Monday, June 29, 2009

GLIBA 2009 Great Lakes Book Awards - Finalists

I read today in Shelf Awareness that finalists for the 2009 Great Lakes Book Awards have been announced. The Great Lakes Book Awards are awarded by GLIBA and honor books with a Great Lakes theme or setting or written by an author living in the region. I noticed several Michiganders on the list and have linked to them. Congratulations to all the honorees! Winners will be announced in August.

Children's Chapter Books
After the Trains by Gloria Whelan (HarperCollins)
The Blind Faith Hotel by Pamela Todd (Simon & Schuster)
I Put a Spell on You by Adam Selzer (Random House)
Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka (Penguin) [he's a former Michigander]
The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming (Random House)
My Brother Abe by Harry Mazer (Simon & Schuster)

Children's Picture Books
Baby Dragon by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick Press)
Birds by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Harper Collins)
Old Bear by Kevin Henkes (Harper Collins)
That Book Woman by Heather Henson, illustrated by David Small (Simon & Schuster)
The Underwear Salesman by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Simon & Schuster)

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Random House)
The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno (Norton)
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin)
Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Simon & Schuster)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (HarperCollins)

Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting by Michael Perry (HarperCollins)
The Foie Gras Wars by Mark Caro (Simon & Schuster)
Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton (Simon & Schuster)
Ripped by Greg Kot (Simon & Schuster)
A Splintered History of Wood by Spike Carlsen (HarperCollins)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poetry Friday

On the Porch

The cardinal in the tree
by the end of the porch
was so loud
in his early morning song
that if it weren’t for fatigue
I might have said,

“That’s enough!”
or I might have said,

“You’re starting to annoy me,”
or I might have said,

“Why must you show off
your beautiful voice
before you spread those wings of yours
and fly away to places I’ll never go?”

What if I were perched in the top of a tree?

What if I could fly through the midst of the sky?

What if I

could give myself over

to the moment of song?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ruth in K-Zoo

FYI for those of you in the Kalamazoo area: Ruth McNally Barshaw will be at Bookbug on Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. to share drawing tips with kids and to sign books.

Ruth and her book character Ellie McDoodle are delightful, and you definitely should get to know them both!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Workout Review: Karen Voight's "Slim Toning on a Ball"

If you're anything like me, variety matters. In my workout DVD collection, I aim for a range of workout lengths (anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour) and intensity (from gentle to challenging).

Karen Voight's "Slim Toning on a Ball" fits nicely in the middle of both the length and the intensity ranges. It runs half an hour in length, and is on the easy-moderate end of the spectrum with a few challenging spots. You'll need a stability ball and some hand weights (ideally a light set and a heavy set). Karen is friendly and encouraging, but not effusive or annoying.

Reviews here, here, and here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Tunes: "Echoes of Brazil" by Badi Assad

Echoes of Brazil is a lovely album. Badi Assad (sister of the guitar duo Sergio and Odair Assad) plays a great range of Brazilian guitar music. Reviews and info here, here, and here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Poetry Friday


Forgive me
the random tall patches of grass
in the yard.
There were
tiny moths
rising up
before me,
and I did not want to chop them into so much
moth mulch,
simply for
the sake of

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday Workout Review: "Perfect in Ten Stretch"

It's been a featureless landscape around here lately, hasn't it? All of my weekly features have been on unintentional hiatus. But I'm slowly reintroducing them. As of last week, I'm back with some poems for Fridays; and I just sent out a big batch of Michigander Monday invitations, so that fun feature should be up and rolling again soon. And today I've got a new workout DVD review for you.

Today we take a look at a DVD devoted entirely to stretching. Perfect in Ten Stretch consists of five ten-minute stretch segments. Stretching is the oft-neglected member of the fitness triumvirate (the three being aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching); and I unfortunately have to count myself amongst those who consistently give short shrift to stretching. My hope in acquiring this particular DVD was to use a ten-minute stretch here and there as an add-on after other workouts.

The instructor, Annette Fletcher, is low key and reassuring. Each ten-minute segment focuses on a particular area of the body (upper body; hips/legs) or a particular stretching need ("sedentary lifestyle relief" for desk jockeys; "sports stretch" for the athletically inclined). I can't say that I've done all the segments enough times to give a thoroughly informed opinion about the whole DVD, but I can say that having the DVD on hand has made it easier for me to incorporate more stretching into my workout time. There's a film clip available if you'd like to get a taste for it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Possibilities

Still looking to fill out a slot or two on your Lazy Person's Reading Group list? Paul Ingram, of Prairie Lights Bookstore, has a short film of summer reading recommendations.

(I ran across the link in Shelf Awareness, which is a very useful and frequently entertaining email newsletter that you can subscribe to here.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

P is for Pie Chart

If you have an alphabet story in your manuscript drawer, or on your "Someday I'd Like To Write A ____" list (and I'll admit, I have several terrible alphabet book ideas/drafts in my file cabinet), then you definitely should take a look at these pie charts.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Babies Are Coming!!

Look what book cover I just found on Amazon! (It's not listed on IndieBound yet, but I assume it will be there next, and I'll link to it when it is.)

But.. don't look for The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade at your local library any time soon. The actual book won't be out until March 2010 (which is, appropriately enough for babies, nine months from now). Tracy Dockray is the illustrator; Tricycle Press the publisher.

Can't wait!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poetry Friday

Suburban Geese

They were Canada Geese,
and the goslings were near to full grown;

so the scene lacked the poignancy
of Make Way for Ducklings. Still,

an avian family crossing

is worth slowing down for.

I braked,

and watched the disorderly queue
set off across the road.

In my mind,

the kindly, portly officer

held up his hand,

and it stopped

my flow of thoughts.

I smiled

at the unexpected, extraordinary


about to cross my path.

Then the man in the car behind me
laid on his horn
in an extended
and ostentatious manner,
sending the geese
in a rush
back to the roadside.
There was nothing to do

but lift my foot from the brake

and make way for the impatient line

that had somehow,



behind me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where, You Ask?

And just where did I find, all in one place, an interesting assortment of information and entertainment, including a Corpse Flower profile, the lowdown on Twitter, resources for boy readers, blogging advice, a how-to guide to provoking a fight with a geek, a sweet tribute, info about a new book, and more?

Why, the library, of course!

(In this case, the ALA e-newsletter American Libraries Direct - always full of fascinating stuff - just like a library!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Brief Intermission

Sorry I haven't gotten to the travelogue blog post yet (covering the sights and sounds of my recent trip to Oregon). I'm one of those people who rarely get ill, but this week I was out of commission for a while. Rest assured I will eventually be back to full blogging strength.

In the meantime, it's a good time to remind you that the Kids Read Comics Convention is coming up! It's going to be held June 12-13 in Chelsea, Michigan, at the Chelsea District Library. Lots of great guests and tons of great programming. I'll be there for some of it, in my capacity of "Mom." I can tell you that there's a certain 10-year-old and a certain 7-year-old looking very much looking forward to it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Gift of Literacy in Springfield, Oregon

I traveled last week to Eugene, Oregon, for the Springfield Public Schools' Gift of Literacy. What an absolutely fabulous program! I was there for the culminating event, held this year on May 28 at Lane Community College, where hardcover books were distributed to every first grader in the Springfield Public School system; but the Gift of Literacy program extends well beyond a single day.

Early in the school year, a committee chooses ten different book titles to be featured during the Gift of Literacy program. The books are chosen to represent a range of writing styles and topic matter, including stories in rhyme, bilingual books, nonfiction, and classic titles. The books are then provided to all the schools and read in all the first grade classrooms. After the students are exposed to the books, each first grade student gets to pick one of the books to be his or her very own.

The book, complete with a personalized bookplate and placed in a backpack filled with other educational goodies, is received at the May event. For each of three waves of student arrivals, the day starts out with an exciting assembly and then moves on to small group reading. In the small groups, a variety of guest readers read from the books. This is followed by a nutritious lunch. This year, close to 900 children participated. In a school system where more than half of children live under the poverty line, the Gift of Literacy tangibly demonstrates just how important literacy is to the community.

Springfield's Gift of Literacy program was inspired by a similar program in Wyoming. John Jorgensen, whom I had the true honor and pleasure to meet during the Springfield event, began distributing books to first graders as a tribute to his late wife, Sue Jorgensen . What began at the local elementary eventually spread to the entire state. The Wyoming Reads program now distributes a new hardcover book to every first grader in the entire state, and John Jorgensen's program has inspired programs in several communities in other states.

In Springfield, the Rotary Club of Springfield brought the idea to the Springfield Public Schools, and this led to a community collaboration and the inaugural Gift of Literacy in 2006. The program has continued and grown ever since.

In the course of my time in Eugene, I met many of those involved in the planning of this year's event, and I was thoroughly inspired by their dedication to bringing the joy of reading to the students of Springfield. I also was impressed by the community that has come together and built up around this program. It's truly a collaboration. A phrase that is found in many of the Gift of Literacy informational materials -- "inspiring young readers through partnership" -- is much more than just a catchy tag line. It's exactly right. And it's a big part of the reason Springfield's program recently received a Magna Award from the National School Boards Association.

There were two things I especially liked about The Gift of Literacy. One is the fact that the program gives kids the opportunity to choose their own book from ten options. What a wonderful way to help students feel empowered in their own literacy journey!

The other component that I particularly liked was that the program featured volunteer guest readers. Some of the guest readers were local (or even national) dignitaries and "celebrities" (and I do hope I can be forgiven for briefly entertaining the fantasy that guest reader Craig Robinson raced right home to call his sister and tell her about the great fish book he'd just encountered...), but every single guest reader was a hero to the kids in the room. When adults take time out of their lives to read to children, good things happen. It's the ultimate modeling of good behavior. We all should do more of it.

A tremendous thank you to all who were involved in this year's Gift of Literacy. It was an honor to be a part of it.

(And it was also great fun to visit the Eugene area! I'll share a bit of travelogue about my trip later in the week.)