“The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.” -from the website
A story about family and friends, that no matter how broken they seem, you do what you have to for them. Delivers a powerful punch. Unique characters including an African-American teen who knits to control his Tourette’s. Glimpses of urban life. A thoroughly fascinating YA novel.
I love that I didn’t even know about this new release and it’s one of my top middle grade novel of 2016! It reminded me a little bit of Maniac Magee because of the running aspect. And while I was annoyed at Ghost’s character in the beginning- but only because I hate it when people are randomly picked out for their “special-ness” like he was when he decided to crash their practice- I loved the authenticity of his thoughts and actions. Of all the drama they threw at him, I appreciated how Jason Reynolds decided not to overdo it and it made the story flow so much better. I’m hooked. I can’t wait for the other books in the series. (This is also a great example of a novel with which I think people are calling “casual diversity.”)
So good! If you loved Ghost as much as I did, you’ll love this follow up to the series as much- if not more! A great story of how life can run us off course but how family (the ones we’re born with and the ones we choose) can lead us back on the right track if we just believe in them and in ourselves.
RUN- don’t walk- to your favorite independent bookstore April 10th when the third book in Jason Reynold’s Track series comes out! Sunny is a moving lyrical story about a boy who has spent all his life doing things for others. When the call to do something else- something he actually wants to do- becomes too loud to ignore, he answers it. Will it be worth it?
I love how each book in the series is so different from one another, each one reflecting on the main character’s personality. I almost wish there’d be a book about Coach!
Tracks has become one of my favorite mglit series in the past few years. Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu are heading for the finish line in this final installment. They’ve learned what it takes to be a team. With shake ups and secrets, they need to learn what it means to be a family. A satisfying emotional conclusion. I would love a novel for adults featuring Coach!
Wow! Definitely a must read book (of any genre)! This young adult novel told in verse has a unique premise. After his older brother is gunned down, fifteen-year-old sets out to get revenge. The elevator ride from the top from of his building will be the longest one minute of his ride when unexpected people from his life start to board.
What I’m excited about with this book is that I think even reluctant readers will want to pick this up.
A collection of stories around the premise of what happens after school on a specific day. Fascinating pieces showcase different lives. I only wish the connecting factor was stronger or delivered a stronger, maybe even surprising, punch.
His platform for his 2020-2021 tenure is “Grab the Mic: Tell Your Story.”
I was lucky enough to watch him speak at a bookseller’s conference a year or so ago. What a treat that was! He’s a very compelling speaker. I also ran into him at an airport and a part of me was debating whether I should be a scary fan and tell him how much I love his books or let him just go about his day. But he was really friendly when I talked to him.
What a great picture book to have and to read during National American Indian Heritage Month, especially as an alternative to problematic older books about Thanksgiving. The story centers around a Native American family and the celebration around the making and consumption of fry bread. The backmatter is rich with additional information.
3- The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett
Picture book lovers will love this biography of one of its classic creative geniuses- Margaret Wise Brown- by one of today’s kidlit rock stars- Mac Barnett. With the latter’s unique voice and Sarah Jacoby’s gentle illustrations, readers get to know about Margaret Wise Brown’s life that wasn’t always by the book or even with its own happy ending.
Keep an eye out for this book since you’ll want to add it to your library. Many books have been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. but this one is a cut above the rest. It felt more detailed or all-encompassing somehow. And all the backmatter materials provides even more information without giving the reader a sense of being overloaded.
3- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
I think this would make for a great readaloud- lots of humor and plenty of action. Ms. Rapscott reminds me of cross between Mary Poppins and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Ms. Rapscott runs a school for girls of busy parents but the lessons aren’t confined within the classroom or within textbooks. But they are lessons that will change the girls forever and will leave a mark with readers.
2- Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee
A great read aloud in the vein of Kate DiCamillo full of interesting characters (like an Elephant Ears stealing dog) and a heartwrenching story of trying to find’s one place in the world.
3- Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
I was absolutely charmed by this story. It’ll make for a nice read a loud at home or in the classroom. I love the lesson that just because something is different or misunderstood doesn’t make it a monster. I also like that it encourages creative problem solving.
Powerful. Moving. I didn’t really know about Japanese internment camps until a few years ago and I think more people need to learn about them. There’s so many good things about this book that I can’t really process it all yet but I love the grandparents. I wish there’ll be a sequel to this. One of my Newbery picks for 2019.
2- Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier
Fans of historical fiction like The War that Saved My Life will enjoy The Night Diary. A half-Hindu, half-Muslim girl keeps a diary during the Indian Partition writing to her dead mother about her family life and her country being torn apart. Moving and powerful. I was glad this won an award! (2018) (*)
For some reason, I originally didn’t want to read this but, once I picked it up and started, I couldn’t stop!
Nuns with secrets. Exiled royalty. Life and death situations based on the early years of Queen Elizabeth the First. Portland-based graphic novelist Dylan Meconis has created a gripping historical fantasy full of details that will make young and old readers alike feel like their living on the Island during the sixteenth century. Island-raised Margaret’s quite ordinary existence in the convent becomes complicated with the arrival of William, a boy her age and her first friend, and dethroned Queen Eleanor whose schemes will put all their lives in dire jeopardy. Truly a work of art that screams for more!
The must read graphic novel of the summer starts off like with a realistic premise of a group of boys out to see whether a fantastical story they’ve heard all their lives is true or not and then veers off into Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli territory! What I also liked is that this was pretty substantial text-wise.
3- New Kid by Jerry Craft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For some reason, I kept putting off reading this graphic novel despite all the positive things I heard about it and that lots of the kids I talked to really liked it as well. I loved and appreciated the micro-aggressions that Jerry Craft brought up. Racism is not just one thing. It’s a series of things designed to (just to give an example) devalue someone based on their race and, in this case, the color of their skin.
More people need to know about Bayard Rustin, a gay African-American activist who played a role in practically every major Civil Rights Movement events. Through his correspondences, we learn about his beliefs. A great example of a flawed individual who did great good things.
3- Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After being a fan of her books for forever it seems, I really didn’t know much about Agatha Christie. This was my final book to read for my reading challenge and a part of me didn’t want it to end. The fact that it was over 500 pages sometimes made it seem like it was never going to end.
It was such a wonderful glimpse into her life- from childhood to her seventy-fifth year. I was surprised by how much traveling she actually did- even surfing in the beaches of Hawaii! My favorite parts were her talking about her work and seeing what experiences inspired them.
This edition came with a CD of her dictating her autobiography and it was wonderful to hear her voice!
I’d been meaning to read this and I’m glad I finally did because it’s become one of my favorite favorites. The writing is superb immediately drawing you into the story. And even though you know how it’s going to turn out, James Baldwin has created something so alive that you think it might somehow change. (*)
2- Find Me by André Aciman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I didn’t know what to expect from this sequel but I loved how different it was from the first novel. Basically, these are four novellas that follow the lives of the men in Call Me By Your Name. The sudden shift may be too much for some fans but the language that made one fall in love with the story and the characters in the first place is still there. (*)
3- Live Oak, with Moss by Walt Whitman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow! Brian Selznick delivers another unique reading experience- similar to what he did with The Invention of Hugo Cabret- this time illustrating a companion of sorts to Walt Whitman’s poems “Live Oak, with Moss.” This cluster of twelve poems, long kept secret for their homoerotic content, is full of passion and yearning describing many stages of love. Included is an in depth analysis of the writing and meanings of these poems.
2019 seems to have flown by so quickly! In a way, that’s a good thing. It was a year where I originally had high hopes but was tempered by real life situations. Not to say it was all bad because there were amazing once-in-a-lifetime situations that happened.
Anyways, December was mostly spent trying to get into the holiday spirit. I had a “12 Days of Christmas Festivities” challenge.
Christmas lights are nice and all but spending time with people who light up the world is even better!
I also explored a bit of the outdoors and came across this cool art sculpture in Orenco Woods Nature Park.
Plus, I met another alpaca. This time, it was Jean-Pierre!
The boxes I’ve been folding for the Soul Box Project was picked up so hopefully that’ll help them with reaching their goal of 200,000 boxes by the time their exhibition at the National Mall in Washington D.C. takes place in October 2020. Since I started volunteering with them in late summer of 2018, I folded a little over 2,000 boxes!
My final volunteering hours total was 295! While I thought 300 would have been a nicer number, I’m quite proud of myself of exceeding my original goal of 200- and my stretch goal of 250.
In 2019, I read a total of 596 books, a continual decline in number of books read.
42 Adult Fiction
28 Adult Non-Fiction
39 Graphic Novels
55 Middle Readers
426 Picture Books
6 Young Adult
(143 out of 104 Nonfiction Picture Books)
(36 Audio Books)
How did my 19 for 2019 go?
First of all, the ones I X’ed out, I changed out during the final quarter of the year. And they were:
-Fold 2000 Soul Boxes- which I did
-Have a clean organized room- which I completed New Year’s Eve!
-Buy mattress- which I’ve carried over to 2020
-Lose 5 pounds- which I’ve adjusted and carried over to 2020
So, in the original list, I completed 11 out of 19. And, 13 with the revised list.
Some other things I did in 2019 were:
-I finally went to therapy. I’ve found it very helpful so I’m going to give it at least another year.
-I had 200 likes on this blog’s Facebook page. But then I decided to close it down because I couldn’t figure out how to best use it.
-I walked everyday for at least 30 minutes.
-I saw Jacqueline Woodson speak. I wish I had met her since I had met two other National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Maybe another time. You can hear her wonderful talk here.
How did I do with my word of the year- Joy? There were definitely some moments that brought me joy. I’ll share some of my Top 3’s of the past year in the next post.
As you can probably tell, I’ve been in a blogging slump. It’s not that I haven’t been reading- because I have- but a part of me felt conflicted using Goodreads when they’re owned by Amazon, who I’m trying to stay away from because of all the horrible things they do and have done.
I am planning to do my annual recap and look-ahead posts in the upcoming days so keep an eye out on those.
Anyways, I hope everyone had a happy holidays. Here’s to a wonderful new year.
What a treasure to get to read these creative letters Tolkien wrote to his kids over many years creating a world populated by Santa Claus, polar bears, and goblins.
The Two Princes returns in season two of this LGBTQ fantasy adventure podcast. An evil sorceress hell-bent on revenge puts a curse on the two lovebirds and their kingdoms. Will they be able to overcome this latest obstacle or is it a “happily never after” for them?
I’m looking forward to this latest film adaptation so it was a treat to read Greta Gerwig’s screenplay. I still don’t like Amy. You can read my review of the novel here.
***= Liked It
Portland’s historic house museum- Pittock Mansion– always adds a festive touch to their permanent exhibit of their collection during Christmastime. This year each of the rooms were decorated based on books.
I really enjoyed taking the tour of Pittock Mansion and I wanted to share some of the pictures I took. If you’re considering going there- it runs through January 5th- and want to be surprised, I would hold off reading this until after your visit!
Harry Potter room/ Library
Beatrix Potter room/ The Breakfast Room
Joy of Cooking/ Kitchen
A Christmas Carol/ Dining Room
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe/ The Turkish Smoking Room
The Secret Garden
Beauty and the Beast/ Breakfast at Tiffany’s/ Father Christmas
Christmas in the Woods
Alice in Wonderland
The Black Stallion
How the Grinch Stole Christmas/ Heidi
And, before I share my favorite room, here are some interiors of Pittock Mansion…
I was already having a fun time exploring each book-themed room but I was so thrilled to see they had a whole big room dedicated to Agatha Christie. I think I would have gone here if this was the only exhibit.
I absolutely had a delightful time checking out Pittock Mansion’s Wonderful World of Books. It reminded me so much of one of my favorite places- the Sylvia Beach Hotel. I should have taken notes of who designed each of the rooms because they deserve all the credit for creating such a unique experience for book lovers!
I’ve been in a blogging slump lately but I’ve been doing some things.
Portland holds its Book Festival in November. I attended some fun kidlit events the night before.
One of my favorite times of the year is when the “giving season” comes. I attended a kick off party for Portland’s “Give!Guide” campaign.
I also finished one of my commitments as a member of the PNBA Book Awards Committee. You can see our shortlist titles here with the winners being announced in January. If you need book recommendations, definitely check this list out.
Of course, boxes of books keep coming since I’m part of CYBILS again. This time I’m reading through Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction books.
I gave one of my other blogs a minor facelift. You can check out Bookstores and Libraries Visited here.
I’m at 287.75 hours of volunteering for the year so far which is great considering my original goal was 200 hours and that was an increase of previous years’ average. It’ll be nice to hit 300 by the end of the year.
There was a volunteer appreciation party earlier this month where we played glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. That was super fun!
I completed my goal of folding a cumulative total of 2000- with 2002!- boxes for the Soul Box Project.
I’m up to 552 books read for 2019.
Reading Challenges Update:
-Nonfiction Picture Books- 120 out of 104
-Middle Grade & Early Chapter- 52 out of 104 (I’m glad I met at least 50% of this goal because I was really being overambitious.
I’m looking forward to the new year since I love goal planning. I have to remind myself we still have a month left to complete this year’s goals!
While not book or volunteering related but a source of happiness and inspiration for me is that Mariah Carey rereleased her Merry Christmas album to celebrate its 25th anniversary. I am hoping that this year, she will get the recognition she deserves by having “All I Want for Christmas is You” reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. So, stream and buy the song throughout the season!
With rhythmic text, readers will enjoy this nonfiction picture book about Samuel Morse, his life, his attempts to be a famous artist, and his eventual dedication to creating a way of communicating that may seem foreign in this technological age.
I love this series. Naturally I like some titles more than others. This was one of the better ones. The superhero guides were fun and helped me digest all the fascinating facts about everything involved in building buildings.
I think I first came across the name Mary Blair watching DVD special features on older Disney films. I would be astounded by her art usually used during concept and storyboarding stages rather than in the final products which was a shame because they were beautiful. And I’ve seen some of the stories being rereleased using her illustrations. There have been a slew of nonfiction picture books about her these past few years and I’m glad. I love the art used in this book.
Hello World! is a board book series that introduces the youngest readers to nature and science concepts. Colorful images and simple text let’s them explore the world of pets with fun prompts to imitate them.