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text 2018-04-17 02:57
Dewey's and Caldecott

It's a bit over a week until Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon on Saturday, APRIL 28, 2018.



Reader Sign-ups are open:



There are over 700 people signed up already.


I've made a tradition of reading the  2018 Caldecott Award winner and some of the Caledcott Honor books as a change of pace between novels during the Spring Deweys.  You can find the winners of the Caldecott, Newbery and other awards from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2018/02/american-library-association-announces-2018-youth-media-award-winners 


This is nicely compatible with the low-key Readathon I'm planning, since there is also a visiting scholar at my synagogue and the local Earth-Day celebration competing for my attention.  I don't expect I'll actually read much, since I'd rather spend my time social media-hopping and cheering others on.

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review 2017-01-30 02:33
Beggars in Spain
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress uses speculative fiction to explore two fundamental questions – What happens if you genetically engineer a group of people  so that they are radically different from the rest of the humans – in this case by eliminating the need to sleep in a group of children (potentially accompanied by other intelligence enhancing modifications)?   What do the strong/wealthy/more intelligent owe to those they deem lesser? 


I don’t remember if I read the Hugo and Nebula winning novella that forms the first section of the book, but I did read Beggars in Spain in print when it was new.  Somehow I missed that Ms. Kress had written two sequels.  So I picked up the audiobook of Beggars in Spain 23 years after the original publication of the full length novel.  Some books hold up to time and to re-reading and others quickly become dated. Beggars in Spain belongs in the first category. 


I enjoyed my reread, though it’s been a bit surreal reading this story of xenophobia with its extended musings on what society owes to those deemed non-productive at this specific moment in US History. 

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review 2016-06-30 02:54
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

Not an easy book, what with the underlying trauma.  But I can see how this issue book has become a staple of high-school curricula. 

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review 2016-05-08 01:59
Girls Like US
Girls Like Us - Gail Giles

Girls Like Us won the Schneider Family Book Award*for teen readers in 2015.  The book was good, though I was a bit disappointed about how easily all the characters meshed and the pieces fell into place in the middle of the book. 


The language used in Girls Like Us is not complicated, since it is told from the perspective of two young women with intellectual disabilities.  As the sensational statistics splashed across the news report, approximately 1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault, and as many as 83% of women who are developmentally disabled are the victims of sexual assault.  I applaud Gail Giles for tackling the subject in Girls Like Us.  So, while a middle grade reader would easily be able to follow the story line, the subject matter, makes Girls Like Us unsuited to middle grade and younger teen readers.


I also found the dialect and poor grammar used by both Biddy and Quincy off-putting.  It read to me as more characteristic of economic disadvantage and poor education than of the disabilities it was intended to signal. While the book clearly supports the efforts to ban the “R-word,” when Biddy clearly states on the first page “Granny shouldn’t call me Retard.  I know that. It ain’t nice,” I disliked the constant use of “Speddie” to indicate people with disabilities throughout the book. It does no good to eliminate one derogatory term just to replace it with another.


I was also uncomfortable with the interior dialog and thought processes portrayed in Girls Like Us.   The author biography states that Ms. Giles was a special education teacher for 20-years, which means she had plenty of experience with the externalities of being with and interacting with disabled students.  My time at the edges of the Autistic community has sensitized me to how much the internal lived experience of a person with a disability can differ from what can be observed from outside.  I left Girls Like Us wondering if Quincy and Biddy would ring true to young adults with disabilities.

So in the end, my conclusion is that Girls Like Us  is well worth the time to read though the reservations described above kept it from earning a 5-star rating from me.

 The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Awards are typically given in three categories: birth through grade school (age 0–8), middle grade (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). 

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review 2016-04-25 02:52
Finding Winnie
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear - Lindsay Mattick,Sophie Blackall

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, is a sweet story about the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.  But more importantly, it's a story about the importance of family history and love.  With stunning artwork by Sophie Blackall, Finding Winnie was the winner of the 2016 Caledcott Medal 



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