Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A brilliant professor develops early-onset Alzheimer’s. As she loses her memory and her career, what remains of her identity? This story has stayed with me—and based on conversations I’ve had with other readers, I’m not the only one.
Birthmarked, by Caragh M. O’Brien. Gaia works as a midwife just outside the Enclave, the protected community she serves. But when officers of the Enclave imprison her parents, she starts to question the rigid rules of her society, especially the forced reassignment of children to new parents. A good book about power and the possible consequences of environmental destruction. Also includes some code-breaking!
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. Two boys trying to set a record for the world’s longest kiss form the central story, but the plotlines weave through several characters’ lives, tying together the generation of men lost to AIDS and the generation for whom coming out is more common—but not necessarily easy.
Plume, by Kathleen Flenniken. This is a book about betrayal, loss, and invisible dangers made visible. Centering on the community of Hanford, Washington, and the various forms of radiation exposure its citizens experienced, it’s a horror story and a discovery story and a love-of-family story. I reread it almost immediately; it still grips me, weeks later.
Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. Vivian Maier was a nanny who spent most of her free time perfecting her amateur-photography skills, capturing the world around her. When she died, she left behind thousands of photographs and negatives, a small fraction of which were assembled in this collection. The images are stories in themselves.
The Test: Living in the Shadow of Huntington’s Disease, by Jean Barema. There was a 50-50 chance the author had inherited the incurable, degenerative disease known as Huntington’s. This book chronicles his agonizing over whether to get the genetic test, his siblings’ and mother’s experience with the disease, and his countdown to his own test and receipt of the results. Even those of us who don’t fact Huntington’s confront many of the same questions about mortality, and the physical losses that may come with age.
Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, by Jonathan Cott. This book captures Lennon in his post-Beatles life, dealing with couplehood and parenthood, exploring new creative frontiers. It’s a relief to see a book that doesn’t vilify Ono as the woman who “broke up the Beatles,” but rather explores the artistic and political views that she and Lennon shared and kindled in one another.
Rapture Practice, by Aaron Hartzler. Hartzler grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household. But much of what he was drawn to (partying, rock music, dating), his family viewed as sinful. This book records his ever-more-painful attempts to please the family he loves, while unable to resist exploring the music and relationships that call to him.
Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Boylan shares her own experience parenting before, during, and after her transition from male to female, and she also interviews so many other parents that the result is a rich and diverse exploration of what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a child, and how gender does (or doesn’t) affect parent-child relationships. Plenty of food for thought here.
Stories from Jonestown, by Leigh Fondakowski. I blogged about this book here—an unforgettable look at a movement that started out in hope, peace, and brotherhood, and ended in the tragedy of murder and suicide.
Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter, by Beth Kephart. Kephart explores all kinds of friendships: how those bonds form, and how they strengthen, and how and why they sometimes dissipate. And it’s as beautifully written as all her books.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A. J. Jacobs. Jacobs attempts to follow the Bible literally. He immediately confronts a few problems: which version of the Bible? How to interpret passages that are unclear or conflicting? What to do about actions that are now illegal (like stoning people)? But in studying and trying to live the Bible, he discovers plenty about both God and humankind.
Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Concise, poetic, and meditative, this is a book that’s meant to be savored and reread. It records the kind of deep pondering, the questions and discoveries, that can come to mind when we let ourselves stop and think and reconnect with the natural world.
source of recommended reads: all from library, except Gift from the Sea, Plume, and Two Boys Kissing, which were purchased.
Edited by Christopher Golden, DARK DUETS features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. Here are the duos and the titles of their tales:
TRIP TRAP by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
WELDED by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
DARK WITNESS by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
REPLACING MAX by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
T. RHYMER by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
SHE, DOOMED GIRL by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
HAND JOB by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
HOLLOW CHOICES by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
AMUSE-BOUCHE by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
BRANCHES, CURVING by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
RENASCENCE by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
BLIND LOVE by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
TRAPPER BOY by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
STEWARD OF THE BLOOD by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
CALCULATING ROUTE by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, & Holly Black
SINS LIKE SCARLET by Mark Morris & Rio Youers
Dark Duets will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2014.
If you're connected with a bookstore, please pass along that Dark Duets is not canceled. In the words of editor Christopher Golden, "Apparently there is some confusion because it was originally announced as a hardcover and will now be a trade paperback. Distributors are notifying stores that the hardcover is canceled without explaining that it's been replaced by the trade. This could be very detrimental to sales, so any help spreading the word to stores is deeply appreciated." Spread the word, booksellers!
- Current Mood: thankful
- Current Music:Interesting by Maria Mena
In 1944, Rose Justice is ferrying Allied fighter planes for the war effort when she is captured and taken to Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp where she befriends the Polish "Rabbits," allies with a Russian pilot and French spy, bribes German block leaders, and fights to survive for six months. This novel is written in journal entries, so the heartbreaking and cruel events in the second part of the book are easier to take because certain events are foreshadowed. Still, knowing how much is based on true facts and people gives this story a powerful feel that is extremely well researched and written. While it is difficult to believe that the narrator could write such detailed accounts months later and in a journal while malnourished and emotionally wrought, it is an amazing historical novel about survival, and most of all, friendship and hope. The end is tear-jerking. Highly recommended YA. (Hyperion, 2013)
- It’s been a good week and it’s only Thursday! I’ve cooed and oohed and aahed over NYPL’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013 list before. Nothing new to say . . . or is there? I don’t suppose you happened to see NPR’s interactive booklist consisting of their Best Books of 2013 (in a rare moment of bliss, I like all their children’s book choices though some diversity wouldn’t have been out of place). Well, NYPL took one look at that list and thought, “Heck. We can do that.” And so they did! Meet the Interactive Books List of NYPL. It’s gorgeous. It’s user friendly. It’s the only place you can find animated Melissa Sweet. Overall, I rather love it. Hope you do too.
- In other best book news, Colby Sharp and Donalyn Miller teamed up at BuzzFeed and produced a list of 20 of the Best Children’s Books 2013. And AGAIN I like all the choices. Do you know how rare this is? Extra points for including Donner Dinner Party. Love that thing. Love anyone who includes it on a list.
- Having trouble keeping track of all the Best Of lists out there? Mr. Schu’s your man. Thanks to him, we now have a nicely compiled 2013 Best Books Lists posting. It’s very attractive. Of course, if you want the most complete listing out there, there’s no better place to go than Chicken Spaghetti. The information is AMAZING over there.
- A lot has been said lately about how big Best lists of children’s books this year have neglected to include any Latino characters (NPR and The New York Times most notably). Perfect timing then for the 2014 Reading Challenge suggested by Latin@s in Kid Lit. Take a look at the guidelines and join, but seriously? One book a month? I think you can handle that. They even have some suggestions to start you off (yay, Nino!).
- And, of course, if you read only one Best list, read the 100 Scope Notes highly hilarious Year in Miscellanea. Plus he mentions my superfluous little cupcake. Quoth he it’s, “the Axl Rose Hair Metal hair of picture book cover cupcakes.” You’re just going to have to read his piece to understand what that means.
- SLJ posted The Fault in Our Stars movie poster yesterday. And you know what? I love that tagline.
- I had this lovely Children’s Literary Salon earlier this month involving dolls in children’s literature, which got a little write-up in Publishers Weekly (thanks, Matia!). One of my guests was Krystyna Poray Goddu. She, in turn, created this kind of awesome booklist of dolls in books for kids. It’s really rather cool.
- Tempted to see Saving Mr. Banks in the theater this holiday season? Feel free but be aware that the film may be throwing P.L. Travers under the bus in the process. A great piece from Jerry Griswold, former Director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature.
- GAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! Well, geez. Most evil baby gift ev-ah.
- Anyone who has ever attended one of James Kennedy’s 90-Second Newbery Film Festivals will attest that they are a bundle of fun. Just the most delightful little films, created by kids, turning Newbery winners into concise 90-second films. Some are, understandably, better than others but there’s nothing cooler than sitting in a theater next to a kid who gets to see their film projected on a big screen for the first time in their young lives. Want to join in? The deadline for the next 90-second films is January 20th. So get cracking, young geniuses! For lots more information about the events and the showings, go here.
- Awww. This is so sweet. Over at Mocking It Up, Rebecca did me a solid and created this simply gorgeous infographic on the books that are topping the Mock Newbery lists around the country (she compiled results from 19 different Mocks). That’s a ton of work but the results are simply gorgeous. Wowzah! Well done, madam.
- Daily Image:
Why, yes. That IS a bookshelf in the shape of a robot.
Now you all know what you’re getting for your birthday. Surprise!
Here's an excerpt New Year's entry from January 2013. Notes in blue.
Inspired by , who creates a theme for each year, I've decided that my 2013 theme is "Make the Time." Too often, at the end of the day I find myself wondering where the time went (mostly it's been spent playing with small people on the floor of my living room). So I'm going to be more mindful of the time I have and how I'm spending it.
In 2013, I will Make the Time to:
1. Read - I read about 15 books this past year; I'd like to increase that to 20-25. I'm also on the awards committee for the Boston Author's Club, so I'm doing a lot of reading for that. I'll probably exceed that goal, come to think of it. Whoo! I did! I read over 30 books this year. Not as much as my pre-kid, days, but I'll take it.
2. Write. Every day. - I typically write in big chunks, or steadily when I'm on deadline. This year, I'm going to write something every day--working on a book, or short story, or journal. I want to see what material I have at the end of a full year of writing. I'm giving myself a total of 30 passes for the year, though--30 days I can take off. So far, I've used two of them (unless you count this blog entry). Um. This didn't happen. So, I'm carrying it over to 2014. Writing. Every day.
3. Walk - There's a new-to-us treadmill in the basement. I can't wait to start using it. I'm starting slow at first, with just 30 mins, 3 times per week. Whoo!! Not only did I walk, but I RAN. I started galumphing through the Couch to 5K program with my friend, and worked up to FIVE 5Ks this year. I've made time to take care of myself, made time to commit to it. Success!!
4. Work - My day job is pretty demanding this year. I'm a department head with hiring and budgeting responsibilities, and then there's the regular grading and prep and teaching. Needless to say, I find myself scrambling on Sundays, or Tuesday nights before class. Not this year! I'm going to make the time to get through work in a timely manner. This happened! Although the January semester was hectic, this fall was much more manageable. Having our babysitter come once a week for a couple of hours really contributed to keeping life sane. I plan to continue in the spring.
5. Connect - From conferences and workshops, to just seeing friends more, I want to be more present in the communities I'm part of. Last year I hibernated a little (see "new baby," above), and I missed being part of the groups I love. So far, I'm signed up to present at the Whispering Pines retreat in March, the NESCBWI conference in May, and I have a proposal in for another conference. My girlfriends and I have also talked about getting together more regularly--without kids. Bring it on! Again--success! I got out. Whether it was promoting MOXIE, or attending conferences, or seeing friends, I was "out there" a lot more, post-baby. At times, maybe too much. This fall I felt a little over-extended. Okay, a lot over extended. Lesson learned.
So, 2013, I was more mindful of you. I also made a conscious effort to change my language--whenever I went to say, "I didn't have time to X," I stopped myself and rephrased it: "I didn't make the time to X." A small difference in verbiage, but it actually made a big change in the way I thought about my days and decisions. I made the time to do things that were important to me, and I managed to fit more in than I could have expected.
I've chosen my theme for next year, one that will hopefully piggyback on this year's and keep the momentum going. And I'm not going to wait until January to get started.
- Current Location:living room
- Current Mood: accomplished
Well, every year I like to put out my list of 100 Magnificent Children’s Books from the publishing year. So far I’ve done this in 2010 and 2011 and 2012. And every year the list looks suspiciously similar in some spots to the 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list that NYPL produces. Little wonder, but I always like to use my own particular list to highlight those titles I love more than life itself but that are getting passed over. Here then were some favorites of the year. Not all my favorites, obviously (I read quite a bit of magnificent stuff) but at the very least 100 I care for with links to those I reviewed. And yes. I’m shamelessly self-promoting at the same time.
Picture Books (For Children Ages 2-6)
Battle Bunny by Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Matthew Myers. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Ben Rides On by Matt Davies. Roaring Brook Press
The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Illustrated by Daniel Handler. Candlewick Press
Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle. Chronicle Books
Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. Greenwillow Books
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley. Peter Pauper Press
Here I Am by Patti Kim. Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez. Capstone
Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon. Roaring Brook Press
It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones by Warren Hanson. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa Beach Lane Books
Journey by Aaron Becker. Candlewick
Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Candlewick
The Mighty LaLouche by Matthew Olshan. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild! by Peter Brown. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales. Roaring Brook Press
No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora. Dial
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams Books for Young Readers
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid. Albert Whitman & Co.
The Silver Button by Bob Graham. Candlewick
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea. Disney – Hyperion
Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of Day by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade
Wild by Emily Hughes. Flying Eye Books
Yes, Let’s by Galen Goodwin Longstreth. Illustrated by Maris Wicks. Tanglewood Publishing
Folktales and Fairy Tales
Aesop in California by Doug Hensen. Heyday
Can’t Scare Me! by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Demeter and Persephone by Hugh Lupton & Daniel Morden. Illustrated by Carole Henaff. Barefoot Books
Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters. Roaring Brook Press
Hansel and Gretel by The Brothers Grimm. Illustrated by Sybille Schenker. minedition
Nasreddine by Odile Weulersse. Illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Treasury of Egyptian Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortals by Donna Jo Napoli. Illustrated by Christina Balit . National Geographic
Whiskers, Tails and Wings: Animal Folktales from Mexico by Judy Goldman. Illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck. Charlesbridge
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard. Illustrated by David Slonim. Candlewick
God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books
Rutherford B., Who Was He? Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by John Hendrix. Hyperion Books for Children
Stardines Swim High Across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Carin Berger. Greenwillow
We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown. HMH Books for Young Readers
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Pamela Zagaresnski. HMH Books for Young Readers
When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis. Chronicle Books
Stories (For Children Ages 6-8)
Bowling Alley Bandit (The Adventures of Arnie The Doughnut #1) by Laurie Keller. Henry Holt and Co.
Call Me Oklahoma by Miriam Glassman. Holiday House
Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny by Rhode Montijo. Disney – Hyperion
The Meanest Birthday Girl by Josh Schneider. Clarion Books
Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. Candlewick
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow Books
Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain. Scholastic
The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan. Katherine Tegen Books
Ariol: Just a Donkey Like You or Me by Emmanuel Guibert Illustrated by Marc Boutavant. Papercutz
Bluffton: My Summer With Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan. Candlewick
Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox. Graphix
Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale. Harry N. Abrams
Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists ed. by Chris Duffy. First Second
Hilda and the Bird Parade by Luke Pearson. Flying Eye Books
Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood
Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. Scholastic, Inc.
Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell. Top Shelf Productions
The Silver Six by A. J. Lieberman. Illustrated by Darren Rawlings. GRAPHIX
Stories (For Children Ages 9-12)
Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. Candlewick
Ballad by Blexbolex. Enchanted Lion Press
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federele. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Candlewick
The Center of Everything by Linda Urban, Harcourt Children’s Books
Doll Bones by Holly Black. Margaret K. McElderry Books
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell. Candlewick Press
A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
The Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell. Harper Collins
Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli. Alfred A. Knopf
How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks. HMH Books for Young Readers
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake. Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell. Peachtree Publishers
Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka. Walden Pond Press
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu. Walden Pond Press
Rose by Holly Webb. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co.) by Jonathan Stroud. Disney-Hyperion
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephen Pastis. Candlewick Press
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore. Walker Children’s
Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones. Candlewick
Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry. Random House Books for Young Readers
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow
Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers, and Claws by Ingo Arndt. Holiday House
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős by Deborah Heiligman. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Roaring Brook Press
The Boy On the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible… On Schindler’s List by Leon Layson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith, Jr. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Amistad
The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle. Lerner Publishing Group
Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tonya Lee Stone. Candlewick
Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy. Paula Wiseman Books
Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People by Susan Goldman Rubin. Abrams Books for Young Readers
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin. Readers to Eaters
Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey. Lerner Publishing Group
Jumping Penguins by Jesse Goossens, illustrated by Marije Tolman. Lemniscaat
Locomotive by Brian Floca. Richard Jackson Books
The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan. Roaring Brook Press
Master George’s People: George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation by Marfe Ferguson Delano. National Geographic Children’s Books
Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp and David DeVorkin. Illustrated by Diane Kidd. Abrams Books for Young Readers
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Knopf Books for Young Readers
To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport. Illustrated by C. F. Payne. Disney -Hyperion
The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Beach Lane Books
Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World by Ann Downer. Lerner Publishing Group.