Monday, September 9, 2013

What Keeps Me From Writing

It's 9 days into September, and I am not much further along with my writing and illustrations than I was on the 1st. What is my problem?  In a word, overcommitment.
Stave Church at the Ole Bull Museum  

Planning for my Girl Scout troop, volunteering at the library, working on a variety of projects for The Spunky Norwegian Foundation, keeping up two of my three websites ( and, blogging, FaceBooking and reading for the book fair. It all takes time. I think I need to do less FaceBook, to start with. Unfortunately many of the other projects are in crunch mode, or will be if I don't keep up with them. Sigh! Less TV will help too, but a lot of my time on TV is multi-tasking doing email/FB or blogging while keeping one eye on the U.S. Open, "Who Do You Think You Are?" or other faves.

Today at the library, I picked up another book to read for the book fair and told my friendly librarian, Nola, how much I had enjoyed two others I've read this week. For those who don't know me personally, I have served as the Book Fair Ambassador at the school where I used to teach, for the past four years. This involves reading as many of the books we'll be selling as possible, so that I can help students find books they will enjoy reading. So far this year, I've read 46 books, including 10 for the book fair. I have eight more books in my fair pile so far, and have read a lot of the other books we'll be selling in previous years, so I'm doing reasonably well on that schedule. I have 'til the beginning of November to get really into the mode. Of course, by then, I also have to come up with a cool costume to go with the theme "Reading Oasis".  Suggestions are welcome!

Nola said I should blog on the books I liked, so, Nola, this one's for you.

The books I read are ones featured by Scholastic on their Book Fair website, best-sellers from a variety of book lists, or books that our committee chooses as "special orders" for a variety of reasons, including that the authors are visiting our school.

I have noticed that many of the books have quite different themes from past years.  Hold Fast by Blue Balliette and Almost Home by Joan Bauer, both deal with the topic of homelessness. In our current economic situation, it seems like a very important topic for young people to be able to read about, since they, or their friends or classmates may very well find themselves in this situation at some point. Both books handle the situation with great sensitivity and are more thought-provoking than depressing or worrying. I enjoyed both and look forward to meeting Blue and hearing about her writing when she visits our fair in November

The two books I read this week that particularly struck me were Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. The first is about an eleven year old girl with cerebral palsy. While it is a novel, it clearly reveals much of the reality of life with this dreadful disease: how it effects the individual and his/her family, as well as how others perceive the wheel-chair-bound person. It helped me to better understand our church-friend, Joseph and his frustrations in trying to communicate with me and others. It has made me much more aware of the concerns and challenges facing special needs students in schools everywhere. This book would be an awesome book-club pick for students in communities or schools with CP students or others who are being mainstreamed. 
Dante and Aristotle, in the second notable book of this week, are teenaged residents of El Paso, Texas. Both are loners, until they meet at the swimming pool one summer and Dante volunteers to teach Ari to swim. This is an extremely sensitive coming-of-age book with a gay-self-discovery twist. A great read for boys who are trying to figure out those big secrets of the universe: Who am I? What is love? Where do friendship and loyalty fall in the greater scheme of things? What is the place of family secrets in a teen or a grown-up world? 

There are so many wonderful books out there!! I better quit blogging and get busy making another one!! Let me know what you think of these books. I'd love to hear from you.

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