Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Astrodome

The city of Houston has been pondering what to do with the Astrodome for some time. The facility that has seen baseball triumphs, rodeos, football joy and heartbreak will now have its finest hour.

Texas officials have worked out a plan to bring up to 23,000 refugees from the Superdome to Houston's Astrodome.

Hurricane refugees trapped in the Superdome will come to the 40-year-old Astrodome in over 500 buses under plans being put together by state and local officials.

"It will be a noble calling for the grand lady at this time in her career,'' said Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.

Librarians with the Harris County Public Library are already making plans to take library services such as internet access and storytime to the refugees.


ABC13 reports--Houston Independant School District will educate the children of New Orleans for the duration.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

HP 6 fans

While acquiring foodstuffs suitable for a dorm room, including LOTS of bottled WATER, Entling no. 2 and friends, along with this maternal unit were heatedly discussing the subject of Get Fuzzy today.

As the debate raged, our items were being scanned by the checker who suddenly begged,"Please, stop talking about it, I haven't finished the book yet. I am going home to read as soon as I get off work, PLEASE don't tell me!!!"

HP brings the world together!


While on the way to college:
Make sure your kid is drinking lots of water as they pack and load the car!

Vasovagal reaction: A reflex of the involuntary nervous system that causes the heart to slow down (bradycardia) and that, at the same time, affects the nerves to the blood vessels in the legs permitting those vessels to dilate (widen). As a result the heart puts out less blood, the blood pressure drops, and what blood is circulating tends to go into the legs rather than to the head. The brain is deprived of oxygen and the fainting episode occurs. The vasovagal reaction is also called a vasovagal attack. The resultant fainting is synonymous with situational syncope, vasovagal syncope, vasodepressor syncope, and Gower syndrome which is named for Sir William Richard Gower (1845-1915), a famous English neurologist. See also: Syncope.

Heroes: 1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b : an illustrious warrior c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d : one that shows great courage

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Podcasting Harry

The two definitive HP sites, Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron have started weekly podcasts on their favorite subject. I have had zero interest in podcasting but I may have to check this out.

MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron have introduced MuggleCast and PotterCast, respectively. Each contain weekly roundups of Harry Potter news, with interviews, analysis and summaries of the latest hot topics. Both are unofficial, and not affiliated with Warner Bros. or JK Rowling.

In its debut show, The Leaky Cauldron interviewed Ginny Weasley actor Bonnie Wright and Harry Potter production designer Stuart Craig, among other features. MuggleNet is already on its second episode, and in less than two weeks, both shows have become some of the most subscribed-to and downloaded Podcasts on iTunes.

Misprint in Eragon sequel

A printing boo-boo has turned some first editions of Eldest into collector's items according to the DesMoines Register.

Because of a printing error, 32 pages of the Christopher Paolini fantasy, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the popular teen novel "Eragon," were mistakenly replaced by a section of "Inkspell," a Cornelia Funke novel that won't be released until September.Once "Eldest" readers recover from the shock of the unexpected cliffhanger, they may take comfort in knowing they may have valuable collector's items in their backpacks.

Related from SciFiWire:

Christopher Paolini's Eldest, the second volume in the Inheritance trilogy of fantasy books, has displaced J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the top slot on for the first time since the sixth Potter book debuted, the Reuters news service reported.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Changing face of Academic Libraries

Interesting article on the changing face of academic libraries. Their role is the same, their look is changing:

"Libraries are about information, and books were simply a way that information was packaged," says Judy Ashcroft, director of the Instructional Innovation and Assessment division at UT. "But more information is being packaged online, and we have a duty to provide access to [it]."

The role of school librarians in preparing these college students is more critical than ever. Students need the skills to find, evaluate and use information. Collaborating with classroom teachers and the curriculum, school librarians instruct students (and teachers) in research methods and techniques.

Robert Eiffert writes Librarian in the Middle, an outstanding blog that should be regular reading for all school librarians. He discusses best practices for instruction and issues which impact school libraries.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Author: Christopher Paolini

Today heralds the release of Eldest. We have not purchased our copy yet but will this weekend no doubt. has an interesting piece on the book and the Eragon phenom. I enjoyed hearing the kids' comments on the book.

Fans say they relate to the series' hard-pressed hero and find it easy to project themselves into the scenes, given Paolini's wealth of descriptive detail.

What teen couldn't relate to the reluctant Dragon Rider's struggle to find his way in a confusing and tumultuous world? Halleen, the Mukilteo fan, says she understands Eragon's feeling of "having your life get all messed up."

"I don't have a messed-up life," she hastened to add, "but it was interesting to read how everything can change so fast. For me, going into high school, I feel like everything is changing and I need to get ahold of it."

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, 2005

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Mythology is a book that is ALWAYS checked out at the library. The oversized illustrations and bite sized stories of Olympus are favorites with lots of children but especially with the gifted and talented group. I know it was the first book my first born entling ever purchased with her own money.

The Lightning Thief is a new take on the myths that will give these kids another great book to read.

We believe that the time of the Olympians has passed. The Greek myths were just a quaint way of explaining forces of nature to an ancient people, right? Well, what if the gods were still hanging around and getting involved with mortals and having kids like Hercules et al.? What if you were one of those kids but you did not know it?

Percy Jackson is a dyslexic, ADHD, underachieving, social misfit. He has changed schools so many times he has lost count. His only friend is a weird little guy named Grover who gets picked on by bullies. One day on a class field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Percy's pre-algebra teacher turns into a Fury and tries to kill him in front of a Greek marble frieze. If this is not shocking enough, his Latin teacher suddenly appears and tosses him a pen which turns into a sword in his hand that he uses to vaporize the Fury. When no one, including his Latin teacher seems to remember the math teacher or have noticed the event Percy begins to doubt his grip on reality. Percy soon discovers the truth of his parentage and then he is running for his life.

The story follows a traditional line: three young ones undertake a quest to save the world. In this case they must recover Zeus’s master bolt which has been stolen. The book is a fun and quick read with lots of action. If you are a kid who knows that the name of the three headed dog guarding the entrance to the Underworld is NOT "Fluffy" but Cerberus I can promise you that you will LOVE this book. If you do not know much about the Greek myths, this book will send you running for D'Aulaire's.

The great news is that this is Book 1 of a series and Riordan told me that someone has already picked up the movie rights. Riordan has worked as a Latin teacher himself and now lives in San Antonio, Texas with his family. His website has a terrific reading guide for teachers and reading groups.

Illustrator: Brett Helquist

As if I need more ways to waste time on the internet:

Pillsbury has a contest for kids ages 8-12 to create a doodle on a virtual Toaster Strudel in order to win a trip to NYC to meet Brett Helquist. You have a choice of "icing" colors and flavors and styles. Give it your best shot and submit your creation online.

Brett Helquist's website portfolio
from the Lemony Snicket site

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Author: Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Hill Top Farm
by Susan Wittig Albert, 2004

I just finished The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert and enjoyed it very much. It is a fun mystery. Beatrix Potter has just arrived in the town of Near Sawrey in the Lake District after purchasing Hill Top Farm. She is "on leave" from her demanding parents and grieving the death of her fiance, Norman Warne. She is drawn in to the intrigues of village life and which include a mysterious death, a missing church register and a school roof fund that appears to have been stolen.

Parts of the story are seen through the eyes of the village animals as well as the famous animals Beatrix brings with her. This part of the story works very well and should make the books popular with animal lovers.

Albert has done extensive research into Potter's life and has tried to imagine what she would have been like at this point in her life.

Having just finished the book which happens at the beginning of her life at Hill Top farm I was interested in this article about the National Trust's current plans to break up the extensive farm. Prince Charles is lending his voice to the debate. The tenant farmer, Jonny Birkett, who has been the steward of the farm is dismayed.

"I've always given the National Trust top marks for trying to save farms, but now they're just going against what they're meant to be about," he said.

"It's a disgrace. This is one of the best farms in the Lake District and we've always looked after it as if it was our own.

"We've spent years doing everything they've wanted us to do, without ever asking for anything. Now they've just come along and said 'That's it.' They haven't even given anyone else the chance to take it over."

Author: Geraldine McCaughrean

Great Ormond Street Hospital selected McCaughrean to write the sequel to Peter Pan from over 100 contestants. The White Darkness will be out in the UK in September 1, published by Oxford University Press.

Informative article in The Scotsman about McCaughrean, J.M. Barrie and the book.

In Barrie's story, Captain Hook, Peter's foe and alter ego, died when he was eaten by a crocodile. McCaughrean has hinted that Peter, with no enemy to challenge, begins to take [H]Cook's place - even borrowing his clothes. She also said she was determined to appeal to both adults and children, and would avoid the saccharine-sweet Disney image of Peter and the Lost Boys, with Wendy a more assertive 21st-century girl.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

New Book Deals

Wow, listen to these new book summaries from Alien Online: I want to read these!

• Simon & Schuster (US & UK) have paid a "high six-figure sum" for Linda Buckley-Archer's time travel adventure series for ages 10-14, beginning with Gideon the Cutpurse, about "two 12-year-olds catapulted back to the 18th century by an anti-gravity machine; following their adventures and survival in the criminal world of highwaymen, thieves and cutpurses". Cool.

• Bloomsbury Children's (UK) have purchased Primary school headmaster Steve Voake's The Dream Walker's Child and its sequel The Web of Fire, "about a boy who is kidnapped into another world called Auboron, and on the run from insects the size of fighter jets, later liberated by a fearless girl who is the world's leading air ace". Rights have also been sold in Germany, Japan, Greece, Italy, and Portugal.

• Harper (US) have bought Jeremy Strong's as-yet untitled debut, with comic strips by Matthew Armstrong, about "a boy who lives out his super hero fantasies through his graphic art, while dealing in real life with an uncool girlfriend and horrible new stepsister."

As usual Shusterman makes us think...

• Simon & Schuster Children's (US) will be publishing Neal Shusterman's Unwind, about "a futuristic society that considers human life inviolate until 13, at which point parents can 'unwind' and dispose of any undesirable children, and one teen discovers his parents plan to do just that."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Books to Movies

KidsLit points to an article in Book Standard about the hunt for the next fantasy franchise for the silver screen. The hunt starts at the library of course.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office analysis company Exhibitor Relations, says that fantasy books are particularly alluring to those in Hollywood because they have a natural tendency toward the serial format. “You look at the success of Potter and every studio exec would love to have a franchise like that. . . . It can mean years of success.”

Lots of my favorites are poised for filming, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Wolf Brother (have not read it yet,) Artemis Fowl, Eragon, and the Narnia books.

I was subbing at in a jr. high library this week. I had fun sharing news about the Alex Rider movie and others. Kids enjoy knowing a book it going to be made into a movie. It seems to validate their book choice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Film: The Magic Flute

Kenneth Branagh is always doing something interesting.

Kenneth Branagh has plucked actors from the opera world for his feature adaptation of Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

Joseph Kaiser, Ben Davis, Rene Pape, Lyubov Petrova and newcomer Amy Carson have been cast in the lead roles.

...and this...
Branagh and British comedian Stephen Fry wrote the adaptation.

The Golem's Eye

The Golem's Eye
by Jonathan Stroud, 2004

When Nathaniel dismissed the djinni, Bartimaeus at the end of The Amulet of Samarkand his future looked bright. At the beginning of this sequel, Nathaniel is on the fast track to success in government as a wizard although he is still just a youth. He is trying to unravel the secrets of the Resistance that is causing problems throughout London. A new series of very powerful attacks around the city have the governing class on edge and Nathaniel is under great pressure to discover who is really behind the trouble. He summons Bartimaeus to help him uncover the Resistance's secrets. He suspects the mysterious street kids he encountered in the first book are involved.

The story shifts and we see this London through the eyes of Kitty, one of the kids Nathaniel is looking for. Her eyes see a world where magicians have all the power and commoners like her and her family and friends are treated like second class citizens. A cruel attack bya magician on a friend sends Kitty out in search of revenge. As part of the Resistance she organizes raids to steal magical objects. Strangely, she is not affected by magic.

While attempting to retrieve some artifacts from Gladstone's tomb, Kitty's group is betrayed and her Resistance cell is destroyed.

Throughout the story we hear Bartimaeus's narrative of events. His observations are delivered with his customary humor though it is tinged with the suffering of a slave. He is the one who discovers the true nature of the threat facing this world.

The reader is routing for Kitty and hoping Nathaniel will see the light and turn his back on the corrupt government. We are also cheering for Bartimaeus and hoping for his freedom.

Stroud has created a world that is rich in atmosphere and fully realized. This is one of the most entertaining books I read this summer-- a thoroughly original series.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Author: Christopher Paolini

Win a chance to meet Christopher Paolini and play the ELDEST Alagesia Adventure Game!
ELDEST will be released on Tuesday, August 23.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Deluxe Librarian Action Figure

Librarian and iconic action figure Nancy Pearl was immortalized by Archie McPhee.
Now they have updated her look and given her a computer. She is beginning to look more and more like me. As one of my students asked as I demonstrated her amazing "shushing" action, "Mrs. P., is that YOU?"


School has started. Let the stories commence!
The NYPublic Library has wonderful photo archives .

The clothes look a little different but the look on kids' faces as they listen to a story has not changed.

The Nameless Novel

The Lady Rona has pointed me to the site for the "new" Lemony Snicket book. The book is due October 18th. My lovely niece will rejoice! Here's your heads up, Lauren!! If anyone can figure out the puzzle, you can!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A New Ibbotson

Big A Little a has pointed me to a new book by Eva Ibbotson, The Beasts of Clawstone Castle. The Sunday Times describes Ibbotson's books well.

Eva Ibbotson is known for two kinds of books — substantial historical adventures about faraway places and other times (Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan), and shorter, fantastical tales of ghosts and magic. This sparky and humorous new book is of the second kind. It is the story of a brother and sister staying with eccentric relations in a decaying castle that does not cut the mustard as a tourist attraction.

Series: Nancy Drew

Here are several fun Nancy Drew websites.

Nancy Drew website by MysteryNet
Nancy Drew
Nancy Drew: Girl Sleuth, Girl Wonder

I owe my love of reading to this girl detective. I was also lucky enough to live overseas where television programming was only available for a few hours at night. If I had been overwhelmed with computers and video games and cable television at that formative age, I may never have acquired the reading bug.

I believe series readers become lifelong readers. You need to practice reading to become good at it.

So, thank you Stratemeyer Syndicate and Dav Pilkey and Walter Farley and Lemony Snicket and Brian Jacques and R.L. Stine and Mary Pope Osborne and ... You are drawing children to reading through your use of humor, adventure and thrills.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Series: The Hardy Boys

The Scout Report features:

Seemingly ageless, Frank and Joe Hardy have been solving a host of
mysteries since 1927. Despite the rather formulaic nature of their
book-length adventures, they remain immensely popular, a fact that this website makes quite plain. On the site, visitors can learn much about the history of the series and its many incarnations in such media formats as LPs, television series, graphic novels, and so on. The site also contains hundreds of images of the book covers through the years, including a
number of international editions. Those who remember the different television series based on the boys' adventures will want to take a look through the television series section of the site, as they will no doubt enjoy seeing that oh-so popular 1970s teen "squeeze" Shaun Cassidy as Joe

You knew in every book, poor Joe was going to get hit on the head. It is a wonder that he did not suffer brain damage from the concussions. I was a Nancy Drew reader but would read the Hardy boys when I could not find any new Nancy Drews.

Daughter no. 1 loved the "Supermysteries" which had Nancy & co. and the brothers working together to solve mysteries.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Movie: The Brothers Grimm

I'm thinking this movie looks like fun.

Author: Jane Yolen

Newsweek has an interview with "Writing Dynamo" Jane Yolen (best viewed with Internet Explorer.)

Yolen keeps an online journal which is very personal at times. Even when she is just writing about simple things her writing shines. Your heart goes out to her family because her husband is battling cancer. Her descriptions of the World Science Fiction Con in Glasgow were great fun. She got to sit next to her friend, Alan Lee at dinner. Lucky to count him as a friend and lucky she got to talk to him about LOTR and New Zealand.

Author: Anthony Horowitz

I love the Alex Rider books. While I was looking at author Anthony Horowitz's website I realized he is the writer for one of my very favorite television series, Foyle's War.That is so much fun to know.

Michael Kitchen is wonderful as Foyle. The entire cast is great. I hope there will be a fourth series. On another site Kitchen discusses the extensive research Horowitz does and how they create the character.

Michael worked closely with writer Anthony Horowitz to create the character of Christopher Foyle, a quiet yet driven detective given the task of fighting crime on the 'home front'.

"Foyle is the product of Anthony's original scripts and whatever I bring to them by adding, rearranging or taking out - both of us concluding perhaps that less is more.

"Some writers are very tight about what they've written and it can be restricting. Anthony was very easy, very loose and we worked to get a draft which was going to get the best out of me and which also flowed. Anthony and Jill Green are great to work with and seem happy to accommodate what I've suggested."

Horowitz has a report on his visit to the Stormbreaker movie set on his site too.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Librarian and Iconic Action Figure: Nancy Pearl

Librarian and iconic action figure, Nancy Pearl is profiled in She is a regular on NPR and is the author of Book Lust and More Book Lust. I can really identify with this:

When Nancy Pearl meets somebody new, she always asks, "What are you reading?" The retired librarian and self-professed "readaholic" cheerfully admits that she doesn't spend much time talking about gardening, housework, or the weather. "Books are really all I can talk about."

So true, so true. You can take the girl out of the library but you can't take the library out of the girl.

She is working on a Book Lust for children. I appreciate her 50 page rule. I have a couple of books on the proverbial nightstand that I am going to get back to someday.

She expounds what she calls the "50 page" rule: If a book doesn't grab you in the first 50 pages, put it down and try something else. Life is short, and there are many books to read. (She often returns to finish books she set aside. Reading enjoyment is as much a matter of the reader's mood as it is the style and content of the book, she says.)

A kid is not going to give the author 50 pages to make good, they MIGHT give them to the end of page 2 and then that book is history. That is why children's books are so good and I enjoy them so much.

Author: Doreen Cronin


Great article about Doreen Cronin today. Cronin was a law student when she wrote Click Clack Moo.

It happened like this: 10 years ago, Cronin was unable to sleep one night after the death of her beloved father, a New York City police officer whom she describes as a "cross between John Wayne and Jackie Gleason."

Trying to distract herself from her grief, Cronin, an aspiring children's-book writer, sat down at her computer. "I sat down at my computer and 'Click, Clack, Moo' just came out of me. It was just 20 minutes at the computer. It was like I was channeling it," she recalled in a recent telephone interview from her New York City home.

"When I finished it and read it, I laughed for the first time since my father had died. I felt like my father was telling the story."

She talks about her collaborations with Betsy Lewin and Harry Bliss and the books to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Diary of a Spider

Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss, 2005

Doreen Cronin has penned another wonderful "diary." Like her Diary of a Worm Cronin has interwoven facts with whimsy. We learn that spiders are NOT insects and they molt. Spider is friends with Worm from the previous book and also with Fly although his Grampa says in HIS day spiders and flies did not get along.

In school young spiders are warned about the dangers of vacuums and have vacuum drills.

"If we hear a vacuum we should "Stop Drop and Run!"

When they say the Pledge of Allegiance, their flag is a panel from a Spiderman comic book showing the American flag. The clever illustrations by Henry Bliss add additional humor. As in Diary of a Worm, the endpapers are full of great vignettes, "Favorite book: Charlotte's Web." The illustration depicting Spider's attempt to see-saw in the park is inventive and fun as we see it from Spider's perspective.

This book is a natural pick for elementary school libraries and teacher gifts. The two diaries would also be a "must-have" for junior high libraries to complement life science units. My former students tell me they are never read to anymore once they get to junior high. Class periods are only about 50 minutes long so Cronin's books would fit perfectly and work well with any curriculum. Her Duck for President is essential for social studies teachers during presidential election years.

After reading this book I will NEVER forget that spiders are NOT insects and that they have *correction* eight legs. There is so much to see in the pictures and the text is so entertaining you will want to read it again and again.

Doreen Cronin website

The Brand New Kid

As a general rule, I do not review books here that I would not happily add to a school library. This blog started with my students asking, "but if you leave who will tell us about the GOOD books?" when I went on hiatus a year ago.

It is the perennial question. Kids will look around a library, query the catalog and then with all sincerity ask, "where are the good books?" as if the thousands of volumes lining the walls are the "bad" ones. In fun I would think, "oh yes, the good ones. I keep THOSE hidden back in the office." What the kids are saying is, "this is too much, too overwhelming, just show me, tell me, talk to me about some books I would like." Reading is personal. Some kids are independent explorers, some want a guide.

This seemed like a fun way for my students and teachers to continue our book moots.

Overall, BookMoot tries to celebrate the good books, the diverse, the serious, the hilarious, the newsworthy, the sad, the controversial (No-Nothings beware, I love those) the mysterious, the just-for-fun, the factual and the fantastic books. Library books are expensive and budgets are tight. That being said, I offer the following as a caution.

We stopped by our bookstore today as kind of a school-starts-tomorrow-last-fling-of-summer deal. As the entlings tore off to the manga section I pulled some books from the "back to school" display. This title was being offered as a "great read for the start of the school year." I must protest.

The Brand New Kid
by Katherine Couric, 2000

I am trying to remember why Couric went into the kids' book business. Wasn't the day job working out Katie?

As I picked up the book from the display it was not displeasing to look at. Although the illustrations are working hard, they cannot rescue this book. The storyline was predictable, heavy handed and pedantic. The new kid in school looks and sounds different and he is treated badly. The rhyming verse just saws away. It lumbers along in a forced and sing-song fashion.

"His name is a different one, Lazlo S. Gasky. He's new to our school and the town of Delasky."

Wow, how about that. The kid's last name happens to rhyme with the name of the town. Golly.

To go on any further would be cruel. Couric and other lesser lights are under the impression that a tale must be moralistic in order to appeal or impress children. I suppose it does impress unsuspecting parents and grandparents who will misguidedly but with the best of intentions, purchase this book.

If you are looking for a REALLY good book with this theme, go get Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell with divine illustrations by David Catrow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Trying again HDM: The movie

British director Anand Tucker to helm The Golden Compass. (in negotiations)

I warmly welcome Anand Tucker as director of the first His Dark Materials film,” says Pullman. “He respects the integrity of the narrative and will maintain that integrity in the film-making process. His ideas are exciting and well thought out, and I greatly look forward to seeing the project go forward in his hands."

The point movie makers need to understand in their search for the next LOTR franchise--Peter Jackson has LOVED The Lord of the Rings his whole life. His feelings and passion for the story were evident in EVERY frame and every shot.

Author: Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke won a Hugo award for her Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I must get back to reading this book. I had just finished The Amulet of Samarkand when I took it up to read and Jonathan Stroud's world of magician/politician run London was so fully realized that I could not separate it from Clarke's book. I will give it another try. I have a wonderful reading pillow now that helps me support these hefty tomes. I love my Peeramid!

I finished Stroud's sequel, The Golem's Eye, this summer. It is absolutely terrific. I want to do it justice when I review it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Henry David Thoreau

There is a new book coming out about Thoreau, The Trouble With Henry: A Tale of Walden Pond by Deborah O'Neal and Angela Westengard. This is their first book. I have not seen it but it is illustrated by S.D. Schindler whose work I always enjoy.

The book speaks to the importance of the environment and conservation. It encourages individuality and standing up for what you believe in, even in the face of great opposition. The characters in the book are colorful and fun and are used in clever ways to symbolize the Victorian stuffiness and materialistic nature of the people of Concord at the time.

Some of the book's characters are based on real people in Thoreau's life. Some of his descriptions are found in simplistic form for children to understand and Thoreau's own created words are used to describe the sounds of nature found at Walden Pond.

This book and D.B. Johnson's books, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, Henry Builds a Cabin, Henry Climbs a Mountain, Henry Works, would be a nice change from The Lorax or (shudder) The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore) for Earth Day or environmental units.

There is much to see in the Texas Hill country

We had a short but very lovely ramble through Fredricksburg, Texas. It is peach season and the fruit stands offer baskets of lovely fragrant peaches.

Living on the Texas coastal plain, any hill is a pleasure so I thoroughly enjoyed driving through the rolling countryside. The Hill Country is dotted with live oaks and cattle. There is more development since the last time I was there (some eons ago) but it still seems very quiet and even lonely. Windmills and small clusters of cacti are sprinkled across a landscape that is uniquely Texan.

Fredricksburg is such a pleasant city. Main street has lots of "shoppes" and restaurants. It was hideously hot (it is August after all) but I still refrained from entering stores with potpourri fumes wafting from the doorways no matter how enticing their AC was. Did find a quilting store and got some fabric and a f-e-w other things.

Found some bratwurst and red cabbage for lunch along with a Rio Blanco Pale Ale from the Real Ale Brewing Company. Very tasty.

We visited the The National Museum of the Pacific War which is now part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is also known as the Admiral Nimitz Museum. I was immensely touched by the number of fathers and sons working their way through the exhibits together.

Many years ago during a visit to my eye doctor, I ended up in a conversation with a WWII veteran who was also waiting for his appointment. He was wearing a hat with the profile of a ship on it. (I wish I could remember which one it was.) When I asked him about it he told me it was in Iron Bottom Bay, sunk in the battle for Guadalcanal.

He went on to tell me about of the ship's sinking and how he had survived. It was an amazing story. I asked him if he had written down the account for his family. He shook his head and said he didn't talk about it. He did allow that he had put his story on the record at the Nimitz museum and he was looking forward to a reunion there in the near future. We were both called for our eye exams and I remember feeling very amazed, moved and honored that he had shared his story with me.

I thought of that gentleman as I entered the museum. The indoor exhibits take you from Commodore Perry's Japan Expedition to VJ Day and demobilization. I was reminded just how desperate things were following the attack on Pearl Harbor. One disaster after another is chronicled. Then the horrific fighting on island after island is presented through photographs, artwork and artifacts. I did not realize that 64% of all American casualties occured in the last 14 months of the war. American and Japanese personal effects and letters have been donated to the museum and tell a story of immense bravery and duty.

The next day we picked up our daughter from Texas Lions Camp. The Lions Camp was the first camp in the USA to offer sessions for kids with diabetes. I sat next to a mom whose son was only diagnosed two months ago. Her emotions were so near the surface. I tried to assure her that she was completely normal. It still grabs me unawares sometimes. I told her she had already done one of the best things in the world for her boy, she sent him to this wonderful camp.

For a week kids from all over Texas swim, ride horses, camp out, sing songs and have a wonderful time. At meal time EVERYONE checks their blood sugar, counts their carbs, takes their shots or pumps their insulin. A dedicated volunteer medstaff watches over them, helps them if they get low or high, helps them adjust their insulin and does a blood sugar check on every camper, every night at midnight. The best thing about the camp though is being with other kids who are living with diabetes. My daughter treasures her friends from camp. As she goes back to school this year she knows she is not alone.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Another reason to travel to England

Time Europe reports on Seven Stories, the Centre for the Children's Book, which will open Aug. 19 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

"There's never been anything like it before," says Philip Pullman, author of the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. "For the first time, this country will have a properly organized and dedicated collection relating to children's literature." Even better, it's a groovy place for authors and their young fans to interact.

Link to Seven Stories website


While reading a review by Sandy Bauers of the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this line caught my eye:

While the eye can speed, the ear cannot, which stretches the experience.

That is an aspect of audiobooks that I have enjoyed.

The joy of reading?

Library Link of the Day points to this thoughtful op-ed from USA Today.

How schools are destroying the joy of reading

Much to comment on but must go buy sneakers for start of school next week. Where did the summer go?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A fact I learned today

Folks with Type 1 diabetes spend 1.5 hours each day in the management of their disease in addition to everything else they have to do. Interesting that studies have been done to quantify this, I know that somedays it takes even more time.

Author: Shel Silverstein

NPR had a nice interview with Mitch Myers, Shel Silverstein's nephew, about the new book Runny Babbit and The Best of Shel Silverstein, a CD of poems. Myers helped with the book and did the liner notes for the CD.

It is fun to hear selections from Silverstein's songs “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and “The Unicorn Song” woven into the interview. As usual NPR has a nice selection of links about Shel Silverstein too.

Melissa Block asked Myers about Silverstein's publishing preferences for his books:

Block: You know I've read that Shel Silverstein, your uncle, with his books was so particular that he would have strong feelings about the type face and the kind of paper it would be on -- never, I believe let any of his books get printed in soft cover...

Myers: ...All the ones with Harper Collins and all the children's books per se are in hardcover and will remain so and that was his wish.

...He likes things to be classy and forever and I think the hard cover really kind of symbolized that whole situation.

Check out the condition of Shel's books in any school library. They are the ones with the worn bindings and well thumbed pages, that is, if you can find them on the shelf at all. They are usually always checked out.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Going on a wander

We are going to meander through the Texas Hill Country for a few days. Should be fun to see some elevation!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Boarding Schools

One of the pleasures of traveling overseas was finding a copy of The International Herald Tribune every day.

Megan Riley McGilchrist has written an article about the tradition of British boarding schools in light of the Harry Potter phenom.

Britain is one of the few nations to send children away from home at an early age to be educated. In the days of the Empire, boarding schools were a kind of necessity, with children sent home away from unhealthy climates and in the belief that a true British education was better than anything available abroad.

Boarding school stories: Tom Brown's School Days, The Little Princess, Bloomability...
I know there are lots more.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Neil Gaiman is smart

Once again I find myself nodding my head in agreement as I read Gaiman's journal. He is commenting on Terry Pratchett's response to JKRowling for her comments about fantasy in the Time magazine piece.

Personally, the whole Time article had a disjointed feel to me. It makes me think (hope?) that large bits of the piece were left "on the cutting room floor" so to speak.

Gaiman says:
The version of the history of "fantasy" that the article's writer paints is utter bollocks, and I assume Terry decided that needed to be said. I didn't see it as a swipe at Ms Rowling, though, but as a swipe against lazy journalists -- but "Pratchett Anger At Shoddy Journalism" is a much less exciting headline than the one the BBC came up with.

As the parent of a new member of the Fourth Estate I know that the reporter/journalist is often very surprised when their story appears in print. They are told how long the piece should be only to have their story cut to fit the space. Their editor can also decide what perspective needs to be represented so sometimes the reporter is under orders to craft their words with a certain... um..."point of view." As Gaiman points out, the person writing the headline can also pitch the story in another direction.

The reporter is seemingly very ignorant but I am betting the editors at Time made a hash of it too.

2005 National Book Festival

The Library of Congress has announced the line up for the 2005 National Book Festival.

Participants include novelists John Irving, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow and Sue Monk Kidd; mystery and thriller writers Tony Hillerman, Sandra Brown and Jeffery Deaver; nonfiction writers David McCullough, Robert L. Carter and Thomas Friedman; journalists Andrea Mitchell and Robert MacNeil; children's author Pat Mora, astronaut and children's author Buzz Aldrin; teen authors Meg Cabot and R.L. Stine; science fiction writer Neil Gaiman; and poet Dana Gioia.

I will have to get online to enjoy this:
The Library will present same-day webcasts of selected authors' presentations from the "Teens & Children," "Mysteries & Thrillers" and "Fiction & Fantasy" pavilions, available on the Library's Web site at

Author: Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares, author of (correction + headslap to self)The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books has a very intelligent and reasoned take on The Rainbow Party controversy.

She contrasts the history of YA fiction with the publishing industry's current practices.

Young adult books are developed by children's book departments, offered in children's catalogs, bought by children's buyers, sold in the children's area and tallied on children's best-seller lists. It's a strange custom when you think about it. (Imagine, for a moment, that music for teenagers were released by children's divisions - the same producers, marketers and publicists who brought out "Baby Beluga" and "Rubber Duckie" also brought out "Pimpin' All Over the World." It's a ludicrous concept, and not only because the teenage music industry virtually is the music industry.)

Based on the reviews I have read of The Rainbow Party there is not much to recommend the book, beyond the shock value of the book's premise. The reviewers were not kind. To be fair though, I have NOT read it.

In the hands of a gifted author controversial books become great conversation starters. Chris Crutcher shares a story that involves his book Chinese Handcuffs. His novel gave a young girl who was being abused, a way to ask for help. Whale Talk is one of the best books I have ever read.

Brashares shares my personal take reading.

Reading is possibly the safest and best way for young adults to explore challenging, complicated subjects, including sex. Readers take in books at their own pace. They can read one word a minute or one thousand and stuff it under the pillow if it gets too much. They supply the pictures in their own minds; no one else's are forced upon them. Probably most of us agree we'd like to expand their reading, not restrict it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Reading vacation

(Steven Guarnaccia)

Steven Guarnaccia must have spotted my family on vacation. We have been know to drive miles out of our way to visit bookstores. (Lemuria in Jackson, MS -- Tattered Cover in Denver, CO) We have been looking at new cars recently. They come with every entertainment bell and whistle known to man. My daughters said, "we don't need a DVD player, we read!" Luckily, no one in my family gets sick reading in the car.

The cartoon is from a Washington Post review of audiobooks.

Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the tip.

Google images

This is a very hard game. You look at a grid of images and figure out what word was googled to generate them. There is a time constraint so you have to type quickly and accurately.

This would be an interesting exercise when teaching searching skills to students.

Good luck.

Author: Mo Willems

Here is another great article about genius Mo Willems. He talks about his daughter, his work and his hopes for his writing.

He's got a lot more control over his books, the newest being "Leonardo the Terrible Monster," which will be published in September. He's author, illustrator and everything else. Willems says he'd like to pattern his career after "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, who worked in all media, but on his own terms.

To enjoy similar success -- and power -- to Schulz, Willems, 37, knows he has to earn it. He's trying to endear himself to parents and young children alike by putting "as little as possible" into his books.

"I want readers to bring their own lives to a book. A book is a dialogue. Readers have to invest in a story, a kid has to put effort into a book. Then it's more satisfying to them."