Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Seabiscuit (Race horse)--1930-1940.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, 2001
I have worried and suspected that I had lost my ability to read "grown up" books. Children's books are usually so well written that my eyes and mind slip through the pages easily and with great enjoyment.

When the movie Seabiscuit arrived at theaters I saw and enjoyed the film. People told me they had not liked the movie as much as the book. Not having read it, I did not fully appreciate their comments or passion. Now I have read Seabiscuit.

This book is a triumph for Laura Hillenbrand. Her writing is compelling and beautiful. She draws fine portraits of Charles Howard, Red Pollard, Tom Smith and Seabiscuit himself. Through her artful storytelling the reader sees the horse’s personality as clearly as the other players in the tale.

Now, Book Moot website is devoted to children's and young adult literature. Seabiscuit was NOT written for children but parts of the story beg to be read aloud to the family.

Hillenbrand's reenactment of the match race with War Admiral must be the most exciting eleven pages I have ever read. The tension, the anticipation, the fear, the cheers and pandemonium of the crowd are brilliantly crafted. As a reader, I was there, in the mind of trainer Tom Smith. I was then seeing the race through the eyes of the jockey, George Woolf, who, interestingly, suffered from Type 1 diabetes. Finally, I was shrieking deliriously with the crowd as the horses pounded around the track.

This amazing book will go on my absolute favorite-books-of-all-time list. What a stunning achievement!

There are books about this remarkable horse for young readers. I am dying to get my hands on Seabiscuit vs War Admiral: The Greatest Horse Race in History by Kat Shehata, illustrated by Jo McElwee. There is also A Horse Named Seabiscuit (All Aboard Reading. Station Stop 3) and Come on Seabiscuit! by by Ralph Moody, Robert Riger.
I have Seabiscuit Fever!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

2000 Year Old Man Goes to School

Things that make me go hmmm...
Business Wire reports:

HarperCollins Children's Books announced today that it has acquired world rights to publish The 2000 Year Old Man Goes to School by award-winning comedians, actors, writers and directors Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.

The 2000 Year Old Man Goes to School stars Brooks' and Reiner's classic character, the 2000 Year Old Man, created while working on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" with Reiner as an interviewer and Brooks an old-timer born in 40 B.C. In this hilarious picture book version pitched for young school children, the 2000 Year Old Man comes to a classroom for an unforgettable show-and-tell exhibit. Through a question and answer session with the children in the class, the 2000 Year Old Man shares his worldly wisdom on everything from what school lunches were like in the Stone Age (terrible--you had to catch your food before you could eat it!), to how he did his homework (he had to literally build a home!), to how he got around (Fear! When a sabre tooth tiger was after him it made him move very quickly!).
"We are thrilled to be publishing two of the greatest comic geniuses and have the opportunity to introduce children to this world renowned character," said Jackson

Monday, September 27, 2004

Banned Books Week

September 26-October 2, 2004 is Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association. It is a week to ponder the freedom to read and celebrate printed ideas that are unconventional, even unorthodox. In countries like Cuba, citizens are denied free access to books and information. For more information on that subject visit The Friends of Cuban Libraries website.

The issue of what is appropriate for children to read has been a point of debate since ...well...the publication of Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678).

Parents can and should "steward" their family's reading choices (although if a child really has the "reading bug" it might be safer to just stand back.) If a library book is not a good fit for their family, just take it back.

Kelly Milner Halls of The Denver Post has a thoughtful article addressing the issues of reading and censorship.

Author Chris Crutcher has been writing books for high school readers for many years. His book Whale Talk was the subject of a challenge in Fowlerville, Mich.
Said Crutcher, a family therapist in Washington, "you do not, as an adult, have to like the story or agree with its messages to have a valuable conversation with your children. I think we put ourselves in a tough position as adults when we refuse to hear our kids' stories in their native tongue."
...and remember, public libraries serve the p-u-b-l-i-c.
The gap between opposing camps may seem expansive, but Douglas Public Library District director Jamie LaRue, who has lost only one of the 200 challenges he's fielded, believes bridging ideologies is often a matter of thoughtful communication, not battle lines.

"These people are not our enemies," LaRue says. "They are using the library. They are encouraging their children to use the library. They are paying attention to what their kids read. They are even going out of their way to talk to a public institution."

He adopts a candid approach when a parent questions his collection. "I often ask the parents if their children will grow up to live in a real and sometimes dangerous world," he says. "Then I ask, 'Where do you want your child to encounter this subject for the first time - at home while he can still talk to you, or out on the street?"'

By addressing the core concern, which he insists is protecting the people they love, LaRue attains the impossible - compromise.

Jamie Lee Curtis interview

Jamie Lee Curtis has a new book out, It's Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel. She is a "celebrity author" who actually has a gift for writing for children. The National Post has an interview with her.
The ideas for her books evolve because "she's a very sharp listener, and the conversations she overhears are the basis for her best-selling children's books."

AP: Are your six children's books entertaining storybooks or morality tales?

Curtis: Someone referred to them the other day as self-help books for kids. It would be obnoxious if I coined the phrase, but it was a lovely compliment and I took it.

When asked about the celebrity author children's book trend she answered:
Curtis: (When I started) I hadn't done True Lies yet, so the biggest success I'd had at that point was A Fish Called Wanda, and although it was a big success, I was not a big celebrity or a media darling on any level, I was a very low-level movie actor who'd had a little success.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Charlie Bone

Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy by Jenny Nimmo, 2004
When I first encountered these books at a book fair I assumed they were Harry Potter wanna-be's. As I read the first one, Midnight for Charlie Bone, I was completely engaged by the story and could see the potential in the characters and storyline. The second book, Charlie Bone and the Time Twister did not disappoint me and the third one was a delight to read.

Charlie "with his eager and often clumsy attempts to help people" continues to find out more about his family history. At school, his friends, Emma, Tancred, Olivia, Gabriel, and Lysander are determined to help Ollie Sparks, a student who "disappeared" but might be living in the attics of Bloor's Academy. Their kind art teacher Mr. Boldova has a personal interest in their quest and they receive help from Cook and surprisingly the spy Billy Raven. Has Billy changed his stripes for good?

The question my nephew asks, "Why are Charlie's aunts so mean?" remains unanswered.

Scholastic has a website with puzzles and trivia questions about the series.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Westing Game

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, 1978
I don't know why it has taken me so long to get to this book. I think I was inspired by a group of 6th graders who were checking out mysteries. Two of them had selected The Westing Game and it made me realize I had never read it. What an engrossing story! This book won the 1979 John Newbery Medal for distinguished writing for children from the American Library Association, the 1978 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Best Fiction for Children, and the 1979 Banta Award for writing excellence in a general literary competition of the Wisconsin Library Association.

I tend to be a very passive mystery reader and I go along and enjoy the plot. Sometimes I can guess the solution but usually I am content to follow the story to the end when all is revealed. From the first page of this book I was totally engaged and trying to decipher the clues and pondering the suspects. If you have not joined the Westing Game, grab a copy today and get reading. You will enjoy it.

A wonderful tribute to Ellen Raskin is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison website. They also have the manuscript to the book available online with an audiofile of Rasking talking about her book.
Ellen Raskin often remarked during her career that she wished she had known "where children's books come from" while she was a young UW-Madison art student. She wanted to make it possible for future UW-Madison students to see something of the creative process of writing a manuscript, the editorial process and matters concerning page and jacket design, decisions concerning the selection of the typeface, and many other details about creating a children's book.

...we are pleased to be able to help fulfill the author's dream of making the manuscript more widely accessible by showing portions of it on the CCBC's web page and by webcasting the original audiotape that Ellen Raskin recorded at the CCBC on May 2, 1978. These pages have been designed so you can listen to Raskin's words while you view the corresponding parts of the manuscript. Brief explanatory notes also accompany each section so that you can learn what Raskin said about each portion if you are unable to listen to the archived audiotape.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Letters about Literature

My readng friends need to enter The Center for the Book's Letters about Literature reading and writing program. Go to the program link to print a copy of the entry coupon. The deadline is December 4, 2004.
To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre-- fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves. There are three competition levels: Level I for children in grades 4 through 6; Level II for grades 7 and 8, and Level III, grades 9 - 12. Winners receive cash awards at the national and state levels.

You can choose any kind of book, a picture book, a novel, an informational book...I know some amazing and thoughtful readers. I hope they will put their thoughts on paper and enter.

Misc. cool stuff

This is a sweet comic about librarians and libraries from Frazz by Jef Mallett.
An interesting music video from Röyksopp, "Remind Me" Melody A.M. Directed by: Ludoeic Hoplan & Hervé Crécy about living in an "information age."
both tips via Jack Stephens at Conservator

The Internet: a drowning pool?

Excellent article, "The Internet: Is it student lifesaver or drowning pool?" by Ryan Quinn in the North Adams Transcript on college libraries. Please read the WHOLE thing.

He quotes the Pew Internet and the American Life Project from two years ago that indicated college students were more likely to use the internet than the college library. Happily, that trend seems to be changing according to Rebecca Ohm, a reference librarian at Sawyer Library at Williams College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"Libraries are at the forefront of using technology," she said, eager to demonstrate how the library's Web site made it easier for students to search the dozens of indexes and databases that the college subscribes to electronically. "It can seem daunting," she admitted of the amount of information available. But this may be the very reason students now seek out library resources, which, unlike Web pages, are catalogued for easy access.

A Williams art history major from Schenectady, N.Y., who declined to give her name, said the library has become easier to use than Internet because she can search databases of scholarly journals to locate the full text articles she needs for research projects. And if she gets stuck, she asks a librarian for help. And that, Ohm insists, is what librarians are there for.

"That's why I went into this profession," she said. To help students, and also to expose them to the research tools that they might not be aware of. Ohm said she was appalled when she heard a student had purchased an old article from the New York Times' Web site for $2.95. The library at Williams, she said, has the Times archived electronically back to the 1800s -- all of it free of charge.

I always warned my students...
"Anyone can put up a site and publish whatever they want," he said. He encourages his students to use the library, where they have easy access to "refereed" or "peer reviewed" articles, articles that have endured blind readings by board members of a scholarly journal to ensure quality. Students reported that some professors did not allow them to use a Web site as a source in their research, and almost all said they thought their professors preferred them to use the library.

I am mailing a copy of this article to both of my college kids.

Author: Daniel Handler

The Toronto Star has an article on author Daniel Handler today.
The name Handler is hardly household yet, but it's a good bet, particularly if you hang around any remotely bookish kids age eight and up, that you've heard of his nom de plume — Lemony Snicket. As Snicket, Handler is the wicked genius behind what would be the hands-down most successful Kids Lit franchise of our time, if it weren't for that kid at Hogwart's.

The article discusses Handler's musical ability including his instrument of choice: the accordion.
The more dulcet tones of Handler's accordion can be heard on 69 Love Songs, the 1999 breakout album by the New York-based ensemble The Magnetic Fields — Snicket-appropriate song titles on the album include ... "No One Will Ever Love You" and "I'm Sorry I Love You" — and the instrument is also his main accomplice during his riotous, side-splitting "readings" on book tours.
...His own bands, from garage school days on, had such names as The Edith Head Trio (one Head song was titled "The Donner Party Tango," alluding to the infamous 19th-century pioneers who turned to cannibalism) and, more gratifying to Canadian ears, The Zambonis.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Mark Teague

Detective LaRue : letters from the investigation by Mark Teague, 2004

In Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, 2002, Ike the dog wrote plaintive letters describing his life "behind bars." He hopes his owner, Mrs. LaRue, will come to rescue him from obedience school. The wonderful humor came from the clever story and illustrations. The reader can compare colorful reality with Ike's black and white point of view.

In his new book Ike is writing letters to Mrs. LaRue again while she is on vacation in Europe. This time he is a suspect in the disappearance of the Hibbins cats. Feeling completely misjudged, Ike mails his owner pleas and updates from the police station where he has been taken into custody. Forced to flee and on the lam, he attempts to solve the mystery of the cats' disappearance as well as a series of canary burglaries. Once again the detailed illustrations and articles from the Snort City Register/Gazette hold the key to the story and the laughs. This book is a very entertaining sequel. This is a must-read for fans of Ike!

If you would like to learn more about Mark Teague , here are some websites with interviews and information.
RIF's Interview with Mark Teague
Mark Teague talks about "Criticism" on the Children's Book Council site
Dear Mrs. LaRue matching game on
Teague's illustrations of Audrey Wood books on

Sunday, September 19, 2004

A rare appearance

The mysterious author, Lemony Snicket, will appear in a New York Literature in Performance event in NYC on September, 21, 2004. HarperCollins Children's Books has a brilliant ad campaign surrounding these books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. The evening is described:
If you are looking for a pleasant night out, you would probably be better off attending some other event. This rare public appearance by the elusive best-selling author Lemony Snicket will include shocking details from his anxiously awaited new work, The Grim Grotto, Book the Eleventh in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Even worse, books will be offered for sale. Fortunately, if tickets sell out quickly, you won't be able to attend.

I saw an extended preview of the movie which will be released in December. It has an interesting look and is obviously a showcase for actor Jim Carrey. Hopefully the offbeat and quirky nature of the books will be preserved. The recent Cat in the Hat, a showcase for actor Mike Myers, was unbearable. Peter Jackson cannot direct everything I guess.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Update: Shakespeare Quartos Online

The reason I enjoy NPR was evident this evening. In addition to the Judy Blume interview there was a piece on the Shakespeare Quartos now online, thanks to the British Library. There are five different versions of Hamlet, one of them the "bad" quarto. Very enjoyable listening.

Update: Interview with Judy Blume

Nice interview with Judy Blume on NPR Wednesday evening. In the interview, Michele Norris referred to the challenges Blume's books have sometimes faced in school libraries but did not belabor the point. Norris remembered her own girlhood enjoyment of Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. She can still remember the color of the book cover. It is Blume's "favorite" book even though it is hard to choose just one.

Blume is currently working on a series of books with characters from The Pain and the Great One. Listen to the interview here.

Bluebonnet favorite: Robert J. Blake

There is a brief article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about author Robert J. Blake. He is in Alaska doing research for a new book about a hunter who become injured and is saved by his dog. To capture the details he is going along with a friend who is a hunter:
"Larry was always really good in the woods," he said. "He's looking to get a moose. I'm going with him. I'm not shooting though. I'm just going with him."
He loves doing the research for his books.
At a recent illustrators' gathering, a fellow illustrator asked, "You don't really go to all those places, do you? I just research on the Internet."

Blake's' response: "You might as well have a desk job."

I am a Pencil

Terrific interview on NPR, September 14 with Sam Swope author of I am a Pencil. If you are a teacher or care about student writing, please take a moment and listen to the interview.

NPR's Melissa Block talks with Sam Swope, author of I Am a Pencil, a book based on his work with students from 21 countries on creative writing projects. What started out as a 10-day writing workshop with third graders in Queens turned into a three-year project. He tells stories of the imaginative ways they explore their dreams and problems through writing. Their greatest adventure in writing was spending time in Central Park experiencing nature for the first time.

Congratulations, Judy Blume!

A well deserved tribute

The National Book Foundation will award Judy Blume with its annual medal for distinguished contribution to American letters. The New York Times reports:

Ms. Blume, author of "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Freckle Juice," among others, is the first author of books written primarily for children to receive the medal, which has been awarded for 16 years.

...In an interview, Ms. Blume said that news of the award was "a total shock," and that she had not known the medal existed. "For the National Book Foundation to acknowledge the importance of children's books and those who write them is very satisfying," she continued. "We're the ones who get kids to read."

...While beloved by teenagers, her books have not garnered similar critical praise, and until recently often appeared on lists of books most often banned by school libraries.

Young readers have the final say, and they read and read and read Judy Blume's books!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Shakespeare's plays, the Quartos, online

BBC News reports that the British Library has placed high resolution copies of 21 Shakespeare plays online. These images are the "quartos" printed in Shakespeare's lifetime.

The texts date from Shakespeare's lifetime and are pamphlet editions of plays prepared to be sold after performances had finished.
The printed works show how the text evolved and cast doubt on the idea of definitive versions of his plays.

Moira Goff, head of British Collections 1501-1800 at the British Library was interviewed for the article and continues:

As such the editions were prepared during Shakespeare's life and they are likely to be more authentic versions of the plays than the First Folio editions that were published seven years after the Bard's death in 1616.

The texts of the plays are thought to be the closest versions to the way that the plays were actually written and performed.
"Given that Shakespeare left no manuscripts behind, the quartos are as close as we are able to get to what he actually wrote," said Ms Goff.

This is the link to the British Library collection. How splendid, this kind of offering is where the internet shines!

Avi article

Very good article about Avi in The Oregonian on Saturday. He talks about his childhood, his decision to become a writer and best of all, new books in the works. Yippee! He is working on another Poppy novel. Read the whole thing.

I'm always working on many projects. Just finished another medieval tale -- a fantasy called "The Book Without Words." There's a new "Poppy" book coming. I wrote the first "Poppy" book while living in Corvallis in the mid-'90s. A funny (silly) book to be soon published is "The End of the Beginning." Recently published is "Never Mind!" a book I wrote with a writer friend of mine, Rachel Vail. And, I've started research on the sequel to "Crispin."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Speaker's Corner

I was visiting a middle school library recently...

As a school librarian I love keeping my faculty up to date on the latest trends in children’s literature and helping them design reading assignments for our students. This is called collaboration.

I love teachers. I have never met a teacher who did NOT want a student to read for pleasure. They are thrilled when students read anything at all. As young people progress through their school career, however, the insidious “obligatory page minimum” requirement begins to creep in to their reading assignments.

Teachers feel like they need to “stretch” their students' reading chops by requiring books “of a certain size” for assignments. With the best of intentions, they set requirements for book length for book reports or reading assignments.

I feel the time is ripe for some re-education.

Teachers should be kept up to date on publishing “norms.” How many of jr. high teachers know the average number of pages in a YA book? A former student was recently disqualified from reading Jack’s Black Book by Jack Gantos because it fell below the “obligatory page minimum” the teacher had arbitrarily assigned. The book, the goals of the assignment, the middle school student: it was a match all around EXCEPT for the length. The title was nixed.

If you are teaching a genre it will be worthwhile to review the characteristics of that genre (ask your librarian to do this in a lesson) and THEN have students locate a book that interests them using the library catalog along with title and cover clues for that genre.

Genre spine labels are helpful but not definitive. Watching a class pass by titles that fit the assignment because they were branded with a state reading program label instead of the genre label was deflating. Also, think how many books fit more than one category. Is it a ghost story or a mystery or both? How many stickers do we cover book spines with before the title is completely obscured?

I know teachers are not trying to kill the love of reading but watching kids pull books off the shelf and only flip to the back to check the page count was dispiriting. Sadder still was watching a student trudge to the checkout desk with a book he had no interest in but it had the “right” number of pages. Is he starting this assignment on the right foot?

Your school library has a collection of books that was selected specifically for the students at your school. If you want them to read a novel for an assignment -- that is fine. Let them select a novel, in the specified genre from the school library collection. Hopefully, it has been placed there by a professional librarian because it meets the needs and interests of students in that building, not because it had a minimum number of pages

You can still make your students stretch their literary chops by the quality of information you require of them in the assignment.

I have a daughter beginning her college career in a course using YA novels and picture books as source material. Goodness, those kids are in college, shouldn't they be reading college level books? They are going to polish their writing skills by reading and writing about books that are accessible to college freshmen. They WILL be expected to produce "college level" thinking about the literature.

As librarians we must be proactive and helpful to our faculty. I have not met a teacher yet who did not welcome some support from me on the subject our students reading lives.

For Serious Potter Fans

The Witching Hour, a Harry Potter Symposium
This is going to be an academic conference -- not for kids

From their website:

"On October 6, 2005, The Witching Hour, a Harry Potter symposium, will commence in Salem, Massachusetts. When the time arrives, attendees will don their cloaks, grasp their wands, tote their magical texts and Apparate to the Historic District of Salem for five days of magic and merry-making, text and context, craft and criticism."

Award-winning children's literature author and essayist John Cech will be the key note speaker and discuss "the hero's traditional journey in literature and folklore."

Mr. Cech has judged the New York Times' Best Illustrated Books of the Year and has served on the nominating committee for the American nominees for the Hans Christian Anderson Medal. He has received the Chandler Award of Merit for his work in children's literature and is a professor of English and children's literature at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

DiCamillo's wonderous "Tale..."

The Tale of Despereaux:Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo, illustrator: Timothy Basil Ering, 2003

Despereaux Tilling is a mouse who does not fit in. His ears are too big, he faints, and he always needs a handkerchief. He is a reader, a dreamer and a lover of music. This story has a princess, a dungeon, a villian. There is love, danger, betrayal and redemption.

This book is a terrific read-aloud or novel for literature circles. Are you teaching literary elements? This book has it all: character, plot, setting, theme, motivation, point-of-view, genre, voice, elaboration, foreshadowing, word choice...
Candlewick Press has prepared this Teacher Guide to accompany the novel. Additional information and a biography of DiCamillo can be found here on the Candlewick site.

Dust off your French accent and have fun. You will enjoy reading this book aloud as much as your family or students will enjoy listening to it.

We finished The Wish List

The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, James Wilby, narrator

We finished listening to The Wish List by Eoin Colfer yesterday. Gosh, it made me cry! Sweet ending! Listening to a book is such a different experience from reading it. I am so glad I heard this one. I am looking up other books that James Wilby narrates. Hmm... I've always wanted to read/hear The Prisoner of Zenda!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

More Children's books to Movies

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Brent Forrester will adapt The Spiderwick Chronicles for Nickelodeon Movies with Mark Waters is attached to direct."Spiderwick" is a best-selling children's book series that details the adventures of the Grace children -- a 13-year-old girl and 9-year-old twin brothers -- who move into a dilapidated estate with their mother. They quickly find themselves sucked into a world of goblins, griffins, fairies, trolls and other magical creatures. These books are immensely popular with boys and girls!

The Tale of Despereaux

French director Sylvain Chomet, whose The Triplets of Belleville was nominated for an Oscar for best animated film this year, has signed on to direct The Tale of Despereaux for Universal Pictures. The script for the film will be based on the book "The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread," written by Kate DiCamillo. It has been on the New York Times best-seller list ... has sold more than 1 million copies and won the 2004 Newbery Medal for children's literature.

The Widow's Broom

Director Sam Weisman (George of the Jungle) has signed on to direct the family comedy Widow's Broom.
Chris Van Allsburg is adapting the feature from his book of the same name. The story revolves around a New England family suffering the loss of their father. When the family stumbles upon a witch's broom, it springs to life, sweeping away the neighbors, teaching the kids magic and helping to heal the family. The studio is looking at an early 2005 start date.

Cell Phone on JKRowling's desk

JKRowling's website has lots of "Easter eggs" to find. The cell phone on the Rowling's website desk has been taunting me because you can obviously punch in a number. I am probably the LAST person on earth to figure this out but I just realized what phone number to dial on the cell phone and I got my "special content." What phone number did Mr. Weasley dial to get the Ministry of Magic in book 5? Now, go get your copy and look it up!

Monday, September 06, 2004

Speaking of Artemis...

Update: Good interview with Colfer in The Star Online. He is beginning a new series, The Legend of Spud Murphy, "a book about a librarian, set mainly in a public library. "

Spud was inspired by the idea that children often believe every story about adults no matter how outlandish. The kids believe that Spud is an ex-army child catcher, even though she may not be quite so exotic.
The next full length Artemis book is due Summer, 2005.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
I have been doing some searches about Artemis Fowl. There is a fourth book coming out in October 2004, The Artemis Fowl Files, but it looks like a collection of stories, not a sequel to the story. Penguin UK has this blurb:

Artemis Fowl's confidential files have been discovered in his safe at Fowl Manor. Ever since his first contact with the fairy People he has kept a locked dossier. Now you too can share the secrets: Two FABULOUS stories: 'LEPrecon' - The story of Captain Holly Short's move from Traffic to Recon, and how she became the first female officer to serve under Commander Julius Root. 'The Seventh Dwarf' The World Book day story, featuring Artemis, Butler,Holly, and everyone's favourite kleptomaniac dwarf, Mulch Diggums. EXCLUSIVE! Interviews with major characters including: Artemis, Holly, Foaly, Mulch and Eoin Colfer himself TOP SECRET! Coded extract from the Fairy Book for you to translate FASCINATING! Fairy-spotters section - could you tell a troll from a goblin? CONFIDENTIAL! Technical diagrams of Foaly's top inventions And much more?

There is also supposed to be a movie in the works but plans to film it in Ireland have taken a hit due to the exchange rate of Euros and Dollars... (according to message boards devoted to Artemis.) Reading all the posts, it would appear that Tom Felton is the fan favorite to play Artemis. Perfect!

Eoin Colfer has a website with the key to the coded messages in the books.

The Texas Book Festival will be held in Austin, Texas October 28-31 at the State Capitol. First Lady Laura Bush, Honorary Chairman :
"The Texas Book Festival's mission is twofold. We have a wonderful annual event that gives everyone an opportunity to experience the great range of literary talent that Texas offers, while making a valuable contribution to public library collections across the state. These grants are making a significant difference."

Some of the children's and YA authors slated for an appearance include:

Kimberly Willis Holt -- Keeper of the Night and many others
Sherry Garland -- Voices of the Alamo and many others
Dorothy Anne Love -- The Puppeteer's Apprentice (I read this over the summer and LOVED it!)
Elaine Scott -- Poles Apart: Why Penguins and Polar Bears Will Never be Neighbors (Excellent nonfiction)
Alan Stacy -- L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet and Round-Up Book: A Texas Number Book
Posted by Hello

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Wish List

The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, James Wilby, Narrator

School has started so the time available for "unconscious delight" has shortened. On a recent trip to install daughter #2 at college, daughter #3 and I began listening to this book. We are huge fans of Artemis Fowl. (I LOVED the ending of The Eternity Code.)

The Wish List is one of the BEST books I have ever listened to. James Wilby is absolutely brilliant as a narrator. His character voicings are delightful and his pacing is perfect. I cannot imagine reading this book now without hearing his lilt.

Meg Finn knows she is taking a step toward the "dark" side when she accompanies Belch Brennan on a burglary of old Lowrie McCall's "granny flat." The episode results in her death and the next thing she knows, she is hurtling down a tunnel towards a light ... and a fork in the road. The blue auras are streaming towards St. Peter, the red ones towards Beelzebub. Meg's aura is "purple."

St. Peter and Beelzebub consult together on their secret cell phone (this exchange is hilarious) and decide to return her to Earth to clarify her color and ultimate destination. Meg must help old Lowrie McCall with the unresolved issues in his life by assisting him to accomplish four wishes.

Their relationship is fractious, she is a young teen and he is a man with a bad heart and many regrets in his life. As we listen and the story develops, we feel the bond and affection developing between the two. I don't know how it will turn out. There are many hazards in their path, including the return of the very stupid Belch who has been sent by Beelzebub to thwart Meg and Lowrie's chances.

This book is so funny and entertaining! When the main character died in the first chapter, I wasn't sure I would enjoy the story. Now, I can't wait to listen to the next bit. I am being very good and waiting for my girl to get home so I will not "get ahead!"

By the way Eoin is prononunced "Owen."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sounds Interesting...

The Tale of Hill Top Farm: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert

Wolf Brother: The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver

Articles in the news today about two new book series.

The first is a mystery series "for adults and teens" based on the life of Beatrix Potter. The article quotes Natalee Rosenstein, Vice President and Senior Executive Editor of the Berkeley Publishing Group, "We've certainly seen other adult mysteries, including our own, The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun, have a big teen readership and we think these will too."

The village of Near Sawrey is not as peaceful as it appears. Miss Abigail Tolliver has died. Her valuable John Constable painting is missing, and children's author Beatrix Potter is buying Hill Top Farm.
Sawrey's inhabitants, human and animal, are in an uproar. The stage is set for The Tale of Hill Top Farm, the first of an eight-book mystery series for adults and teens -- The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter -- by Susan Wittig Albert (Berkley/Penguin, September 27)...
Hill Top Farm deftly interweaves real and imaginary people with talking animals, creating a rich cast of characters for a story set in the English countryside. The juicy gossip and petty squabbles of small-town life form a backdrop to the mystery. A comic undercurrent is created when Sawrey's animals comment amongst themselves on the action.

Beloved Potter creatures, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Josey and Mopsy Rabbit and Tom Thumb are joined here by Ridley Rattail, Galileo Newton Owl and Max the Manx. Readers interested in Beatrix Potter will find Hill Top Farm to be an intriguing way to imagine her life beyond known facts. Kids will be drawn in by Beatrix' friendship with Jeremy, a boy with a penchant for drawing frogs who is wrongly accused of a crime.

A second article describes a new series, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness which debuts with the book, Wolf Brother. It has been sold for a $5 million advance - the highest ever paid for a debut British children's book.
"Orion is not in the habit of paying out big money for children's books. It was obvious when Michelle came along that these books are page turners. Many adults have now got into the habit of picking up children's books." She said the book had already earned back its advance for British rights.

The novel is the first of six which are set in the Stone Age forests of 4,000BC.
Wolf Brother tells the story of Torak, a 12-year-old hunter who lived in a forest 6000 years ago. After his father is killed, the youngster teams up with an orphaned wolf cub and sets out to rid the forest of an evil force.

...and this is very cool...
The Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen has just recorded an audio version of the story.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Michael McGrorty at Library Dust has a tribute to Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis as he discusses Marguerite Henry's Album of Horses. This book is still a favorite in libraries today, if they still have a copy that has not fallen apart.

For additional information about Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis you can check the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation website. A lifesize bronze statue of Misty is located on a portion of the original Beebe Ranch on Chincoteague which is preserved by the Foundation. Posted by Hello

Quel marth! (Good Luck!)

There is always something interesting to read at For those of you who wish to pursue the study of elvish on your own just Google "elvish" and stand back.This is from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ma Quetelye i Eldalambe?

The Chicago Children's Choir is trying.

For those unfamiliar with the ways of the Middle Earth of The Lord of the Rings, the first sentence translates "Do you speak Elvish?''...
The choir was tapped by "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack composer Howard Shore, who is on tour with an orchestra performing selections from the films. The children's choir will perform Oct. 8 and 9 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Choir members are immersing themselves in Elvish through books and movies, and will put in about 40 hours of Elvish singing practice before the October performance...

"There are a lot of sustained chords that go on eight to 10 beats. It takes a lot of stamina,'' Lee said.

Students may memorize the Elvish but will also learn the English.

"It's really important you know what you're saying because you're trying to get a point across,'' said choir member Nick Feder, a 15-year-old Lake View student at University of Chicago Laboratory School.

A Tribute to a Friend

The Friend by Sarah Stewart, 2004

Sarah Stewart has written a very personal story from her childhood. Her husband, David Small, has illustrated it. This article from Kalamzoo Gazette describes the book and the story behind it.

It is the most personal of the books Stewart has written. Her previous efforts, all illustrated by Small, "The Money Tree" (1991), "The Library" (1995), "The Gardener" (1997) and "The Journey" (2001), were intimate stories about strong and interesting women -- similar to Stewart herself, a woman of ideas and energy...

But "The Friend" is not about similarities. It is the story of Stewart's childhood and her close relationship with Smith, the family housekeeper who was present at her birth and her primary caregiver during her childhood in Corpus Christi.

If you are a fan of Stewart's books you will want to read the whole thing. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux's website has more information about her. Stewart's advice for writers includes:
Sarah Stewart's Rules for Aspiring Writers
1. Study Latin.
2. Read the great poetry written in your native language.
3. Find a quiet place and go there every day.
4. If there's no quiet place where you live, find that place within you for a few minutes each day.
5. Put your ambition into writing, never into making money.