Thursday, December 20, 2007

Olive, the other Reindeer

Olive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J.otto Seibold, Deluxe Edition, Chronicle Books, 2007

Subbing at a local elementary yesterday, I noted the DVD of Olive, the other Reindeer was in heavy rotation on the video tower sign-up list. The singing and dancing characters visible on the monitor from my desk were not endearing the story to me. I made myself avert my eyes because I have a deep affection for this book as it is a year round favorite with kids.

No other Christmas carol has such a hold on children's imaginations as "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." (*see note) Even the youngest child understands the joke of this book's title.

When a little dog named Olive hears the lyrics "All of the other reindeer..." she thinks the line is, "Olive, the other reindeer" and concludes that she is in fact, a reindeer, not a dog. Hi-jinks ensue.

This tenth anniversary edition has scratch and sniff gumdrops, flaps to open, levers to pull and a pop-up scene at the end. Reading the "otto-biography" of Seibold on the Chronicle Books site, I learned that the names of his children (and their images) are tucked into the illustrations, shades of Marc Brown and his Arthur books.

Skip the video and enjoy this book. It is a charmer.


When I got the call to sub, the librarian asked me what I wanted to do with the kids. I asked her to let me read. Dragon and I haven't read to a group of kids in a while and if we go too long, we get down-right twitchy.

Also Dragon needed to get out and about. He did a recent star turn in the high school choir madrigal dinner and the acclaim and greetings from former students in the high school corridors along with the positive reviews of his performance have inflated his already preposterous ego and made him unbearable here at home. His demands for celebrity treatment, including a star on the door to his bedroom, have just been too much.

This fun story was on the lesson plan for kindergarten.

A Creature was Stirring by Clement Clarke Moore with additional story and illustrations by Carter Goodrich, Simon & Schuster, 2006

A small boy knows he is supposed to be asleep on Christmas eve but he risks the "naughty" list in order to get a peek out the window when Santa's sleigh arrives.

Moore's well known poem chronicles Santa's visit on the left page while the boy's adventure with Santa's precariously parked sleigh develops on the opposing page.

One alert kindergarten lad pointed out that the boy's words were printed in white while Moore's poem is printed in gold. I was so pleased he had noticed and it makes the last page of the story even more fun.

Lovely golden end papers open the book. I'm an end papers kind of girl. A set of lovely end papers will make me much more likely to appreciate the story between them.
Goodrich's illustrations are humorous and the kids followed the story easily. It was a fun read.

*Note: As usual when Santa calls the names of his reindeer, "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!...etc." the kids ALWAYS ask, "Where's Rudolph?" This year I had a good answer pop into my head, "He hasn't been born yet."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Public Service


As I say to my kinder all the time, just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean "they" are not out to get me.

Found myself staring at the "made in China" little Christmas mugs we recently unpacked from the decoration storage boxes.

Me: "Entling no. 2, go to the hardware store and get one of those "lead testing kits."

Entling no. 2, after returning from store with said kit and carefully following directions to use it: "Uh-oh, the strips are all turning pink!"

Onomatopoeia : "chunk-clink"--sound of mugs hitting the trash bin.

Check your holiday ware!

Game On!

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. --
Psalm 96:11

Entling no. 3 has just run three laps around the outside of the house exulting and shrieking with joy!
Entling no. 2 has grabbed her phone and speed dialed everyone in her phone book.

This just in from ABC News via the ever vigilant Treebeard:
Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy "The Lord of the Rings."

Monday, December 17, 2007

The American Story

The American Story: 100 true tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong, illustrations by Roger Roth, Random House, 2006

Conversation with the 5th grade ent-nephew this past summer:

Me: Do you like history?
Ent-nephew: Nooooo.... It is borrrrring.
Me: How can it be boring? Story is part of the word Hi-story! Don't your teachers ever tell you the stories from history?
Ent-nephew: Stories?
Me: How do they teach history and social studies at your school?
Ent-nephew: --shrugs--
Me: Do you do a lot of worksheets and vocabulary lists?
Ent-nephew: How did you know? Did my mom tell you?

How did I know?
Because worksheets and vocabulary definitions are what passes for social studies education in many classrooms today. The emphasis on test scores in reading, math and now science, seems to have blown, what should be one of the most interesting subjects in school, right out of the water.

It does NOT have to be this way... reading, writing, math and science skills should be/could be part of the social studies curriculum. Sadly, too often, it is tagged on at the end of the day or slotted in like an airline standby passenger.

"Any hope for getting on this flight?"
"Ummm...we have to looks pretty full today."

Sometimes I despair.

This is why I have such a tender spot in my heart for books that share stories from our past. In this splendid volume, Jennifer Armstrong tells some well known (although now-a-days that is not a given) and not so well know tales from our country's past.

I consider myself a student of American history but I did not know that long before the 1938 Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast, The New York Journal "reported" their own sequel to that book, in 1897, in daily installments called "Edison's Conquest of Mars."

I did not know the story of Thaddeus Lowe and his contributions to aerial surveillance for the Union during the Civil War. In one of the many, many author notes following the story, Armstrong explains that Lowe Observatory near Pasadena California is named for him.

The scope of stories is diverse. Spindletop, Typhoid Mary, Mount Saint Helens, the Rumble in the Jungle, Custer, ENIAC, Carrie Nation, the Chicago fire, Popé and the Pueblo revolt, and Asser Levy are names and events that we should know.

The stories are related chronologically, in three page bites, perfect for reading aloud and Roth's illustrations complement the stories. At the back, there is an extensive bibliography and index. The chapters are also grouped by "story arc" categories, such as, "Steel," "Cuba," "Government and Law," "the Moon and Stars" and whimsically, "Bananas." I do wish the page numbers had been included here. It takes an extra step to find the story in the table-of-contents or index.

As a librarian, I found myself matching these chapters with more books on the subject.

1927 The Spirit of St. Louis = Flight by Robert Burleigh
1954 Brown v. Board of Education = Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
1884 Hold Your Horses, Here Come the Elephants = Twenty-One Elephants by Phil Bildner
1938 War of the Worlds = Meghan McCarthy's wonderful and entertaining Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account Of The 1938 War Of The Worlds Radio Broadcast
1925 Mush = Togo by Robert J. Blake
1846 I'm Not Leaving this Jail = Henry Builds a Cabin and the other Henry books by D.B. Johnson

There are so many more.

That is one of the great things about being the school librarian, YOU can be the storyteller and share the tales that shaped our nation.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Verry verry intrresting

As previously noted here, the Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society has come to the defense of Steve Vander Ark, the creator of the Harry Potter Lexicon in the lawsuit filed against him by JKRowling and Warner Bros.

School Library Journal has an interview with Anthony Falcone about the Fair Use Project's involvement in the lawsuit

What’s the legal issue here?

It’s a critical, free-expression issue. The real issue it poses is the extent to which fans are going to have the right to participate in the content and fan community, and the extent to which they do so.

JKR and Co. say they are going to do their own definitive reference book. Is Vander Ark creating a whole new work or is he copying directly from Rowling's text? Did Rowling get the idea for a "lexicon" from Vander Ark? It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sold to...

Amazon won the auction at Sotheby's for the only copy available to the public of J. K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard. They paid £1,950,000.

The Telegraph reports:

Bidding for "The Tales of Beedle the Bard", of which there are only seven copies in existence, was frenetic at Sotheby's on Thursday and experts were shocked at the huge winning bid for the book, which had been expected to sell for £50,000.

Amazon has already posted pictures and a review, with spoilers. I didn't read it in hopes that someday, I will get to read the stories. The book is just beautiful to behold. I chuckled when I read the book was decorated with moonstones. Several years ago Rowling posted a note on her site about having just read The Moonstone by Wilke Collins for the first time. She described it as a "cracking read."

Don't you love the white gloves? It is a rare book, indeed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Movie: City of Ember

Some stills from City of Ember movie were sent to CinemaBlend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dinosaur Books

Dinosaurs: the most complete, up-to-date encyclopedia for dinosaur lovers of all ages by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., illustrated by Luis V. Rey, with contributions by thirty-three of the world's leading paleontologists, Random House, 2007

With a title like that it has to be good.
It is.

This book is for the dino-connoisseur, the tyranno-gourmand, the read-all-about-it-a-saurus. The book covers all things dinosaur from a review of geologic time and the history of fossil discoveries to dinosaur babies and dinosaur dung.
Forty-two chapters and 472 pages examine every branch of the dinosaur family tree.
In-depth chapters on coelurosaurs, prosauropods, tyrannosauroids, ceratopsids, (and the list goes on) are enhanced with colorful illustrations that "flesh-out" the detailed drawings of the skeletons which also accompany the chapter.

Personal essays from 33 paleontologist provide extensions to the chapters. Dr. Scott D. Sampson discusses "Male and Female Dinosaurs--Can we tell the difference?" and Dr. Matthew T. Carrano writes about "Walking and Running Dinosaurs." Dr. Luis Chiappe reviews the origins of birds during the Mesozoic Era. All of these essays are one page in length and very engaging and readable. They bring the scientist to the reader to explain their interests and passion for the subject.

This is NOT an Eyewitness book with different reading levels and distinct blocks of text but the illustrations are captioned and sections are headed in uppercase titles. The text is laid out in two columns with a nicely sized type and good white space.

Extensive dinosaur genus charts at the back refer the reader to the matching chapters. If you know a dinosaur fanatic, this is the book for them.

Robert Sabuda's and Matthew Reinhart pushed the pop-up book genre to a new level with their amazing Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs (2006.) Dinosaurs literally spring up from the pages in this book. Facts and information abound too.

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick, 2001

This is the true story of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. An Englishman, he was really one of the first paleoartists when he accepted a commission from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to design and build life-sized models of dinosaurs for the opening of the Crystal Palace. He was a fascinating man and Kerley's biographical sketch and Selznick's illustrations make this book a home run in every way.

Movie: Inkheart

Now, the trailer is officially out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Inside the Teenage Brain

Just finished watching the PBS Frontline program Inside the Teenage Brain. This should be required viewing for parents, junior high, middle school, and high school teachers, principals, school board members. If you missed it you can watch it online here.

Cartoonist, Jim Borgman added commentary along with strips from his true-to-life comic strip, Zits.

Which A.A. Milne character are you?

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Verry intrresting

I just keep thinking of that Craig Ferguson skit...

Stanford Law Group enters fray...

A group of crusading intellectual property lawyers at Stanford Law School say they will help defend a small publishing house being sued by author J.K. Rowling over its plan to print an unauthorized companion guide to her Harry Potter series.

The Fair Use Project at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society announced Tuesday that it had signed on to aid the defense of Michigan-based RDR Books, which had planned to release "The Harry Potter Lexicon" this fall. (read the rest)

The Dark Librarian

A public librarian's dream?

The Stranger

Those of you in northern climes are going to laugh at this but I thought it was very exciting.

Yesterday when we departed the homestead for our appointed rounds, there was a light sheen of frost on all the roof tops and the grass sparkled as tiny ice crystals caught and reflected the morning sunlight. The temperature had brushed down to the low thirties the night before and the air had that fresh cold sense that winter was actually a possibility here on the Gulf coast.

I had just noticed on Sunday that some trees were finally displaying orange, red and deep purple leaves. I immediately thought of Chris VanAllsburg's The Stranger. What a morning to read that book with kids!

Poor Farmer Bailey is horrified when he realizes that his truck has hit something. A dazed man lies in the road so Farmer Bailey takes him home to be cared for. The doctor cannot discover anything wrong with him (he cannot even get a temperature reading because his thermometer seems to be stuck at the bottom) but the poor man has lost his memory. He is a gentle spirit though and settles in to life on the farm. Fall has arrived in the surrounding countryside but summer seems without end on the Bailey farm. Despite his contentment with the Baileys, wisps of memory are tugging at the stranger's mind. This is a delightful mystery that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, 1986

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Suggestions

Author Tamora Pierce has a great list of some of her favorite fantasy and science fiction reads. Entling no. 3 is a huge Pierce fan. I'm pointing her to this list.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why I think he is a rockstar

You may know that I've long admired Rick Riordan's writing and his Percy Jackson series which have been the gateway into books for many kids that I know. I've been lucky enough to meet him and I am always impressed by his kind and gracious manner toward his young fans and goggle-eyed librarians.

I think I started thinking of him as "Rockstar Rick Riordan" from the moment I turned the last page of The Lightning Thief. I knew I was holding reading gold* in my hands. "The man is a rockstar!" I thought.

Read his post about school visits.
Is there a title beyond "rockstar" I can apply to him?

*reading gold: a book that will convince a non-reader that there ARE some books worth reading for just the sheer pleasure of the experience.

Author: Meg Cabot

This week I spent the better part of an afternoon and evening with Entling no. 3 at the Pre Area All-State Choir Audition where to my delight I met and visited with another choir member who was reading Meg Cabot's Big Boned. She was down to the last 50 pages and told me she couldn't wait to finish her sight reading so she could get back to the book.

"I just love the way she writes. She writes the way I think!" she told me. I told her about Meg's blog.

Honestly, I was so THRILLED to meet another highschooler (besides Entling no. 3) who had packed a book I was overwhelmed. (It might also have been the resigned misery and fear on the faces of all the kids as they marched off for their sight reading auditions that was moving me to tears.)

Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for this delightful video of Meg Cabot retelling moments from Little Women. I love the "Masterpiece Theater" background and the picture over the fireplace.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Bill Amend is only doing one strip per week nowadays but this Sunday's (Nov. 25) was excellent for a children's lit tie-in. Brilliant, again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rider, Alex Rider

Oh, good.

Author, Anthony Horowitz has announced that Alex Pettyfer will NOT be in the next Alex Rider movie because he is too old now. The character, Alex Rider, is 14 years old and will be for the rest of the books. I think Horowitz said Alex will turn 15 at the end of the series.

I never understood why Stormbreaker was shown in such a limited release in the U.S. When I fnally saw the movie on DVD, I liked it. The only thing that didn't quite jell for me was Alex himself. Pettyfer's restrained and rather elegant Alex Rider did not fit my image of the character.

Horowitz showed us the first preview of Stormbreaker during his talk at TLA two years ago. As the trailer opened, we saw a shot of a classroom with a teacher calling Alex Rider's name. As the camera passed by the faces of the students I recall thinking "Oh there's Alex!" only to see the camera continue and finally land on Pettyfer. "That's not Alex!" I thought.

Now, I realize that in the annals of cinematic history, this probably does not rank up there with the casting of Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind did but I booktalked these books today and heard the cheers of the kids who have read them and saw the keen interest of those who have not yet. Kids get excited at the idea of a movie so, to me, this is important.

So, Anthony, I want you to know that I will be happy to help you review the screen tests.
I will know Alex when I see him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone

The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone: and how early Americans took to the road
, painstakinglyl written and illustrated by Cheryl Harness, National Geographic Society, 2007

For folks a certain age, there is a fair amount of confusion between Daniel Boone and another American iconn, Davy Crockett, due to the late 1960s television program about Boone which starred Fess Parker (a.k.a. Davy Crockett. ) The TV folks clapped a coonskin cap on Daniel (no doubt trying to tie-in to the success of Parker's earlier series) and forever melded the two men in the mind of a generation.

Harness takes-on that issue early in the book by describing Boone's headgear.

...some frontier folks like the look of a jaunty striped tail, dangling from the back of a "coonskin" cap, but not Daniel. He generally wore a wide-brimmed felt hat.

She includes a full page illustration of Daniel with his gear, powder horn, tomahawk, buckskins britches, leggins etc. all clearly labeled. Life on the Kentucky and Missouri frontier is richly described with its need for self-reliance, the brutal Indian wars, hunting and trapping, pelt theft, and land disputes . Daniel and his family scratched out a living on the outposts of civilization and held on to that life tenaciously. At one point the Shawnee kidnapped Boone and held him so long that his wife Rebecca thought he was dead.

The fragility of human life in the wilderness is underscored by a poignant story of Daniel's brother in law, John Stewart who disappeared while hunting. His body was found years later only identifiable by his powder horn carved with the initials J.S.

I enjoy the style of Cheryl Harness's books. She provides a very high rate of information per square inch through her use of engaging artwork and text. A timeline of world events runs across the bottom of each page. I loved knowing that while Daniel was trapping for pelts in the wild, Handel was composing "Music for the Royal Fireworks." There is also an excellent list of resources, other reading, "places well worth visiting" and an index. Harness also describes the process she uses to create the pen and ink pictures through out the book.

Daniel Boone's life is the stuff of legends and this book tells his story in the context of the times with depth and detail.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie: Pictures of Hollis Woods

Nice casting for next Sunday's Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast (CBS) of the Newbery Honor winner, Pictures of Hollis Woods: Sissy Spacek and Alfre Woodard for starters.

Patricia Reilly Giff discusses the experience of watching the movie based on her book for the first time.

"It was wonderful. . . . In the book, there is a truck . . . and the truck is going to crash and I'm watching the truck come down the mountain (on TV) and I'm thinking, 'It's going to crash.' Then I think, 'You idiot! You wrote the book.' And every once in a while I'd hear my own words."

Friday, November 23, 2007


This is the way to experience Beowulf. Two years ago Treebeard and the youngest entling and I saw bard, Benjamin Bagby perform his one man show and it was a transforming experience.

Bagby has a DVD now. I hope schools are sharing this with their students.

Music: Lord of the Rings

It only took a few notes and people came running from every corner of the house to listen to this podcast about the LOTR film score.

A small bit of fun: Some interesting alternate versions of Howard Shore's themes, Peter Jackson's meddling and more information on the book about Shore and his magnificent film score.

Like the folks in the podcast, I wonder if this family's fascination with this subject will ever end?


Film Score Monthly Podcast.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Basal ...Comics

This new series called Toon Comics, described in this Publishers Weekly article, sounds very interesting. Françoise Mouly (New Yorker art director and wife of cartoonist Art Spiegelman) is behind the effort.

“Comics are the gateway to literacy for young kids,” said Mouly who expects Toon Books to transform books for early readers the same way RAW influenced indie comics. “RAW showed that comics can be taken seriously,” she said. Little Lit, a comics line for older kids launched by Mouly and Spiegelman in 2000, “was an intermediate step using the RAW model. Now there are more comics for kids 10–12 years old but not for very young kids.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movie: Inkheart

A trailer is out for Inkheart: the movie!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Iron Thunder

Iron Thunder: the battle between the Monitor & the Merrimac by Avi, C. B. Mordan, illustrator, Hyperion, 007

I have been interested in the Monitor and the Merrimac ever since I made a shoe box diorama depicting the battle in elementary school.

Avi has brought the Monitor's story to life in his new novel, Iron Thunder: the battle between the Monitor & the Merrimac. The book left me with a much greater understanding of the history of the two ships and the strategic role they played in the outcome of the American Civil War.

Tom Carroll has already lost of his father to the war. His income selling newspapers is not enough to help his struggling family so when he is given a chance to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard he takes the job. The pay may be minimal, seventy-five cents a week, but the work is steady.

He works for Captain John Ericsson who is designing the oddest boat Tom has ever seen, the ironclad Monitor. The reader is in no doubt that Tom is going to end up on the ship and he is there for the famous battle with the Merrimac.

Avi has woven lots of history and facts into the story. The book design includes actual diagrams, period photographs, artifacts, newspaper illustrations and broadsheets that summarize the latest war news throughout the story.

Tom's story is illustrated in black and white images that evoke the engraved style of newspapers of the time. An author's note brings the story of the Monitor up to date with the discovery of the wreckage in 1973 and the USS Monitor Center and website. A glossary and bibliography are also included.

This book is the first of a new "I Witness" series which initially brought the "Dear America" et al. series to mind but this story does not exude the dreary melancholy that permeates so many of those books. This is a vivid retelling of a battle that was as pivotal as Gettysburg in the final outcome of the war.

Duel of the Ironclads: The Monitor vs. the Virginia by Patrick O'Brien, Walker, 2003
Patrick O'Brien's maritime paintings lend color to the story for those who want to pair the novel with a nonfiction read.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Verry intrresting

The art history girl in me loves this kind of stuff.

Author: Mike Lupica

Short feature on sportswriter/YA-children's fiction writer, Mike Lupica from The Morning

I liked this summary paragraph about his books:

Lupica sees the ugliness of sports every day. He has written about baseball's steroid scandals and the greed present in all sports. But as a parent and veteran of countless youth league games where kids pour their hearts out just because they love to play, he still believes in the importance of sports. ''These books are about the pure aspect of sports -- about loyalty and friendship and picking yourself up,'' he says.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happiness: Giada de Laurentiis

Reading Meg Cabot's blog today, I learned that Food Network royalty and my favorite chef person, Giada de Laurentiis, is expecting her first child. You may recall Entling no. 1's heroic efforts to obtain a signed cookbook for her mother.

Giada is a bona fide celebrity. There has to be a children's book in her future. I predict a Giada Cooks with Kids cookbook sometime soon.
Hey, Emeril has several!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So much to see and do

Good Golly, Miss Molly,
There has never been so much to see and read around the web as there is this week.

The October Edge of the Forest is now online.

It is Week 4 of Blogging for the Cure for Robert's Snow.

Monday, November 5

Tuesday, November 6

Wednesday, November 7

Thursday, November 8

Friday, November 9

Saturday, November 10

Sunday, November 11

The Winter Blog Blast Tour kicked off this week.
Look at all the amazing authors these amazing bloggers are talking to.


Perry Moore at The Ya Ya Yas
Nick Abadzis at Chasing Ray
Carrie Jones at Hip Writer Mama
Phyllis Root at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Amy Schlitz at Fuse Number 8
Kerry Madden at lectitans
Tom Sniegoski at Bildungsroman
Connie Willis at Finding Wonderland


Lisa Ann Sandell at Chasing Ray
Perry Moore at Interactive Reader
Christopher Barzak at Shaken & Stirred
Autumn Cornwell at The Ya Ya Yas
Jon Scieszka at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Judy Blume at Not Your Mother's Book Club
Erik P. Kraft at Bookshelves of Doom
Clare Dunkle at Miss Erin


Lisa Ann Sandell at Interactive Reader
Christopher Barzak at Chasing Ray
Julie Halpern at The Ya Ya Yas
Micol Ostow at Shaken & Stirred
Rick Yancey at Hip Writer Mama
Jane Yolen at Fuse Number 8
Shannon Hale at Bookshelves of Doom
Maureen Johnson at Bildungsroman
David Lubar at Writing & Ruminating
Sherman Alexie at Finding Wonderland


David Mack at Chasing Ray
Paul Volponi at The Ya Ya Yas
Elizabeth Knox at Shaken & Stirred
Ellen Emerson White at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy
Jack Gantos at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
David Levithan at Not Your Mother's Book Club
Micol Ostow at Bildungsroman
Laura Amy Schlitz at Miss Erin
Kerry Madden at Hip Writer Mama
Sherman Alexie at Interactive Reader


Loree Griffin Burns at Chasing Ray
Lily Archer at The Ya Ya Yas
Rick Riordan at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Gabrielle Zevin at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Dia Calhoun at lectitans
Shannon Hale at Miss Erin
Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple at Shaken & Stirred
Alan Gratz at Interactive Reader
Lisa Yee at Hip Writer Mama


Blake Nelson at The Ya Ya Yas

Pumpkin Time

Me and the Pumpkin Queen
by Marlane Kennedy, Greenwillow, 2007

Mildred's mother died when she was very young. Her loving father is a veterinarian. Her Aunt Arlene is too involved in her life because she wants Mildred to focus on 'ordinary' interests of typical eleven year olds, like clothes and shopping. But, Mildred is really only interested in one thing: growing pumpkin giants. Pumpkins are her passion and a way to remember her mother who loved the annual pumpkin festival.

Her early attempts at pumpkin growing do not yield the giants she hopes for but as her knowledge grows so does the size of her pumpkins. From the special seed to the pruning to the feeding, watering and nurturing, Mildred shares the process with the reader. We cheer Mildred's success and are in awe of her dedication.

This storyline echoes Joan Bauer's Squashed in many ways. In Bauer's book, Ellie is also coping with the loss of her mother. She lavishes care on her pumpkin to help it gain weight, while she herself, is trying to drop twenty pounds. Ellie is in high school and feels awkward and out of step with the other kids until she meets a guy who is as interested in vegetables as she is.

In both stories the weigh-in at the end of the story is very dramatic and tension filled. The reader is as invested as Mildred and Ellie in the outcome.

Kennedy's book is a sweet, sweet story of dedication and love for elementary age children and older. Her book is filled with almost step by step directions on growing pumpkins that had me, in a moment of utter madness, eyeing my own backyard and wondering if there was room for a pumpkin patch.

Bauer's book resonates with middle school and high school readers as eloquently testified to by the worn edges and creased cover of my own daughter's copy.

Lovely reads.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Classics I have never read

Over at Big A little a , Indefatigable Kelly commented on a Slate survey of contemporary authors' "gravest literary omissions." Read the comments to see what other omissions bloggers will admit to.

Well, I don't know many folks who have actually read War and Peace or Ulysses or Moby Dick but I have some real omissions to admit to.

I have never read...
this is really embarrassing...

I have never read:

Huckleberry Finn
I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe BUT I have not read any other Narnia books.
I've never read Farmer Boy in the Little House series. I always just skipped that book because I wanted to read more about Laura and her family.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bridge to Terabithia

Oh the shame, shame shame.

I am going to remedy the Huckleberry Finn omission soon.
(It wasn't my fault that I missed American Literature in high school. I didn't have to read Billy Budd either.)

Craig Ferguson's J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling's lawsuit against Steve Vander Ark and the planned print version of the Harry Potter Lexicon web site has been much in the news.


RDR Books Publisher Roger Rapoport said the suit dismayed him but vowed that he wouldn't allow it to block plans to release the Lexicon next month. He described the book as a "critical reference work" and dismissed any notion that it could compete with any official encyclopedia written by Rowling.

Rapoport said Vander Ark was a middle school librarian who started the Web site in his spare time in 2000, then watched its popularity grow to the point where Rowling herself gave it a Fan Site Award in 2004.

"He cannot understand why she wouldn't be supportive now," Rapoport said.

This news item reminded me of one of Craig Ferguson's send ups of Rowling. He just makes me laugh.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Back of the Moon

Oh gosh, Back of the Moon, the Scottish Trad Band whose CDs I enjoy, is going to be in the USA this month.

They will be performing in Washington, DC at Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on Monday, November 19, 2007 and other places.

Back of the Moon

This traditional Scottish folk band achieves its giant acoustic sound with Scottish border pipes, fiddle, low whistle, flute, bodhran (Irish frame drum), a rhythmic force of guitar and piano, and beautiful three-part vocal harmonies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Book?

Well, it was time for Halloween festivities here in the entwood.

Alas, time has been so short this year, there was no time for clever literary pumpkin carving but we did continue our annual tradition of demanding something in return for some treats in your bag.

First of all, you HAVE to say "Trick or Treat." You cannot just shove your bag forward without even a hello.


Costumed Kiddies: "Trick or Treat"

Chez BookMoot: "Hello Kiddies, Happy Halloween. Who can tell me the name of one of your favorite books?"

I was ever so pleased to hear a chorus of "Oh yeah, I remember this place." Even better were the kids who are so well trained now that they recite the question with us or shout out a book title as we open the door.

Some of the titles mentioned this year included:

2 for Barney
Saving Shiloh
"2007 Guinness Book of World Records" (shouted out, loud and clear)
Jack in the Beanstalk
Sea of Monsters
Because of Winn Dixie
various Harry Potters
several Lord of the Rings
Jackie Chan
"Disney Books"
Sponge Bob
Three Little Pigs
Horowitz Horror
The Tale of Despereaux
The Titan's Curse
"I don't have one." (Arrrrrrrrghhhh...)
Like a Song
3 for The Misadventures of Maude March (this is a Texas Bluebonnet book this year)
8 for Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo (this is a Texas Bluebonnet book this year)

One of the nicest things about this year's trick-or-treaters is that almost every one of them said "Thank you."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

This week's Blogging for the Cure:

Bloggers are banding together to help fight cancer. Here is this week's Robert's Snow Blog Event schedule:

Monday, October 29

Tuesday, October 30

Wednesday, October 31

Thursday, November 1

Friday, November 2

Saturday, November 3

Sunday, November 4

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you're so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back online

Well, it has been a busy time here in the entwood.
My gig at the local junior high was a happy time.
  • At least half the books in my "Read these, I promise they are good!" display got checked out.
  • Talked some more parents off the Accelerated Reader
    "ledge of despair"
  • Gave Cinda Williams Chima's Warrior Heir to a reader who can't wait for the next Percy Jackson
  • Danced with happiness to see Gail Gauthier's Happy Kid in the box of new books that arrived

  • Booktalked Caroline Cooney's Flash Fire as a current event tie-in to the fires in California

There has never been more to read about on the blogs as the Blogging for the Cure for Robert's Snow continues.

...and I have never had more to read as my inbox has exploded with interesting emails about the event and the new Kidlitosphere list_serv.

On the home front, Saturday is Homecoming with all the incumbent rituals and frenzies surrounding the dance. Keep Treebeard aka Mr. BookMoot (and the young man coming to fetch Entling no. 3) in your thoughts.

An angry Ent is terrifying. Their fingers, and their toes just freeze on to rock; and they tear it up like bread-crust.
-- "Flotsam and Jetsam", The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Hopefully we will be back to our regularly scheduled broadcasting next week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

Here is this week's schedule for the Robert's Snow Blogging for the Cure features.

Monday, October 22

Tuesday, October 23

Wednesday, October 24

Thursday, October 25

Friday, October 26

Saturday, October 27

Sunday, October 28

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boots on the Ground

Library jobs booked all last week and next.
Demand is outstripping the time available.
M-u-s-t * s-a-y * N-o!
Homestead on the point of collapse due to disorganization and columns, heaps, piles, infills of clutter and debris.

I've been at junior high and high school this past week. I am dismayed by how much I have not read.
As usual, I learn more from the kids than anyone else.


Student #1: "Really, Mrs. P, you NEED to read these Warriors books."


Me: I saw this (I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You) was on the Lone Star list, is it good?
Student #2: You haven't read this yet?
Oh it is SOOO...good. You have GOT to read this.


Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday:
"Hi, you are back.
Have you read Twilight yet?"

Me: "Uh, no, not yet."

Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday: "I told you to read it. I'm not talking to you until you read it."

an hour later

Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday:
"Are you reading Twilight?"

Me: "Uh, no, cataloging these books here.
Oh, thanks, I will read this copy that you just put on the desk in front of me."

Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday: "I'm not talking to you until you read it."

a half hour later

Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday:
"Are you reading Twilight?"

Me: "I'm on page 15."

Junior high teacher who will probably have a kidlit blog someday: "I'm not talking to you until you read it."


I will be back there on Monday. I have my assignment for the weekend.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

and the next James Tiberius Kirk is...

Ever alert, Entling No. 2 sent on this news about the casting of James T. Kirk and "Bones" in the Star Trek XI movie.
Whoo hoo, Éomer!

"Heroes" fans here in the entwood are happy about the casting of Spock too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Robert's Snow Artist: Ruth Sanderson

"Let It Snow" is the perfect cheer for this effort to benefit Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It is also the title of Ruth Sanderson's contribution to the 2007 Robert's Snow auction.

Snow laden fir boughs form the points of the snowflake as a smiling snowman raises his arms towards the sky. His doffed his hat and face express the joy of a snowfall. Sanderson has added a touch of whimsy as closer examination reveals footprints in the snow behind the snowman.

Careful attention to detail, rich glowing colors and lush picture storytelling make Sanderson's books a favorite with children.

In 2003, young readers in Texas voted for her book, The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring to win the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Sanderson lists horseback riding as her favorite hobby and her love of horses is reflected in her books. Her horses (and unicorns) have flowing manes and soulful eyes.

When girls ask me for a "princess fairy tale" I am always tickled to see their eyes light up when I show them Cinderella. The cover sparkles and Cinderella's dress is a the height of fantasy fashion. Their usual response is "oooooooooooooohhh..."

Ruth Sanderson has an affinity for fairy tales having illustrated:

The Crystal Mountain
by Ruth Sanderson
The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Ruth Sanderson
Cinderella by Ruth Sanderson
A Treasury of Princesses: Princess Tales from Around the World
Beauty and the Beast (Little Books) by Samantha Easton
The Snow Princess by Ruth Sanderson
Papa Gatto: An Italian Fairy Tale by Ruth Sanderson
Rose Red and Snow White: A Grimms Fairy Tale
by Ruth Sanderson, Jacob Grimm, and Wilhelm Grimm
Where Have The Unicorns Gone by Jane Yolen
William Shakespeare's The Tempest

Golden Wood Studio website showcases her artwork and offers a look at the evolution of a picture from sketch to finished painting. She has a Mother Goose book coming out in 2008 and Jane Yolen posed as Mother Goose.

You may bid on "Let it Snow" during Auction 3: December 3 - 7

I don't know about you, dear reader, but my short list is getting longer and longer and longer...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

In 2004, Grace Lin and her husband Robert Mercer were inspired to begin Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Beautiful, one-of-a-kind snowflakes were created by children's book illustrators and auctioned to raise money for cancer research.

Sadly, in August 2007, Grace lost her Robert to cancer. In honor of Grace and Robert, the kidlitosphere will be featuring the artwork of some of the illustrators who contributed their talent and time to this year's auction. Three separate auctions will showcase these exquisite original works of art. The first auction begins on November 19.

You can see these treasures here.

Grace Lin describes her snowflake on her blog a solitary grace.

This is the schedule for this week's features. Thank you to Tricia and Jen Robinson for building the links for us to use.

Monday, October 15

Tuesday, October 16

Wednesday, October 17

Thursday, October 18

Friday, October 19

Saturday, October 20

Sunday, October 21

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you're so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

First Annual Kidlitosphere Conference

Great things about the First Annual Kidlitosphere Conference:

  • Gracious and convivial company
  • Interesting and extremely helpful presentations.
  • Entertaining and funny stories.
  • Gotta Book's hilarious t-shirts.
  • A magical brunch at Esme Raji Codell's Book Room, a children's book wonderland if there ever was one. If the setting were not amazing enough, Esme prepared a delicious spread of food that included a blintz cassserole that made me very very happy.
  • Finding out we have more than just our affection for children's and YA literature in common -- We discovered we share similar interests in movies, TV shows, coffee and shoes.
  • A chance to visit with gifted authors and illustrators
  • Such happiness and joy to find out all the blogs I read, REALLY are written and hosted by such nice, smart and funny people.

I think I am the last one to post. As usual, Indefatigable Kelly at Big A little a has an excellent round-up of the posts about the conference.

Thank you, Robin Brande for making all this possible!


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Author: Rick Riordan

I had several kids at my last junior high gig ask me if I knew the title of the next Percy Jackson book. They were dismayed when I said no.

Well, know we all know.

Rockstar Rick Riordan's next Percy Jackson novel will be called
The Battle of the Labyrinth.

Excellent cover!!

And now I am off to Chicago for the 1st Kidlitosphere Conference. See you all soon.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cybil Nominations Are Now Open

From the Cybils website:

Nominations Are Now Open
Welcome to the 2007 Cybils, the only literary awards by bloggers. We're seeking nominations from book lovers in eight genres:

Fantasy/Science Fiction
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction: Middle Grade and Young Adult
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction

Nominations close November 21st and you get one nomination per category so reflect, ponder and nominate.

I will be serving as a judge for Non-Ficton: Middle Grade and Young Adult.

Our fearless leader/organizer, Jen Robinson, posted about the committee at her blog.

The 2007 Cybils MG/YA Nonfiction Committee
I'm happy to announce the members of the 2007 Cybils MG/YA Nonfiction Committee:
Category Organizer: Me
Nominating Panel:
Mindy (
Susan Thomsen (Chicken Spaghetti)
KT Horning (Worth the Trip)
Vivian (HipWriterMama)
Becky (Farm School)

Judging Panel:
Tracy Chrenka (Talking in the Library)
Emily Mitchell (Emily Reads)
Camille Powell (Book Moot)
Alice Herold (Big A little a)
Jennie Rothschild (Biblio File)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Book to Movie Adventures

I have not poked the wound that is the movie formerly-known-as-The-Dark-is-Rising-formerly-known-as-The-Seeker: The-Dark-is-Rising now-known-as-The-Seeker in a while.

NPR has done a story on the controversy along with a lovely interview with Susan Cooper herself. (You MUST listen to this!) Is it just me or does screenwriter-who-doesn't-like-fantasy John Hodge sound a tad touchy and defensive about what he did to this book?

NPR producer and Cooper fan, Alison MacAdam, has written an eloquent essay on the subject. She beautifully expresses our fears about the upcoming movie:

I'm afraid the movie will steal future readers, too. Often films can reintroduce books to a new audience. That happened with The Lord of the Rings, which hit the bestseller lists when the movies came out. But it's pretty clear The Dark Is Rising was not adapted with such reverence for the books. The director has said in interviews that he had never read The Dark Is Rising before the movie project, and the filmmakers have said the story had to be changed to appeal to kids today.

Fox/Walden and Tom Hanks are producing Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember and while that book does not have the iconic status of Susan Cooper's series hopefully, they are not unaware of the fallout from mishandling and bungling a beloved story.

An interview with director, Gil Kenan , has him actually expressing affection for the source material:
The good folks at Playtone handed me this glowing manuscript that had just arrived from the publishers called City of Ember. I read it and it destroyed my brain and put it back together again because it hit all the points that I wanted to tell in a story. It is exactly the kind of movie that I wanted to make.

So it’s funny, my relationship to this book, because I actually devoured the book that night. Then as soon as I finished it I kind of -- a path for the film took place and it wasn’t totally symmetrical. There’s things that you’ll see in this film that take real turns and most of them involve taking a book that’s very wordsy in it’s puzzle-solving and making it visual.

Finally, cinematical is reporting on the filming of Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse. The movie title is currently The Moon Princess.

says Ioan Gruffudd, Tim Curry, Natascha McElhone and Juliet Stevenson will star in addition to Dakota Blue Richards (The Golden Compass.)

I pray they get Maria's bedroom at Moonacre right. I remember thinking that it was the most perfect room I could ever imagine.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paint the Wind

Paint The WindPaint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan, 2007

I always enjoy a Pam Munoz Ryan book. Her novels make me hum with happiness and invite me to sit down for a cozy read. She also seems to write about things that I have a personal connection to.

Esperanza Rising is a book that continues to resonate with readers. Just this week, I was with a group of high school girls who sighed with happiness as they recalled reading Esperanza Rising in elementary school and junior high. I always felt a bond with this book myself because Esperanza's mother is treated in the Kern County Hospital where several events in my family's life went down in the 1950s. The fascinating story of Charlotte Parkhurst in Riding Freedom is graced with the compelling cover art of Brian Selznick which draws readers to the book. Becoming Naomi Leon is a sweetheart of a story about family.

So, at a recent library sub job, when I heard a very nice volunteer parent (who happens to work at the local bookstore Blue Willow Bookshop) offering an arc of this new PMR book to the library aide to read, I'm afraid I began to make piteous little mewling sounds which put her in the awkward position of having to offer me the arc first.

The title, Paint the Wind, evokes the beloved, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry and the book will have great appeal for those same horse loving book readers. The story opens as the mare, Artemisia, is about to give birth. Artemisia is worried about the baby as her last foal was stillborn.

The scene shifts to Pasadena, California (another personal stomping ground) where Maya lives with her stern and autocratic grandmother. Photos of her father abound throughout the house but all images and mentions of her mother are forbidden. Maya has only the haziest of memories of her early childhood but she treasures a box of plastic horses that belonged to her mother.

The grandmother's sudden death brings many things to light, including the news that Maya was supposed to have been spending her summers with her mother's family in Wyoming all these past years.

Emotionally withdrawn after her years with her grandmother, Maya has a hard time responding to the warmth and love of her grandfather, great-aunt and great-uncle. Her keen interest in horses helps her find her place and even tolerate the hostility from her cousin, Payton. He is used to being the only kid at the family camp along the Sweetwater River during the summer. With the help of her Aunt Vi she begins to learn about her mother and family.

Maya's story is inter-cut with scenes of Artemisia, her colt and the rest of the wild mustang herd. Maya and Aunt Vi see the herd captured in a "gathering" of wild mustangs but the mare and her colt evade the round-up. Without the protection of a stallion, the horses are vulnerable to attack from predators so Maya spends long hours in the saddle looking for them. When a disaster traps Maya in a remote area and she must win Artemisia's trust in order to survive and get home.

PMR tells the story in four parts, "Walk," “Jog," "Lope," and "Gallop" which match Maya's emotional growth and happiness. Parts of the storyline felt a little forced. I wondered why Maya’s grandfather had never challenged the custody arrangements for his granddaughter. But again, the author hit another personal note with me as there is a history of ranching in Wyoming in my family.

This is a book for horse lovers. Fans of Terri Farley's books will be familiar with the discussion of the controversial "gathering" of wild mustangs. There is a glossary and a list of websites, media, and books for readers who want to know more about the subject.

Paint the Wind celebrates swimming in a river, days of horseback riding, camp chores and caring for the horses -- a summer vacation that any horse loving kid would give their iPod and Playstation III to enjoy.