Vacation Reading

I know when I go on vacation I want something light and entertaining. That can be YA, middle grade, mystery, graphic novel, or fiction. Pretty much anything but nonfiction (unless it’s by Karen Abbott, because she writes about the opposite of dry history). I assumed my fellow Minnesotans acted similarly. But, according to the Star Tribune, who cited a study, Minnesotans like to read nonfiction while they vacation.

No. 1 for Minneapolis travelers, though, is this: nonfiction. We are the only ones.

According to the Smithsonian study, about 26 percent of travelers out of Minneapolis (and possibly St. Paul) carry along a nonfiction book to while away the time.

Unfortunately most of my family (aside from my parents) don’t read, so I can’t peek at what my cousins are reading while relaxing this Labor Day weekend. But I can tell you, I will be bringing Appleblossom the Possum (one of this years Maude Hart Lovelace contenders) and When Dimple Met Rishi (a book I’ve been eyeing for a while now, but just can’t get into).

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George

I really wanted to like George by Alex Gino. There are so few books about trans children, written for children, and these are important stories. However, it is so poorly written!

I’m going to copy and paste the Goodreads description here:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part. . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Aside from the poor writing, I did like that Melissa’s (the name George gave herself) story was not wrapped up perfectly. The ending was very realistic, but hopeful.

The War that Saved My Life

Oh my goodness. Why did I read this book so late? Seriously, it was so good! I already had my eye on it to fill a few spots in my reading challenges, but it also fit in perfectly with the class I took a few weeks ago. So, I downloaded the ebook off Cloud Library. At first it took me by surprise, since the narrator also narrated I’ve Got Your Number, which is a very different style of book.

The War that Saved My Life is about Ada, a young girl in 1940s London who was born with a club foot. Ada shares an apartment with her younger brother and her Mam, and while Jamie (her brother) and her mother can leave the apartment, Ada is confined to the one room at all times, because of her foot. Her foot is so bad she cannot walk and she crawls around the apartment. When Jamie comes home one day saying his school friends are going to be evacuated to the country because of World War II and the inevitable bombing of London, Ada decides it her opportunity to escape. She steals her mother’s shoes and she and Jamie slowly make their way to the train station. Once in the country, the two siblings are taken under the wing of Susan Smith and Ada learns not only how to read, write, and walk, but also about the power of love and family.

Ada’s story is absolutely heartbreaking. From being convinced her foot is her fault, to the beatings from her mother, to learning what grass is and how trees lose their leaves in winter. My only complaint is that the ending of the book wrapped up really quickly. I think it did a disservice to the lovely relationship building and introduction to the story.

PopSugar: A book by or about someone with a disability

Book Riot: A book about war

Farmers Market Storytimes

I love farmers markets. I don’t always buy stuff (except flowers), but I love the idea. This year, some librarians joined me in promoting the library at the farmers market. We’re lucky enough to work in a community where the farmers market organizers reached out to us first. I love that other organizations also want to partner with library and it’s not always us reaching out to them. Especially when I get to sit outside.

When I went to the farmers market I ran a storytime of sorts. I never had kids all at the same time, so it was mostly a “who wants to hear a story?” kind of situation, and I’d read books throughout my time at the market. At my last job I tried doing farming/vegetable/food related stories, but those are all long and not particularly engrossing. Especially when the storytime is surrounded by other more interesting distractions. So I went with some tried and true silly favorites. By far the most popular books I read were:

Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

New Socks by Bob Shea

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (surprise, surprise)

ACT Prep

As chair of my library system’s Teen Team, I created and led an ACT Prep class at my library a few Saturdays ago. One of our goals as a team is to encourage work and college readiness, in addition to encourage reading etc. Lucky for me, there is a great resource called Learning Express, and it actually has study guides, practice tests, flashcards, and breaks down the various parts of the test.

I showed attendees how to create an account and we clicked through the study resources in the website. They then took practice quizzes (you can take the full practice ACT Test or practice quizzes, and since we had 1.5 hours and not 3+ we did practice quizzes), and took notes on what they needed to practice. The other great thing about this resource, is everything is saved in your account. So if one of my attendees didn’t finish the science quiz, he or she could go home and log in (or go into the library after the program and log in) and finish the quiz, and they could do that as many times as needed!

I then went over some testing guidelines from the ACT website, like what calculators are allowed and where in our area the test is offered. While I can’t say the kids had fun at the program, it certainly was informative!

Behind Her Eyes

I’m not even sure where to begin this one! A friend of mine wrote about this book on her blog a while back and I put it on hold at the library. Months later I finally get a copy and I have completely forgotten why I put it on hold in the first place. I know I’m not actually going to read it, so I send it off to the next person in the line. Fast forward what feels like a month or two, but in reality was probably a week, maybe two, and I start reading and hearing all about Grip Lit. Suddenly I have a huge desire to read a Grip Lit novel and the only one available to me on Cloud Library is Behind Her Eyes. I started reading and could not stop. I finished in just over 24 hours.

Behind Her Eyes tells the story of Louise, a single mother in London who has a one night stand with a guy on a rare night at the bar. Later she discovers that man is her new boss, David. When she runs into her boss’s wife and starts up an unlikely friendship, Louise finds herself drawn more and more into the mysterious lives of David and Adele. What secrets are they hiding? Why does Adele seems so afraid of David? Why doesn’t Adele have any other friends?

While the writing wasn’t amazing or anything and the whole plot basically revolves around Louise making stupid choices, it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought I had it all figured out too (parts of the story reminded me of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger), but then that last chapter came… and all I can say is WOW!

If you’re looking for something that will suck you in, and maybe break that reading lull you’re going through (I’m still off and on the reading bandwagon recently) this is the book for you!

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator

Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge: A book in a genre you usually avoid

Cream of the Crop

Last week I took a class for my never ending journey towards a certificate in Children’s Lit. Why this seems like a never ending journey is a story for another day. However, it was interesting to discuss the merits of the different youth literature awards and their purpose. For homework we all read books that won various awards or were honor books for their years. I read George by Alex Gino and The War that Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley.

As the only public librarian in the class, the instructor thought I’d have an advantage over the rest of the class in familiarity with the various awards. I did know more than the rest of the class, but I’m not sure why a public librarian knows about more awards than school librarians. I guess I understand knowing more categories than teachers, but even that’s a stretch.

Anyway, there are a lot more literary awards out there than I realized. And some seem redundant. There are two nonfiction awards. Why? And the Geisel Award for early readers seems very vague to me. But, maybe that’s just me.