Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reflecting as a Guest: Alicia, Ruta, NYC

That was a great 7.25 mile run. Not because I revel in humidity and live for the times when sweat just drips off my forehead as I untie my shoes, but because I had some time with Lina, Andrius, Joana, Jonas and all the rest of Ruta Sepetys's vivid characters.  While I should be listening to a middle grade novel from my Newbery contender reading list, I am secretly not. All fingers point towards my friend and YA lit mentor, Alicia Abdul, on why that isn't happening.  It's Alicia's fault I bawled in the middle seat on the way to TLA while reading Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King. It's her fault this is my second Ruta book.  And her fault I read every Jason Reynolds book last summer.  

What I am to elementary, Alicia is exponentially more to High School. She is amazing.  She knows her literature. She understands her audience and she is so perfectly organized.  Me? I feel so scattered and overwhelmed when I am with her.  She loves cute dresses and always looks adorably professional in them. Me? I love my converse, headbands and frequently do not even match when I dress for school.  No surprise that my favorite spirit week day is "Mismatch Day." Twice Alicia and I have presented back to back about new books.  I'm up there literally doing a chicken dance and racing through my presentation while Alicia has hers down to a science. In my humble opinion she's a Mary Poppins of secondary librarians.

So when she asked me to write a guest post on her blog you can only imagine the heart palpitations. What would I write about?  After several failed attempts I finally put it to rest to take a day off.  I started to write about a dream I had a few nights ago where I was offered a significant pay raise to move to a public library position. Boy did I struggle.  I love my job but it's always nice to have a little extra cash. I woke up in a pool of sweat before I made my final decision. However, as much as I love all libraries, I'll tell you now that I haven't finished making even a dent on the difference in the lives of my students at Castleton Elementary School. So if that dream becomes recurring, I know what number door to pick.

Then last night on our way home from New York City, I began to read aloud essays written by successful candidates to Hamilton College.  I awoke this morning with an idea for a post and you can read it all here:

I may not have thought to put those words down on paper if it had not been for Alicia.  I could have said no to Alicia--it is summer and a busy time for me personally and professionally.  But I'm not good at saying "No" (possible future blog post topic?).  I also could have gone the safe route and written a review or again, just said "no."  But like Joe Pucci, I reflected on myself, took the leap, said "yes" to a superstar colleague and went for it.

Side note:  Between Shades of Gray is so good.  I have both the audio and print versions so I can read it anytime I have a moment to spare. Alicia and Ruta are buds and I was thrilled to fangirl her at TLA in April.

Ruta Sepetys discusses her novel, Between Shades of Gray from Penguin Young Readers Group on Vimeo.

Just me swooning over Ruta at TLA.  
If you read the blog post, here are a few more (food) pictures from yesterday's jaunt to the city:

We always take a selfie on our way down
Who can resist a NY bagel?  YUM!

At Momofuku on the Upper East Side
The leap of the day!

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