Archive for the 'Books' Category

Video interview with YA author Katie Davis

Earlier this month I interviewed Katie Davis about her new YA novel, Dancing with the Devil. The book,  released by Diversion Books on April 15, tells the story of Mackenzie Douglas, who appears to be a typical teenager but is hiding a traumatic past. You can read my review (I loved it) here, and check out the video below.

Virtual Advent Tour: Holiday book memories

Today’s post is part of Kailana and Marg’s 2013 Virtual Advent Tour, in which bloggers take turns sharing a holiday-related post each day in December, leading up to Christmas. I participated in 2011, but somehow I missed the tour last year.

This year I want to write about some beloved holiday books from my childhood. It might be a little difficult, because all my books are packed away in storage at the moment. (I moved! But I’m staying with a friend for now. All this is related to why I haven’t blogged since October — eek!) Nevertheless, I’m doing this based on memories, not as full-scale reviews.

Jingle Bugs

Beloved holiday book #1: Jingle Bugs by David A. Carter

This is the book that started my love and collection of pop-up books. I was in second grade the year it came out, and Mrs. Thompson read it to our entire class. With the cute little bugs hiding in Christmas trees and other presents  — plus the light-up tree at the end that plays a “Jingle Bugs” tune — this book instantly shot to the top of my Christmas list. My brother gave it to me and its magic captivated me for years. I accumulated other pop-up bug books by Carter, but this one remained the best.


Beloved holiday book #2: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

I discovered this lesser-known by The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author in my middle school library. In it, Santa is an abandoned child raised by a wood nymph. Eventually he must find his own way in the world and grows from carving toys for youngsters to the once-a-year joy bringer we all knew and loved as kids. The fanciful creatures and chance to see Santa as a person with a dynamic history pull you right into this enchanting “history.”

In addition to my first encounter with this book (and subsequent annual readings), I have another special memory about it. Just before Christmas in 2006, when Andrew and were on the verge of dating, he mailed his copy of this book to me. One of our bonds was over continued delight in our imaginations, and it was such a dear gift (plus a much cooler copy than mine) that I donated my copy and never told him I’d read it before! The letter he wrote with it is still in the book, and right now I’m really wishing I had kept it out of from the books that went into storage last month.

What holiday books did you love as a child? Do you have any non-Christmas holiday favorites? Later this week I’ll share two holiday picture books I’ve been digging as an adult. Ones about Ramadan!

Characters along the way

I don’t have a great desire to be a novelist, but as I do my job as a small-town reporter I am building a brain bank of book-ready characters. I collect people’s idiosyncrasies and mannerisms in my mind like a button collector collects…well, buttons.

I also felt this way when I worked for my brother at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Perhaps I should start a consulting business in which I share the characters I’ve met throughout the country/world with aspiring authors.

Marlene Carrier, a.k.a. The Button Lady

Marlene Carrier, age 78, introduced herself to me as “The Button Lady.” Her son, who is now 54, started collecting buttons when Barry Goldwater ran for president. Marlene starting making buttons when her friend Tom Ridge ran for Pennsylvania governor. She sells political buttons at fairs and Republican State Committee events. She’s even had some in the Smithsonian museum. “I’ve done it all in politics but this is the most fun,” Marlene told me. Photo taken at National Night Out in Duncannon, Aug. 2012.


Frankenstein (A Monstrous Parody) book trailer

Did you know there’s such a thing as book trailers? Yes, like movie trailers, but for books! I only learned this recently and wanted to share an example of one that has definitely made me want to go read this book, which is “a monstrous parody” of Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline.

How to get kids excited about reading

Be passionate. Be creative. Be so committed you will even jump on desks shouting “I LOVE READING!” to get their attention.

In other words, be like this guy:

It’s Banned Books Week!

Go check out some of the most frequently challenged books and leave me a comment about one of your favorites on the list. Why do you love it? When did you read it? Did it make you think differently about yourself or the world?

If you’re a teacher or librarian try these suggestions for highlighting banned books in schools!

Finally, though this week is a good way to celebrate the First Amendment, critical thinking and the freedom to read,  it’s important to remember the problems that banning books brings to individuals and communities. In this episode of Brain Burps about Books podcast, Amy Timberlake and Adam Rex share their feelings after their picture book The Dirty Cowboy was banned in a Lebanon County, PA school district. (Not too far from me, in fact.)

Censorship is a complicated topic and what makes Banned Books Books Week worth celebrating is the chance to have conversations about why censorship happens and how it affects people and society. So go on, tell me about one of your favorite banned books! Later in the week I’ll upload a video of myself reading one of my own favorites.

July BAND: Upcoming Nonfiction

This month at the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees, Zohar of Man of La Book asks, what upcoming nonfiction books are you excited about?

My answer to this is brief because I’m not that up on what books are coming out soon. (Related question for nonfiction devotees: how do you know about new or forthcoming books? Is there a secret world of book trailers/previews I don’t know about?)

Coincidentally, I just started following the blog of Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings and by doing so, I learned that he will have a new book out in January 2013. Because I Said So! will debunk myths and warnings that adults pass on to children over generations. As someone who works with kids and tries to avoid “because I said so,” comments, this book sounds like a fun read to me!


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