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horn book at simmons 2015

HBAS_2015_HeaderFriends, family, and other concerned parties: I am still alive and reading.

Well, assuming you consider picking up a different book every day and reading 10 pages before putting it down to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls to be reading.

At any rate, I am alive, and full intending on returning to this blog space in the near future.

But first, a quick signal boost to an Exciting! Event! on the near horizon, one that may be of interest to those of you Friends of the Children’s Book out there – next weekend is the fabulous, annual, simply not-to-be-missed Horn Book at Simmons one day colloquium! The Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and the fine fellows at The Horn Book Magazine are teaming up yet again to provide a premier one-day children’s-book-lovers-palooza. Or something like that.

I’ve attended before, so it goes a little like this. On Friday night, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards are awarded, and acceptance speeches are given. A fancy reception follows, where you may drink some wine, get books signed, and maybe Jack Gantos will walk up to you and start a conversation. Then you go to sleep and wake up early, trek to Simmons, take a seat in the perpetually freezing Paretsky Center, drink some sweet, sweet conference coffee, and watch while esteemed authors, illustrators, editors, and other children’s literature people proceed to blow your mind with brilliance. Then you go home and bask in that happy feeling that there is a whole community of people who value children’s books as much as you do, and probably spend an hour or so talking your partner’s ear off about all of the brilliant ideas you never had until this day (while he makes polite nods and hmms while trying not to check his iPhone unscrupulously).

Yours truly will be participating in the events of the day, so it is possible that your Day of Brilliance may be briefly interrupted by a whimpering, sweaty woman trying desperately to keep her wits about her while speaking to an author of more-than-average celebrity. Ignore her. Keep your eyes on the more brilliant members of the lineup. Susan Cooper! Marla Frazee! Neal Shusterman! Wow! Can you believe it? How lucky are you. It’s not too late to join, if you are a local person. If you’re not a local person, I’m sure there will be lots of fun content on the Horn Book’s various blogs, and you can watch the #hbas15 hashtag on the Twitters.

And speaking of interruptions (brief or not so brief)… I’ve really got to go so I can resume panicking preparing for the big show!

Summer Reading List 2015

I kind of thought it would never show up. That the crazy-busy winter and springtime would never end. That the snow would never melt (oh wait, it didn’t) (update: it just did) That I’d never be released into the freedom that is “Summer Reading.”

I spent the official solstice on an interminable flight – San Antonio to Houston, Houston to Baltimore, Baltimore to Boston. It was still bright out when I got home, completely strung out. I stayed strung out for the rest of the week, then got back on an airplane and began the Great European Adventure of 2015.

Don’t worry, though, Summer was just on point in Europe. The sun didn’t set until 10 p.m, which was kind of delightful for a vacation… except for, oh, the crippling heat. European air conditioning = just as wimpy as European wifi, by the way. In Paris, our hotel brought us a 20 lb bag of ice in a foam cooler – old school AC? – but I still couldn’t sleep because sweat kept dripping down my face.

But now I am home, the land where snow never melts and as soon as I finish reading a stack of review books (eta: July 20th-ish) then my SUMMER READING CAN TRULY BEGIN!

Blargh. What kind of Summer Reading doesn’t start until July 20th? Book People Problems.

Because of my late start and my unusual circumstances, I’ve stripped all auspices of ambition from my Summer Reading list. I didn’t even aim very high when creating said list – I really just picked the first 10 books that I came across that sounded fun. Free. Fun and free reading. You know what that’s like, you unencumbered readers you, and I am jealous.

Also, by 10 books I mean 9. That’s the kind of life I’m leading.





In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

Summer Sisters is my ultimate Summer Read, so you best believe I’m excited about a new adult J. Blume. I bought an ebook copy – I tried to read it while I was gallivanting around Europe, but alas, alack, I made 6 flights in 10 days, so no I was not going to be reading a book about plane crashes. I think I’m grounded for the rest of 2015, though, so now’s the time for some Judy.


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

My life has been lacking Directly Up My Alley YA lately. That is code for Girly as Shit (but not vapid whatsoever) YA – this series not only fits the bill, but pretty much all of my friends have read it and think it’s great. So I’m going to read it, yes, yes I am.


Symphony for the City of the Dead by M. T. Anderson

You know what else is directly up my alley? A NONFICTION BOOK BY M. T. Anderson. Be still my heart. And I have a galley, so booyah.

This post is getting weird. Apologies. I might need to take a dinner break and come back mature and coherent.


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This is one of those books that I actually know very little about but somehow feel is just The Book For Me. It’s the cover, the mystery, the Italian…osity, the popularity spike, the fact that it’s a story about friendship throughout a lifetime. Yeah, those are all things that I like. I bought my mama a copy for Christmas – maybe if I’m lucky she’ll let me borrow it while we’re at the beach next month? [insert endearing eyelash batting here]


Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

The one BEA galley to rule them all. Which has been taunting me from atop a monstrous pile of books on my bedroom floor for OVER A MONTH now. Ugh. It’s just gotta be read, guys. It’s gotta happen. I’m a fangirl.


Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Grown up books! Grown up books! Grown up, grown up, grown up books!

(That dinner break was not effective, I’m afraid…)

Anyway. Yeah. Books for grown ups about grown ups doing grown up things. Like getting married and having families and partaking in other domestic-y everyday dramas. Yes please. This one comes with friend recommendations, and while my current family domestic-y drama clocks in at over 600 pages, Dept. of Speculation is blissfully short. Body of a grown up, attention span of a small child – that’s me. Also, Offill’s previous publications include a sloth picturebook. So this one’s gotta be good, right?


A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara

Speaking of grown up books… here’s a bigger and fatter one that I am pretty geeked about for the following reasons:

  • Yanigahara’s debut: so dang great and so dang creepy.
  • The summary – “…four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way…” – is just 500% Jessica-bait


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Okay, perhaps I couldn’t entirely avoid the obligatory read. But guys, it’s kind of embarrassing that I haven’t read this one yet, and I really could finish it it in about 2 hours if I put my mind to it. So this doesn’t really count as un-fun reading. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

(Has nothing to do with the tasty galley waiting for me at work. Nothing whatsoever.)


Armada by Ernest Cline

Last but not least, we have the new Ernie Cline. Loved Ready Player One so much, so this should be a no-brainer… but I’ve read mixed reviews for this follow-up. But you know what Fun Reading is about for me? Seeing for myself. Picking up books that don’t have unanimously amazing reviews and finding out if they spark my interest. Taking off my Professional Book Person hat for a minute. Reading an iffy book about video games because why the heck not?

So, that’s my summer. And by summer I mean July 25th-ish until September 21st. Or when snow starts to fall – whatever comes first.

Summer Reading Lists Past


update/up next


Hello, friends!

I think I’ve made reasonably good on my early 2015 predictions. I read some YA nonfiction (yay, Romanovs!) I’ve read madly – 115 books and counting! I’m still keeping a log book, and as of about two weeks ago I am a Fancy! New (ish)! Car! Owner! I’ve even examined my relationship with processed foods – my conclusion so far? “When you have a batshitcrazyGoGoGo! kind of year… you eat a lot of processed foods.”

And the trips! I just got back from four nights in San Antonio with my two best friends from high school (and some of their adorable progeny). In April, the boy and I did a DELIGHTFUL week in Kansas City, Missouri with our All Time Favorite Roommate.

Up next…

three nights in Paris (a la Anna and the French Kiss),

three nights in Amsterdam, (a la Postcards from No Man’s Land).

and two nights in Berlin (a la Going Over)

Because of said batshitcrazyGoGoGo year, I have done zero planning. If you have been to any of these cities or have a hypothetical itinerary that’s been burning a hole in your proverbial travel wallet (what does that even mean) please share. Please please. I have a butt ton of book reviews due before I leave and the boy is fi-na-lly finishing school this week, so I think we are both at about 1% brain function and unable of planning our own Tuesday morning, much less a vacation.

But who am I kidding: all I really plan on doing is drinking coffee, eating carbohydrates, and walking around taking pictures with my phone camera. Like a proper American tourist.

Equally exciting? Returning home in a few weeks and OFFICIALLY RESTORING MY LIFE TO NORMALCY

(with a quick break in August to go to the beach).


reading wishlist: the rest of 2015

So let me get this straight…

there are books published *after* May 31st, 2015?

You don’t say.

Despite my lack of attention to the entire second half of the year (or, you know, the rest of my life and the world at large), here’s a handful of books that *still* managed to catch my attention.


I Crawl Through It by A. S. King

I really wish you guys could have been at SLJ Day of Dialog to hear A. S. King talk about feminism. She’s a gem, and I can’t believe it took me so long to discover her work. I’ve heard that I Crawl Through It is pretty weird, even by A. S. King standards, but I remain fearlessly excited to get my hands on it.

The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos

Hole in My Life is a great book. If some cruel, sadistic individual asked me for a list of Top Ten Favorite Books Ever, I can’t say that Hole in My Life would be at the top of my memory… but then again, I’ve read it probably five or so times and could easily read it five more. It’s just a great book! What can I say? Apparently nothing critical or even somewhat cogent, but what the heck else is new. The Trouble in Me is a second Gantos memoir, which means I am already 100% sold. Even if it’s about teenage boys lighting things on fire.

Addendum: I just learned that Hole in My Life has been optioned for a film…. by Daniel Radcliffe. I’m sure 90% of film options go nowhere, but really now. Daniel. Radcliffe. Yes x 1million


The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

I kind of can’t believe I’m putting a big fat piece of historical fiction on this list, but there you have it. This one is about a fourteen-year-old girl who leaves her family’s Pennsylvania farm to seek a more adventurous life for herself… as a hired servant for a wealthy family in Baltimore. I get the feeling that Joan will be one of those protagonists who is fun to hang out with, with a great sense of humor and an even better voice. Why do I feel this way? I have no idea. I’m in an airport (in Baltimore!) and I’ve been up since 3:30 a.m. This post is about to get pretty weird.


The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage

Oh, Mo LoBeau. You are my favorite underage Southern detective, and I am excited to hang out with you again this year.


Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Hello. Huge Rebecca Stead fangirl in the house. I attempted to take home zero galleys while I was at BEA. I ended up with about 12 because sometimes people at BEA just hand you books, but this was the only one I went for voluntarily. I regret nothing. Except for arranging my summer schedule in such a way that I won’t actually be able to read this one until at least July. What a big mistake.


Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Soooo… at the end of the day at a certain book event that I have been talking about a lot, there was a really promising panel on nonfiction graphic novels. Really juicy author line-up, great topic. Unfortunately… it went on forever and ever and ever. Way, way over time. Maggie Thrash was last to speak, and bless her soul she spoke (eloquently and compellingly!) for about 45 seconds. It was an amazing moment. Thrash’s book is a graphic memoir about forbidden summer camp love has been on my radar. Seriously now – can you imagine a book more up my alley? I have high hopes for this one. And thanks again, Maggie. You’re really the best.


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


Sooooo… during this long haul between last summer’s Landline, I have become a connoisseur of every public interview or piece of writing that Rainbow Rowell has put out there on the interwebs. More than once I heard Rainbow describe her next project as a fantasy YA with a male protagonist. Never did I put two and two together and guess that a Simon Snow book was on its way to me.

I’ll try to contain my emotions somewhat by leaving this at YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS PLEAAAAAAAAAAASE.


What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Speaking of authors who you probably already read and follow and love, Aaron Hartzler of Rapture Practice fame and glory has a YA fiction book coming out this year. I’m interested! What’s it about? I don’t know and I’m on a plane that has no internet connection. So I’m afraid you’ll have to click on the above link and let Amazon do the talking. That is what you came here for – Amazon links, right? By the way, which one of you bought a Vitamix after visiting my site? THANK YOU MUCHLY, I used my Amazon commish to buy a Vitamin D lamp during The Winter that Wouldn’t End.


This is what you guys were missing for the last six months, right?

BEA 2015

Four days after The Big Selection Day, I hopped a bus down to NYC for a quick trip to BEA. It was probably an ill-advised trip – yeah, strung-out Jessica, why NOT take a solo jaunt down to the city that doesn’t sleep to attend the craziest book conference available? Ahem. Anyway, I tried to make it as quick and painless as possible, spending one day at SLJ’s Day of Dialog and another on the floor at BEA proper.



I started off my trip with a long, briskly paced walk through Central Park with my cousin the 19-year-old super model. I’ve been to NYC bunches of times but never actually made it to Central Park before? ?? Anyway, we caught up and I took pictures like a dirty rotten tourist and we visited Alice, and then I went back to my hotel room and collapsed.

I attended SLJ’s Day of Dialog last year and my previous praise still stands. It’s a fun little event. Brian Selznick started the morning with his keynote address. He posited his last three books – The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, and the upcoming The Marvels – as a thematic trilogy about the triumph of the story – of triumph over chaos. Is there anything that intrigues and delights me more than a “thematic trilogy?” Possibly not. I promptly began kicking myself for not having read ANY OF THESE THREE BOOKS. Don’t worry – I started reading Hugo two days ago. It’s really good.

The next panel focused on environmental issues in books for children, and featured Paul Fleischman, Louis Sachar, April Pulley Sayre, and Anita Silvey. I want to pause for a moment and try to express how excited my inner 9-year-old was to be in the same room as Louis Sachar. And he even talked about Wayside School and There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom!! WHAT. WHAAAAT. Okay. Anyway. The panelists talked about why they write or illustrate various environmental issues, how they tailor their content to inspire and engage a young audience (rather than scare the crap out of them), and why it’s so dang important. They also talked about how writing about the earth and environment for children is tied intimately to ideas of history and a shared humanity – the “presence of the past,” as a panelist put it so eloquently. Learning about the physical world and how it has changed and will change is also learning about one’s place in the world. It’s not all reduce-reuse-recycle – it’s about community, connectedness, and social responsibility.

The panel on middle school fiction was heavy on the entertainment and the kidlit celeb factor. Lisa Graff! Rebecca Stead! Tim Federle! Luke Reynolds! Rita Garcia-Williams! Embarrassing middle school stories were shared and jokes were had. The more serious discussion, however, reminded me of all of the things I love-love-love about middle school lit – middle school years are about forming identity, saying goodbye to childhood, gaining new levels of awareness, and struggling to understand yourself and to be seen for who you really are. Great middle school books let their protagonists muddle around with these questions, even if the answers are messy and half-formed.

I took fewer notes at the afternoon sessions, as is natural. A. S. King gave this drop-dead astounding luncheon talk about feminism in her life, in her work, and in the world around us. There’s a recap article over on SLJ – still hoping that the full-text or a recording of this one will be made public. Patrick Ness razzled and dazzled all over the YA panel. Publishers pitched their Fall 2015 books, and the last panel of the day went distressingly long. And then, the Big Announcement. I was nervous and so happy. There was some hooting and hollering in the audience, and then wine.


I hit BEA proper the next day, but the results were much less exciting. I popped into the YA editor’s buzz panel (Everything Everything looks like the definitive Big Fall Title, FYI) and a panel on ebooks in library collections. I checked in on the state of Hoopla ebooks. I tried to get publishers to talk to me about this little presidential ebook campaign you may have heard of, but it seems everyone is in just as much limbo as we are. I sat down for a quick minute at an adult fic panel moderated by Jami Attenberg (who I kind of adore), accidentally walked into a VIP networking event (where I proceeded to network with a reference librarian… who works in my building),  and then I hopped on the bus to go home.

My not-so-secret reason for attending: I wanted to take the chance to study the fine art of Panel Moderation. Because I am going to be called to the task this coming October. Gulp. Gag. Panic Panic Panic. I took notes! Because that’s the only strategic operative I have in my arsenal. If you’re going to be in the Boston area in October, you should definitely come to this really great event (*cough* it’sbetterthanDayofDialog *cough*) Even if I’m a panicked heaving mess, it will probably be pretty good.

Heaven help me.

reading for the insane: i did, i didn’t


  • I read first thing in the morning with my coffee, at my favorite bakery before work (with a cup of coffee), and at my favorite Starbucks during my lunch break. Most every work day.
  • Yes, I spent a lot of money on coffee. A lottttttt.
  • I ate the same five or six dinners on repeat. Half of which came directly from Trader Joe’s. Mmm… cabernet pot roast.
  • Actually, I kind of ate the same food every day. Eggs, leftovers, nuts+fruit, dinner, wine+chocolate. Lather rinse repeat.
  • For six weeks, I followed a fairly low-carb meal plan, for mood-control purposes mostly.
  • I gave myself permission to do whatever weird, nerdy thing I wanted to do related to books. Mildly necessary spreadsheets, obsessing over starred reviews (huge shout out to Jennifer Jazwinksi and her constantly updating spreadsheet of starred book wonder. If I could nominate you for sainthood, I would), and a lot of strange things involving index cards
  • Against my better judgement, I signed up for a [fill in the blank with your favorite online conglomerate] Prime account here. I don’t have a car, so I wanted a more time-efficient way to buy things like birthday gifts and watch batteries and more and more and more index cards.
  • I spent a lot of money on index cards.
  • I read on buses, trains, and planes. In airports, backseats, coffee shops, and bars. I read in four different states – Michigan, Missouri, Kansas and Massachusetts. Mostly, though, I read on the couch or in my bed.
  • I brought a bag of picturebooks to a friend’s house to watch an NFL playoff game.
  • I gave myself permission to listen to anything that could hold my attention. Some children’s/teen books, yes, but a LOT of podcasts and also some true crime. I don’t know what that says about me, but there you go.
  • I took some personal time, including a day where I read a book for 20 minutes, took a 5 minute break, then picked up a different book for 20 minutes, took a 5 minute break, and did this for pretty much ten straight hours. That was a weird day.
  • I used a time tracking app to keep myself accountable. It was kind of addictive.
  • I tried to keep a 9 p.m. bedtime.
  • I discovered a few good mantras, including “Pressure is a choice,” “Why aren’t you reading a book?” and “You can worry about that in June.”



  • I did not permit myself any exercise-related ambition. The last thing I needed was an injury or to spend my evenings exhausted and strung out on low blood sugar. 30 minutes on the elliptical, four times a week, book in hand. The end.
  • I did not go out much at all.
  • I did not blog. (Which I’m sure you all figured out. Assuming you are all still here. Knock, knock? Any readers left?)
  • I did not write anything for myself.
  • I wrote book reviews, but I did not permit myself to freak out about them. Because who has time for that? (Present Day Jessica: take note) (Present Day Jessica: stop talking to yourself in parentheses)
  • I tried very hard not to worry about my health, about money, or about anything happening after May 2015.
  • I quit Twitter and Facebook for 3-ish months.
  • I didn’t miss it too much.
  • I didn’t always keep my shit together.
  • I didn’t do much other than….. read.

(and it was pretty fun.)

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2015

Hey! It’s time for another book award post!

Remember when I used to post these?

(Remember when I used to post anything?)

Well, the 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced this past week, and I want to show you who won…


because I was a judge!


Oh, that was an awkward lead in. But my, oh, my I don’t even know anymore because my life for the past months has been an exhilarating/overwhelming/ridiculous GIANTPILEOFBOOKS. All I do is read-read-read no matter what. Then there were a few weeks in May where I spent 75% of my latent brain power revisiting and recalling what I’d read, while also trying to madly squeeze in JUSTAFEWMORE books. And then, a Saturday sitting in the Palace Road Building of Simmons College (it circles back, everything circles back) with two brilliant opinionated women whose contributions to the field of children’s and young adult literature I can only hope to someday come close to.


It’s been a wild ride. I feel like I say that a lot. Maybe my life is just a series of wild rides? Maybe yours is too? But this was a really one-of-a-kind ride. Trying hard not to be a romantic sap about it all, but the experience of altering the terrain of my everyday life to accommodate such an enormously daunting task was just profound. Difficult and exhausting and intimidating, too… but also such a pleasure, to be given permission to let everything else fall away but books. Like an intense semester at grad school – a six-credit class with no papers and a huge, looming final you know you can’t be 100% prepared for, but your only homework is reading.


There were books and books and books and books. And then there were nine.


And I love them all. I do, I do.



Picturebook Award

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Picturebook Honors

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers


Fiction Award

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell

Fiction Honors

Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman


Nonfiction Award

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Nonfiction Honors

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson



I can’t believe I am 30 years old.

I also can’t believe this is only my third post of the year.

So far, 2015 is filled with unbelievable things. Mainly 105 inches of snow and the subsequent meltdown of my beloved public transportation system. Life in Boston has been just so very disrupted for so many weeks that I’m finding 40 degree weather fairly unbelievable. Sun melting snow weather. Gloves optional weather. I-saw-a-human-wearing-shorts-out-of-doors weather. Cah-razy.

It’s warming up, and I’m as old as the hills. I’ve been writing these little birthday ditties for 6 years now, maybe longer. I don’t ever feel like I have anything cogent to say about aging except that it’s happening. I really do try to wake up every morning and have a good day, a productive day, a day that I’m proud of; whether I succeed or not, those days string into years, and here I am looking at thirty of them.

The older I get, the more I [fill in the blank].

The older I get, the less I [fill in the blank].

I could fill in those blanks for a few thousand words, but they would be a few thousand navel-gazing words that would all add up to this: your life looks different from different angles. I’m not exactly thrilled to be 30 – mostly because I am female in modern America which means everyone is monitoring both my declining physical appearance and the relative shriveled-up-ness of my ovaries with even more scrutiny than usual. Everyone including myself.

I do worry about my skin and my hair and my other body parts, but I worry more about my time. Now that I am into another decade, I fear that hanging onto time will become an increasingly slippery task. Time will become more precious to me and more easily wasted. When I was 22, 23, 24, time felt a little more elastic, a little more forgiving. I am 30 now.  If I make a poor choice in how to appropriate my personal resources – if I neglect or destroy my health, my career, a relationship, I’m running out of days to try it all again. These are worries for thirty-year-olds and now I am a thirty-year-old so here I am.

In the mornings, though, when I wake up in my tiny apartment, I’m not usually worrying about that shit. I’m thinking about my day and about what I’d like to accomplish. I’m thinking about how closely I’ll be able to stick to my routine, or how I might like to tweak things. I’m thinking about the book I’m reading, or the book I just finished, or the book I might read next. The older I get, the more I figure out about myself. The older I get, the more comfortable I am taking the reigns. I steer my days the way I want them to go. I’m hoping this means that my years will go the way I want them to as well.

The older I get, the more faith I have that my days, weeks, months, years will be good ones. If that’s the difference between being a 20-something and a 30-something, then I’m pretty okay about that.


 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 | 24

her life with snow

Two years ago to the day, I wrote a little post about some snow we had in Boston.

Yeah, it was a lot of snow. They shut the MBTA system completely, for the first time since the Blizzard of 1978. Records, perhaps, were broken. I honestly can’t remember, because I’m from Michigan, y’all. It’s snow – it shows up, it sticks around, and eventually it’s 90 degrees and humid. If you’re lucky, you get a day off of work – otherwise, shovel out your car and hit the slippery and potentially deadly road. Snow is snow is snow.

Unless, of course it’s 2015 and you live in Boston and suddenly snow is just YOUR LIFE. FOREVER. IT WILL NEVER STOP.



You guys can read the news – I’ll spare you the play by play – but there is just so much. So much! The Boy has had 10 snow days, I’ve had 4, and they’re talking about another storm this weekend. I stopped caring about accumulation a week or so ago – once you hit 3 feet on the ground, does another foot really make a difference? I’m more concerned about my poor dear MBTA, which seems to be just barely clinging to life. I used to rely on public transit to get me to work in a reasonable amount of time under semi-dignified circumstances. Ever since The Snow, all I’m gunning for is Eventually Arriving at Work/Home. Not spending the night sleeping in my office. Not spending the night sleeping in a stalled train. In attempt to mitigate my public transportation rage (which is transitioning quickly to straight-up anxiety), I’ve been doing a lot of walking around in the snow, which is… ah… challenging. Some sidewalks are shoveled well, some are shoveled barely, and some are covered with an inch of solid ice. Snow plows turn street corners into impassable mountains of snow – that eventually melt into slushy swamps that one must ford in order to… stand directly in the way of traffic that couldn’t really see you around the remaining snow mountains. Check out this clever Boston city maze by Bikeyface to get a taste of what it’s like on the ground.

I’m incredibly grateful that I rent an apartment, and even more grateful to the owners in my building who have shoveled, salted, sanded, and paid a guy in a tiny snow plow to scoop out  a clear exit from my building. I’m grateful to have a job where my supervisor is flexible and understanding when the trains just don’t show up. Every day I pat Past Jessica on the back for dropping big bucks last year on snow boots that, at the time, felt like a luxury but are now making it possible for me to exist in this frozen wasteland of a city. Thank you, thank you Bean Boots.

I’m not getting to the gym. I’m spending way too much time cooped up with my darling husband and my completely obnoxious darling cat and we are driving each other a bit insane. But the power’s stayed on, I’ve got heat, I’ve got coffee, I’ve got food and wine and books. During the Great Blizzard of 2013, I laid about my underheated apartment and read Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. During the SnowiestMFingFebruaryInTheHistoryofBoston, I laid about my adequately heated apartment and read the entirely enjoyable sequel. It’s good and it’s long and I have enough pages left to get me through the next XXX inches of snow.

I mean, assuming I survive.



reading rockstar

This morning I woke up to a foot-ish of snow and the cold, hard reality that my employer was expecting me to show up at work. Also, a post-Super Bowl Too Much Food&Drink Not Enough Sleep situation. Read: grumpy as hell.

I did, however, make it into the office in time to watch the webcast of  the ALA Youth Media Awards. And wow, what a crazy set of awards. There were upsets! Some well-deserving sleepers! Some books I really disliked taking home gold medals! An arguably YA graphic novel on the Caldecott list, a graphic novel on the Newbery list, and six (SIX!!) Caldecott honors that still somehow managed to skip some of my 2014 favorites. Definitely a wild ride.

Now, because I am having such a crummy day, I am going to divert your attention from the authors and illustrators who put forth such an amazing crop of children’s and young adult literature this past year and brag SHAMELESSLY about how many of these freaking award books I have read. Seriously. Reader, I killed it.


  • I read the Newbery Medal winner – The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – and both honor books.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Author Award winner – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – and one honor.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Illustrator winner – Firebird by Christopher Myers and Misty Copeland – and one honor.
  • I read the Schneider Family Book Award for middle school readers – Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.
  • I read the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award – Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales.
  • I did not read the Stonewall Book Award winner – This Day in June by Gayle E. Pittman – but I did read two of the three honor books.
  • I did not read the Geisel Winner – You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant – but I did read one of the two honor books.
  • I read the William C. Morris award winner – Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – and one other honor book.


The only categories I completely whiffed on were the Pura Belpre Author Award and my beloved Alex List. Brag, braggity brag brag BRAG… but this is likely the only year this will happen, so thank you for indulging my self-indulgence and CHEERS to another great year of books!