Thursday, June 29, 2006

Project: Constellation

From Kim Komando Cool Site of the Day:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard call your office.

In a wonderful "life imitates art" way, Nasa has named its new starship, er, spaceship design, Constellation. Link to Nasa Project Constellation.
The animation is wonderful. Now, will the first ship be called Stargazer?

If you have not caught How William Shatner Changed the World on Discovery then watch for it. Life really has imitated art as Star Trek has inspired its fans and the world of science to "make it so."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Blog: Chasing Ray

Thanks to KidLit for pointing me towards Chasing Ray. I agree completely with her take on "Why Harry Potter Must Live."

Movie: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

So Many Books
is pondering books that can't possibly be as good as their titles but are.
She has included one of my favorite books from many years ago, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. That reminded me that I had heard, seen, read, or been told that Tim Minear, screenwriter for Firefly, The X-Files and Angel is working on a possible screenplay for the story. I found this article about the project.

The challenges:

"This is about a revolution. It's big and it has a lot of really complex political ideas. It's hard in that respect. How do you personalize this? There's a lot of talking in the book - theoretical talking about Libertarian ideals and political structure and that sort of thing - how do you take that and make it immediate and dramatic and emotional? How do you say that stuff through scenes and action, as opposed to characters sitting around and having a conversation? That's difficult.

"The other thing is to make sure the powers that be in Hollywood don't force you to turn it into some Marxist screed on socialism, when Heinlein was a Libertarian and it's about free-market capitalism. You want to try and not make it about an evil corporation. That's the trick."

Author: Meg Cabot

Don't miss reading Meg Cabot's take on JKR's recent touting of the HP7 body count. Watch out Princess Mia.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Movie: Broken Trail

We spent the last two evenings watching Broken Trail on AMC. I loved the story, the actors and the perfectly amazing scenery. You can read a review and all about the story here.

It is a wonderfully moving film full of kindness and decency in the face of ugliness and evil. As someone who never picked up another western (or McMurtry book) after Larry McMurtry killed off Gus in Lonesome Dove I was overwhelmed with this story.

My dad spent summers working on the family ranch in Wyoming as a boy. He commented once that if all people were as crazy and mean and venal as depicted in McMurtry's West, the Westward Expansion would never have succeeded. Life was just too hard and you had to depend on each other to make it.

The biggest surprise to me was actor Thomas Haden Church; this is a great role for him. If you did not catch it this time, dial it up when it repeats. You will not be disappointed.

Harry Potter and the author who will not be quiet

Gail Gauthier at Original Content perfectly summed up my own reaction to JK's most recent harbingings about the future death of two characters in HP7. What is with JKR? Does she get so lonely writing away in her study that she feels the need to pop out on occasion wailing "Death, Death!"

My family's speculations about why she does this are not flattering. Even after all the adulation, the financial success, and the fame does she still crave more limelight? Is she concerned the new book won't sell and needs publicity?

I like surprises. I don't peek at or shake my Christmas presents. I would not watch the trailers to Return of the King before it came out because I knew that would be the last LOTR movie and I wanted every moment on the screen to be a surprise. I want to open HP7 and just enjoy the ride.

With every HP discussion board, listserv, newsgroup, blog, website speculating about the end of the series, I know someone, somewhere, has come up with THE ending. The sequel to HP7 will be HP and the Lawsuit from Hell.

Please JKR, loose lips sink ships. Zip it and get back to work, as a fellow Little White Horse reader, I'm begging you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Edge of the Forest

The June issue of The Edge of the Forest is up. More great reviews and interviews are just a click away.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Comic: Unshelved

Nice article on Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, the lads who write and draw Unshelved.

With an estimated daily readership of about 30,000, their irreverent Web comic references a world of people who know too well the headaches of dealing with the public in all its forms, capturing its frustrations and absurdities.

"It's kind of, like, 'Dilbert' for librarians," offers Deena Martinsen, vice chair of Longview (Wash.) Public Library's board of trustees.
Echoes Chris Skaugset, director of Longview Public Library, whose wife bought him a framed "Unshelved" print for Christmas: "They're just so tuned to library work," he says.

Its creators call "Unshelved" a sitcom set in a library. It manages to be accessible and funny by tapping the familiarity — who hasn't been to a library? — and eye-rolling compliance of public service.

Update: School Library Journal also has an interview this month.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rockstar: Rick Riordan

Rockstar Rick Riordan worries that the appearance of The Lightning Thief on r-e-q-u-i-r-e-d summer reading lists could take the fun out of reading the book. I understand his concern. So many of my kids loved Holes until they HAD to read it as LITERATURE during the school year.

Hopefully, summer reading lists require a lighter touch and no hunting for similes, no character analysis, no long discourses on Theme or Voice. This can be the book that makes kids think, "hey, this summer reading thing is fun!"


I like the Texas Bluebonnet list because it offers books I would never ordinarily pick-up to read. When I first saw the Texas Bluebonnet List for 2006-2007, I predicted the Robert Sabuda Dinosaur book would win the hearts of Texas school children. That glorious pop-up book is just so enticing--that is IF libraries will get over their fear of damage and provide it to their kids.

The award is voted on by the children of Texas, grades 3-6 in January. In recent years, it seems like the book that appeals the most to 3rd graders wins the award because they vote in large numbers.

Novels take more time to read and teachers often cannot fit them in as easily as read-alouds so the kids have more exposure to the picture books on the list. The last novel to win was Because of Winn-Dixie in 2002.

However, based on the reaction I receive to my read-alouds of The Lightning Thief, I am changing my bet. Percy Jackson could sweep the vote.

I know, I know--it should not be a contest--all the books are winners. I'm rooting for Percy.

48 Hour Book Challenge

In between a birthday, two trips to the airport, a wedding anniversary, 1 shopping expedition, Father's Day, eating out 3 nights in a row, 2 margaritas and one Dos Equis (hey, they were spread over 3 nights) I managed to read four books, Victory by Susan Cooper, 2006, The Great American Mousical by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Tony Walton (Illustrator), 2006, The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist (Illustrator) 2006, and Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney, 2006. Total page count: 837 pages

I read for fun and pleasure because that is about all you can manage after a margarita at Denis's. I enjoyed all 4 books and was reminded again, that the average length of a YA novel is about 180 pages. Teachers who require their 6th graders to read books with a minimum page length of 200 pages are not helping their students become better readers.

My favorite books of the weekend were Victory and Hit the Road.


Victory by Susan Cooper, 2006

If you loved the opening battle seqence of Master and Commander or have never missed an episode of Horatio Hornblower, then you will love this book.

Molly Jennings is so homesick for England she can hardly stand it. She is trying to make a the best of her new home in Connecticut and her new stepfamily but she longs for the green parks and red tile roofs of London. She is worried about starting life in a new school where no one will understand about her "sideways" moments. Molly has a mild form of epilepsy.

During a visit to Mystic Seaport she finds an old book on the life of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson in a bookshop. She feels as if the book is calling to her. On the trip home she falls asleep in the car and has her first "dream."

Sam is eleven years old in 1803 when he is captured by a press gang and forced to join the Royal Navy. His new home is HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship. Nelson is hunting the French.

Molly is not aware of her dreams but finds moments from them intruding on her real life. Her book about Nelson yields an amazing discovery, hidden in the binding. The words, "This fragment of the great man's life and death passed on to my by my grandmother at her death in eighteen eighty-nine" written on an old envelope seem tie Molly to the events of October 1805 and Battle of Trafalgar.

Family ties, home and love are at the heart of this story. It was lovely to see step-families presented in such a positive way.

History, mystery, sort of time travel-ly, I loved this book, reading it nonstop, straight through to the end.

HMS Victory Website (the official site but the pages listing the crew do not seem to work)

The Great American Mousical

The Great American Mousical by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Tony Walton, 2006 ( The book is a family effort -- Emma is daughter of Julie and Tony.)

Julie Andrews Edwards says her idea for the story occured while she was working on a PBS program, Broadway: The American Musical. They were filming in one of the famous Broadway theaters when a mouse came out to observe. The theater people admitted the lower levels of the theater were quite overrun with the critters.

A troupe of mice are putting on a New Year's Eve extravaganza in the basement of of Sovereign Theater. Their little theater is the architect's model of the the original theater. The actors include an older, Shakespeare quoting, character actor named Harold; the ingenue, Wendy; the handsome leading man, Curly and every other stock character from any musical you can think of. The characters' names themselves, all come from American musicals.

The new owners of the Sovereign, plan to tear the theater down and replace it with a television studio. This news shocks the acting company. Disaster strikes again when the diva, Adelaide, is caught in a humane mouse trap up in the costume shop. The group must put aside their distress and and rework the show because "the show must go on."

Adelaide is released near the docks and befriended by a professor of mouse lore named Henry who promises to help her get back to the theater in time for the performance.
The traditions of the musical theater are included: the ingenue who must step-up to take a star turn, the young theater-struck Pippin who just wants a chance to show what he can do, and Adelaide, the grande dame whose star power cannot be matched. The musical numbers, although not named, obviously come shows like My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof.

The pen and ink illustrations by Walton support the storyline. The scenes of NYC are nicely done with an excellent degree of detail. A pleasant read, the book offers an opportunity for youngsters to learn more about the theater. A teaching guide is available. An extended glossary of theatrical terms is included. I like a book for kids that uses words like proscenium.

The Great American Mousical Website

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Wright 3

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett, Brett Helquist (Illustrator) 2006

I enjoyed this sequel to Chasing Vermeer. The book has new codes and hidden pictures that will entice the reader to look again at the book. The focus of the story this time is Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in Chicago's Hyde Park. In Balliett's FICTIONAL story, Robie house is facing destruction and Petra, Calder, and Tommy must work together to save it. The plot resolution reminded me of a Hardy Boys story but those books are fun for kids to read. The interesting history of Frank Lloyd Wright is part of the storyline. Calder is still intrigued with his pentominoes. Fibonacci sequencing is also part of the plot which is great on the heels of Greg's book deal. There are also allusions to H.G. Wells's Invisible Man. Petra, Calder, and Tommy are interesting characters who continue to grow and develop.

Spare me the comparisons to the DaVinci Code that plagued Balliett's Vermeer. This is just a fun read. I am in favor of any book that will spark a young reader's interest in Art (with a capital "A") and other aspects of cultural literacy. In the time crunch of our test-driven school culture, art and artists are getting left behind.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hit the Road

Hit the Road
by Caroline B. Cooney, 2006

I did not expect to read half way through the night when I started the 48 hour challenge and Cooney's new book at the same time. I found, however, that I simply could not stop reading the story of Brit and her grandmother. This book is pure delight.

Brit has only had her driver's license for eleven days. Her parents are taking a well-earned two-week vacation and Brit is staying at home with her eighty-six year old grandmother. Her parents are barely out of the driveway when a car rental agency arrives with a GMC Safari, and Nannie announces she IS TOO driving to her sixty-fifth college reunion, despite the fact that Brit's mother thinks she no longer has a driver's license.

Nannie's first turn behind the wheel demonstrates that it really is not safe for her to drive so Brit is pressed into service despite the illegality of someone, not yet twenty-five, driving a rental car.

They pick up Nannie's college roommates, also known as "the girls," and head off to the reunion. Part of the drama centers on springing (kidnapping) Aurelia from the senior home where her son has placed her, against her wishes.

This thoughtful, funny, poignant and exciting story gives the reader much to think about. With age comes great wisdom but also the loss of freedom, physical frailty and dependency on others. Brit is experiencing the freedom a drivers license brings but she is tied down by responsibility for her grandmother and friends. Her annoyance turns to empathy and finally, a determination to make the girls' dream reunion come true.

Cooney has perfectly captured the horror and terror (from this reading parent’s point of view) of watching an inexperienced teen driver negotiate the Long Island Expressway. She has also perfectly captured kids' obsessions with their cell phones, which will ring true with young readers.

Brilliant and (hopefully) "know-nothing" proof, you gotta have it for your junior high/high school libraries.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

48 Hour Book Challenge

I'm going to participate in MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge. I will start at 9 p.m. Friday. By then I should have eldest entling home from the airport, birthday celebrated, and dinner done.
Still a fun packed weekend awaits with Father's Day and a wedding anniversay and of course Sharpe, Saturday night. It will be interesting to see how much I can read.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Author: M. Night Shyamalan

Well, I had a real chuckle this morning as I opened Amazon to see what was new and saw them touting M. Night Shyamalan's "first" (does that meant there will be more?) children's book. Lady in the Water happens to coincide with his movie of the same title.

Shyamalan earnestly talks about the story and how the details grew with each retelling and how closely he worked with the illustrator, Crash McCreery, to compose the He mentions that he is inspired by other children's books like The Giving Tree and Where the Wild Things Are and (oh yes) Van Allsburg. Just looking at the cover and the pictures in the exclusive, I would say he owes a WHOLE LOT to Chris Van Allsburg.
(Just as he owes a whole lot to the book Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix.)

I actually enjoyed the mysterious music that played in the background but then had to howl when he commented, with great seriousness and some astonishment, that "it took a long time" and "many drafts" to get the story right.

Bless his heart. Writing for kids should not be so hard should it?
I'm going to go drink some more coffee so I will not be so snarky.


We've been watching Sharpe on Sat. nights on BBC America. I heard they were filming a new one and I turned up the site today, Sharpe's Challenge.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Unshelved Book Talks

I love reading Unshelved every day and specially when they feature a book talk. Check out Sunday's comic for The Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlon by John Flanagan. I just finished it and Unshelved has perfectly caught the mystery and excitement of the story's opening.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Author: K. M. Grant

Katie Grant has an update on the third book in her DeGranville series, Blaze of Silver. She also has the cover art for How the Hangman Lost his Heart, the story of her poor Uncle Frank's head.

Also, she cannot type with her forehead while sleeping and she has a new book deal.

Copy your template

Well, erm...yes...had a bit of a disaster last night. I decided to do some tweaking of the old blogger template only to discover, Firefox tabs (Treebeard has always said he hates tabs) and the template do not mix anymore.

Maybe it is all due to the problems Blogger has encountered over the last few days or maybe the latest Firefox update is certainly wasn't MY FAULT.

I lost over half of my template last night, WHICH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM, except I republished (before I was aware of the issue) and splat, thud, clonk...the old blog was gone, vanished, dematerialized and evaporated right into thin air.

We are sorta back now but I had to redo all my links, so if you have disappeared, please let me know. I still think you are brilliant, I've just lost you temporarily.

I would recommend that everyone make a handy dandy copy of your template now and keep it up to date. Do not repeat my I.D. Ten T mistake. (It helps to say I.D.Ten T. in a Napoleon Dynamite voice.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Author: Meg Cabot

Good golly, Miss Molly! Meg Cabot is going to be here locally tonight at 6 p.m. We are going to jump in the car to go see her.

Now how early do I have to leave to get across H-town in Friday rush hour traffic?

Update: Ah Zut! I herded the entlings into the car, we tooled down the West Park Toll Road (they finally built a road going places I need to go) and arrived at Murder by the Book on the stroke of 6 p.m. After double checking and replacing the batteries in the camera and actually remembering to put the camera in the car AND going back to the parking lot to get the camera out of the car-- I completely forgot to take her picture. Sad, so sad.

She looked so elegant in a simple black dress with cool necklace of pink and rose colored stones. Terrific haircut. Wish I could show you.

Meg Cabot is promoting her books, Queen of Babble and Size 12 is Not Fat which are classified "For Older Readers" on her website. Of course she is also the author of The Princess Diaries, the not-just-for-teenagers books that I find completely hysterically funny. (At one time, author Gail Gauthier shared my fandom for the first movie.)

As a youngster, Cabot's hobby was writing. She wrote all the time, especially Star Wars and Beauty and the Beast (TV show) fan fiction. I was heartened to hear that fan fiction writers can go on to become New York Time best selling authors IF they come up with their own characters.

She shared some very funny stories from her own life that were "inspirations" for the new books. In Size 12... the character is a manager of a dorm at "New York College" as Cabot was at NYU.

She began sending off her stories when she was twenty-six years old and was getting used to c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t rejection when an agent took an interest in her writing. She sold her first book when she was 30 years old. She feels there was a real element of luck also.

Princess Diaries stuff:

There will be 10 in all, the last one, slated for 2009, will take Princess Mia through high school graduation. When Disney began casting the first movie, they contacted her to let her know they were killing off Mia's dad because they wanted to give the actress who was signed on as Grandmere more lines including some of the Dad character's lines.

Cabot: Who is the actress?
Julie Andrews.
Cabot: "That's fine!"

The second movie had nothing to do with the books as they aged the characters and put Mia in Genovia but they paid her so it was ok.

I asked her about her blog, Meg's Diary. She said the publisher told her she needed to have one and at first she had no idea what to write but she enjoys it now. Her blogging is as funny and breezy as her presentation.

She also started the Meg Cabot Book Club hoping it might garner a few girls who wanted to talk about the books. She said there are now over 15,000 register-ees and they talk about everything, including the books on occasion.

Judging from the number of young girls there, her books are very special to her fans. My daughter has disappeared upstairs with her new copies the Princess Diaries we did not already own.

Her blog entry today discusses Meg Cabot's Author Guide to Surviving a Booktour Tip #4: YOU HAVE TO HAVE A SHTICK.

Meg Cabot has a great delivery and a very funny shtick.

Shakespeare for Kids

The University of Texas has a new site that introduces Shakespeare to kids.

“You make Shakespeare yours when you encounter it through performance,” says Clayton Stromberger, educational outreach coordinator for the College of Liberal Art’s Shakespeare at Winedale program.

Stromberger visits elementary and middle schools across Texas, collaborating with teachers to incorporate Shakespeare performances into their curriculum. He’s discovered it may take some time for young students to learn the language, but kids are natural performers who love to bring the plays to life.

“Fourth and fifth grade is an ideal time because the children like to play,” says Stromberger. “They relish the language and they’re not self-conscious. They don’t realize they’re learning while they’re having all this fun.”

This site is a terrific resource for teachers who want to challenge and reward their students. It walks the viewer through performance prep for A Midsummer's Night Dream. The teacher section includes "An imagined inservice" which is much more fun than any actual inservice I have ever attended. In the test driven culture of today's public schools, opportunities to make memories like this are increasingly rare.

For more inspiration on the life changing power of the Bard's work find the video, My Shakespeare - Romeo & Juliet for a New Generation. This program will change your life. It should be in every high school library.

For those folks who think Shakespeare is NOT for elementary kids, they should check out the website and watch the PBS POV program, the Hobart Shakespeareans (love their motto: Be Nice, Work Hard.)

Summer Camp

Rick Riordan blogs about a real Camp Half-Blood which was offered by bookstore-extraordinaire, BookPeople, in Austin, Texas.

Publishers Weekly has even more details about the camp.
It sounds like BookPeople employee, Topher Bradfield, has enjoyed the same reaction to his read-alouds as I have.
The inspiration for the camp came from BookPeople’s Topher Bradfield, who in his job as the store’s outreach coordinator, visits Austin-area elementary schools. Often of late, he says, he found himself reading from the first chapter of The Lightning Thief. “It was a great way to get the boys to pay attention,” he explained.
How wonderful...
A total of 55 campers are participating in the camp. Some have traveled such far-flung areas as New York, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa and Greece to take part. Word spread through Riordan’s Web site, and BookPeople answered queries from as far away as Japan and the U.K.

The city of Austin lent use of Zilker Park’s rock garden, a part of Austin’s public park’s system, as the location for the camp. Activities start at 8 a.m. and involve a daily quest for pieces of the Apple of Discord, lessons on Greek mythology and philosophy from University of Texas and Austin Community College graduate students, swimming, kickball and Frisbee golf. A Greek war re-enactor has been flown in from California to teach Greek battle formations, such as the phalanx.

I just finished reading Sea of Monsters. Terrific.
I'm telling you, Riordan is a rock star!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Folger Shakespeare Library

Book World has visited the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Her description is wonderful. Best of all she refers to a librarian as "glamorous."

Author: Daniel Handler

I love articles featuring Daniel Handler and his "associate," Lemony Snicket. The Guardian has an interview with Handler about his new book and the odd path to fame and fortune as a children's author.

We talk about children's fiction, which seems to be going through a golden age. "I don't have much to compare it to, but it has certainly undergone this explosion of attention. Another children's writer I know has compared it to playing rock'n'roll in the 60s. Suddenly, everyone's paying attention, so the stakes are higher."

And so are the sales. Does he know how many books he has sold? It's one of those questions you ask expecting evasive action, but Handler, after a decorous gulp, answers it. "It's about 50m as Snicket."

That's huge. "Yes. It's about 50m more than I thought I would sell."

And it's a source of ... ? "Astonishment."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Author meetings and greetings

I've enjoyed Mother Reader's account of her meeting with Mo Willems. When it comes to author moments, I am an unabashed groupie/fan.

I am always impressed with how polite and courteous they are. I know they are on book tours to publicize their books but still, they must get tired, their faces must ache from smiling.

At conferences, I do not have to go to sessions on "how to run my library good" anymore (umm...not that I ever did too much anyway.) I head for the author presentations because my enthusiasm for them is what the kids pick-up when I'm sharing their books. At book signings, I know I only have 30-90 seconds to make a connection and let them know how much their writing has meant to me, my kids, my students, my extended family, my pets etc.

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is a charming Brit. During his talk, I sat very near the front of the room. My friend seemed concerned that I would rush the podium in my star-struck daze. Nonsense, there were way too many people in the way. I enjoyed his talk so much. I bought the recording. (Excellent!) He should absolutely be on Fuse #8's list of Hot Men of Children's Literature.

My one-on-one moment with Horowitz was a glassy-eyed, gushy and enthusiastic endorsement for the continuing of the TV series Foyle's War. I also added that my youngest entling had spied his name as screenwriter for the Poirot mystery we were watching recently. He quickly asked, "Which one?"

Umm...eerkk...uh...who remembers the titles of the David Suchet Poirot mysteries? Well, it was the one where Hastings finds a body on the golf course and the wife has been tied up in her room and..."Oh, of course, (he filled in the title,) Thanks! -- Next?"

Garth Nix

Garth Nix was smooth and professional. I've never read his books (I know, I know, I will read them soon.) I was buying the Sabriel series for my entling so I could only thank him and tell him how much I had enjoyed his comments on the YA discussion panel. He has worked in every area of the publishing industry. Love the accent. He should absolutely be on Fuse #8's list of Hot Men of Children's Literature.

Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan must think I am a stalker. Everytime the poor guy turns around, there I am. I heard him talk to only about 20 people at a bookstore last summer then I started telling everyone I knew about The Lightning Thief.

I've read the first chapter to so many classes I should be able to recite it but I NEVER EVER get tired of reading the museum scene. It is a sure-fire grab 'em-by-the-throat read aloud. After I finish reading, the kids all flock towards me to look more closely at the book itself. When I show kids Riordan's autograph they pour over the title page touching the ink as if it is a talisman. They always want to hold the book and examine the cover. This library girl has never seen another book get that kind of reaction.

After the TLA panel discussion, a library friend asked me to take a picture of her with him. Didn't I want a photo too? Oh, no, I don't think so...bad lighting... oh! ...flash...Where was I looking? Were my eyes crossed? I think my mouth was open. Please, may those pixels evaporate.

I stood in line to get Sea of Monsters signed. Hi Mr. Riordan, it is me again.

He may be coming to a library near me next year...

He should absolutely, positively be on Fuse #8's list of Hot Men of Children's Literature. He is a class act and a real gentleman.

Susan Cooper

Although I was sitting very close to the front I had a very difficult time hearing her. She is quiet and shy and reserved. She shared a note from a young girl who commented that Cooper's books "fit her, just right." That term has resonated with me ever since. That is truly, what I find so interesting about young readers and their relationships with books. When a kid finds that perfect fit at the right time in their life, it is magic. I am not a scholar of literature but I am a practitioner, always looking for that right fit.

Susan Cooper's books fit my eldest entling just right. The proper book to bring to
Cooper to sign would have been E's copy of Silver on the Tree, dog-eared and the cover gone. I could not find that one so I settled on a new copy of The Magician's Boy and King of Shadows. I also received confirmation from Cooper herself about the dedication in King of Shadows. I was right. Lovely.

David Shannon

He has a terribly entertaining presentation about his No David books. The kids were completely engaged. They met the "money" shot of David with the customary howls of laughter. When it was my turn to have my book, A Bad Case of Stripes signed, I asked him if he had seen Sean Astin's excellent reading of the book at StoryLine Online. He had NOT seen it which surprised me. I picture authors checking on their "children's" progress in all areas. Astin's reading was a great lesson one week when I was without a voice.

(File under LOTR--Obsession, Family: This family also drove to College Station, Tx one weekend to see Sean Astin. He is another class act in person. He showed the audience his "Nine" tatoo. Lots of college kids from UTAustin as well as A&M. Before the event, Astin talked at length with a student who was taking a Tolkien course. Very cool.)

Brian Jacques

his man makes such a connection with his readers. Boys especially love his Redwall books if they are readers. The size of the books can be daunting to tentative readers. Girls love the books too. I know one young lady who would not shop for a purse without a hardcover Redwall book with her. The book had to fit in the purse before she would consider buying it.

When he came to a local bookstore a few years ago, I was so touched, in fact blown away by the huge amount of time he took to speak to the kids who shyly opened their books to be signed.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Green Jasper

Green Jasper
by K.M. Grant, 2006

When I picked up The Blood Red Horse a year ago, I did not know what to expect. I found myself dropped into the world of The Crusades and cheering for three young people caught up in those turbulent times.

Green Jasper continues the story of Will and Gavin De Granville and the heiress, Ellie. Home from the Crusades, Gavin is uneasily settling in as the new lord of the manor. The loss of his arm is difficult to handle. His younger brother, Will, has been gifted a title and lands by King Richard. Although closer to Will from childhood, Ellie has agreed to marry Gavin as they have been betrothed since she was very young. In the middle of the marriage ceremony, she is kidnapped by the vile Constable deScabious. DeScabious is Prince John's man and John is making his move for the throne of England as King Richard has not returned from the Holy Land.

Meanwhile, in Palestine, the dying sultan, Saladin, orders young Kamil to take a message to King Richard. Against his will, he must travel to Europe to find Richard who is a captive in Austria. Richard charges Kamil with a new mission, to take the news that he is still living to the DeGranville brothers as their loyalty to the king is certain.

Loyalty and the bonds of brotherhood between kin and between cultures set the stage for the action that follows. The throne of England and their lives are at risk. As a stranger in Europe, where will Kamil's loyalties lie? Hosanna, the amazing horse trained by Will and briefly owned by Kamil will have a role to play.

Grant richly evokes the times but the history never overwhelms the story. I have truly enjoyed reading these books.

At TLA, I heard K.M. (Katie) Grant speak on a panel that included Garth Nix, Anthony Horowitz, Rick Riordan, Steven Layne and Sherry Shahan. She has a keen wit, explaining that she writes in a converted meat safe in the basement of her cold Victorian home in Glasgow. She had the original meat hooks removed because some days when things were not going well, "they were just too tempting."

She also recounted the amazing story of her Great-great-great-great-great-Uncle Frank's (Francis Townley) head with such flair that hundreds of librarians (this one included) were leaning forward in their seats with eyes wide, hanging on every word. Her Great-great-great-great-great-Uncle Frank was hung, drawn, quartered and beheaded for his role in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

She is turning that story into a novel, How The Hangman Lost His Heart. Grant also regularly writes commentary for The Scotsman and The Sunday Times.

DeGranville Trilogy website