Tuesday, January 29, 2019

SOL: Found Time!

I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice"to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, BethKathleen, Deb, Melanie, Lanny, and Kelsey
 for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

Some days are more stressful than others. This morning was one of them. Until . . . I found two hours! How often do we find two hours? Well, this is how it happened. I dropped my husband at the Park & Ride and was on my way to watch my grandson. My daughter called and we were chatting when she mentioned that if we (grandson Jack and I) were going to the library today, we needed to be ready to go as soon as I arrived. And that's when I realized that it was Tuesday, the day my daughter works late and doesn't leave until 10:30. It was 8 am so I did the only logical thing. No way I was going to turn around and fight the heavy traffic going back to my house. I pulled off the freeway, found a Starbucks, and proceeded to use my time wisely (well, mostly wisely). 

  • I sent a text and arranged for a driver to take husband and me to the airport for an upcoming trip.
  • I visited the Heavy Medal blog to see who won their Mock Newbery (Sweep).
  • I asked my daughter to order diapers for an upcoming drive for refugee families sponsored by our women's group at church. (I couldn't get my online Costco account to work.) Who wants to go to Costco when they have free delivery?
  • I read a few slices of life and realized that some of you were in town for ALA. I really should have sent out a call for bloggers in Seattle for the convention to meet up for an IRL conversation (next time for sure)!
  •  I checked out the results of our KCLS Mock Newbery (Front Desk). I like that they included a link to the write-in votes.
  • I felt vindicated that my choice for this year's Newbery (Ghost Boys) received 5 write-in votes on the Heavy Medal Reader's Poll. The only title receiving more write-in votes was The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (my second choice) with 12 write-in votes.
  • I visited the library site to request titles I still want to read from last year. And paused most of those requests until after my upcoming trip.
  • I pulled up my pics from Saturday's visit to the ALA Exhibit Hall to share with you. A big thanks to Thrift Books who made exhibit passes available to Friends of the Library members in our area. That was the high point of my week! 
  •  Top stack of books is for sharing.
    Stack pictured above is adult titles.
    Liturgy of the Ordinary was the
    only book I purchased and it was 40% off!
     ARCs I want to read (before passing 
    on to teachers & students)!
     Two stacks of ARCs for my
    lunchtime book club!
    I missed the Nikki McClure signing, but 
    love the free 2019 calendar, Share the Future!
    Both of these picture book galleys,
    The Magic of Letters and Home is a Window
    have captured my heart. Put them on your watch list!

    And then it was time to head to Mr. Jack's house so we could drive back to Grandma and Grandpa's house for library time, play time, and lots of time for reading books together!
    This giant bunny sculpture outside
    our branch library is a must visit 
    for the little ones. Jack is no exception.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Slice of Life: Newbery Musings!

I'm delighted and overwhelmed and excited and still reading. One of my favorite events of the year is the Youth Media Awards announced each year at the mid-winter American Library Association conference. And it's less than a week away!

When I was in the classroom, I wrote grants to purchase books and we participated in book clubs for Newbery possibilities (and then the books became part of our school's literature circle collection). Since I retired, I've worked with an after school book club (and this year, a lunchtime book club) to explore some of the new books published during the past year that might win the Newbery award. 

We are guided each year by the Mock Newbery list selected by the children's librarians at KCLS (King County Library System). This year's list included six titles (and I can happily report that I read all of them):

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
*The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connors (This is my favorite from the library's list!)

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Other books I've read that are also eligible:
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
*Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - (This is my personal favorite. I loved hearing Jewell Parker Rhodes in a session at NCTE. I'm crossing my fingers that this book gets some Newbery love!) 
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Books that I still want to read or finish: 
Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard (I picked it up and started it tonight since it's on my #mustreadin2019 list and it appeared as one of the finalists on the Heavy Medal blog.)
Snow Lane by Josephine Angelini (started this last night, but I've set it aside and I'm reading Just Like Jackie first)
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon  (I started this one in December, but had to return it to the library before finishing it. I requested it again and picked it up this week.)
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
Sweep by Jonathan Auxier (still waiting for this one. I'm currently #13 on the holds list for 12 copies.)

I'll stop there because I could go on and on about books I still want to read before the ALA YMA (American Library Association Youth Media Awards) on Monday, January 28th.  Since the conference is in Seattle this year,  I won't have to wake up extra early (like I have to when the conference is on the east coast). I'll be at the middle school listening with members from our lunchtime book club and enjoying some breakfast treats. 

Here's a hint for library users: Open a window to your library account so you can request winning titles as they are announced.

If you'd like to see some of the predictions, visit these blog posts:
Betsy Bird's Final Predictions
Newbery Finalists on the Heavy Medal Blog

Leave a comment and let me know which book(s) you hope will get some Newbery love when the awards are announced on Monday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


I love participating with fellow book lovers in the #MustReadin(fill in the year) community. The group is led by Carrie Gelson who blogs at There's a Book for That. Check out her post for more information about participating in this community.

I apologize for lagging behind the group, but here's my long overdue list of a dozen #MustReadin2019 titles. I'm really hoping to do better this year than I did last year. (Hope springs eternal!)

1. Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford - Two of my good friends and fellow booklovers (who have moved away) get together via Google chat to discuss books.  Last year we read Greenglass House in January and waited for this winter and the post Christmas slowdown to tackle the sequel.  I'm halfway through this one and find myself reaching frequently for hot chocolate, just like I did with the first book. It's as good as the first, maybe even better! (I'll know that once I finish the last two hundred pages.)

The next five titles are carryovers that I failed to read from last year's list. And I still want to read them!
2.  A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
3.  Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
4.  Matylda Bright and Tender by Holly M. McGhee
5.  Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
6.  Looking Back by Lois Lowry

I picked up the next four titles in Houston at NCTE in November:
 7.  Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard
 8.  Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor (this one is autographed)
 9.   The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith
10.  The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

The last two titles have been on my shelves for a long time - unread! I hope to remedy that this year. Both are by authors I love and admire. 
11.  The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson
12.  A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck (I've had this ARC since 2009.)  It's time I read it.  Don't you agree?  

I'm excited about this year's list. Now I'm off to read a few more pages of The Ghosts of Greenglass House (with the requisite cup of hot chocolate) before bed. 

Thanks, Carrie, for being our fearless leader and encourager!

End of Year Update - #mustreadin2018

I opened my blog yesterday to post a slice of life (which I never got around to doing) and discovered this post that I hadn't published. Maybe because I was sad to have only read 5 from my list of 13 titles. If only I didn't get so distracted each year by reading Newbery possibilities, I might do a better job with this list. Several of these are migrating to my list for 2019. The books I finished are in green. All I can say is that I'll try to do better in 2019!

1. Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell
a leftover from a summer of reading chicken titles several years ago

This title gave me a whole new outlook on chickens!

2. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor 
How can it be that I still haven't read this book?
Barbara O'Connor never fails to amaze. 

3. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
Highly recommended by my middle school readers in book club
You'll want to head to the kitchen to try out one of the cake recipes in the book. 

4. Matylda Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee Won this book from a giveaway on Linda Baie's blog

5. A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord  Purchased after I heard Cynthia Lord speak at Western Washington University's Children's Literature Conference in 2017

6. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass a title I've started twice and loved but never finished

7. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon my one nod to YA, unread from last year's list (Can you tell that I love mostly middle grade?)

8. Hello Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly
this year's Newbery winner! 
An adventure of middle school friendship

9. Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech a parent told me once that this was the book that made a reader out of her son.

10. Greenglass House by Kate Milford
a title I discovered from a list of cozy books for winter reading
Don't miss this wintry mystery! You'll need to read with a mug of hot cocoa close by.

11. Looking Back by Lois Lowry an ARC that I borrowed from our middle school librarian and promised to pass on to one of the classroom teachers

12. Poems Are Teachers by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater a book that made me break my promise to self to not buy any more professional books   

13. Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by Ruth Ayres Not in the stack of books pictured because I just have the electronic copy. I gave my print copy of the book to my niece.

Here are the Newbery possibilities I've read (huge distraction for me every year). I've enjoyed reading and discussing these books with a lunchtime book club at the middle school where I taught before retirement.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (Picture books can win the Newbery. It happened in 2016 with the book Last Stop on Market Street.)
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller - Love the way this one is set up using the scientific method
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
*Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - My #2 spot
*The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connors - My current personal favorite!
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate Di Camillo
The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Thursday, January 3, 2019

SJFT: My OLW for 2019

It's the first Thursday of the month and time to show up with my friends at Spiritual Journey First Thursday with my chosen word for the year 2019. Ruth is rounding up our posts today at her blog, There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Stop by and check out our community and the words we've selected. Add a link to your OLW post. And feel free to join our community. It's a commitment for just once a month and it's a joy to celebrate our spiritual journeys together.

This is my seventh year to choose a word. My previous words beginning in 2013 are all ones I love - listen, savor, stretch, abide, nourish, and delight. I really wanted to wake up this morning and know my OLW for 2019. I've decided that the problem is that I love too many words, I shy away from change (and choosing a word always seems to be a call to action), and I'm not a decision maker or a resolution maker. My word for this year comes from a favorite quote.

I really thought my word would be better. There's a lot to love about better. It doesn't expect perfection. It's just a way to make progress toward the person I want to become.

And then I looked at little. It's definitely a possibility. We'll be adding another "little" to our family this year. I know myself well enough to know that "little steps" are my way to growth. I would like for there to be a "little less of me" by the end of 2019 (this refers to my ever present struggle with the numbers on the scale).  But I really like for my one little word to be a verb, so I'll keep looking.

Be is an important word in this quote, maybe I could choose be as my OLW. But this word leaves me asking what, as in be what? Be happy, be gentle, be consistent, be persistent.  All good things to be, but I'm really in search of one little word, not two. 

And that brings me to the word I've chosen. Try! It's a word laden with possibility. Because I will try, there are many ways I can grow in this new year. I'm thinking that I might try a focus for each month in the coming year. (It's interesting that focus was one of my OLW possibilities and look how I've woven it in with try.) 

I will let the year reveal to me how or what I'll be trying, but I know my first try. I will try to be more active during January. It's an easy one (I spent December being less active than I was in November) and an important one (I'm headed to Italy in February and I will be doing lots of walking). There's something about the rigid, goal setting me that resists the word try. Why shouldn't I just say I will be more active this month? Because I want to be gentle with myself, I'm resisting be (which seems to set me up for failure and disappointment) and embracing try (remember I'm all about small steps).

And I'll close with the lyrics of a song I've always loved since I was a young child singing it at church.

Jesus Once Was A Little Child 

Jesus once was a little child,
A little child like me;
And he was pure and meek and mild,
As a little child should be.
So, little children,
Let’s you and I
Try to be like him,
Try, try, try.

Here's to 2019 and a year to try, try, and try again!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Slice of Life: Wrapping Up a Year of Delight!

Yesterday was NYE (when I saw this on Instagram, it took me awhile to figure out those letters were the acronym for New Year's Eve). The younger generation (in this case, my niece Kara) keeps my brain alert with new challenges to figure out all the time. 

One of my favorite "delight" posts for 2018 was the alphabet poem I wrote of things that delight me. And when I stopped to reflect, I realized that the last day of 2018 was a day filled with delight bookended by blue sky and sunshine and a beautiful sunset.
The blue sky and sunshine filled my heart with joy (we've had a run of rainy, cloudy days lately with more to come). Shopping included purchasing 2019 calendars, making some returns, a stop by a bookstore (always a delight), and a friend's purchase of oatmeal orange cranberry cookies which I saved to enjoy as an evening accompaniment to my current middle grade read, The Book of Boy.

My friend and I relished a leisurely walk (2.7 miles) along the edge of Lake Sammamish. We noticed sparkly green plants, red berries (winter's presence) and velvety buds (hinting of spring to come). The best part of the walk was the eagle sighting, perched on the highest branch keeping watch over the lake.
While returning from the grocery store late that afternoon, I spotted a gorgeous sunset through the trees. I frantically drove to the north end of the island hoping the colors would last until I could reach one of the pocket parks where I could snap a picture. And they did!