[**] There’s just something about elephants that make them so easy to draw as cute. This picture book is no exception about how one baby elephant came into the lives of two grown elephants. Sad and sweet at the same time.
A playful, rhyming counting book about a dozen crows and one hungry cat.
[***] This is a delightful tale about a polar bear searching for his missing underwear. In fact, to read the book, you must first remove his red underwear. He and his mouse friend find different underwear throughout and die cuts reveal who they belong to with a hilarious surprise at the end.
[***] This picture book tells the story of a boy’s day who lets his imagination dictates whether he wants to be indoors or out. I love the paper cut illustrations.
[****] Truly special. A girl is set on sending her aunt an elephant. I love the refrain of Aunt Josephine “who lives completely alone and can really use the company.” Sadie is such a great character- kind-hearted, determined, and willing to go with the flow.
[***] After deciding having a rather useless bunny for a pet is childish, a boy decides to leave his floppy-eared friend in the forest. But he has second thoughts seconds too late because when he comes back, the bunny is gone! A sweet friendship story.
This week I’m celebrating bookish moments in my life.
I had forgotten to mention it the other week but I had a great conversation over coffee about Christopher Pike with a regular bookstore customer. It was a blast to talk about our favorite author and the books of his that have inspired us to be writers!
This past Wednesday, we had our Family Book Club. We discussed Charles de Lint’s The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. It’s always fun to listen to how passionate the young readers get about the books we talk about. I love it when parents also end up participating and giving their input.
I also read the short story it was based on- A Circle of Cats. It basically had the same plot of a girl being turned into kitten to save her life. It was definitely interesting to see the differences between the two.
I went to an open house for a local non-profit last week. I learned many things. I had seen an empty bookshelf at their offices and I thought there’s definitely something missing. I met with one of the staff yesterday and I will be helping them build a library. I will share some more details about it soon since I’m very excited about this!
My Video Pick of the week is this scene from the Parks and Recreation series finale. I loved Leslie Knope’s enthusiasm and optimism and she knew that she wouldn’t have been where she’s at without the help of others. “Go find your team…”
Ally has spent her entire school years with a secret- she can’t read. She’s found rather creative ways to avoid doing assignments or reading out loud in class. But things are getting more difficult with increased taunting from her classmates.
It’s going to take a new teacher to see that she needs help. Fortunately, this comes in the form of Mr. Daniels who realizes that Ally has dyslexia. It gives her hope that she isn’t stupid as she’s been starting to believe.
I love Mr. Daniels’ interactions with all the students. He really took the time (and went out of his way) to accommodate their individual personalities. Not to say the other teachers were bad for not noticing what was going on but sometimes it takes new eyes to provide new insights.
It got me to thinking about the teachers I’ve had. While I can’t remember all their names, they’ve definitely made an impact in my life.
-Elementary school- 3rd grade: We had to recite a poem in front of the class. Not only was I shy but English wasn’t my first language so I definitely did not want to do it. But Mrs. Gonzales managed to be both understanding and encouraging at the same time. It was an Emily Dickinson poem- maybe about snow- and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
-Elementary school- 5th grade: Mr. Revicky was one of my first teachers who joked around with us students and seemed like a friend but was still a teacher. He didn’t mind if he made a mistake- and welcomed corrections.
-Middle school- 7th grade: Ms. Hernandez was the first person who made me believe I could be a writer. It is an exhilarating feeling to have someone think you’re special. Plus, she introduced me to Anne Shirley of Green Gables!
My Video Pick of the Week is a teacher getting down with his students!
They seem to be much harder to come by and more difficult to maintain these days- at least, for me- and, so, I can’t help but celebrate when I have them.
It’s always fun to hang out with friends, very energizing. And, we can usually talk about anything- and the conversations are usually over good food and drinks.
My roommate and I decided to watch this year’s Oscar-nominated live-action shorts. The stand-out for me was the British film “Boogaloo and Graham” about two brothers who were given baby chicks by their father. In a short run time, they managed to tell a captivating and hilarious story about family. I highly recommend it.
We also checked out Portland’s arcade and bar- Ground Kontrol. Playing the video games and pinball machines definitely brought out the nostalgia!
This past Thursday, I went to a volunteer reception for Wordstock, Portland’s annual book festival, held at Literary Arts, which recently acquired the event. Having been a volunteer and having had both my work and the non-profit I’m a board member of as exhibitors, I wanted to see in what direction they were bringing it into. This year’s a whole new kind of monster they’re dealing with but I feel like it’s in great hands. I’m in great support of what they do.
The space was awesome and beautiful. I wanted to read all the books there. And it reminded me how Portland is such a city of readers, writers, and volunteers. I talked with some passionate people who I assume I will run into during other related events!
One way I decided to combat my sadness was to send out cards and it worked. Sending out good thoughts and well wishes brings you out of your funk and into a good state of mind.
Another tip: Surround yourself with family and friends- people who love, like, support, encourage, and hold you accountable. Know that you are not alone.
My Audio/Video Pick of the Week is A.A. Milne reading from Winnie-the-Pooh, courtesy of Brain Pickings:
Once upon a time there was a boy who had a ghost for a best friend- and not just any ghost but that of Jacob Grimm. And, so begins a dark modern fairy tale.
Jeremy Johnson Johnson is a very genuine character. A teenage boy who hears the voices of the dead and has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong. His predictable life veers of in unexpected directions once he starts hanging out with Ginger, a spit-fire of a girl but good-natured at heart. Having Jacob Grimm narrate this tale was a great choice.
One might argue that it took rather long to get to the core of the story- this whole business of a malevolent entity known as the Finder of Occasions. But the characters were too likable for me to care. I loved getting to know them better and all the fairy tale references thrown in. And each incident was like a breadcrumb, a clue, leading to the big reveal. Some might even say it’s heavy on foreshadowing but, for me, it just created a great sense of anticipation.
The Finder of Keeper is truly one of the most sinister characters I’ve ever encountered. This was a great story all around!
And, I know there will be more books I’m just going to fall in love with! As they say, “so many books, so little time!”
And, of course, this past Monday was the excitement of the Youth Media Awards. It’s a nice tradition to wake up early and watch the live telecast. I cheer for the people who win and for all readers who will enjoy the books (or already have!) I know my reading list has grown considerably since then!
My Video Pick of the Week is YMA-related: Behind the Scenes at 2015 YMAs:
This week I’m celebrating poetry- inaugural poetry, specifically.
I was browsing through the library stacks, in the poetry section- 811.5- when I saw a skinny book. It didn’t have a title on the spine but it read “The Inaugural Poem: On The Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou. I remembered watching President Obama’s second inauguration and how Richard Blanco’s “One Today” was much talked about and highly praised. I went to see if that was available in book form. It was. And, so I sought what other inaugural poems had been published and came up with “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander.
This called for a Reading Challenge. Since there were only six poems in all, I decided to read even the ones that weren’t specially published. I also decided to watch any videos of the poems being recited at their given inauguration. I’ve shared the videos.
“Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander (Barack Obama 2009 Inauguration)
“One Today” by Richard Blanco (Barack Obama 2013 Inauguration)
Honestly, none of the poems except “One Today” made much of an impact on me but that could have been because I actually watched it. And I voted during that election so the outcome was personal for me. (Read my review of “One Today” here.)
I did love learning the history of the inaugural poems. And, I wonder why they aren’t part of each celebration. What an honor for the writers to share their words on such special moments!
Mariah Carey is my favorite singer of all time. She just announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show she’ll be doing a residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas starting May 6th! It’ll be a career retrospective of her record-breaking 18 #1’s!
Naturally, when I found out tickets were on sale, I rearranged my work schedule and started booking flights and bought the ticket! So, I’m Vegas bound for her May 13th show!
Here’s a clip of her announcement on The Ellen DeGeneres Show including a fun surprise for select fans and the entire audience member:
Of her 25 years in the music industry, I’ve been a fan of hers since the Daydream album- 15 years! I remember recording “One Sweet Day” (her duet with Boyz II Men) off the radio to a cassette and writing the lyrics through the process of pressing play-pause-rewind-play.
I remember seeing her in concert for the first time in 2013- coincidentally at the same venue as her current gig! It was one of the best days of my life.
And, it’s never officially Christmas until her holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” plays non-stop.
Aside from her amazing career accomplishments and immense talent, I just admire her as a human being. People are quick to dismiss her or to write her off as a ditzy diva but she keeps coming back and she keeps coming out on top. I can’t say how many times I’ve used her music unwind or to get through a tough time. Her songs have become a soundtrack to my life.
My video pick of the week is “Hero”- one of her signature songs that means a lot to many people,including myself:
This week I’m celebrating still feeling energized from my new year’s resolutions. Usually my willpower wavers by now but I’m still excited about what I’ve been doing lately- hanging out with friends, walking, reading good books, and writing more.
On Tuesday, my roommate and I watched the film adaptation of Into the Woods. Lovers of fairy tales and musicals will enjoy familiar characters in new situations asking the question of “What happens after you get what you wish for?”
I enjoyed the performances and the visuals and the songs. Of course, Meryl Streep as the witch was stellar. The Baker and Cinderella were good too but the breakout performer to me was The Baker’s Wife played by Emily Blunt.
On Thursday, another friend and I went to Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland. It was free admission with a canned food donation. It’s such a different experience whenever I go there. We enjoyed some drinks and treats in the Teahouse.
One of the things I wanted to do this year was feature a Ted talk weekly but I decided it’ll just be any kind of video or audio that inspired me.
Last week, I featured the Fail Harder video to coincide with my One Little Word.
This week, it’s a song from the Into the Woods soundtrack called “Finale/ Children Will Listen (Part 1).”
This week I’m celebrating looking at where I’ve been to see where I’m going!
Commitment to Literacy
My Commitment to Literacy in 2014 came in the form of volunteering with many different literary non-profits including Start Making A Reader Today (SMART), The Children’s Book Bank, Friends of the Library, and Multnomah County Library. As I’ve decided to not continue with a couple of them in 2015, it had allowed me to explore other cool volunteering opportunities focusing on Early Childhood Literacy. I’ve clocked in 160 hours of volunteering in 2014.
I continue to feel blessed that I get to be doing what I love at such a wonderful place. Being a bookseller is something I’m good at and gives me so much joy. Green Bean Books celebrated its fifth anniversary during the summer. I moderated our monthly Family Book Club and organized our Indies First event. I’m excited to see what’s ahead for me and the store in 2015
It’s been incredible to be part of so many supportive online communities- whether we’re sharing book recommendations through IMWAYR and other memes or writing about celebratory moments in our lives.
I’ve had 1498 comments over 405 posts since I started my blog in January 2012! March 29th (of 2014) saw the highest traffic on my blog with 176 views! My most commented post was my July 13, 2014 MWAYR post with 17 replies!
The Facebook page is up to 68 likes since launching in April 2013!
I was also real thrilled to be part of CYBILS this year as a Round 1 Judge for Middle Grade Fiction.
I’m grateful for everyone who has made these things possible.
My Reading Life
I ended up reading 610 books n 2014- almost a hundred more than in 2013. Here’s the breakdown:
I’m extremely happy to have finished most of my reading challenges this year: E.B. White, Virginia Lee Burton, Beatrix Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and the 5 titles in my Must Read in 2014 list.
Commitment to Literacy
-Volunteer 125 hours.
-Read more of our inventory.
-Interact with authors and illustrators more- face to face or social media.
-Post one non-meme (IMWAYR, NFPB, Celebrate This Week) post every two weeks
-Comment on every person’s reply directly or on their site.
-Increase site visits and comments.
-Get Facebook page likes to 100.
-Change domain name.
-Use Goodreads more effectively.
My Reading Life
With all the books I plan on reading this year alone, I’ve decided to participate in these challenges:
-It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR
-Diversity #DiveIntoDiversity #WeReadDiverseBooks
-Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2015
Goal: 104 books including MG and YA
-To Be Read #TBR2015
-Must Read in 2015 #MustReadin2015
-Check Off Your Reading List 2015 #CORL2015
Goal: 52 books
-Off the Shelf
Goal: 10 books
Goal: 4 titles
-National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature
Goal: 5 titles
I’ve only wanted to succeed- and I still do- but I can’t get there when I won’t allow myself to fail.
I’m too scared to not be perfect, to not know everything, to not be liked, to not be the best, to not be able to do everything, and to waste time on something that might not work that I’ll avoid doing anything at all.
I’ve also tended to take any setbacks too personally instead of learning from them.
With my OLW, I hope to:
1. try new things even if I fail
2. be OK when I fail
New Year’s is actually a great time to FAIL. There’s too much pressure to start being better all at once. There’s the tendency to give up after one misstep.
A couple things that helped me choose my One Little Word:
1. This quote from The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho:
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
2. This YouTube video:
What’s your One Little Word? What’s your thoughts on failure? What are your resolutions?
This week I’m celebrating Christmas one last time- for this year, at least!
On Sunday, we had our work Christmas party at a delicious Italian restaurant. We did a white elephant gift exchange and I ended up with a clown and a big shoe which I’ll probably use as a pot to plant something. What can you plant in a shoe?
The bookstore has been some sort of winter wonderland with so many good-natured people buying books as gifts. It was lovely being part of their holiday traditions!
I recommended R. J. Palacio’s 365 Days of Wonder to a lady whose family loved to share a short story during their Christmas gathering and they were running low on options after having done it for decades! I suggested each of them could read a quote and even perhaps say a little something about what they just read. I hope it went well!
A little boy sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and that made my day!
To change things up a bit, I went to a church an hour earlier for their Christmas Carols in addition to the mass. I love any group singing and there’s something magical about a sense of togetherness.
And, continuing a tradition I started three years ago, I volunteered to help out for Christmas Dinner. This year, the organization was able to hold their meal at the Portland Art Museum, a beautiful venue and quite unique. I was in the Gifts department where people could pick out a bag full of goodies.
The best Christmas news is that my sister gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl. I haven’t met my new niece yet so I can’t wait to see her next year!