Thursday, May 31, 2007


I think a great deal of interest in this Harry Potter theme park will hinge on the satisfaction of readers with book 7.

Harry Potter theme park swoops to Fla.

LONDON (AP) — Universal Studios is opening up a Harry Potter theme park in Florida — complete with the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade village.

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," will open in late 2009 in Orlando, officials said Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Magdalena Kožená

I just became a Magdalena Kožená fan. I wonder if the young mezzo soprano I know is ready for this piece?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Copyright bahs

Saints and Spinners pointed me to this Unshelved.
Just tell me who to "hug" indeed.

In case you have not see this take on copyright law they have it on You Tube now.
How much longer is "the Mouse" protected?

8 Things Meme

Indefatigable Kelly tagged me with the 8 Things Meme.

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I lived in the Netherlands as a child. I never learned to speak Dutch but I know enough to eat very well. Pannekoeken and poffertjes, patat, bitterbal, (John Green just ate one on Brotherhood 2.0 and described it as "meat, flour and hope,") speculaas, oliebollen...Verkade, Droste...

2. My favorite reading series as a child were Nancy Drew and Noel Streatfield.

3. I love "needle arts," including quilting, sewing, knitting, insulin pumps.

4. I can find musical notes on a piano and play in a halting slow manner.

5. I do not like steep bridges or overpasses. There used to be a bridge into Louisiana from Texas that was so steep, I almost did not make it over one time.

6. I have been fascinated by miniature houses all my life, probably beginning with dollhouses as a kid. I end up collecting them. I just found a series of small cross-stitched houses to stitch and assemble. I bought one. I will probably have to go back and get the rest. They were on sale. Really, they are a bargain...

7. I am a Anglophile. I have been fortunate to visit England in my youth. I have never been to Scotland or Ireland or Wales but they are on the list.

8. I lived in Strasbourg, France for a year during a long, long, loooong, PTT grève.

I tag:


Monday, May 28, 2007

Knitting and Harry

I have had this book on my wish list for sometime. It has finally been published. I am a rank amateur knitter (emphasis on "rank") who enjoys knitting blogs and "fiber" links. This article, "Knit if you love Harry Potter," by Molly Millett caught my eye.

Right about now, you might be thinking: Harry Potter? Knitting? Huh? But knitting references are woven throughout the series:

  • Molly Weasley, the mother of Harry's friend, Ron, gives hand-knit sweaters as Christmas gifts.
  • Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore enjoys reading Muggle knitting patterns.
  • Harry's friend, Hermione, knits hats for house elves.
  • In the movies, the characters wear lovely, hand-knit scarves, sweaters, socks and hats

  • In preparation for the book, Alison Hansel did her research.

    "I went through all the Harry Potter books again and looked for knitting references, like the socks Dobby the house elf gave Harry for Christmas - one is green with broomsticks and the other is red with snitches," Hansel said. "From there, you have to come up with the details. I also searched the movies. For a Harry Potter fan, any excuse to reread the books or watch the movies is good."

    Knitters don't just watch the movies - they study them.

    "The knit items in the movie are really nicely made, and knitters will go back and pause scenes to see how the items are constructed," Hansel said.

    Check out the Hogwarts Sock Swap. These folks are having too much fun.

    I would really like to learn how to knit socks. Sockbug sent me some very good links and directions. One of my goals this summer is to give her suggestions a try.

    Alison Hansel blogs at the blue blog.
    Charmed Knits Knit-Along

    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    48 Hour Book Challenge

    Mother Reader's 24 Hour Book Challenge is coming up soon. I had started a nice little pile of books that I wanted to devote myself to for that weekend. Well, best laid plans and all that.

    Turns out we will be a'voyaging to Washington D.C. the week before and we will be flying home on the 9th. So, my challenge will be to read on the plane and while doing laundry when we get home. Maybe I will receive honorable mention for the most number of pages read at the highest altitude?

    We are all very dizzy with excitement. I have only been to Washington D.C. once and that was as a chaperone on a high school band trip in April 2001. The youngest entling has never been there so we are having great fun reading guide books and making our lists.

    The Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress and Ford's Theater top my list. Ever since I read James Swanson's riveting page-turner, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer last year I have been anxious to see the theater where the drama began.

    Update: Blast and drat! I just visted the Ford's Theater site and saw this:

    Please note: Ford's Theatre Historic Site will be closed to the public through November 2007. There will be no performances or tours during this time. We will reopen in November 2007 for our production of Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. Please check back for updates throughout the summer.

    Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    What do readers think?

    Blue Rose Girls pointed me to this extremely interesting article in the NYTimes,"The Greatest Mystery: Making a Best Seller."

    This line from the story jumped out at me, because I realized how true it was.

    “Before Amazon, we didn’t even know what people thought of the books,” she said.

    End of the school year crazies

    My home in that disgusting state that happens every year at this time. It seems like there is only enough time to fly in the door, drop everything, scoop up the stuff you need for the next event/duty/crisis and fly back out the door.

    Enough. Today I am rolling up the carpets, moving the furniture and I am locked in hand to hand combat with dust bunnies and other assorted scary household boogies. I am reminded of a comment Scott Westerfeld made about revising and rewriting. He said it is like cleaning out a closet. It gets worse before it gets better.

    That is the place where I am now.

    I look at the nice shiny floor but my heart sinks at the piles covering every surface. Stacks of books, stacks of newspapers, magazines, the paper flotsom and jetsom of school life, finals schedules, study materials, a recipe I printed out from the Food Network website. If I wanted to collapse into a chair to take a break, I couldn't. There is no place to sit.


    The one pleasant part of the day has been the movie I watched as I began the and tidying. I have found watching a DVD while I am doing something I do not enjoy, helps me stick to it.

    I recommend: Her Majesty, 2001, rated PG -- filmed entirely in New Zealand

    Parts of the soundtrack sounded like Howard Shore's music, even though it was not. (Maybe the New Zealand landscape just inspires composers.)

    Set in the 1950s, a young girl named Elizabeth is enthralled by the recent coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She daydreams about meeting the Queen and begins a letter writing campaign to invite Elizabeth II to visit. The town is thrown into a frenzy when the news comes that the Queen has placed Middleton on her itinerary for the upcoming royal visit to New Zealand.

    An old Maori tribeswoman soon becomes the target of many of the leading citizens' rage because they consider her ramshackle house, a blight on the parade route.

    Elizabeth befriends the old woman and learns about the history and culture of the Maori people which puts her at odds with the rest of the town and even her own family.

    A very sweet story with one of the most odious older brothers I've ever encountered in a story.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Author: Mike Lupica

    Matt Lauer interviews Mike Lupica at Live From Studio 1A about his new book, Summer Ball, the sequel to Travel Team.

    Lupica talks about sports and life and his characters. His aim to demonstrate that "anybody can get knocked down, that's easy, but it is how you pick yourself up" that is important. He says he never gives his kids (characters) more than they can handle.

    Summer Ball is one of the books at the top of my TBR pile right now.

    Update: The MSNBC website seems to be experiencing some problems right now. I hope these links work. The interview is great.

    Modern, Cool Nerd

    Kelly at Big A little a was fearful this was a time waster. Not so. An important task awaits.

    I am a Modern Cool Nerd!! I am sure this question tipped the balance:
    Do you have any themed decoration in your home/office other than color/material coordination? (Disney, frogs, unicorns, Star Wars, etc.)

    Have I ever mentioned our Lord of the Rings room?
    People who come to the front door jump when I open the door and they see Argorn looming over my shoulder.

    After you figure out your Nerd level, click over to Little Willow. She has an assignment for us Nerd Fighters.

    Your Score: Modern, Cool Nerd

    73 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 47% Dork

    For The Record:

    A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

    A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

    A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

    You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

    Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!


    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Sadness: Lloyd Alexander

    Members of Child_Lit are reporting that Lloyd Alexander died this morning.

    Horn Book notice
    (via Fuse #8)
    Tribute on NPR by Jon Scieszka
    NYTimes Obit

    His books are timeless and will be enchanting new readers and old ones forever.

    Movie: Inkheart

    Attention all Inkhearties and Basta-casting-mourners:

    The news from the Cornelia Funke website is that the first tailer for Inkheart will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

    She told me that it is absolutely fantastic!
    AND - today (14 May) she left for London, because Iain Softley will show her the complete first cut of Inkheart.

    Once they show it there, we should see it soon. I recall the first look at Fellowship of the Ring was at Cannes.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    New Blog

    Chad W. Beckerman, the designer of the beautiful, creative, lovely-to-hold-in-your-hand, Last Apprentice books, has a blog Mishaps and Adventures.
    After reading several blogs I have notice a need for blog about book design.
    In particular Young Adult, Teen and Children's Book design. I will try and write about what I see as common trends good and bad as well as what makes a jacket successful. This is of course all just my opinion and if you feel like I might be leading you astray please by all means lets talk it out.

    Let's see where this takes me.

    I have become very interested in the design of the books I've been reading recently. I am going to checking here often.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Happy Days

    I've had the most wonderful day with books today.

    I had a storytelling gig tonight with a group of kindergarteners and some of their older siblings at a local elementary school. I wanted to recreate an activity I used to do this time of year with my own students so I went over to the school early to set up a campfire, a tent, etc.

    As I signed in, one of my wonderful former students (and dedicated reader) came in (she is now in college) to see a parental unit who works there. She gave me the most wonderful hug and I got to meet her boyfriend. Boyfriend? Funny how kids stop growing in your mind in 5th grade or when ever you see them for the last time. Gosh, if I had known I was going to see her, I would have brought her a stack of books.

    I also had a visit there with another friend whose son (another of "my" kids) finally became an avid reader in 6th grade thanks to Percy Jackson. His mother mentioned that he was on the waiting list for Titan's Curse at his junior high (on a WAITING LIST??? No no no no...)

    After I picked up my entling from school and we stopped by the public library where it seemed like Camille's-old-elementary-students-now-in junior-high day. It seemed like every time I turned a corner there was another pocket of old students who seemed wildly enthusiastic to see me (you never know for sure.) I ended up walking and talking the shelves of the YA section with one of them. He kept pulling the books off the shelf as I described them and asking me, "What else is good?" He took a pile over to be checked out. He always was an adventurous and courageous reader.

    I got back to the school early this evening to make sure every thing was working and saw yet another teacher friend who is now teaching at this new campus (I think half my old school is there now) and in the course of our conversation realized I had just the picture book she needed for a subject she is introducing this week. Since I am subbing at a jr. high very near her tomorrow, I will drop it off on my way.

    The storytelling was very fun and Dragon was in his most cheeky, most annoying element. The coolest moment was when I pulled a small spider puppet onto my fingers to start an Anansi story and one little boy started to sing "The Eensy-Weensy-Spider" and the whole group joined in. Those precious young voices, it brought tears to my eyes.

    My 6th grade friend was also there and he now has a Titan's Curse to read. Bah on waiting lists.

    When I got home I saw this post at Chicken Spaghetti about Susan's son and Calvin & Hobbes.
    I love it when I hear that someone has finally made a reading connection.

    Reading is so personal and I take my friends' reading personally. That amazing "right book, right reader, right time" thing is what has always interested me the most about being a librarian. It is always an honor to be a small part of the magic.

    Dragon's Keep

    Dragon's Keep

    Dragon's Keep
    by Janet Lee Carey, (Harcourt, 2007)

    The first time I saw this book mentioned was on Miss Erin's blog. I was struck by the outstanding cover (I continue to be fascinated by the job book designers do) and frankly, anything with "dragon" in the title is automatically interesting to me.

    After I finished reading it, I emailed some junior high librarian friends and suggested they seriously consider putting it on their next order. Click here: Mackin customers / Follett customers

    One of them emailed me this week to point out that School Library Journal has agreed with me and has given the book a "starred" review. In Wall Street lingo, that is a "buy" signal.

    --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

    Rosalind's mother believes Merlin's prophecy from centuries earlier that stated her daughter would "... redeem the name Pendragon. End war with the wave of her hand. And restore the glory of Wilde Island." She goes to great lengths to have a child and will protect her daughter's future, no matter what it takes.

    As the future twenty-first queen of Wilde Island, Rosalind is prepared to marry an English prince when the time comes and re-integrate her family line with the English court. Her branch of the royal family tree was outlawed by King Arthur hundreds of years earlier. There is just one little problem. Instead of a ring finger on her left hand, she has a dragon claw. Only her mother and Rosalind know about her hand and her mother devises a fashion of wearing gloves to hide the "disfigurement" because even a princess might be taken for a witch if the secret got out.

    This is a story of obsession in many ways. In her efforts to see her daughter gain the throne, Rosalind's mother will do anything, not unlike the headline-making "cheerleader mom."

    Rosalind is obsessed by what she perceives as a physical flaw and desperately endures "cures" from physicians, who are not allowed to know her specific ailment, in hopes of fixing it. This echoes news stories today about the growing number of young adults seeking cosmetic surgery.

    Carey's plotting is complex and riveting. Her characters are real and compelling.

    First rate!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Harcourt for remembering my request at TLA and sending it to me.

    Interview with Janet Lee Carey at Cynsations
    Janet Lee Carey Website


    Capoeira by George Ancona, (Lee&Low, 2007)

    When I received this book from Lee & Low I was trying to puzzle out the pronunciation of the title when my entling said, "Are you trying to say 'capoeira,' as in the martial art?"

    Yes, how do you know about it?

    "Well, in Full Metal Alchemist there was a character..."

    Who says you can't learn things from manga and anime?

    Well, now that I have read this well designed and beautifully photographed book, I know what capeoira is.
    Capoeira--it's a game, a dance, a martial art! For those who play capoeira, it is a way of life.
    The history and importance of this art form in Brazilian culture are explained. The language of the capoeira is Portuguese. Drumming, instruments, singing, clapping and acrobatics are all part of this game/martial art.

    George Acuna's photography has captured the motion and flow of athletes, sometimes in mid-flight, on the streets of Brazil and the academies in the USA. The students at the Mandinga Academy in Oakland, CA perform for many of the photographs in the book.

    Capoeira encourages strength, strategy and discipline and fosters respect for teachers, education and work. This book is an excellent introduction and may intrigue many kids to investigate this art form.

    There is a glossary and pronunciations guide at the back as well as a list of online and author sources.

    By the way you pronounce it ( kah-poo-AY-rah)

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    The Office

    Ok, got around to watching this week's episode of The Office over the weekend. Loved the Harry Potter references.

    Paraphrasing here, not a transcript:

    The office goes to the beach. Michael has team games planned for them.

    Dwight names his team: "We will be Gryffindor!"
    Jim: "Not Slytherin?"
    Dwight: "They're the bad guys, Jim"
    Jim: "I know"
    Jim: "I guess we will be Voldemort"
    Dwight: No, no, not "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" NO!

    Jim's Team Chanting: "Vol-De-Mort! Vol-De-Mort! Vol-De-Mort! Vol-De-Mort!"

    Dwight pounding on Andy in the inflated sumo wrestler suit shouting: "Gryffindor! Gryffindor! Gryffindor!"

    Loved Pam's speech.

    Princess Nevermore and Cam's Quest

    Princess Nevermore: Updated and Expanded Edition by Dian Curtis Regan (Darby Creek, 2007)
    Cam's quest : the continuing story of Princess Nevermore by Dian Curtis Regan (Darby Creek, 2007)

    Quinn is princess of the underground medieval style kingdom of Mandria. Her only destiny in Mandria is to be a fairy tale princess and married off at the age of 16. The kingdom is connected by magic, through a wishing pool, to the outer world (our world) and Quinn and her childhood friend Cam dream of visiting it. As an apprentice to a magician, Cam knows some magic and tries to send himself and Quinn to the surface but ends up only sending Quinn by mistake. Lost in our world, she is rescued by a man and his two teenage grandchildren who take her home with them and enroll her in high school.

    The idea of a medieval princess surviving in a present day high school works well in the story. When Quinn addresses a teacher as "Sire" he thinks she is being a smart aleck. Her discovery of the comfort of blue jeans and the fun of make-up are entertaining. The technology of this world seems like a kind of magic to her even though she knows there is no magic left on the surface of Earth.

    The tension in the book rises as Quinn becomes the focus of attention of the campus ne're-do-well and the window of time she has to return to Mandria begins to close. Because she has fallen in love, she questions whether she even wants to return.

    Cam's Quest picks up sometime after Princess Quinn gets back to Mandria. Cam loves Princess Quinn from afar but knows he can never marry her as he is an orphan and knows nothing about his parentage. Eventually he too must pass through the wishing pool to discover the truth about his past. In the meantime the princess has got her back up against the convention that she MUST marry and she runs away.

    You can take the girl out of the blue jeans but you can't take the blue jeans out of the girl.

    In the forward to the first book, Dian Curtis Regan mentions that she began writing the book when she was just out of her teens and the book does put me in mind of Eragon with its straight forward plotting and very earnest characters.

    I liked the cover art for the two books very much and I note that Cam's Quest is an upcoming Junior Library Guild selection.

    Interview with Dian Curtis Regan at Cynsations
    Dian Curtis Regan Website

    Review copy from Raab Associates

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Everyday Pasta

    Happy Mothers Day!

    I received this new book from Entling no. 1 as a Mothers Day gift. The recipes look wonderful but seeing the title page signed "To Camille" by Giada's own hand is too much fun. Reading the story of how I came to own this signed copy is priceless. My entling's account follows.

    ----------- ------------

    So I see in the "Taste" section of The Dallas Morning News that Food Network icon Giada De Laurentiis will be appearing at a local Border's bookstore for a signing of her newest culinary achievement, Everyday Pasta. Not only is she a cable foodie's one-stop shop for Italian cooking 101, she's also a favorite of Mom and Grandmom. Perfect Mother's Day present!

    Now, if you know nothing else about my family, you should understand nothing is ever as easy as just seeing something in paper and being able to go.

    It seemed simple enough. Giada's signing had two basic rules: 1 - You had to have a ticket; and 2 - You only got a ticket if you bought a copy of the book from that store, that day.

    But there were a limited number of tickets. And a limited number of books. Ticket holders were divided into Group A and Group B. Only the first 100-ish people who bought books could be in Group A. And, of course, only people in Group A could have their books personalized. Everyone else just got a signature because otherwise the poor chef would be at the store for days.

    So how do I get a ticket, buy the book and get in Group A? I got there early.

    I did happen to have a bit of after-Thanksgiving, Black Friday experience, so I knew to wait for the store to open. Border's opened at 9 a.m., so I left my place at 6:45 a.m. and arrived at 8:15 a.m. I expected maybe one or two people to be there - after all, it was a cookbook not a Nintendo Wii.

    I was 30th in line!

    The lady first in line had been there since 5 a.m. Fifteen minutes before the store opened, another 80 people showed up, shuffling into line - some wearing slippers - tightly gripping Starbucks and McGriddles.

    When the doors opened, Border's folks nicely lined us up on a predetermined path, marked by blue masking tape on the floor. Thirty minutes later, I had two copies of the book and a hot pink ticket with GROUP A stamped on the front like a Southwest Airlines boarding pass.

    Giada, however, wouldn't be there for almost another 9 hours. Her signing started at 6 p.m., and Border's folks advised people (again) to get there early. So I went to our company's downtown office, worked until about 4:30 p.m. and cut out early to go grab a spot in line. I arrived at 4:55 p.m., again expecting (since I was more than an hour early) to be tenth or so in line.

    I was 40th!!!

    Group A folks - me included - lined up on another predetermined path, this one marked with beige masking tape, winding in and around the music section. I stood next to a mom with three little kids who wanted to see how high they could stack all the books they knocked off the shelves. When they were asked to stop - by Border's folks, NOT their mom - they decided to see how fast they could spin a magazine stand around and around. (Answer - fast enough to make magazines fly out and knock over their stacks of books.)

    Giada's "people" showed up around 6 p.m. An assistant came in first to preview the setup and directed more movable books displays to cordon off the signing table. Local police also had to have time to look over the crowd (about 700 of us, according to an after-event Morning News article).

    Giada herself arrived about 6:40 p.m. (Just a reminder, I'd been there with the spinning, twirling, dancing children since before 5 p.m.)

    She came in the through the back and was so tiny and nondescript most people didn't even seem to notice her entrance. The first signs of applause started almost as an accident but revved up quickly as she got to the center of the store and waved to everybody, grinning that big, big smile.

    After her arrival, things moved quickly. Names for the books' intended were written on sticky notes, which were stuck to the to-be-signed page. When it was your turn, you handed your books (opened and stacked) to her assistant who checked to make sure you hadn't written anything else on the sticky note. When it was your turn, she handed your books to a Border's manager who put them on the table in front of Giada.

    With a quick flourish, she signed the books and - if you were lucky - chatted you up a bit. I manage to stammer out (I was a bit star struck, after all) that the books were for my mom and grandmom who just loved you and all your shows. She smiled, said that was great, and made me promise to have them cook something for me since I wasn't getting a book for myself.

    Resisting the urge to curtsy, I scurried out of the way (still following the beige masking tape). Once you had your books signed, you were allowed to congregate outside her "green zone" to ogle and take pictures.

    All in all - a great experience for me. Hopefully Mom and Grandmom will have as much fun using their cookbooks as I had getting them.

    Next time I'm home you both owe me some ziti!


    Since we have just attended the year end choir concert and just attended the annual choir banquet, the following YouTube offering that Entling no. 3 found struck a particular chord!

    The scary thing is that I can identify all the songs.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    The Bayeux Tapestry

    Thank you, thank you to Confessions of a Bibliovore for finding this. I love hearing the LOTR music in one part. I saw the Bayeux Tapestry as a child and it has fascinated me ever since.

    Related: The King's Shadow by Elizabeth Alder, 1995

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    The Navigator

    The Navigator by Eoin McNamee, 2007
    Dedication: "For Owen and Kathleen" (his children, me thinks)

    Wowee, zowee! A book I stayed up to finish!

    Trish Parcell Watts -- Book design: easy to read font, easy on the eyes spacing and margins
    Jon Goodell -- Interior illustrations: full page, detailed, always a treat to turn the page and find an illustration.

    Owen is different. He doesn't fit in at school and his mother is suffering from a mysterious mental disorder. Owen's father commited suicide and he hears people in town say, "Like father, like son," "He'll go the same way." Owen does suffer a crippling phobia of water. The sight of the harbor or a river makes him tremble.

    He finds refuge in his "den," a small clearing in the woods where he has built a fort with odds and ends of furniture and items he scavenged from the town junk yard. He is in his den one afternoon when the light in the sky changes and in a flash, Owen's world disappears.

    He encounters a person calling himself Sub-Commandant who is part of the Resisters and who has called the Sleepers to wake up because The Harsh have caused Time to start moving backward and are getting ready to attack. Wha-huh? Think how Owen feels!

    This was a terrific adventure story. There is a missing artifact, three young people working with the adults to save the world, an epic journey and the hope that "The Navigator" will appear to restore the flow of Time and get the world back on track. Three young ones and a world to save--great stuff.

    I enjoy wrapping my head around space/time/Starfleet Department of Temporal Investigations kind of stuff so this book hit the spot with me.

    The fantastical apparatus of this world such as the power source "Magno," the brass observation tower "Skyward," the "Q-Car" and goggled bad guys operating dragonfly styled flying machines put me in mind of Flash Gordon serials. Illustrator, Jon Goodell has done a lovely service bringing these images to life. Keep him on staff for future books, please!

    There was still an unresolved mystery in my mind about a minor character in the beginning of the book. I think this means more stories are coming.

    I love Irish storytellers.

    Eoin McNamee writes screenplays and books. This is his first book for children.
    Interview at BookMunch about his political thriller The Ultras

    Faith in Literature

    This year I joined a "grown up" book group. The theme has been Faith in Literature and the list has been interesting and challenging. We read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Kite Runner, Pope Joan, (all of those had YA elements so they have been my favorites) Wise Blood, The Memory Keeper's Daughter and others.

    We will be taking the summer off but some of the folks have expressed an interest in some reading over the summer months. It occured to me that it might be interesting to have a list of YA or children's titles that could be discussed in this context, the role of a faith, no faith, looking for a Sign, faith-who-needs it-bah-humbug, faith in God, faith in self, in society, searching for meaning ... We are not limited to any denomination or religion.

    The Giver
    and Harry Potter were YA/Children's titles that I referenced in the course of our discussions this year.

    Can you help me think of some other titles that I could share that might make for some thought provoking discussions?

    What Books Are You Reading?

    I haven't done a meme for a long time. LizB at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy tagged me with an easy one though.

    What books are you reading?

    Well, I am just finishing The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham for my "grown up" reading group. It is the first Maugham I have ever read and I have enjoyed it. And I am moments away from finishing The Navigator by Eoin Mcnamee. How I do love Irish storytellers. In fact I don't think I am not going to bed until I finish it. It is EXCELLENT!

    On my nightstand I have The Misadventures of Maude March because it is a paperback and my Lightwedge fits it and I can turn the pages quietly and not wake up certain people, at least I don't think I wake them up. I have just started it and find I am very much in the mood for this historical fiction, set in the West!

    Finally, in my travel bag is Cam's Quest. I predict I will finish it while waiting for the entling tomorrow. I read the first book, Princess Nevermore and I am anxious to finish this one.

    Hmmm...three out of four almost done.

    I tag ... WWWs and Michele = Wands and Worlds, Wild Rose Reader, Writing and Ruminating
    and Scholar's Blog.

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

    17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter, 2006

    This child's exploits are in the vein of The Wild Things' Max or Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes. She is a "dickens" and a "scamp" who unrepentantly goes her own way. She staples her brother's hair to his pillow, glues his slippers to the floor, substitutes her favorite animal, the beaver, for George Washington in her school report, treats her mother like a waitress, and gets in trouble with the crossing guard for walking backwards to school--to just name some of the 17 things she is not allowed to do anymore. After each incident, she is forbidden to use that tool or that perform that action again (stapler, glue, beavers, walking backward.) She just continues to go her own way though.

    Even her "I'm sorry" to her mother on the final page is qualified by her inspiration "to say the opposite of what I mean to trick everyone."

    Nancy Carpenter's pictures are a wonder. She incorporates photos of items like the stapler and glue bottle and embeds them with her drawings. The cover illustration is perfect for a story picture book, literally foreshadowing the action as we see the girl's mother's shadow, hands on hips, looming over a slyly grinning child.

    The fun of this book lies in the fact that WE ALL know this child. In fact, the young lady I know could have modeled for Nancy Carpenter's illustrations. This is NOT a cautionary tale, except for folks in her path. To them we say, "Look Out!"

    Could be my theme song, some days

    You young ones will appreciate this someday.

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Perfect Timing

    Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy became one of the world's greatest jockeys
    , by Patsi B. Trollinger; paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue; Viking, 2006

    Today is Derby Day which seems like the perfect day to share this book. Isaac Murphy was a three time Kentucky Derby winner and is the only jockey buried on the grounds of the famous Kentucky Horse Park.

    Author, Patsi Trollinger makes the point that Isaac Burns Murphy's timing was perfect in life as well as on the track. The son of a slave, he lived at a time when black jockeys could enjoy a successful career in racing, before they were forced out of the sport early in the 20th century.

    Trollinger describes his career beginning with his early training in Lexington where he learned the importance of pace and concentration. Murphy went on to become one of the most sought after jockeys of his time. The exciting match race between Salvatore and Tenny is told in such detail that the reader feels like they are standing at the rail watching the race.

    Jerome Lagarrigue's soft focus paintings convey the speed and power of the horses. The colors are dark and muddied which imparts the yesteryear feel of the story. The reader eyes do need to linger on the pictures to fully appreciate and discern the images.

    Isaac Burns Murphy had a reputation for honesty and fair play.

    "He had rules for himself that were firm: no cheating, no fighting, no swearing. And he rode every race, large of small, as if it was the most important one of his life."
    This is a lovely tribute to a man of character and who might otherwise be unknown to this generation.

    International Museum of the Horse
    The Kentucky Derby 2007

    Book Signing: Rick Riordan

    My entling and I attended Rick Riordan's book signing at Blue Willow Bookstore on Thursday. I don't know how signings are booked, but I greatly appreciate authors who hold their signings at independent bookstores.

    On the way over, we heard there was a tornado warning for a county north of us but our ride in was uneventful. We were number 94 for the book signing line. I remembered when Riordan was at the same store two years ago. I think there were 20 people there. Folks were coming in after me so I don't know how many ultimately showed up. I do know they ran out of copies of Titan's Curse.

    Blue Willow is a lovely store, small and quaint, that has an area behind the store where large crowds can proceed in orderly fashion to get their books signed. That is, unless it RAINS! That storm that was looming north of us blew through in a fury. It was an authentic Texas gully-washer complete with horizontal rain, booming thunder and stabs of lightning.

    In the middle of Riordan's presentation a huge crack of lightning lit up the sky. "I'm sorry Zeus!" he cried. It was all eerily appropriate for a story that begins with the theft of Zeus's lightning bolt.

    Everyone seemed to be in good humor about the rain and the crowd. As the bookstore employees moved people into line and tried to keep everyone inside and dry, I ended up next to a very wet mother and her very dry son. (Go Moms!) She told me she was just so happy that her son had FINALLY found some books he WANTED to read, it was worth anything to be there. She just wished she knew of some other books he might enjoy.

    Now, I do try not to be a "push-myelf-into-other-people's-business" but wouldn't you have said, "Would you really like some ideas?" He was in 5th grade, 6th grade next year, my prime time reading zone!

    Two teachers had brought their middle school class all the way from Spring, Texas. All the kids had on orange t-shirts they had stenciled themselves with "Son (or) Daughter of:" and then the name of a God or Goddess. I hope they got a group picture. What awesome teachers!

    I also saw a lady waving at me who I recognized from a day I substituted at a local school library last fall. She was volunteering in the library that day and we got to talking about books her grandson might like. She had not been aware of Percy Jackson then...

    I've said it before I know, but I will say it again. Riordan really is a rockstar because he has written a series that is fast paced, action packed, and so entertaining it begs even the most reluctant readers to dive in. Percy Jackson is convincing lots of kids to give the reading thing another shot and they (and we) will reap the rewards.

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    I -heart- Douglas Florian

    I think my first year as a school librarian coincided with the year Douglas Florian's insectlopedia was on the Bluebonnet list. The book was a wonder to me and the memory of reading the book with my students is one of the highlights of that first year. The artwork was so accessible and discussible.

    I know that I ordered every poetry book he ever produced after that and I have loved sharing his poetry and his art with kids ever since.

    Look at the 811 shelf in any school library and you will see very worn and battered copies of Shel Silverstein books but next to them you will see the worn edges of Florian's Laugh-eteria: Poems and Drawings.

    I think Florian's new book, comets, stars, the moon and mars is his most expressive yet.
    Beginning with the poem "skywatch," two children look at the sky. The next poem is "the universe."
    Die cut "planet" holes then move the reader deeper and further through space. From "mercury" to "venus" to "the earth" to "the moon" the poems continue in order according to their average distance from the Sun. Comets, black holes and the mystery of what lies beyond are also addressed. Florian's ability to weave facts and fun are on full display here.

    The bright color palette echoes the amazing views from the Hubble space telescope. This generation of kids has grown up looking at Seymour Simon's books about the solar system and The Universe. They have seen the colors that are out there.

    Check out the Harcourt page about the book and download Florian's Poetry Kit. The rep. at the Harcourt booth gave this to me at TLA and the "Practical Poetry Pointers" are some of the most best tips for writing poetry with kids that I have ever seen.

    You have Gotta-Have-It.

    Interviews with Douglas Florian
    Wild Rose Reader

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Mama's Saris

    We used to watch one of those home do-over shows on BBC America where the designer and her lads would rework and redecorate several rooms in a home by just using old paint, wood and material that the homeowner happened to have lying around the homestead.

    Remarkably, there always seemed to be several new sheets of MDF in the shed but the show was entertaining with results that varied between, "That's not so bad" to "Eeeeewww..."

    One aspect of the program that was interesting to me, as a fabric person, was the large number of people that seemed to have sari fabric stashed away just waiting to be draped around a window or over a bed.

    Intrigued, one of the entlings and I visited a store in our wonderful metropolis that sells clothing and fabric from India. What an experience!

    Long rolls of fabric lined the walls. It was like a glittering, glowing shimmering color wheel. Initially, the best we could manage was, "um, how" We were faced with more patterns and shades of orange to red to yellow than we could take in. The sales woman cheerfully pulled down bolt after bolt and sent the rolls of fabric shooting across the large tables so we could see the amazing designs and hues.

    We left with three lengths of color feeling dazzled and elated.

    This memory was in my mind as I looked at Pooja Makhijani's new book, Mama's Saris. The little girl in the story is celebrating her seventh birthday and asks to wear one of her mother's saris. Thinking the girl is too young, the mother tries to negotiate (haven't we all done this?) with her daughter, "Why don't you wear your chaniya choli?" Ultimately, she is moved by the strength of her daughter's memories and acknowledges this special occasion by letting her daughter select a sari to wear.

    Elena Gomez has caught the glow and shimmer of this elegant clothing in the backgrounds of the illustrations. The fabric fairly swirls off the page as the little girl looks at herself in the mirror for the first time.

    Lovely, lovely book.

    Pooja Makhijani's website
    Mama's Saris teacher guide

    I saw this book at TLA at the Little, Brown booth and Pooja kindly sent me a copy.

    Boots on the ground

    No reading for me today.

    It is Buy One, Get One Free bookfair time at the local elementary library I will be at this week. The library does not make any money with this fair; they just want to get books into kids' hands for the summer. As I walked in this a.m. I could see the place was packed with parents and children waiting in line to check out. They had two cashiers but the lines were long.

    There is always lots of tension with before school selling. Kids need to get to class and parents are on their way to work. I ran over to one cashier and began bagging and pre-counting money to help speed up the line.*

    At book fairs you have different kinds of money. There is "parent money" which is in the form of check or credit card and accompanied by adults in charge. You answer the question, "Who should I make this out to?" so many times that you begin to think of inking the answer on your forehead.

    Then there is the "responsible child" money. This is the cash machine denomination that the young one must parcel out responsibly. Sometimes an older sibling also oversees a younger sibling's purchases with "responsible child" money.

    My favorite money is "kid money" because it comes from under the bed, from the piggy bank, or from down in the sofa cushions. This is wadded-up, folded-up, scrunched-up and twisted-up currency in bills, quarters, dimes and pennies. It comes through the door in ziplock bags or from inside their shoes.

    You haven't lived until you've watched a child shake money out of the toe of their Nikes which they then hand you to count. Damp and fragile dollar bills must be unrolled with the same caution scholars use to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls, all the while you are reminding yourself, "don't scratch your nose!" because now, suddenly, every germ transferring point of your face is beginning to twitch.

    Me: "Do you know how much you have?"
    Kiddo: "No!"
    Me: Well, of course not. "Step over here so we can count it."
    Kiddo (shaking his other still shod foot) : "Wait, I've got to check my other shoe."
    Me: "Alas, you do not have enough money for the space-telescope-Geiger-counter-decoder-ring-airplane-launcher but you do have enough to buy this book and then you get one free!
    Cool huh?"

    Finally, the tardy bell rang, parents completed their purchases and everyone collapsed for a few minutes until the first class of the day arrived. Teachers and students came through all day. Their happy smiles and gleeful wanderings confirmed my belief that our national pastime is not sports, politics or watching TV. We love shopping more than anything.

    Over lunch I visited with the cashier. We were talking about the books and which ones needed to be reordered. I was impressed with her knowledge and told her so.

    She gave me a sort of dismayed look and said, "Since I've been doing this job, I find that the ONLY books I want to read are THESE books! (waving in the general direction of the display shelves) I hardly read regular books anymore, THESE are just so GOOD!"

    Sister, join the club.

    *Rules for Book Fairs 101:
    Rule #3 -- Always have two people at each cash register for "event" selling

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Happy Titan's Curse Day

    Today is the day! Let the celebrations commence! Kids can now stop giving ME dark and envious looks and flock to the stores to buy their own copy of the third installment of Percy Jackson's adventures. We have been waiting for that Harry fellow, no doubt, but the kids I know are even more excited to get this book in their hands.

    There's a nice profile of Rockstar Rick Riordan in the Austin American Stateman today and Riordan will be celebrating with his fans at BookPeople tonight. Riordan dedicated Titan's Curse to Topher Bradfield who has been a booster of the series at BookPeople and one of the forces behind summertime Camp Half-Blood.

    Riordan also dedicated the book to Toni Davis, a bookseller in Cornwall, England. Sadly, Davis passed away this past week. He posted a moving tribute to her, "Farewell, My Huntress," on Saturday.

    My family has organized our schedule to be at one of his signings here in town this week. We must have a complete autographed set.

    I have also discovered a branch of my family, that has not found the series yet.


    I'm off to sub today. Oh, I hope 5th grade is coming to the library. I know exactly what book I want to read!!!