Archive for the ‘books’ Category


Books, Books, Books

July 5, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

four books - Samurai Rising, Bamboo Sword, Beastly Bones, A Monster Calls

I attended the annual conference of the American Library Association this year. I have difficulty remembering when I last attended, but I think it was 1997 in New Orleans, so it has been a looooong time. It’s still a fabulous experience, but a few things have changed. Improvements, I would say.

The most obvious being that book publishers give away pre-pub copies of books like mad and there are more author signing opportunities. Back in the “old days” we bought copies of books and then got them signed by the authors. I attribute this change (giving away copies of books for signings) to the impact of ebooks and social media. Publishers seem to have recognized that librarians not only read books, but they also promote them to other people. With the advent of social media and book blogging, the reach of one librarian is much farther than just their library community.

My conference experience began Friday evening at the opening of the exhibits hall where all the publishers and book equipment/supply vendors show their wares. It was a bit overwhelming, so I just roamed around taking it in and picking up free books, buttons, posters, etc.

The second day began early with viewing the movie Wadjda by Haifaa al Mansour. It is really excellent and I highly recommend seeing it, if you can. Following the viewing, Haifaa al Mansour spoke about her experience making the film. Next, I attended a session with Sarah Vowell about her new book Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. She was joined by Nick Offerman and they sat on stage and discussed the book and other random topics. It was informative and funny. Nick Offerman was scheduled for a session in the afternoon (which I also attended) and they did the same thing in which Sarah joined him on stage and they discussed his book, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. It was great.

Nick Offerman and Sarah Vowell sitting on stage

Sunday was my day to get books signed. I was very pleased to get to speak with some of my favorite authors – William Ritter, Patrick Ness, and Dav Pilkey. Mr. Ritter is new to the writing scene. I just recently finished reading his first novel, Jackaby, and picked up the pre-pub copy of the second in the Jackaby series – Beastly Bones. I picked up a total of 33 books and Beastly Bones will be the first I will read.

I was happy to speak with Patrick Ness because A Monster Calls is definitely one of the best books I have ever read and I urge you to read it, if you haven’t already. I told Mr. Ness that this was my second copy of the book since I had given the first away because I think everyone should read it. He signed it accordingly.

signed title page

For the Castles – Keep this one! It’s yours!

I also enjoyed talking with Dav Pilkey. I saw that he was doing a signing at the Scholastic booth and attempted to get into the line, but it was VERY long due to the popularity of his Captain Underpants series which is published by Scholastic. I just didn’t have an hour to stand in line, so gave up, regretfully.

Dav Pilkey at the Scholastic Books booth signing books

Thankfully, the ALA has a great conference website that lets you search the schedule and I was able to search for Dav Pilkey and find that he would also be signing at the Little Brown Books for Young Readers booth later. Happily when I arrived at this booth, there was no line at all and I could step right up and take my time. I told Mr. Pilkey how much my stepdaughter loved his books, but I forgot to tell him that I wooed my husband with a boxed set of Captain Underpants. He signed two copies of One Day for me.

Monday was “visit facilities and equipment vendors day” for me. In the next two years, I will be designing a new library for my school. Therefore, I needed to gather information about furniture, shelves, self-checkout systems, etc. This was actually a bit fun. Having the words “Shanghai China” on your name tag always serves as a conversation starter.

All in all, it was a great time. Not only did I get to do all of the above, but I was able to spend time with a dear friend and former co-worker I haven’t seen in a long while.


EAFOL: Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature 2014

March 16, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

We attended the Friday and Saturday EAFOL events again this year.

Julia Johnson presenting her new book The Turtle Secret

I started with the presentation by Julia Johnson on her new book The Turtle Secret. It is a chapter book intended for ages 8-12. The characters are Emirati and the story revolves around sea turtles, poaching, and the need to protect these endangered animals. I picked up two copies, one for me and one for my library. It is excellent. I would love to have a class set (20+ copies) so that our students could read it together. We need many more titles like this written with local interest and in the English language. These are crucial in helping students learn English.

Jim Al-Khalili presenting about his book Pathfinders

Next was Dr. Jim Al-Khalili. This was the best presentation I attended. Very interesting. They should have given him two hours instead of just one. I purchased his book Pathfinders: the Golden Age of Arabic Science. I hope it is as interesting as his oral presentation. I hope that they invite him back next year and give him more time.

panel discussion

Charlie Higson and Philip Reeve had to carry on without Eoin Colfer who was unfortunately ill and absent. These authors are very humorous and enjoyable to listen to. After this session I’ve put Reeve’s King Arthur book on my list to buy.

Sally Gardner presenting her fairy detective series

I had not heard of Sally Gardner before and found her very interesting. She has dyslexia and has had to find ways to cope with the challenge that presents when writing stories. She is a staunch advocate for changes in education to help students who don’t fit the “normal” pigeon hole. I look forward to reading her books.

Philip Reeve and Sarah Mc Intyre on stage

Next was Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre promoting their collaboration Oliver and the Seawigs. One of the best parts of going to all the children’s literature presentations is that they are usually interactive and the audience (filled with kids and parents) are responsive and enthusiastic.

Sarah McIntyre and her sea monkey drawing

The villain’s minions are sea monkeys, so Sarah walked us all through the process of drawing our own sea monkey. Here is mine:

pencil drawing of a sea monkey

Time for a singalong:


Charlie Higson

Charlie Higson, again, very interesting to listen to and gives the kids in the audience good advice about writing.

Eoin Colfer on stage

Eoin Colfer recovered enough for the second day. He spent the whole time telling funny stories, mostly on his own children. He was originally intended to promote his new book series W.A.R.P., but he took a look at the age of the audience and decided the book wasn’t age appropriate. He had them laughing with several bodily function stories (involving the phrases “pee pee,” “poo poo” and “pee poo!”) He’s an excellent storyteller. I picked up a copy of The Legend of Spud Murphy which is a story about a mean librarian. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m tempted to read it to my students.


Etihad Mall

June 16, 2013

Posted by Kanga.


We stopped by Etihad Mall to check out Kan Ya Ma Kan (Once Upon a Time) bookstore. It is a lovely little store with Arabic picture books.

picture book

I can hardly wait for the English translation of Maitha Al Khayat’s new book, The Runaway Louse. That’s one energetic looking bug.

There are a few malls that are not targeted at tourists. Etihad Mall is one of them. The signs of this are the traditional clothing stores and tailors, perfume shops, and dish shops, like this one.

extravagant dishes

I don’t know what that big green thing is for. Boggles the mind. (May be used to infuse clothing with incense.)

tea cup rack shaped like an Arab boat

This rather impressive tea cup rack shaped like an Arab boat caught our eyes.

Umm Saqeem Traditional Kitchen

And, in the food court, you will find choices like Umm Saqeem Traditional Kitchen. I would tell you what was available, except that the menu pictures were labeled only in Arabic. It appears it is likely to be Ma’louba, Margooga, Harees, Machbous, etc.


Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature Part 2

March 10, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

projected slide showing a map of the UAE

Saturday at the festival began with Maitha Al Khayat and her newest book When A Camel Loves Loqaimat. Loqaimat is a traditional Emirati dessert similar to doughnut holes, although not as sweet as doughnuts. After sharing the story with her rapt audience –

young children sitting on the floor

-she shared fresh loqaimat with them. It was a big hit, as you might imagine.

veiled woman

And there were cookies at the book signing.

cookie that says I heart reading

Next was John Connolly, author of The Book of Lost Things, which sounds interesting to me, but the bookstore was sold out. I’ll have to look for it later. It’s not like I’m caught up on my reading and desperately in need of it. (He didn’t intend for it to be a “children’s book,” but having a young protagonist almost guarantees being pigeon holed as children’s lit.) The book incorporates fairy tales, although they are not necessarily told the way we remember them. About a fourth of the book at the end is essays about the tales and early versions of each (before the Brothers Grimm cleaned them up).

John Connolly

Then I was off to a two (and a half) hour book binding workshop.

supplies for making a book

I really enjoyed this. The instructor, Mark Cockram, who is a book artist and teacher was quite a comedian. The time flew by. I was amused when one of the participants told him he should have brought some of the books he has made to sell them. He found a way to politely say “you couldn’t afford them.”

small book with black spine and red cover

I made this!

man and woman on stage

Next was Chris Cleave, author of Incendiary, The Other Hand (aka Little Bee), and his newest Gold. It was interesting to hear the different authors describing how they write. Chris says he chooses a challenging question and then finds characters, places them in pressure situations to force them to answer the question. For example, the question behind Gold is “what would you sacrifice for your career? Family? Friends?”

two men on stage

Last was Anthony Horowitz and the young fans of his Alex Rider series and Power of Five series. Kids are always fun and have the best questions during Q&A time.

Addendum: More information about Jeffrey Deaver and Anthony Horowitz writing books about Bond and Holmes was requested. So, here is what I remember. Jeffrey Deaver was approached by the Fleming estate because he had mentioned in a speech that he was a Bond fan and had begun reading Bond novels when he was eight years old. He was given room to update Bond, making him a veteran of the Afghanistan war instead of World War II. He also softened Bond’s mysogyny. Other characteristics of a Bond story were retained – creative character names, the over the top villain, and, of course, gadgets. I missed how Mr. Horowitz came to write the Holmes novel, but he was given more latitude in his writing. Arthur Conan Doyle’s own inconsistencies made being faithful to the previous stories difficult. He chose not to have Moriarity be the main villain, but he did give him a cameo appearance. He pointed out that what makes Holmes stories captivating is not the plot, but the relationship of Holmes (cold, intellectual, addicted) and Watson (warm, helpful, caring).


Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature

March 8, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

chair with a paper tablet and pencil on it

We are spending the weekend immersing ourselves in the Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature. (The conference center very kindly provided paper and pencil. It seemed like a retro gesture.)

I started Thursday evening with Alan Dean Foster, writer of science fiction and movie novelizations such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, etc. His talk was very interesting. He could not give us details, but promises that the newest Star Trek movie coming this May will be even better than the last.

beautiful woman reading poetry

Then we attended the Poeticians recitation. The Poeticians are people here in Dubai who write poetry and meet regularly to read their works. Pictured above is our lovely friend Hind.

three men on a stage

Friday morning, I began with Jeffery Deaver and Anthony Horowitz. Mr. Deaver recently wrote a new James Bond novel and Mr. Horowitz wrote a Sherlock Holmes novel, so they were discussing the ins and outs of working with such iconic characters.

Then I went to a two hour workshop on plot development led by Greg Mosse. It was very interesting and the two hours went by quickly.

two people on a stage

Next was Deborah Moggach author of These Foolish Things, which became The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. (If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.) She was very funny and delightful. We could have sat there for another hour or two happily.

Then I went off to a “workshop” on bullying, but didn’t learn anything new about bullying or how to deal with it.

Next was Geraldine McCaughrean. The session was designed for children. I arrived late because the bullying session ran over. When I got there Geraldine was telling the story of Perseus killing Medusa. She then went on to invite volunteers up onto the stage and led a very engaging session that had all the kids paying attention and participating. I was so attentive that I forgot to take a picture. The question and answer period was fun, too. One tiny little voice asked “Why do you EVEN like writing?” Another asked “How many books have you written?” The answer was “167” to which there was a loud exclamation somewhere in the audience “Oh, my god!” Kids are so fun.


Sharjah International Book Fair

November 13, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

It is time once again for the Sharjah International Book Fair. It is even larger this year.

man demonstrating computer graphic art

We dropped in to see a demonstration of digital artwork by our friend, Ashraf Ghori.


In addition to miles of books, there were some traditional dance demonstrations.

The book fair is on through Saturday November 17th. We highly recommend it. Wear your best walking shoes and eat a hearty meal, you’ll need your strength.


Back to School in Style

August 20, 2012

Posted by Kanga.

There are always plenty of blank books available in stationary and discount stores. With school starting soon, there are now large piles of them near the front of the store. I always peruse the covers, because they often provide amusement.

three spiral bound blank books

These three caught our eye last night.

spiral bound book with text on the cover

“Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness;
the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood,
for those who understand us enslave something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my safety.
Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.”

spiral bound book with text on the cover

“I saw a bee today, 1st time in years.
She was very tall and outgoing.
Looked like a young queen.
Seemed confused by flower tattoos.
Then left without saying goodbye.”

spiral book, cover contains the word "same" over and over

Same ol’ same o, I guess.

close up of the cover showing the word "same" repeated over and over