Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Buddies: Year in Review

It's hard to believe that the first year of the Book Buddies Book Club is over! I love reading great books and having the opportunity to talk about them with other people so I was very excited to start a book club during my first year here in Newport. It's been an exciting year and I thought I'd take a moment to reflect back on the highlights and all that we've accomplished...

We started in November with three very enthusiastic members and the wonderful novel, Olivia Kidney by Ellen Potter. I have loved the Olivia Kidney series since the first one came out in 2003 and I decided right away that this was the one to start with. Olivia is such a fun and quirky character and she meets so many interesting people in her New York City apartment building that I knew the club would enjoy reading it. I was absolutely blown away when Ellen Potter called me after seeing the book on our blog and offered to talk with the club members at our meeting. It was such a thrill to call her and talk with her about the book and about her life as a writer and such a great way to start the year! It's so unusual that an author reaches out to their readers in this way and we were all so grateful for the experience.

Then in December we read The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements and we gained a new member of the club. In January we followed with The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin and another author interview this time by email. At our meeting we brainstormed a list of questions for Ms. Lin and then emailed them to her. She graciously took the time to answer each question thoroughly and thoughtfully and allowed me to post the interview on our blog. We also did a craft project for the first time and made Year of the Dog banners - we had lots of fun with gold glitter!

February brought us Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos and our first book that club members didn't totally embrace which provided us with lots of interesting discussion. We also made another craft - key shaped doorknob hangers. March was all about The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler and for our third craft we made bracelets with sea charms. During this time our numbers continued to grow and we had seven enthusiastic club members.

Then came The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles in April, a book all about baseball and poetry, and another book that club members didn't like as much as some of our other selections. This was surprising to me as it is one of my favorites, but differing opinions always make for a more interesting discussion and I enjoyed hearing everyone's remarks. For our last craft project we made baseball picture frames.

Finally, we've ended the year on another high note with the charming story, The Penderwicks: a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. We gained another new club member, bringing our total to eight(!) and finished up with another author telephone interview. Ms. Birdall was absolutely delightful and took the time to answer all of our questions.

I want to thank Ms. Potter, Ms. Lin and Ms. Birdsall for their time and willingness to be involved with our book club. It is so important to know that authors aren't mysterious and unreachable but normal, wonderful people who are accessible - all you have to do is ask. It meant a lot to me personally and to the book club that they all made themselves available and were so friendly and encouraging. Thank you!

I can't believe the year is over already but I've had such a wonderful time getting to know everyone, working on this blog and reading some great books. Thanks to all the Book Buddies members who came each month with their enthusiasm and excitement. I'm really looking forward to starting up again in September so be sure to keep an eye to the blog and to the Newport Public Library's website for details as we get closer. I also plan to continue the blog over the summer with posts about summer reading and anything book-related that crosses my desk. In the meantime have a great summer, come visit me at the library and keep reading!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

May Meeting

The Penderwicks = 4 stars!

The Book Buddies Book Club met yesterday for our end-of-the-year party and our Penderwicks book discussion. It was a lot of fun and the highlight of course, was our interview with the author, Jeanne Birdsall. Ms. Birdsall was absolutely delightful - we really appreciate her taking the time to talk with us. She was warm and funny and interested in getting to know our book club members. She answered all of our questions very thoughtfully. So a big thank you to Ms. Birdsall! More on the interview in a bit...

Overall, the book club really liked The Penderwicks. Many of our members found that they identified most with Skye Penderwick - the logical, adventurous, tomboy sister. Everyone agreed that they didn't like Mrs. Tifton but felt that it was necessary to have a bad character to make the book interesting. No one liked Dexter either, especially when he called Jane's Sabrina Starr book "lousy." A lot of us also felt that Jeffrey's relationship with his mother will continue to improve since she seems to have accepted that he doesn't want to go into the military. We are all really looking forward to the sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street!

For the party, we had balloons and a Book Buddies Book Club cake decorated with a book in purple frosting. (In the picture it looks blue, but it really was purple, which is the Book Buddies color).

Around 4:10pm we called Ms. Birdsall at her home. We found out that Jeffrey does make a brief appearance in the second book which takes place at the girls home in fictional Cameron, Massachusetts. She is currently working on the third book which will be another summer story and she has planned five books total. She identifies most with the youngest Penderwick, Batty, but said that the three youngest Penderwicks all have big pieces of her in them since she is a younger sister too. Mrs. Tifton is based on her own mother and she told us the story of where she got the name Penderwick. Originally she had chosen the name Pendergast but her good friend and fellow author Patricia MacLachlan reviewed the early manuscripts and could never pronounce the name correctly. So Ms. Birdsall decided that was a very bad thing and went online to find another name. She wanted it to sound English and many English names end in "wick" so she settled on "Penderwick."

We had a wonderful time talking with Ms. Birdsall and asking our questions. It is always such a thrill to talk with an author about their work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Book Club Meeting Monday!

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder that the book club is meeting this Monday, May 19th at 3:30pm in the Children's Program Room to discuss The Penderwicks. We will talk about the book and have an end-of-year party and at 4:10pm we will be calling the author, Jeanne Birdsall!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Books in Series

There are so many wonderful series out that it's almost impossible to keep up with what's old, what's new and what's not yet released. Here are just a few series that have new books out:

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett:

When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds a mix of mazes and mystery...including an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Calder is strangely drawn to the sculpture, while other people have less-than-friendly feelings toward it. Both the boy and the sculpture seem to be out of place...and then, on the same night, they disappear!

Calder's friends Petra and Tommy must fly to England to help his father find him. But this mystery has more twists and turns than a Calder mobile caught in a fierce wind...with more at stake than first meets the eye.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart:

The fabulous foursome readers embraced as The Mysterious Benedict Society is back with a new mission, significantly closer to home. After reuniting for a celebratory scavenger hunt, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are forced to go on an unexpected search--a search to find Mr. Benedict. It seems that while he was preparing the kids' adventure, he stepped right into a trap orchestrated by his evil twin Mr. Curtain. With only one week to find a captured Mr. Benedict, the gifted foursome faces their greatest challenge of all--a challenge that will reinforce the reasons they were brought together in the first place and will require them to fight for the very namesake that united them.

Ivy and Bean: Take Care of the Babysitter by Annie Barrows:

In Ivy and Bean Take Care of the Babysitter, the two girls hatch a plan to prove that Bean's big sister is the world's worst babysitter. Of course plans go awry, but fun ensues!

Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker:

Clementine's beloved teacher, Mr. D'Matz might be leaving for the rest of the year to go on a research trip to Egypt. The only solution, she decides, is to hatch a plan to get Mr. D'Matz back even if it means ruining his once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Raven Rise by DJ McHale - Pendragon Bk 9:

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be.
There's only one thing missing--Bobby Pendragon.
While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth against the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone.
The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane's quest to rule Halla is under way.
And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

And be sure to watch for these two coming out this summer!

Charlie Bone and the Shadow by Jenny Nimmo - Children of the Red King Bk 8:

The enchanter Count Harken is back to take his revenge on the Red King's heirs, starting with Charlie Bone's family! Charlie's ancestor has been kidnapped and imprisoned in the dark, forbidding land of Badlock, and it's up to Charlie to save him. Traveling through a painting to the terrifying countryside, Charlie and his best friend's dog, Runner Bean, take up the quest. But when Runner Bean gets trapped, Charlie needs the help of his friends. Can they get past an army of trolls, rescue Runner Bean and Charlie's ancestor, and get out before it's too late?
Can Charlie outwit Court Harken and his sinister troops, or will the prisoners be doomed to being held captive in Badlock forever?

The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl Bk 6:

Artemis's mother has contracted a deadly disease -- and the only cure lies in the brain fluid of African lemurs. Unfortunately, Artemis himself was responsible for making the lemurs extinct five years ago. Now he must enlist the aid of his fairy friends to travel back in time and save them. Not only that, but he must face his deadliest foe yet...his younger self.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book Review 1: How I Saved My Father's Life (And Ruined Everything Else)

Back at the end of March I attended the Read-A-Palooza event at Thompson Middle School which featured author Ann Hood discussing her new book, How I Saved My Father's Life (And Ruined Everything Else). I've just finished the book and it was fantastic!

"So how did I, Madeline Vandermeer, fairly normal girl from a fairly normal family, decide to become a saint? Well, when I saved my father's life, I somehow managed to ruin everything else. Now my life was all upside down, and frankly, I needed something to happen. If I performed just one more miracle, I believed I could fix everything and become a saint."

Twelve-year-old Madeline believes she can perform miracles. And her biggest one to date is saving her father from an avalanche. But, unmiraculously, he divorces Madeline's mother after his recovery, writes a book about the avalanche, becomes a celebrity, and marries Ava Pomme, a renowned tart maker.

When he leaves, Madeline is left with her mother, who is slowly coming undone; her hypochondriac little brother, who spends his days worrying about air-bag safety; a house that is falling apart around her; and no clue how to perform the miracle that will fix it all.

Amidst ballet lessons, insufferable recipe experiments for her mother's Family magazine column, and a life-changing trip to Italy, Madeline learns the true meaning of faith - and family.

I really enjoyed How I Saved My Father's Life. I loved that it was set in Providence, RI. It's so much fun when you know the streets and the buildings that the author is writing about first hand. Madeline is a very relatable character - funny, smart and sympathetic. She's very angry with her mother over the divorce and it's not really fair but it was easy to understand why she felt that way and it was all the more rewarding when she realized that divorce is never as simple as finding one person to blame. Madeline's journey towards accepting the divorce and loving both of her parents is an enjoyable ride filled with ballet, good friends and an amazing trip to Italy! Highly recommended!

Ms. Hood will be speaking and signing books at Island books on Wednesday evening (the 14th) so stop by, say hello and be sure to pick up a copy of this book!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Penderwicks are back!

Hopefully you are all enjoying the summer adventures of Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty otherwise known as The Penderwicks. I can't wait to discuss it with you (and the author!) next Monday at our meeting!

I'm sure you'll be thrilled to learn that there's a sequel to The Penderwicks which just came out called The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. We should be getting a copy in Newport soon but until then you can inter-library loan it from another RI library through the Ocean State Libraries Catalog.

In the second book about the Penderwicks, the sisters are home on Gardam Street and ready for an adventure! But the adventure they get isn’t quite what they had in mind. Mr. Penderwick’s sister has decided it’s time for him to start dating—and the girls know that can only mean one thing: disaster.
Enter the Save Daddy Plan—a plot so brilliant, so bold, so funny, that only the Penderwick girls could have come up with it. But in the meantime, they have some other problems to deal with. Rosalind can’t seem to get the annoying Tommy Geiger out of her hair—and she can’t stand him, really. Skye loses her temper on the soccer field in a most undignified manner. Jane’s love of creative writing leads her into deep waters. And Batty’s getting into mischief spying on the new next-door neighbor. As for Hound, he’s always in trouble.
It’s high jinks, big laughs, and loads of family warmth as the Penderwicks triumphantly return!

Ms. Birdsall is also traveling around on an author tour in support of the new book right now and she has some Massachusetts dates! Check out her tour schedule here and go and get your books signed!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

2008 Edgar Award Winner

On May 1st the 2008 Edgar award winners were announced (mystery awards named after Edgar Allen Poe - for more information see the Mystery Writers of America website). The nominees for Best Juvenile mystery were:

And the winner is... The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

Jack Perdu, a ninth-grade Classics prodigy, lives with his father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But one winter evening, a near-fatal accident changes Jack's life forever.

His father sends him to see a mysterious doctor in New York City - where Jack hasn't been since his mother died there eight years ago. In Grand Central Terminal, he meets Euri, a girl who offers to show him the train station's hidden places - the ones only true urban explorers really know about. Eight flights below the station, however, Jack discovers more than just hidden tracks and mysterious staircases. He has stumbled upon New York's ghostly underworld. This, Jack believes, is his chance to see his mother again. But as secrets about Euri's past are revealed, so are the true reasons for Jack's visit to the underworld.

Come in to the library today and check out one of these great mysteries!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month

In case you didn't know, May is Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month. There are a lot of wonderful Asian American authors and books out there - I encourage you to check them out! Here are just a few:

In this sequel to The Year of the Dog, Pacy has another big year in store for her. The Year of the Dog was a very lucky year: she met her best friend, Melody, and discovered her true talents. However, the Year of the Rat brings big changes: Pacy must deal with the possibility of Melody moving away, find the courage to forge on with her dream of becoming a writer and illustrator, and learn to face some of her own flaws in the process. Pacy encounters prejudice, struggles with acceptance, and finds the beauty in change.

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park:

For Kim Sun-hee's whole life, Korea has belonged to Japan. Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, have grown up studying Japanese and speaking it at school. Their own language, Korean, can be spoken only at home, and some Korean things - like the flag - are not to be spoken of at all. When the Emperor of Japan decrees that all Koreans must take Japanese names, Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. It is just one more step in a familiar process, but somehow it changes everything.
Then WWII comes to Korea. No battles are fought on Korean soil, yet soldiers are everywhere. At school, the students have war preparation duties instead of classes. But making Koreans take Japanese names has not turned them into loyal subjects, ready to fight for Japan. When Tae-yul sees a chance to help his beloved uncle, whom the Japanese suspect of aiding the Korean resistance, he leaves home. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.

The Star Fisher by Laurence Yep:

It is 1927, and fifteen-year-old Joan Lee is taking a long train ride from Ohio to West Virginia with her Mama and Papa and her younger brother and sister. They are going there in pursuit of the American dream, to open a new business and start bright new lives. But when they get off the train, the first words they hear are "Darn monkeys!"
Joan is Chinese-American. That makes her and her family outsiders - so "different" that the narrow-minded townspeople think they belong in a zoo. How could that be? They live in America! She was born here. And she's going to fight to stay here.

Minn and Jake by Janet S. Wong:

Fifth-grader Minn, the tallest girl in school, begins a rocky friendship with Jake, a new student who is not only very short, but is also afraid of the worms and lizards that Minn likes to collect.

Also, check out this great website highlighting "New Novels for Young Readers to Celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Author Interview!

Well, I have amazing news. We are going to end the year the same way we started the year - with a telephone interview with an author! As you know, we are reading The Penderwicks this month, and I decided to try and contact the author, Jeanne Birdsall, to see if she would allow us to interview her like we did earlier this year with Ellen Potter and Grace Lin. I contacted her publisher, Random House, and everyone there was so encouraging and helpful. It was very easy! They suggested that I write a letter to Ms. Birdsall explaining what we want to do and I've heard back from her and she has agreed to do a telephone interview! So at the May meeting we will call Ms. Birdsall at her home and have a chance to ask some questions about her books and her life as a writer! Start thinking of some great questions now and feel free to post any as a comment on the blog.

A big thank you in advance to Ms. Birdsall for her time and the wonderful people at Random House for helping make this happen. Authors are the best!!!

Foreign Editions of The Penderwicks

I love seeing how the covers of books are changed when they are published in other countries. It's not always easy to find that information but fortunately some authors are now including it on their websites. We saw that in March with The Tail of Emily Windsnap - Liz Kessler had images of the Japanese cover on her website. And now Jeanne Birdsall has a wonderful page on her website with The Penderwicks covers from England, Greece, China, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Holland! View these covers here.

This is the British cover by artist David Frankland. It's very similar to the American version except it's darker and he's added Jeffrey to the back cover!


This is the Greek cover:

And this is the German cover...fascinating, isn't it?

Author Jeanne Birdsall

Jeanne Birdsall is the wonderful author of our May book, The Penderwicks. She has a website and a blog where you can find out all about her and her books.

Also check out this interview with Jeanne from the April 10th Publishers Weekly!