Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mouse Guard, please!

So many of my kidlitosphere friends point me towards books I love.

Fuse#8 found a copy of Mouse Guard at Comic.con. She talks about them here. I r-e-a-l-l-y want to see these graphic novels!

Mouse Guard website

The Last Apprentice

I was working through a stack of books, cataloging them for the junior high library where I was subbing. I was changing and adding MARC tags as per our district's specifications when this book appeared on the top of the stack.

The cover had a softly burnished silvery purpley glow. The art work by Patrick Arasmith reminded me of 19th century woodcut illustrations. It was almost square in shape. I noted the wide margins and easy spacing between the lines of text. I flipped back to the verso of the title page and saw the elegant, unusual font was Cochin and the book design was by Chad W. Beckerman. This tome was absolutely gorgeous. The first page of each chapter was printed with a black background and white text along with another woodcut style vignette, white on black.

Oh nooo, this is Book 2 of a series. Surely, the librarian has the first one? Yes!

Just to prove I am not a slacker, I finished the entire stack of books. I cataloged the audiobooks and the videos. I printed the barcodes and the spine labels and imported the records into the database. Then I raced to the stacks to find Book 1. Happily, the all-powerful library aide gave me permission to check it out (the sad price my librarians pay for having me in to catalog) and I was one happy camper.

I had not encountered The Last Apprentice series before. There is very little about the author Joseph Delaney at the HarperCollins site. This is all it says.
Joseph Delaney lives with his family in Lancashire, England, in the middle of boggart territory.
Wikipedia has a little more.

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney, 2005

Young Thomas Ward is a seventh son of a seventh son and it seems his mother has known all her life that he would be apprenticed to the area’s spook. The Spook has the job of dealing with unpleasant and dangerous spirits and apparitions, sort of a nineteenth century ghostbuster. This is an important job but spooks are feared and shunned by ordinary folk.

Leaving his family, Thomas starts his new life, mindful that the Spook's last apprentice was killed by one of the deadly spirits they were called on to dispatch. The Spook is a demanding teacher. Thomas keeps a notebook which he fills with every bit of learning his master imparts. He learns how to dig a pit exactly the proper dimensions for burying a boggart, and all manner of facts about witches and spirits.

When the Spook warns Thomas to beware of girls with pointy shoes he does not think much about it until he meets the mysterious Alice, a girl his own age, who wears pointy shoes. She comes from a family of dangerous witches but he wants to help her. As small children begin to go missing from the village, Thomas realizes the evil threat Alice and her family represent. Is Alice so far gone to the darkness that she cannot be saved?

Full of folklore, the story is down right scary. The book carries this advice on the back cover, “Warning: Not to be read after dark—especially page 148.”

The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney, 2006

The Spook has returned to Priestown for the funeral of his brother, who was killed by a boggart. There is danger in Priestown. One of the most malevolent spirits the Spook ever dealt with is locked in the catacombs beneath the cathedral. Unable to kill it, the Spook confined the Bane behind a silver gate but its influence and poison are spreading and all it needs is a willing soul to free it from its prison.

Because the town and the country side are under threat from the Quisitor, a priest conducting Inquisition style retribution on anyone or anything suspected of supernatural dealings, Tom and his master hope to attend the funeral and then leave town quickly.

The Quisitor returns unexpectedly with prisoners and Tom sees that Alice, the girl with the pointed shoes, has been swept into his trap. She will be burned for witchcraft along with other innocents. The Spook is also captured, betrayed by a member of his own family.

This is a first rate read. These books are wonderfully creepy, full of atmosphere and the book design will make them accessible for readers of all strengths (as are the Charlie Bone series). There is just enough burning at the stake, blood sacrifice and live burials to keep things interesting but not overtly graphic.

I don't know how many kids are aware of this series. They need to know about it NOW!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book Talking

You Tube has kids' booktalks.
Love this one for Don't Let the Pidgeon Drive the Bus

Whales on Stilts -- She really knows this story!
The Lightning Thief -- Zoe is Rick Riordan's DemiGod of the Month!
Chasing Vermeer -- He knows the sequel too!

These are great!

Movie: His Dark Materials

A press visit to the Golden Compass set is described at Underground Online. The article includes a nice collection of stills from the movie

Nicole Kidman's "costumes" look just like her "red carpet" dresses.

Lord Asriel aka 007

My favorite character!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friday Night Highlights

I was invited to party in Austin, Texas on Friday in celebration of Cynthia Leitich Smith's new book, Tantalize. I was telling Treebeard about Cynthia and Greg on the way to the capitol city Friday afternoon. After listening to my mini lecture, he commented that they sounded like extremely generous people.

Generous is the perfect word to describe them.

Their home was the setting for the party, the food was beautiful and delicious (very important.) There were these beautiful melt in your mouth roasted tomatoes and salmon and wraps and this amazing Italian cream cake.

I should have taken a picture.

Greg describes the menu at his blog.

There were so many people there and I was secure in the knowledge that I didn't know a soul besides Cynthia and Greg.

Aaacckk ...

Then I saw Julie Lake, author of the historical fiction novel, Galveston: Summer of the Storm about the 1900 Galveston hurricane. I hosted Julie at my library for an author visit a few years ago. She is so nice and rounded up people to meet me.

I should have taken a picture.

Brian Anderson writes the Adventures of Commander Zack Proton series. His series echoes the light hearted spirit of comic books (not Graphic Novels) of old. I met YA author Brian Yanksy (need to read his books) and Jo Whittemore author of The Silverskin Legacy.

I should have taken a picture.

Even though the party was in honor of Tantalize, Cynthia used the opportunity to introduce and showcase books by other Austin writers (generous, remember?) Kathi Appelt (I've cataloged and shared so many of her books with kids,) Helen Hemphill (I just received a copy of Runaround but did not get to talk to her,) Brian Yanksy, Jo Whittemore and April Lurie.

Then I got to meet Don Tate and his wife!!! It is sort of surreal and wonderful to meet people-you-feel-like-you-know-because-you- read-their-blog-but-you-don't-really-know-them but then they turn out to be even nicer and kinder than you could have ever imagined.

I was dazzled by the company and impressed by the community of writers in Austin, Texas. Their support and enthusiasm for each others' work is inspiring. It was an honor to be included Friday and I marvel again at the blessings the kidlitosphere has brought me.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Inkheart Stills

Fuse has a link to Inkheart movie photos at Dark Horizons.
Sorry girls, there are no photos of Basta yet, even though I know you don't like Jamie Foreman as Basta.

Part of the movie was filmed on location on the Italian Riviera.
You can see the rocky beach in this photo.

I'm ok with Brendan Fraser/Mo casting but I'm a fan.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tantalizing start!

Yippee! Amazon brought my copy of Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize yesterday.

I 've started it...woah...what a beginning!

See her post (back at her regular digs) about the design of Sanguini's restaurant logo. Sanguini's is the vampire theme restaurant that our heroine, Quincie, runs.

More Texas author news:

Rockstar Rick Riordan announces that the video he did for Scholastic Book Fairs is online now! He is on location on Long Island, the locale for Camp Half-Blood. They really found a summer camp there!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ghost Fever/Mal de Fantasma

Ghost Fever/Mal de Fantasma
by Joe Hayes, 2004

Ghost Fever won the Texas Bluebonnet Award for 2007, joining previous Bluebonnet ghost stories winners. including The Ghost of Fossil Glen in 2000, Time For Andrew: A Ghost Story in 1996, Wait 'Til Helen Comes in 1989 and Christina's Ghost in 1988.

Joe Hayes is a professional storyteller known for his Southwestern stories. This 87 page book is the kind of chapter book I love because young readers, still gaining fluency, can move through the story quickly and feel successful that they have mastered "a chapter book." It certainly qualifies as the kind of "scary" book young readers seek.

Cole Cash rents houses in Duston, Arizona on the wrong side of the tracks. No matter what he does though, he cannot rent one abandoned house to anyone. In desperation he offers 6 months free rent to whoever will sign a one year lease. Rumors of ghosts keep the house empty until Elena’s father hears about it. Newly unemployed with two young daughters, Frank Padilla decides to move his family in despite warnings and advice from family and friends. Luckily, Abuelita knows a thing or two about the spirit world so she takes fourteen year old Elena aside to warn her about ghosts.

She instructs Elena on how to talk to a spirit and warns her that she may be the only one who can hear or see it. Mona Pennypacker did the soft pencil illustrations which nicely evoke the apparition on pages 43 and the very creepy on page 63. I know these 2 pictures elicited the “oooooohs” when I introduced the Bluebonnet list last fall.

I look forward to hearing Hayes speak at the TLA Convention in April.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Room One: a mystery or two

Room One: a mystery or two by Andrew Clements, 2006

Ted Hammond is one of only nine students in his one room school and the only 6th grader in Plattsford, Nebraska. The farming community is shrinking and the school is going to close because of the small enrollment. The loss of the school will be the final blow to the town.

Ted loves to read mysteries and the town librarian Mrs. Coughlin has introduced him to interlibrary loan. He reads 2-3 mysteries a week and excels at solving them before the last chapter.

One morning while delivering newspapers he think he sees a face in the window of an abandoned farmhouse on his route. Using the detective skills he has learned, Ted sets out to solve the mystery. While assembling clues, he discovers a family camping in the old house. Alexa a girl about his age asks him to keep her family's presence in the house a secret. He reluctantly agrees then devotes himself to their welfare by bringing them food.

Clements always writes with amazing candor and feeling about the adults in children's lives. He is clear eyed about the sometimes edgy relationship between teachers and their students. Ted confides in his teacher, Mrs. Mitchell about the family forcing her into an ethical dilemma. She does not want to break a promise to a student but she knows she must report the family.

This low key162 page story is rounded out by an epilogue that tells "the rest of the story" in a conclusion that is very satisfying for the family and Ted's town.

There is much about Andrew Clements that impresses me. His website quotes him, "It is a privilege to write for children." His website (which needs updating) has a letter that he sends home to parents following school visits. I thought this paragraph was lovely.

We’re In Charge

When we read, we decide when, where, how long, and about what. One of the few places on earth that it is still possible to experience an instant sense of freedom and privacy is anywhere you open up a good book and begin to read. When we read silently, we are alone with our own thoughts and one other voice. We can take our time, consider, evaluate, and digest what we read—with no commercial interruptions, no emotional music or special effects manipulation. And in spite of the advances in electronic information exchange, the book is still the most important medium for presenting ideas of substance and value, still the only real home of literature.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

There is a difference

It occurs to me that I should be clear. There is a difference between a concerned parent and a book banning know nothing nutter.

I love concerned parents.

Both a Concerned Parent and a BBKNN may not have read a children's book since their Betsy & Tacey / Go Dog Go days and are genuinely distressed by something in a children's or YA book

A Concerned Parent reviews the book their child has checked out of the library


A BBKNN is working from a list they found on the internet and checking to see if the school library has any of the titles.

A Concerned Parent talks to their child's teacher, librarian or principal about the book. They have a discussion with the librarian and others about the book.


A BBKNN goes directly to the school board demanding the book be banned.

A Concerned Parent is genuinely worried about the effect a book has on their child and should be applauded for taking an interest in their child's reading life.


A BBKNN is primarily interested in the newspaper article about their school board appearance.

A Concerned Parent works with the librarian to offer alternative reading choices to their child and the parent talks to their child about the books they expect them to read.


A BBKNN sends their kid into the library to check out yet ANOTHER controversial book so they can add it to their list of grievances.

A Concerned Parent may determine that their child's reading selections need exploring and realize this is an opportunity to discuss certain issues with their child.


A BBKNN begins an email campaign maligning the librarian and expressing outrage over the presence of the book in the library and on the planet Earth.

A Concerned Parent realizes that they can make reading choices for their own child but have no right to determine reading selections for other people's children.


A BBKNN complains about the book to people where he/she works and vows to "take the book down."

A Concerned Parent may still honestly feel a book needs to be reconsidered after they have read it and they file paper work to have the book reconsidered.


A BBKNN files paperwork to challenge the book without reading the book in its entirety and goes through and picks words and scenes out of context to include in the complaint.

A Concerned Parent reads the report of the reconsideration committee and finds a) the committee has agreed with the concerned parent or b) accepts that others have found value and merit in the book and is resigned that the book will remain on the shelf.


A BBKNN reads the report of the reconsideration committee and finds a) the committee has agreed with the BBKNN or b) shrieks in frustration that others have found value and merit in the book and is NOT resigned that the book will remain on the shelf.

Instead they immediately escalate and file an appeal vowing to take their complaint all the way to the state board of education.

Concerned parents are concerned with the welfare of their own child.


BBKNNs' own children are not part of the equation because they don't let their kids read “those kinds of books” anyway.

I love concerned parents.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


YA Authors Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Lorie Ann Grover & Justina Chen Headley
are launching readergirlz, a new online book community celebrating gutsy girls in life & lit. Our goal is to encourage teen girls to read and reach out. Every month, we will gather readers online to discuss a novel with us and participate in a community service project related to that book.

We'll kick off readergirlz on March 1, 2007, in honor of National Women's History Month.

Miss Erin has a review of Carey's Dragon's Keep. What a great cover!
Their myspace page features Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall which makes reading and viewing the site very enjoyable.

I need to flag this for the entlings to see for sure.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tough Sells

Michele at Scholar's Blog has a review of Philip Pullman's funny and imaginative book, I was a Rat! I read this book when it I added it to my library a few years ago and loved the story. A rat turned into a boy/footman by Cinderella's fairy godmother is playing and sliding down banisters at the palace when the stroke of midnight falls. When he does not make it back to the "coach" in time, he is left behind in his guise as a boy. Left to fend for himself, all he really knows is "I was a rat."

Surprisingly, this book is a tough sell with kids. I think the Kevin Hawkes pen and ink illustrations fit the story perfectly. Despite my awesome ability as a booktalker (she adds modestly) and my enthusiasm for it, I have had limited success selling this story. I guess I never found the right reader.

Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is another title that is such an exciting and terrific girl power book but confounds me when I sense that subtle push-back and mouth twist that indicates, "no sale."

Timing IS everything. I think kids were very ready for Lemony Snicket following 9-11.
Easy to say : hard to accomplish -- It really is a matter of a book finding its reader. Teri Lesesne (Goddess of YA Literature) has summed up the challenge with her book titled Making the Match: The Right Book for the Right Reader at the Right Time: the right person at the right place at the right time and the right book.
Complicated yes, but that is why us matchmakers keep at it. When it happens, it is m-a-g-i-c.

BTW: Do find Lesesne's new book Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers, 2006.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Books at the movies

mitali's fire escape links to an interview with Katherine Paterson about her work and the upcoming movie of her classic, Bridge to Terabithia.

One of the first things I heard about the Terabithia movie was that it was going to be a "sprawling fantasy adventure," and they had hired a big special effects team for it, and my initial reaction was to sort of recoil at this—

Paterson: Your initial reaction? (laughs) What do you think mine was?

I don't know, you tell me!

Paterson: Well, that was the thing I was most afraid of. And if you've seen the trailer, my word. I'm just telling everybody I know, "Don't see the trailer, don't see the trailer." Because it's exactly what the trailer ends up making you think, is that it's this glorified fantasy adventure with nothing but special effects, and that's not what we ended up with in this movie.
The story is ultimately about friendship ... and loss

We've ended up with a movie about a friendship between a boy and a girl who develop an imaginary kingdom, and the girl dies, and the boy has to deal with his loss, which is the story of the book. Now of course, because it is currently 2007 and not 1977, when you make a certain type of movie, people expect special effects—and so they've got some special effects. But I don't think they've ruined the movie. (laughs)

The one good thing that they managed to convey to me—and I can't guarantee that this will be conveyed to everyone who sees it—was that Terabithia is not another land, that Terabithia is absolutely coming out of the children's imaginations. It leads into the Terabithian scenes in such a way that I was convinced that they were creating this other land, which to me was masterful.

From the Sublime to the mundane now:

A Fuse #8 points me towards
Lady, That's My Skull who comments on the new Nancy Drew movie and the horrific news that Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller are really going to team up for Hardy Men, an updated Hardy Boys adventure. Hijinks ensue, no doubt.

Both these guys stepped into the empty elevator shaft of my attention span a long time ago. Nothing to see here, move along please.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Cybil Award Winners

The Cybil Award Winners have been announced!

Fantasy and Science Fiction:
Ptolemy's Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)
Jonathan Stroud
Hyperion: Miramax

Fiction Picture Books:
Scaredy Squirrel
by Melanie Watt
Kid’s Can Press

Graphic Novels:
Ages 12 and Under:
Amelia Rules! Volume 3: Superheroes
by Jim Gownley
Renaissance Press

Ages 13 and Up:
American Born Chinese
Gene Yang
First Second

Middle Grade Fiction:
A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press

Non-Fiction, Middle Grade and Young Adult:
Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
by Russell Freedman
Holiday House

Non-Fiction Picture Books:
An Egg Is Quiet
written by Dianna Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long
Chronicle Books

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes
Houghton Mifflin

Young Adult Fiction:
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith is having Blogger troubles and cannot access our indispensable blog, Cynsations.

Luckily, she can guest blog at GregLSBlog. Cynthia's new novel Tantalize is due out today!

This is one terrific cover!

Edge of the Forest

The Edge of the Forest is ONE year old and celebrating! Check out this month's edition! I have an interview with Joe Craig, author of the Jimmy Coates series! His second book in the series, Jimmy Coates: Target will launch March 1, 2007 here in the USA. Also (as summed up at Big A, little a ...)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Indefatigable Kelly!

Our friend Kelly Herold of Big A little a and The Edge of the Forest editor has a topping swank interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Eisha & Jules have adopted the Pivot Questions for their interviews which makes for brilliant copy!

Wish I'd thought of it.
Great reading, all!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Introducing the Book

In case you have not seen this one:

When you have trouble, call the Help Desk.

Friday, February 09, 2007

To cogitate and to solve

I attribute all my oldest entling's math skills to her early exposure to Mathnet.
Here is part 1 of the classic Maltese Pigeon. This series was so much fun.

Part 2
Part 3 is missing--
Part 4
Part 5

Alas, only a few of the episodes are available for purchase and only in VHS.

From School Library Journal

Liz B has an article in the new School Library Journal, "Curl Up With A Cup of Tea and a Good Blog" and has assembled a great list of "Must Reads" from the kidlitosphere.
She has kindly included Book Moot.

Liz shares some great reasons for checking out these blogs:

Perhaps you're lucky enough to work with colleagues with whom you share a passion for kids' books—or not. For those of us who are the sole children's or teen specialist at our library, it can get pretty lonely. Say you've just read a book and want to rave (or rant) about it, or you need to figure out which books to buy on a limited budget. Where can you turn? Sure, there are print publications, such as School Library Journal and the Horn Book. But as great as those magazines are, you may want more in the way of diverse opinions and extended reviews, not to mention a place to get answers to your questions or connect with fellow bibliophiles.

When I started this blog over 2.5 years ago there were a few folks blogging about children's books but not many. I know, I was looking for them. It has been an amazing experience to be part of the growth of this blogging community.

Right now, I am going to see if my school librarian soul sister will let me borrow her copy of SLJ. I want to see the photo of Liz blogging with Cheetah and Peter Parker!

Monday, February 05, 2007

And the winner is...

The winner of the 2007 Texas Bluebonnet Award is Ghost Fever/Mal de fantasma by Joe Hayes, 2004

This win marks the first time that the author of a dual language book has been so recognized. The subject, however, of children in peril, so prominent in Ghost Fever/Mal de fantasma, also appears in the two runners up: The SOS File (with 20,529 votes) and The Lightning Thief (with 19,574 votes). Clearly adventure, a little danger, and fantastic adventure appealed to readers this year.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Our Seasons

Our Seasons by Grace Lin and Ranida T. McKneally, illustrated by Grace Lin, 2006

In this part of Texas we do have four seasons. They are Hot & Humid, Downpour, Open-Window-Day (usually a day in the traditional Fall and Spring where we all open our windows to let in the beautiful fresh air and then slam them shut,) and Cool. I am not complaining, that is just the way it is. The friendliest folks in the world live here and if the weather was different, we couldn't afford our homes.

This year however, we have also managed to squeeze in winter. January 2007 (and now February) has been so gray and cold and rainy that people are starting to suffer the kind of cabin fever and semi-depression that is usually reserved for snow bound folks up north. We are just not used to so many days in a row of gloom, chill and rain. This seems like a good time to bring a terrific book to the attentions of school librarians who are looking for new resources for the first grade "Seasons" unit or haiku poetry.

Lin and McKneally have crafted a different kind of "seasons" book. Autumn, winter, spring and summer are described with haiku verse and illustrated with scenes of children enjoying the time of year. There are also questions and scientific explanations for aspects of the seasons, like "Why do my cheeks turn red in the cold?" or "Why do bees like flowers?" Kids in this part of the world would probably like to know the answer to "Why is the air sticky?" The book would pair with Chris Van Allsburg's The Stranger as Lin beautifully illustrates frost on the window and the book answers the question, "Why is there frost on the window?" Alas, the concept of Jack Frost is hard to relate to here on the coastal plain.

Grace Lin's signature use of texture and pattern evokes childhood with every brush stroke and the clear beautiful colors will engage readers.

This is a Gotta-have-it for school libraries.

Grace Lins blogs at Pacyforest

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Well, I know where I will be on July 21, 2007

Final Harry Potter to be published July 21