Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reading lost

I've been feeling the loss of Readerville. It's not as if I don't have plenty of people to talk books with, and yet...

I guess I'm worried that Noting:books won't be around forever, either. It isn't perfect for me (I always wanted a simple way to tag my best books), but it is sooo easy, to use, and such a nice design.

So, what to do? Finally use my blog to track my reading? Step up the LibraryThinging or the GoodReading? Go back to a spreadsheet? Nothing feels right. I just don't know what to do. Help me, internets.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Adieu, Readerville

My beloved Readerville is no more. I can't say how much I'll miss you. Thank you Karen, for all your hard work over the years!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Now We all Know-

Stuffed Cat Chorus

This is what the family gets up to while I'm at work.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Big W00t!

Way to go Iowa! I'm hoping this brings the remaining states (like my own) one step closer to equal rights for all. Three weeks to plan those weddings, y'all, get busy!

Hat tip: Whatever

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Too Much of a Muchness? I Say All Book Discussions are Good Book Discussions

I was checking out Omnivoracious' (Omnivoracious's?) YA Wednesday post and they mentioned the School Library Journal Battle of the Books and Jill Wolfson's post expressing a little fed-upedness.

On the one hand, I don't blame her at all. She's right that a relatively small selection of books each year receive the attention, the reviews, the awards lists, and maybe it does seem like the beloved Neil Gaiman is sucking up all the oxygen on the planet. But as a regular reader of Neil's blog, I don't think so. He is, like other well-known author/bloggers such as Meg Cabot, Mo Willems, and John Scalzi to select a few from my blogroll, modest about success, very clear about the business of selling the books, and quite generous in mentioning and linking to others.

Everywhere I go online, I'm adding books to my TBR list (currently standing at 770, thanks for asking). Everywhere I go online, say the School Library Journal, I'm following clever comments and links to more blogs, to discover more people who can recommend the kind of books I want to read. As it is, I'm pretty much in charge of finding books for my mother, mother-in-law, husband, 9-year-old daughter, and 7-year-old daughter, so I'm always searching for pretty nearly everything. Except board books.

But what about other people? Do y'all feel like you can't get offbeat suggestions? Are the Neil Gaimans using up all the oxygen? Feel free to mention a book title you've never seen mentioned elsewhere, or a blog or website you find helpful. And if you read YA, be sure to check out Jill's book, Cold Hands, Warm Heart. Promote yourself, promote a friend, or just argue with me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Library-Lovin' Challenge

Library friends are pledging to donate to their locals for every comment received. Go to WriterJenn to see the full list of participants, and then go forth and comment.

Hurry, many participants are closing comments in the next few days.

Hat tip to Betsy Bird at Fuse #8

Spuffyduds, are you seeing this?

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Best Picture Books of All Time

Oh, dear. I love reading children’s books. My earliest memories of books are reading beginning readers to myself. Beginning Readers, I will point out here, are expressly not allowed in Elizabeth Bird’s contest. She’s running a poll at A Fuse #8 Production for the top 100 picture books of all time. Choosing couldn’t be harder if she’d asked me to pick a favorite cat, and for the same reason: the good ones are all fabulous, and utterly unlike one another.

But I’m not one to shirk a difficult task, and I always love recommending books, so here’s my shortlists. That’s right, lists. I narrowed down a little bit by eliminating all the books I love as nostalgia, either as memories of my own or the Offspring’s childhood. And I weeded out board books, along with beginning readers in hopes that they’ll get their own poll someday. But there was one decision I could not make: do I go with the list of author/illustrators who are one person, fulfilling a personal vision, or go with the list of authors and illustrators who have been brought together by an editor to fulfill a more collaborative vision?

Well, since I can’t decide, I’m going to throw my lists up here, in hopes that any readers who see this will give me a little help.

The Auteurs

These are the ones we love. Always, everything they do. We cannot any of us resist them.

1 Pssst! Adam Rex Very funny. This and Tree Ring Circus are the best for the youngest kids, while the Frankenstein books require a more interest in words and more context. So far we love Smekday best of all, which means, I hope, that we can expect plenty more wonderful books to come.

2 Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale Mo Willems Really, both the Knuffle Bunny books score highly. As much as the Piggie and Elephant and Pigeon books delight, the combination of photography and cartoon is special, and the stories are perfect, even for kids who never had a special toy.

3 Chester Mélanie Watt Still more metafiction. All of Watt’s books have captivated us, but the two starring Chester are the best. He is such a naughty cat, getting all up in the book like that.

4 Olivia
Ian Falconer Olivia wears me out, but I admire her energy, her imagination, her joie de vivre. Also, the business of moving Edwin cracks me up like nothing else. I like that Olivia isn’t growing up too much. She’s a wonderful child and I love her.

5 Animalia
Graeme Base This is the first book of Base’s that I discovered, and it’s still a favorite. I don’t know how many things he managed to fit into each letter, but over a decade after its release, rereadings still reveal new items. It’s hardly surprising that Base would go on to create more complicated puzzles, which we also love.

6 Bark George
Jules Feiffer The artwork here is loose, and the text is minimal, but there is so much life in Feiffer’s cartoons, and such a great payoff at the end. Making the animal noises is the best fun.

7 10 Minutes to Bedtime
Peggy Rathmann Another book filled with endless delight. You have to find the ten numbered hamsters in every spread, you have to see what everyone else is up to, you have to find all the references to Rathmann’s other works. So little text, and such a vivid story.

8 The Three Pigs
David Wiesner More metafiction as Wiesner explores the space around a book, and behind, and between. The shift from two-dimensional art work to three is amazing, and weird, and delightful.

9 Goodnight Opus Berkeley Breathed I don’t like Goodnight Moon. I don’t remember it from my childhood, and I’m rather disappointed at the art and the slightly messed up rhythm of the text. But I dearly love what Breathed does with the trappings of childhood, both mocking and warmly acknowledging. And the bunny jammies!

10 Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book?
Lauren Child Very metafictional, and very fun. Child has a wonderful since of voice, best displayed in the Charlie and Lola books, and a sense of the absurd, and she does incredible art. Like others on this list, there’s an awful lot to examine and wonder at, for readers of every level.

The Collaborators

In which the total package is greater than the sum of its awesome parts.

1 Olive, the Other Reindeer Vivian Walsh and J.otto Seibold A newer Christmas classic, that has taken its place in our December rotation.

2 Slugs in Love
Susan Pearson, Kevin O'Malley Not a book I would have guessed would make it to my list. But every time we read it, we find something new in the art, and the story becomes just that much funnier.

3 Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise Diane Stanley, Elisa Primavera Our winter temperatures don’t drop down so low as Moe’s, but everyone can relate to the desire to get away from it all. Primavera makes Moe’s city a miserable, soaking, winterscape, and his tropical paradise feels saturated with warmth from the sun.

4 The Tapestry Cats
Ann Turnbull, Carol Morley The princess’s stiff dresses look itchy, the fairy godmother is ethereal, and somehow goofy, too, and clearly, this queen rules.

5 Sagwa
Amy Tan, Gretchen Schields A lengthy story, as picture books usually go, but just that right feel of a legend oft retold. And a story in which the heroine gets so thoroughly filthy is even better.

6 Possum Magic
Mem Fox, Julie Vivas A long favorite of mine. I'm glad the kids like it too. Hush’s invisible adventures are so charming at first, and then we feel the thrill begin to pall. A delicious tour of Australia.

7 Mrs. Marlowe's Mice
Frank Asch, Devin Asch Speaking of collaborators, I sincerely hope that the resistance remains strong. I admire the brave Mrs. Marlowe. She’s pure WWII heroine.

8 The Shrinking of Treehorn Florence Parry Heide, Edward Gorey This was published in some magazine I received as a child. Imagine my delight to grow up and discover even more Gorey. As different as my memory of the story was, from the reality, it holds up beautifully. What child doesn’t recognize that bemused inattentiveness, or for that matter, what parent?

9 Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning Jacqueline K. Ogburn, Brian Ajhar I read this to the PandaBat's first grade class. It was a hit. They loved the set-up, and the pay-off. I even think they appreciated the tasteful illustrations. One of the best picture books ever. I wish Ogburn would write a million of them.

10 Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin
10 Diary of a Fly Doreen Cronin, Harry Bliss Cronin is a delight to read, and this is a tied bracket for me, because Lewin’s farm is so perfect, but so are Bliss’s bugs.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Snowy Day

We've had three snowfalls this year, which is unusual for us. We try to take advantage. This is the kids heading up to the house with the hill for a little tobogganing.

Looking down the hill to the river. Pretty.

Yes, making American Gothic in snow pretty much cleared out the front yard. But we got to put the snowman kit to use.

I don't recall ever seeing icicles like this on any house I've lived in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Randomness is a word dating back to 1803 (at least)

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. One of the best perks of my job is having access to the OED online.

2. I love to sing, but I really can't.

3. Even as I get less able to do things, (curse you, middle age) I derive more pleasure from doing things. I'm more physically daring than I was as a kid.

4. I'm a sorta vegetarian. I've never been a big fan of red meat, especially not as a kid, but I love seafood and poultry.

5. I'm good at remembering authors and titles of books, even when I can't remember character names or plots or even whether I've read a given book.

6. My favorite thing to do is read. My very favorite thing to do is read aloud to the kids. I give the characters distinctive voices and everything.

7. I have the best family, better than my niece Lauren's, because my in-laws are awesome, too. Finally, my dream of a Brady Bunch-like family has come true!

8. As a former Air Force brat, nothing brings me greater pleasure than just staying home.

9. I love other people's dogs, but am much too lazy to have one of my own.

10. I only like coffee if I have cream to put in it. Milk is inadequate. Which probably means I don't really like coffee. But even cream won't help Starbuck's coffee, which tastes burnt.

11. I spent three years as a college freshman, three years as a college senior, and I was kicked out of two different acting programs.

12. Sky-diving with my mother and brother is my best adventure so far.

13. It's a good day if I illicit a spit-take from one of the kids at supper. It's a great day if I make the Spouse laugh.

14. I'm obsessive about my socks. They have to match my outfit. Even though I wear my jeans long so that they don't show.

15. I think I sound like an American, if not actually a Southerner, so I'm still weirded out when people say I sound English.

16. You know what's just as cool as marshmallow guns? Foam swords.

17. Real life is sadly lacking in big production numbers and fight scenes.

18. Good implosions are just as much fun as good explosions. And, if one is feeling really stompy, you can always make a block town and go Godzilla on it.

19. I'm nonplussed when other people use "nonplussed" incorrectly.

20. My favorite video game allows me to spectacularly wreck cars, which I try not to do in real life.

21. I was shocked to learn that not everyone can point to the cardinal directions from the homes and workplaces.

22. There's lots of stuff I don't know how to do, but I'm willing to wing it. Except with cooking.

23. I have a lousy sense of smell, and therefor, taste, and I'm a bad cook. And I'm okay with that.

24. Who knew I'd be this happily married after fifteen years? This marriage thing is great.

25. My motto: "I don't know, but I can look it up."

I'm not going to tag anyone except Lauren, just because I know how long it took me to finish this. But if anyone wants to play along, be sure and let me know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

For the Spouse

Video that's sure to please of

the only living mammal that can actually inject venom into its prey through specialized teeth

Sadly, there's no good close up of the poisonous fangs, or anything, it just looks like a possum. But knowing it's poisonous makes it cool.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I've been sick, the kids have been sick, we had another outbreak of Mr. Knacksaps, hopefully put permanently to rest by Ovide, the holidays were extremely pleasant in a low-key sort of way, the kids are now playing Scattergories with a vengeance and some glee and my work computer was taken down yesterday by no fewer than 14 different invasive agents. The very helpful gentleman who disinfected poor Ferret was given leave to re-write everything (that sometimes being easier). All the work stuff is backed up, so that's okay. Three hours after the resuscitated Ferret was returned I realized The List was not backed up elsewhere.

So, it's trivial in the greater scheme of things, but I'm really sad about the loss of that work. More than 6,000 books, and when I finished them, all gone. Well, mostly gone. I'd gotten about ten percent into Note:Books and most of the titles (but not dates read) into LibraryThing.

I'm still sick, by the bye, but now I feel really bad.

And no, I haven't gotten the holiday cards out yet, but I have them, and an address book*, and a really adorable picture of the Offspring, so email me (with contact info) if you'd like a January pick-me-up.

* Yes, an old fashioned spiral-bound book, because I lost all my addresses and phone numbers in an earlier** home-computer related disaster.

** Much earlier. Years ago. So, that's why you didn't get one last yer, either. Or the year before that. Or, you know, ever.