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Children's book expert extraordinaire, Betsy Bird, formerly of the New York Public Library and now head of special collections right here in Evanston, lugged a big bag of books to my home last week to tell all of us on hand about the Best Children's and YA Books of 2016. There are so many terrific books here! if you haven't sewn up your holiday lists, you're in luck.

Preparation -- that's the theme for the New York Times annual Symposium on College Admission. We'll be covering grades, testing, essays, "fit", affordability, how to research colleges, and exactly how relevant all those scarey headlines about hyper-selectivity are.

Please join me in conversation with Amy Carr of the Chicago Tribune and author Helene Tragos Stelian this Saturday at the Printers Row Lit Fest. We'll be talking getting into college -- from grades and testing and visits to what not to pack as you head off to the next four fabulous years of your life. No ticket necessary!

Betsy Bird has landed at the Evanston Public Library. Who, you might ask, is Betsy Bird? Well, if you're more into fantasy football than a dream librarian lineup, this is akin to Walter Payton being available for your roster.

“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind…” ― Polly Horvath, My One Hundred Adventures

My review of the new parenting book from former Stanford dean of fresmen Julie Lythcott-Haims appeared in the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Review. Whether you're the parent of a toddler, teen or twenty-something, it's worth a read!

How many times have you heard college-bound 18-year-olds and their parents weave the randomness story about college admission?

"It's sheer luck."

"It's unfair."

"It's a roll of the dice."

Does March Madness bring to mind college admissions instead of NCAA showdowns? Are you sick and tired of the status-mongering of college admission that brings $150-an-hour SAT test prep? Oh, and did you know there are more than 10 colleges in the United States worth applying to?

Books have been my constant companions for as long as I have memories. Here's who I've been hanging out with lately...

I am loving the blog HEY NATALIE JEAN these days! It is a sweet peek into the life of a mom and her toddler. I am endlessly nostalgic about motherhood. For several years, I was obsessed with A Baby Story on the Discovery Channel.

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