Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I love my job!

Or, I guess I should say my career. My avocation. 
My reason to fall out of bed and into my chair every day.

What am I doing on this hot summer day?

Reading a book to review that's so much fun, so quirky and odd and delicious, I can't stop filling it with stickie notes. 

 Next up, Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead.  Does it get any better than this?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And the winner is!

And now. For the drawing of the terrific DOG'S WAY HOME, I spoke to my cute neighbor about helping me draw names.

ME: Hey, Mia. Wanna draw a name out of your kibble bowl? Choose a winner for a dog book giveaway?

MIA:I'm sitting here like a good doggie. I love a good dog story. Where's my treat?

ME: Well, how about this as a treat? See that blue notepad over there? Write down these names and tear them off and put them in your kibble bowl and dive right in.

MIA: Huh?

ME: Oh, all right. I'll do it. But you have to pick the winner so dive right in.

MIA: Diving!

Me and Mia, together, now- 1-2-3:

Bobbi Miller.

Come on down, Bobbi.  Claim your prize!

Monday, June 25, 2012


In honor of the American Library Association annual conference winding down today, I share this quote:

"You honor your reservations; you go to your meetings so we can clean the rooms; you're relatively quiet; and you drink more than the American Legion."

Anonymous hotel official, on why he liked the ALA annual conference
(Quoted by Patricia Wilson Berger in Chicago Tribune article, 29 June 1990, Tempo section, p. 1)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Look What Today's Mail Brought

A package from my former colleague and a great teacher, my friend Sally!

But why is she sending me MY book? And what's with the edges?

I think this book has been read before.

What do you think?

Yes! Not only read, but well-read. 
I love it when a book has traveled in bookbags, to soccer games and ballet and ball practice. And shared. 
Especially shared.

Her sixth graders inscribed the book with things they wanted me to know and sent me their copy.  
So touched! Love those readers. 
Thanks, Sally.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Dog's Way Home, and a Giveaway

I'm a sucker for dogs. And I guess that goes for dog books also. But I've just finished Bobbie Pyron's A DOG'S WAY HOME, and I'm here to tell you, you don't have to love a dog to love this book.

I marked way too many passages to quote here, but this is a small sample:

"He could not know the many miles and vast wilderness that lay between him and his home with the girl. A dog does not measure distance in miles or even days. A dog only knows that every footfall, every heartbeat, brings him closer to his heart's desire. Anyone seeing Tam trotting with his easy gait along the side of the road would see a dog going home."

Except that he's not. Not yet.

Tam, the Shetland sheepdog, is about to have the biggest adventure of his young life. The middle-grade novel is told in alternating chapters, Tam and his owner, Abby.  Abby's a great character, too. Without giving away too much-- because this book is filled with heart-stopping worries about both the dog and his girl, here's a bit about Abby. She's in a bus station, all alone, drinking a Coke, which her Mama would never let her have because they eat the enamel off your teeth. But then, of course, her mother appears to bring her home:

"My heart beat in my throat. Sweat popped out on my arms... I was in for it now. I braced myself for the kind of tongue-lashing only Mama could give. Instead, she sat down next to me and took my hand... I looked away. I guess I wasn't such a good liar."

Kathi Appelt, another writer who knows a little about dogs and their stories, says it's a "Triumphant story about faith and hope and never giving up, especially on the ones you love."

And guess what. Today's somebody's lucky day. Just leave me a comment and you could be reading this great novel in no time flat. I'm giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy of the paperback! I'll keep the giveaway open for a week.

Just what you need to jumpstart your summer reading. Read aloud with your 9 to 12-year-old. Read to share with your classroom next fall.

Read because it's just a terrific dog book. No, just a really good book.

This one will keep you up, turning pages fast. On the beach, in the mountains, on the front porch swing. Dog lovers and all others.

Click here for Bobbie Pyron's website.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Or better yet, just leave me a quick comment and you could be reading it all! The whole book!
Go ahead, you have until Wednesday, June 27th, when I'll get the cute pup across the street to draw the lucky reader out of her dog bowl.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hello, Nancy.

My era (and Glory's!) Nancy Drew books. 
Okay, maybe these are a tad before 1964, but can you believe we loved these stories? 
Don't you love how she's pointedly pointing to the mantel...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

LOVE this.


Robins are Braiding the Wind into Nests. 
(on the bench in front of music class..)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nice Blog

and not just because they liked my book! Though I really appreciate that, of course.

What I like about it is that when books are reviewed,  a favorite quote and the first line are included.
A good way to get a sense of the writing style and the novel's voice.

CLICK HERE for the review of Glory Be.

Here's a fun review of a middle-grade novel for summer, PIE.
(I also liked that one.)

Plenty more suggestions for good books where those came from. Have fun!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Moms and Daughters, Reading Together.

Mother Daughter Book Clubs- what a terrific idea!

I'm especially delighted when I discover they're reading GLORY BE.

Just look at these adorable, smart girls.

Scholastic came up with some great discussion questions. Check out this link.

Also a recipe! There's a link on the site to a recipe for "Easy Lemon Cookies."

(Though I understand my friends in the picture ate Peach Cobbler. Yum!)

Book Clubs are near to my heart. And a great idea for summer reading. Kick back, make a pitcher of Bug Juice, Emma's Lemon Cookies or maybe Peach Cobbler, and read with your kids.

Happy Almost Summer! Thanks for reading, girls and moms. Thanks for sharing, Amy and Katie.

Here's a recipe for Emma's Lemon Cookies.

Iced Lemonade Wafers

½ C. (l stick) butter
 1 T. grated lemon rind
 ¼ t. almond extract
 1 C. flour
 ½ C. confectioners’ sugar
 1 T. cornstarch
 ¼ t. salt

 2/3 C. confectioners’ sugar
 2 – 2 ½ T. fresh lemon juice

Cream butter and beat in lemon rind and almond extract.

Sift together the flour, confect. sugar,cornstarch and salt.  Add to creamed mix and combine thoroughly. 

Divide into two parts and shape into two rolls about 1 ½ in diameter – flatten the ends, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour or up to a week. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees – slice the rolls into about 15 slices each.  Bake on a lightly greased or ungreased non-stick sheet.  Bake from 8 – 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.  Cool.

Make the icing by mixing the sugar and lemon juice and ice the cooled cookies.

(I borrowed the image from a gorgeous food blog. This is exactly what the cookies look like, but sadly I didn't take a picture at my Glory Party where they were last served. Now excuse me while I hotfoot it down to the kitchen to make a few...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I love letters.

And emails, too.

Finding this in my inbox, from a reader in North Carolina, makes me know all the hard work, all that revising, the research, the sweating over details--It's all worthwhile.

I just finished reading Glory Be - and burst into tears - you captured my childhood, right down to the charm bracelet! (which I still have)  I grew up with parents who were color blind and I had no idea what was going on in the world of the sixties, because for me, there was no prejudice in my home...later, I realized the schools were segregated, the churches were segregated - but in my world, the woman who cared for me and her family were welcome at events in our home and we were welcome in theirs. My siblings and I are now neighbors and friends with the third generation of this family - I am grateful for my childhood and grateful for your book showing me what was happening outside our own little world- and by the way, I did swim in the city pool with children both black and white and had no idea that was rare! 

Thank you, and I hope to share this book with others who may not realize what was going personalizes that era beautifully. 

I am a retired teacher and currently a middle school librarian. I bought your book at our Scholastic Book Fair and just now had time to read it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

You gotta love New Jersey

Time for a break from my literary world. From books, writing, and reading to report on our annual return to New Jersey. Although, truly, isn't everything a story?

Each spring when we make the pilgrimage, I have a friend here waiting to take us on an adventure.

Like the 9-11 Memorial in Bayonne. With a great Italian dinner afterwards.

(blogged about HERE)



Or the truly moving and something-I'll-never-forget, World Trade Center Lights viewed from Jersey City, soon after September 11.
(Photo courtesy of wikipedia)

This year, at least so far, I've been blown away by something pretty simple. No historical significance. Just a huge apartment complex set into the side of a ridge in Morris County, vaguely reminiscent of Chichen Itza or Native American cliff dwellings. Yes, the operative word is vaguely.

What we saw last night:

The view from the high promenade in front of the apartments:

That's NYC, way off in the distance. If you're interested, this is from the realty company's listing:

Powder Mill Heights offers a gracious lifestyle, second to none. Located on the peak of Parsippany's Watnong Mountain, residents are truly on top of the world. Apartments are carefully designed with voluminous windows to take in breathtaking views that go for miles. Many private balconies capture the vista views of the New York skyline. We offer luxury apartments with a variety of one and two level floor plans, spanning from 1,000-3,000 square feet

And this? 
My friend Barbara and I stare off into the distance, 
wondering what it would be like to live way up here, almost in the clouds.

Thanks for the roadtrips, Al!

Additional New Jersey stuff-
New Jersey in my rear view mirror blogpost.
Silly(?) Jersey Pride facts

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Poet Laureate

This is my gift to those folks who stopped by my blog today.

Loved this article about Natasha Trethewey in the New York Times.  Such an interesting writer! When she saw the Library of Congress number on her called ID, she thought it might be a prank.

Yesterday I caught up with a lot of radio interviews, including the news she'd just been named Poet Laureate.
(I really enjoy road trips if I can listen to nonstop NPR.)

I'd missed this one from the time she won the Pulitzer. Her prize-winning poetry collection includes sonnets about the Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off the Gulf Coast.

HERE'S a new interview I've just downloaded.

CLICK HERE to go to the earlier Fresh Air interview.

And this, from the NPR website, by way of introduction:

Trethewey is the first poet laureate to hail from the South since Robert Penn Warren was appointed in 1986. The 46-year-old Mississippi native grew up the child of a racially mixed marriage in Gulfport, Miss. Her mother was later murdered by her estranged second husband, Trethewey's stepfather; these, along with the South and its singular ways, are recurring themes in her poetry.

Another gift: a few of her poems, also from the New York Times:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hooray for Kids!

Is there anything better than visiting with kids who've actually read your book? A class whose teacher has just read aloud-- as you open the classroom door-- the chapter that was hardest for you to write?

That was my afternoon yesterday with 4th graders from The Pingrey School.

Last September, Ms. Casey's 4th graders won an ARC of GLORY BE. I'd popped in to their classroom to deliver it, along with a packet or two of Elvis stickers. After they'd finished the book, bought their own copies at the school's Book Fair, and written me some pretty amazing letters, I popped back in yesterday. And discovered the 4th grade teacher across the hall was reading GLORY BE aloud to his class these last few days of the school year.

My visit was a surprise, last-minute, unplanned event their teacher and I cooked up. I was sorry not to have given them time to bring in their own books. Instead, I signed a ton of my bookmarks for them.

 Some of their comments reminded me of the brainstorming/ revising I did with my esteemed editor. These kids had questions! And comments!

 "I wish you'd put more detail into Glory's dad and put Glory's dad in more scenes."
 (If only they'd seen the pre-revision version! Poor ole Brother Joe hardly mumbled a word.)

"I could almost feel the grass between my fingers when Glory took a bunch of grass from Elvis's yard in Tupelo..."

"I thought Glory Be was amazing! How their friendships were either falling apart or growing stronger in every chapter."

Can I get those readers a book reviewing job, please?

When you see this hanging in a classroom, you know you've arrived at a school that values reading.

Thanks for a great afternoon, kids. I hope you have a terrific, book-filled summer. 
Please invite me back real soon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Quote for the Day

 There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.
                  Willa Cather

It's raining again in the northeast. I love the rain. Thunder off in the distance. Somehow, this quote just seemed appropriate for today.

☛☛And click here if you'd like to read a longer post, with my very favorite Willa Cather quotation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Check out the cover of my friend Kimberley Griffiths Little's forthcoming book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME. Then click over to her own blog for all sorts of book giveways.

Can't wait to read this one. (Hint, hint, Scholastic people!)

Here's what I wrote about her very first novel, when I first "met" Kimberley:

I've since come to know Kimberley, via all the ways possible to connect except in person (surely we'll remedy that one day soon. After all, we do share a publisher!). Her publication journey is amazing and encouraging. As her books mount up, so do the praises. Way to go, Kimberley!