Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Gary Paulsen - Gone to the Woods

 Once, a publisher asked me to write a biography of Gary Paulsen.  I wasn't sure how to go about it; how to contact him. And because there was very little already written about him, I had no resources to draw from.  At that point computers were white letters on a blue screen or black letters on a green screen and the internet was just being organized - just words, no pages, no pictures. So I went on to other projects.

But today you can read his life story as written by himself.

Gone to the Woods, Surviving a Lost Childhood (NY: Farrar Straus Giroux publisher) is the autobiography you should read.  Full of grit and growing up, this tale tells how he practically raised himself because his parents were drunks.  And he tells it like an adventure tale, even referring to himself as 'the boy.' 

He preferred to be in the woods or working on someone else's farm and kept running away from home. From school.  Finally, when he was a teen, he discovered that libraries were warm places to lurk in. Then -- the librarian gave him a book.  He couldn't read well, but the librarian gave him more books and he became a person who devoured books. And then -- the librarian gave him a notebook and he wrote a story. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Treat everyone like they are Real People

After I retired from being a children's librarian, I stopped by the library where I had worked to pick up a book and ran into a boy who is intellectually disabled who used to come into the library a lot when I worked there.  He was so happy to see me He had thought I was dead, because I hadn't been there to help him find the books he liked.  But the part that melted my heart was when he said that I was the only one there who treated him like a Real Person. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

It's all the fault of Easter Eggs

So many people are complaining that they've gained weight during the pandemic.  Me?  I've been losing weight for the past five years -- 20 pounds so far.

But - the reason I'm gaining weight this past month is the usual one for this time of year - Easter Candy.  Sees has the most delicious easter eggs and  I love the Mayfair ones - dark chocolate covered easter egg with cream filling stuffed with nuts, candied cherries and other good stuff.  Yum. 

Since I always eat salad for lunch, when I run out of my Sees Mayfair easter egg stash, my weight will get back on it's gradual losing weight thing again. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Squirrels attack

 Squirrels would chew through the plastic bins we kept the bird food in, then attack the bird food. 

So we went to metal trash cans for the bird food, and they figured out how to pry the lids off, 

So we began putting bricks on top of the lids to the metal cans -- and they finally couldn't get into the bird food.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

When I log into a Zoom meeting

Want to know why my square on Zoom is always black?

It's because when I log into a meeting/ lecture, Zoom shows me what my picture will look like at the zoom meeting. And I rear back and mutter, "Who IS that old, ugly person?" and choose No Video.  

No matter that I even showered and wore nice clothes to the meeting, my zoom square is black. (with my name on it) 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Let a child be bored

I had two 10 year old boys at my house on Saturday. They were bored. Complained that they were bored. I ignored them. Told them I wasn't there to entertain them. 

So - they played hide and seek. They raced around the neighborhood on their scooters, one of them teaching the other how to do stuff. They got into my child instruments. played the Kazoo. Did such a good job on the drums that I think they should join a drum line. 

They did what kids used to do before electronics were invented.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

a history of typewriters - as experienced by me

I've lived through the whole history of typewriters:

From the old Remington typewriters, a portable typewriter in college, the MTST machine (the first word processor) various electric typewriters (one of which my husband broke when he got frustrated while writing an antique MG article for a magazine), a Commodore 24 (wrote many stories and my first published book on it) , The Apple IIe, the first iMacs, the more advanced flat screen iMac, and now I use the iMac with a bluetooth mouse and bluetooth keyboard.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

You Never Forget Your first

 I just finished reading YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST, a biography of George Washington.  by Alexis Coe.

Oh My. This is so, so, so much better than the So-called book supposedly about Mary Ball Washington written by Craig Shirley who inserted every boring thing he found, making that book mostly about George, not Mary.  

You Never forget Your First is thoroughly interesting reading. Fascinating Facts. (I love fascinating facts and always insert as many as I can into my own biographies.) Even her bibliography/ chapter notes at the end were sprinkled with more interesting comments.

Highly Recommend
for Middle Schoolers, Teens, and all the rest of us adults.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

We Dream of Space

 I'm reading the Newbery honor book - We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly - and suddenly I discover the protagonist's class is getting ready for the liftoff of The Challenger, January, 1986.  The liftoff that killed every person aboard.  The liftoff that, because one of the  astronauts was a teacher, almost every kid in the United sSates was watching.  And every kid (and any adult around them) was traumatized by this event.

My daughter was home sick from school, so as I usually do, I set up our portable TV in her room so she could watch this event.  Just like every child in the USA was doing in school. 

Suddenly she began screaming.  I rushed into her room. Discovered the explosion.  That the TV played over and over and over again. (I turned off the TV and hugged my child)

I don't think I can finish this book.  Too many terrible memories.  I've already begun crying and the book hasn't even gotten to this event.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The 2021 Awards for the Best Books of 2020

 Yay - the ALA Youth Media Award list is now up on the ALA website.  

I"m printing it out so I can reserve all the winners from my libraries. 

(I have access to two library systems, so - off I go.)

Friday, January 22, 2021

Taking walks these days

 I often used to take my mile walk at a local large (outdoor) shopping center. (most of them are outdoor, not inside buildings, in southern California) 

About a year ago I noticed Asian people wearing masks while the rest of us didn't. At first I felt sorry for them thinking that they were ill or immune compromised and needed to protect themselves. In a month or two I changed my feelings about this and thought they were smart to wear masks and a month or two after that I too was wearing a mask when I took that walk there.  

However, I haven't even thought of walking there since October -- too many people. I now walk in my quiet, suburban neighborhood where there are few cars and when other people approach me, on their own walks, I simply move out into the road so that we can pass safely.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Exploring the Capitol Building in Washington, DC

 Watching the invasion of the Capitol building today by the insurrectionists attempting a coup, I was reminded of the time when my children and I explored the place.

It used to be that anyone could just walk into the Capitol, and if you looked like you knew what you were doing, nobody would question you. 

In the late 1980s I took two elementary (or middle school children, I forget which) with me, but nobody bothered us. We wandered around the first floor, then I wanted to take the kids up to the peanut gallery where average people could watch the proceedings. So we found an elevator. But someone pushed the basement button. So when the door opened there, we decided to explore. So interesting. Pipes hanging from the ceiling. Lots of grey paint. Some doors to offices were open and we saw people having discussions. We must have walked the full length of the Capitol before someone came out of an office and asked us what we were doing. I replied, oh so innocently, that we were looking for where the kids could overlook Congress, so he directed us to an elevator and punched the number for the correct floor for us. More wandering (more offices) until we finally arrived at the balcony overlooking one of the houses of Congress. Which was not in session at the time. darn.  

Now, of course, there are all sorts of examination points you have to pass and they'll probably direct you to a tour guide.

Friday, January 1, 2021