Wednesday, June 30, 2004

T.A. Barron news

T.A. Barron's website with well worth a visit if you are a reader, a teacher interested in hero studies or an author wondering what a good author site includes. He has some interesting news for fans of his books. He is working on a new trilogy, The Great Tree of Avalon. The first book will be released October, 2004. He describes the storyline, "this new trilogy picks up where The Lost Years of Merlin leaves off."

Do you remember, in the final pages of The Wings of Merlin,when the young wizard planted a magical seed that beat like a heart—the same seed that was given to him by his elder self in The Mirror of Merlin? Well, that seed has grown into something truly miraculous: a whole new world named Avalon. Like the lost world of Fincayra, Avalon is a highly mysterious place, full of dangers, wonders, surprises, tragedies, and triumphs. And also like Fincayra, it will lie somewhere in the mists—between dark and light, mortality and immortality.

He also shares the news that a feature film of The Lost Years of Merlin is underway.

There is much more including a look at another new book High as a Hawk, a true story based on the 1905 ascent of Longs Peak in Colorado by eight-year-old Harriet Peters. Amazon says the book was just published in May 2004. The illustrations are by the sublime Ted Lewin.

A Trendy but Traditional Fairy Tale

Fans of Patricia Wrede's Dragon series, (Dealing with Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons)or Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine will enjoy this 2002 book by Jean Ferris, Once Upon a Marigold:part comedy, part love story, part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. Christian is happy living with his foster father Edric the Troll in a crystal cave. One day through a telescope he sees Princess Marigold reading a book of Greek myths on the balcony of her castle. Their conversation via p-mail (pigeon mail) leads to friendship and more.

You have to love Ed the Troll. He is embroiled in an ongoing feud with Mab the tooth fairy who cannot read a map. His continuing misuse of expressions such as "Kill one bird with two stones" or "Keep your shoulder to the grindstone and nose to the wheel" are very funny.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Title for Harry Potter Book 6 revealed!

Author JK Rowling has revealed the title of the sixth book in the Harry Potter series.
The next book will be called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
See BBC News for the story!

Monday, June 28, 2004

A Camping Story

For the first nine years of my life, I had a deal with Mother Nature: I stayed on asphalt in the city where I belonged, and she stayed on dirt in the country. Why would anyone want to leave Chinatown? It had everything a kid could want: comic books, cheap snacks and kung fu movies.

Laurence Yep has written three terrific books about "brotherly" love. In Later, Gator, 1997, big brother Teddy buys a baby alligator as a birthday present for little brother, Bobby. His joke backfires when his family and friends become fascinated by the new pet. The two brothers must face down a bully in Cockroach Cooties, 2001. Teddy wittily narrates these stories which are set in present day Chinatown in San Francisco. Their story continutes in Skunk Scout,2003. Teddy's idea of a vacation is an afternoon at the movies so when his uncle invites the boys to go camping, he is sure disaster is close at hand. Soon Teddy, Bobby, and Uncle Curtis are trying to survive the-worst-camping-trip ever. Teddy secretly admires his brainy little brother's inquisitive nature and is striving to be more like Bobby but in the end it is Teddy's "urban" skills that save the day. Good camping fun for summer (or anytime) reading.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Angel Factory

Author Terence Blacker is an interesting guy. In his book The Angel Factory, 2001, Thomas Wisdom's life seems almost perfect. He makes good grades and has a good relationship with his parents and sister. When he gets on his father's computer and finds a coded secret file, his life is turned upside down. Who are angels? Are they good guys? Are they bad guys? What can he do to save the world? Why is it up to him? Very exciting science fiction. I want to read more books by Terence Blacker.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Take a vacation to the Netherlands

Wishing you could take a trip this summer? The title of this book just makes me smile. Melanie Martin goes Dutch: the private diary of my almost bummer summer with Cecily, Matt the Brat, and Vincent van GoGoGo by Carol Weston, 2002. Melanie's mother has a grant to study Van Gogh in Amsterdam for the summer and the whole family gets to go along. Melanie's diary of their trip is a fun read. Travel disasters such as lost luggage, an annoying little brother, and a fight with her best friend are not what she imagined her vacation would be like. Melanie is reading Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl. As events unfold on their trip Melanie finds herself empathizing with Anne. Her visit to the Secret Annex is very poignant.

I loved "hearing" the Dutch phrases (complete with pronunciation,)smelling the food and seeing the sights through the eyes of a character who is the same age I was when I lived there. This is a very funny book. The presence of Anne in the background of the story gives the story a sweetness beyond the humor.

Play to the Angel

Play to the Angel by Maurine F. Dahlberg, 2000
...a tiny blue-gowned angel doll was suspended from the ceiling by two nearly invisible threads, so that she looked as if she was flying...He smiled proudly. "she is one of the few things that I brought from Germany. She loves piano music, so I put her where I can play to her. And you must play to her too. Let your sound project and your feelings come through to my little angel. Can you do that?"

Greta Radky loves to play the piano. In Vienna, Austria, in 1938, the shadow of Hitler and Nazi Germany looms over their lives. Greta's brother, a talented and promising young pianist has recently died. She finds comfort sorting through his music, Scarlatti, Schumann, Bach, Chopin and Clementi. Her mother's grief is so deep that she cannot stand listening to Greta practice and is talking about selling the piano. Greta finds the strength to pursue her talent with the support of the mysterious Herr Hummel, a wonderful piano teacher who recognizes her gift. Play to the Angel , 2000, is a sensitive story of hope and courage in dangerous times. The author, Maurine F. Dahlberg studied piano and plays piccolo and flute. Her knowledge of music and musicians gives the story authenticity. This is the kind of story that inspires young readers to study music. I loved this book.

Children's/YA books are the best no matter what age you are.

I have been reading a grown-up series and enjoying it but found my attention wandering. My eyes kept returning to a box of brand new books by my chair that will be in the MPE library next fall. I have some terrific books to tell you about. Thanks to Ric H. of the Ric-ettes for telling me about some of these titles.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

If my dog could write a book...

"Murphy-Stop-That is my name. I am a terrier. I bark. I bark at anything and everything and all the time."

If my dog could write a book about his life, this would be it. A Day in the Life of Murphy by Alice Provensen, 2003, is a picture book that details the minutia of life of any dog. Just like our Buddy-the-Wonder-Dog, at dinner time Murphy thinks, "Be patient. Don't beg. Things drop. Crumbs. Good things. Sneaky handouts" The visit to the vet, "I hate to ride in the car. Whirring. Bumping. Swaying. Whimper. Whine." Random and unexplained barking is because he "heard the moon move."
This is a fun little 40 page read.

Kids love dog books. Murphy would be good book for illustrating "point of view." Another terrific book to illustrate POV would be Loki and Alex: the adventures of a dog and his best friend, by Charles R., Jr. Smith, 2001 . Through photographs the reader enjoys a day in the park as seen through the eyes of Alex (in color) and through the eyes of his dog, Loki (in black and white.) The kids were noticing things in the photos I had not even though I must have read this book aloud at least 10 times.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Jack Gantos has a website!!!

My favorite author, Jack Gantos, has a website! Gantos can make you laugh so hard you cry. His Rotten Ralph books are fun for young and beginning readers. He has won awards and praise for his Joey Pigza books. Treat yourself and listen to him read the stories with books on tape or cd. We were listening to Joey Pigza Loses Control in the car. After the chapter where Joey's dad coaches a little league team, my daughter stopped the tape and rewound it saying, "I have to hear that part again!"

This librarian has a special place in her heart for his Jack Henry books. His newest is Jack Adrift:Fourth grade without a clue. The books Jack's Black Book and Jack's New Power have made me laugh so hard I couldn't see though.

A Hole in my Life is a tremendous and powerful story for high school students.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Jon Scieszka discusses "celebrity" authors

Listen to children's book author Jon Scieszka discuss what it takes to write books that kids will read. He makes the point I have always are a tough audience. His take is humorous and spot-on! His commentary aired on NPR's Morning Edition, Monday, June 14!
Commentator and children's book author Jon Scieszka wonders about the many celebrities moving in on his territory and writing for kids.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Another new book: Chasing Vermeer

Update: Chasing Vermeer has been named to the 2005-2006 Texas Bluebonnet Reading list.
I have just finished reading Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Brett Helquist. Brett Helquist does the illustrations for the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events books.

What a fun mystery. It has secret codes, mathematical puzzles (pentominoes), a dash of art history and great characters. There is even a coded message/puzzle in the Bret Helquist illustrations. I thought I knew how to decode it but apparently my interpretation is wrong. I do not want to look up the answer on the Scholastic website yet. Readers who enjoyed The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine by Diane Stanley, 2002, will be happy to have a new and interesting mystery to read.

A very enjoyable read for boys and girls.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Between the Lions "Flood Game"

Do the Flood Game on the Between the Lions (PBS) website. In this activity, books float by in groups of five, but each shelf only holds three books. To fill the shelves, you will need to choose three books whose titles share a common theme. Some of the titles contain difficult words, so beginning readers will need help with much of the reading.

Do you think it would be easy or hard to find books in a library like the one in the game?
What would you have to know in order to find the books?
Is this the way books are arranged in a real library?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Touching Tributes

We have been dropping in on C-Span today and their cameras in the Capitol Rotunda. It has been very moving to watch people pay their respects to President Reagan: young boy scouts saluting, parents with their children, the razor sharp salutes of service men and women, the elegant changing of the guard. We were especially interested in one young girl who was wearing a vintage "Ronald Reagan for President" hat and was cradling the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in her arms as she circled the bier.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Camp-Read-Along Ghost story

Author Cynthia DeFelice

One story I told at Camp-Read-Along was called Cold Feet based on the book by Cynthia DeFelice. DeFelice has written numerous books for children and young adults.

Her series about ghost magnet, Allie Nichols is terrific and begins with The Ghost of Fossil Glen, followed by The Ghost and Mrs. Hobbs and most recently The Ghost of Cutler Creek, 2004. The Ghost of Fossil Glen won the Texas Bluebonnet Award in 2000.

is a pioneer adventure about an 11 year old boy, Nathan, who must confront the villian Weasel. "Other children whisper that he is part man and part animal -- wild and blood-thirsty. But I know Weasel is real: a man, an Indian fighter the government sent to drive off the Indians-- to "remove them." Weasel has his own ideas about removal..."

She has many other books. They would be worth a look if you like mysteries.

J.K. Rowling Website

For those who just can't wait for the next Harry Potter book, visit
with JK herself on her website. There are sections for News, Rumors(this is fun), Biography, and other stuff. You will need Flash to view the site. You may also have to hold down your Ctrl key if you have a pop-up blocker. The site is kinda weird but kinda cool too. Take some time and move your cursor over EVERYTHING. She is putting clues about books 6 and 7 on the site. Oh, she also includes the story (ballad) of how Nearly Headless Nick lost his head (nearly.) Her sense of humor is wonderful.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

An oldie but goodie

A Murder for Her Majesty -- by Beth Hilgartner, 1992

Leaving the fantasy/sci fi side for a while, be sure to read this terrific historical fiction novel. You travel back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Alice Tuckfield witnesses her father's "hunting accident" and is now in fear for her own life. Where can a young girl alone in the 16th century hide? How can she disappear? I just love this book and plan to reread it this summer. This story is full of music and history and sends you back to another place and time. If you get hooked on the time period you can go on and read King of Shadows by Susan Cooper (love it) and The Shakespeare Stealer series by Gary Blackwell.

The City of Ember

The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau, 2003

Oh my gosh, I just finished this book. It is absolutely wonderful. I could not stop reading it. Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet are twelve years old and have just finished their education. Now they must work for the good of the city of Ember. They begin working in their new jobs, Doon in the pipeworks under the city and Lina, as a messenger. Ember is a city of darkness, lit only by electrical lights. Something is going on in their city though. Why isn't anyone else worried? Why is the city experiencing terrifying blackouts? What can two kids do to save their people? A mysterious message, danger, greed, corruption...the kids are terrific characters. Like Gregor, Lina has a little sister to look after. The responsibility is heavy but she does not resent it, she cares deeply for her little sister.

I read the book straight through Mississippi and Louisiana. There is a sequel, The People of Sparks, that was just published in May. I am going to reserve it at the library as soon as it gets there.

City of Ember is available in paperback, please check it out.

Gregor The Overlander

Gregor The Overlander
by Suzanne Collins, 2004

Author Suzanne Collins writes that she was intrigued with the image of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Can kids today even relate to the idea of a rabbit hole? What if the hole was an AC shaft? This is a fun fantasy novel ( a sequel is coming) that will appeal to guys and girls. Giant cockroaches, bats, a prophecy to fulfill make this a very fun read. Gregor's love and concern for his little sister is very sweet. It is new so only available in hardcover now. I cannot wait to read the sequel.

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.-- Abraham Lincoln

Children's books are important.

Finding the right book at the right time for the right child is the challenge, the trick, the magic. If you can make that match, you will have a reader. Timing is everything and much of it is luck. Reading is personal and time taken to discover a child's interests pays off.

Just walking the shelves with a student and talking about their interests signals to them that THEY are important and worthwhile.

Respect the reader, make a connection.

Discovering a young person's interests and passions is what makes being a librarian so fascinating and exciting.

Children's reading lives are worth the investment of time and effort.

I love children's books. This site will be a Book Moot for my friends and fellow readers.