Friday, December 31, 2004

Saffy's Angel

Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay, 2001

I have just spent the afternoon with the most entertaining, warm, funny, and unusual people; they are the Casson family. In 152 pages, McKay has created characters I want to spend more time with and get to know better. Cadmium is the oldest girl and is learning to drive and pass her "A" levels. Indigo is the brother who dreams of exploring the Artic. Rose is the youngest who shows an affinity with paint as an infant.

We meet Saffy in the terrific opening sentence of the novel, "When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall."

Through her exploration of a painter's color chart the story of her adoption into the Casson family is revealed. She learns that she was born in Siena, Italy and brought to England by her grandfather when her own mother died in an automobile crash. Although the focus of the story is on Saffy's search for her place in the family, the rest of the characters are so wonderfully drawn that the reader feels a personal connection with each one of them. The way the family members interact and care for each other is touching yet tremendously funny too.

Caddy's driving lessons (and her crush on the driving instructor) are hilarious. I laughed and laughed as I read. Indigo's valiant attempts to conquer his various fears are profoundly moving. Rose is a no holds barred artist. Her realistic view and handling of their father and his dismay at his unconventional family is cheering.

I sought this book out when the Junior Library Guild chose Indigo's Star as a selection this fall. Lucky for me, I will get to spend another afternoon with the Cassons now.

Stop what you are doing right now: order it, place it on hold at your library, or go out and buy it! You will thank me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dallas Museum of Art features authors

The Dallas Museum of Art's Arts & Letters Live, jr. 2005 Series will feature Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist, T.A. Barron, Will Hobbs, and Katherine Paterson. Wow!

Museums feature children's books

Karalee Millerin the Star-Telegram describes a new idea for exhibits in children's museums; use children's books. Several exhibits currently touring U.S. museums include the Magic School Bus, Dr. Seuss, Good Night Moon, Curious George, Arthur the Aardvark, and Clifford. 'Joshua's Journey: A Black Cowboy Rides the Chisholm Trail' from Scholastic's My Name is America series has been at the Ft. Worth Children's Museum since November.

Fort Worth is the first of nine stops on a national tour for the exhibit about life on the Chisholm Trail. The exhibit was developed by the Fort Worth museum, along with Scholastic, the Youth Museum Exhibit Collaborative, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and the Cattle Raisers Museum.

...Visitors move through several themed areas filled with interactive activities, artifacts and historical photographs creating a sense of what life was like on the trail. 'Joshua's Journey' is the first children's museum exhibit to feature authentic Western artifacts, including a chuck wagon, spurs and hats. The 1,200-square-foot bilingual exhibit is structured to parallel the activities in the book -- kids go along for the ride as a young Joshua leaves his home in South Texas to help drive a herd of cattle up the Chisholm Trail.

Amazon & American Red Cross Disaster Relief

Amazon has enabled a one click donation to the American Red Cross Disaster fund for tsunami relief.

Update: Total Collected: $4,923,740.33. # of Payments: 80187

Astonishing to see the power of the internet and the goodness of people in general. When I checked at 2:30 CST they had collected $2,332,982.23 with the number of payments at 41371. This is double what it was just hours earlier today. in Australia is covering the contributions of the world's nations. The contribution of the country that claims to be the wisest of us all, stands out to me:

FRANCE: Foreign Minister Michel Barnier in Sri Lanka, then Thailand. Has earmarked 100,000 euro ($175,160) for relief, sent 16 rescuers to Thailand, 10 tonnes aid to Sri Lanka.

Roald Dahl photographs

Photographs taken by children's author Roald Dahl (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach) have sold for more than £84,000 at Christie's.
From the Bucks Free Press:

Duncan McEuen, auctioneer, said it was a wonderful afternoon and a great honour to be involved with such a fascinating collection.

He added: "The sale was 100 per cent sold, with many photographs exceeding their pre-sale estimates. It was a wonderful tribute to one of Britain's most loved writers."

More than 40 photographs, fresh details of the author's life and times, and artwork from friends Quentin Blake and Gerald Scarfe were all up for grabs.

The proceeds will help fund the Roald Dahl Museum and new Story Centre . 2005 is going to be the year of Dahl.

Dahl's widow, Liccy, was particularly taken with the photographs which cast fresh light on Dahl's wartime experiences. She said: "I found those images particularly moving. They give an insight into what he went through in the war."

Images of some of the photos are available at the BBC site, including a lovely one of Dahl's first wife, actress Patricia Neal and some of their children.
From the BBC article:
As a young boy, he developed a passion for photography which continued throughout his life.

Monday, December 27, 2004

OT--Stem Cells

blogHouston has a post about a local firm doing research on ADULT stem cells. As a family who VERY MUCH wants a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, it is terrific to see work in this area being accomplished. It is hard to believe that the only cure for this disease would come at the expense of embryonic research. It just seems to me, the Creator would NOT have wired the universe or stacked the cards that way.

Foxtrot today

My favorite comic, Foxtrot, is referencing libraries today. Brilliant.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Little Women's Orchard House

Interesting article by DENISE LAVOIE about Orchard House in Concorde, Mass. Nice descriptions of the house and the programs there.

Florence Aldrich-Bennett, a third-grade teacher at the Peter Noyes Elementary School in Sudbury, brings her students to the house every year. All of the students have read Alcott's biography, and some have read "Little Women" before they visit.

"It's wonderful. It really takes the children back in time," she said.
"For those children who like to write, it is fun for them to see where an author lived and to think about themselves as writers," she said.

Turnquist and other supporters of the house are constantly trying to raise money to fully restore the structure, built in the 1700s. Last year, they completed a $1.5 million project to build a foundation under the house, but still need millions more to conserve artifacts and repair extensive water, structural and insect damage.
"Almost everything you see here is just as they left it. We think it is important to preserve this," Turnquist said.

To read more about Orchard House, visit their website.

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, 2004

You will enjoy this book! I loved it and could not wait to get back to it when I had to put it down.

Matt Cruse was born in the air, he only feels truly himself when he is aloft in the airship Aurora. Matt knows every strut and dial of the ship. It is his home. He becomes friends with Kate, a wealthy young passenger who is retracing her grandfather's balloon journey and is in search of the fantastic flying "beings" he wrote about in his journal.

A pirate attack, a shipwreck, scary flying creatures that they dub, "cloud cats" keep this story moving and kept me turning the pages until the end.

Matt is an interesting character who is still coming to terms with the death of his father and his new feelings for Kate.

Oppel makes you feel the movement of the ship, smell the sweetish odor of the "hydrium" gas, and feel the heat of the island. The time period is seemingly in the past in the era of the great luxury liners but the idea of hydrium and the Academy where ships officers are trained have a futuristic feel.

Great job. This is one of the best books I have read this year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The count down starts...

Bloomsbury Press announces:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling, the sixth in the bestselling series, has been scheduled for publication on 16th July, 2005 in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, it was announced today by Bloomsbury and Scholastic, her British and American publishers.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince takes up the story of Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at this point as Voldemort’s power and followers are increasing day by day, in the midst of this battle of good and evil.

The author has already said that the Half-Blood Prince is neither Harry nor Voldemort. Intriguingly, the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been brewing in J.K. Rowling's mind for 13 years.

Lost Music

Library Link of the Day features an article on musician Michael Feinstein from the LA Times. He is on a mission to find and preserve music from America's songbook.

But Feinstein is more than an entertainer. He is also a musical detective — a man on the prowl for original scores, recordings and sheet music at garage sales and auctions, in secondhand stores and the libraries of film and record studios.

His mission isn't simply to collect, but to preserve. And it sometimes feels like a race against time. He and like-minded preservationists on both coasts worry that hundreds of songs by some of America's most famous composers have disappeared.

He has an amazing personal collection.

Feinstein has uncovered a treasure trove during 30 years of collecting, including more than 30,000 recordings, plus posters, photos, sheet music and 16-inch lacquer radio discs from the 1930s. Stacks of boxes hold composer Henry Mancini's record collection and orchestrations by entertainer Peter Allen. He has hours of rare, taped radio performances by Bing Crosby.

These items fill the walls, halls, bookshelves, basement and garage of his three-story gated home in the Los Feliz hills. Feinstein delights in showing off the collection: "Look at this — this is genius," he tells a visitor with barely concealed excitement, thumbing through a faded, autographed copy of the score for Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

Every paragraph has something the whole thing.

Although college libraries and other archives house the personal papers of many well-known composers, preservationists are still on the hunt for missing pieces of musical history. And they find them in the most unlikely places.

Tony Bennett's new album, for example, features "Time to Smile," a tune missing lyrics until recently, when the words by Johnny Mercer were found scrawled on the back of an envelope in his Georgia archives. Ken Bloom, a music historian, found an unknown Cole Porter song in the back of a filing cabinet at Paramount Studios.

Earlier this year, Feinstein bought a 1928 notebook of Gershwin's musical jottings at a Los Angeles auction. The 50-page manuscript, now stored in the Library of Congress, contains drafts of melodies and snippets of songs no one has ever heard.

"If I can get the permission of the composer's estate, I'd weave this music into something magical," said Feinstein, who wants to perform it in an all-Gershwin show.

Decorated for Christmas

JKRowling's whole website is decorated for Christmas. Green bows are on her desk, the bulletin board has Christmas cards and an Advent calendar. The sign is OFF the door and the room is decorated with holly and there is a Christmas tree in the mirror down the hall...

There is a Christmas present coming...Check back frequently and often!

Update: Ah hah! Check out the Christmas tree in the mirror and click-click! Find yourself an expert to help with the riddles! Lovely!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Peter Pan Season

Peter Pan (100th Anniversary Edition), Michael Hague, Illustrator

BBC Radio 4 presents a mini-season of programmes to celebrate the 100th anniversary of J. M. Barrie's popular classic. There will be six programs. The one on Dec. 23 will tell the story of the play's opening night. The preview gives these quotes by the critics on that night's performance.

...The Daily Telegraph review was stunning in its praise:

" Peter Pan is a play of such originality, of such tenderness, and of such daring, that not even a shadow of doubt regarding its complete success was to be discerned in the final fall of the curtain.... It is so true, so natural, so touching, that it brought the audience to the writer's feet and held them captive there.

But others in the first night audience were less than complimentary - George Bernard Shaw complained that it was a play foisted on children by grown-ups and Anthony Hope, the inventor of Ruritania, sat unmoved throughout the performance, and at the end was heard to remark: "Oh, for an hour of Herod!"


Friday, December 17, 2004

Photographer: Walter Wick

Interesting article in the NYTimes about photographer, Walter Wick. His I Spy and Can You See What I See? books are, hands down, the most popular books in any school library. I heard Wick speak at a Texas Library Assoiation conference a few years ago and he is fascinating. If you are trying to think of a book present for someone and you are not sure they are a "reader," I can promise you, these books will be a hit, especially with boys.

Wick's medium is photography. He discusses his childhood without a television.

Mr. Wick is an affable, quiet man who favors baggy khakis and big, wooly sweaters. Though he is 51, with glints of gray in his sandy hair and brushy mustache, he remembers how it felt to spend boyhood hours engrossed in building card houses or stocking mud forts with tiny soldiers. He recalled "that sense of being totally absorbed and letting your mind go free."

Growing up in a family of five in East Granby, Conn., "we didn't have a television set, and I wasn't a reader," he said. Instead he became a tinkerer, assembling his own toys from basement odds and ends.

The article describes his studio and his work.

And he is still at it, inventing small worlds out of mundane stuff. Mr. Wick's elaborately constructed books require not only a photography studio but also woodworking and paint shops, an array of computers and room for the thousands of objects that populate his pages. One wall holds 16 feet of cabinets and shelves, home to at least 80 clear plastic bins of buttons, marbles, plastic reptiles, random kitchen drawer detritus; another roomful of old props and sets sits downstairs. A haunter of yard sales and hobby shops, "I've always worked with a large assortment of junk," he said.

The Polar Express: the book

If you are exhausted by the Polar Express movie hype it is nice to go back and listen to the book. The Screen Actors Guild Foundation sponsors Book Pals--Storyline Online. They are featuring a new reading of The Polar Express by Lou Diamond Phillips. He does a wonderful job. His pacing and voicing are excellent. The camera work on Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations is also very well done.

Be sure to also listen to Sean Astin read A Bad Case of Stripes while you are there.

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Stayin' Alive...

Interesting (to me) to see the lengths to which heirs to literary franchises will push to keep the story (and no doubt the money,) rolling. The history of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate is an amazing read. Here is how it begins...

The author had left his literary works in Trust. One of the Trustees was Fides Union Fiduciaire, a Swiss company, famous for protecting wealthy people from tax liabilities.

By the late Sixties, the only surviving heirs to his Estate were his daughter Dame Jean Bromet, Princess Nina Mdivani, the widow of his son Dennis who had remarried her husband's secretary Anthony Harwood, and Anna Conan Doyle, Adrian's widow.

These three ladies, who were equal beneficiaries, did not get along at all. They were constantly arguing and involving themselves in litigation. Their dislike of Fides Union Fiduciaire seemed to be their only common denominator.

Now, Ian Fleming Publications is looking to extend the franchise and the result is Silverfin - Book One : The Young James Bond Series, by Charlie Higson.
MI6, a site devoted to Bond, has a report.

"I was approached by Ian Fleming Publications, which is largely run by Ian Fleming's nieces. They were thinking where else they could possibly take the character; it is quite hard doing adult continuation novels, and so they came up with the idea of going back in time. If you could write some good books for kids, they would then want to progress to the adult books.
...In SilverFin, 13-year-old James is at Eton, where he has a rivalry with a vicious American fellow schoolboy, George Hellebore. Then, staying with his aunt Charmian in Scotland for the holidays, James becomes aware of the mysterious disappearance of a boy close to a nearby castle where Hellebore's father lives.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Movie: Series of Unfortunate Events

HarperCollins marketing department has issued the following:

13 Reasons to Avoid Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

  1. Your worst enemy might sit right next to you, and you won’t know it because it will be dark.
  2. There is probably some delicious holiday fruitcake waiting for you at home.
  3. The only thing worse than a sinister villain is a sinister villain whose face is projected on a screen several stories high.
  4. The weather outside is frightful, and so is this movie.
  5. If you see it once, you might be tempted to see it again.
  6. You’d probably rather fight off crowds at the mall, as long as they are not carrying torches.
  7. It is very difficult to hide underneath a seat in a movie theater unless you are very small.
  8. If you know anything at all about Lemony Snicket, the Baudelaire orphans, or Count Olaf, you know that flash flooding may occur as a result of audience weeping.
  9. The movie is always worse than the books.
  10. Like singing Christmas carols in the trunk of an automobile, it won’t make you feel very cheery.
  11. Concession stands in movie theaters do not sell blindfolds.
  12. A cozy fire at home is much better than a home on fire.
  13. Only a person who enjoys dark rooms, sticky floors, stale popcorn, and unhappy endings could possibly have a good time.
The list of reasons to attend the movie are as follows:

The Real "Thornfield Hall"

Charlotte Brontë visited Norton Conyers a manor house in North Yorkshire in 1839. She learned the story of a "mad women" who was kept in the attic there some 60 years earlier and the idea for "Mrs. Rochester" was born. According to an article in The Guardian by Martin Wainwright the similarities between Thornfield Hall and Norton Conyers are unmistakable.

...until this month, only Thornfield had a hidden flight of stairs from near Mr Rochester's grand bedroom to his wife's miserable prison.

"We decided to investigate the tradition" said Sir James Graham, 64, whose family bought Norton Conyers in 1624. He was brought up in the house, and remembered tales of the imprisoned ancestor, secret passages and sections of wooden panelling which rang hollow when knocked.

One of these was on the landing outside the Peacock Room, the supposed model for Mr Rochester's quarters, and it was here that the musty flight of steps uncovered in the attic proved to lead.

Sir James and his wife, a former museum curator, crept down and found a chink of light and a disused door with an ingenious spring lock.

"The stairs are only just wide enough for one person" said Sir James. "They are hidden within the thickness of the panelled wall. There is no way you could tell from outside that there was anything there.

Repairs will be made.

...rotten treads and subsidence cracks must be repaired and restoration carried out in the attics, particularly the "madwoman's room".

"It is such a sad room," said Lady Graham. "It has such a tragic feel about it. It is in a cul-de-sac in the attic, very awkward to reach. It is north-facing with a small gable window. It's infinitely depressing. Most people don't want to stay there. It's creepy. However rational, they feel a weight on them."
Fascinating article, read the whole thing.

Posted by Hello

The Star of Kazan

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, 2004
A story with jewels, horses, and fantastic food--a triple threat!

Ellie and Sigrid find an abandoned baby in a church and raise her with love in the household of three brilliant but dotty professors where they work as servants. Though happy in her life, Annika dreams the dream of all foundlings, that one day her missing mother will arrive and explain why she deserted her little daughter.

She has many friends including a lonely old lady who shares the story of her life through beautiful but seemingly worthless costume jewelry.

Annika has a gift for cooking and food is deliciously described in this story.

One day Annika's mysterious mother does show up. She seems to be everything Annika ever dreamed of and she sweeps her daughter off to a decaying and crumbling estate in Germany.

Compared to her simple life in Vienna where she was always warm and well fed, here the rooms are unheated and the food is served cold. Annika happily offers to help out but she is reminded she is now an aristocrat and may not cook or clean.Her only joy is working with the gifted groom, Zed, who cares for the one remaining horse on the estate.

Old Vienna is wonderfully described from the Lipizzaner horses to the Sachar tortes! Kevin Hawkes is the illustrator of choice now for Ibbotson's books.His fine detailed drawings throughout the story are a treat for the reader.

Like River to the Sea, this story is rich in atmosphere with great characters and a very exciting crisis and escape that satisfies completely, sort of like a bite of rich, chocolaty Sachar torte!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Isle of Man issues Harry Potter stamps

Fun for collectors of all things "Potter" with the news of the issue of Harry Potter stamps from the Isle of Man post office. Stamps can be ordered online.

Isle of Man Post is privileged to present official Harry Potter postage stamps inspired by the universally acclaimed film “ Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban TM “. We encourage you to correspond with your friends and family through the Owl Post Office with our special Harry Potter Aerogrammes, so people of all ages can enjoy the experience of both writing and receiving letters.

JKRowling website update

Tip from Wizard News:
JKRowling has updated her website with a kind of no-news-is-good-news-message...

I don't know about you but I got sick and tired of seeing that old Edinburg Book Festival headline on my desktop and thought I'd change it, however dull the fresh story. So: I have nothing noteworthy to report, because I have been spending nearly all my time sitting in front of my computer writing, re-writing and taking the occasional break to bang my head off the desk in frustration or else rub my hands together in fiendish glee (I think the latter has happened once).

Meanwhile, the distance between the keyboard and yours truly increases day by day as my third child races Harry’s next adventure into the world. I will soon need extendable fingers to type.

In the Rubbish Bin" she also corrects a report that her friends call her "Joanie."

Just for the record, nobody, in the whole course of my life, has ever called me ‘Joanie.’

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Movie: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

A trailer is up for the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Cool!
Johnny Depp is a chameleon.

Happy Birthday Melvil Dewey!

Today is the birthday of "Father of Modern Librarianship",Melvil Dewey.
Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 to a poor family who lived in a small town in upper New York state. Keenly interested in simplified spelling, he shortened his first name to Melvil as a young adult, dropped his middle names and, for a short time, even spelled his last name as Dui.

OCLC has a short biography. Posted by Hello

Shakespeare at Winedale

Shakespeare at Winedale is a very special experience. Read about the program and the wonderful gift of air conditioning from Houston attorney, Mark Metts and Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham.

The original idea was to have UT Austin English students put on the plays. But the program has evolved to include not only students from other disciplines but also students from colleges and schools throughout the United States, who spend the summer living and working at Winedale. The program expanded internationally in 1998 when a group of former student actors were invited to London to perform at the acclaimed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Theatrical troupes of current students have returned to London every year since to perform at such venerable venues as the Swan Theatre of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

King Tut

Nothing to do with children's books but Steve Martin has a very funny op-ed in the NYTimes about his hit song, "King Tut."

I know that the song "King Tut" has become a standard and that many people believe it has been around for three-quarters of a century and was probably written by Cole Porter or Irving Berlin. But no, I wrote it in my car while driving - and you probably won't believe this - I wrote it in less than 15 minutes. The song broke musical ground in that if you look at the sheet music, there are asterisks where the notes should be, because the song has no tune. You will realize this if you hum the song in your head right now. This of course angered many so-called legitimate songwriters who have to make up melodies to go with their lyrics.
He then goes on to "set the record straight" about the the song's lyrics.

It does strike me as ironic that the song has become the standard reference work on the subject of King Tut. Many of the lines in the song are now believed to be fact. In this article I should - as a serious scholar - set the record straight:

King Tut was not "born in Arizona."

He did not live in a "condo made of stone-a."

King Tut did not "do the monkey," nor did he "move to Babylonia."

King Tut was not a honky.

He was not "buried in his jammies."

The song does, however, make a valid assertion that scholars still regard as a breakthrough: King Tut was, as explained in the song, "an Egyptian."

You can watch Martin perform his SNL skit at IFilm. (need RealPlayer)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, 1989

This book is one of the most amazing stories I have ever shared with children. The eerie setting, the creepy goblins, the keen intelligence of Hershel plus the sublime art work of the great Trina Schart Hyman make this one of the most perfect picture storybooks every created.

A tremendous story for all people that upholds the power of faith.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Texas Lone Star List, 2005-2006

The Young Adult Round Table of the Texas Library Association has announced the Texas Lone Star List for 2005-2006. This list has wonderful titles for students in grades 6, 7, and 8.
I loved THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND by Jonathan Stroud as well as THE WISH LIST by Eoin Colfer. I have a copy of THE SEA OF TROLLS by Nancy Farmer on deck. Lot of great reads there, take a look and pick some up.

Illustrator: Thacher Hurd

Thacher Hurd is the son of of the illustrator, Clement Hurd whose book Goodnight Moon is a timeless children's classic.
"There's something other-worldly about the book -- it never ages," said Hurd, who followed in his parents' footsteps by becoming a children's author and illustrator working in the San Francisco area. "There's a mystery about it."

An exhibit "From 'Goodnight Moon' to 'Art Dog': The World of Clement, Edith and Thacher Hurd," is at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center through Jan. 9.

The attraction for children is playing in the re-creation of the green room from "Goodnight Moon" and climbing in the life-size Brushmobile from "Art Dog."

"I love to see the little kids standing there -- in complete awe," he said of the green room replica.

Karen Tensa in the Samford Advocate had a nice article about the exhibit.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Cats and Libraries

Library Link of the Day has an article from the Chicago Tribune ( have to register) on cats in libraries.
Two cats named Paige and Turner have joined the growing ranks of cats given homes in public libraries, where they are getting rave reviews for their ability to keep rodents off the premises.

...Since they were introduced to their new home in August, the cats have the run of the staff offices and some of the stacks, barred only from the library's public sections.
Damage to library materials from rodents is a real problem.
Mice love to gnaw on paper and the glue used to bind books. And although new to the Round Lake library, the tradition of turning cats loose in libraries to catch rodents dates to the 19th Century, when the British government encouraged their use for that purpose, said Boston filmmaker Gary Roma.

Roma, who produced "Puss in Books: Adventures of the Library Cat" in 1998, has been tracking library cats since and even has a Web site devoted to the subject.

Based on his personal survey, Roma said he estimates at least 150 cats currently prowl local libraries, including a half-dozen in Illinois.

Roma's page of Library Cats is at his website. Library cats are also used to promote reading programs.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven is a wonderful story. The illustrator of this book and many many others is Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. In an article in the Detroit News van Frankenhuyzen talks about his work and his fans.
Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen's back yard, acre after wooded acre of it, is a constant source of wonderment to him.

"My family can't believe it when they visit," he said. "They think I've got more money than the queen."

He doesn't, but he is doing fine. And his busy season starts now.

Some of his other books include:

Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny : A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems, 2004

Every child has that special stuffed animal and fate will ALWAYS have it that it gets mislaid or lost at some point in the child's life. This is a book every child and every parent will identify with. The fear, the hysteria, the frantic searching, the rejoicing when reunited are all very familiar emotions. The look of the book is wonderful and original. I love the expressive faces of Trixie and her parents.This is the book I will give to new babies and their parents, along with Goodnight Moon. This book is a "read it again" favorite to be sure.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Leonard Marcus announces:
At the Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza main building:
"What Shall We Read to the Children: Treasures from the Clara Hunt Memorial Collection of Children's Literature." On view are approximately 150 rarities from the 7000-volume collection of 19th and 20th century children's books assembled by Clara Hunt, founding supervisor of work with children at BPL (starting in 1903) and chair of the first Newbery committee.
The show will be up through the end of January.

As a companion project, the library has put up a virtual exhibition featuring five E. Boyd Smith picture books from the Hunt Collection.

Check out the "virtual exhibition" to see the glowing illustrations of "E. Boyd Smith (1860-1943), the preeminent American picture-book artist of the generation before the Caldecott Medal was created to honor artists in his field."

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

CNN has an interview with Susanna Clarke, author of the 2004 best seller Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I am reading it now. It is interesting but VERY thick, 800 pages.

The article describes how Clarke, an avid but unsuccessful writer, came to create the book.
Clarke's literary career was rescued by an illness that led her to reread J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, books she had loved as a child.

"When I'd finished, it sort of made sense to try writing a fantasy novel, a book about magic, because those were the kinds of novels I'd really loved when I was a child and a teenager," she said...Clarke labored on the book for 10 years while working as a cookbook editor for publisher Simon & Schuster.

So many of my avid readers are drawn to fantasy literature. Clarke thinks she knows why...

"I also think that fantastic stories tend to be associated with strong storytelling. And I think publishers and critics have underestimated in recent years how much readers love strong stories. Narrative may have been out of fashion for a while, but readers love them."

Very interesting article, read the whole thing.

For Peter Pan scholars and fans

From The Independent Online Edition:
James Barrie wrote a sequel to his stage version of Peter Pan.
When the actress Hilda Trevelyan created the role of Wendy in the original production of Peter Pan, its creator J M Barrie was so smitten that he wrote a sequel just for her.

, effectively a final act to the story of the boy who never grew up, was performed for just one night in 1908 after the main play at the Duke of York's Theatre in London where Peter Pan had premiered four years before.

A celebration of the centenary of Peter Pan is underway in London. A rehearsed reading of Afterthought, " for the first time since [1908]," is planned for Saturday, December 18, at the Duke of York's Theatre. Famous actors who have performed in Peter Pan will gather for the performance. Two names caught my eye: Susannah Hampshire (Monarch of the Glen) who played Peter and Ron Moody (known for his role as Fagin in Oliver) who played Hook.

The following evening, the Chicken Shed Company is to present a gala performance of Peter Pan itself in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital, to which Barrie gave the royalties of the work in an act of generosity from which it still benefits.

...unless you are the Walt Disney Co. whose Hyperion imprint published the bestseller Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson without the hospital's permission. Disney claims the copyright to the J.M. Barrie stories expired in the U.S. prior to 1998.

Lawyers for the hospital maintain that the charity is receiving nothing from the proceeds of the best seller. They state the "Great Ormond Street held the copyright to Peter Pan in the United States until 2023..." CNN reports.

Some more Peter Pan centenary links:
Great Ormond Street Hospital
Samuel French London
The British Theatre Guide

Author: Cornelia Funke

Stephan Dalton in The Times Online has an article about Cornelia Funke. She speaks about her writing and the comparisons between her and author JKRowling. Dalton reports that The Thief Lord has finished filming in Venice. He also reports that Funke is moving to Los Angeles...
Funke is moving her family — husband Rolf, children Ben and Anna — to Los Angeles for three months next year so that she can take a hands-on role in developing a film version of Inkheart with New Line, makers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She has even begun courting Brendan Fraser for the role of Mo, the heroine’s father. Funke now has her own Los Angeles lawyer and has already blocked some superstar casting decisions. “In Hollywood,” her husband, Rolf Funke, says proudly, “they call her the woman with balls . . .”

Fraser recorded the audiobook version of Dragon Rider. She must have been very pleased with his reading as the character Mo has a fantastic read aloud talent.

Funke is writing a new book about Salisbury, England.

“I always love to step into this cathedral,” she says. “There’s this quote by the Italian painter Raphael, who once said when he saw the English and the German cathedrals that they are still tree worshippers — and that’s what they are! I step into Salisbury and it’s pagan, it really feels older than it is. The green men are hiding everywhere, and I want to do a ghost story there.”

Dragon Rider

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, 2004

If you are a fan of Inkheart and The Thief Lord, you will enjoy Funke's new novel. Dragons and dragon stories are always favorites with fantasy readers. This is a pleasant interlude while you wait for the sequel to Eragon.

Firedrake the dragon and Sorrel the brownie are on a quest to find the Rim of Heaven, a legendary safe haven for dragons. They meet Ben, a young boy without a home or family who helps and accompanies them on their trip. Unknown to the trio, they are being stalked by Nettlebrand, a blood thirsty golden dragon. The story is full of fantastic creatures including Twigleg, a homunculus and Gravelbeard, a mountain dwarf, fairies and a djinni. This is an adventure with well drawn characters.

I listened to the story on tape. It is read by Brendan Fraser. It took me a while to settle in to the flow of Fraser's reading. It was a little difficult to separate "him" (George of the Jungle and The Mummy) from the story but after a while I warmed to his fine voicings and interpretation. He obviously put his heart into the production and his distinct accents and characterizations are well done. This is an entertaining tale and an enjoyable "listening" experience. Hearing a novel is a different experience than reading it. I think I would hear Fraser's Twigleg and Sorrel if I were to read it now. This would be a great"travel" tape to listen to while you are on the road.