Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Temper Tantrum

Yesterday, I got rid of about 20 children's books with accompanying stuffed animals. I loved, loved, loved these books. Paddington, Corduroy, Grover, Clifford, Biscuit, Pigeon & Duckling, Piggy & Elephant, and many more.

I had planned and really wanted to film myself reading the books before I sent them away, but I didn't. I wanted to, but I didn't. I wanted my family to help motivate me to do it, but instead of asking nicely or waiting for them to want to do it, I got mad. I mean really mad and blamed them for not getting it done. This was unfair to them. It was my fault, mostly.

It's easier to blame them for my apathy. When I need to get something done, I have to do it right then or the urgency passes and I stop caring about completing that task... or anything really.

However, the relief I felt after I mailed the packages to a teacher I know will love the books and use them in her classroom was like a huge burden lifted from my shoulders. I wish I had done this years ago, but letting go was very, very hard. I wonder why? It's just stuff. Stuff my family doesn't want... or need.

Anyway, once I know my books were received, I am going to ask that the new owners record videos of the books. Seeing others appreciating them will make giving them away worth while.

Feeling Something...

Today has to be a good day.

Why?

I felt something after days of apathy.

I felt something that may seem stupid to other people.

I got teary during The Price is Right.

Yep. And that made me happy... to feel something.

The show featured "tweens"

playing the game all by themselves.

Parents remained in the audience,

shedding tears of happiness as their child

won the offered prizes.

I felt happy for them and their children,

shedding my own tears for the same

promise that good things can come to my own children,

and the world isn't always as bad as it may seem.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

If a Tree Falls...

A tree in the woods is struck by lightning.

The roots remain planted in the soil around it,

the trunk's bark not blackened or burnt. 

However, its inner core smolders, 

becoming hollow and empty,

waiting, hoping, and praying 

for a strong wind.

And a chance to become something else. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Zax by Dr. Seuss

In 2011, my daughter Lucy and I went to Universal Studios. After I saw this display, I was reminded of the story in one of my Dr. Seuss books. In the attached link I am reading the story in my book The Sneeches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. The Zax read by me.

The reason I'm reading my picture books is so that I can clear my room of the collection of picture books I no longer need. By reading the stories and saving them on-line, I hope will make it easier for me to make it easier to donate my books.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

When I'm Not Me...

I'm trapped in a mind that works normally half of the  time.

I see myself acting out-of-control.

I hear myself belittling the people I love most.

Comments they make in response to something I said

are translated as an attack causing the anger I express

to turn to a self-loathing psychosis,

unable to feel anything but rage.

Had this been six-months ago,

I wouldn't have acted this way,

or had I and there wasn't a name for yet;

never understanding that the behavior would only get worse?

The person that replaced the person I used to be

easily slips into place making it impossible

for my family to tell the difference.

After all, behavioral dementia doesn't change the way I look--

only the way I behave,

like a six-year-old sailor

in a fifty-two-year old body.

The old me is trapped in a mind that no longer

processes information in away that is socially acceptable,

only able to watch as the behavior worsens and

sanity dangles over the edge of a cliff.

Every time I lose it and lash out at my family,

my imprisoned self silently screams:

Don't fight back.

Don't take the bait.

Ignore the crazy person yelling at you.

Don't take it personal.

Just stay quiet when that person tells you to shut up."

My husband understands and remains

quiet--most of the time--letting the angry words

that spew out of the sewer that has become my vocabulary.

But my daughter can't.

She has to defend herself against the verbal abuse.

After all, she isn't wrong.

Her mom is acting crazy.

Unfortunately, it isn't her mom and she can't tell the difference.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I'm Going to Make Friends of the Library Happy...

Finally, the end of my old blog's book reviews. Now that I've copied and pasted some of the thoughts on some of the many, many, books I've read, it's time to stick to my guns and clean out my bookshelves and donate these books to the local library. Should my children ever want to read them [with the exception of a Lights Out Cyber Attack--Ted Koppel's book] then they can always buy the e-book, right?


THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2010
I love this book!!! I want to write like this talented woman. She has an incredible way to make a reader laugh and cry on the same page. Copyright 2006 and published by Candlewick Press. Told in third person, past tense the m/c, Edward, is a porcelain rabbit. In the beginning Edward is not a likable character (this is what I like best about the story). Things happen to Edward, but he can't react to his circumstances because he is a toy. The author stays true to this fact. Edward does, however, think and feel and his character arch develops despite his inability to react physically to what happens to him.

Published by Little Brown, Jerry Spinelli won the 1991 Newbery for this masterpiece. The book is told in third person, past tense. I loved this book. It reminded me of the movies "Big Fish" and "Forest Gump" because of the myth-like m/c. This is a fun read and I would pass it on to any fourth through middle grade reader.

The book is actually called An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Published by Scholastic, this non-fiction book won a Newbery Honor in 2004 and deservedly so. I thought it was an interesting read, and until I read the book I was not familiar with this event in American History.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2010
I purchased a copy of this book at an SCBWI Tri-Region Editor's Day at the Santa Ana Zoo in 2008. It is published by Milkweed Editions and one of the editors of Milkweed gave a speech at the conference. Copyright 2004. The voice of the m/c Isabelle is strong with the sarcasm and humor to match any eight grade thirteen-year-old. The first two paragraphs are first person, present tense but in the third paragraph it flashes back to explain the main events of the story. The story returns to present tense for the last two pages to sum up the family's relationship. Isabelle's problem is believable and the topic of eating disorders is an important one that needs to be addressed. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

MONDAY, AUGUST 2, 2010
Published by Disney/Hyperion and copyright 2006, SOLD was a National Book Award Finalist. The book is told in first person, present tense. The main character, Lakshmi, is a thirteen-year-old girl who is sold into slavery. 

The author handles the horrific topic of human trafficking in a delicate and respectful way, thus protecting the innocence of the victims--for they are indeed innocent. I would have no problem letting my eleven-year-old daughter read this book because this is a reality for victims of such crimes.
 How can we change the world for the better if we pretend that children are not exploited and abused? And how can we live with ourselves if we fail to oppose such evil? McCormick was brave enough to tell this story. Likewise, reading it continues the fight.

FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2010
I really liked this book for its honestly and sensitivity, it is written in first person, present tense verse. Copyright 1999 and published by HarperTempest. It is an easy read and its simplicity helps reinforce the thirteen-year-old main character's plight to cope when her world--her family--is torn apart. My eleven-year-old daughter is now reading this book, and I see compassion and understanding grow in her as she finishes each poem. In my opinion, mental illness is an important topic to which children need to be educated.

MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010
Published by Scholastic, the Wanderer is a Newbery Honor in 2001. A contemporary fiction novel, written in present tense, first person with two distinct POV, Sophie and Cody. The two perspectives give depth and insight to understanding the family’s dynamics and interaction with each other. Main character is thirteen-year-old Sophie. She and her cousins (Cody and Brian) and her three uncles embark on a journey to sail across the Atlantic to visit their grandfather, Bompie. The journey releases memories that Sophie had suppressed about a tragic event in her past. The book was an easy read and would be good book for any middle grader.

Published by Aladdin Paperbacks and copyright in 2006. This is the second book I’d read by the author, and I enjoyed this book more than Kira Kira—won the Newbery Medal in 2005. Kira Kira is a sweet story told in first person by m/c Katie describing the relationship she had with her terminally ill sister. I enjoyed this touching story and the feelings expressed by the m/c are honest and believable.
I purchased Weedflower while visiting Manzanar, so reading the book after my visit made the story more personal for me. Told in past tense, third person limited POV of Sumiko, a twelve-year-old girl. She and her family were sent to live in an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during the war. Kabota has a talent for creating sympathy for the plight of her main character while inserting historical facts about the plight and discrimination of our Japanese-American citizens during WWII. 

When reading this story—and other books by the same author—I am able to see how much the author relies on “telling” in her writing style.
OLD YELLER by Fred Gipson
A Newbery Honor winner in 1957 and published by HarperCollins. This MG novel is told in first person, past tense. The book hooked me from the first page because the voice is authentic. Despite being over fifty-five years old, the voice and tone of the book can compete with any contemporary on the book selves. It has humor and tenderness, while giving the reader a glimpse into the life of a boy living on the frontier in the late 1860’s.

FRIDAY, JULY 23, 2010
This is book was also recommend by Eve Adler at the Temecula Conference, and I have to say, "I loved it!" Published by Dell Yearling and copyrighted 1999, this book was a National Book Award Winner. Setting is summer 1971 in a small Texas town. Toby Wilson, 13, has many things on his mind: his mother, who is away at a singing competition; his best friend, Cal, whose brother is serving in Vietnam; Scarlett, the girl he's crushing on; and the fattest kid in the world, Zachary Beaver. I was hooked from the first page. Told in first person, present tense, Toby's voice is authentic, along with all the characters in the book. Even tertiary characters like Wayne, Cal's brother, that the reader gets to know through letters and Toby's inner dialogue are genuine. Every word written gives insight into one of the small town's citizens. How could a reader not love this book?

Another thing the author conveys is subtle foreshadowing, which lends itself to strengthen the feelings and actions of the characters. Great family dynamics and true emotional reactions is why this book will be one of my favorites, right along side
 Al Capone Does My Shirts and The Watson's Go To Birmingham, 1963.

TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010
This book won a Newbery Honor in 1993. Published by Scholastic Inc. I liked this book and I would recommend it, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I liked Monster by the same author. While I read the book I noticed there were times when the certain phrases or words were used to describe things. The first time the word or phrase was used, I appreciated it and thought of the imagery it invoked, but when it was used again later, the beauty of the image faded and it became easier to catch similar patterns. It is the content of the story and the growth of the main character that is important, and in that respect, the story met all qualifications of a good book.

The more I think about this book, the more I relalize how much I like it. Although I didn't like the main character John "Crash" Coogan until the the last third of the book. Copyright 1996. Published by Dell Yearling imprint of Random House. Y.A. contemporary fiction, told in 1st person, present tense. The story has flashbacks and leaps from present to past as the m/c describes what happened last week, yesterday, or even an hour ago; yet it works beautifully. At SCBWI 2010 Agent's Day in Newport Beach, one of the agents said it is okay to have unlikeable characters. After reading this book, I understand why. As a reader, I didn't hate Crash, but I didn't like him either. He was a self-centered bully. As the chapters fly by, the author shows how being neglected--even though you have your basic needs met--by workaholic parents affects Crash's behavior. His continual "picking" on neighbor Penn Webb made me laugh, while at the same time, I wanted to spank Crash for his bad behavior. I love it when a book generates intense feelings, which is why I would recommend this book.

This book was recommended by Eve Adler when she spoke at SCBWI Tri-Region's Temecula Retreat in March 2010. Told in first person, past tense, Mary Jane Auch's historical fiction story Ashes of Roses is about the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25, 1911 that killed 146 factory workers. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I would recommend it because of the interesting historical aspects of the subject the main character finds herself in; however, the Irish dialect was overdone and I found it distracting. 

On the website Dear-Editor.com excellent advice was given to a writer regarding dialects and I agree with the information shared on the topic.

I purchased this book because of an article in the 2008 Childrens' Writer's and Illistrator's Market. Author Melina Marchetta's book Saving Francesca was first copyright 2003 by Penguin Books Austrialia. YA contemporary fiction, first person, present tense. The book is about sixteen-year-old Francesca and how she must cope with her mother's (Mia) severe depression after a miscarriage. From the first sentence, "This morning, my mother didn't get out of bed.", I was hooked and I would recommend this book. I enjoyed the realistic family dynamics between Francesca and her parents. The author's description of Mia's depression was authentic.

I enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty's book Feeling Sorry for Celia--Copyright 2000 by Pan Macmillian Australia Pty Limited.
Y.A. contemporary fiction, written in first person, present tense. I was hooked at the self-deprecating humor leaping out of the first page. What makes it such a unique is the fact that the book is written in letters and post-its notes between the main character and sub-characters.
 

Elizabeth Clarry's parents are divorced and between her mother's busy work schedule and her rare visits with her father, Elizabeth's communication with her parents is through letters and post-it notes. When Elizabeth's best friend, Celia, runs away to join the circus, Elizabeth decides that she needs to bring her friend home.

SATURDAY, JULY 17, 2010
Jacqueline Woodson is one of my favorite authors. I love her writing because she can make me laugh one minute while tugging at my heartstrings the next minute. I have read After Tupac and D Foster and I loved the book despite the fact that I have nothing in common with the m/c since I'm a middle-aged white mom who knows nothing of rap or Tupac. But it was the story of the m/c--a young, black girl and how she relates to the world around her--that drew me in. I've also read Feathers and Locomotion which I thought were brilliant. This is an author that I'd love to emulate. 

But... I did not love
 HUSH.

Published by Scholastic in 2002,
 HUSH is about a thirteen-year-old, black girl whose father witnessed a murder. In order to protect his family, he testifies and the family enters into witness protection. The author communicates the frustration and helplessness that the various family members feel about abandoning their former selves. The family dynamics are real, which is why I love this writer so much. The book is written in 1st person, present tense, but the first five pages are a "Telling" flashback. I wasn't hooked on the story but because I love the author I read on. It is contemporary MG fiction. The m/c voice wasn't strong enough for me. She came across whinny and weak, but under the circumstances of the plot and story arch any other child would behave the same way. Just another reason why the author is such an excellent writer of the human experience and family dynamics. Yet, the book weaves the reader through flashback after flashback between how things were and what they are know that I, the reader, wanted to ignore the past and just read about how she was coping now. Also, there are several times when the m/c addresses the reader as "you". This was particularly troublesome for me. As a reader I like the anonymity of looking into the life of a m/c without being called on it. 

Just my thoughts on the book. I still liked it, just not as much as her other books.
 HUSH was unique because of the topic. I've never read about witness protection from a child's POV.



FRIDAY, JULY 16, 2010
As you can tell by my blog, I am a very inconsistent contributor but I think I've found a solution.  I love to read. I didn't used to. In fact, I hated to read when I was a kid because I was a slow reader. I transposed words and letters and lost my place continually. Today they call it tracking issues. I know this because my daughter has the same problems I did. Anyway, I don't think I ever read more than twenty books in my entire life, until I was told by a former editor who critiqued something I wrote for the La Jolla Writers Conference in 2007, "You must read if you want to write." Then she gave me a list of about twenty books that I should read. Some of the books on her list had to do with craft (i.e. Noah Lukeman) and some books were by contemporary authors (i.e. Christopher Paul Curtis) in middle grade genre. At that time, I had no understanding of "Show Don't Tell" but I took her advice and read all of her books and gradually the concept began to sink in. Since 2007, I've must have read over a hundred books in the MG and YA genre. At first I only found pleasure in the stories, but now I'm able to study the book as a learning tool. So, I'm going to use my blog entries to discuss and analyze the books that I have read. The thoughts that I write on the books I read are only my opinions and I express them to help me become a better writer.




When Hollywood Screws Up a Good Story.


FRIDAY, AUGUST 6, 2010
I have read three books by this author and I've enjoyed each one. My favorite is The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle for which the book won a Newbery Honor in 1991. The story is told in first person, past tense. Maybe that is why I enjoyed it... the immediacy of this type of story telling or the fact that the main character is a thirteen-year-old girl. 

I also enjoyed Avi's
 Chrispin: The Cross of Lead. It won a Newbery Medal in 2003. Told in third person, past tense and set in medieval England, thirteen-year-old Chrispin sets out on a journey to find his father.

The most recent book I read by this author was
 The Fighting Ground. Told in 3rd person, past tense and copyright 1984. The Revolutionary war is the back drop for the story of this thirteen-year-old boy's adventure. I enjoyed seeing how the author used dialogue in German for characters in the book which didn't understand nor could be understood by the m/c Jonathan, and then had a translation of the dialogue in the end of the story. 

An interesting bit of trivia...
 In my daughter's fifth grade Open Court language arts text book, there was a short story by Avi which was a huge disappointment. Most likely it was summarized or edited by someone not familiar with the talent and professionalism of the author's other works.

There is a reason why this book is a New York Times Bestseller... because it is deserves it. The novel was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist, won 2000 Coretta Scott King Honor Award, and the 2000 Michael L Printz Award. 
It is unique because it is told by the main character (first person) explaining what he is going through as if he were filming a movie about the experiences in his trail and the events that led up it.
 It is a great Y.A. novel.

NOT A KID BOOK. I think Khaled Hosseini is a very talented and thought provoking author. The honesty in which these realistic fiction novels are told are compelling, yet horrifying when I think that such events and experiences occur. I enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns better than The Kite Runner--maybe because I was able to identify with the female characters. To me, it was less disturbing than Kite Runner.  I have recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns to several of my reader friends. It is an eye-opening journey into the lives of two Muslim women living in Afghanistan.

[Another good example of when Hollywood screws up a good story. This book was made into a cartoon and ended up so far from the book it made my daughter and I disgusted. In the movie there was some type of vegetable tornado character and a cat which was never in DiCamillo's book at all.]
Published by Candlewick Press, this book won the Newbery in 2004. It was a sweet and fun story told in third person, past tense with an occasional narrator intrusion. This middle grade novel is heartwarming with humor ringing throughout. I read the book and listened to the Unabridged Audio CD with my daughter and both experiences were enjoyable. When the motion picture for this story came out, my daughter was excited to see it, but to her disappointment the movie didn't follow the wonderful events in the book. But, as with most movie-adapted stories, nothing beats the original novel.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2010
I love this book!!! I want to write like this talented woman. She has an incredible way to make a reader laugh and cry on the same page. 

Copyright 2006 and published by Candlewick Press. Told in third person, past tense the m/c, Edward, is a porcelain rabbit. In the beginning Edward is not a likable character (this is what I like best about the story). Things happen to Edward, but he can't react to his circumstances because he is a toy. The author stays true to this fact.
 Edward does, however, think and feel and his character arch develops despite his inability to react physically to what happens to him.

Published by Little Brown, Jerry Spinelli won the 1991 Newbery for this masterpiece. The book is told in third person, past tense. I loved this book. It reminded me of the movies "Big Fish" and "Forest Gump" because of the myth-like m/c.  This is a fun read and I would pass it on to any fourth through middle grade reader.

The book is actually called An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Published by Scholastic, this non-fiction book won a Newbery Honor in 2004 and deservedly so. I thought it was an interesting read, and until I read the book I was not familiar with this event in American History.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2010
I purchased a copy of this book at an SCBWI Tri-Region Editor's Day at the Santa Ana Zoo in 2008. It is published by Milkweed Editions and one of the editors of Milkweed gave a speech at the conference. Copyright 2004. 

The voice of the m/c Isabelle is strong with the sarcasm and humor to match any eight grade thirteen-year-old. The first two paragraphs are first person, present tense but in the third paragraph it flashes back to explain the main events of the story. The story returns to present tense for the last two pages to sum up the family's relationship. Isabelle's problem is believable and the topic of eating disorders is an important one that needs to be addressed.
 

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it.