sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

September 28, 2012

aspens, reader, and sitting in the sun
posted by soe 9:55 am

The blog was being grumpy last night and wasn’t letting me post, so our usual Thursday post is appearing today instead.

It has been an action-packed week, which has left me with little time or energy for posting. I’m hoping to get caught back up again when we return home on Sunday. But in the meantime, here are a few highlights (written before I head out for a swim), in the form of three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The leaves in the Wasatch Mountains outside of Salt Lake City have started changing, which offered us beautiful scenery for a drive yesterday. At one point, we were standing in a golden aspen grove and it began to rain, the falling water causing the leaves to whisper together. I was pretty sure if I just looked at the right spot, I’d see fairies joining hands to dance.

2. Sandra Cisneros, author of the lovely The House on Mango Street, read her new story/adult picturebook, Marie, to us at the National Book Festival. It was about a lost cat and a lost mother. I cried, but at the same time, I kind of wished that she would come read me bedtime stories.

3. This trip has been filled with a lot of outdoor time, with leisurely breakfasts outdoors and snacks in the sunshine. I feel like I’m stocking up on Vitamin D for the gloomier days to come.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are Comments Off on aspens, reader, and sitting in the sun.

September 23, 2012

heading south: suggestions sought
posted by soe 2:49 am

Rudi and I will be heading south to Louisiana next month, when a former student of mine will be getting married. It will be my first trip to the state and a much needed vacation for us both.

My friend will be getting married in Baton Rouge, and we’ll be flying into and out of New Orleans.

Obviously we’re aware of Bourbon Street and know we should eat beignets and listen to music in clubs in New Orleans, and several people have recommended that we see the historic plantations that are en route between the two cities. But short of that, we’ve not yet done any research into what we should see/do while we’re there.

What would you, dear readers, suggest we catch during our week in the Deep South? Nothing is off limits, provided it’s within a reasonable drive of either city.

Thanks for any tips you’ve got!

Category: travel. There is/are 5 Comments.

September 20, 2012

postseason, friends, and chopped
posted by soe 11:41 pm

Clearly the Cybils news is the most lovely thing that’s happened to me this week, but it’s not the only one. Here are three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The Nats advance to the postseason, and Sarah and I are there to witness it after the game we were supposed to go to on Tuesday got rained out. (We’re all still hoping to clinch the NL East, but we’ll take this in the meantime.)

2. Rudi is out of town for the weekend, so my friends take me in hand: John and Nicole walk me up and down the H Street Festival and then delay heading to a party so we can have a nice cuppa in a secret garden. The next day, Sarah and I head out apple picking and finish up a gorgeous fall day with milkshakes.

3. My hair is about ten inches shorter than it was this morning. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it this time, so seeing their surprise is a lot of fun. I went to a new salon and really liked the guy who did my hair. Plus, I think I look pretty cute.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

Category: three beautiful things. There is/are 4 Comments.

booking through thursday: quick!
posted by soe 8:34 am

BTT logoToday’s Booking through Thursday question was pretty easy:

Quick–what are you reading right now? Would you recommend it? What’s it about?

The book in my bag, which gets the most attention, is The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai, which I picked up at the Politics & Prose membership sale a couple of weeks ago. It’s about a children’s librarian and her interactions with a charming 12-year-old boy (whom everyone assumes is gay) being raised by a fundamentalist mother who has a whole list of things she doesn’t want her son reading. It’s custom-made for a leftie book-lover like me.

The book I’m reading at home, because it’s awkward to carry around is Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I got a late start on the Book Riot readalong, but it’s been in my to-be-read pile for a while (thanks again, Jenn!), so I am keeping on keeping on. Also, the first few chapters kind of read like an episode of Inspector Lewis, except told by the entitled college kids who murder one of their own. (I suppose it’s too much to hope for a dishy police sergeant to appear somewhere in its pages…) It’s dense, but I’m liking it so far.

How about you? What are you reading right now?

Category: books. There is/are 7 Comments.

September 19, 2012

exciting news of a bookish nature
posted by soe 2:55 am

The Cybil Awards, for those who don’t know, determine the best publications of the previous year according to bloggers who review kiddie, middle grade, and young adult (YA) books. Winners are selected in ten categories.

On Monday, the judges were announced, and I can now tell you that I’ve been selected to be one! I can’t begin to explain how excited I am about this. But let’s say it’s like Christmas morning when you’re standing in front of all your wrapped presents.

I am serving on the young adult fiction panel* (my first choice!), which includes all fiction aimed at older teens except for fantasy and science fiction. That has its own panel.

I’ll be reading the first round nominees (the longlist, if you will), which come from the public starting Oct. 1. (Don’t worry. I’ll remind you.) The chair estimates we’ll each have to tackle 75 books in the next three months, so I’m hoping no one was looking forward to homemade Christmas presents this year. By the end, we’ll have winnowed 200ish books down to a short list (countable on two hands), which we’ll exhaustedly hand off to the second round panel.

I’m particularly excited because the group of people I am working with seem really nice and knowledgeable, and their blogs offer a wide variety of book reviews to peruse. I was aware of several of them, but most are new to me.

These are the folks I’ll be reading with directly:

Round 1

Leila Roy 
Bookshelves of Doom 

Sarah Gross
The Reading Zone

Kellie Tilton 
The Re-Shelf  

William Polking 
Guys Lit Wire  

Clementine Bojangles
Early Nerd Special 

Kendall Kulper 
Blogging for YA

And these are the people who determine the ultimate winner:

Round 2

Maureen Kearney 
Confessions of a Bibliovore  

Maureen Eichner 
By Singing Light 

Adrianne Russell 
The Writer's Republic

Michelle Castleman 
The Hungry Readers  

Jessica Silverstein 
Reading on the F Train

Without a doubt you will hear more about the Cybils in the weeks to come. I can’t wait!

*I know the Cybils site uses my real name, but let’s not go spreading it around, okay? Sprite I have been, and Sprite I remain.

Category: books. There is/are 8 Comments.

September 17, 2012

into the stacks: liesl & po
posted by soe 11:15 am

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

From the jacket: “Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice — until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone. That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery…. Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.”

My take: A charmingly well-told tale of a little orphan girl who has been locked in the attic by her evil stepmother. Visited suddenly one night by two ghosts — a child, Po, and its companion cat/dog named Bundle — Liesl exchanges a drawing for Po’s seeking out her recently deceased father on the Other Side. When it (Po is genderless, for such things are unimportant on the Other Side) returns with a message, Liesl must make the decision to escape the safety of the known misery that is her attic room and voyage forth into a dark and dreary world (the sun hasn’t shone for nearly five years) to complete her father’s last wish.

Will, lonely apprentice to the city alchemist, is often sent out on late-night errands by his master. While out, he makes a point to stop outside Liesl’s window to watch her draw, feeling in some way that she might be as lonely as he is. When his pause outside her house one night causes Will to reorganize his errands to the mortician and city’s Lady Premiere, he sets in motion a chain of events that will change all of their lives forever.

This middle grade fantasy novel was a joy to read from start to end. Death is anything but friendless here. I love that Po is gender neutral and that Bundle is species neutral. I love that ghosts are grumpy about the reputation they have in the human world for hauntings, and that Po is quick to learn manners, but then cannot understand when Liesl thoughtlessly abandons them. The language cavorts past your eyes, turning little somersaults just for the pleasure of being used:

“The boy seemed to drag, inch, ooze along like a giant slug.” (52)


“[Liesl] repeated the word ineffable clearly, three times in her head, lingering over the gentle slope of the double fs, like the soft peaks of the whipped cream she remembered from her early childhood, and this made her feel slightly better.” (44)

If there is one flaw to the book, and it is a minor one in my opinion, we don’t fully understand (although neither does it) what causes Po to show up in the first place. It just appears all of a sudden and demands to know why Liesl has given up her art.

Highly recommended for everyone. Particularly appropriate for middle grade readers, particularly those who might not be ready for some of the darker regions that fantasy novels aimed a few years older start moving toward. An ideal read for those who will be ready in a few years for The Graveyard Book or The Book Thief.

Pages: 307

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.