just heat raspberries and sugar separately in the oven, then mix them together and let cool.  Still cooling, so the verdict is out on consistency.  I don’t have canning equipment, and I’ve never really made jam before, so this was a gentle start.


Then I made a chocolate cake.  Yeah, I know, chocolate cake does not feature fresh raspberries.  But I had two goals: I’ve been wanting to try this recipe from Orangette with the perhaps insane thought of maybe baking (and freezing, then defrosting) several for our wedding reception.  I wanted to see how easy it was to execute and how it tasted.  Plus, I love chocolate cake, especially dense fudgy ones.  The second goal was to serve the cake with whipped cream and raspberries – either fresh or in the form of the aforementioned raspberry jam, especially if it ends up slightly runny.  The cake is no thing of beauty, but that’s not the point.


Finally, I made a batch of raspberry sherbet from A Perfect Scoop – raspberries, milk, sugar, and lemon juice.  Sweet, a little tart, and a little creamy.  It’s also super easy (once you’ve picked the raspberries, of course) – you throw everything in the blender and puree it, then strain out the seeds and throw the rest in your ice cream maker (it’s a space-hog, but I do love mine).

And there you have it!  A day completely taken up with raspberries.  Now I just have to clean out the sink and remember what I was going to make for dinner…

It is upon us – the season of Summer Reading.  Not to be confused with the actual season of summer, which doesn’t hit Portland until after July 4th.  Summer Reading – the three months of the library year where the days slip away in a whirl of explaining the reading logs, handing out sign-up bags, asking families if they’ve signed up yet, handing out prizes, restocking the prizes, and wondering where the time went.

Yesterday was the first day of the summer reading program, and I we had around 90 sign-ups by the time I left work.  The first kid to sign-up must have been waiting for the library doors to open, because I swear she was standing at my desk at 10 am sharp.  The after-school rush saw a line of kids.  If it’s like this while school’s in session, it’s going to be a madhouse in a week when the year ends early thanks to furlough days.

For some reason, I keep thinking summer = more free time.  Not at work, obviously, but at least the evenings are longer and that means more time for after-dinner walks (the irises are out all over the neighborhood) and an increased desire to take road trips.

I haven’t made any plans for my own summer reading – no goals or lists to make and abandon – but my library shelf is awfully full these days and I’m going through audiobooks like nobody’s business.  I listened to seven in May, up from four in April and one in March.  As always, I keep track of what I’m reading on the annual lists – links just under the header.  Although my “read these” list is sadly in need of updating – apparently I’m not as bossy as I used to be.

As always, there’s catch-up to do on my book reviews and what I’ve been cooking for Long Distance Kitchen.  More to come.

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!

I’m not quite sure how the last two weeks slipped by without a post, but it’s sure not for lack of things to write about.  I spent a few days in California visiting Bronwen and Kate, and came back with lots of pictures of Linnea and some of the grown-ups in the kitchen, which is where we quite happily spent a lot of our time.  (I still need to go through the pictures and upload the best of the bunch.)  Bronwen and I caught up on some Long Distance Kitchen recipes that we’d both neglected and we shopped for unusual grains, and at Kate’s we were treated to tuna that Keith caught, fresh chanterelles and enormous oysters, and of course some extremely local bacon (as in, from their pigs).

I’ve also neglected to talk about all the mock awards I’m going to this year – I’ve done one or two each year for the past few years, but this year I’m doing the triumvirate of mock awards: Mock Newbery, Mock Caldecott, and Mock Printz.  Hooray!  I love mock awards.  The tricky part is making sure you squeeze in all the books around the rest of your reading.  Fortunately the Mock Printz isn’t until January, and the Mock Caldecott books are short.  Here are the lists for anyone who’s curious or wants to follow along at home:

Mock Newbery

  • The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Peter Sis. Scholastic, 2010.
  • Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. Dutton, 2010
  • The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Balzer & Bray, 2010.
  • The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Angela Barrett. Candlewick, 2010.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. HarperCollins, 2010.
  • They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
  • Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. Wendy Lamb, 2010.

I’ve read them all except They Called Themselves the KKK (which is also on the Mock Printz list), but so far I’ve only written about the ones I linked above.  My favorite so far is still One Crazy Summer (and I recently finished listening to the audio version and thought it was even better on rereading).  I’m also partial to The Night Fairy and I’d vote for The Dreamer, too.

Mock Printz

  • They Called Themselves The K.K.K.: The Birth Of An American Terrorist Group. Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.
  • Spies Of Mississippi: The True Story Of The Spy Network That Tried To Destroy The Civil Rights Movement. Bowers, Rick
  • Incarceron. Fisher, Catherine
  • Finnikin Of The Rock. Marchetta, Melina
  • As Easy As Falling Off the Face Of The Earth. Perkins, Lynne Rae
  • Fever Crumb. Reeve, Philip.
  • Revolver. Sedgwick, Marcus.
  • The Last Summer Of The Death Warriors. Stork, Francisco X.
  • Nothing. Teller, Janne
  • A Conspiracy Of Kings. Turner, Megan Whalen. (I actually never wrote about this book – WHAT? – but what I said about the rest of the series holds true for this one.)

I still need to read Nothing, Revolver, As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth, Spies of Mississisppi, and They Called Themselves the KKK. In an ideal world, I would also reread A Conspiracy of Kings and Finnikin of the Rock, although not back-to-back like I did initially (Finnikin suffered).  While it would take a miracle for anything to supplant COK in my affections, I do owe Finnikin a fair shot.  I also just got Incarceron on audio – I don’t know if I’ll listen to the whole thing, but I wanted to have it a little fresher in my mind before the discussion and before Sapphique comes out at the end of December.  In a flash of brilliance, I just put the audio version of Finnikin on hold, and hopefully I can squeeze that in.

Mock Caldecott (I left this list at work, but let me see if I can remember it)

  • City Dog, Country Frog
  • Mama Miti
  • Dave the Potter
  • Paris in the Spring with Picasso
  • Henry in Love
  • Dust Devil
  • Art & Max
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain
  • The Boss Baby

I’m sure I’m forgetting one, but my mind is blank.  Right now my favorite is City Dog, Country Frog – not only because I just plain love it, but also because I it’s most effective at being a picture book.  I mean, I can pore over the illustrations in Mama Miti or admire the genius of Art & Max, but neither of these has that seemingly effortless combination of pictures, text and story.  The award is for “the most distinguished American picture book” and to me, this one fits the bill.  Some of the others might have more extraordinary illustrations, but this is a picture book that really has “a collective unity of story-line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.”  And yes, I don’t think it’s in the criteria but I’ll admit a preference for books that make good read-alouds.

One of the things about moving is that you are forced to come to terms with exactly how many different kinds of flour you own.  I even got rid of some that was past its prime (amaranth, purchased for a long-ago tart crust) and my kitchen is still being taken over by flour.  All-purpose, whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, barley, buckwheat, bread, a whole-grain mix, plus a few tiny bulk bags leftover from creating the mix.  And I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one.

Anyway, I’ve moved successfully, and now the flours have their own colony on top of the fridge, reminding me to bake.  The first thing I made after unpacking (apart from regular ol’ meals) was a batch of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Good to the Grain – delicious!  They’re on the hard side (I’m having issues with kitchen timers) but oh-so-fabulous dunked in a glass of (raw) milk.  Makes me sound like some kind of health nut, except they’re just as sweet/chocolaty as regular cookies, plus a nuttier edge from the whole wheat.

The living room/dining room/kitchen area is really coming together and is nicely habitable, although the bedroom has been transformed from a cave to pleasant and cozy, with only a little unpacked nonsense.  And with a new low bookshelf for the entry hall, all is well in the shelving world!  My library books have their own spot by the door!  Which begs the question: what have I been reading?

  • I just finished Crunch by Leslie Connor – review tomorrow!
  • Before that I sped through Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty (an unfortunate title for an interesting book – I still don’t particularly like Belly, but I’m interested to see what the sequel deals with.  What was up with the ending, anyway?  Review to come.)
  • A while back I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth because Kitri told me I MUST and I listen to her.  I enjoyed it, although I didn’t love it like she did, so I picked up the sequel, The Dead-Tossed Waves. I read about 70 pages and gave up.  For one thing, I feel completely “meh” about zombies.  For another, I didn’t really like Gabry already, and we’d only spent 70 pages together.  I didn’t like Mary much either, but she’d had a tougher life and I had a little more sympathy for her.  Gabry’s horror at her friends’ punishments, for example, just totally rubbed me the wrong way.  Now I know enough about the books to be articulate if a patron asks for my opinion, but I was ready to move on.
  • Before that, it was a trip down memory lane with Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark.  Gosh, I probably read it last in middle school.  I’m impressed with how well Alexander always holds up.  This book (the first in a trilogy) has a very different tone than the Prydain books (which I’m still rereading on audio) but the same masterful storytelling.  He makes it seem easy, and I feel like he must have been the kind of person who’d whip up a story while you sat around the camp fire.  Old school.

I want to get back into the habit of regular posting now that I’m moved and settled a bit – plus fall seems like a particularly bloggy time.  Time to start thinking about awards and sipping a cup of tea while you type.  No sunshine to call you outdoors.

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Screen time. I can't seem to turn down the volume on this show, though.

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