Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Bully edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

Happy Halloween, everyone! I don't have a creepy, gothic Halloween-y tale to share with you today, but that's not to say that I didn't read a book about something scary. There's not much scarier than a school bully, or a grown-up bully, or, well, any bully at all, and Dear Bully is chock full of them...

The statistics are staggering, jaw-dropping things. "Every seven minutes a child is bullied on a school playground, with more than eighty-five percent of those instances occurring without any intervention." Sure, everybody has probably dealt with a bully or been a bully sometime in their life, but bullying is so ingrained in our consciousness that it's foolishly viewed as some twisted rite of passage, a character-building opportunity to emerge on the other side as a stronger, thicker-skinned person, a person better equipped to deal with the difficult people life is guaranteed to throw at you.

Instead, though, we have hundreds of thousands of kids who are terrified to go to school lest they be bullied. Instead, we have kids who have been so isolated and demeaned by bullies at school and online that "a child commits suicide once every half hour" and more than 100,000 who bullies have made to feel so powerless that they feel they need to carry guns to school. If merciless torture of anyone who is even the slightest bit different is a rite of passage, then it is surely a rite that is far too heavy a burden on kids growing up today. Dear Bully is a compilation of 70 stories from YA authors about their experiences with bullying both as the bullied and as the bully. It is an assurance to kids that have been made to feel totally alone that they aren't and call to action for a nation that has turned a blind eye to bullying for too long.

The stories in Dear Bully come from a variety of well-known YA authors including Lauren Oliver, R.L. Stine, Alyson Noel, Megan McCafferty, and many more come in a variety of forms, as poetry, as stories, as letters, and even in pictures. Each is powerful in its own way, and the collection as a whole runs the full gamut of emotions, causing horror at the cruelty kids are capable of, tears at the bravery and kindness of those courageous few who were willing to step into the crosshairs of bullies to rescue their friends, and even smiles of relief at these many talented authors who emerged from their torturous days of middle and high school to take refuge in and write stories that would help the kids that they once were learn that the lies bullies tell couldn't be further from the truth.

If I have one complaint about some of the stories, it is that they depict mind-blowing abuse, show teachers and parents ignoring or brushing off bullying situations, describe how totally isolating bullying can be and then exhort kids to step up to stop it. While I understand the sentiment, this is one of the things that is so easy to write about in hindsight but so difficult to do at the time of the bullying. It's easy to say that you should tell the teacher or you should befriend the bullied or you should stand up to the bully, and really these are the kinds of things that should be done and should make a difference. That said, after you've just told a story where a bully beat you up or told atrocious lies about you that alienated all your friends, and the teacher said, "pull yourself together" when told the situation, it seems like a pretty hard sell to get kids to take a stand.

Aside from this one gripe that only applies to a few of the pieces, I would say that this collection is a must read for everyone who has ever dealt with a bully, been a bully, had a friend or a child who is or might be a victim of a bully's cruelty. The stories succeed in showing bullied kids that they aren't alone, that things do get better. Others reveal the intense regret that schoolyard bullies might one day come to feel once they emerge from an environment where being unique couldn't be more wrong. All endeavor to show kids that regardless of the pain words might inflict, they are worthwile and loved, that it's possible to stand up for themselves, and that doing what's right, even when it might be downright terrifying, can be the most liberating of all.

(Thanks to Eric and Co. at Planned TV Arts for sending me a copy of Dear Bully for review!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogiversary Giveaway Winners!

With a guest appearance by Shoofly Pie! Okay, yes, that's kind of random, but on Saturday during the Readathon, I was munching on Shoofly Pie. This drew some curiosity from people who don't know what the heck it is and possibly a demand for a picture of said pie. Luckily, I hadn't quite finished it off, so here's a picture, because what Raych wants, Raych gets, and Raych wishes a picture of pie (okay maybe not this pie, but the other pie was previously devoured). ;-)

Okay, I didn't say it was a great picture. I was kind of in a hurry to eat it, you know. Anyway, Shoofly Pie is fluffy, molasses based pie. Most of the ones I've had have a kind of crumby topping, which is, it seems, not mandatory among Shoofly pies. It's apparently a Pennsylvania Dutch-y sort of dessert. My dad thinks it's "old" of me to like it, like I'm too young to appreciate a good Shoofly Pie.

Okay, enough about pie! I promised winners, and here they are!

Gwen B. wins a copy of The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Florinda gets the copy of The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta


Amanda snags the copy of Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

Thanks to all who entered and wished me a happy blogiversary, I wish I had a book for all of you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Read-a-thon Wrap Up

Reading Now: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It's been __45__ pages and __60__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 6 hours 50 minutes

Cumulative Pages Read: 318

Books Completed: 1 - Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

End of event meme

1.Which hour was most daunting for you?

Hour 9? I needed a power nap. Or perhaps Hour 17 when I decided finishing the book I was reading was hopeless and just gave up and went to bed?

2.Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I'd say The Future of Us because it really is interesting, but it kind of turned into my Read-a-thon archnemesis that eventually defeated me, so maybe not?

3.Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I dunno - twist more people's arms until they agree to cheerlead. ;-) That 69 cheerleaders to 442 readers is a pretty hefty imbalance. Not that the cheerleaders didn't do a great job! You all did...which is why I want more of you! Muah!

4.What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Loved the cheerleading HQ site. It was super helpful that it was updated to reflect those who signed up but didn't end up participating. It was always a drag having to click through a bunch of non-participants just to find one reader to cheer on. Great job on that, guys!

5.How many books did you read?

I finished one I already had started and was in the middle of two by the end of the 'thon.

6.What were the names of the books you read?

See above plus Dear Bully Ed. by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

7.Which book did you enjoy most?

The Future of Us

8.Which did you enjoy least?


9.If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

I wasn't, technically. So I'll just say, Great job, Cheerleaders!

10.How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I love the Read-a-thon, and I'm sure I'll participate again if my schedule allows. That said, when I started participating in the Read-a-thon it was more as a cheerleader, and I think I might go back to that. It's fun being more involved with the community aspect of the 'thon. Plus, no matter how much I try to tell myself it's not a numbers game, I always end up a little depressed by what a slow reader I am. So, yeah, maybe I'll go back to cheering with a little reading on the side to save my sanity!

Did you participate in the Read-a-thon? How'd it go for you?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Read-a-thon Hour 14 Update

Reading Now: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler alternating with Dear Bully Ed. by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

It's been __92__ pages and __120__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 5 hours 50 minutes

Cumulative Pages Read: 273

Books Completed: 1 - Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

Eating?: Couple pieces of cheese and a piece of shoo-fly pie

And we've passed the midway point, so the mid-event meme!

1. What are you reading right now? Mostly The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
2. How many books have you read so far? I've finished one, but I didn't read all of it today.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm not sure how much of the second half of the Read-a-thon I'll be awake for, but really I'm just hoping to finish at least one of the books I have started - The Future of Us and Dear Bully
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really. And I didn't quite free up the *whole* day...
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Hmmm, my mom interrupted me to chat this morning just when I was getting started. I yelled at her but ended up chatting anyway. Then there was a quick trip to Pumpkinpalooza where I soothed my anguish at stepping away for the Read-a-thon by eating lots of yummy food
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I don't know why, but I'm always surprised at how little I manage to get read in a very long time. Newsflash - Read-a-thon day doesn't actually make you a faster reader.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? The Magic 8 Ball says "Ask again later."
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I think maybe next time I won't read, and I'll just sign up to cheer. I love the reading, but I like to feel more connected to the internet-y goings on, too!
9. Are you getting tired yet? Not really. I may have had a short power nap this afternoon that got me back on track!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Nothing I can think of off the top of my head!

Read-a-thon Hour 10 Update

Reading Now: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler alternating with Dear Bully Ed. by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

It's been __91__ pages and __109__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 3 hours 50 minute

Cumulative Pages Read: 181

Books Completed: 1 - Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

Eating?: Triscuits, a piece of blueberry custard pie, glass of water (gotta stay hydrated!)

Very happy with my decision to alternate The Future of Us with Dear Bully. Actually, I've been going much heavier on The Future of Us, though. At first, I thought the tiny print in the ARC was going to be an issue, but the story of two high schoolers in 1996 discovering the Facebook pages of their future selves grabbed me, and I stopped noticing the print so much.

All the early internet nostalgia is so funny. It's hard to believe how much things have changed technology-wise since we dialed-up and installed that free for so many hours AOL for the first time! I can just barely remember my mom telling me to get off the internet because people might be trying to call on the phone. I'm kind of filled with nostalgia and stuff except for, uh, that really slow dial-up internet and the really slow computer I had to go with it... Glad things are speedier now or Readathon cheerleading would be a huge drag!

Speaking of cheerleading, I'm off to do some.

Read on, my friends!

Read-a-thon Hour 7 Update

Reading Now: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It's been __11__ pages and __17__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 2 hours 1 minute

Cumulative Pages Read: 90

Books Completed: 1 - Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

Eating?: French fries, Chocolate vanilla peanut butter fudge, fresh-squeezed lemonade, a steak sandwich, and a spring roll.

All right, you caught me. I obviously didn't get much reading done in the last few hours. I may or may not have wandered off to Pumpkinpalooza to eat a long lunch. I brought back fudge and pie for this evenings Read-a-thon eating, though.

A wise commenter or two said that Dear Bully is probably good for dipping into and out of, so I'm switching to The Future of Us for a while to keep it light. Now, enough slacking and back to the books!

Read-a-thon Hour 3 Update

Reading Now: Dear Bully Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

It's been __79__ pages and __104__ reading minutes since my last update.

Total Time Spent Reading: 1 hours 44 minutes

Cumulative Pages Read: 79

Books Completed: 1 - Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed

Eating?: Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast and a snack of Welch's Berries 'n Cherries fruit snacks. Yum!

Despite obvious efforts from my parents to sabotage my Readathon, I have managed to get some reading done over the past 2 and some hours. I finished the book I already had started prior to the Readathon, Carry Yourself Back to Me which was good but I have to admit I definitely didn't love it. I'll give it points for reminding me that I need to read more books that leave me smiling instead of crying, though.

Speaking of crying - okay, maybe not quite crying but more like open-mouthed gaping, I just started and devoured the first almost 50 pages of Dear Bully, a collection of 70 authors stories about bullying. Ellen Hopkins wrote the introduction, and she included a few statistics that are just jaw-dropping no matter how many times you might encounter them. So far, I'm really impressed with these short pieces about being on both sides of the bullying situation.

I can't decide whether I wanna keep at it and read it straight through or just dip in and out of it all day and read another book in between. While I decide, I think I'll go do some cheering!

Keep up the great reading, all!


Good morning, all! It's time to read! That's right, today is the day of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. I am, of course, participating - this time as a reader. I will be tracking my progress today until, I'm guessing, midnight or so, so expect a few more posts than usual because I'm not that person who posts the one post and then updates it all day. I promise that by tomorrow all will be back to normal around here, so if you could care less about my reading progress today please accept my apologies and feel free to mark all these bad boys read tomorrow morning and we can go on about our normal, light posting routine.

All right, now that all the apologies are made - how about an introductory meme?

1)Where are you reading from today? - Bloomsburg, PA, USA

2)Three random facts about me…

- I'm being a punk today and starting out finishing the book I was already reading. I figure it'll give me an early boost because it's so much easier reading a book that you're already in the middle of. I've only got about 30 pages left. Okay, the truth is I meant to finish it yesterday and totally failed. What do you want from my life?

- I might take a little break to go to something called Pumpkinpalooza today. Probably for lunch. There will be pumpkin catapulting and pumpkin pie eating contests and pumpkin shot putting. I mean, you can't miss that, can you? Well, maybe you can, but the jury's still out.

- I really like Bath and Body Works hand soap. Okay, that's really random. And no I was not paid to say it. ;-)

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? - 12ish

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? - My goal is to have fun!

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time? - Don't get too caught up in the numbers game (see question above). I track my numbers, but I don't put too much stock in them. It's not a competition (even with myself), so getting caught up in comparing # of pages or books read is usually just an exercise in frustration. Just enjoy a day where you have the perfect excuse to do nothing but blog and read!

Now, I better go get reading! Hope you have a fantastic day whether you're readathonning or not!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: A Train in Winter

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead

Harper, November 8, 2011


They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newpapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen, who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycee; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to one another, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazis occupiers.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women of the French Resistance and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, finding solace and strength in friendship; their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would survive.

Interweaving original sources, archival research, and in-depth personal interviews, A Train in Winter is the riveting narrative of this remarkable band of sisters, patriots whose love fortified them in the face of deprivation, horror, and death.

What are you "waiting on" this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Everything Happens Today by Jesse Browner

You know, it's helpful when you're about to leave on vacation if the internet actually works, so you can, you know, line up a post or two for the time you're going to be gone. I meant to have this for you last week before I dashed off for a long weekend in Niagara Falls, but you know what they say about the best of intentions. I'm happy to report that the internet appears to be working again (yayyy!), and I have an excellent book to review for you - Everything Happens Today by Jesse Browner.

P.S. Thanks for all the happy blogiversary wishes. Again, if my internet hadn't been sucking for the last week or so I would have been way more interactive with all you awesome people. I'll announce winners for the giveaway tomorrow!

Wes is seventeen, but he feels much, much older the night that he takes the long walk home from an Upper East Side apartment to his house in Greenwich Village. For an average seventeen year old guy, the night he loses his virginity would be a momentous occasion. Wes, however, is anything but average as we come to find out during the course of the next day of his life as he reflects on losing his virginity to the "wrong" girl, nurses his terminally ill mother, tries to make a deadline for a revised paper about War and Peace, and attempts to cook a bizarre meal that will bring his whole fragile family to the table. In the course of one ordinary yet extraordinary day, Wes grows up and learns some important lessons all while readers are treated to a unique and extremely vividly drawn family and a main character whose unexpectedly deep thoughts about life and love appeal to our own experience.

Through much of the reading, Everything Happens Today inspires mixed feelings. On one hand, Browner's choice to write his novel without chapter breaks has the tendency to make Wes's narrative monotonous, and gives the impression that Wes's sometimes incessant navel-gazing will proceed in circles without breaks or ends indefinitely not unlike Borges' Library of Bable, an illustration Wes is particularly drawn to. On the other hand, getting inside Wes's thought-pattern and learning the reasoning that drives him is what ends up making Everything Happens Today stand out. Wes is a more or less typical teenager who spends a little too much time with his iPhone, wonders if he is good enough for the girl he loves (or if what he feels for her is even truly love), and gets frustrated with his family, but Wes is also a bookish, thoughtful sort of guy who loves his family sacrificially, wants to be a truly good person, and struggles with the decisions he's making as he works his way into an unstoppable adulthood where his dearest wish is that he not become his father. In short, Wes is a lovable narrator both despite and because of his perpetual over-thinking, and he will make readers root for him that he might come to an understanding and an acceptance of his life such as it is.

Even though Wes is the heart and soul of the book, Browner creates a cast of secondary characters - Wes's parents, his sister, his best friend, the girls he might or might not be in love with - that leap off the page. His beloved little sister comes off just as quirky and innocent as intended. His father shuffles through a life populated with broken dreams and unmet potential that Wes himself loathes. His ill mother is a fragile shell of herself whose former life is barely visible beneath her current circumstances. His friend is the perfect well-intentioned meddler. The girls he falls for are as much fully fleshed out characters in their own right as they are lessons in what love really looks like for the hapless Wes.

It would be lying to say that Wes's deep thoughts combined with their lack of chapter breaks don't make Everything Happens Today a little difficult to tackle. That said, what I've come to appreciate about the Europa Editions books that I've read thus far, is that they make me think and work at them a little before yielding what is nearly always a rewarding, if somewhat atypical, reading experience. I'm fully convinced that readers will fall in love with loyal, well-intentioned Wes, just as I did, and be caught up in and ultimately charmed by this unusual tale of coming of age today.

(Thanks to Julia at Europa for my review copy!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Again for the First Time

Greetings all and welcome to another Tuesday with a great top ten topic from The Broke and the Bookish. A couple weeks ago we did "Books We'd Love to Reread," this week, a similar but really totally different topic - books we'd love to read again for the first time. I find that the books I want to reread are books I want to wrap up in and get comfortable, but the books that I'd most like to read again for the first time are ones that really made me feel something really strongly that I'm convinced probably can't be re-created quite the same way on a second reading.

1. After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell - I loved this book so much the first time I read it. I finished it on Christmas Eve a few years ago, and it made me ugly cry like no other book I've ever read. (I should mention that I do like that quality in a book.) It's so tragic...and hopeful, and the way the story's told just makes it punch you in the gut.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Especially The Return of the King. I can't even talk about it without getting all spoilery, buth ah, so good. I wanna feel that way again.

3. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - This seems to be one of those books that you either love or hate. There are cousins in love (which is shockingly not gross), no quotation marks, and an inexplicable occupation by some enemy. The narrator, Daisy, is so real and so cynical and sarcastic from the start, and she undergoes this huge transformation in this really unusual situation, and it's all incredibly profound and emotionally wrenching. And wonderful. Yeah.

4. City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell - This is a novel I read last year about Christian missionaries in China. I wish more people would read this (especially Christians), because it's so good, and the way it shows its characters (based on the author's grandparents) having their beliefs put to the test again and again and passing with flying colors is so refreshing and tearjerking.

5. The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen - This is the first book I ever read about the Holocaust. It's basically a time-travelly book-long reason to remember some of the darkest days in history. It sparked a fascination in me for all books Holocaust just because of how real it made it all for me.

6. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy - And this is probably the best Holocaust novel I've read since. Somehow Murphy turns Hansel and Gretel into not just a believable Holocaust story, but a really, really powerful one. It does one of the things I love in a Holocaust novel and really shows you how ordinary people became heroes in the face of overwhelming opposition.

7. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips - I loved the family in this book. I'd love to meet them all over again!

8. Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going - I swallowed this book in one gulp. It's all about a fat kid who thinks he's totally worthless and a kinda homeless guitar prodigy with a band that needs a drummer. I'd love to read this again and slower and just enjoy that moment when these two characters realize how badly they need each other. It's perfect.

9. Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger - This is one of those books that I feel like could never be as good as the first time. Once you know what happens at the end (even though you suspect it as the book progresses anyway), there's no going back, it just can't be as good as it was the first time. It's about an annoying but lovable kid who irritates a major league baseball player into becoming his friend. Told mostly in letters it is hilarious, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again.

10. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - I read this book at just the right time. So much of Macy's story hit home for me that I found myself in tears again and again because I liked her so much and because I really felt like I could relate.

What books would you like read again for the first time?

P.S. On a side note - it's my blogiversary, and I'm giving away a few books. Check it out?

Sunday, October 9, 2011


It's hard to believe this day has come. It's even harder to believe I remembered that it came and am writing a post about it seeing as I usually am off looking at shiny things or other such distractions for the attention span impaired while my blogiversary skates by with little fanfair. I'm not forgetting this year, though. That's right - this week Leafing Through Life is four. Four years old. It was four years ago today that I wrote my first book review for my own little corner of the interwebs. Little did I know the journey that I was beginning and that I'd still be at it four year later.

You see, I, as a person, am not blessed with a great deal of stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to things that life doesn't require me to do. With a flightiness I've more than likely inherited from my mother, I have the tendency to bounce from obsession to obsession. I'm all in for a little while, but once the thrill is gone, I'm on to the new thing. Not so with book blogging. I've finally found a hobby that stuck to me. It's had its highs and lows, and I've neglected it for other pursuits along the way, but I've never abandoned it completely, and with good reason - it is, by far, the most rewarding hobby I've ever put my hand to.

As I start my fourth year of blogging, I just want to thank all of you have taken the time to read some of my ramblings here, to befriend me, to encourage me whenever things haven't been going well, to send me a book, to make me feel like what I do actually matters and generally make this whole blogging thing the most worthwile of pursuits. Thanks, also, for making the book blogosphere the great place to be that it is, so that even when I think I might ponder giving it up, the connections, the recommendations, the friends keep me coming back.

To show my gratitude (and also because I just haven't done it in a while), I've got a few books to give away, because hey, what's a good celebration without presents?

I've got two gently used ARCs of a couple of my favorite reads from this year that I'd love to share with some other readers...

Sparrow Road by Shelia O'Connor (Read my review)
Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister (Read my review)

and also a pair of (never used) duplicate ARCs...

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The giveaway is open internationally. You can enter for all 4, but you can only win one. Just leave me a comment letting me know which ones you're entering for as well as some way to get in contact with you should you win. I'll take entries through midnight (EST) on Monday October 17th and will announce winner shortly thereafter.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kid Konnection: Butterfly Tree

Kid Konnection is a Booking Mama's weekend feature dedicated to all things children's books.

Butterfly Tree by Sandra Markle, Illustrated by Leslie Wu
Peachtree Publishers
Ages 4-8

When you're making a memory, you want it to last as long as possible.

One September day, while Jilly is on the shores of Lake Erie throwing a stick for her dog, Fudge, she notices an orange cloud coming closer to the beach. At first, she worries that it's smoke from a fire or volcanic fallout or even an alien spacecraft. When she tells her mom about it, though, the two hurry off into the woods in search of the mysterious orange cloud. Just when Jilly is ready to turn back, the two discover an ordinary tree covered in orange leaves, but when Fudge races through chasing a squirrel, the tree suddenly bursts into a magical flurry of monarch butterflies.

Markle's verse vividly renders a memory of the migrating butterflies drawn from her own childhood. Her detailed descriptions capture the atmosphere of the woods and the magic of discovering something for the first time. Wu's illustrations are perfectly suited to the story. Her beautiful impressionistic paintings reveal the perfect cast of the light and the motion of a hundred fluttering butterflies but with soft edges that gives the sense of a rare, beautiful moment being viewed throught the lens of memory.

Young readers will be taken in by the bright colors and the suspense in the search. Older readers might well be reminded of the wonder and the opportunities for discovery that nature offered us when we were children and still today if we slow down long enough to see.

Beautiful book!

(Thanks to Peachtree Publishers for sending me a copy!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ready to Read?

Arguably my favorite book blogging event is coming up in a few short weeks. Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon takes place on October 22nd this year, and as of yet, I haven't stupidly made plans that totally (or even mostly) prohibit me from spending a gloriously guiltless day of reading and blogging for as much of 24 hours as I can handle. The first Readathon took place in October 2007 when my was just a baby and was how I really started to meet some of the bloggers that I still love! Therefore, of course, I have a total soft spot for it.

I am busy at work assembling a pile of easy and absorbing reads to fill my Readathon day. I think I'm going to be aiming mostly at YA this time, because it's easy and also because I'm totally craving a bunch of YA since it seems to be very much lacking from my reading this year for no apparent good reason.

I hope you're planning on Readathon-ing this year, whether you're a veteran or a newbie. It's fun for all, and you only have to read as long as it's fun, and, believe me, it's fun for quite a while. You can enjoy the encouragement of cheerleaders as you creep into your 23rd straight hour of reading, or cheer on your fellow readers before you chuckle softly to yourself at the insane souls who are really going to stay up all night reading as you tuck yourself into your warm, welcoming bed (at a decent hour - LOL!) to sleep until it's time to catch up with everybody early the next morning when people are still reading.

That's my pitch - it's great fun and I hope to see you on Readathon day, so head on over and sign up to read or, if you'd rather, to cheer on the readers (which, is at least as fun as being a reader, if not occasionally more fun!).

So, will I be seeing you on Readathon day? =D