I Might Be Back

Uh, hello. It has been, like, almost nine months since I’ve last written.

“Nine months?” you say.  “Well, you could have a b–“

“Yes,” I reply. “I’m having a baby.”

That’s why I haven’t been updating this blog. At first I felt too nauseous to read, then one thing lead to another, and well, that’s that. But keep checking back. The baby will come any day. I’ll have two children under two, so I might not get a whole lot of blogging done, but we’ll see. I still do love reading and reading book blogs!

And look! I’ve updated my “Books Read 2008″ and my “Reading Now!”

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Summer Reading List

Well, June is here and I have summer reading goals. Here are the books–in no particular order–that I’d love to get read this summer. Check back with me over Labor Day. We’ll see how well I did.

Kate’s List, Summer 2007:

Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Adam Bede by George Eliot
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
Light in August by William Faulkner
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata by Jennifer Allison
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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Showers of Books

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Happily for me, I’ve been going to loads of baby showers lately. I guess it’s just that time of life where all your peers are having kids. Hooray! I love baby showers, and I love giving baby shower gifts! Of course, what do I give at these showers? Books! Pictured above are books I’ve given as gifts at the three showers I’ve attended in May (not everyone got ALL these books, but everyone got a mixture of some of these).

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It Was a Porcupine Necktie

After going great guns there for a while, I’ve been slacking on the ol’ blog lately. I had fun family activities all last week! If you read the “About” part of this blog, you’ll discover that I say something like, “What I love most is my family, second most: reading.” So there you have it.

But now I’m back to reading. And I have fantastic news! I read on bookshelves of doom that a sequel to Stargirl comes out this August! Oh, Jerry Spinelli, thank you! I happen to absolutely adore Stargirl. We read it in my classes last year. Well, actually, we listened to it on CD–narrated by John Ritter, who did an absolutely fabulous job, especially the line: “It was a porcupine necktie.” Oh, the tears! Oh, the humanity! And Stargirl the character: whoa. She is my idol. I want to be her. Though I don’t have her chutzpah (who does?), I try to engage in Stargirlish activities as often as I can.

Anyway, I can’t wait for the sequel. A new Gilda Joyce AND a new Stargirl this August! Maybe I’ll survive a Yuma summer after all!

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Recommendation: Rules*

414dn2g3evl_aa240_.jpgNow that I’ve finished Rules, I’m 3/4 done with my Newbery/Newbery Honor reads. Of the three I’ve read (The Higher Power of Lucky*, Penny from Heaven*, and Rules), Rules is my favorite. Its protagonist, Catherine, is an introspective middle schooler who has an 8-year-old autistic brother, David. Catherine wishes her brother’s autism would just melt away and he would be a brother like everyone else’s brother. Like all middle schoolers, Catherine struggles with blending in, and–because David is doesn’t pick up on social rules from watching people–her family often sticks out. Her parents say people don’t mind David’s odd behavior. Catherine insists that they do.

But, even while she sometimes resents David for all the attention he sucks from her parents and because he makes her feel awkward in front of her peers, Catherine and David do share a special kind of love. David feels safest when they are reciting dialogue from Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel, and I enjoyed those exchanges between the two siblings very much. I read on author Cynthia Lord’s website that she has an autistic son herself. Details like Frog and Toad really ring true. You can tell Lord really knows her stuff!

Meanwhile, at David’s occupational therapy appointment, Catherine makes friends with Jason, who is in a wheelchair and can only communicate by using word cards. Cynthia Lord wonderfully contrasts Catherine and Jason’s friendship with the friendship Catherine tries to form with her new next door neighbor, Kristi. Somehow, Catherine and Jason “gel” much more than Catherine and Kristi do. Jason’s friendship comes almost effortlessly, but with Kristi, Catherine tries hard to be “cool.” We all remember those days, and it is almost painful to read.

The extra details in this book really make it special for me. The Maine setting is fully established, as are the details of Catherine’s life, like how she organizes her room and her love of drawing. Catherine talks about how she enjoys turning over each new month of her Georgia O’Keefe calendar and that she has a small clothespin on the bottom of the calendar so that she doesn’t “cheat” and look ahead. I, too, LOVE turning over a new, fresh calendar page each month and I appreciate the details Lord puts in her book.

As I’m writing about this book, I’m thinking about just how MUCH is in it. I keep thinking: “Oh, I have to write about that! Oh, and that!” Rules is chock full of themes: family, friends, disabilities, acceptance. Rules would be a great book for a school book club or an English class. It’s a fun, quick read with great characters. But it also lends itself to great discussion! Go get yourself some Rules!

Oh, and one more thing: maybe it’s because of the seashore setting, but Rules really reminds me of Olive’s Ocean* by Kevin Henkes. Both are award-winning and both are gems. Get them together!

Side Note: I think I enjoyed Rules so much because I really relate to Catherine. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I relate to a lot of young female characters in middle grade fiction. Why is it that so many protagonists are shy and love reading? Maybe because authors bring their own experiences to their writing. Just for a change of pace, I’d like a story told from the point of view of a “popular” middle school girl who is athletic and has shiny hair. I know what it’s like to be a shy and bookish child. What’s it like to be outgoing and popular? Are there any books about those kids?

*Yuma County Library book

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Al’s Book Club for Kids

I, for one, am excited about Al Roker’s book club I think it’s fantastic that Al will bring publicity to books and reading in general. I just fininished watching the book club introduction on-line, and I love the enthusiasm for reading! I especially like the kid they interviewed who said he’s planning to read The Count of Monte Cristo this summer. Go kid! If Al’s book club gets parents and kids excited about reading, then I say “Hip hip hooray!” Of course, as parent myself, I can’t imagine not reading and not getting kids excited about reading. But, alas, I know that not all parents are reading freaks like I am. Too bad for them :)

I’ve been hearing about Hugo Cabret on blogs for months now. I confess I am a “trend reader.” If everyone else is reading it, I want to read it too! Now I’ll definitely have to get my hands on a copy of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Al Roker, if you’re out there, thanks!

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Books Really Can Save Your Life!

Look at this! Because of a children’s book, a boy in Alaska knew to call 911 when his mother collapsed! See, reading really can save your life! Take that, doubters!

I wonder what the title of the life-saving book is. Teddy’s still too young to really request a “favorite.” The one we read most often, though, is Where’s the Green Sheep. If he ever sees a “brave sheep” diving off the diving board or a “clown sheep” juggling, he will know what to do!

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