Archive for January, 2010
• A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy: Covers – LizB reflects upon the Bloomsbury cover controversy, with links to other posts. MotherReader has some thoughts as well.
• Brooklyn Arden: The Best YA You Haven’t Read – more TBR madness. Oh, my list, she will not stop growing.
• 2010 Scott O’Dell Winner « educating alice – another for my TBR pile: The Storm in the Barn.
• The wonderful Anastasia Suen has taken the reins for the Carnival of Children’s Literature. She has almost a full slate of hosts lined up for 2010 already—thanks so much, Anastasia! The January Carnival will be hosted by Jenny’s Wonderland of Books on January 30th You may submit a post by the 29th via the BlogCarnival submission form.
I’ve experimented with several other platforms—
• BookGlutton is growing on me. It’s an ebook reader for your browser, with some nifty features built in. You can write notes in the margins, and other people can see these notes and comment back—so just imagine, we could all read a book together and discuss it page by page if we wanted.
For example, if you click on that widget it’ll open to the first page of the book, and there’s a chat window (the TALK button on the left) and a place to write margin notes (the MARK button on the right). Has possibilities, no?
(I’m curious—did the widget add to this page’s download time?)
• BookBalloon—a forum for discussion about books and the arts. Every time I visit I wish I had more time to participate there. Very high caliber of conversation. There’s a monthly book club, author interviews, all sorts of good stuff.
• Readernaut—same concept as GoodReads, I think?
• Reading Trails—a place to create lists of related books, in that rabbit-traily way that appeals to so many of us.
And a few I’ve not yet explored:
• Shelfari (I see the Shelfari widget all over the place; it’s the one that looks like a real bookshelf.)
What have you tried? What’s your favorite way to talk about books online?
• Lost Ladybug Project – Tabatha thought this post about a ladybug species counting project might be up our alley. She was SO RIGHT. I do believe my gang will try to take part in this.
•Learn Sign Language – Signing Time News » From Rachel: Happy Birthday, Emilie! – HT to pal Sarah for this lovely tribute from one sister to another.
• Sarcasm punctuation mark to put an end to email confusion – Oh, I’m SO SURE that will work. No more email confusion, EVER.
• And this one’s for Helen, who noticed the photos of a finch stealing a sip from our hummingbird feeder. This little guy amused me for a good half hour last week, the way he kept sipping and then taking surreptitious looks around, as if the other finches would never let him live it down if he* got caught drinking the hummingbirds’ koolaid.
* I say “he,” but I’m guessing. He’s a male house finch, yes? I admit I have a hard time telling the house finch and the purple finch apart.
This blog will be five years old tomorrow (Wednesday the 20th). Five years, 1928 posts (this one makes 1929), over eleven thousand comments. That last figure does not seem possible but my dashboard is telling me 11,495 comments approved. Which speaks to exactly what has kept me enthusiastically blogging these past five years: you. Thanks, all of you who visit me here, sharing your humor, your insight, your warmth.
A lot has changed since I wrote that first entry.
The children. These days the girls are calling themselves Jane, Rose, and Beanie. Well actually it’s Jane and Rose calling the youngest one Beanie, but she answers to it. And then there’s the baby, whom we affectionately refer to as Wonderboy. Their ages are 9, 6, almost 4, and 13 months…I write. Scott writes. Both of us, here at home, in this messy office with my photocopies of 18th-century Edinburgh all over the wall and his comic-book-hero statues staring at us from atop the shelves.
I miss that office! Now I write sitting on my bed, on this laptop, and the hero statues are in storage. New comics art ornaments Scott’s office walls but that isn’t here at home anymore. And those little girls, oh my. That nine-year-old was in a heavy Jane of Lantern Hill phase and “Jane” was her make-believe name of choice, that month. Beanie’s about to be the nine-year-old now. Wonderboy has become the big brother. How can Rilla be the almost-four-year-old? How can Huck be past a year?
When I began the blog, I thought it would be a time-saver. (I will pause until the laughter dies down.) I was spending lots of time answering email queries back then, questions from all sorts of readers about the Martha and Charlotte books, children’s book recommendations, a whole gamut of topics. Not that I was (or am) so full of answers, but when it comes to books I usually have a thing or two to say. 😉 I had a primitive website on which I was attempting to answer the book questions, and I had begun reading blogs and was impressed by the possibilities. A blog seemed a likely place to post answers to the kinds of questions I was hearing most often.
What you don’t know until you start blogging is that a blog takes on a life of its own. It’s a conversation, not an essay collection. You meet new people; your world expands; you keep encountering new things to be interested in and you can’t help but share the discoveries.
So I won’t claim that it has been in any way a time-saver, but it has certainly been a joy, in so many ways.
One unexpected element of blogging, something I didn’t foresee at the beginning, was what a treasure this record would become to my family. Our stories are chronicled here, not just our major life events but the small moments, the funny ones, the extraordinary ordinary. I’m grateful to this blog for getting me in the habit of writing down these things down. Huzzah for the searchable archive!
But mostly I’m grateful for you. The 11,495 things you’ve said, and the quiet readers among you as well. Thanks for making Bonny Glen a place I love to be.
UPDATED! I got to Melanie’s comment below and let out a whoop—I hadn’t realized our blogs shared a birthday! The Wine-Dark Sea is one of my favorite places on the web: I can always count on reading something smart, thoughtful, and full of insight. In the unscientific labeling system that is my attempt to organize the subscriptions in my feed reader, Melanie started out in “thinkers,” quickly moved to “favorite reads,” and now resides in “pals.” All three descriptions fit to a T. Thanks, Melanie, for the way you consistently exercise my ponder muscle. Happy blog-birthday!
It’s also the actual birthday of my real-life friend Laurie of Seaglass Hearts. Happy day, my dear!
- Craft Hope by crafthope on Etsy – “All proceeds of the Craft Hope Etsy shop will benefit Doctors Without Borders in Haiti. All items have been generously donated by the crafting community. If you’d like to donate an item please visit the Craft Hope website (www.crafthope.com).”
- FT.com / Reportage – Moscow’s stray dogs – “Every so often, you would see one waiting on a metro platform. When the train pulled up, the dog would step in, scramble up to lie on a seat or sit on the floor if the carriage was crowded, and then exit a few stops later.”
- Cybils: REVIEW The Frog Scientist by Pamela S. Turner – “This Scientists in the Field title is about Berkeley professor Tyrone Hayes and his research into the effects of pesticides on frogs.” TBR!
- Flying Bicycle Lane Lets You Soar Above Traffic | Inhabitat – Can you imagine?
- What America owes to Haiti | Cranach: The Blog of Veith – “So if you are glad America’s independence was not snuffed out shortly after birth, and if you are glad you are not ruled by the French, and if you live in what used to be the Louisiana Purchase, thank the Haitians.”
I woke up this morning to the happy news that When You Reach Me won the Newbery Award. I was rooting for it! Here’s what I had to say about it in September:
…I want to tell you all about how much I enjoyed Rebecca Stead’s excellent middle-grade novel, When You Reach Me—but if I say anything, practically anything at all, I’ll give away things I’d rather you discovered yourself in the pages of the book, in the perfect way Stead has chosen to reveal them to you. I can say that it’s about a girl who reads A Wrinkle in Time repeatedly, constantly; that her best friend, a boy, abruptly withdraws from her; that her mother is a single, working mom hoping for a chance to shine on $20,000 Pyramid; that it’s 1979; that there’s a mystery; that there are characters I will never forget, completely fresh, completely believable; that I haven’t read a novel that nails the flavor of New York City so perfectly since, gosh, Harriet the Spy. But none of that tells you what I loved most about the book, or what makes it sing, or why I won’t soon forget it. I can’t tell you those things until you’ve read it—and then you won’t need me to, because you’ll know too.
This year’s Newbery Honor books are:
• Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
• The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
• Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (we just brought this home home from the library on Saturday; I’d been hearing great things about it)
• The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly—here was my response to that one:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. I loved it: this funny, tangy tale of an eleven-year-old girl, surrounded by brothers on a Texas pecan farm in 1899, with a mother yearning for a girly-girl, a fascination with the critters whose doings she records in her very important notebook, and an aloof, bewhiskered grandfather who has never, until now, seemed to notice her existence. I was delighted by the way Callie and her grandfather become acquainted with one another via their mutual interest in the natural world—he’s a correspondent of Charles Darwin and an amateur naturalist and scientist, ever on the lookout for a new species of flora or fauna that might add his name to the rolls of the distinguished discoverers of the day. At first he reacts to Callie rather as if she’s a curious new species herself, and the feeling is mutual. Slowly, they bond…oh, I loved it, the slow revelation of kindred spirits. And meanwhile, there are family antics, and wondrous new technology coming to town (a telephone! an automobile!), and Callie has to figure out how to carve out time for her burning interests when the womenfolk in her life demand piano practice and embroidery and cookery lessons. Certainly there have been many books tackling a girl’s struggles to define and defend her own identity as the people around her seem determined to squeeze her into a mold she isn’t sure fits—I’ve worked with that theme myself, in my Martha books—but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone quite like Miss Calpurnia Tate. It’s the setting, the context, that sold me on this book: I’d place it with The Great Brain and Ginger Pye on my mental bookshelf: episodic, comical, historically delicious novels full of eccentric and lovable characters, with that something extra that sets them apart from the crowd.
SLJ has a list of all this year’s award winners (Caldecott, Printz, Coretta Scott King, etc). Congratulations to all!
Stead, who lives in Manhattan with her family, said in an interview with Amazon.com that although she loved A Wrinkle in Time as a child, she hadn’t originally intended to include it in her own prize-winning novel.
“It started out as a small detail in Miranda’s story, a sort of talisman, and one I thought I would eventually jettison, because you can’t just toss A Wrinkle in Time in there casually,” she said. “But as my story went deeper, I saw that I didn’t want to let the book go. I talked about it with my editor, Wendy Lamb, and to others close to the story. And what we decided was that if we were going to bring L’Engle’s story in, we needed to make the book’s relationship to Miranda’s story stronger. So I went back to A Wrinkle in Time and read it again and again, trying to see it as different characters in my own story might (sounds crazy, but it’s possible). And those readings led to new connections.”
- Five Minutes a Day for Fresh-Baked Bread – Have had my eye on the book for a while…thanks, Melanie, for this link.
- Babushka Flash Drive available at Delight.com – How much more could I adore this thing? None more, is how much.
- Tour of Manhattan based on ‘Stuart Little,’ ‘Eloise’ and other children’s books – washingtonpost.com –
I’ve long been aware that I am somewhat sloppy in my approach to link-saving and -sharing. I “like,” I share, I tweet, I deem certain items Delicious, I upload to Flickr, I send to Facebook. I seldom Stumble, but recently I began to Tumbl. I log the books I’ve read at GoodReads and am slowly cataloging the books I own at LibraryThing. And those are just the social media I use regularly. The number of things I’ve tried out—well, a free Evernote account would scarcely accommodate the list.
It may be a bit of overkill, but the thing is, I really do use all these media in different ways. Lately I’ve been trying to streamline and simplify how I use them, and I feel like things are starting to run pretty efficiently.
• Delicious. In the past I’ve used this social bookmarking site sporadically to share links here on the blog. The Postalicious plug-in makes it super easy to autopost links. As of this week, I am keeping my ongoing books-I’d-like-to-read list at Delicious as well. When I read a post about an intriguing book, I save it to Delicious with a TBR tag. I should have started this practice a long time ago.
• Tumblr. While I use Delicious for links I want to share with other people (and the TBR list), my newish Tumblr account is a catch-all just for me. After that frustrating lapse the other week when I couldn’t remember where I read an article I very much wanted to refer to again, I decided I needed a journal for my online reading. I keep my book log so faithfully, but what about the zillions of posts and articles I read on the web? Enter Tumblr. I’m trying to be good about tagging so I can find things again, and I’m trying to cultivate a habit of Tumbling everything of substance I read online. Everything! It’s a tall order.
(And why not just bookmark posts via my browser or Google toolbar? Because the bookmark lists quickly become too long and unwieldy. Tumblr, with tags, is faster.)
So, in a nutshell:
Delicious for links I want to share on the blog, and for the TBR list.
Tumblr for a record of my online reading.
GoodReads for a record of the books I’ve read.
LibraryThing to catalog the books I own. (But really, I haven’t taken a whack at this giant task in months. It’s not a priority.)
Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Say what you will, I love Facebook. Today, out of the blue, I heard from a high-school friend I lost touch with after graduation, but whom I’ve never forgotten. She played Sally in a school production of Snoopy, the Musical. Whenever my kids play that soundtrack—which is often—I think of Lisa. Amazing singer. What a delight it was to find a note from her on my Facebook page today. Facebook, I heart you.
Twitter for quick recording of funny kid moments, quick info-searching (as when I had a question about garam masala powder last night and within seconds of tweeting the question, found myself in conversation with a very friendly author of Indian cookbooks), and participating in dynamic conversations among the various communities I belong to: writers, homeschoolers, booklovers, etc.
Flickr for the easiest way to share photos with family and friends.
Google Reader Shared Items for blog posts I want to bring to other people’s attention—this autoposts to my sidebar.
Related post: A Day in the Life of My iPod Touch