How to Avoid Extinction

How to avoid extinction words with dinosaur eating the a in avoid. Buick electra car with girl and dog looking out window.Acampora, Paul. How to Avoid Extinction. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016

I am still making my way through the stack of books I purchased at the Texas Book Festival last fall. It is here that the Texas Library Association announces their annual Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List.  I wanted to make the live announcement, but was too late.  I was not too late to pick up a copy of the new list.  Towing my very patient husband in my wake, I hurried over to the book tent to look at the books on the list.  I selected this one.  It looked fun.

It was a fun and unexpected book.  What would you do, if your Grandma decides to hop in her 1973 Buick Electra and make an unexpected road trip? She wanders regularly and you are her appointed finder.  This is an irregular wander, even for Grandma, what would you do?  What if your Mom has become the “official head of household as well as President, Principal, Queen, and Savior” (this means she is more bossy than usual)? If you are Leo, you unhappily obey your Mom, grab your backpack, hop into that 1973 Buick Electra, and reluctantly have an adventure with your Grandma, Abbey, your third cousin once removed, and Abbey’s aged dog, Kermit.

What prompts this sudden road trip? Unfortunately, it was a death, the death of Leo’s extraordinary grandfather.  A year before this book begins, Leo’s grandfather dies unexpectedly.  He was a strong leader in their family, loving, free spirited, intrepid, wise, and smart.  His passing left a large void in the lives of those he left behind.  Leo and his Mom have always lived with his grandparents.  When Pop passed away, Mom assumed the mantle of head of household as described above.  Grandma is lonely, Leo is mopey, and Leo’s Mom is suffering in her own way.

Before he died, Leo’s Grandpa was planning a road trip to the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry near Price, Utah. Grandma decides she needs to follow his path. As with many good books, everyone in the story discovers something about themselves and others. What does Leo discover about his family?  Does he learn how to avoid extinction? Please pick up a copy of this charming book, read it for yourself, and recommend it to someone else who might enjoy it.

I really liked this book. In January 2019, students in grades 3-6 all over Texas will vote for a book on this year’s master list to be the winner. I hope many of them decide this was a good book and vote for it.  When I was looking for the link to this year’s Texas Bluebonnet list, I read about the goals of the program.  One goal is to encourage students to read for pleasure.  My parents were readers and they encouraged me to read. I read all the time. I like to think that I became an excellent and passionate reader, because of their encouragement and my continuous practice.   This week I am attending a workshop on literacy for students with complex communication needs.  One of the big ideas this week is that all students can be readers.  To be a reader, however, a student needs to read.  We want students to enjoy reading.  It is crucial to developing their reading skills.  To enjoy reading, students need to be able to select what they want to read be it books, magazines, comic books, graphic novels, websites…anything as long as it interests them. Help the children in your life love reading. Suggest books, like How to Avoid Extinction, but let them choose!

Advertisements

Old Kingdom Series

Old Kingdom series books: Clariel, Lireal, Goldenhand, Sabrial, & AbhorsenNix, Garth. Sabriel. New York: Harper Trophy, 1995.
Nix, Garth. Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Nix, Garth. Abhorsen. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
Nix, Garth. Clariel. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.
Nix, Garth. Goldenhand. New York: HarperCollins, 2016.

It has taken me a long time to figure out what to write about this series that wasn’t covered in other blogs.  I realized I couldn’t.  This is a wonderful series about strong women, who have choices to do what is right and uncomfortable or to forget about responsibility.  Sometimes is goes right and good prevails.  Sometimes it goes right and good prevails, but there isn’t a happy ending for everyone. Everyone works hard and there is sorrow and joy in equal measure, much like life.

This series could be considered tales of two countries: a country of magic and a country of technology.  These countries are separated by a mysterious Perimeter Wall.  South of the wall is Ancelstierre.  This is the land of technology.  Many in the southern part of this country don’t believe in magic.  North of the wall is the Old Kingdom.  It is a place of magic.  Some of it constrained in the Great Charter and some in Free Magic.  The Perimeter Wall between the two countries has an important purpose, to keep magic and the Dead out of Ancelstierre.  In the Old Kingdom, the Dead don’t stay dead.  Free magic sorcerers and necromancers use the Dead to do their bidding.  This causes problems for the living as The Dead crave life. It is the work of the Abhorsen to find and send the Dead back to the River of Death and through the Ninth Gate, where they are gone forever.  The Abhorsen, both Charter Mage and Necromancer, is the only Charter Mage who can use Free Magic and Charter Magic.  The Abhorsen and Free Magic necromancers use a set of seven bells to control the Dead and other creatures. The Abhorsen wields free magic bells and a charter magic marked sword in his/her work. At the beginning of their stories, Sabriel and Lirael are Abhorsens-in-Waiting.  Their books are coming of age stories about how they accepted their roles and strove to save both kingdoms.  I think Clariel’s story, a prequel to Sabriel, is a warning for what happens when a society becomes complacent and those with important responsibilities don’t accept them. All five of these are wonderful, compelling stories.  I am looking forward to the next installment in this series.

As noted earlier, writing about this series has been difficult. My impetus to write again is the news that my nephew and his wife are having a baby girl.  I have prepared my husband for the idea of creating another new library for a young relative.  I have more time to think about books for this little girl.  There are so many great girl protagonists in books: Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Jo of Little Women, and Elizabeth of Pride and Prejudice.  I will start her books with these four heroines and I will add Sabriel.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read this series, please do so.  The long, hot days of summer are a great time for kicking back and reading something new.  Better yet, pour a glass of tea or lemonade and share these stories with a young person you know.

Garth Nix

I admire Garth Nix and have for many years.  For this series I wondered how he got the idea to use bells as a weapon.  As I was reading about him, someone else asked this question.  Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors influenced him.  If I didn’t admire him before how could I resist?  Her Lord Peter Wimsey series of which The Nine Tailors is a part is one of my favorites.  In that story he learned that church bells had names and he went on to name the Abhorsen’s bells and describe their characteristics.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

MagnusChase.gif

  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer. New York: Hyperion, 2015.
  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor. New York: Hyperion, 2016.
  • Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead. New York: Hyperion, 2017.

Here is another great story arc based on mythology.  Have I said I love mythology?  I enjoyed these mythology-based stories as much as I did the works of Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper. Rick Riordan is an excellent storyteller.  I have appreciated his tales based on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythologies. In this series he has explored Norse mythology.

It seems that I have waited for a long time to read this series.  I have a friend who was able to hear Rick Riordan talk about his work 3 or 4 years ago.  She mentioned that he talked about his Norse series.  I have been waiting for this series to be published since that time. I have also been waiting for Alexis to finish this series so I could read it.

Like the heroes in Rick Riordan’s other series, Magnus Chase thinks he is a regular boy with crappy luck.  He witnessed his mother’s death by strange beings that looked like wolves.  She told him to run and to stay away from the only family he knew, his Uncle Randolph.  The story opens on Magnus Chase’s sixteenth birthday.  He is living on the streets of Boston trying to keep away from policemen and truancy officers. He gets a tip that someone is looking for him and off he goes. It turns out to be his Uncle Randolph.  Magnus learns from Uncle Randolph that he is the son of the Norse god, Frey. He also learns that his quest is to retrieve his birthright, the Sword of Summer, from the bottom of the Charles River.  Retrieving the sword was the easy part, the rest of the book describes his struggles to defeat the God of Muspelheim, Surt.  With this first encounter with Surt, he dies and is chosen by the Valkyrie, Samirah, to be a hero of Asgard.

Magnus goes to Valhalla.  The Valhalla of this series is a luxury hotel for heroes.  Here they can be close to the action.  The heroes practice every day to be ready for the Ragnarök, also known as the doom of the gods. When will Ragnarök happen?  Who knows, but for the God Loki, it can’t be soon enough. As in many Norse stories, Loki plays an important role in these books.  He is the chief protagonist.

Read The Sword of Summer to find out, how Magnus retrieves and (spoiler alert) keeps the sword.  Read The Hammer of Thor to see how Magnus and his friends find the Hammer that Thor carelessly misplaced.  Read The Ship of the Dead to see what mischief Loki has designed for Magnus and his friends to work against.  Does Ragnarök happen? Does the world end?  Read, read I say to find out!

Summer is coming soon!  This would be a terrific summer series for a mythologically-minded person to read.

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: March, and April 2018

Spring has arrived here in Central Texas.  We are having lovely weather.  It looks like I have spent the last three months reading and not writing.  I hope to change that dynamic this month.  It was lovely just to read.  I haven’t seen much of what the girls have read.  I think everyone has been busy these last few months.

Jim’s List

Jim finished The Chaos Chronicles this month.  He has moved on to the book he was given for the Christmas Book Flood.

  • Carver, Jeffrey A. The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3 (Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractor, & Infinite Sea). NP: Starstream Publications, 2010 (nook book).
  • Reynolds, Alastair. Revelation Space. New York: Ace, 2000.

Robin’s List

  • Colfer, Eoin. And Another Thing. New York: Hyperion, 2009.
  • Duncan, Rod. The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter. Nottingham, UK: Angry Robot, 2014.
  • Gibbs, Stuart. Spy School. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.The
  • Gilman, Sarah Jane. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.
  • Hanks, Tom. Uncommon Type Some Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
  • Jacka, Benedict. New York: Ace Books, 2012.
  • Lawrence, Mark. Prince of Thorns. New York: Ace Books, 2011.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Harper Trophy, 1995.
  • Nix, Garth. Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: 2003.
  • Nix, Garth. Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. New York: Harper Collins, 2014.
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Harper Collins, 2016.
  • Novick, Naomi. New York: Del Rey, 2015.
  • Robb, J.D. Echoes in Death. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  • Willis, Connie. Uncharted Territory. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.

Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: January and February 2018

Greetings!

January was a great reading month for me.  I was able to read my way through some of the large stack of books I received for Christmas.  I love getting books as gifts.  I bought Neil Gaiman’s book, Norse Mythology last year for Spring Break.  I finally got around to reading it in January.  It was wonderfully informative and entertaining.  I have blogged about Bridge of Birds, Frogkisser, and Finding the Constellations. These were all stellar books.  I am a Nora Roberts fan so I especially enjoyed reading her new book.  I am reading Finding Your Why for work.  It is an interesting read.  We have been working to find our personal whys.  February was a slower reading month as you can see by the size of the stack.

These days I find out what both girls are reading from their Facebook posts.  The three of us are participating in the 52 Book Challenge 2018.

All of us here at Haus Reimund love reading and we wish you “Happy Reading, Too!”

Robin’s list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Scholastic, 2017
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Thomas, Sherry. A Conspiracy in Belgravia. New York: Berkley Books, 2017.
  • Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017
  • Roberts, Nora. Year One. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  • Hambly, Barbara. Bride of the Rat God. New York: Del Rey, 1994.
  • Rey, H.A. Finding the Constellations, 2nd New York: Sandpiper, 2008.
  • Hanks, Tom. Uncommon Type. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
  • Sinek, Simon, David Mead, and Peter Docker. Finding Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017.
  • Pilkey, Dav. The Adventures of Captain Underpants. New York: Scholastic, 1997.

Alexis’ list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Mertz, Barbara. Temples, Tombs, & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. New York: William Morrow, 1984, 2007
  • Lucas, Dale. The Fifth Ward: First Watch. New York: Orbit, 2017.
  • Maaren, Kari. Weave a Circle Round. New York: TOR Books, 2017.
  • Telfer, Tori. Lady Killers: Deadly Women throughout History. New York: Harper Perennial, 2017.
  • VanderMeer, James. Johanes Cabal the Necromancer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010.
  • VanderMeer, James. Annihilation: A Novel. New York: FSG Originals, 2014. (ebook)
  • Howard, Jonathan L. Johannes Cabal: The Feat Institute. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014.

Jim’s list

  • Nye, Bill and Gregory Mone. Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World. New York: Scholastic, 2017.
  • Carver, Jeffrey A. The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3 (Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractor, & Infinite Sea). NP: Starstream Publications, 2010 (nook book).

Sarah’s list

  • Meyer, Scott. Off to Be the Wizard. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Meyer, Scott. Spell or High Water. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Cooper, Susan. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006.
  • Holt, Tom. New York: Orbit, 2012 (ebook)
  • Howe, Deborah and James. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010 (ebook). Originally published 1979.
  • Walker, Rysa. New York: Amazon Publishing, 2014.

Dragons Love Tacos

DragonsTacosRubin, Adam.  Dragons Love Tacos. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012.

Here in Texas we are big taco lovers. According to the Texas Monthly, San Antonio is the Taco Capital of the World.  According to other sources, Austin is the Breakfast Taco Capital of the World.  We love all kinds of tacos, breakfast tacos, puffy tacos, fish tacos, vegetarian tacos.  Let’s face it, we Texans are crazy about tacos.  It might surprise you to learn that dragons love tacos, too.  It may be that their love of tacos exceeds that of even the most taco-loving Texan.

What do you love about tacos?  Is it the tortillas, flour or corn?  Is it one of the fillings?  This week I am making poblano and butternut squash tacos.  I hope they are good.  My mouth waters just thinking about them. Is it the sizzle of the pan, when meats and vegetables are getting caramelized?  Maybe you have a secret reason to love them.  Dragons are like Texans, they enjoy all kinds of tacos, big ones and little ones.  After reading this book, I am certain there that dragons love tacos down to the very last bite!

In this book, Robbie and his dog want some dragons for friends.  How do you get a dragon to be your friend?  You have a party, dragons love parties!  They like lots of things about parties like conversation, dancing, and laughter.  Make it a taco party and the dragons are sold and will flock to your do.  Robbie and dog invite all the dragons in their neighborhood to their party.  I wonder where the dragons live?  I haven’t seen one around here lately.

Robbie and Dog want to be good hosts so they make tacos, lots and lots of tacos. They make a boatload of tacos, you know you don’t want to run out. During their party preparations they learn dragons don’t like spicy salsa, not one little bit and for good reason. What do you think happens when a fire-breathing dragon encounters spicy salsa?  Something explosive happens!

This is a silly, funny book!  I chuckled all the way through to the end.  You will have to read it to see if the party was a success.  Did the dragons like the party?  Were there enough tacos?  Did Robbie and Dog bury all the spicy salsa in the back yard? Remember the trick to getting a dragon friend is tacos!

Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day

VDayDe Paola, Tomie.  Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day.  New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1967.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I was looking through my book collection for a book to share on this day and this one leaped off the shelf and into my hands.  This book wanted to be shared so I decided that I would.  Over the years, I have been a room mother for one or the other of my girls elementary classrooms, a preschool teacher, and a library story-time lady.  I expect I purchased this little book as a resource for activities for an evening at home or a party at school.  These were the kind of resources you needed “back in the day” as my stint in all those roles came after 1983 and before the age of Google, DIY, and Pinterest. Here is the perfect book for all your DIY needs from ancient times.

Do you need Valentine Cards?  How about making some?  This book has easy, but detailed instructions on how to make block print cards with Styrofoam and poster paint.  Messy work, but fun to do.  It also included instruction for making an envelope for your cards.

Does you child need a Valentine Mailbag for school? Do they still have Valentine Mailbags at school?  It has been a long time since I have attended a party at an elementary school.  Here are the instructions for making one using a brown paper grocery bag.  Brown paper shopping bags were terrific!  You could make so many  great things from one.  Alas this activity might need modifications as brown paper grocery bags are hard to come by these days.

Do you need to organize a Valentine’s Party?  This book has all you need from food to games. For food there is a recipe for fancy sandwiches and chocolate snowball valentines. I don’t have any food stains on the book so I never made these recipes. With supervision each of these recipes would be easy for a child to construct.

What else do you need for a party?  Why decorations of course!  This author provides some simple decorations that can be made in a snap.  Once your guests arrive, you need games to entertain them.  This is a one stop book, so it includes information on several different games.  I found some construction paper hearts tucked in the back of this book so I have organized the Valentine Relay Race at some point.  It is a rowdy game, sure to tire out some silly players. Here’s what you need and how you play.

You need:

  • Red construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Black crayon
  • A piece of string six times as long as your arm

How to do

  1. Before the part, cut out a heart for each player.
  2. Think of some things to do, such as jump, crawl, hop, skip, and walk backwards.
  3. Take two hearts. Write the same thing to do on each.
  4. Do this for all the hearts. Put the hearts into two piles.

How to play:

  1. Make two teams of players
  2. Put the string on the floor
  3. Line each team up behind it.
  4. Put a pile of hearts across the room from each team.
  5. On “Go”, the first player on each team runs up to a pile and takes a heart.
  6. The players then come back, doing what it says on the hearts.
  7. When the first players get back to their teams, the next players run to the hearts.
  8. The team finished first wins.

Do you need a gift for your Valentine?  The book had an excellent recipe for making “Baker’s Clay.”  You could craft a little something wonderful for your special person.

This little book has everything you need for a wonderful day of activity for young ones or those young at heart.  Interspersed throughout the books are bits of valentine humor.  They are groaners.  I will be kind and share only two.  I hope you have a terrific day with all of your loved ones!

A Valentine’s Joke

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Olive.
Olive who?
Olive you!

A Valentine Tongue Twister

Lila’s love laughs loudly!