Friday, December 23, 2005

Family time

It is almost Christmas Eve and we have traveled east to South Carolina. As we drove through Beaumont, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi it was sobering to see the roofs still covered with blue plastic tarps and the trees and road signs snapped in half or blown over. As much damage as there is, it is still amazing to see how much was not touched by Rita and Katrina. A group of trees would be broken in half but another group of trees next to them would be untouched.

The magic freezer is producing amazing food and treats so we are having a great time.

It has been a great to make connections with folks who share an interest in great books that are NOT just for children. Thanks to all the kid lit friends for their attention and comments this year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Illustrator: Quentin Blake

Splendid interview with Quentin Blake in The Guardian. He discusses how his unmistakeable drawing style came about.

Now 72, Blake looks much younger. His drawing style changed, he says, when he was 23. "That was when I discovered that you could be relaxed and alert at the same time; you could stop worrying - concentrate rather than worry. That was the big change.

"It came about initially because I used to do roughs to send in, and sometimes the roughs came out better than the drawings, because they had more life in them. So then I started to try to build some of that spontaneity in."

About inspiration:

Many children's authors, Blake says, go back to their own childhoods for their stories. "They somehow have access to their childhood, whether it's Michael Rosen or AA Milne, they seem to get back to it. I never feel I'm doing that, in my books - what I always feel I'm doing is imitating children now. You see, I don't draw from life at all, but I do look out of my window a lot."

So, are his drawings reflecting changing childhood over the years?

"One has some sense that they've changed, they wear different trousers ... " he says, musingly.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

News: The Bartimeus Trilogy

This on is on the top of my "can't wait" list.

has a report on the Ptolemy's Gate due out Jan. 1, 2006. Jonathan Stroud will do the author tour thing in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami.
Comments from his editor:
"There are certain aspects of the story that could be revisited, but it does feel very final," said Alessandra Balzer, Stroud's U.S. editor. "I was blown away by how he ended it and I don't mind admitting that I cried."

Miramax is developing the movie. Balzer and Stroud have their own picks for casting the movie. added thrill will be seeing the work make its way to the movies. A film version is currently in development; Miramax is producing, with Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) signed on to direct.

"The story is incredibly visual so it'll be really interesting to see what they do with it," Balzer said. When prodded, she and Stroud are both willing to play casting director. Stroud likes Johnny Depp as the djinni, and says the role of villainous Simon Lovelace (from Amulet) was "tailor-made for Hugh Grant." Balzer gives the starring role to Jack Black as the 5,000-year-old Bartimaeus.

"He may be a bit young, but it has to be somebody with a great sense of humor and an edge," Balzer said. "This is a djinni with an attitude."

Interview with Jonathan Stroud

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Alex Rider

I read these Alex Rider books back to back because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz, 2004
While vacationing with his friend Sabina and her family in the south of France, Alex spots the assassin Yassen Gregorovich. Soon afterwards, Sabina's father is injured in an explosion which Alex knows was no accident. The trail to Gregorovich leads him the multi-millionaire philanthropist Damian Cray who is launching a new video game system. I love the way Horowitz names his characters... Cray--computers...get it?

Of course Cray is up to more than just computer games but Alex cannot convince anyone at MI6 of this. He is alone again in an attempt to save the world. The end of the book poses a question that will propel you to find Scorpia as soon as possible.

These books are flat out fun to read. This story does include one of the goofier attempts on Alex's life (he finds himself in the middle of a bullfight) but I love reading them.

Scorpia, by Anthony Horowitz, 2005

At the end of Eagle Strike, Alex learns something about his father. He must find out the truth about his father's life and work so he is off to Venice to try and find a crime syndicate called Scorpia. This time he is on his own without any fancy gadgets or backup. When he meets Julia Rothman, one of the leaders of Scorpia, Alex is drawn into that criminal and terrorist world. He must decide what his future will be and reconcile what he learns about his father. If he joins them can he live with the consquences of the hideous attack Scorpia is planning on the city of London?

I listened to this book instead of reading it so I did not have the luxury of lingering slowly over the last few pages. The end of the book is an absolute shock. Horowitz is definitely writing these books with a bow to Ian Fleming. As a reader of the original Bond books, I was struck by how much the end of this novel echoed the ambiguous endings Fleming often used.
A set of Alex Rider books would make a great gift for a reader in your life.

Horowitz has a new book soon-- Alex Rider: The Gadget, 2006 which includes the blueprints and the technical data for the Alex's MI6 gadgets. People who purchase books with the schematics for the Starship Enterprise would get a kick out of this book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Movie: Ramona Quimby

Hollywood hopes for more gold in the children's section of the library.

Fox 2000 will be developing a movie based Beverly Cleary's character Ramona Quimby.

"So many kids have asked me, 'When's a Ramona movie coming out?' " Cleary said in a statement. "I'm so glad there's finally going to be one! I look forward to seeing it."

Susan Katz, prexyprexy of HarperCollins kid division, said, "As Beverly Cleary turns 90, it's the ideal time to reintroduce Ramona Quimby -- and all of Mrs. Cleary's other memorable characters -- to a new generation of young people."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Conversaton: JKRowling and Stephen Fry

A real treat!
Stephen Fry interviews JKRowling on BBC Radio 4.

She discusses the importance of "fear" in literature and life. She also speaks about the series as it nears its end.

The Daily Record summarizes some of the bits--
Rowling admits to worrying that someone might guess how the Potter series ends. She says: "For the first time, I'm very aware that I'm close to finishing - the end is in sight.

"But occasionally I get cold shivers when someone guesses at something that's very close.

"Then I panic and I think it's very obvious.

"And then someone says something that's so off the wall that I think 'No, clearly it's not that obvious'."

BBC Radio 4

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stamps: Children's Book Animals

In case you missed this announcement:

In January the USPostOffice will issue a series of stamps featuring favorite Children's Book Animals.

Two of the stamps — The Very Hungry Caterpillar ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, 1969 and 1987) and Maisy ("Maisy's ABC" by Lucy Cousins, 1994 in the U.K. and 1995 in the U.S.) — will be jointly issued with the United Kingdom's Royal Mail, Jan. 10. The sheet of 16 stamps also depict Wild Thing ("Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak,1963); Curious George ("Curious George Flies A Kite" by Margaret and H.A. Rey, 1958); Wilbur ("Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, 1952); Frederick ("Frederick" by Leo Lionni, 1967); Olivia ("Olivia" by Ian Falconer, 2000), and Fox in Socks ("Fox in Socks" by Dr. Seuss, 1965).

The stamps will be issued in Findlay, Ohio. One of these days I will visit MAZZA.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Journalist: Karen MacPherson

Another great article related to children's books appears from Karen MacPherson today. She writes about C.S. Lewis and his inspiration for the Narnia stories.

Lewis himself said he first got the idea for writing the books when the young evacuees were staying at his house. But it wasn't until some years later that Lewis actually got around to writing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which he said began with a "picture in my head ... of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood." The picture, Lewis added, had been in his mind since he was 16; he was nearly 50 when he transformed it into the beginning of the book.

Another inspiration was the wardrobe in which Lewis and his older brother Warren also used to play. The wardrobe now can be viewed at the Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.

MacPherson writes a weekly column on children's books and parenting. Her articles are always of great interest. Check out her bio.

Marion E. Wade Center houses a collection on Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.

In addition, the Wade Center has a museum where such pieces as C.S. Lewis's family wardrobe and writing desk, Charles Williams's bookcases, J.R.R. Tolkien's desk, Pauline Baynes's original map of Narnia, and a tapestry from Dorothy L. Sayers's home can be viewed.

December 7 - Pearl Harbor Day

Pearl Harbor Day

A Boy at War by Harry Mazer, 2001
Adam is newly arrived in Honolulu and attending civilian school for the first time. His father is a naval officer on the USS Arizona. Adam and his Japanese friend Davi are fishing near the battleships in Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 when they see the Japanese bombers fly directly overhead. The boys are engulfed in the immediate horror and the swirling events in the days that follow.

Attack on Pearl Harbor by by Shelley Tanaka, 2001
This terrific and very readable nonfiction title was a Texas Bluebonnet book. Great illustrations, diagrams and maps tell the story of the Day of Infamy.

This is a superb nonfiction book to read aloud. Teachers should use this title to model how to grapple with nonfiction text.

Early Sunday Morning: The Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows, Hawaii, 1941, by Barry Denenberg, 2001
The Dear America books are well researched and try to bring a first person voice to historical events. The stories are fictional.

Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury, 1994
A Japanese American boy and his family must deal with the anguish and fear on the island of Oahu that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tomi's best friend Billy is white and they share a love for baseball and the USA but his grandfather is waving the Japaneses flag in front of their home. Salisbury does a good job of presenting the confusing and conflicting emotions all Americans experienced in the wake of the attack.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Movie: Inkheart

Finally some Inkheart--the movie news:

Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key) has signed on to direct Inkheart for New Line Cinema.

Hey Iain, remember, Cornelia Funke wants Brendan Fraser to have the part of Mo!

The Camel Mobile Library Service

Now this is a book-mobile!
From The Observer

The Camel Mobile Library Service lends more than 7,000 books to nomads in Kenya's impoverished North East Province, often because camels are the only means of crossing the inhospitable terrain. Many of the books are supplied by Book Aid International, the charity which gives more than half a million books a year to some of the world's poorest countries - and is supported this year by the Observer Christmas Appeal.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Op Ed: Good Night Moon

Fun op ed in the NYTimes today about the other dangers posed in the children's classic Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.

HarperCollins recently digitally removed the cigarette from the photograph of illustrator Clement Hurd. Karen Karbo points out other "insidious" messages contained within the books covers. Very clever.
H. A fire blazing in the fireplace while Bunny sleeps? Suggested change: Get rid of it. At the very least, digitally add a fire extinguisher to the wall. And hello? Where are the smoke detectors?

I. The United States Fire Administration advises against using "alternative heating devices" like fires to dry clothing. Suggested change: Digitally move mittens and socks to other end of the room.

Paper engineer: Robert Sabuda

"There should be one second of magic as you open a page of a book," adds Sabuda, giving a tour of his "studio" on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Great profile on Robert Sabuda. His book Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs is on the Texas Bluebonnet list for next year! This title is simply amazing.

Great pick , I predict it will be the Bluebonnet winner in 2007.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Watching BBCAmerica last night, Silent Witness: A time to heal.

The voice of the character, Walter Shanley was so familiar ... I realized it was Harper from the Sharpe series. A search for Daragh O'Malley on IMDB turned up this wonderful news: Sharpe's Challenge (2006)

Sean Bean is back as the swashbuckling hero in Sharpe's Challenge, an action packed mini-series to be shot on location in Rajasthan, India. Two years after the Duke of Wellington crushes Napoleon at Waterloo, dispatches from India tell of a local Maharaja, Khande Rao, who is threatening British interests there. Wellington sends Sharpe to investigate on what turns out to be his most dangerous mission to date. When a beautiful general's daughter is kidnapped by the Indian warlord, the tension mounts, leaving Sharpe no option but to pursue the enemy right into its deadly lair. Deep in the heart of enemy territory he also has to keep at bay the beautiful but scheming Regent, Madhuvanthi, who is out to seduce him. The fate of an Empire and the life of a General's daughter lie in one man's hands...

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I listened to a group of high school students bemoaning the books they "had" to read for their English classes. What intrigued me was when they mentioned Fahrenheit 451 as one of the titles they were reading, each one of them commented "That is a great (cool, awesome) book."

Apparently the power of Bradbury's story cannot be overcome by teaching it. The kids still love that book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Texas Lonestar List

The Texas Library Association has released the Texas Lonstar List for 2006-2007.
The Texas Lone Star Reading List is a recommended reading list developed by public and school librarians from the Young Adult Round Table. The purpose of the list is to encourage students in grades 6, 7, or 8 to explore a variety of current books. The Lone Star List is intended for recreational reading, not to support a specific curriculum.

I look forward to this list each year. I have already read:

Airborn. Oppel, Kenneth. 2004Eos.
Blood Red Horse. Grant, K. M. 2004 Walker & Co.
Bridesmaid. Abbott, Hailey. 2005 Delacorte.

Shakespeare's Secret. Broach, Elise. 2005 Henry Holt.

I am looking forward to Ranger's Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan. Flanagan, John. 2005 Philomel.

Novel units

Today's For Better or For Worse comic strip is singing my song today!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Papa Bear

Stan Berenstain, who with his wife wrote more than 200 children's books about a family of bears, has died.

My Entling no. 2 owned every single title of the Berenstain Bears at one time. She really loved these books.

From USAToday:

The first Berenstain Bears book, The Great Honey Hunt, was published in 1962. The couple developed the series with children's author Theodor Geisel — better known as Dr. Seuss, then head of children's publishing at Random House — with the goal of teaching children to read while entertaining them.

Despite changes in society in the last four decades, little has changed in Bears Country.

"Kids still tell fibs and they mess up their rooms and they still throw tantrums in the supermarket," Stan Berenstain told The Associated Press in 2002. "Nobody gets shot. No violence. There are problems, but they're the kind of typical family problems everyone goes through."

The Official Berenstain Bears Website

Books for Military Children

Cynsations has pointed me to this site, Books for Military Children. I know from listservs that librarians often seek books for students whose parents are serving our nation.

This is a nice group of titles. I would add Casey over There by Staton Rabin, with Greg Shed's glowing illustrations.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Series: Encyclopedia Brown

The Sun Sentinel has an article about the Encyclopedia Brown series and the multiple attempts to "franchise" the books over the years. It is an interesting look at how rights to books can be divided. Supposedly, Ridley Scott is interested now. The author of the books, Donald J. Sobol is not keen. He currently does not hold the movie rights.

The list of those who have taken an interest in Encyclopedia Brown over the years, only to have the project come to nothing, is a jaunt through Hollywood over the past three decades.

Among others, Warner Bros. was on track to make the film in the 1980s, with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn in the starring roles. That fell apart over legal complications, including the Sobol lawsuit.

Aaron Spelling saw it as a television show in the 1980s, and Johnny Carson at one point wanted it for his production company. Hanna Barbera, the animation company, envisioned the detective stories as a hand-drawn animated series. Anthony Hopkins offered to direct and act in the project as a film after meeting Deutsch in Utah in 1989. And an executive producer of Waterworld, Andrew Licht, wanted to take it on in 1995.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Harry in space and ferrets

From YahooNews:

Mission Control in Houston transmitted the movie "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" to the crew 354 kilometers (220 miles) above the Earth on the request of American astronaut Bill McArthur, commander of the International Space Station, the US space agency said.

Malfoy being turned into a ferret is one of my favorite scenes from the book and the movie. Here's a nice story about the ferret actors.

Animal trainer Jen Swallow, who works at Birds and Animals UK, which provides pets for films and is based at the film studios in Herefordshire, said: "We trained them for about three months before the filming. And then when they went before the cameras they were naturals. They did not try to upstage any of the stars."

Monday, November 21, 2005


Saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this weekend.

Loved it.

Missed John Williams's music but thought Do the Hippogriff was fun. (I think Williams's score for Azkaban is his most originial.)

Kelly at Big A Little a found an interview with Steve Kloves, the Potter screenwriter, and picked out the same quote that resonated with me.

"They want to film the two as close to back-to-back as they can," Kloves says. "Because the kids are really starting to grow up. And if we lose the kids, if they have to recast for six or seven, I think we will lose the movies. That's what makes them magic."

As we left the theater I mused that these actors really have been part of the movies' success. I cannot imagine anyone else taking on those roles.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

It was such fun to watch the faces of the kids, teens and grownup types as they waited for the show. It was such an event.

Entling no.3 got to see it twice in one day with different friends and then went along with her dad and I to see it a third time the next day. She wants to go see it again as soon as possible.

Entling no. 2 called from her spot in line somewhere in Texas to let me know she was on the way in to the theater.

Not sure if No. 1 has seen it yet.

I am so thankful to JKR for Harry. The whole phenomenon has brought so many bright and happy moments to this family's life.

We will be traveling the next few days so I bid you all a blessed and safe Thanksgiving Holiday.
I know I have much to give thanks for.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Author: Judith Viorst

Interesting profile of author and poet Judith Viorst in the Miami Herald.
Viorst, in her 70's, writes:

''So perhaps when I am eighty/I won't care about my weight,'' she writes in the upbeat, delightful I'm Too Young to Be Seventy and Other Delusions (Free Press, $16.95), from which she will read today at Miami Book Fair International. "I had hoped to not begin this/Brand-new decade hooked on thinness.''

She still frets about her looks, her weight, the condition of her upper-arm muscles. ''I have enough [muscles] so that if I put my hands on my hips I look as if I have definition,'' she says from Washington D.C., where she lives with Milton, her political-writer husband of more than 40 years. ``But if they hang down by my side, well. . . . It's hard to go to a party and hold a glass of white wine with your hands on your hips all night.'

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Follow up to The Pigeon Auction

Mo Willems and The Pigeon Auction are profiled by The Times-Picayune. The proceeds from the auction will go to the Louisiana Foundations for Recovery.

"My genetic Catholicism and guilt led me to this. I decided that I'd sell some of my art. And then I thought that if this was something I wanted to do, maybe other people would do it, and it spiraled from there. I'm not a philanthropist and I'm not a great organizer, so we found a foundation that could handle the legal logistics to make sure the money gets into the right hands. It was like herding a bunch of bunnies to get it together."

The list of contributors reads like a who's who in three worlds -- children's literature, Pixar Productions and the Cartoon Network, reflecting Willems' success in all three areas. He has won six Emmy Awards for his writing on "Sesame Street," created "Sheep in the Big City" for the Cartoon Network, and was the head writer for the same network's "Codename: Kids Next Door," as well as animating many other features.

The auction is linked to at Willems site and or go directly to EBay.

Author: Cheryl Harness

Cheryl Harness's books are chock-full of facts and information.
This is a nice profile of her and the workshops she conducts for teachers.

In 1989, before her book was published, Harness decided to solely devote her time to writing about history and the plight of the pilgrims to the new world.

"I was on vacation in Italy and sitting in a tour bus on the way to Pompeii and I decided to use my gifts to tell their story and communicate the context of their time," Harness said.

Dan's and Rupert's Music


Apple iTunes has added Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint's music picks to their latest Celebrity Playlists section.

Some of Dan's favoriteopens in new window groups include The Libertines, Weezer, The Future Heads and Arcade Fire. Rupert's picks includeopens in new window They Might Be Giants, Franz Ferdinand, Green Day and Velvet Revolver.

You can go to Apple iTunesopens in new window and if you have the service can download both of their picks for $11.88 (Dan's 12 songs) & $10.89 (Rupert's 11 songs)

No Smoking Zone

I first read about HarperCollins and their "sanitizing" of Clement Hurd's smoking habit at Read Roger. Now the NYTimes has an article on the controversy.

HarperCollins, has digitally altered the photograph of Clement Hurd, the illustrator, to remove a cigarette from his hand.

HarperCollins said it made the change to avoid the appearance of encouraging smoking and did so with the permission of the illustrator's estate. But Mr. Hurd's son, also a children's book illustrator and author, said he felt pressured to allow it. And the move has touched off something of a tempest in the nursery, with some children's booksellers expressing outrage. One has even mounted a campaign to have the original picture restored.

You can see the picture here.

According to Roger Sutton's latest post, this is not the first time they have altered the book's illustrations.

I am finding it more and more difficult to find the original hard cover of the book. It seems like the nasty board book version has taken over. I have not verified this recently but at one point some of the original drawings had not even been included in the board book which totally ruined the book's pacing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Auctions for Children's Book lovers

Well, I almost won a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction last weekend. I am trying again.

Author Mo Willems sent out an email about the THE PIGEON’S AUCTION FOR CHILDREN AFFECTED BY KATRINA

An on-line auction begins NOV. 15TH at 11:45 am and runs through NOV. 25TH 2005!

You can get to the auction through Willems site or directly to EBay at

The need is clear and ongoing, and, as a native New Orleanian, it
strikes quite close to home. So, I’ve asked a group of friends who
happen to be renowned children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Television
Creators to join me in auctioning off original art, signed books, and
signed memorabilia to benefit the Foundations for Recovery, a Louisiana
based group that has organized funds for children and education
affected by the Hurricane.

There is some really fun items on the list. Here are just a few:

Signed Elmo-Shout by Elmo's Muppeteer Kevin Clash
Signed 1st edition of ARTEMIS FOWL by Eoin Coifer
Original KITTEN drawing by Kevin Henkes
Brian Selznick signed WALT WHITMAN + ornament

Monday, November 14, 2005

Great story for I Love to Read week!

An alert reader sent me this great article from the NYTimes:

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Nov. 11 - Rushing to evacuate her home as a forest fire lapped at the edges of this high-desert town in May 2000, Kathryn Gursky took with her just one book, a British edition of "The World of Pooh," by A. A. Milne, bought when she and her husband were vacationing in Dorset some 11 years earlier.

When she returned to Los Alamos after the fire, Ms. Gursky, a 49-year-old former librarian, found that the rest of her 2,300-volume personal library had burned, along with her house and everything in it.

To kick off the rebirth of her library, her husband birthday gifted her with "the complete collection of the Penguin Classics Library, 1,082 books sold only by for nearly $8,000."

This is a great story for book lovers. Gursky is a voracious reader.

"We don't own a TV set," Ms. Gursky said, by way of explaining how she has had time to read a new book roughly every two days since the collection arrived. With four cats but no children, "we don't have anything better to do" than read, she said.

If a fire (or hurricane) threatened, we would have to grab our Lord of the Rings books. What book(s) would you grab?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Children's Book Week: November 14-20, 2005


It is Children's Book Week! The Children's Book Council encourages you to download the Shockwave/Flash animation by Michael Chesworth in celebration of the week's events. Go to the CBC website for instructions.

Mark Teague did this year's poster. I love the Dear Mrs. LaRue books.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

...the poppies blow...

In Flanders Field: The Story of the Poem
by Linda Granfield, Janet Wilson, 2000

This lovely book is a perfect introduction to Veteran's Day or Remembrance Day. The story of John McCrea and WWI flows through the book, interspersed with lines from the poem, "In Flanders fields." It discusses the significance of the date, November 11 and supplies interesting details from the period. Over two page spreads Wilson also interprets lines from the poem with lovely paintings that fill in more information about soldier life.

This book is very popular with kids who like nonfiction "war" books. Granfield has a second book Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion arranged in scrapbook form.

Cultural references to this poem abound. The poem is a classic that should be shared with young people today.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, 2004

I have been a Peter Pan fan since childhood. I was interested in this book but never got around to reading it. I picked up the audioversion recently when I saw the story was read by Jim Dale! Thank goodness I waited for Jim Dale. This is probably one of the best books I have ever listened to. Dale is the genius who reads the Harry Potter series.

His performance of Peter and the Starcatchers is sublime (causing wonder or astonishment,) amazing, astounding, awesome, fabulous, miraculous, stunning, and stupendous. His voicing, pacing (never-rushed,) and narration are perfection.

As a kid, I was never comfortable with Barrie’s version of Peter’s origins. This book gives a very satisfactory explanation of how Peter came to be Peter Pan. Purists may have some problems with the plot but I thought it was great fun.

Peter is the leader of a rag-tag group of orphans trapped on a derelict ship called The Neverland. They are enroute to becoming servants (slaves) to King Zarboff the Third. Another young passenger, Molly Aster, is guarding a mysterious chest in the ship's hold. The mystery of the chest's contents and its unusual effect on people and animals is at the heart of the story. When Peter sees a flying rat in the hold he wants to know what is in the box. Molly is doing her best to thwart him. Then pirates attack the ship and Molly must turn to Peter to help her keep it out of their hands.

Beautiful mermaids with teeth like sharks, scary flying crocodiles and island "savages" are also after the power in the chest. Peter, Molly and the boys must do everything they can to save it.

I thoroughly enjoyed each traditional element of the story as it was revealed.
How did Peter learn to fly?
What happened to Capt. Hook's hand?
Who were the lost boys?
Where did Tinkerbell come from?

Give the book a listen. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Manga: Arriving soon at a newspaper near you

AP reports:

I wonder if the comic strips will have to be read from right to left?

"Doonesbury" and "Peanuts," make way for "manga." Come January, the Sunday funnies of several major North American newspapers will have doe-eyed women in frilly outfits, effeminate long-haired heroes and other trademark images of the Japanese comic style.

The reason? Newspaper editors want to attract more young readers. A study released earlier this year by the Carnegie Corporation put the age of newspaper readers at 53 and climbing hardly a recipe for circulation growth.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Texas Bluebonnet List

The 2006-2007 Texas Bluebonnet Master List has been released!

Judging from the girls at a local jr. high book fair today So B. It: A Novel is a popular choice. My nomination was Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief.

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Since I just finished an Alex Rider book it was fun to see this story on Horowitz. I like his thoughts on the age of his protagonist, Alex.

He says: "When Roger Moore wore an Austin Reed safari suit in Octopussy I thought he was a lot less cool than he used to be. I think a 14-year-old on a snowboard is cool; a 14-year-old's dad on a snowboard is just sad.

"Being 14 is a wonderful age. It is that in-between time in life. It is a time when the pressure for sex, money and exams are not quite there but you are big enough and strong enough to be independent and survive."

Author: Peter Sis

Nice profile on Peter Sis, the only children's illustrator to win a MacArthur Foundation $500,000, five-year "genius" award. Sis grew up in Soviet bloc Czechoslovakia. He became an immigrant to this country thanks to Bob Dylan.
In 1982, Sis was sent by the Czech government to Los Angeles to film preparations for the 1984 Olympic Games. When the Soviet Union and its satellite countries pulled out, Sis was ordered by his government to return home. But he was in the middle of an extracurricular assignment -- helping with a video for Bob Dylan -- and didn't want to leave. By the time it was completed, Sis had overstayed his visa and gotten in trouble at home. He decided to seek asylum in the United States and eventually became a naturalized American citizen.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Robert's Snow

Robert's Snow auction has begun. 100% of snowflakes sales will go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy Fund.

The 200 snowflakes are divided into 5 seven day auctions. The schedule is as follows:

Auction 1: Nov. 6-Nov. 13
Auction 2:Nov. 13- Nov. 20
Auction 3:Nov. 20-Nov. 27
Auction 4: Nov. 27- Dec.4
Auction 5: Dec.4- Dec. 11

The snowflakes are beautiful.


I always enjoy seeing the poppies at the Harry Potter premiers in London. November 11 is Remembrance Day or Veterans Day. We do not see many poppies here in the U.S. either on Nov. 11 or on Memorial Day in May. I always wear one.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz, 2003

Fourteen year old Alex Rider is relectantly drawn back into MI6, this time at the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. While making the world safe for tennis fans he incurs the wrath of an international triad and subsequently finds himself on loan to the CIA. They are on the hunt for a renegade Russian general named Sarov who wants to return to the "glory" days of the old Soviet Union and is willing to detonate a nuclear device in order to achieve it.

We see more of Alex's emotions in this book. He wonders what life would have been like if his parents and his Uncle Ian had lived and tries to imagine having loving parents. When General Sarov seems to adopt Alex as his surrogate son, the young spy has to make some tough choices.

Horowitz includes more wonderful gadgets for Alex to deploy at key moments. Alex's humor is lifted right from the Bond template but plays very, very well.

I listened to Simon Prebble's excellent narration (Recorded Books) of this story by . The Amazon reviews by kids demonstrate that this is a real favorite with readers. It is my favorite Rider book too. Now I am off to start the next one in the series, Eagle Strike.