Shelf Discovery Challenge

When I first heard of Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick, I knew I had to get it.  And as soon as I got it, I knew I had to return to these books.  I’m actually a little young for a lot of the books in here.  The collection is really for children of the 60s and 70s (not me who wasn’t even able to read until the late 80s), but thanks to growing up in a small town and having access to only a small town library (it was actually an old house), I did end up reading a lot of these books.  And I would pretty much read anything I got my hands on.  I have often told the story of reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret in second grade and having no idea what a period was the entire time (it dawned on me years later what the book was actually about).

But I missed on on a few that I really should have read.  So when I saw the Shelf Discovery Challenge hosted by Booking Mama I knew I had to join.  I’m going to use this as an opportunity to read some of those books I missed out on as well as revisit some classics I haven’t seen in years.

The Challenge  (from Booking Mama):

The Shelf Discovery Challenge will run for six months (November 1, 2009 – April 30, 2010). To join me in this challenge, all you need to do is grab a copy of SHELF DISCOVERY and pick out what six books you want to read (of course, you can read more than six!) Then, after you read a book, just write a “book report” to share your thoughts with others!

And here are my six books (subject to change):

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  2. The Westing Game
  3. Jacob Have I Loved
  4. Bridge to Teribithia
  5. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  6. Little House on the Prairie

Wish me luck as I travel back into my childhood.

Discovering Betsy-Tacy #4: Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace

This is the last of the younger Betsy-Tacy books, before Betsy grows up and goes to high-school and beyond.  Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are now 12 and they are starting to grow up.  They can go downtown on their own (hmm…wonder where the title came from) and they take an interest in the theater for the first time.

The book takes us through some more adventures with the trio and like Over the Big Hill, it is more of a fluid story than the first two books.  This was another Read-a-Thon book and it was really a great one for the evening hours.

My favorite thing about this book was all of the “modern conveniences” that are introduced.  The Rays get their first telephone (which I imagine to be a lot like my family getting it’s first computer when I was 10 or the internet when I was 14 or even that first car phone my dad had that came in a bag).  And best of all – there is a HORSELESS CARRIAGE!  And it can go 16 miles per hour!

I must say that I really enjoyed this one, but I am most excited for the later books.  I’ve started Heaven to Betsy and I’m just loving it.  Boys, clothes, gossip – all in 1906.

Read-a-Thon Recap

After some much needed sleep, I bring you my final summary.

  • Books Read: 2 (and 11 pages into a third)
  • Pages Read: 582
  • Hours Participated: 18
  • Pages per minute: 1.9 (although I didn’t spend every minute reading)
  • Mini-challenges entered: 6
  • Blog Posts: 6
  • Tweets: 70 (wow – did I annoy my non-readathon followers or what?)

I had a blast.  Thank you to all the cheerleaders who left me comments and tweets to keep me going.  I am trying to individually thank you all throughout the day.  It has inspired me to sign up as a cheerleader for at least a little while next time.

This was my first Read-a-Thon and I learned a few things.  (1) I should choose short books to keep me motivated; (2) I need to plan meals in addition to snacks and snacks should be healthier; (3) It’s ok if you take breaks – some hours I only read for 20 or 30 minutes.

I was reading for charity.  My husband and I both planned to donate $10 in addition to our usual gift to his parents’ Breast Cancer 3-Day Fund.  Unfortunately, we only managed to finish a combined 3 books.  So that’s only 30 dollars.  Next time we do this, we’ll do it by page number or some other stat.

I will definitely be doing this again in the spring.  Follow Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon to learn when the next event will be.

I had a great time interacting with everyone – both people I’ve “known” for years and people I just met yesterday (my google reader just increased exponentially).

Update: 17 hours in

This post is an hour late because I didn’t feel like doing it at midnight.  😛

I finished Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown and have now read a total of 571 pages.  Here is the breakdown:

Hour13: 27 pages/wrote blog post and entered mini-challenge

Hour 14: 20 pages/ate dinner/did quick yoga series for mini-challenge

Hour 15: 36 pages/watched end of Michigan State/Iowa game

Hour 16: 37 pages

Hour 17: 44 pages/finished Betsy-Tacy

As you can see, Betsy-Tacy did not read as quickly as I’d hoped but I guess I’m bound to slow down after so much reading.  The best thing about this stretch was that Husband kept cleaning to stay awake when he got sleepy.  Apartment looks less disaster-ish now.

I’m too tired to do any mini-challenges.

I think I’m now going to grab a book and read in bed.  I fully understand that this will probably make me go to sleep.  But it sounds so comfortable. If you don’t hear from me again until tomorrow, don’t worry.  I’ve had a blast so far.

Update: Halfway! (And the Mid-Event Meme)

Well I finally finished The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (funny to say finally when I just started it this morning). It was a great read but  a little lengthy for the first readathon book.  I just started Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown for something light and quick. So far today I’ve read 407 pages – 129 since my last update (slow and steady, slow and steady).  The breakdown:

Hour 9: 20 pages/wrote 1 blog post/started watching Michigan game

Hour 10: 40 pages/continued watching football

Hour 11: 52 pages/finished book 1

Hour 12:  15 pages/started Betsy-Tacy/took 45-min break to make a veggie platter, check out some other posts, and choose another book

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace

2. How many books have you read so far?

Just 1 🙂

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Not sure.  Plans keep changing.  But will probably at least start Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins at some point and I’m really looking forward to that one.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?

Not really.  Saturdays are generally free for me unless I make special plans anyway. I usually meet a friend and go watch the Michigan game with the Tampa alumni group, but that’s really the only thing I missed.  And I still watched the game.  But it was ugly (a 35-10 loss) and I was still able to read a lot during it.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

No.  Again, not much goes on in my life on Saturdays.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

This is my first one so everything is new.  But I guess I’m most surprised at how awesome the cheerleaders are.  I love that they come by here to cheer me on.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Nope.  It is wonderful!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?

I’d pick a shorter book to start with.  I thought my 391-page book would be fine because it was a kid’s book, but it still took the first 11 hours to get through.  I am now reading a book that is both short AND for kids.

9. Are you getting tired yet?

Not at the moment, but I’ve had a few close brushes with naps earlier.  I fought the first one off with a shower and the second with food.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

Use twitter.  It’s short enough to keep up with while reading and great for staying motivated.

Update: 8 hours in


So far I’ve read 279 pages in The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.  I have 102 pages left.  The breakdown:

Hour 5: 20 pages/1 break to make and eat lunch

Hour 6: 52 pages

Hour 7: 20 pages/took shower break

Hour8:  32 pages /started watching Michigan game

I’m enjoying my book and I like that it’s an easy read, but I wish I’d chosen a short book to start with so that I could finish a book.  I feel left out that I’m still on Book 1. 😦 Also, I’m not raising much money for my charity…

This hour I’m taking a break to check out some blogs and enter some challenges.  Here are a few:

Nise’s Who Keeps You Company mini-challenge

Usually I’m on my own (or with a blanket because the air-conditioning is always very cold) but occassionally I get a visit from these:

And of course my wonderful husband, Ben
And of course my wonderful husband, Ben

Nicole‘s Feed Me Seymour challenge

I just finished reading about stale popcorn. Want some?

“Constance found herself suddently famished, and as Reynie and the others discussed what the image might mean, she mad ehosrt work of the stale popcorn, cramming it into her mouth by the handful….”That would be an understatement,” said Kate, checking the popcorn bowl. It was empty, of course.”

Page 276-77 of The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Stale Popcorn
Stale Popcorn

Thanks to all the cheerleaders and others leaving comments to keep me going. Off to read some more!

Update: 4 hours in

So far I’ve read 155 pages in The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.  Here is my hourly break-down:

Hour 1: 50 pages

Hour 2:  25 pages/1 mini-challenge entered

Hour 3: 40 pages/1 mini-challenge entered

Hour 4: 40 pages

I’m enjoying reading about other people’s progress (and def. not comparing it to mine as I seem to be among the slower readers).  I’m doing this mostly via twitter since reading everyone’s blog posts would take up too much time.  I plan on going through my reader during the Michigan game.

Right now I’m taking a quick break to write this post and make some lunch for hubby and me.  I kind of forgot about meals in all my snack worry, so we’re having pasta (plus it will give us energy to stay up tonight).  Ben is unofficially participating in the readathon, too.  Actually, he’s reading the first MBS book, so we keep discussing the characters, etc.

Ok, back to cooking/reading.

And 3…2…1…Read!

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoners Dilemma
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma

So here’s my plan (which will most likely change).  I am going to start with The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I was going to start with Catching Fire, but I think I should save that one for when it’s later and I start getting sleepy – something to keep me going.

I will update on here once in awhile and on twitter more frequently (you can also follow the #readathon hastag on twitter for others’ updates) letting you know how my progress is going.  And I’ll be checking out other blogs from time to time to see how everyone else is doing.

Thank you Emily for making me feel better about wanting to watch my football game at 3:30 (hopefully your team plays better than we did against Iowa).  I will probably try reading and watching the game.  There is also the added peskiness of a baseball game tonight, but I’m a pro at reading between pitches (years of midterm studying during October) and I don’t feel as great a need to watch that game.

Happy reading to you all!

Discovering Betsy-Tacy #3: Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill

I enjoyed this book a whole lot more than the first two books.  Instead of simply some nice little stories packaged into one book, this one actually had a plot.  Betsy, Tacy, and Tib have turned 10 and their book is growing up as well (they do have two numbers in their ages after all).  At the beginning of the book, they fall in love with the new, young Spanish King.  But this facsination soon turns into crowning a queen of their own.  Unfortunately, similar plans are being made elsewhere and a family fued is brewing.   The result is, of course, a happy one for all and the adventure along the way is very entertaining.

I absolutely loved Little Syria!  I love the idea of a little middle-eastern town in the middle of Minnesota (is this part real?).  The characters were wonderful and the lesson to young readers about tolerance and acceptance is important.  This also seems way ahead of its time (I have a feeling this is going to be a theme).  Given the way people view Arabs today, I have to imagine they were not well-received 100 years ago.  Kudos to Maud Hart Lovelace for writing this.

I also learned (from the back of the book) that the illustrator, Lois Lenski lived in Tarpon Springs, FL.  My copy actually said that she lives there.  Seeing as she pased away in 1974, I think my library has a very old copy of this book.  Anyway, Tarpon Springs is the town we lived in when we first moved to Florida and the town where Ben still teaches high school.  It’s always a little fun to learn facts like that.

I also learned something about myself.  I should not check two books in a series out at one time.  First I started reading Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown before I realized that was the fourth book.  Then I accidentally returned Book 4 when I meant to return Book 3 and I had to re-request it.

I’m still hoping to tackle the next two books this month as part of the Maud Hart Lovelace challenge.  The Readathon should help.