Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Read YA

Big confession here people.  I read YA.  GASP!  Reading YA, middle grade fiction, and picture books are kinda what my free time is all about, and while I sometimes noticed the angst before, it never really bothered me.  I was always able to connect to my inner fourteen year old and appreciate it for what it was.  That's changed just a little bit.

I've heard that you are never really an adult until you have a baby.  I've also heard that you're never really an adult until you've lost a parent.  I think that both are true, and by both counts, I'm now an adult.  (Which is a major bummer.  It's kinda like the day I discovered that I might be a Republican.  Just typing that makes me want to vomit.)

Being an adult sometimes means being more practical and sensible - something that the main characters in most YA novels are not.  It really hit me while I was reading Daughter of Deep Silence.  Here is Frances still in love-love with Grey four years later, and Shepard is also still in love-love with Libby after four years and blows Frances' cover because of it.  I was telling this to my husband and saying that I found it totally unbelievable that these characters could still love each other that much after four years completely apart, and he actually thought it was possible.

So wait, not only am I an adult, I'm the adult in my marriage?  Not cool!

What I failed to remember, but which my young-at-heart hubby does, is that an 18 year old is still very much a teen, and will likely fall for that first love or even major crush if they come a callin' four years later.  I think he's right.  Check in with your own inner 14- and 18-year olds and find out.

Young adult literature is great for escaping, at least the type I read most often.  I'm escaping into a privileged world, or a fantastic world, or a world where Tiny Cooper exists, and that's great in and of itself.  But I'm also checking out on being an adult, because it just stinks.  As long as the angst is well-written, I'm okay with it, and I'll actually find my inner teen jumping for joy.

Happy Reading

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: Daughter of Deep Silence

Daughter of Deep Silence
By Carrie Ryan
Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2015
Reviewed from First Reads
Audience: Ages 14 and up
ISBN:  9780525426509
Publication Date:  May 26, 2015

Frances Mace was pulled from a lifeboat, only hours after watching her friend give in to dehydration and  exhaustion, and surviving a violent attack on the Persephone which killed her parents and nearly everyone on board.  Now an orphan, Frances accepted the offer to become her friend Libby when her father asked to her help him find out the truth about the ship's demise.  There were two other survivors who both claim that the ship was hit but a rogue wave, not armed gunmen, and one of them is Frances' first love, Grey.  After four long years of living as Libby, she's come home to find out the truth and exact her revenge, for Libby, for her parents, and for herself.

This story takes place in a world of privilege, excess, and secrets.  Frances (I'm going to call her that for the sake of argument) has completely made herself into Libby, but Libby's first love Shepard notices the small differences that cannot be faked, and she's thrust into a dangerous position.  Meanwhile, Grey is slowly falling for new Libby, all part of the plan to expose the truth, and a local detective seems to be too interested in new Libby as well.  Plots abound, danger is everywhere, and emotions run high.

There must be something about girls with multiple personalities, like Vanishing Girls and The In-Between.  While Frances is this Libby hybrid, but she keeps referring to Frances as a girl that's locked up and wants to get out.  The revenge plot is quite well-planned and with Shepard's help, Frances is able to understand why the Persephone was a target in the first place.  Surprisingly, that plot point didn't feel forced.  Sometimes a detail like that can feel too simple once explained, but I actually thought that was well thought-out.

I blew through this book, something I alluded to the other day, and I do feel like some of the revelations lacked a punch.  Then again, I was left wide-eyed at the ending, so there was still obviously plenty of punch left.

One aspect of this book felt off to me.  Every love story (Libby and Shepard or Frances and Grey) was so intense that it left a mark for four years, even when Frances and Grey were only really together for a week or two.  It didn't feel believable to me, but maybe that's my adult side showing.  More on that to come.

For a plot driven revenge novel with come pretty compelling characters, look no further than Daughter of Deep Silence.

Happy Reading!  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Born to Read?

Ali was playing with her books a couple days ago and she actually started flipping through Guess How Much I Love You.  The book is actually the right direction, she's flipping the pages nicely, and her expression is thoughtful.  If I were a different kind of person, I would post this on Facebook bragging about how my baby can read at nine months old.  If I were a really dishonest person, I would create some type of Your Baby Can Read program, and use this picture as proof that it works.

But I'm an honest person.  Ali isn't reading at 9 months.  She won't read at 3 years, and I'll be happy if she can read simple books in kindergarten or first grade.  Babies aren't born to read, they are born to be read to.  I read to my Ali, and that's why she likes books.  She likes the bright pictures, the smooth pages, and the sound of my voice.

And books taste pretty amazing too.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

5 Things: Travel Edition

5 Things to Brighten Your Day
Despite the BS that May Get in Your Way

Hello from the road!  This is the biggest hurdle I will face during my Every Day in May challenge.  I'm on traveling across the country, baby in tow.  Challenging for many reasons.

But there are still plenty of reasons to smile.

1.  Morning cuddle time.  Ali woke up at 5 am and being in a strange place means it's totally cool to sleep curled up to her in bed for an hour.  She's a little bit of a difficult sleep partner.  

2.  Pretty good travel conditions.  Very little rain, reasonable traffic, overall about the best we could have expected.

3.  Ali was a good traveler today.  Again, about the best that we could have expected from her.

4.  Great dinner at a tapas place.  My favorites were the asparagus and bacon wrapped dates.  

5.  Making it back to the hotel before flooding rains poured down.  It was raining as we walked back, but luckily, not horribly bad.  And Ali just smiled the whole time.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Historical Fiction for Boys

I have a weird relationship with Historical Fiction.  On one hand, it's not my thing.  I'm not a big history person for the most part, but I will become intrigued by random time periods or stories or people.  But on the other hand, I love period novels like Diamonds and Deceit, The Luxe, and The Diviners.  It also helps if there is something other than just history to get me hooked.

However, historical fiction has a big place in school curriculums.  My favorite reference question ever was a boy that called the library asking for an autobiography by Dracula.  After several questions, I learned that his assignment was to read a historical fiction.  He left with Blood on the River.  Good choice.

My sister contacted me with a librarian question, she needs "living books" for my nephew.  The example she gave were the Little House on the Prairie books.  Something that makes you feel like you are there.  Then, a friend at church was telling me that her son really like historical fiction too, and was blowing through books like crazy.  That was enough motivation for me to come up with a completely non-comprehensive list of historical fiction books.

Miss Tiff's Historical Fiction Picks:

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.  Adventure, funny, historical-this book checks all the boxes, and it won a Newbery.  It's basically the perfect book.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Lawson.  This is a book for a slightly older crowd than my target audience of 3-4 grade, but particular chapters would make a great read aloud.

Bud not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  1936, Flint, Michigan, and jazz.

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  It's about a girl, but this seafaring adventure defies gender.

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  Another girl, but she's got a great side-kick and they are all trying to outrun the orphan train.

One-handed Catch by Mary Jane Auch.  WWII and baseball, with a little meat grinder accident.  You want to know, don't you?

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.  Again, maybe a little old, but a must for any central Illinois kid, and Grandma Dowdel is perfection.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.  The Civil War and tall tales combine for what is ultimately an honest look at the difficulty of way.

And since truth is stranger than fiction check out these non-fiction titles:

The Giant and How He Humbugged America by Jim Murphy

Brothers at Bat:  The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barbara Rosenstock

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat by Carlyn Beccia

Now go out there and make some history!!

Happy Reading

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Babies: Furry and Otherwise

The relationship between Ali and her furry sister Lucy is pretty fun to watch.  Once Ali started being aware of the world around her, Lucy became a source of constant interest, and that's still very much the case.  She laughs when Lucy runs into the room, tries to get at her water dish, and wants to pet her all the time.  Now that she is mobile and a bit more coordinated, Ali loves to interact with Lucy, or at least try.  We've even let her play tug with Lucy just a little bit and it makes at least one of the babies very happy.

Lucy is a pretty well-behaved dog, but she has her flaws.  She sniffs all over everything and still gets at Ali's toys, although she has yet to ruin one.  Lucy wants attention very badly and will bark and howl when we come home, even with a sleeping baby.  And she begs and jumps up on Ali's high chair constantly.  It doesn't help that Ali finds this hilarious and intentionally feeds her.  These two are already partners in crime!  To her credit, Lucy is amazingly gentle with Ali.  She does jump around and race past her, but I have yet to see her knock her down.  Plus, Ali loves when Lucy sniffs her.  It's just a funny puppy kiss to her.

Slowly but surely Ali is gaining the coordination to be gentle with Lucy and pet, not grab, her hair.  I can imagine that once Ali starts to walk, they will really gang up on us.  I can't wait to see them chasing each other around the yard and play.

They are sisters already.  When I take the two for walks, Ali will reach her hand out of her stroller to hold on to Lucy's leash.  It's a sight that melts this mama's heart!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Confessions of a Reformed Board Book Snob

Board books abound in my home.  They are in the living room, the nursery, my bag, the diaper bag, my bedroom, the kitchen.  THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!  

And I love it!  Books should be everywhere, especially with a young child in the house.  Ali should never be far from a book.  But the kind of books that I have let her read and play with have changed.  Once I realized how destructive little uncoordinated hands can be, I came to love the idea of board books.  Tough and sturdy mini replicas of all my favorite picture books like The Napping House, Guess How Much I Love You, and The Three Snow Bears are just perfect for babies.  But I wasn't going to let lesser board books in my house.  No, nothing but the finest in board book literature for my little biscuit.

Then I realized that Ali doesn't actually read the books, she plays with them.  They are chewed and thrown and sat on.  When I try to read them, she grabs for them, not letting me finish a page.  The only time that I can get through reading an entire book to her is when she's playing with another toy, or book.  I usually give her a book to hold while I read her a book, and it's a system that has worked out just great.  

While her library collection is full the best in picture book board books, it's also full of simpler, less fancy books.  I love the books in the above picture because of the handle.  The pictures are simple, the text is pretty marginal, but they are easy for her to carry.  And she'll pick them up, and spin herself on her bottom in a clockwise circle.  Never counter-clockwise.  Only clockwise.  It's adorable.  

Having some less-than-stellar books in Ali's collection means that I'm not afraid to let her play with books.  She is learning that books are fun, and that's the most important lesson of all.

Happy Reading!