Monday, June 23, 2014

Basketball Break Away

I'll be off my blog (and yours) for the next several weeks as my family and I follow my basketball-loving daughter to some out-of-town tournaments. She's fourteen and pretty much plays all year long, so every season is basketball season, but right now she's in the middle of her AAU season. We're turning these tournaments into mini-vacations to make them more interesting for my sixteen-year-old son who neither loves or plays basketball. Milwaukee and Lake Michigan is one stop. The other is South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Hills.

See you July 21st!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Crossover

This is a special book. Not just because it's well-written, inventive, creative, fun and serious all rolled into one, but special because my basketball-loving and basketball-playing daughter and I read it out loud together. And likely it will be the last book I can say that about because she's now fourteen years old and has read books aloud with me much longer than most kids would. So because this was our last read-aloud, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is extra-special.

The premise: Thanks to their NBA-ability dad, Josh and his twin brother Jordan rule the basketball court, but when Jordan starts hanging with the new girl in school and Josh and Jordan's dad has some heart health issues, things unravel -- even on the court.

What I loved: So much. It's a novel in verse -- yes, that's right, a sports novel in verse. But it's a sports novel in verse that any reader can identify with because along with being about basektball, it's about brothers and family and second chances and living each moment. It's basketball. It's poetry. But you don't have to love either to love this novel.

For more middle grade recommends, follow the links at
Happy middle grade reading!

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's Summer

I don't do this often, well, never until today actually, but I hand-chose the winners of Erin Moulton's two books I had up for giveaway because there were two people who I knew just fit the books. And so:

The signed ARC of Chasing the Milky Way goes to
Margo Berendsen
because she personally knows some moms who struggle with mental illness -- and this is the exact focus of this book. Enjoy, Margo, and may it help you in your relationship with those moms and kiddos.

And the signed paperback of Tracing Stars goes to
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
because he has a son involved in theater -- and this book deals with two sisters and their summer working in the local theater. May you find connections to your life as a theater dad, Michael.

Hooray! Both winners, please email your mailing addresses to:
barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com.

And now, on to other things . . . such as . . . summer.

The season that can't be long enough, ever. At some point in my life, I will live where summer lasts all year long, but until then, I soak it up while it's here. Windows thrown wide open, three meals a day on our deck, reading in the sunshine, walking my dog in rainshowers -- every single summer moment burned in my memory and stored in my heart.

Occasionally, on the deepest of cold winter days, I sneak the remainder of last summer's sunscreen bottle from the cupboard, close my eyes, and sniff. This transports me. I'm sitting on the beach, toes in the sun-warmed sand, watching boats purr by on a local lake.

But, right now, it really is summer, and I'm guzzling up every minute.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Chasing the Milky Way (with ARC giveaway!)

Lucky me! I won a three-pack of books from Erin E. Moulton, one of which was an advance reading copy of Chasing the Milky Way, set to release on June 12th. Also in that three-pack was a paperback of Tracing Stars, Erin's second book (my thoughts on it are here). Both the ARC and the paperback (I own a hardcover of Tracing Stars) are available for giveaway! Details at the end of this post. The last part of the three-pack was Erin's first book, Flutter, and that one was a hardcover which I'm hanging on to.

Premise: Lucy's ticket out of Sunnyside Trailer Park is a robot competition--the BotBlock--with her friend Cam. But Lucy's still reeling from her grandma's recent death, taking care of her younger sister Izzy, and living with a mom who struggles with mental illness and doesn't always take her medications, so things don't always go Lucy's way.

What I loved: The hard but honest but loving way Erin Moulton blends her story with something as difficult to depict as mental illness. In light of the recent push for #WeNeedDiverseBooks, here's a middle grade novel that deals with mental illness in a realistic but compassionate frame.

To be eligible for the giveaways, you need a United States mailing address and a comment on this post. Giveaway is open until 8pm CDT, Sunday, June 8, 2014. The two winners will be announced on Monday, June 9th.

For more middle grade greatness, follow the links on
Happy middle grade reading,