Saturday, October 30, 2021

October in Review


featuring a number of Halloween jokes, art, and tweets I've found

My Reading

# of books read: 7
Bests: In which I tell you all my favorite reads and make up categories so they each win something:

Best audiobook + best turns of phrase: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Best sequel with foxes: Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City by Christian Heidicker
Best very quiet vampire book: All These Bodies by Kendare Blake
Best job forcing me to live up to the title: Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin
Best book I put off reading for way too long and am so glad I finally read: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Bookish Events and Happenings

I had my first meeting of our school's Oregon Battle of the Books club, then we had to cancel the next two meetings. It seemed like a very enthusiastic group of readers though, and it's a nice sized group too, so I'm optimistic. I also won an ARC of Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, got $50 credit at First Book for signing up for an author's newsletter, and got sent a box of books off my wish list, all of which is a boon to my classroom library and thus to my students. 

Also, Jordan Sonnenblick responded to one of my tweets. Given that usually nobody responds to any of my tweets, much less authors I admire, this was kind of exciting.

On the Blog

I started writing on my blog again! Just TTT posts for now, but it's a start. 


  • My kid went to homecoming with a bunch of friends. We are such different people, and I may or may not survive being the parent of a social butterfly.

  • I made green tomato chocolate cupcakes. They were delish. The tomato is really just a way to use unripe produce and adds moisture, not flavor. 

  • My husband and I went out for Thai food with a couple he's known since freshman year in college, and then we played a new-to-us board game (Splendor) at their house. It all felt very pre-2020. 

  • I got my booster shot and my flu shot. 

  • On Friday my co-worker who teaches in the next room over and I showed up in these outfits. Neither of us even knew the other was going to dress up.

Also, check out this amazing BookFace photo one of my students took while dressed as Rosie the Riveter.

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight, as are terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole and Shannon usually put together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Monday, October 25, 2021

TTT: Boo!


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow, head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is a Halloween freebie. So here are ten books I'm displaying for my students this week. I try to mix it up for them, so there's cute and there's creepy and there's scary. There's middle grade and young adult novels, old favorites and new titles, graphic novels and nonfiction--a little bit of everything. 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
This charming graphic novel is actually the most directly Halloween-y of them all, given that it takes place in a pumpkin patch. 

The Fell of Dark by Caleb Roehrig
It's got fake vampire teeth on the cover and real vampire chaos on the inside.

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Teen witch accidentally brings back dead enemies as she tries to solve her friend's murder.

The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller
I wanted to include a non-fiction option, so I picked up this excellent analysis of the infamous Lizzie Borden. 

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A nice Day of the Dead touch, and one of my favorites of the past year. If your family expects only men to be brujos, what's a trans boy got to do to convince their family to let them work their own magic? And why is that ghost he accidentally summoned so cute?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3 by Alvin Schwartz
Remember the good old days, when parents tried to ban these books because they are "too scary," instead of banning books because they represent actual human experiences being Black, gay, or an immigrant? Good times. 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Puts the "graphic" in graphic novel. This is like someone took the Scary Stories books and upped the creep factor by 100.

Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall
I haven't read this one yet, but it's about a town where every 13 years, three 13 year olds disappear on Halloween, so it seemed very appropriate to include.

Fright Night by Maren Stoffels
This one has too much of a teen horror vibe for my taste, but my teens love horror, and the title sounds like a synonym for Halloween, so I included it.

Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova
Just regular witches going to witch school at night (because it's regular non-witch school during the day), until something that scares even witches starts stalking the kids. Great middle grade graphic novel that I hope gets a sequel soon.

Monday, October 18, 2021

TTT: Favorite Illustrators


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow, head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Online Resources for Book Lovers
But I don't really have any, so instead I'm going to follow a thought prompted by last week's TTT, and share some of my favorite illustrators. This means this will be another mostly nostalgic, definitely children's and MG book post. I'm listing the books these illustrators worked on that I have read myself, although of course many of them did many other projects as well. Some are author/illustrators and some strictly illustrate the words of others. As I worked on this list, I started thinking of modern illustrators I also really love, so I'll save those for a later post. 

Garth Williams: The Rescuers, A Cricket in Times Square, several Little House books, Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, several Little Golden Books, etc.

Arthur Rackham: Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, A Midsummer Night's Dream, etc.

Ernest Shepherd: The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh

Tasha Tudor: The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert McCloskey: Blueberries for Sal, Make Way for Ducklings, Homer Price

Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are, Higgledy Piggledy Pop!, In the Night KitchenLittle Bear, What Do You Do, Dear?, Chicken Soup with Rice

Kate Seredy: The Good Master, The Singing Tree, The White Stag, Caddie Woodlawn

Mercer Mayer: A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog series, Beauty and the Beast The Great Brain series. (But not the Little Critter stuff.)

Kate Greenaway: Mother Goose, Under the Window

Clearly, I've always been a sucker for pretty dresses and for pen line drawings. Do you recognize any of these? 

Monday, October 11, 2021

TTT: Favorite Settings from my Childhood


 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Favorite Book Settings. As I worked on a list, I realized that the settings that live the deepest in my heart and imagination are from books I read  as a child. Maybe it's because I definitely re-read favorite books dozens of times when I was a kid, so they really sunk into my memory. Maybe it's the lack of cynicism, both in me and in the books, that allowed me to idealize these places. Regardless, here are ten settings that I've carried vividly with me since I was in grade school.

1. Prince Edward Island, as featured in the Anne of Green Gables books. Anne's own descriptions are what sells it, of course. Who wouldn't want to ride a buggy down the White Way of Delight?

2. The Hungarian steppes of Kate Seredy's The Good Master and The Singing Tree. I can't even explain what a hold these books have on me. Racing horses across the wide open spaces, sausages hanging from the rafters, embroidered vests and skirts on fancy occasions, and a family with so much love to spare that they take in prisoners of war during WWI. 

3.  Would it be a list on Falconer's Library without sneaking some Le Guin onto it? The islands of Earthsea, the tombs of Atuan, Ged's boat and Tehanu's home on the cliffs, though that came later than the original trilogy. This series is why I mispronounce archipelago, since I learned it in print long before I heard it in person. 

4. The Shire. Many of the other Hobbit settings are vivid as well, from the town of Dale to Gollum's underground caverns and Smaug's lair, but c'mon, we all know we'd really only be happy if we lived behind a round green door.

5. The alpine cabin where Heidi's grandfather lived. Falling asleep to the sound of the wind in the pines, watching the meadows explode with wildflowers in the brief mountain summer...yes please.

6. Skating along the frozen canals of Holland with Hans Brinker and his sister Gretel, who really should have been included in the title too. It's as much from her point of view as his. Hmph.

7. The Secret Garden. Sadly, the book is chock-full of racist and classist and ableist thinking, but when I was a kid, those Tasha Tudor illustrations made me want to dig in the dirt and birdwatch with Mary and Dickon and Colin. I guess I was preparing for middle age.

8. Vermont, as described in Understood Betsy. I went to college in Vermont, and not gonna lie, this book fueled at least 25% of that decision. I have yet to tap a maple tree though. #BucketList. #AccidentalPun.

9. Midcentury New York City. Harriet the Spy, Corduroy, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, The Snowy Day, The Cricket in Times Square, Stuart Little--I wanted to live in a building with a super, walk down busy sidewalks, ride the subway, pop into the library with the two huge lions out front, and buy food from corner stores or hotdog carts. 

10. In a similar vein, Victorian London. Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Little Princess, Black Hearts in Battersea. There are more, but I can't remember them--just a general sense of fancy dresses and pea-soup fog. 

Two books I've read much more recently with a fantastic sense of place are Ramona Blue and Firekeeper's Daughter. I've never been to the Mississippi Delta and seen the lingering effects of Katrina, nor have I ever spent any time in Michigan's Upper Penninsula, on or off reservations, but because of these books I feel like I have.