Archive for April, 2010

Review of The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Body Finder

by Kimberly Derting

Harper, 2010. 329 pages.
Starred Review

Starting to read this book late at night, thinking I could read only a chapter or two because I was so tired, was a major mistake. No, this was one of those books that got me enjoying it far too much to look at the clock until I’d read the last page.

I hope that fans of Twilight will find this book. There’s the same feeling of love destined to happen (with a lot more reasons for it), a paranormal element, the heroine lives in Washington State, her uncle (okay not her father) is a police chief, she falls down a lot (though not quite as often as Bella), and her life is saved by her true love. In fact, with those rescues, I was reminded of good old-fashioned romantic suspense, especially the Mary Stewart novels I devoured in seventh and eighth grade. Best of all, the writing is excellent and the romance is exquisitely done. I think teens will love this book. I know I did!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story opens with a prologue when 8-year-old Violet hears a strange sound her father can’t hear, follows it through the woods, and finds a dead body.

Then we skip to the beginning of Violet’s junior year of high school. Like all teens, she doesn’t feel like she fits in, but she does have some legitimate reasons:

“After all, how many girls had inherited the ability to locate the dead, or at least those who had been murdered? How many little girls had spent hours of their childhood scouring the woods in search of dead animals left behind by feral predators? How many had created their own personal cemeteries in their backyards to bury the carnage they’d found, so the little souls could rest in peace?”

Something weird happened to Violet over the summer. Her best friend, Jay, whom she’s known since they were six years old, changed over the summer. They have done everything together since first grade, and he even knows her secret and keeps it safe. He even helped her make the little graves, by her side, not as if it were something strange. But now…

“She hated these new, unknown feelings that seemed to assault her whenever he was around, and sometimes even when he was only in her thoughts. She felt like she was no longer in control of her own body, and her traitorous reactions were only slightly more embarrassing than her treacherous thoughts.

“She was starting to feel like he was toxic to her.

“That, or she was seriously losing her mind, because that was the only way she could possibly explain the ridiculous butterflies she got whenever Jay was close to her. And what really irritated Violet was that he seemed to be completely oblivious of these new, and completely insane, reactions she was having to him. Obviously, whatever she had wasn’t contagious.”

As if that weren’t enough to deal with, on the first weekend after school has started, she goes to an end-of-summer party at a lake. She’s riding a Wind Runner with Jay when she feels drawn to a certain part of the lake, has to see what’s there, and finds the body of a teenage girl.

When the next girl disappears, people start to get worried.

Now, on top of Violet’s ability to find the bodies of murdered creatures, it turns out that the same echo of the creature sticks to its murderer. She learned this over the years from her cat, a natural predator. If she found a certain dead mouse by an odd taste in her mouth, she’ll have the exact same sensation when her cat, its killer, comes around.

So shouldn’t she use this ability to find whoever murdered the girl? Shouldn’t she finally use her bizarre “gift” for a valuable purpose?

This book reminded me of Num8ers, by Rachel Ward. Both books tell a story in contemporary times with one little addition — a girl who has a paranormal, rather morbid gift. However, The Body Finder tells a story that is much less dark. Instead of being an orphan, Violet has a warm and loving family. She is protected by her parents, her police chief uncle, and Jay, all of whom know about her gift.

But when you go looking for a murderer, you’re bound to run into trouble. Her family and Jay are protective, but they underestimate the strength of Violet’s gift and her obsession as more girls are killed.

Of course, Violet’s putting herself in danger only gets Jay angry and adds to the misunderstanding between the two of them.

This book has more making out than the Mary Stewart novels I used to read in junior high. But other than that, you can think of this as good old-fashioned romantic suspense. Pick this up when you’re in the mood for a dose of danger plus true love. You’d think a book called The Body Finder would be gruesome, but I found it to be sweet.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/body_finder.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

by Helen Simonson

Random House, New York, 2010. 358 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a gentle love story, which reminded me of Alexander McCall Smith’s books like La’s Orchestra Saves the World, or maybe The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Though the story is completely different, the tone is similar, with nice, calm people going about their everyday lives while confronted with problems, and quietly falling in love along the way.

The book opens on the morning when the retired Major Pettigrew has learned that his younger brother is dead:

“Major Pettigrew was still upset about the phone call from his brother’s wife and so he answered the doorbell without thinking. On the damp bricks of the path stood Mrs. Ali from the village shop. She gave only the faintest of starts, the merest arch of an eyebrow. A quick rush of embarrassment flooded to the Major’s cheeks and he smoothed helplessly at the lap of his crimson, clematis-covered housecoat with hands that felt like spades.”

Major Pettigrew’s wife died only six years before, and Mrs. Ali’s husband died the previous year, so they understand each other’s grief and little rituals, like occasionally wearing his wife’s favorite housecoat. They gradually discover they have some other interests in common, including a shared love of books.

Mrs. Ali’s Pakistani family does not approve that her husband left the shop to her and that she is continuing to run it. They are pressuring her to live with her husband’s family now that he is gone.

Meanwhile, Major Pettigrew goes to his brother’s funeral. He is appalled when he learns that his brother did not leave him the second of his father’s fine guns, a gift from an Indian maharajah. Their father had given them each one gun to remember him by, asking that the pair be reunited eventually to pass on further in the family. Major Pettigrew left explicit directions in his will to leave his gun to his brother, if he died first, but it appears that his brother did not return the favor. And his brother’s wife, their daughter, and even the Major’s own son all want him to sell the pair, more valuable together, and they each have plans for what to do with the money.

There was a point toward the beginning of this book when I got annoyed by how no one in Major Pettigrew’s life was very nice at all, except Mrs. Ali. His son is a social climber with a new American fiance, and he seems to think his father is there to fulfill his whims. The local village ladies have their own ideas on who the major should marry. They are planning an elaborate party at his club and rope him in to getting involved, while coming across as interfering busybodies.

But the people did grow on me. Major Pettigrew moves through the uproar of circumstances with dignity and humor. I began to see even glimmers of humanity in his ungrateful son.

Of course, the ladies of the village really get upset when they begin to realize how Major Pettigrew’s feelings for Mrs. Ali are blossoming. And her own family keeps pressuring her to leave the village. Can Major Pettigrew go against generations of tradition and find love with a Pakistani woman who is actually (shudder) in trade?

Here is an exchange I enjoyed between the Major and Mrs. Ali’s nephew about the nephew’s love life:

“I’m only joking,” said Abdul Wahid. “You are a wise man, Major, and I will consider your advice with great care — and humility.” He finished his tea and rose from the table to go to his room. “But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?”

“My dear boy,” said the Major. “Is there really any other kind?”

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/major_pettigrews_last_stand.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Katie Loves the Kittens

by John Himmelman

Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2008. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I discovered this book when browsing through our New Books at the library for books to read at my Drop-in Storytime. I read it to the group, and believe I have found one of my new favorite picture books. This book, in both words and illustrations, is absolutely brilliant!

Katie is a dog, an exuberant, friendly, and loving dog, with a tail that is usually wagging vigorously. Here is how the story begins:

“Today was the most exciting day in Katie’s whole life! Sara Ann had brought home three little kittens.

“Katie loved those kittens so much. As soon as she saw them, she howled, ‘AROOOOOO! AROOOOOO!’ She always howled like that when she was very happy.”

Unfortunately, Katie’s enthusiasm frightens the kittens, drawn as tiny little fluffy things climbing to get away from Katie. Sara Ann has to scold Katie and tell her to stay away from the kittens until they get used to her. Poor Katie is sad.

Later, Sara Ann is playing with the kittens, and Katie wants to play with them, too. “She just loved them so much.” One of my favorite pages is the page of Katie trying to control herself. Her tail is wagging so fast it’s almost invisible, and her whole body is shaking as she tries to quell her enthusiasm.

“But Katie couldn’t stop herself any longer.

“She burst into the room. The kittens scattered.

“‘AROOOOO! AROOOOO!’ she howled as she chased them around the room.”

Poor Katie. More misadventures follow, springing out of Katie’s enthusiastic overflowing love. Another favorite part is when Katie walks into the kitchen the next morning.

“Three bowls of food waited for her.

“She ate the first bowl. Mmmm, this is good, she thought.

“She ate the second bowl.

“Yummyummyummyum, she thought.” [And you should see her tail wag!]

Of course, the reader has no trouble guessing who the three bowls of food were for! Poor Katie feels worse than ever.

So I’ve almost gotten you through the whole book, but I’ll just summarize the end by saying that eventually the kittens do get used to Katie, and Katie manages to control herself and let them get close. The final picture has Katie playing with the three kittens, with one of them caught up in her wagging tail.

This book is an absolutely delightful twist on the new-baby-or-new-pet in the house story. In this story, the “big sister” doesn’t resent the new pets, but she does have to learn to express her enthusiasm in appropriate ways. It’s a story that attributes emotions to a dog, and the emotions seem completely doglike and realistic.

I’d recommend this book to people with a new baby or a new pet, or to dog lovers. Of course, I’m not any of those things, and I love this book, so I will also recommend it to anyone who enjoys a picture book that tells a fun story with the perfect combination of pictures and words. This one will make you smile. And for reading aloud, you can easily get kids involved, joining in with Katie’s AROOOOOOs.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/katie_loves_the_kittens.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, by Francisco X. Stork

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

by Francisco X. Stork

Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2010. 344 pages.
Starred Review.

Here’s another book by the brilliant author of Marcelo in the Real World. Like Marcelo, this book deals with many-layered issues in a realistic way that is ultimately inspiring. There are no easy answers here, but we see flawed and lovable people grappling with the basic questions of life.

The book opens as Pancho is being brought to an orphanage.

“It was not a place for kids with problems. Mrs. Olivares had worked very hard and called in a lot of favors to get him admitted. She pointed out the high school he would attend in the fall. It was within walking distance of St. Anthony’s. He had been given a choice between going to summer school and entering as a senior or redoing his junior year. He chose to redo his junior year. He had other plans for the summer.”

Father Concha is the one in charge at St. Anthony’s.

“Father Concha picked up a manila folder and flipped through the pages, deep in thought. What did those pages say? Pancho had never read his file, but he could imagine. The mother dies when the boy is five years old. The father raises the boy and the older sister. The father dies in a freak work-related accident. Then the sister dies from undetermined natural causes three months later. The list of losses that made up his life was so unbelievable, it was embarrassing. It was like he made the whole thing up just so people would feel sorry for him.

“Pancho glared at Father Concha. he did not want pity. Pity turned his stomach. The priest put the folder down and met Pancho’s eyes. There was no pity there.”

At the orphanage, Pancho meets D.Q., a kid his own age who is dying of cancer. D.Q. takes an interest in Pancho. D.Q.’s mother, who left him at the orphanage years before, is now trying to get him to try some experimental treatments in Albuquerque. D.Q. agrees to go, but wants Pancho to come with him.

Pancho agrees because of his own summer plans: To find the man who was with his sister when she died, and kill him.

D.Q. also has his own agenda. A girl named Marisol works at Casa Esperanza, the house where they’ll be staying near the hospital.

D.Q. is always writing in his journal. He’s writing the Death Warrior Manifesto. A Death Warrior affirms life. He sucks the marrow from life with every day he has been given. D.Q. intends to train Pancho to be a Death Warrior, too. Pancho just thinks he’s crazy.

Things happen. Marisol isn’t what Pancho expected. He gets drafted to give rides to young kids with cancer at Casa Esperanza and makes friends with them. He watches D.Q. getting sick from chemotherapy. He makes plans to go to the house of the man who was with his sister and kill him.

There’s nothing simplistic about this book. It’s much more than a story of a teen with cancer or the story of a teen seeking revenge. In a lot of ways, it’s a book exploring what life is all about.

This book leaves you satisfied in a quiet way, glad to have spent time with Pancho and D.Q. and Marisol.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/death_warriors.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Monday, April 19th, 2010

NurtureShock

New Thinking About Children

by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
read by Po Bronson

Hachette Audio, 2009. 7 CDs.
Starred Review

This audiobook was a fascinating one to listen to. I put a copy of the print version on hold, so I’d have some surprising statistics to quote for this review, but too many people want to read it and my copy still hasn’t come in, so I will have to go by memory of what I heard and be more general.

NurtureShock reviews studies on child development and breakthroughs in our understanding of nurturing children that have come in the last ten years, particularly studies that had results contradictory to prevailing belief.

The authors cover many different aspects of raising children and cover child development at all age levels. They begin with studies that show that too much praise is actually counterproductive for building a child’s self-esteem. They go on to studies about many other things, and cover each topic in great depth, explaining the implications of the studies and how the researchers approached their surprising results.

We learn about the importance of sleep for children — it’s much more important for children and teens than it is for adults. They look at the lies children tell, which happens much more often than their parents realize. It turns out that children know they are lying much younger than their parents realize, but it also serves a developmental purpose.

We learn that baby videos — with disembodied voices — actually slow down a baby’s vocabulary development, that responsiveness to the baby’s initiation is key. We learn that children’s programming like Arthur actually increases aggressive behavior. (The neat summing up at the end doesn’t seem to make up for all the unkindnesses portrayed earlier in the story.)

All ten chapters tell you fascinating things about children and teens and their developing brains. Not only do the authors present the surprising results, they also come up with plausible reasons for why those results are happening.

I highly recommend this book for all parents, and anyone who works with children or teens. People will also be fascinated who are interested in how the human mind works. Every chapter has interesting and surprising things to think about, and it may change the way you parent your kids. It would be nice if this book could even be used to change some school district policies.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/nurtureshock.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Crossing Stones, by Helen Frost

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Crossing Stones

by Helen Frost

Frances Foster Books (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), New York, 2009. 184 pages.

Crossing Stones is a novel in verse about two families who live across a creek from each other during World War I. The book is masterfully and beautifully written. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of verse novels. Just hearing the thoughts of the characters from the start, it’s harder for me to picture the characters and the setting. Still, once I got going, I found this to be a powerful and moving story.

Both the families that live across the creek have a brother and a sister. Frank and Emma live on one side, and Ollie and Muriel live on the other. Frank loves Muriel, and Ollie loves Emma, but when World War I starts, Frank goes off to war, and Ollie soon follows, even though he’s only sixteen.

Muriel’s not a fan of the war, like her Aunt Vera, a suffragette. But not being happy about the war is considered unpatriotic, and women are told their place is in the home.

This book includes war, the flu epidemic, the battle for women’s rights, and the day-to-day struggles of farm chores that must go on even when the men and boys have gone to war.

I should have heeded the advice of our local Kidlit Book Club leader and read the “Notes on the Form” at the back of the book first. Helen Frost did something innovative and symbolic. She writes the poems in the voices of Muriel, Emma, and Ollie. Muriel’s poems are written in free style, in the shape of a rushing creek “flowing over the stones as it pushes against its banks” just as Muriel is pushing against the constraints of her society and time.

Emma’s and Ollie’s poems are written to make the shapes of stones. The author explains:

“I ‘painted’ them to look round and smooth, each with a slightly different shape, like real stones. They are ‘cupped-hand sonnets,’ fourteen-line poems in which the first line rhymes with the last line, the second line rhymes with the second-to-last, and so on, so that the seventh and eight lines rhyme with each other at the poem’s center. In Ollie’s poems the rhymes are the beginning words of each line, and in Emma’s poems they are the end words.”

The rhymes are so unforced, I didn’t notice them at all until I read the note at the back. I was impressed when I looked back and found the rhymes, but wish I had noticed from the beginning. Helen Frost also tells us:

“To give the sense of stepping from one stone to the next, I have used the middle rhyme of one sonnet as the outside rhyme of the next. You will see that the seventh and eight lines of each of Emma’s poems rhyme with the first and last lines of Ollie’s next poem, and the seventh and eighth lines of Ollie’s poems rhyme with the first and last lines of Emma’s next poem. If you have trouble finding these rhymes, remember to look on the left side of Ollie’s poems, and on the right side of Emma’s.”

So besides writing a moving story of World War I, Helen Frost has also pulled off an impressive technical achievement.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/crossing_stones.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Review of Born on a Blue Day

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Born on a Blue Day

Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

by Daniel Tammet
read by Simon Vance

Tantor Media, 2007. 6 CDs, 6.5 hours.

Lately I’ve gotten hooked on listening to nonfiction. It’s a little bit easier to stop listening when I get to work (most of the time), and there’s something about driving that makes it a good time to access the part of my brain that stores facts. (That may not be a scientific description, but that’s how it feels.)

Born on a Blue Day tells the story of person with a brain that stores facts much differently than mine. Daniel Tammet is on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, and he has amazing powers of memory. He has recited the digits of pi to more than 20,000 places, and can learn a new language in one week. He proved this in a televised experiment with Icelandic and after studying the language one week, appeared on several Icelandic television and radio shows, speaking in the native language.

Part of the trick to Daniel’s memory is that numbers have a specific shape, color and personality to him. Primes look different than other numbers, and when he multiplies two numbers, he can see the answer by the process their shapes use to combine. He learned all those digits of pi by simply learning the “landscape” — the view as the numbers passed by, which to his mind’s eye was exceptionally beautiful.

He also sees letters and words as having distinct shapes and colors. This helps him learn words in new languages, because he associates the word and its meaning with how the word looks to him.

This book is the story of Daniel Tammet’s life. His prodigious mental feats are a sideline of the story. The focus is on how he grew up and coped with being so different. He is proud to now be living independently with his partner, making a living, and even traveling all over the world and raising money for charities to help people with neurological disorders.

This book is both fascinating and inspiring. I’m not sure that many other autistic savants could articulate the way they see the world so clearly and beautifully.

I was also delighted to discover the reader was Simon Vance, who also narrates the Temeraire books. In this book, there were no characters to distinguish between, since it’s all told from Daniel Tammet’s perspective. But I’m getting quite a crush on Simon Vance’s voice. He’s a treat to listen to.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/born_on_a_blue_day.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Summing Up

Monday, April 5th, 2010

You may have noticed that my reviews have slowed down lately. I thought I’d sum up some of the things that have been going on.

School Library Journal‘s Battle of the Books finished up today. I’m sad that it’s over so quickly. If you haven’t been following the battle, it’s well worth going back and reading the judges’ decisions. The organizers took 16 outstanding children’s and young adult books, fiction and nonfiction, all written in 2009. Then they pitted them against each other in tournament brackets, with celebrity children’s authors providing the judging.

One of the best parts of the Battle is that the judges can write! They picked stellar writers to do the judging, and they waxed eloquent in praise of both the losers and the winners. Because, really all the books chosen to compete were outstanding. They also nicely expressed what factors swayed their ultimate decision.

Katherine Paterson was today’s judge for the final round, and she, too, did a wonderful summing up. Be sure to look at the Battle site and see who won!

Of course, half the fun was predicting who would win. With my first round choices, I did abysmally — only predicting one match right out of eight matches. But, funny thing, after that first round, every single one of my predictions was correct! Perhaps once my favorites were knocked out of the running, I was more objective and didn’t let my own biases affect how I predicted the judges would respond. Or perhaps I was just luckier.

Another event I’m following avidly, checking each morning, is the revelation of the Top 100 Children’s Novels, based on Betsy Bird’s poll over at her Fuse #8 blog. She announced #6 today.

I’ve been following Betsy’s blog ever since her Top 100 Picture Books poll last year. It’s so much fun being reminded of these truly great books. She does an incredible summing up of each book.

Just for fun, here are the books I voted for in the Children’s Novel poll. Now, it was supposed to be Middle Grade Novels, so I didn’t include some favorites that I consider YA. She gave 10 points for first place, 9 for second place, and so on. Here were my votes, with links to those I’ve reviewed:

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
2. The World of Pooh, by A. A. Milne (This was my way of cheating and voting for both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House of Pooh Corner, but it backfired because no one else voted that way.)
3. Momo, by Michael Ende
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
5. The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner
6. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
7. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling
9. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi
10. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

Now, there are still five books left to announce. I suspect, when all is said and done, that all but one of my choices will show up on the Top 100 List. Momo, alas, is not well-known in America. Though it was the first book I ever ordered from Book-of-the-Month Club and in fact the book that got me hooked on Book-of-the-Month Club.

Betsy also held a contest to guess what the Top Ten books would be. I think I guessed the books correctly, but I did not get the order right. Here’s what I guessed:

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
2. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis (what is it with great children’s writers using their initials?)
5. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
6. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg (I probably should have put her before Madeleine L’Engle because she uses her initials!)
7. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
8. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
9. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
10. Holes, by Louis Sachar

My biggest error was not taking into account how many men and boys were voting. Anne, alas, was only #9. Here is how 6-10 turned out:

6. Holes
7. The Giver
8. The Secret Garden
9. Anne of Green Gables
10. The Phantom Tollbooth

But you have to admit, I’m pretty darn close! 🙂

Anyway, I will predict the top five as being my remaining guesses in the order I guessed them. We shall see…

But the real fun is the finding out! If you haven’t checked out Betsy’s blog yet, do so right away!

And I’m also happy to say that I’ve read almost all the books that have come up in the Top 100. Most of the ones I haven’t read are old classics, and I’m going to have to give them a try.

It was my turn to make a display behind the Circulation Desk for the month of April, so I decided to make a display of the Top 50 Children’s Novels — at least all the ones we have. I will take a picture after #1 has been announced and post it.

So you see, blogging about these blogs takes up my review time! On top of that, I am frantically trying to get out job applications. At the end of April, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the budget. If they vote for a 15% cut in the libraries, as the County Executive has proposed, well, I will almost certainly lose my job. They would cut 24 Librarian I positions, based on seniority, and I’m about 10th from the bottom. Many other positions would also be cut, but that’s the job class that concerns me.

Anyway, I already have 5 job applications out there, for some librarian positions for federal agencies (like the US Senate Library and the Executive Office of the President!), and some research positions for private companies. All the jobs pay considerably better than my current job, so I’ll be tempted to take one even if I’m not laid off. But we will see. Anyway, each day after work I have time to either blog or get an application sent out. So tonight I’m not getting an application off, and neither am I getting a review written.

But I’m also reading slowly lately, because I have gotten on a Killer Sudoku kick lately, so I’ve been doing Killer Sudoku at bedtime instead of reading. But I do already have some books waiting to be reviewed, as well as lots and lots of wonderful books that I’m dying to read! So I’m reminding myself that if I just get these applications out, then I can get busy reviewing again….

Mind you, I also recently filed for divorce, so any day now I’ll have to gather up all my financial records again, or work with my lawyer on an agreement. I’m still sad about that — I still love my husband. — and yet I’m happy to get this settled and get out of his life while he does NOT want me there. And I get to pursue my career (who ever thought I’d have one? I was just tagging along on my husband’s career…) and the things that I am passionate about.

Oh, and I almost completely forgot to mention that for every day in 2010, I have faithfully spent at least 30 minutes each day working on my own book! It’s a middle grade novel, and I thought I had it finished last year, but then in the Fall I got an idea to add to the back story and give it a lot more depth. So slowly but surely, I’m rewriting it, and I think it’s a better book. Here’s hoping I can finish the revisions by my birthday in June.

So life is very busy. But it’s also very interesting and very good. I’m finding that I have a choice: I can stew over my impending job loss (I do really love my job!) — or I can get excited about what God is going to do next. The latter option is a lot more fun!