Thursday, January 13, 2011

perfect day

I managed to make an early escape from the reference desk on the first day of our new computer catalog system (whew!) thanks to a school visit to Garlough Elementary's 3rd graders. I visited 3 classes of terrific 8 year olds who greeted me with cries of "I remember you!" and "I remember when you read The End." Talk about feeling special when they remember something I did 2 years ago.

This time I read Kevin O'Malley's Once upon a Royal Superbaby which is a companion book to his Once upon a cool motorcycle dude. The story is told in the dialog of a boy and a girl, forced to work together on a school project: writing a fairy tale about a king and a queen. The boy's part of the story is full of laser guns, robots, motorcycles and a supermuscular baby named Strong Viper. The girl's version is about lovely Queen Tenderheart and her beautiful baby Sweet Piper and is full of unicorns, shopping, sweet birds and tender family moments. The book is a riot and tremendously fun to read aloud...if you're at all melodramatic (which I am in spades!).

The kids hung on every word, laughed uproariously and clapped when I finished. In other words, the perfect audience. I don't remember the public librarian ever visiting my school but I am so glad I get to do it, and with such a warm welcome from teachers and students alike. I love talking about reading and about all the cool programs at the library.

And I love Kevin O'Malley and his fun-to-share books!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Love at first word

Have you ever picked up a book and known, from the very first word, that you were going to love it? That's the way I felt about Mary Robinette Kowal's Shades of milk and honey which has been described as Jane Austen with magic.

Jane is the older (late 20s, oh my) of two sisters. Melody, the youngest sister, is fair of face and popular with the young swains of the neighborhood but her appearance is all that she has. Jane is sallow-complected with a prominent nose but she has a warm heart and is an accomplished "glamorist"--she can manipulate her surroundings magically to make them more appealing. With a few twist of the magical threads attached to everything, she can make a gentle and flower-scented breeze waft through a room, add the gentle music of bird song to a dinner party and more.

Melody is "in love" with the man next door, a feeling, unfortunately, shared by Jane. In hopes of gaining his favor, Jane acts as friend and teacher to his teenage sister who soon finds her true place in Jane's affections. Jane also attracts the grudging attention of a professional glamorist, hired to decorate the home of a noblewoman living in the area.

From such a simple beginning come elopements, reduced circumstances, unrequited love and all the other behaviors so amusing to society in early 19th century England.

Jane is a delightful companion, her plain-ness and lack of pretence make her oh-so-appealing. Do try to spend some time with her. You won't regret it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a lovely little book

When reading book reviews, odd and unexpected things catch my eye. This is one of them.

While traveling in Europe, Elizabeth Tova Bailey picked up a virus that, over a period of time, almost totally incapacitated her. She was moved to a care facility for recovery and, while there, a friend of hers brought her a flower pot with a wild violet planted in it. On the bottom of one of the leaves was a snail. Watching the snail fascinated Ms. Bailey and she was soon full of questions about snails and their behavior. The result was The sound of a wild snail eating.

This lovely little book came from her observations and research about snails and they are, indeed, fascinating little creatures. Ms. Bailey kept her snail, moving it to a terrarium, until it had produced eggs (snails are hermaphrodites), becoming the proud father/mother of many, many offspring. Soon afterwards, the snail was returned to the forest, its original home.

Warm, graceful and gentle, this is a delightful bedside book. A few pages each night was a perfect transition from wakefulness to drowsiness. A lovely little book.