Monday, August 17, 2009

Meet me on Facebook

I notice that I'm not blogging here as regularly as I hoped, especially since I'm working on a new novel. There are only so many words I can write in a day! But I am posting on Facebook. Ask to be my friend! (I'm not doing so well updating the fan page either)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Green From Birth to Death

You must check out my favorite new blog. It's by my daughter and I love how she joins the personal with the political in her struggle to understand her role in the Green movement. Check it out and leave a post.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Me and Al Gore and Rachel Carson

I'm delighted that HOME, AND OTHER BIG, FAT LIES has won another environmental-related award, this one from the Santa Monica Public library.
According to the press release, The Green Prize has been created to encourage and commend authors, illustrators, and publishers who produce quality books that make significant contributions to, support the ideas of, and broaden public awareness of sustainability. Sustainability is defined as “meeting current needs – environmental, economic and social – without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same”.
Very cool, especially since I'm in good company. Check out the list of winning authors:

Youth Non-fiction
Birds of Prey Rescue: Changing the Future for Endangered Wildlife by Pamela Hickman, published by Firefly Books

Youth Fiction
Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies by Jill Wolfson, published by Henry Holt and Co.

Youth Picture Book
Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: The Dangers of Global Warming by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Paul Meisel, and published by HarperCollins

Youth Honorable Mention
All the Way to the Ocean by Joel Harper, illustrated by Marq Spusta published by Freedom Three Publishing

Adult Nonfiction
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore, published by Rodale Books

Adult Reference
Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Centuryedited by Alex Steffen, published by Abrams

Adult Honorable Mention
Greenopia: The Urban Dweller’s Guide to Green Living, Los Angelesedited by Ferris Kawar and Terrye Bretzke, published by The Green Media Group

Pioneer Award
Rachel Carson

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mommy Brain

Last night, my friend Kathy Ellison was in town at Capitola Book Café to read from “The Mommy Brain,” her most recent book. I’m so impressed by Kathy’s research and her positive and optimistic message that she gives parents. Kathy and I met originally at the San Jose Mercury News, both of us at the time young, aggressive reporters, unmarried, without kids, and with an attitude that many people, especially career women, seemed to share. The idea of having children terrified us – not the responsibility or the work involved –but what we perceived it would do to our minds. You know the old saying about how the brain comes out with the placenta?

When Kathy had her two boys, she decided to face her biggest fear about her head head-on by talking to doctors and neuroscientists about exactly what happens to a woman’s brain during pregnancy, labor, the many thousands and thousands of hours spent changing diapers, finding pre-schools, breaking up sibling squabbles, helping with homework, being tested by teens. Does a woman’s brain indeed turn to mush? No, she found. Recent scientific research paints a dramatically different and far rosier picture. Raising children may make moms smarter, from enhanced senses, alertness and memory skills, to a greater aptitude for risk-taking and a talent for empathy and negotiation.

Well, that’s encouraging news. But as I considered Kathy’s findings, I found myself getting annoyed with myself, almost angry. How often had I just accepted the negative prevailing view that the pre-parenting me was obviously smarter, sharper, more edgy? From my own experience, in my deepest knowledge of myself, I knew – I KNEW – that mothering was making me “smarter,” especially in ways that I valued most. I was kinder, more intuitive, better at balancing conflicting goals, just better at life in general. Why then was I so quick to discount my own knowledge of myself?

This also reminds me of an article I read recently in the New York Times about “chemo brain”? For so long, many breast cancer patients have complained that the effects of chemo make them fuzzy brained and less-sharp, not just during treatment, but long after it’s been stopped. Until recently, many doctors have discounted these women’s experience because supposedly, chemo doesn’t do that! Only now, recent studies indicate that chemo DOES do that! Seems that the women actually know what they are feeling. Imagine that! I can only imagine the torment of self-doubt that these patients endured.

Why do we so often let ourselves be talked out of what we KNOW we know?

The article, Chemotherapy Fog Is No Longer Ignored as Illusion, is definitely worth reading:

So is Kathy Ellison’s book:

The First of Many College Checks Mailed

A couple of people pointed out that I promised, but then never posted my daughter's college decision. Oops. This fall, she will be heading across country to Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. It was her first choice and a good one for her (I think. I hope). Back in the 60s, Hampshire was among the first colleges -- if not the first -- to initiate some innovative educational philosophies and techniques that many colleges and universities have incorporated, including narrative evaluations instead of grades, student-initated projects, cross-discipline studies. While many "progressive" schools from the 60s -- think UC-Santa Cruz, Antioch, etc. -- have grown increasingly mainstream, Hampshire still retains its alternative flavor -- coupled with (we hope) a strong emphasis on academic rigor. Word is that students either love it or hate it, flounder or soar. My girl is aware of all this, and looks forward to the challenge and probably the notorious Halloween Party.

On the gorgeous grounds of Hampshire sits The National Yiddish Book Center. The building itself was designed to look like a Polish Jewish ghetto. Sounds weirder than it looks. Strangely enough, the architecture works even in the midst of Hamsphire College's rural farm setting. (Hey, what's higher education without cows and goats on campus?) Coincidentally, a friend from my own college days at Temple University in the 1970s is now program director at the Book Center. Nora and I had our first reunion in 25 years, and Gwen got a future work-study job lined up in the Land of Yiddish Lit. .

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Happy Birthday to my dear Gwen and Nancy

Friday, April 27, 2007

Shopping List for At-Risk Readers

A few weeks ago at TLA, I had dinner with a group of wonderful, lively and knowledgeable educators. It was so great to talk books! I mentioned that I had received a grant to purchase books for a writing/literacy program that I help run in Santa Cruz Juvenile Hall. I explained that the students there seem to really like poetry, gritty fiction (both realistic and fantasy) and biographies that reflect their often difficult backgrounds. Did they have any suggestions?
By the end of dessert (Mine was a fabulous crème brulee), the group put together this great list. I can’t wait to do my shopping.

Special thanks to Texas school librarian Susan Geye for taking notes during the discussion and organizing into helpful categories.

Please feel free to add other recommendations!

Skin Deep: And Other Teenage Reflections by Angela Shelf Medearis.
Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets by Lydia Omolola Okutoro
The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
My Life in Prison by Stanley “Tookie” Williams
The Shadows of My Life by Danielle Lessard

Short Story Collections
Who Am I Without Him? Short Stories about Girls and the Boys in Their Lives
by Sharon G. Flake

Series Books for Reluctant Readers
The Bluford Series, Townsend Press
Orca Soundings, Orca Book Publishers

Novels in Verse
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Emako Blue by Brenda Woods
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
Make Lemonade (Bk. 1) by Virginia Euwer Wolff
True Believer (Bk. 2) by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

Fiction (Listed by author in alphabetical order)
Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia, In the Forests of the Night (Bk. 1)
Demon in my View (Bk.2)
Shattered Mirror (Bk. 3)
Midnight Predator (Bk. 4)
Booth, Coe, Tyrell
Coy, John, Crackback
Crutcher, Chris, Whale Talk
Davidson, Dana, Jason & Kyra, Played
De La Pena, Matt, Ball Don’t Lie
Draper, Sharon, Tears of a Tiger (Bk. 1)
Forged by Fire (Bk. 2)
Darkness before Dawn (Bk. 3)
Dueker, Carl, Night Hoops
Flake, Sharon G., Money Hungry (Bk.1)
Begging for Change (Bk.2)
The Skin I’m In
Flinn, Alex, Breathing Underwater
E. R. Frank, America
Glovach, Linda, Beauty Queen
Grimes, Nikki, Bronx Masquerade
Halliday, John, Shooting Monarchs
Hill, Ernest, A Life for a Life
McNamee, Graham, Acceleration
Martinez, Victor, Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida
Myers, Walter Dean, Monster
Porter, Connie, Imani all Mine
Shan, Darren, Lord Loss (Bk. 1)
Demon Thief (Bk. 2)
Slawter (Bk. 3)
Bec (Bk. 4)
Vaught, Susan, Trigger
Volponi, Paul, Black and White
Rueker Park Setup
Whyman, Matt, Boy Kills Man
Williams-Garcia. Rita, Like Sisters on the Home Front
Woodson, Jacqueline, If You Come Softly
Wyeth, Sharon Dennis, Orphea Proud
Zahn, Timothy, Dragon and Thief (Bk. 1)
Dragon and Soldier (Bk. 2)
Dragon and Slave (Bk. 3)
Dragon and Herdsman (Bk. 4)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Make Way for ...

College Tour Part 2. The East Coast

Gwen and I took the Jet Blue red-eye to Boston for our tour of Hampshire College and Clark University.
Okay, maybe it wasn't the best plan to arrive in Boston at 5 am on a rainy morning without sleep and without a hotel to check into and without any real plan. But I managed to find Cambridge and we sauntered around Harvard.

On the last day of the trip, we spent a few more hours in Boston, happy to join the ducklings in the Public Garden. When the kids were little, nobody could get enough of Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings.

Coming Soon: Gwen's big college decision. No, despite the t-shirt she's wearing in the picture, she won't be going to Earlham.