sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

October 31, 2012

wayback wednesday: halloween edition
posted by soe 11:21 pm

Jack o'Lanterns

Today, was Halloween.

I might have dressed up:

A Riot of Color

I might have dyed my hair:

Halloween Hair

When people asked, I told them I was “a riot of color.”

I might have a lifelong fondness for Halloween and its trappings:

Nursery School Costumes

(I’m the clown.)

Clowning Around

This was nursery school, October 1978. I believe it’s my second Halloween costume ever. (Mum and Dad, feel free to correct me on that if I’m mistaken.) Mum made it, as she did all my costumes between this one and 4th grade (I think). Yes, I was really lucky.

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mystery bush
posted by soe 1:41 am

While we were in New Orleans last week, we saw many beautiful flowering plants (they still were experiencing what I’d call summer temperatures, but which I’m sure they wouldn’t). Many I could identify, but not this one.

Do any of you know? (Julie and Amanda, I’m looking your way in particular…)



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October 30, 2012

posted by soe 1:14 am

When I was a kid, I’d always participate in the library’s summer reading program, and I’d always sign up for whatever the top level was. It wasn’t going to be a problem. I read a lot and I read fast. If anything, I read too much.

I admit that by the time I got to college, while I still read a lot, I was not always reading what I was supposed to. I was an English major and sometimes I’d … neglect … to read a particular book — or three. Yes, sometimes even books I wrote papers or took tests on or offered up theories about in class. (You’d be surprised by how well you can get by if you listen to what other people say. If you’re in a class where the teacher is prone to asking people what they think about comments posited by other students, however, I’d like to suggest you get your own comment in early. Teachers rarely call on you again if you’ve been proactive in raising a point.)

Where was I before I got started on academic subterfuge? Right! Books!

So, I still read in college, but I coasted a bit. But then I graduated and started reading again. And if I don’t read as much as some people, I still average 3-4 books a month. Not a bad figure…

But then I applied to judge the Cybils and they accepted me. And I totally understood this was going to mean a lot of reading. I got that this meant I’d need to pick up the pace in more than just an incremental way.

People, I have read 14 books this month. (A few of them have been really good and several above average, by the way.) That’s a book every other day.

Sounds impressive, right?

Sadly, it’s not. I knew the math suggested I was going to have to read a book nearly every day in order to stay on top of things. And I knew I hadn’t done that in October. Which meant I was behind.

And an email today confirmed it. I’ve read fewer books than any of my fellow panelists. (This was not helped by my having only read two of the 189 nominated titles before the whole thing started.)

So, I’m tucking in my chin and turning on the night light to try and put a dent in the 35 titles I currently have checked out from the library.

Blog posting will continue to be light. I know you aren’t supposed to apologize for site absences (the blogosphere takes a rather Yoda-esque approach to post writing), but I do. If only to myself, since I’d like to be writing more.

But I have 39+ more books to read before Christmas, so I’m just not sure it’s going to get better anytime soon. I’ll try to come up with a solution so I don’t disappear totally. Maybe 3-sentence book reviews?

Anyway, if you need me, I’ll be the one with my nose in a book!

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October 25, 2012

fall, blues, and the one
posted by soe 11:06 pm

It’s been a nice week filled with beautiful things. Here are just three of them:

1. We returned home from Louisiana to find D.C. firmly in the throes of fall. Last night, the leaves dropped like rain from the tree outside the Burrow.

2. We hit a New Orleans club on Friday night for a rousing concert by the Dana Abbott Band. I was so smitten, I bought a cd off her when she walked around passing the hat.

3. My former intern Jason got married on Saturday. His bride, Jennifer, seems lovely, and Jason’s eyes lit up whenever he looked at her.

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

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into the stacks: girl meets boy
posted by soe 3:39 am

Everyone, thanks for your responses to what you’d like to see reviewed. I’ll get to work on those, but in the meantime, here’s one for a Cybils nominee I finished tonight:

Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides To Every Story, edited by Kelly Milner Halls

From the jacket: “What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of he said/she said stories — he tells it from the guy’s point of view, she tells it from the girl’s. Stories of love and heartbreak … teach us that relationships become complicated because there are two sides to every story.”

My take: In this interesting collection of 11 paired short stories, we are given both the guy’s and the girl’s perspectives on the same moment in a relationship to show how sometimes what seems obvious to one person is not remotely so clear-cut to another. What might seem like manipulative behavior to one person, for example, turns out merely to be confusion by the other.

These are modern stories for modern teenagers. There’s cell phone stalking and IM conversations and (a lot) of hormones in various degrees of control (or not). Race and religion and sexual orientation come into play. Bullying and family farming and difficult home lives are touched upon.

With the likes of Chris Crutcher, Ellen Wittlinger, James Howe, and Rita Williams-Garcia telling the stories, you know the writing and characterization will be tight. What’s pleasantly surprising is that the concept holds together throughout, creating a compelling need after finishing the first of each paired stories to immediately find out what was going on in the second person’s head. The final story, which alternates voices (and authors) rather than pairing consecutive stories, offers a bit of a surprise and perhaps a lesson about the internalization of the book’s theme.

Pages: 204

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October 22, 2012

book poll: reviews
posted by soe 2:04 am

When I get back home this week, I’m going to work on getting some book reviews written. Help me to decide where to start by telling me which titles interest you the most.

Children’s Books

  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • Dealing with Dragons
  • The View from Saturday
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963
  • The Egypt Game

Young Adult Books

  • The Wednesday Wars
  • 37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order)
  • Chopsticks
  • Ditched: A Love Story
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • The Future of Us
  • Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip
  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Adult Books

  • The Night Circus
  • The Art of Fielding
  • The Spellman Files
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
  • Arcadia
  • Pardonable Lies
  • The Age of Miracles
  • Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
  • The Borrower
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