Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Brooklyn Nine Alan Gratz

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz - This is the story of the Schneider family told through nine innings of baseball. Nine innings nine generations. There story begins in 1845 with 10 year old German who immigrates to Brooklyn, NY. The Schneider's, (down the line daugthers are born and the last name changes) loves the game of baseball, it's in their blood. The nine Schneider's all get three chapters (at bats) to tell their story. It was easy for me to lose myself in this novel. Yes, its partly because I love baseball but Gratz has created fully developed characters. A lot of research went into this novel. From the baseball stand point, as the decades past, the rules of baseball as we known today are flushed out. In 1864 some Union soldier's including Louis Schneider, take a break to play a game. They agree that catching the ball on the fly is an out (new fly rule) but they vote gets Ned Cuthbert's introduction of stolen bases. In 1908 Arnold Schneider watches a came played by Black players who pretend they're Cuban so White hotel guest can enjoy the game without having to admit they're watching Negroes play. Though Arnold can see the talent of the pitcher, he calls the game for what it is, a minstrel show. Arnold tries to sneak the Black pitcher into the league claiming he's Native American. Black players putting on silly shows, or crazy outfits while playing or pretending to be anything but Black so they could play in the majors is a large part of baseball history. Gratz's has open the door for young readers to discover more about the Negro leagues and The All American Girls Baseball League. In 1945 Kat Snider plays short stop for Grand Rapids Chicks. I'll point out one more thing (for baseball fans) Gratz mentions the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers game in which Bob Herman hits the ball with the bases loaded and some how three players end up on third base at the same time I've heard great things about this book all year and it lives up to all the praise. Like any great baseball story The Brooklyn Nine is filled with heart.
Other reviews with less emphasis on baseball

Sunday, May 24, 2009

M+O 4EVR Tonya Hegamin

M+O 4EVR by Tonya Hegamin One of the great things about participating in C.O.R.A Roll Call besides the chance to win books is reading other bloggers post. In a recent Roll Call about YA books, Summer mentions M+O 4Evr. Seeing the cover on her page reminded me I wanted to read this novel. This was published in 2008 and is Hegamin's first novel. Opal and Marianne were best friends before their first steps. Somewhere along the way Opal fell in love with Marianne. Before Opal could save Marianne, she commits sucide. Opal uses her memories and family to come to terms with her loss. This book is only 165 pages but somehow Hegamin has written one of the most diverse novels I've read in a while. Marianne's mother is Dutch and used to live in an Amish country. The only thing Marianne ever knew about her father was that he was Black. As Opal remember's we can see that Marianne is ridiculed for being biracial in a small town. The novel alternates between Opal's memories and the love story of a slave named Hannah. Growing up Opal's grandmother told Opal and Marianne the story of the runaway slave who fell in love with a Native American. Opal's grandmother is dating the one eligible White man of a certain age. The other women who would love to date Roscoe, are not too happy with this interracial relationship. I quickly lost myself in Hegamin's smooth and easy writing. As much as I liked Opal I loved Marrianne. I have my finger crossed that the author will go back and revisit Marrianne, giving her a book of her own. There are a lot of YA books released in 2009 about a dead parent, sibling, or best friend. Only two have stood out to me so far - Forman's If I Stay and Kephart's Nothing But Ghosts. I loved both for different reasons. After about the fourth or fifth book dealing with a loss, I said no more for sixth month. So I will admit to cringing when I read the inside flap of M+O 4 Evr. After reading the first page I worried no more. I knew this one would rise above the others like Forman's and Kephart's. One thing all three novels have in common - the author's don't use the loss of the main character as a crutch. They remember to make the reader feel not with a loss but rather their words. M+O 4Evr is a wonderful first novel. Ages 12up

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Go Read This Right Now

Author Zetta Elliott is kindly sharing chapters of WIP. It's so freakin beautiful. Its about a about a boy named Pepe who loves dolls and the art of making them. So go read this right now. If you like it, like I know you will leave a comment. Don't just read the goodness and not say thank you. Chapter 2 is up as well, enjoy. Thanks Zetta

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shining Star: The Anna May Story Paula Yoo Lin Wang

Shining Star :The Anna May Story by Paula Yoo illus. Lin Wang. Before I saw this book over at Lee and Low I never thought about the first Asian movie star in Hollywood. Though Anna May story is eerily familiar to first African American movie stars. Being forced to take on stereotypical roles that portray her people in a negative light. Being hate by her people for taking on such roles. Having to work with a White actor made up in "yellow face" to look Asian. Moving to Europe for a few years and finding more acceptance there than in the States. Being denied a roll that was intended for an Asian actress (The Good Earth), since actors of color couldn't kiss white costars. I love the action and aww of the first page. Anna May is daydreaming., she is tied to the train tracks and the train is almost upon her. That in itself should pull in any reader. Wang's illustration's are beautiful. Everything from the dresses, to hairstyles and film equipment is true to the times. I don't know what I enjoyed more a young Anna May's love of movies, or Anna May the actress. Anna May had many difficult decision to make in her life. After a visit to China, she refused to accept any more films that showed the Chinese in an unsympathetic light. Yoo and Wang have collaborated to created a wonderful biography about the first Chinese actress that will hold any ones interest. Ages 7up

If you've never done so, check out LeeandLow books, publishers of multicultural children's books. I love their site, its very easy to maneuver. Once you click on a title of interest, there is an extensive synopsis. As well as interest and reading level. They link to any review and comments. Which I love because its means one less search. Also there is almost always an interview with the author about the book.

Also I want to point out another publisher of multicultural children's literature that I learned about over at Color Online just yesterday. Shen Books emphasizes cultural diversity with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann This is a new release from Curbstone Press, a non profit publisher of Latin American and Latino literature. It's 1986, 17yr old Daniel Aguilar lives in Wisconsin, with his mother and younger sister. The Aguilar's fled their native country of Chile, 6 years earlier after the secret police came in the middle of the night and arrested Daniel's father, Marcelo. At the time Chile was under the rule of Augusto Pinochet . Marcelo risked his life to expose Pinochet's unjust government. I was unfamiliar with Chiliean politics or government when I started Gringolandia. However the author includes notes about Chiliean government prior to the first chapter, giving the reading of a better understanding of the climate the Aguliar's were living in. Daniel's adjusted well to life in Wisconsin. He plays guitar in a band and gets good grades and has a girlfriend. Everything changes for Aguilar's when Marcelo is finally released from prison. In the opening chapters the author describes some of the torture, Marcelo experiences in prison. At times I cringed at the way Marcelo was treated. As the novel continued I was glad the author talked of Marcelo's time in a Chiliean prison, it made it easier for me to understand why he had hard time transitioning into life in America. Marcelo's discomfort upsets the balance in the Aguilar household. Daniel is rediscovering his father and finally realizing why his father would risk his freedom. The chapters alternate between Daniel and his girlfriend Courtney, who has a story of her own. Far from his homeland Marcelo doesn't stop fighting for it. He goes on talks across the country in hopes of bringing awareness to what's going on in Chile. There is no stopping Marcelo, Daniel must decide whether or not to help him. Will Daniel risk his life to help his father sneak back into his homeland? I really enjoyed Gringolandia. Towards the end it was nice watching Daniel find some of his father inside of himself.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

C.O.R.A Diversity Roll Call

This week Diversity Roll Call is being hosted by Ali over at Worducopia. In honor of Children's Book Week, we must choose a kids book, - "could be an old favorite you remember from your childhood, or a new one that just came out. Could be a comic book or fairy tale or a ghost story. Whatever strikes you. Did/does the world of the story match with your world? How do you think it contributes to a child's world view? Do the characters' looks, values, social status, reflect the diversity of our world? Would it change the meaning of the story if the characters were different?"
So I spent the first few days thinking about what book to choose. Growing up I don't remember there being picture books in the house. Though my dad was always reading, he kept a few NF titles in the house. He also read at least two newspapers a day. Usually the NYT and the Amsterdam News. So reading was such a natural thing to do. I finally decided to go with The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel. I just have warm memories about the Frog and Toad books. I always enjoyed what good friends they where to each other. Frog always thought of Toad first and vice versa. They also listened to each other. Sometimes when I hear other peoples conversations, I'll noticed a person isn't really listening but rather waiting for their turn to speak again. Frog and Toad could try new things without having to worry about being laughed at or feeling embarrassed. The Frog and Toad stories teach kindness and patience. They went for walks a lot probably because they were a frog and a toad. Still its nice to think child may want talk a walk or plant a garden, because they read a Frog and Toad story. Since the characters are animals I never associated them with a particular race. They were simply a frog and a toad. That's probably one of the things I enjoyed about the series growing up. Check out the books you can win for simply participating in C.O.R.A Diversity Roll Call or The Diversity Rocks Challenge If you win you'll get 5 books Look Free Books

Book Contest Enter to Win 9 Titles

Lenore over at Presenting Lenore , is offering up a Penguin Reality Prize Pack which includes 9 yet to be released titles. She's accepting entries until June 3 The contest

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paul Robeson Eloise Greenfield

Paul Robeson by Eloise Greenfield, illus. George Ford. Before I even get to the book, I'll begin with the author. Whenever I say Eloise Greenfield name its filled with aww, reverence and thanks. The same goes for Virginia Hamilton and Faith Ringgold. I can't even imagine what these authors had to go through to get published. The least I could do is give them the respect they deserve. Now back to the book. Paul Robeson was orignally published in 1975 and awarded a Coretta Scott King Honor. It was re-released this year by LeeandLowBooks Before I read this I only thought of Paul Robeson as an singer/actor. I didn't realize he was a football player, lawyer and activist as well. The Communist Party is mentioned, this is the first time I've since this Party referenced in a children's book. Greenfield has written a wonderful biography about Paul Robeson. Its a great introduction to Robeson for all ages beginning at 6

She Won I'll Cheer for a Philly but not the Phillies

The Preakness race was today, and no I don't follow horse racing. But this was to good a story not to follow

A Philly, Rachel Alexandra won the race. She is the first Philly to win the Preakness since 1924. Usually only Stallions race. And still the drama contiunes earlier this month the Kentucky Derby was won by Mind That Bird. The odds of this horse winning was 50 -1. I don't know what was worse the horse's odds of winning or his name. Mind that Bird's Jockey for the Derby was Calvin Borel. Even though Mind That Bird won, shocking everyone Borel decided to jump horses and ride Rachel Alexandra for the Preankness. So check out the race if you like, and you never know what my sports post will come in handy for trivia.

I am really glad the Philly won because now I have an excuse to post this.

And if you have it in you to watch one more clip check out the Derby race. Its pretty cool to see Mind that Bird come come from the way back. I always love it when you can hear the surprise in an announcer's voice. Sports announcers have seen pretty much everything so its great when the unexpected happens, and their voices go all high and the fan comes out.

Finally, a late add where I pull it back to the book - The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard is the story of Jimmy Winkfield the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby. Its a great book with wonderful illustrations. My review

Friday, May 15, 2009

Me With You Kristin Dempsey Christopher Denise

Me with You by Kristin Dempsey , illus. by Christopher Denise This picture book came in last week, it didn't even make it to the shelf before I scooped it up to read. I loved it so much, the other day when I found it myself on the author's blog, I gushed like a little girl at a boy band concert in her comment box. While reading couldn't help but let out little sighs of happiness . This is one of the best text/illustration pairings I've seen in a while. Me With You celebrates the grandparent/grandchild relationship. Dempsey tells a wonderful rhythmic story. Using no more than five sentences per page. Me with You was simply a joy to read. Denise's beautiful illustrations, make it that much warmer. He expresses so much emotion in the characters faces. Even though the book is about a grandfather/granddaughter, I think it will work very well as father/daughter picture books. I actually thought it was a father and daughter until I read the inside flap.
Ages 3up

Great interview of Christopher Denise @ Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nikki & Deja Karen English Laura Freeman

Nikki & Deja by Karen English illus by Laura Freeman This is the first book in the early chapter series starring best friends Nikki and Deja. I really like this series. I reviewed the second book Nikki & Deja Birthday Blues earlier in the year. In this first book English introduces us to Nikki & Deja, we learn little things like their favorite color and what they do on Saturday mornings. I think these little everyday things are important especially for a book series, it allows the reader to feel more connected to the characters. Antonia a new girl moves next door, and she's not very nice. Nikki and Deja decide to form a drill team and not include Antonia. Four girls tryout and everyone is happy except Nikki, who can't dance. Deja's and Nikki get into a fight and don't talk for a few days. Nikki begins a new club with Antonia. English has given adults a great way to open up a conversation with young readers about cliquish clubs and what it means to exclude others for no reason. English's writing is very good, she does a great job of hitting her target audience. One scene I loved is when Nikki & Deja run into their teacher at the supermarket. They are shocked to she her out of the classroom and decide to follow her. Laura Freeman's illustrations though sparse are very good. She expresses a lot of emotion in the characters eyes. It looks like pencil though I am not sure. Freeman easily incorporates a diverse group of kids when drawing Nikki & Deja's classmates. This book is now available in paperback
Ages 7 up

I and I Bob Marley Tony Medina Jesse Joshua Watson

I and I Bob Marley by Tony Medina illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson Medina tells Marley's story in 17 poems. Beginning with Marley's birth in Nine Miles. Medina shines a light on a very influential musician/activist. Marley's music and his message of peace touched many people. Medina easily conveys this so young readers will know Bob Marley was more than a great voice. Jesse Joshua Watson's gorgeous illustrations are a perfect fit to Medina's text. Watson's illustrations are strong enough to stand alone. Without reading a single word there's still a story. Its in Marley's young eyes of wonder or the man with the half open coconut and the smile on his face, or an adult Marley holding broken chains with a look of no more on his face. This beautiful book was made with love, I say that based off the very detailed the notes. Only an author who cared enough would take the time to expand on all 17 poems. A few things Medina gives us in the notes - what Rastafarianism is and its beginnings. How Jamaica was formed, and how Africans came to inhabit the island. The beginnings of Reggae music. Ages 7 up

This book is published by Lee and Low Books - On their website there's a wonderful interview with the author and illustrator about the book. You should check it out. Oh wait here it is -
Tony Medina and Jesse Joshua Watson on I and I Bob Marley

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lucy the Giant Sherri L. Smith

Lucy the Giant by Sherri L Smith, I read and loved Smith's new release Flygirl and from all the great reviews it receiving I know I am not the only one. So I decided to read something else by Smith. Lucy the Giant is her first YA novel. Though Flygirl was more polished ( and it should be, its Smith fourth novel) Lucy is tall for her 15 yrs, in her small Alaskan town she's known as Lucy the giant. Lucy lives with her alcoholic father, her mother left when she was seven. Lucy doesn't have the best life, she's ignored by her father and teased by her classmates. After Lucy's stray dog dies, she decides to leave her small town. Lucy uses her height to her advantages and pretends to be an adult. Lucy get a job on a fisherman's ship as a crabber. After reading this book, I think crab should be more expensive. Crabbing is a very dangerous. This is where Smith writing shines in Lucy the Giant. The time and care she takes in showing what fishermen go through and the dangers they face. Many people contribute to making this country what it is, and its nice to read a story that focuses on people who don't get much attention like Alaskan fishermen. Remember this was written before the Discovery channel show Deadliest Catch. Lucy catches on fairly quickly to the work and begins to make friends. I really enjoyed Lucy the Giant, Lucy is a very believable character.

Diversity Roll Call/ Win Free Books not 1 but 5

Diversity Roll Call week #6 is being hosted by Susan over at Color Online We are asked to focus on YA fiction. Addressing one or a few of the following: 1) Provide a list of YA writers of color that you think deserve more exposure.2) Showcase cover art that does not reveal the race/ethnicity of the characters. Do you think these covers accurately represent the storyline? 3) Spotlight sub-genre YA fiction with teens of color i.e. graphic novels, romance, mystery, fantasy and science fiction.4) Briefly discuss YA novels with teens of color but race is not a dominant factor in the story.5) If you don't read YA fiction, do a little research and report back on a YA novel/comic you intend to read in the future.
If I do question 1. I may not stop, so I've decided to do 2 and 4

2) Showcase cover art that does not reveal the race/ethnicity of the characters. Do you think these covers accurately represent the storyline?

One of the first books I thought of was Girl Overboard by Justina Headley, The main character Syrah Cheng is Chinese but for the cover they don't focus on her race but rather her love of snowboarding. The cover is great and its a perfect fit for the novel. Its a teenage girl holding a snowboard looking down on a mountain.

I loved Sherri Smith's Flygirl, so I went back and read her first novel Lucy the Giant, and it works perfectly for this Roll Call for questions 2 and 4. In Lucy the Giant, 15 yr old Lucy is big for her age and she ends up running away and working on a crab boat. The cover depicts black rubber work boots, a fisherman net and a hand reaching down. I unsure what the hand is suppose to signify, though I do like this cover. I think the white back drop with the boots and fisherman's net is intriguing than you add a title that hints at a female giant, I think it would be hard for a reader not to at least glance at this book.

4) Briefly discuss YA novels with teens of color but race is not a dominant factor in the story.

I'll begin where I ended, with Lucy the Giant, Smith makes mentions Lucy brown skin once. Lucy the Giant has nothing to do with the characters race but everything to do with her height. 15yr old Lucy is over 6 feet tall and her fathers drinking problem.

A la Carte by Tanita Davis - 17 yr old Lainey dreams of having her own vegetarian cooking show. I love the fact that Lainey is Black but the author doesn't try to do anything to prove this,she just is who she is. The fact that Lainey is Black doesn't have any bearing on this story or her dreams.

Finally The Making of Dr. TrueLove by Derrick Barnes. Diego is trying to figure out a way to win his girlfriend back. Diego's best friend convinces him to take on an online relationship persona. Susan and Edi, like it or not you must agree it has nothing to do with race.

Free Books

Ali is upping the book giveaway to get more people to participate with Roll Call and Diversity Rocks. Up for grabs two sets of five books. One set by Latino authors and the second set by Asian authors. And if you win you don't get one book but all five. Yes people, you can win five books for simply doing a few Roll Calls or linking a few diverse titles. So go check out what titles could be yours for the low low price of free. Diversity Rocks

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blog Award

KB the ruler over at The Brain Lair sent the Kreative Blogger Award, my way. Rules:Post 7 things you love Give award to 7 other bloggers who are creative.
7 Things I love

1. Words

2. Artistic expression in any form

3. My families forgiveness and love

4. Trees

5. The chirping birds outside my bedroom window

6. Dancing for no reason

7. Peace

And I will just pretend I don't see the other rule and let it stop right here. Thanks again KB,

Monday, May 11, 2009

Being Nikki Meg Cabot

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot, I was really looking forward to this sequel to Airhead which I loved. This not so much. The first book I read by Cabot was When Lightning Strikes ,that was way back when the book was still listed under Cabot's pen name of Jenny Carroll. Whoever the author I loved the 1-800 -Where- R - You Series. I've been a Cabot fan ever since. In the first book Airhead, after a bizarre accident a tomboy, Em Watts brain is transplanted into the body of Nikki Howard, a teenage supermodel. I know it sounds strange but Airhead was really good. So I was looking forward to reading Being Nikki. This story never went anywhere for me. Em as Nikki simply seemed to be repeating herself. More than once Em as Nikki talks about how evil Stark Enterprises is, and what they would do to her parents if anyone found out the truth about the transplant. Em as Nikki was constantly mentioning listening devices planted by SE. Em keeps going on about her best friend Christopher and if he will ever see that on the inside Nikki Howard was Em Watts. Because this was by Cabot, I kept reading a lot longer than I would've most books hoping it would get better. I did finish the last few chapters but I skimmed the middle. So far from the reviews I've read on Being Nikki everyone else loves it. So I will stand alone in my unlike, it won't stop me from looking forward to the next Cabot book. Though I'll pass on the next book in this series.

Eyes Like Stars Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev Before I start telling you how great this book is I will begin with the cover, a Jason Chan original. When I saw the Eyes Like Stars cover, my first thought was what a lovely cover, but I don't think that's a book I'd like. Yes, I did judge Eyes Like Stars by its cover but its okay to do that with books just not people. But still there was something about the cover that made me read the book synopsis.

"Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She's not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. Until now. Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book--an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family--and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known."

It sounded strange and different, just the type of book I would love. 17 yr old Beatrice has grown up in Theatre Illuminata but now she must prove her worth or she will be put out on the street. Beatrice decides to become a director and she has less than a week to put on a play. I don't even have the words to tell you how lovely this book is. Mactchev has filled this books with some very interesting characters. There are the four Midsummer Nights fairies who stay close to Beatrice throughout the book. All the fairies are male except one. There's also the young pirate Nate, who Beatrice like. For protection Nate convinces Beatrice to wear a scrimshaw charm around her neck. When Beatrice touches the charm she can see the true intention behind any ones word. Eyes Like Stars is beautifully different like James Kennedy's Order of the Odd Fish. I loved the rhythm of Eyes Like Stars, at the end there's a play within a play and it works so well. Manctchev writing is wonderful. I happily and easily lost myself in Eyes Like Stars. I highly recommend it. Ages 12up The book will be released in July.

While you wait if check out
The Order of Odd-Fish by James Kennedy - Another beautifully different book, I loved.
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson - I really enjoyed this . Not so different like the other two but still far from common. Like Eyes Like Stars Suite Scarlett as a play and some drama.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Knights of the Hill Country Tim Tharp

Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp This book was published in 2006. About a week ago I saw this book mentioned on Lori's blog Get in the Game- Read. It reminded me that I wanted to read Knights of the Hill Country. Now I am very thankful for that reminder because it was a wonderful book. Hampton is a straight talker, with a Midwest twang. Like Texas, in Oklahoma football is only second to God, the book opens with Hampton speaking of the pressure his teammates face trying to go undefeated for a fifth season.

"Every game this season, the pressure weighed down more and more. It was carrying around a sack full of rocks, only every time you got to thinking you could lay it down, someone would throw another sack full of bigger rocks up on top of you. If we could keep it going this would be Kennisaw's fifth undefeated season in a row. For thirty some years, no knights team had strung together that many wins, and them old-time players from back then was still heroes around the hill country of eastern Oklahoma. More than just.hereos, they were flat out legends"

Hampton understands at the end of the season, his team will either be legends or weighed down for life by one loss. This book is about so much more than football. Tharp gives us all the sides of Hampton. He's a star on the football field but doesn't let it go to his head. He is quiet guy, who has trouble finding the right answers in class or the right words for girls. He's loyal to his best friend Blaine and his father, even though it might time to for some distance. He likes Sara, a girl his friends wouldn't approve of.

"But the way she looked at me, it was like she seen something in me nobody else did. I wasn't sure what it was she seen, but it felt good, like stepping out on the porch on a summer morning and its already warm. A whole new day waiting on you. Course, that wasn't something I could tell her. I could bowl over a hundred blockers and plow down quarterback after quarterback, but I couldn't hardly say two words to this little five foot four inch tall girl."

Tharp has written a wonderful story about change, consequences and choices. I highly recommand The Knights of the Hill Country. There is so much to love about it. Ages 11up

Q&A with Tharp
Bookslut in Training review

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Lemonade War Jacqueline Davies

The Lemonade War Jacqueline Davies, I was excited when I saw this book was now available in paperback. I didn't get a chance to read in hardcover, though I really wanted to, I read some great reviews, including the one over at Fuse#8 . This book was definitely worth the wait. Five days of summer left, Evan and his younger sister, Jessie, engage in a lemonade war. Whoever sells the most lemonade gets to keep all the money. Normally, the two get along, with Evan always looking out for Jessie. This upcoming school year, Jessie is skipping the third grade. Now Evan will be in the same class as his younger sister. He doesn't take this news well. The two agree to the lemonade war for different reasons. Evan to prove he can beat his younger sister. Jessie to show Evan, she's not a child. The chapters are short and alternate between siblings. Allowing the reader to see the point of view from both characters perspectives. The chapters are named after financial terms which are defined at the beginning of each chapter. With chapter headers like joint venture, underselling, and slump, the Lemonade War is great middle grade book about finances. I really enjoyed this book. Evan and Jessie are very different but both are very likeable characters. Davies writing was great, and you'll want to keep reading to see who wins the war. Lemonade War would make a great boy/girl book club read. Fans of Andrew Clements will enjoy this book. Ages 8up

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Say Hey, Happy Birthday Willie Mays

Baseball great Willie Mays is celebrating 78th birthday today. It gives me a good reason to show May's classic catch. Willie Mays played in the Negro leagues, got over 94% of the vote for the hall of fame, is Barry Bonds godfather, and a class act. Happy Birthday Willie Mays.

Two middle grade reads Willie Mays is mentioned in,

Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park
The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

On a related note, I believe I pulled something in my throat cheering for my team tonight. Pitching duels are great unless its your team. When its your team its hard to, breathe, talk or watch. The later the game goes without a score the churning in your stomach will not be ignored. Its even harder when its against a divisional rival. My Mets where playing the Phillies. If you know nothing about baseball its along the lines of Cubs/Cardinals, or Yankees/Red Sox. If those two references don't help, I am sorry there is nothing I can do for you. Any how in the 7th inning it was still scoreless. The Mets were playing at home, and the home team always bats last in the inning, that way the home team gets the last up in the game. (A part of home field advantage) Bottom of 7th, Mets first baseball Delgaldo gets a leadoff walkout. The next two players are out quickly. So its two outs and a man on first. Tatis, a pitch hitter (PH) is up to bat, he hits a weak ball to the Phillies 3rd baseman. The 3rd baseman should've ate the ball (not thrown it ) because he was not going to make the play. Instead he rushes the play and throws it over the first baseman. Allowing Delgado to score from first. Delgado is not young, and his knees are not the best. They are no where near Kirk Gibson territory but still for Delgado to score from first on an error throw with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in a scoreless game , against a rival team that won the World Series last year, is definitely worth a primal deep down scream that threatens my vocal cords. And of course the Mets won, if they didn't I wouldn't have posted this. So I'll go to sleep tonight with a sore throat but it was totally worth it. If you've read this entire post and you're not a baseball fan congrats. You never know it may come in handy for trivia one day. I need some tea

Willie Mays may not have a chocolate bar named after him, but there is this jazzy song.

Enter to Win Perfect Chmeistry

Edi over at Crazy Quilts, has done a great Cinco de Mayo countdown. Go check it out, and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival

The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival by Dene Low Set in London in the early 1900’s Petronella has just turned 16 and is preparing to have her coming out party. Her guardian Uncle Augustus is quite normal until he swallows a beetle. He than develops an appetite for insects. Petronella has her 16th birthday party in a tent, which collapses on everyone when Uncle Augustus tries to catch a moth. Two very important guest are kidnapped in the confusion. Petronella takes it upon herself to solve the mystery, with the help of her Uncle, Joan her best friend, and Joan’s brother James. Petronella is witty, smart and quick on her feet. Petronella is woman enough to look forward to her coming out party and get into a little mischief with her best friend. Many times female characters must choose prim and proper or rebellious, its nice to see two characters who can embrace both sides. Not only does Petronella have to solve this mystery, she must also hide her Uncle’s condition from her visiting aunts. They would love to get their hands on her inheritance. This book is filled with great characters and the language is so much fun.

“There are moments when all motion is slowed so that a split second seems stretched out to a lifetime. Such interludes allow one to contemplate the meaning of life and perhaps absorb enough of the entailing circumstances so that one may make wiser decisions than would otherwise be possible. This was not one of those moments. Great aunt Theophilia lost her dignity enough to lunge toward the tray, hand outstretched. However, she clasped only Aunt Cordelia’s fingers, which clutched empty air because Moriarty had moved the silver tray just enough in my direction so that I could snatch the note myself. I would have sworn Moriarty winked at me as he did so, but I discounted such a gesture as beyond my stoic butler’s capabilities” (From Arc)

There were times when I couldn’t help but think of the classic board game Clue. When the butler was accused I nearly lost it. This book was so much fun to read, I loved it. Scheduled to be released in June

Ghost Town Richard W. Jennings.

Ghost Town by Richard W. Jennings 13 yr old Spencer Honesty is the last kid left in Paisley Kansas. He and his mom are the last two people left in Paisley. Spencer has his imaginary friend an Indian named Chief Leopard Frog to keep him company. When I first read the book summary, I had my doubts. I couldn’t help wondering how in the hell is the author going to pull this off, and make me care about the last boy in a town. It was that same feeling I got when I heard the plot for Cast Away, and we all know how that turned out for Tom Hanks. Not only did Jennings pull it off, he does it quickly with style. The author has created a very enduring character in Spencer, he is smart, funny, insightful, thoughtful, loveable and not afraid to cry. He is our tour guide of a town that has disappeared. Spence tells of his neighbors, the factory that held the town together and the politics that goes into destroying a small town. Spence starts taking pictures of Paisley with his father’s old camera. Some former residents begin to appear in his photos. In an effort to better understand the camera’s power Spence writes to Swartzman, a businessman in the Cayman Island. The two exchange letters back and forth eventually becoming business partners. Their letters are one of the many things I loved about this book. There’s also Chief Leopard Frog’s not so lucky craved talisman. Spencer is has one no him when he falls 16ft breaking his collarbone. Spence is pretty much left on his own to recover.

“It didn’t take long for me to learn two pain pills will help pass the time better than one, and three could get me through an afternoon. I began to complain of increasing pain simply to get more pills. No one questioned my motives. Who cares if there’s a kid in the country somewhere getting more medication than he needs? Certainly no the overworked (and overpaid) Dr. Appletree. Certainly not the ever changing pharmacists at Wal Mart. That I spent my days in a drug induced stupor is adequately demonstrated in the several out of focus pictures that came back to me in the mail a fortnight later. (from Arc)

Ghost Town is a wonderful must read. Reluctant reader friendly ages 12 up. Scheduled to be released in June.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

More About Me.

I was interviewed by author James Preller. We cyber met last year, after I sent him an email letting him know how much I loved his middle grade novel Six Innings. At the time we had both recently started our blogs. Check it out the interview. And if you haven't visited James site before make sure you read at least one Fan Mail. Thanks again James it was fun.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Strong Right Arm Michelle Green

A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson by Michelle Y. Green Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues and the only pitcher. Green is the first to tell Johnson's story. The two met at a Negro League Baseball shop. I could just imagine Green and Johnson getting together for a few months. Mamie "Peanut" Johnson telling her story while Green patiently listened, asking a few questions for clarification. Beginning with the introduction, its only Mamie's voice we hear throughout. Mamie tells of her early years, being raised by her grandmother and her Uncle Leo teaching her how to pitch. Mamie refused to let her gender and race stop her from playing the game she loved. Mamie's arm was too good for everyone ignore. Some of Mamie's early years where spent in N.J. where she was the only female and African American player for Police Athletic League. They won the championship two years straight. As Mamie got older, she continued to find teams to play on. Once Mamie and Rita, a teammate went to try out for the All American Girls. The female league that inspired the movie A League of Their Own. The two weren't even allowed to step on the field. That didn't stop Mamie, she continued to play. She was finally spotted by scout for the Indianapolis Clowns, a Negro League Baseball team. Mamie played three years with the team. The other two female players - Toni Stone and Connie Morgan played for the Clowns as well. Mamie lists her careers numbers at the end, even without that I knew she had to be a great pitcher. A man who scouted Hank Aaron gave Mamie his seal of approval. Sathcel Paige told Mamie she had some good stuff and took the time to teach her a curveball. That is all I needed to know about Mamie "Peanut" Johnson's arm. A Strong Right Arm was such a joy to read and a must for any baseball fan.
This would go nicely with The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane. About a girl who pitches for her eight grade baseball team.

On March 27,2009- 17 yr old Eri Yoshida made history. She is the first female professional baseball player in Japan. Yoshida is a pitcher with a sidearm knuckleball.

And you have Apryl to thank for the two additional baseball stories.

C.O.R.A Diversity Roll Call

This week C.O.R.A Diversity Roll Call is being hosted over at Color Online In honor of the May being Asian Heritage month, we are to focus on an author from that region. I'll going to mention two books, one I read years ago, and the other I finished recently. When I first heard the call my first thought was Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama I read this years ago and absoultely loved it. I still enjoy recommading it to customers. When I picked it up I knew nothing about the book. Though I did assume it would be set in Japan because of the author's last name. When I discovered it set in 1926 China, I fliped to the authors bio page in the back. Gail Tsukiyma has a Chinese mother and Japanese father. Women of the Silk is the story of a group of women who work in a silk factory and are bonded by friendship. Tsukiyama writing was close to perfect. I was reminded of Ann Patchett's writing in Bel Canto. Both authors went with a make every word count approach. I cried so hard at the end of Women of the Silk. The author truly made me care about the characters.
I recently finished The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang Its set in 90's Beijing Mei Wang a former police officer is now a private investigator. You may not know this about me but I love mysteries. P.I. ones are some of my favorites especially ones with female progtaginist. Mei Wang is a smart and independent woman who doesn't worry about what other people think. She hired a male assistant from the country which is very unheard of. A close family friend Uncle Chen hires Mei to find jade that was supposedly destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Eye of Jade is a great modern day mystery that touches upon China's history. Mei Wang has all the important characteristics of a P.I. The author, Diane Wei Lang was born in China and spent part of her childhood with her parents in a China labor camp.