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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Prehistoric Googling

I love this picture. And that's what the person who shared it called it: Prehistoric Googling.

In the Olden Days, before computers, we librarians answered patrons' reference questions from books, The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, microfiche/form, the many index volumes of the New York Times, numerous encyclopedias-- you name it. But it always in a book or on microfilm. 
Google hadn't been invented.

My favorite card catalog story is about a cataloger I worked with during my early career, a five-year stint at a public library. 
That's what my friend did and that's what she liked: cataloging books.
If there was absolutely no one else available, occasionally, she'd be called to work the Reference Desk.

When she needed to file cards at the big wooden catalog in the middle of the library, she would perch her handbag across her arm and stare intently at the cards. As if she were just another patron, checking for a book. 
She was brilliant, but she did not want to be bothered answering some pesky reference question.

Those were the days.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

So B. It

Having not read this book in at least ten years, I checked it out of the library, thinking I'd re-read it quickly.

Boy was I wrong.

There was just too much to take in. 
Too many sentences to linger over.

It's always been a favorite. I'm a Sarah Weeks fan. Love her newer books, too. We met last winter at the American Library Association conference and later connected over Authors Readers Theater. (She's a whiz!)

But So B. It is truly a gift to readers.

A few things I'd forgotten I love:

1. The chapter titles are one word long. Perfect.
2. The complicated young narrator, Heidi. I totally believed she would get on that bus.
3. The language. Just one of many examples: "While Mama finished napping, I let myself float suspended like a lily pad in my private little pool of hope."

Recently I heard a writer remark that she thinks voice really means the author's voice. I'm not sure I agree. Each of Sarah's books is different, special in its own way, and not necessarily this author's own voice.

So B. It- What a story, perfectly woven.

This is Sarah's newest book, coming soon. Amazing cover image, no?
 (I borrowed  the ARC's photo from Brenda Kahn. Thanks, Brenda!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hooray for Book Fairs!

I am a huge fan of a good Book Fair. 
For kids have no access to a real bookstore with books to touch and smell and share with friends and parents and little brothers and sisters, what could be more fun?

In fact, if invited to a Fair that's in my comfort zone (an easy drive from my house), I often turn up. Just to see all the books and hear what the kids are saying.

I also love it when my librarian friends send photos of their students enjoying my own book. 

So thank you very much, my North Carolina librarian buddy, Crystal Joyce, for these great photos.

I'll be smiling the rest of the week.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

I think all there is to say about me and Elvis has been said. By me.

You can read a little of it, or a lot. 
Or move on to the next blog you're reading.


HERE it is.

The closest I've gotten to The King lately was at a memorable school visit. Pelahatchie, Mississippi is a small country town near Jackson.  
Here I am with their really super former librarian, Brenda Black. 
And Elvis, of course.

(Yes, that's a jukebox behind me and a neat clock on the wall. Did I say what a great little library this was?)

If you're really a fan, to celebrate Elvis's birthday, you could attend the celebrations going on at GRACELAND right now.

If you're interested in hearing more about my book GLORY BE, and the Elvis connection, here's a blast from the past blog interview. 

Speaking of Author Visits, here are some truly remarkable ones, via Publisher's Weekly.
 (School Visit ideas, CLICK HERE.)

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Elvis! 
I think I'll go have a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ruby Lee & Me

I'm so proud of fellow Scholastic author, Tampa and N.C. resident Shannon Hitchcock's new book.

Isn't this cover the greatest?

My favorite character might be Granny. Not a crotchety old lady, but a resourceful, warm grandmother who seems to anticipate what Sarah needs. 

One of the many things that struck me when I first read this book was how well it will fit into a classroom. It's an easy read, just enough excitement, excellent characterization. 

Reading it aloud is going to provoke a lot of thoughtful discussions.

Happy Book Birthday, Shannon and Ruby Lee & Me!

Excerpts from the book's excellent reviews:

* "A heartening and important offering for younger readers." -- Booklist, starred review
From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—After a tragic accident leaves her younger sister Robin hospitalized, 12-year-old Sarah must move in with her grandparents. Miss Irene is Granny's neighbor and friend, and her granddaughter Ruby Lee has been Sarah's best friend since she can remember. The trouble is, Sarah is white and Ruby Lee is black—and it's 1969 in North Carolina. The local school will be integrated this year, and the first black teacher has been hired. Tension is high in the tiny town of Shady Creek. Forced to leave her home and start over on her grandparents' farm, Sarah must come to grips with her guilt about her sister, her anger and confusion about Ruby Lee, and the uncertainty of relationships among whites and blacks in the rural South. Balancing the heavier topics are home-style recipes, strong storytelling, and Southern charm, which will engage younger middle grade readers. The characters are well developed and the historical setting realistic. VERDICT Tenderly told, this appealing story explores racial tensions during a key moment of the civil rights movement.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH