Notes From the Shire

April is for Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. And there is nothing like reading poems to our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or students.  From the time I was old enough to write on the bedroom door, words have always fascinated me.  When I learned that there was a world of words called Poetry, I knew that poems were the way to go.  But perhaps what grabs my attention even more than a collection of poems, are a collection of poems that tell a story.

One such collection is There’s No Place like School: Classroom Poems selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrations by Jane Manning. These poems are done by different poets to tell the story of the school experience. There are many different takes on the same theme: the good (Lunchroom Magic by Charles Ghigna), the bad (It's Today? by Sara Holbrook) and the naughty (The Drinking Fountain by Kenn Nesbitt). Each will have your students, children and grandchildren laughing out loud, sympathizing with the students as tests, naughty water fountains and more are perfectly described. These poets, along with Manning's illustrations, have nailed the world of school flawlessly. Adults will remember their own school days with fond memories and teachers will have their own Why the Frog in Our Class Is Purple moments to be reminded of. (READ MORE)

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There's No Place Like School: Classroom Poems Cover Image
By Jack Prelutsky, Jane Manning (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780060823382
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - June 22nd, 2010

Heroes….Starring You

About two weeks ago, I picked up the book Hothouse by a long-time favorite author, Chris Lynch. Thinking it would be another novel to enjoy; I snuggled down in my favorite reading corner and started to dig in.  What started as a “Reading Time” (a time that is always a preferred part of the day….only second to “Chocolate Time”) turned into a thoughtful trip on the meaning of heroes.

Two firefighters, their sons and the community that wanted to claim them as “theirs” is the premise. The result is what happens after.  Before his last year of high school, Russ’ father and another firefighter) are killed in a routine house fire.  This brings Russ to start questioning and remembering many different things: his relationship with his former best friend, DJ (son of the other firefighter and next door neighbor); his place in the Young Fire Fighter Group, and which memories, ideas and feelings he has about his father were real and which were the hopes and wishes of a devoted son. As Russ thinks he has a hold on this, new facts come to light that could tarnish the reputation of the community’s heroes. Just as quickly as they were built up, the town tears them apart. Lynch creates a five-alarm world where you start to understand that heroes can be human, too. (Ages 12 up.)

This led to the novel, Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan (READ MORE)

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Hothouse: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061673795
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - August 24th, 2010

Howl and Other Poems

I was introduced to the Beat writers later than most of my peers, but realized that it does not matter when you find them just that you did. This was because Allen Ginsberg was going to speak at my college. I was going to go to the reading with a friend, but family obligations prevented him from coming. However, I was not going to let this stop me: I had a professor tease me with his stories of the 1960’s and 1970’s; I had a former teacher/friend who had told me of her own Ginsberg adventure (a clothing optional romp in the park) and, of course, I had been On the Road.

The Alexander Twilight Theater (the campus theater/classroom) was intimate, but I still was a distance from the stage as I sat near the back. The only light shone on this balding, bearded man on stage. I tried to get comfortable. Tried not to think about classes or homework. I sat. I listened. I forgot I was uncomfortable. One word: Wow! He probably made mistakes, a false start here or there, but I do not remember. I remember a “little” poem called HOWL that has stayed with me: an acquaintance has sent me a copy in Polish; I’ve a pre-loved copy and recently was introduced to the graphic novel highlighted in the movie HOWL, staring James Franco. (READ MORE)

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Howl and Other Poems (Pocket Poets #4) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780872860179
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: City Lights Publishers - City Lights Publishe - January 2001


Throughout college I babysat ages baby on up. I changed diapers. After college I worked on a friend’s farm. I scooped pony, goat, sheep and (stepped in) chicken poop.  After starting at the Northshire Bookstore I sold a book called Everyone Poops. (I think I’m noticing a trend…..).  But this is not a bad thing. It is character building.

Therefore, it probably is not surprising my favorite books are ones with character. These books will be in public, school and home libraries for years to come. Resonating long after the book is closed.

No matter how many years pass or how many wonderful books come out of her pen, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, will always speak. What do you do when you are a high school freshman and want to fit in? You go to a party. What do you do when a popular senior seems interested in you? You speak to him. What do you do when he rapes you? You call the police. But what happens when you cannot speak about what happened? The police come and break it up and your peers blame you. Never bothering to learn why you did what you did. What do you do when the only person speaking to you is your rapist? This is the world that Anderson created for Melinda. A world where not only a powerful subject is introduced to our consciousness, but a world that is all too common: the shunning of a fellow student simply because no one takes the time to know the person behind their actions.  Anderson shows that words (or lack of them) can harm. (READ MORE)

Speak Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312674397
Availability: Click Title for IN STOCK Location
Published: Square Fish - May 10th, 2011

Need a Vacation?

Recently I took a journey to the shelves of the Northshire Bookstore.  It’s probably one of my favorite trips. Even as a kid, I knew that going to go to the Northshire meant something great was going to happen (and it wasn’t just because at the time we were located where you could look out a window in the children’s level and see a waterfall!) No, I knew that I was going to get….. (wait for it)…..a BOOK! Maybe even two, if I was really good (or could talk my sister into getting my “other pick” as her own……).

On this newest journey one of the souvenirs I took home with me was a book called The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin.  Cronin is known for Click Clack Moo illustrated by Betsy Lewin and Diary of a Worm illustrated by Harry Bliss. However, The Trouble With Chickens (while a fantastic read aloud to that age) tends to fly up to the higher reader. (READ MORE)

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The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery Cover Image
By Doreen Cronin, Kevin Cornell (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780061215346
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - January 24th, 2012

A Novel Idea

Those who know me know that I’m easily distracted by shiny objects, squirrels and impressive spines on books. The other day one of these things caught my eye: three black dust jackets with shocking white print. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus was the book. The cover is two black and white photographs. One is the face of a girl. In the other a girl seems to fly out of the photograph. Beautiful and intriguing….but even more intriguing was the fact that it was written by a first time novelist.

Those that know me know that I love first time novels.  It is a great way to say “I’ve read all of Author X’s books.”  It is also a great way to find a new author to keep an eye out for. Two authors that are in these categories are Exposed by Marcus and Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg. Probably two more different books could not be found, but found together they were on a restocking cart. (READ MORE)

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Exposed Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375865916
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ember - February 28th, 2012


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