Tuesday, March 28, 2006


by Mike Lupica, 2006

Mike Lupica is a sports columnist and television sports commentator as well as an author of sixteen fiction and nonfiction books. It appears this is his second book for younger readers.

This book is going to the top of my "gotta have it" list. (School librarians, open your Titlewave or BTSB or Mackin account and put Heat on your "To be Purchased" list right now.)

I love this book. When I had to put it down, I worried about the characters and longed to get back to it.

Twelve-year-old Michael Arroyo has an amazing pitching arm. Refugees from Cuba, he and his older brother Carlos and their Papi have settled in the Bronx. Michael plays Little League baseball and dodges questions about his father's where-abouts. The family dream has been to live free and to get to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Michael's team is on track to make that World Series dream come true when a rival team attempts to short-circuit their run by demanding Michael prove his age with an official birth certificate (knowing the difficulties obtaining one from Cuba.) Michael and Carlos are eking out a fragile existence without their dad and the authorities are getting curious. In the meantime, a mystery girl named Ellie is hanging out at the ball field and Michael is obsessed with finding out who she is.

Every character in this book rang true for me. Manny, Michael's friend and catcher, is hilarious. Carlos is working as hard as he can to earn money so Michael can keep playing summer ball. Michael emulates the legendary pitcher, El Grande, who plays for the Yankees. Yankee Stadium looms nearby like a shrine they long to enter.

The villains on the rival baseball team are truly despicable. The grownups in this story are kind and helpful. The reader gets to sit in the stands and watch terrific baseball. I held my breath on every pitch. Heat is a heart-felt story and a beautiful ode to Little League baseball. I am off to find Travel Team.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Hannah Storm interviews Kate DiCamillo on the CBS Early Show. The video is online. The video shows children lining up to have their books signed and one little girl just leans across the table to hug DiCamillo's arm. Pretty sweet!

DiCamillo's terrific sense of humor does not come through partly because of Storm's questions and the editing but it is fun to see her. I was fortunate to hear DiCamillo accept her Texas Bluebonnet Award for Because of Winn Dixie in 2002 and her speech remains one of the best "author" talks I have ever heard.

Gotta have it...

One of the joys of subbing at a school library is finding great books I didn't know about. I also enjoy recommending books I've read and then walking over to the shelf to find them. One of the frustrations is recommending a book for only to find the library does not own it.

I am going to start keeping a list of "gotta have it" books for my "virtual" school library. I would purchase these books for an elementary AND jr. high library unless specifically noted, (E) - elementary only, (JH) - jr. high only.

Story Picture Books
Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin
by Michelle Lord, 2006
My Shining Star: Raising a Child who is Ready to Learn by Rosemary Well, 2006
The True Story of Stellina by by Matteo Pericoli, 2006
Duck & Goose, written and illustrated by Tad Hills (E)
Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel, David Catrow, illustrator

ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room by Donna M. Jackson (E)
Sky Boys: How they built the Empire State Building, by Deborah Hopkinson & James E. Ransome (E)

London Calling by Edward Bloor, 2006 (JH)
Travel Team by Mike Lupica, 2004
Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud, 2006
Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz, 2006
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman, 2006 (JH+)
Heat by Mike Lupica, 2006
Free Baseball
by Sue Corbett, 2006
B For Buster by Iain Lawrence
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and the sequel The Sea of Monsters
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
A House of Tailors by Patricia Riley Giff,
Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel (seqel to Airborn)
Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach
Last Shot by John Feinstein
Jimmy Coates: Assassin? by Joe Craig
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Happy Kid by Gail Gauthier (JH)
The Bridesmaid
by Hailey Abbott (JH)
Code Orange by Caroline B. Cooney (JH)
Chicks with Sticks: It's a Purl Thing by Elizabeth Lenhard (JH)
Blood Red Horse by K. M. Grant (JH)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Update: Judson School District

Update from the San Antionio Express-News:

The critically acclaimed novel "The Handmaid's Tale" was reinstated to Judson Independent School District's Advanced Placement curriculum after board members voted 5-2 Thursday in favor of the move.

This has been a very educational experience for the students at Judson High School. Senior Craig Gagne eloquently asked:

"If we do ban 'The Handmaid's Tale' because of sexual content, then why not ban 'Huckleberry Finn' for racism? Why not ban 'The Crucible' for witchcraft? Why not ban 'The Things They Carried' for violence and why not ban the Bible and argue separation of church and state?" Gagne asked board members. "All the books I just mentioned are part of the 11th-grade Judson High School English curriculum. I read and appreciated all of these books and would like future classes to have the same privilege."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Apple Computer

Not book related (except I listen to children's books on my IPod) but I have to tip my hat to Apple Computer.

College Entling came home for spring break with a dead IPod. She called Apple who had the shipping box here the next day. We sent the IPod back the next day. The 3rd day, College Entling had a minute by minute reporting from Apple on their exam and diagnosis and then a message that the IPod was being shipped back. Today, day 4, the IPod, Ara Linde, has arrived home.

Now THAT is customer service! I'm impressed.

(FYI, Ara Linde is Elvish for "Noble Singer.")

Author: Blue Balliett

Chasing Vermeer is a book that I enjoyed reading but has not held up very well in my memory as time goes by. I think a great deal of the book's success comes from Brett Helquist's brilliant illustrations and puzzles and its billing as a kids' DaVinci Code.

I will be very interested to read the sequel, The Wright 3, about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, which is due out in April. Helquist is doing the illustrations again. Balliett's fine arts subjects are dear to my heart and her characters, Petra, Calder and Tommy are very likeable. Publisher's Weekly has a very informative and interesting article about the books.

... “something interesting happened when I finished Chasing Vermeer,” said Balliett. “Calder and Petra were still very alive in my imagination; they were talking in there. Either I wasn’t through with them, or they weren’t through with me.” She took this creative nudge as an opportunity to give the characters “a completely different kind of art challenge. The Robie House is right in this neighborhood [Hyde Park, where Balliett lives], right in their neighborhood,” she explained. “I began looking at it as a huge, 3-D piece of art that allows kids the chance to walk around inside it and see it in different weather and different light; it encourages them to think about art in a new way.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Know-Nothing Lunacy

If you live in the Wilsona School District, CA it is time to either pack your bags and move or vote the rascals out. When I first read about their trustees decision to "remove" 23 books from school libraries I marveled that they had found the time to read all 23 titles. Of course they didn't and now they are amazed to find that they have banned bilingual versions of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Disney's Christmas Storybook. (LA Daily News-Antelope Valley) They also banned (let's stop using nice words like "removed" and call it what it is) part of a series about the 50 states called, Welcome to the USA California along with some fairy tales and some "princess" books.


Clifford. They banned Clifford? Poor Clifford!
These folks need to read more than the blurb on the jacket flap. When they use terms like "criminal mastermind" as justification for banning Artemis Fowl, I know the flap is the only part of that book they have glanced at.

Apparently the district does NOT have a selection policy and they are going to write one. Heaven knows what it will stipulate when deep thinkers like
Trustee Marlene Olivarez comment, "We want books to be things that children would be able to relate to in real life," which results in a ban on fantasy books such as Harry Potter.

One sane parent, Danielle Sweeney stated the blatantly obvious:
Of the Potter, Artemis Fowl and "princess" books, Sweeney said, "The fifth-graders, that's all they're into. They can't afford $30 books. They will lose interest in reading and lose interest in academics."

This really is so sad. Schools in Wilsona School District have just been sanctioned under the California's Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program "for failing to meet the standards of a voluntary program that gives struggling schools extra money but requires them to improve student achievement for at least two consecutive years."

Suggestion: Develop a sane selection policy and put some books on the library shelves that the kids want to read. That would be a start.

Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler

Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler by Mark Crilley, 2004

Crilley is the author of the very popular Akiko series. This book is the first volume in a series designed to appeal to boys. Billy is a young lad who enjoys extreme sports of all kinds. His parents are called away at odd times because of their Bugs-B-Gone extermination business so he spends a great deal of time home, alone. While channel flipping one evening he is shocked to see his parents on TV in a news story from the Philippines. His parents are not really the mild mannered bug exterminators he thought they were and his pet dog is not really a dog.

He discovers that the real family business is protecting humanity from monsters called creatches. The work is dangerous and exciting and Billy wants to join in. His extreme sports experience will come in handy.

The book is 245 pages but has very wide margins and many comic style illustrations throughout the story. The monsters have gross-out appeal though not the "subtle" humor of Captain Underpants. This is light stuff. Checking for kids' reactions at Amazon (though they usually smack of "my teacher made me do this") I found the Amazon kid reviews were very favorable.

I gave it to a 5th grade friend last night. I am interested to see if he will want to read more in the series.

Mark Crilley's website

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Wand in the Word

Sheila at Wands and Worlds had an interesting review of The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by by Leonard S. Marcus. She says:
This is one of the most interesting and inspirational books that I've read in a long time. Through the interviews and profiles, Marcus' masterfully brings out the best in each author, providing a fascinating look at some of the leading authors in the fantasy genre. Find out how Lloyd Alexander's experiences in the military during World War II influenced his writing, or how Diana Wynne Jones kept Tolkein from finishing The Lord of the Rings.

The book includes profiles of many of my favorites including Lloyd Alexander, Franny Billingsley, Susan Cooper, Nancy Farmer, Brian Jacques and more. This one is going on my wish list.

Edge of the Forest

Issue 2 of Edge of the Forest is now available. It features reviews of books, interviews and Kid Picks. There is also a terrific interview with Jane Buchanan who was a judge for the SCBWI Golden Kite Award about her experience.

My review of the new YA novel Crushed by Laura & Tom McNeal is included.

Kudos to Kelly Herold at Big A little a for putting it together again.

Read, Right & Run Marathon

The Spirit of St. Louis Marathon will include a program pitched at students again this year. The Read, Right, Run Marathon sounds like a great challenge to students' minds, bodies and spirits. Kids at participating schools have been "challenged to read 26 books, “right” the community with 26 good deeds, and run 25 miles over a six month period." They complete their "marathon" on race day, April 8, 2006.

Maureen Houston at the Belleville News-Democrat reports on St. Mary's in Trenton and Trenton Elementary where students are running with their principal, Jay Goble and their P.E. teacher Dawn Musenbrock.

On a breezy March afternoon between rainstorms, student runners dropped backpacks near the school door and took off with their principal and P.E. teacher, running four laps around the school block, about a mile.

They streaked past classmates waiting for a yellow school bus to pull up, jogged past the church and its cross draped in purple for Lent, and tagged the outstretched hand of fifth-grader Dakota Grayling, outside the school entrance.

The kids comments at the end of the piece are terrific. I love hearing what they are reading: Junie B. Jones, Storm Breaker by Anthony Horowitz, Harry Potter, Islands (series) by Gordon Korman and very appropriately, Maniac Magee.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Irish Tales

Some lovely Irish tales for St. Patrick's Day.

The Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Christopher Denise, 2004
Biddy Malone has a fearsome temper. She loves to sing and dance but has no patience for the mistakes she makes or her brothers, who tease her.

One evening, "it was the soft hour between day and night," Biddy stumbles into the land of faerie. The music and dancing are wonderful and Biddy meets the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. When he offers her three wishes she asks for the ability to sing, to dance and for a loving heart to soothe her temper. Biddy returns to her world where she discovers two months have passed. Initially, her wishes do not seem to be working but she practices every day and her singing and dancing improve. Once the fairies get hold of your heart it is hard to move on though and Biddy must find her way back to the love of her life.

This is an interesting folk tale without a tidy ending. Are our abilities the result of talent and gifts or the result of hard work and practice?

Christopher Denise has filled with book with glowing images. His colors are in the tradition of N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish and Howard Pyle. I realized I knew his artwork from the Redwall books, The Great Redwall Feast and A Redwall Winter's Tale.

O'Sullivan Stew: A Tale Cooked Up in Ireland
by Hudson Talbott, 1999

This is probably my favorite story for a St. Patrick's Day read aloud. The village of Crookhaven is cursed when the local witch's horse is stolen by the king. Kate O'Sullivan and her father and brothers try to steal the horse back but are captured. It is up to Kate to weave a series of tales to get them all off the hook by describing other "true" stories where her family was in a "worse spot" than this one. The King is amused and enthralled by Kate's tales until the last one and all her work is about to be undone until an astonishing secret is revealed.

Hudson Talbott's illustrations are a riot of color and action. The expressions of the characters are so evocative you will laugh out loud.

Grab some Irish music to play in the background and share the story with everyone. The story will compell you to read with an Irish brogue even if you never have before.

Hudson Talbott books are like having a storyteller sitting at your elbow. The pacing of the story as it interplays with the illustrations is perfect. Please look at his website to check out his other books. He is BRILLIANT!

For more on St. Patrick's Day enjoy The History Channel site.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Free Baseball

Free Baseball
by Sue Corbett, 2005

Felix Piloto misses his dad so much. He thinks about his dad all the time. He feels close to his father when he is playing baseball. Felix and his mother are refugees from Cuba. His father, a famous baseball player for the Cuban national team, did not escape with them to the U.S.

Living in Florida, Felix's mami is working long hours at a computer company help desk and going to school. Felix is alone a great deal of the time. His mom does not have time to come to his baseball games or even take him to the hometown team's season opener when he wins free tickets. He is so anxious to go to the game that he agrees to the supervision of a loathsome teenage babysitter whose goonish boyfriends pick on Felix all night. When the game is over, he gets to go down on the field and run the bases. Curiosity leads him into the visiting team's dugout where he is mistaken for their new batboy. Felix seizes this opportunity to make a change in his life and stows away on the team bus.

This is such a warm-hearted story. The reader aches for Felix and his mom. As he finds acceptance and happiness with the team, he must reconcile with his mother and learn the real story about his family and his father.

I loved this book. It will have huge appeal to elementary and jr. high readers. Your heart does not have to thrill to baseball to enjoy this beautiful story but if you are a fan, you will enjoy it even more.

Author: John Reynolds Gardiner

John Reynolds Gardiner has died, the LATimes reports.

Stone Fox was a book on my children's lit course reading list (which I took less than 10 years ago.) As I finished the last chapter I burst into tears. I can't remember boo-hoo-ing like that with a book since.

A teacher friend was using the book as a novel study with her third graders. They had been reading the book aloud as a class but she stopped at the last chapter and let them read it silently. The entire class was completely silent as they read towards the end of the story. Suddenly, one of the more boisterous boys in the class leaped out of his desk and charged towards the teacher’s desk. He grabbed at the Kleenex box repeating, "Tissue moment!" as he returned to his desk while dabbing at his eyes. It gave the rest of the class, especially the guys, permission to give in to the emotion of the final pages.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Author: Katherine Paterson

In case you haven't heard -- From USAToday:

American author Katherine Paterson was named Wednesday the winner of the annual Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Literature.

The $640,000 prize, established by the Swedish government, is the biggest international award dedicated to writers of children's books.

Girls' series

Bloggers are discussing the Naomi Wolf article from the NYTimes about the Gossip Girls, A-List, Clique and other copycat series. Susan at Chicken Spaghetti has a post with a good round up of other blogs commenting on the topic.

Wolf analyzes these series and acknowledges the changing focus of "girl" books.

Since women have been writing for and about girls, the core of the tradition has been the opposition between the rebel and the popular, often wealthy antiheroine. Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett's "Little Princess" loses her social standing and is tormented by the school's alpha girls, but by the end of the story we see them brought low. In "Little Women," Jo March's criticism of "ladylike" social norms is challenged by an invitation to a ball; while Meg, the eldest girl, is taken in by the wealthy daughters of the house and given a makeover — which is meant to reveal not her victory as a character but her weakness.

This tradition carried on powerfully through the 20th century. Even modern remakes, like "Clueless," show the popular, superficial girl undergoing a humbling and an awakening, as she begins to question her allegiance to conformity and status.

My very few cents worth on the subject are:

1) I have not read them. I have a copy of the A-List that I picked up at TLA a few years ago. I will have to add it to the stack. My entlings have always preferred books about girls who "kick butt" (quote from Tamora Pierce) with wands or swords or are martial arts experts.

2) Parents may be "shocked, shocked" at the content and themes of these books but I would bet good money that while daughter dearest is reading Gossip Girls and the A-List upstairs, Mom and Dad are watching Desperate Housewives or Footballers Wives (if they are BBC Americans) downstairs. Maybe they are all watching it together as a family. When shows like The O.C. and their ilk get the ratings, it is not a surprise that it spills over into our teens reading material. Publishers are just trying to compete.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Woo HOO! New Riordan coming very soon!!!

Happy Spring Break to us this week!

Wonderful news! Rick Riordan's sequel to The Lightning Thief will be out April 1, 2006.
The Sea of Monsters continues the story of Percy Jackson and his fellow Olympians at Camp Half-Blood.

I was the librarian for the day at a jr. high this week. The groups coming in that day were ESL classes. The library aide showed me the book the librarian had been book talking and it was The Lightning Thief. She jumped backward about 5 feet as I exclaimed, "I LOVE this book!" I know (at first) she was thinking, what kind of nutty sub have they sent me now?

It was my pleasure to talk about the book and read to them. I read part of the first chapter where Percy encounters his pre-algebra teacher in the museum and sees her turn into a Fury who is trying to kill him. Almost every boy in the group wanted the book so I spent the rest of my time with them walking the stacks looking for other titles and asking them "what kind of books do you like to read" and seeing the look on their faces amending it to "can you think of a book you have liked in the past?"

Lots of them said "scary books" so we found R.L. Stine short story collections and for the "Help-help-monsters-are-after-us-we-are-going-to-die" fans, the library had a good collection of Paul Zindel titles like Doom Stone, Night of the Bat, Loch, and Raptor. There are always books the library does not own which makes me want to leave the librarian a list of books to buy asap. If the librarians are friends, they take my "You have GOT to buy these books!" lists in stride.

Reading is personal and kids (no matter what age they are) appreciate someone who takes the time to ask about their interests and recommend books just for them. It was an incredibly rewarding day.

ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room

ER Vets: Life in an Animal Emergency Room by Donna M. Jackson, 2005

Subbing at an elementary library earlier this month I came across this marvelous book on the shelving cart. I bet it is not on the shelf very often.

Kids love books about their favorite animals. Books on dog and cat breeds fly off the shelves. Put a puppy on the cover and there is instant interest.

Veterinary medicine is a career that is intriguing to many children. The photography shines in this book and invites the reader into a state of the art emergency care facility. There are photos of surgery that are detailed but not gruesome. The images of animals being cushioned with pillows and blankets are particularly comforting to young pet owners. Kind and caring professionals offer insight into their work at the ER.

The book also deals with the loss of a pet. Lucy is a ball python who escaped from her bag and got behind the dash of her owner's car. Despite the vet's attempts to revive the snake Lucy dies from hypothermia. Her owner describes his feelings of sadness and loss.

There are interesting insets, including abbreviations and terminology the doctors use (example HBC is hit by car) and human foods that are dangerous to animals.

State reading assessments use nonfiction selections to test student reading ability. This would be an excellent choice to model nonfiction reading. Young readers will also pick this one up and pore over every word on their own.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Nice article about a Patricia Polacco school visit in the Lansing State Journal.

Some nice background about her if you do not know her story. She is not a fan of the emphasis on testing in education today. This line did make me chuckle:

She admitted she probably couldn't pass the test and questioned whether some other adults could.

"Let's spring the seventh grade proficiency test on the House of Representatives and post the results in the newspaper the next day," she suggested.

What a splendid suggestion!

Friday, March 10, 2006


Oh Joy, Rapture!

Michele at Scholar's Blog reports that Granada has a new show about Lewis, Inspector Morse's patient and supportive sargent.
She says:
I thought it was a brilliant comeback for Morse's former sergeant and now an Inspector himself, Robbie Lewis (played as marvellously as ever by Kevin Whately. The little references to Morse himself were nicely done from the Jaguar that nearly runs him down outside the airport at the start of the film, to the various characters who knew him, and the "Endeavour" music scholarship that was created as the result of an anonymous bequest (Morse's first name having been revealed to be Endeavour.)

I still love watching Inspector Morse. The episode that was set in Australia had such a poignant ending. Lewis was off to meet his wife and see the sights and Morse is alone, climbing the steps of the beautiful Sydney Opera House to see an opera.

Hopefully this will be arriving over here at PBS, or BBC America or A&E soon. Off to do research to see who will have it and when.

Whately will reprise Morse role--BBC

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Last Shot

Last Shot by John Feinstein

I have listened to John Feinstein on NPR's Morning Edition for years. When a young basketball enthusiast said this was one of the best books he had ever read I was intrigued.

Steven Thomas wins a writing contest sponsored by the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. His prize is a basketball fan's dream: tickets and press privledges to the NCAA's Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans. When Steven arrives in New Orleans he meets the other contest winner, another 8th grader named Susan Carol Anderson. She is very tall, very poised and a devout Duke fan.

The two of them are reporting for their hometown papers and take their job as writers very seriously. They attend press conferences and look for stories while enjoying the excitement of the pre-game activities. On their way to an interview they overhear a plot to blackmail the star of the Minnesota State team. Gamblers want star Chip Graber to lose the final game for his team.

Steven and Susan Carol are determined to help Chip and investigate who is behind the threats. The mystery is convincing because of all the detail and background Feinstein includes. Well known personalities from the sports world make appearances in the story. Dick Vitale talks to the kids and "waves his arms." Susan Carol get an interview with Coach K from Duke. Sportswriter/commentator, Tony Kornheiser also has a cameo.

There are in-the-know references to to the real world of college basketball. Steven is bemused by the NCAA references to the players as "student athletes" as the low graduation rates of basketball players at some schools are well known.

As a librarian I appreciated the fact that Steven and Susan Carol won this contest based on their research and writing skills. They are talented writers but they still have to revise and edit and do the hard research on their topics.

This book has all the color and energy of the Final Four and will strike a chord with young basketball and sports fans. The setting of New Orleans and the Superdome was especially nostalgic and touching.

This book is billed as a "Final Four Mystery" and the publisher informs me another one, Vanishing Act, is coming out in August. It will be set at the US Open.

Last Shot is one of the books on the Texas LoneStar Reading list for 2006-2007. This list continues to be one of my favorites.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Not Edgar!

Oh dear, I guess Edgar is really... gone. Just watched an interview with Louis Lombardi on the 24 website. I am so sad.

Reading with Children

There was a very interesting article, "Crossover books," in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday.
Eric Ligon was frustrated by Braille book formats that made it difficult to read with his 8 year old, blind son.

His answer to the problem was to design a new format for Braille picture books. BrailleInk has two titles so far, Guess How Much I love you by Sam McBratney and Anita Jerama and The Dot, a brilliant book by Peter Reynolds.

Of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States, about 55,200 are children, according to Wolffe's foundation. About 5,500 of those children use mainly Braille. Others may have enough sight to read print or might use books on tape.

Tanya Holton, vice president for development at National Braille Press, said more legally blind schoolchildren should be encouraged to learn Braille.

"The more books that blind children have access to, the better," Holton said. "There is a whole generation of young blind adults who don't know how to read (Braille)."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Know-Nothing Alert!

They are everywhere.

1. All book challengers should be required to reimburse district libraries for the replacement cost of all the books they want pulled off the shelves. These folks have too much time on their hands. They should have to pay for their fun.

2. Book banners should have to compensate area homeowners for damage to property values when the negative publicity hits and remember that forever after, their school will appear on ALA's and NCTE's book banners list.

3. Know-Nothings should read the whole book (but they never do!) Picking pieces of a book out of context is pointless. If I were to read the Ten Commandments, the way they read literature, I would be quite sure that "Thou shalt ... steal" was part of the Decalogue.

4. Know-Nothings think some books have supernatural powers and their mere presence in the same space-time-continuum as their young one will cause brain damage or emotional distress. For as many years as I have been a librarian, I have yet to see a book sprout arms and grab a student as they passed it on the shelf. I have never seen a book emit a mind-altering cloud that turns a kid into a zombie who then pulls the book off the shelf. I have never seen a book spontaneously leap off the shelf into someone’s hand, then DRAG him or her over to the circulation counter, and then force them to checkout the book.

Hmmm...double checking...let me think...nope, never have seen it.

Generally, books sit very quietly on the shelves.

Book challengers should have to prove the existence of these supernatural powers before a reconsideration committee would act.

5. Know-Nothings have to accept that sometimes the answer is NO! After two committees have reviewed a book and affirmed its inclusion in a collection it is time to call it a day but Know-Nothings WILL have it their way or...or...else!

These self-centered whiners are the same ones who talk on their cell phones in the theater and run red lights because the rules do not apply to them.

6. Book banners would have schools give up teaching any kind of critical thinking. To follow their logic, globes should be removed from schools because the sight of a globe might cause a member of the Flat Earth Society serious mental harm.

7. Know-Nothings should know that we are on to them and we understand it is REALLY NOT about the book. It REALLY IS about: their anger with someone at the school, their guilt about not being there for their child, their sad bid for attention and/or their desperate and pathetic desire to be someone of consequence and power.

8. Know-Nothings should forward the shoe and clothing sizes for their kids to me because if they are going to dictate MY family's reading choices then I get to pick THEIR family's' fashion choices.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

The Boy on Fairfield Street
by Kathleen Krull, paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, 2004

This is a wonderful biography to share with children and adults. A poll of any group of readers about their favorite books will ALWAYS come up with Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. Ted Geisel's work is loved.

Kathleen Krull describes the events in his early life that became part of his work and interests later. His lifelong love of animals, his shyness, his sense of justice and fairplay were outgrowths of his boyhood on Fairfield Street in Springfield, MA.

Geisel's boyhood was filled with fun and adventure but he was always slightly out of step with the rest of the world. He was a kid who preferred drawing crazy animals to studying. As the son of German immigrants, he was mocked and bullied. He had a three-legged dog. He wrote and drew under pseudonyms.

The book follows his childhood and college days and ends with Ted striking out on his own, as an illustrator and cartoonist in Greenwich Village.

The paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher seem to just glow and invite the reader to keep turning the pages.

I read this book to many classes as it was a Bluebonnet title but this is not a book you can just breeze though. There is much to discuss and digest. Without fail, the kids are outraged when Ted is shorted his medal for selling war bonds in an embarrassing presentation by former President Theodore Roosevelt. They are thrilled when Ted draws on the walls of his room and does NOT get in trouble. They examined the illustrations closely. I shared the book with at least 10 classes before I noticed (thanks to a sharp-eyed student) Ted's three legged dog is featured on the cover of the book. The kids also enjoyed picking out the tiny Seuss images on the corners of the pages.

There is a comprehensive "rest of the story" at the end of the book with details about his later life.

This is a lovely tribute to an American icon.

If you know kids who are fans of books by Theodore Le Sieg (The Eye Book, The Foot Book, Ten Apples Up on Top, Wacky Wednesday) have them spell Le Sieg's name backwards after you finish this book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Music: Back of the Moon

I keep bumping into all things Scottish these days. I found this music group, Back of the Moon, while surfing around on the internet. I loved "Lumsden's Rant" when I heard the .mp3 (on their record label website) so I ordered their album Luminosity.

I love their use of the piano and guitar along with the traditional fiddle and pipes. The album has a nice balance of vocals and instrumentals. When I found their website yesterday I realized they had just been in Austin, TX in February promoting themselves for a USA tour at the Folk Alliance. I hope they get back here. I will go hear them.

If you like folk music, this is a lot of fun.

Back of the Moon website