Dear Secret Santa

Dear Secret Santa from the Book Blogger Holiday Swap,

I LOVED your package!  I got it well before Christmas, opened it to find three wrapped book-shaped things as well as a "READ" sticker, postcard, and two adorable finger puppet monsters.  Well.  Puppets and postcards are among my favorite things in the whole world!  Along with reading of course! I was so thrilled and satisfied by these unwrapped gifts (the sticker is going on our bumper as soon as the snow melts off of it, and the puppets were put to immediate use) that I put the books under the tree.  When I opened them on Christmas day, imagine my delight as, one after the other, they were all perfect picks!  Persuasion I was just finishing from the library and thrilled to get my own copy.  Mostly Good Girls I've been wanting to get my hands on because The Leila Texts blog cracks me up.  But my library system doesn't yet have a copy!  So thank you!  And I have been meaning to read the Emily Windsnap books ever since I first saw their gorgeous covers at a bookstore. So. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Christmas cheer to all!

Cybils round one concludes!

Ashley and I have finished our Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Round one panelist duties.  The shortlist is decided. The blurbs are written. We have acquitted ourselves well. (Can you tell by that last sentence that I jumped right in to reading Austen's Persuasion? For the first time, I might add. One does require a break from modern children's lit every once in a while.)

And though I am bursting with recommendations for you, we are taking something of an internet hiatus. No computer for two whole days (Christmas Eve and Christmas) -- except for webcam with family. For the two days following, only checking email and the bank. I think this will be quite a test of will for me. Wish me luck!


Two of my favs

I haven't read nearly as many books as the other panelists this time around the Cybils block, but that's okay, since Alysa and I are a judging team. But the two that have stood out to me most so far are Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze and Betti on the High Wire. Very different books; very good books. Both are applicable and would be enjoyable to more than just 8-12-year-old kids.

I agree with the School Library Journal on Milo: "Alan Silberberg has managed something that I would have deemed near impossible. He’s penned a funny novel that deals with the very real issue of how a family copes when one of its family members passes on and he’s done it with a combo of art and prose. Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze combines interstitial comics with a fun text and a gripping story to come up with a book that manages to be all things for all readers. Humor fans will like it, but so too will those kids who need a little extra meat in their fiction."

Amen to that. Milo is a totally funny, dorky, clueless, hilarious middle-school boy. I loved reading this book through his perspective. His was a really fresh, really authentic voice. This one has stayed with me in a way that most of the other reads have not. Two thumbs up.

And Betti. Babo is a "leftover" orphan from a war-torn country who gets adopted by an American family and brought to live in the United States. She's never been in a car before, let alone an airplane. She's never left her village before, let alone her country. But leave she does, and is instantly welcomed into the loving arms of a family of three---for the first time in her living memory becoming a daughter and a sister, and for the first time having a roof over her head and plenty of food to eat. Though part of her likes her new life, she's determined she won't "adapt" to being adopted, and she lives from day to day plotting how she will go back to the family of other leftovers she left behind.

I loved experiencing our country and its peculiarities through Betti's fiery, entertaining perspective. This book, like Milo, was simultaneously heart-twisting and hilarious. Two thumbs up for Betti, too. I recommend both of these reads to any reader of any age.

On with the next!
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