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Kim Tomsic

Friday, December 31, 2010

Eleven Favorite Albert Einstein Quotes for 2011

Kim’s 2011
Eleven Favorite Albert Einstein Quotes:

1. If you want to be part of the future, you have to be part of writing it.

2. Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

3. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

4. It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

5. I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.

6. Imagination is more important than knowledge

7. If you’re out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.

8. An important thing is to not stop questioning.

9. We should take care not to make intellect our God; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

10. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.

11. Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.

And a bonus quote, because it’s my favorite (drum roll please):

The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading

CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING by Tommy Greenwald (Roaring Brook Press/July 2011 ) for middle grade readers is about Charlie Joe, a reluctant reader, whose cool-dude reputation is centered around the fact that he’s never read an entire book from cover to cover.

An advanced copy of CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING arrived in my mailbox along with a towering pile of vacation mail. As I scattered bills and letters across the kitchen counter, I realized I couldn’t start a new book—I had several pieces of luggage to unload, stacks of laundry to wash, children to feed, and pets to attend. I was also 85% (Kindlespeak) into another book. With a cluster of beckoning priorities, a guide to NOT reading seemed safe in my hands. I knew itwould be harmless to peruse the first few pages of the “guide” as I walked from the kitchen to my upstairs bedroom. My intention was to set the ARC on my nightstand and save it for another day. But in the 47 steps it took to travel the distance from room to room, I had read to chapter four. It was quick. It was easy. Another few pages wouldn’t hurt. Yep, I was hooked.

The combination of short chapters, fun fonts, and a breezy/amusing plot suckered me into flipping page after page with a sense of accomplishment. Charlie Joe should be ashamed if his intention is to get people to not read, because read I did. He packs the book with humor and he stuffs it with tips like, “don’t care about the main character” but then compels you to worry what will happen to him following utter humiliation, dire consequences, and yet another crazy scheme.

Author Tommy Greenwald nails the middle school voice in CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING. His tip lists are hilarious (helpful oxymorons-- “good book” “nice library”) and his descriptions are spot-on middle school: i.e. The Amish: “[People who] deny themselves basic necessities like cars, electricity, and Game Boy.”

CHARLIE JOE JACKSON’S GUIDE TO NOT READING cannot be discussed without making a Wimpy Kid reference. Fans of one story will be fans of the other. There was also a little High School Musical drama moment in the story, but as Charlie Joe’s sister would say, I’ll leave that for you to read and discover.

With lists, tips, plot points, and good intentions, Charlie Joe attempts to stay true to his premise: to deliver a guide to not reading. He did his best, but I read cover to cover and rate this book a 4 out of 5. It was not preachy or teachy, but instead light, fun, creative and (dare I use a Charlie Joe oxymoron) one fun read!  Available in July 2011 from Roaring Brook Press (an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group) $14.99. ISBN 978-1 59643 691-6 .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2011 "I Can't Wait" YA/Middle Grade Reading List

2011 is looking book-sweet and I can't wait to read these titles: 

1. NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial/ February 2011). I only had to see the author’s name, Gennifer Choldenko, to know that I can't wait to get my hands on this. Not only am I a huge fan of the Newbery winner, AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS (a “five” lollipoper), but I’m also a huge fan of the lady behind the words. Ms. Choldenko spoke at an SCBWI conference I attended. She was gracious, lovely, funny, and encouraging...mirrors to her work which is absolutely entertaining.
2.  Crystal Allen’s middle grade novel, HOW LAMAR’S BAD PRANK WON A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY (release date: Feb. 2011).  This book is about a thirteen-year-old who vows to spend his summer changing his image from dud to stud. The manuscript gained a lot of attention and ended up selling to Kristin Daly-Rens at Balzer and Bray/ Harper in a six-figure, two book deal.  Behind Crystal Allen's debut novel are talented, respected people:  editor(Kristin Daly-Rens) and agent (Jen Rofe).  The writer/agent/editor trifecta combined with the buzz about this exciting book make it number two on my 2011 "can't wait" list. 

3.  PEARL(Candlewick Press/July 2011) by Jo Knowles.  Again, I base my interest in this book on past performance.  She delivered JUMPING OFF SWINGS as well as LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL.  Both are riveting Young Adult books that each have received an entire shelf worth of awards.

4. FORGOTTEN (Little Brown/Spring 2011). "Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future."  Could this really be the teen version of When You Reach Me?  Not only do I trust work represented by Cat Patrick's agent, Dan Lazar, but I also seem to relate to the protagonist...now wait, what was I doing?

5.  LEMONADE AND OTHER POEMS SQUEEZED FROM A SINGLE WORD (May 2011/ Roaring Brook Press) a quirky poetry book by Bob Raczka and Illustrated by Nancy Doniger.  This Middle Grade poetry book is described as "part anagram, part rebus, part riddle--these poems capture scenes from a child's daily life and present a puzzle to solve.  Sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, but always cleaver..."

6.  LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry (Crown Books/February 2011) made my list when I discovered review after review written by those lucky enough to have ARCs.  Publisher's Weekly calls it, "an impressive first novel."  Meg Clayton on Twitter says, "Mystery readers are in for a treat."  Northshire Bookstore says, "I will hand-sell "Learning to Swim" until my fingers bleed."  And award-winning author, Daniel Woodrell, says "from the grabber beginning to the heartfelt conclusion, Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim is an auspicious debut. Fresh setting, well-realized characters, cleanly written, with a mysterious and suspenseful story - just what I was looking for."  Daniel Woodrell is the author of The Death of Sweet Mister and Winter's Bone

7.  VILLAIN SCHOOL: GOOD CURSES EVIL by Stephanie S. Sanders (Fall 2011/ Bloomsbury kids)
The title alone makes me want to crack it open. 

When Rune is caught doodling in class at Master Dreadthorn's School for Wayward Villains, the last thing he expects is a reward. However, when he reports to the Dread Master's office for detention, instead of scrubbing slug slime, Rune gets awarded his very own villainous Plot! Rune is overjoyed until he discovers that he must steal a baby, find a henchman, kidnap a princess and overthrow a kingdom. And he only has one week! He embarks on a journey with his Conspirators, the lovely and lethal Countess Jezebel and the furry and slightly slobbery Wolf Junior. Along the way, Rune encounters unlikely friends and even more unlikely villains and learns what it takes to be truly Villainous.

8.  CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO NOT READING by Tommy Greenwald (Roaring Brook/Spring 2011).  Based on  information provided by my good friend, Google, there seems to be something very Gordon Korman-ish about Tommy Greenwald.  Translation--the book promises to be hilarious.  Review to follow.  UPDATE:  THIS BOOK HAS BEEN READ AND REVIEWED...PLEASE SEE LINK http://t.co/xTsHHry

9.  NOTES FROM THE BLENDER (Egmont/May 2011) by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin has been promised as one of 2011's most hilarious books.  It's a YA story of when the loser-dude's widowed father marries the popular-girl's mother. A little Brady Bunch/Meet the Fockers/Modern Family rolled up into one funny story. 

10.  PLAYING HURT (Flux, March 8, 2011)written by fellow SCBWI member Holly Schindler.  Holly's debut novel, A BLUE SO DARK, received the following review: "Breathtakingly, gut-wrenchingly authentic...A haunting, realistic view of the melding of art, creativity, and mental illness and their collective impact on a young person’s life."—Booklist, starred review.   PLAYING HURT naturally landed on my "can't wait" list.   


Saturday, December 18, 2010


MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine is about the quest for Closure told  from the voice of ten-year-old Catlin, a girl with Asperger's Syndrome. 

Catlin and her community are forced to deal with a tragedy that is beyond nightmare quality:  a school shooting.  Because the story is told from Catlin's point of view, the tale is is painful and beautiful as well as funny and quirky.  One side of Catlin's Asperger's is that she  is legalistic with words and behaviors.  This adds a delightful element of comic relief to a difficult subject.  For example, every day cliches like "keep your pants on" take on a literal connotation.   Another example of Catlin's need for literal behavior comes after a kid succeeds at bullying and dons an evil "grinny" smile.  Catlin says, "You shouldn't smile when you do something bad because a smile is supposed to mean you're being nice.  I wish people would follow the Facial Expressions Chart like they're supposed to."

I haven't seen the Facial Expressions Chart, but throughout my read of MOCKINGBIRD, I laughed and cried in all the right places.  This is a fantastic story with brilliant writing and voice.  MOCKINGBIRD easily earns a five out of five lollipop rating.

On November 18, 2010, MOCKINGBIRD won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.  It was published by Philomel (a division of Penguin) in April 2010 and can be purchased for $15.99 at a bookstore near you (Boulder Books or Tattered Cover in Colorado).  For more about the author, Kathryn Erskine, you can visit her bio page.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Room: A Novel vs. the 1998 Best Foreign Film (directed by Benigni)

Book Review
Room:  A Novel by Emma Donoghue 

Where to buy in Colorado:
Boulder Book Store  1107 Pearl
Tatter Cover   on Colfax, Highland Ranch, or Lodo in Denver

There's been a pile of press surrounding Emma Donoghue's book ROOM.  It's certainly a "ripped from the headlines" type of tale, reminding me of the California tragedy when a girl was held hostage in a couple's backyard shack for several years.

ROOM is told from the POV of Jack, a five-year-old boy who was born the second year of his ma's seven year captivity. Jack has never seen anything beyond the eleven-by-eleven room where they are held, but he is none too bothered by the the living situation; it's all he knows and his mother has gently framed the circumstances. 

Somehow, the sweet way ROOM is told (and Jack's innocent understanding) reminds me of one of my favorite movies:  Life is Beautiful by director Roberto Benigni.  This 1998 Academy Award winning foreign film depicts an Italian Jewish father who is forced with his son into a German concentration camp.  The son is young and does not speak German, so instead of relaying the terrifying situation accurately, the father purposefully mis-translates the German guards' scary threats. He tells his son they are on an adventure and everything is a games.  He invents inaccurate and hilarious translations to replace the vile things that are truly said.  Although the subject matter is dark and bleak, I found myself laughing throughout the film.  ROOM is handled in a similar manner.

ROOM offers much to enjoy.  There is a certain sweetness to the book as well as fantastic moments of tension and excitement.

ROOM was released September 13, 2010 by Little Brown and Company.  It is available hardback with a list price of $24.99.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Top Twenty Texting Terms by Teens


Are you in the know?  Here are the top twenty texting terms teens use.  If twenty is not enough, visit the website Internet Slang Dictionary Translator 

BF / GF Boyfriend / Girlfriend

BRB Be Right Back

CD9 Code 9 - means parents are around

GNOC Get Naked on Cam (webcam)

GTG Got to Go

IDK I don't know

(L)MIRL (Lets) meet in real life

LOL Laugh Out Loud

MOS Mom Over Shoulder

NIFOC Naked in Front of Computer

Noob Newbie

NMU Not much, you?

P911 Parent Emergency

PAW Parents are Watching

PIR Parent In Room

POS Parent Over Shoulder


PRW Parents Are Watching

S2R Send To Recieve (pictures)

TDTM Talk Dirty To Me

Warez Pirated Software

W/E Whatever

WTF What the F@*x?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Urban Legends

For those who missed the Today show, I'm here to recap the top four holiday urban legends.

1.  You'll save on heating bills if your fireplace is burning--False.  The popular Discovery Channel show MYTHBUSTERS proved that corners of your house actually get cooler when you burn a fire.  A doctor featured on the TODAY show said when you burn a fire, warm air is sucked out of your living room and up the chimney.  She also advised for better results to have a glass door in front of the fire; also for fewer issues with smoke, burn ash or beech.

2.  Poinsettias have killed pets and children--False.  There has never been a single confirmed death associated with poinsettias.  That's not to say they can't make you sick.  If you discover that your toddler has eaten a poinsettia leaf, have her/him drink a glass of milk...and what the heck, it's your baby, go ahead and call poison control.  **Side note, Christmas Lilies can kill cats.  If you are a cat owner, please keep the Christmas Lily out of your home.


3.  Allergies are over in the winter--False.  Allergens such as dust and mold are very prevalent during the cold months.  In fact, Christmas trees harbor mold spores.  If you buy a tree, have it cut fresh, on the spot.  The mold spores take a week to grow so that will give you extra time.  Furthermore, ask the tree farm if they have a tree shaker so you can remove mold spores.  If they don't have a tree shaker, use your leaf blower (or borrow one from a neighbor or rent one from Home Depot).

4. Wet hair causes colds--False.  Germs cause colds.  I would, however like to point out with this myth that although wet hair does not cause the cold, if your body is using energy units to try to stay warm, it will have less energy to fight a cold you may be getting...don't go out with wet hair!


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