Friday, June 29, 2007

Movie: City of Ember

Bookshelves of Doom picked up this new synopsis of the movie (the bold emphasis is mine.)

Two teenagers dominate the story, one who longs to be a messenger because the job will allow her to venture above ground, while the other dreams of working underground to repair a generator whose failure will doom the city's power supply.

As my library aide used to say, "Fool, fool, fool..."

They are going to give away the mystery of Ember from the onset?

I know movies always change things but the why and where of Ember was the whole point of the story.

To quote Strother Martin as Percy Garris in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

Percy Garris: Morons. I've got morons on my team.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Is this a good thing?

Online Dating

Interesting. Given the mild words that can get you a "R" or "NC-17" rating I am sort of surprised I didn't rate at least a PG-13.

Link from Finding Wonderland and A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

Monday, June 25, 2007

Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Terrific interview with cynsational Cynthia Leitich Smith at 7-Imp. I have known that she and Greg were kindred spirits but then I read about the groom's cake at their wedding.

Wish we had thought of that.

Regency Style

I enjoy fiber blogs. If it has to do with thread, yarn, fabric, or needless, I confess I am always interested in what folks are doing. I used to do quite a bit of sewing pre-children. I have taken tailoring classes and used to be able to make bound button holes and welt pockets. Over the years and children, my sewing has been devoted to flower girl dresses, french seamed smocked christening gowns, and Halloween costumes.

In recent years quilts were the only things running through the sewing machine until Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings. It seemed like my library aide and I needed green elven cloaks (and hobbit ears) to wear the day the movies came out. It was always hilarious to see kids "watching" my ears while I taught.

I also sewed an Eowyn dress for Entling no. 2.

Despite my self-inflicted sewing frustrations, (Entling no. 2: What are you doing, Mom? Me: This is a seam ripper. I am un-stitching) I have really enjoyed working on this dress.

Finding the right fabric is really a challenge. We chose something that was VERY inexpensive because I was not sure of fit or how the pattern would go together and regarded this effort as a trial run. Well, when she tried it on I could not believe it. She looked like she had really just stepped out of time.

Still have the hem to go and to study the back closures in some more pictures. I will post a photo when it is done.

Google "Regency Fashion" and you will find tons of results.

Here is a page that lists many patterns that are available.

This page talks about hairstyles, makeup etc. Very very interesting.

This is the pattern that I am sewing. It seemed like we got a lot of variety for the money, a spencer jacket, muff, beret. I like the wide range of clothing and styles but you do need sewing experience.

This pattern looks very do-able. This company has excellent online instructions:

This girl has actually sewn the patterns. Her work is very interesting to look at.

This is a very interesting article: Dressing the Part: Costume in Three Jane Austen Film Adaptations which is fascinating if you are interested in the authenticity of the Austen movie costumes.

Also images from museums of real regency clothing
Fun to see actual stains on the hems and also possibly covered up by embroidery. The time I have put into this dress reminds me that clothing had to be repaired and revived when stained or damaged.

Movie: Becoming Jane

Here is the trailer for Becoming Jane. At this point I am just checking the dress details. The necklines look like they have the drawstring gathering!! Yippee! Now I have to look at the trimmings.

Stills from the movie are here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Harry Potter Par-tae!

Well, the entling apparently did NOT win a trip to J.K. Rowling and the Moonlight Signing at London’s Natural History Museum, on July 21st. There were ONLY 40,000 plus other entries. I note that a 17 year old girl in the area did get the call.

Hokey smokes, look at the line up B&N and Disney Publishing has put together for July 20 at Barnes & Noble Union Square in Manhattan!

Dave Barry (via video) and Ridley Pearson
Eoin Colfer (via video)
Rockstar Rick Riordan
Jonathan Stroud
Cinda Williams Chima (anybody read her books?)
Uber Narrator, Jim Dale

They will be webcasting the event.

Update: B&N is rescheduling the authors. They are now saying "each author will be individually rescheduled at a later date." -- from Mickey News

I have been listening to Book 6 so I will be ready. The entling has been reading them in reverse order, as is her tradition.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Author: Shannon Hale

Don't miss Shannon's interview on NPR this a.m. Then check Shannon's blog, Squeetus, for an eloquent discourse on "Our Chum Jane."

Friday, June 22, 2007

2007 National Book Festival

Hooray! Our cynsational Cynthia Leitich Smith will be appearing at the 2007 National Book Festival!

Mercer Mayer will be designing the poster. Now that I know the wheres and hows of Washington, this would be so much fun!

"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

I visited the Library of Congress when we were in Washington, DC. What a thrill. "Just think, I've downloaded your records for years and now here I am."

NOTHING prepared me for the beauty of that space. I was stunned and stupefied at the color, themes and unyielding marble surfaces. (I think my feet and legs suffered more from that visit than any other trek on our visit.)

Book shopping in DC
The entling ran out of reading material early on so we visited the very nice B. Dalton in Union Station when we passed through to get her a quick reading refill.

Whenever there was a lull in the action, "OMG, I cannot take another step!" (My level of physical fitness makes a couch potato look like an Olympic athlete) the entling would happily whip out her book while I recovered.

The estimable Sprite Writes also alerted us to Politics and Prose. We rode the bus to the shop and spent a wonderful hour-plus, roaming the store. The children's books are downstairs. The lovely lady helping folks absolutely knew her stuff. I should have found out her name. While I was there, a mother and daughter, with a basket, were buying summer reading. Don't you just love to see parents just piling up the volumes to purchase? The girl was a going to be in 5th grade next year. I am afraid I spent some time saying, "Oooh, have you read THIS?" They added several of my enthusiasms to their pile, including Maude March. I cannot seem to stop telling people about Maude.

One of the most entertaining places to find books was The Spy Museum. This family spent over three hours there. The museum is a brilliant mix of video, audio, artifacts and storytelling. The crowd was so dense at first that I was afraid I was going to hate it but eventually people rushed on and left us to meander through the exhibits.

The gift shop is as entertaining as the museum itself and had one of the best selections of children's books I had seen on our trip. Of course they all had to do with spies or spying. There was Alex Rider, Jimmy Coates, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Young James Bond, Harriet the Spy, and Christopher Paul Curtis's Mr. Chickee. There were even more that I cannot recall now but I was amazed at the imagination and knowledge of the buyer. The book choices were spot on for the theme.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stamp it up!

Years ago, I purchased a National Parks "Passport" on a family vacation to one of our nation's splendid national parks. I vowed to always have it at hand, just in case I stumbled over a national monument or memorial. I then promptly forgot it on the trip we took to Yellowstone a few years later so I bought another one.

Hoorah! I actually remembered to pack both of them for the DC trip and it became one of my goals for the week to locate the official stamp at the monuments and memorials we visited and ink the passports with the date of our visit .

I will say that this activity is more interesting to me than my children who still chide me about my detour to the location of the Golden Spike ceremony just so I could get my passport stamped. Hey, we were in "the neighborhood" and what were the chances we would ever be this close again? Imagine them joining those two railroads out there in the middle of NOWHERE. Amazing.

I don't remember exactly how many miles away from the interstate it was or how long it took to get there. I do remember it looked closer on the map and that is all I have to say.

By the way, the stamps for the Lincoln Memorial, The Mall, The Vietnam War Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial are ALL in the bookstore at the Lincoln Memorial which is, imperceptibly, squirreled away in the far corner of the statue level, NOT down in the exhibit area. Believe me, I just saved you forty-five minutes of hunting for it.

This also gives one the excuse to enter ALL the visitor centers/gift stores on the pretense of looking for the stamp. What an amazing selection of history books, cds, dvds. Most of them had a nice selection of children's books that related to the person or subject too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Which Peanuts Character are You?

Tasha at KidLit found this quiz.

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Schroeder!
Take this quiz!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Movie: City of Ember

This could be fun:

Bill Murray will star in a film adaptation of Jeanne DuPrau's YA novel City of Ember, to be directed by Gil Kenan (Monster House) and written by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, The Secret Garden and Corpse Bride). Murray will play the Mayor of Ember. Production begins in Belfast this summer, with an October 2008 release date planned. Playtone and Walden Media will co-produce.

Austenland: A Novel

Austenland [AUSTENLAND -OS]
Austenland: A Novel
by Shannon Hale, (2007) Katherine Kellgren (Narrator)

  • If you love Jane Austen novels, this book is for you.
  • If you love the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and think Colin Firth is the BEST EVER Darcy, this book is for you.
  • If you enjoy a lighthearted romance that you would not be embarrassed to share with your mother or your daughters, this book is for you.
  • If you are currently sewing period dresses for a daughter who has become involved in English Country Dancing and making note of how most of the fullness in Regency style empire waisted skirts is at the back at of the dress to allow for a smooth profile from the front, this book is for you.

Thirty-two year old Jane Hayes feels like she is a loser at love. She has the DVD of the BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice which she pulls out when she needs a shot of Mr. Darcy. She longs for the romantic connection of an Elizabeth Bennet-and-Fitzwilliam Darcy sort in her own life.

She is bequeathed a trip to "Jane Austen World" in England, by a great-aunt. Pembrook Park lets the "campers" live and breathe 18th century England, complete with elegant gowns, etiquette and diversions. Jane decides this is her opportunity to purge herself of her Darcy neediness by immersing herself in the fantasy. She is a 21st century person at heart though, so as she becomes accustomed to corsets and dresses that are not conducive to exercise, there is a part of her that holds back. In her heart she knows the "gentlemen" are actors but that does not keep her from wishing for a true romance.

I enjoyed Jane's ability to match the events at Pembrook Park to the plots and characters from Jane Austen's novels. This is an entertaining and fun summer read. No one can "do" Jane Austen. Austenland is Shannon Hale's curtsy to the master.

I listened to audio version of the book because of my schedule. I enjoyed it but I am also looking forward to going back and actually reading it, which is something I rarely do.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Third Blogiversary!

Sheila has been blogging for two years which reminded me that Book Moot started three years ago on June 8.

At the time, the only other children's lit blog I knew about was Tasha over at Kid Lit. There were probably others, I just had not found them yet.

I cannot believe the community and friends I've "met" these past three years.

Puppets and Muppet History

There is something magical about the relationship of kids and puppets. Bring out the puppets and every kid in a class will be on task. Just watch a child with a puppet on their hand sometime. You will see that they have entered a new world of imagination and wonder.

You have to have ground rules (puppets don't fight and puppets don't bite) otherwise you will lose control. And, alas, there was always one kid who will not follow directions and I would take their puppet and tell them to follow along with their hand. After a minute or two, I would ask them if they thought they could remember their puppet manners and would ALWAYS receive and emphatic, "Yes!" I never could bring myself to deny them the fun of playing for the whole class period. In the meantime, any other students pondering a breach of puppet etiquette had hastily reconsidered. It is just too much fun to have a puppet on your hand.

Much of what I know about working with puppets and kids, I learned from a librarian in our district. You also learn a lot from the kids themselves. There is no more satisfying feeling than hearing 22 voices cheer when they come into a library and see the puppet stage out and the puppets laid out for them.

Thanks to Nat Pacheco, via Puppeteers Unite for this bit of Muppet history. This is why we loved Jim Henson!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Author: Mike Lupica

Nice profile on author, Mike Lupica.

Although Mike still writes his popular sports column, and is a regular on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters,” he says writing for young readers is his new favorite job. “This is the greatest writing adventure of my life,” Mike said. Does Mike have any advice for young readers? Of course, after all, he’s a dad and a coach. So here it is: Whether you’re taking about basketball or writing, Mike said, “Don’t let anybody limit your dreams, because nobody limited mine.”

I was talking to a friend yesterday who was telling me how much his son loves Lupica's books. He had to make his son return Heat to the school library so they could get his year-end report card.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Author: Tina Louise

I guess I knew this but maybe I forgot?

Tina Louise trained as an actor at the Actors Studio and the Neighborhood Playhouse. After success on Broadway, she went to Hollywood and played in a variety of films. She is best known for her comic turn as the stranded movie star Ginger in the TV series Gilligan's Island. She volunteers for Learning Leaders, a childhood-literacy advocate group in New York City, where she lives.

Still waiting for Julia Roberts to pen her children's book.

Learning Leaders website

Author: Chris Humphrey

I have been meaning to direct your attention for some time now, to Chris (C.C.) Humphrey's podcasts of his trip to Transylvania and Romania. He was there to do research and soak up the atmosphere of the old stomping grounds of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. Humphrey's mellifluous voice is very easy on the ears.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Author: Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen has been named Children's Laureate.

Michael Rosen has been selected as the Children's Laureate, recognising his contribution to literature for young readers around the world.

48 Hour Book Challenge

Starting a book challenge while packing to leave Washington DC, checking carry-on bags for fluids and gels (forgot to notice the sunscreen) and death marching to the National Gallery while threading our way through 200,000 Girls Scouts enroute to a sing along - "Still Singing after all these Years!" - on the National Mall is dicey at best.

Fun to know Mother Reader herself was somewhere in the vicinity. I wonder if I was packed in next to her in the Smithsonian Metro station? We emerged from our train along with thousands and thousands of Girl Scouts in bright t-shirts. Shouts of "Buddy up, girls!" swelled from the throats of dozens and dozens of leaders and grown-ups trying to count heads and turn their troops in the right direction.

If I was a claustrophobic person, I would have seriously freaked out at the humanity-per-square-inch in that confined space. My main worry was being inadvertently pushed off the edge but we shuffled away from the drop and toward the escalators and slowly ascended towards the surface.

Total number of books read for the challenge: TWO
Total number of pages read for the challenge: 664 pages
Total altitude while reading: 36,000 feet
Number of sore limbs from 6 days of extensive sight-seeing while reading: 4
Number of heavy eyelids from 6 days of extensive sight-seeing while reading: 2
Amount of fun had from 6 days of extensive sight seeing and joy of reading two perfectly wonderful books: Too much to count!

My reading time did not commence until we arrived at Reagan Airport for the flight home.
My first book was the outstanding Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, 392 pages. I had not finished when the plane landed 2 hours and 40 minutes later but maybe I was the only participant reading at 36,000 feet??

Since it was so late when we got home, I did not finish until the next day. My reaction to this book is to exhort you to run, skip, hop, hasten, or zoom to your nearest book provider and grab it.

Skulduggery Pleasant is part Dashiell Hammett with a stir of Raymond Chandler and shaken well with magic and fantasy. Storyteller Landy has laced the mix with humor and action. This is one of my favorite books this year!

I can hardly wait to read more. I hope Derek Landy is writing away. I love Irish storytellers.

Book 2 on my reading list was Robin Brande's Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, 272 pages.

In this family we know we have a great book in hand when one of us stops reading and says to everyone present, "Listen to this!" I did that so many times last night, I might as well have read the whole book aloud.

Mena's first day of high school is turning out to be a nightmare. She is shunned by all her former "friends" for something we do not find out about until later in the story. She is enduing verbal and physical assaults and thinks she has lost her parents' love. The chance pairing (or did God have a hand in it?) with her science lab partner, Casey Conner, science genius, is about to change her life though.

Casey is funny and smart and determined to help Mena succeed. I loved his character whole heartedly from the moment he realizes Mena has never read Lord of the Rings.
"So you've read it?"

"Um, no."

"But you have seen the movies."

I sort of winced and shook my head. I need to learn to lie.

Casey closed his eyes and pinched his fingers against them like he had a terrible migraine. "Okay, you realize I'm going to have to do an intervention."

I love this guy.

The background of the story involves the teaching of evolution and the efforts of a fundamentalist church to inject creationism into the classroom. The reader is routing for Mena all the way as she attempts to understand her faith and resolve her relationships with her parents and her community.

The ongoing allusions to Lord of the Rings also delighted this reader.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mercy Maude!

The entling and I are wandering the wilds of Washington D.C. so I am not posting this week. I brought a few books with me but tried to keep the number down to lighten the load. We are finding that after a day of seeing the sights, we are completely knackered and a good book to read is a blessing.

The Misadventures of Maude March
I have to recommend two of the best gosh darned books I think I have read this year.

Maude March on the Run!Do run, sprint, hasten to your library, bookstore or online book seller and acquire The Misadventures of Maude March and Maude March on the Run by Audrey Couloumbis.

Hokey Smokes, Bullwinkle, do these books rock. They have so much action and humor that Couloumbis had me firmly glued to the pages. I could not stop reading.

I should describe the overflowing humor, the rich voices of the characters, the panoramic Wild West backdrop for the amazing events of the story, the historical accuracy of Couloumbis's research and the sense that this story could have really happened just the way she tells it.

But, I am tired, so I cannot. (We did the monuments today. I think I am broken.)

All I can say is summer reading should always be this great!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Author: Mitali Perkins

Author/blogger Mitali Perkins announces that her fictional character Sameera Righton is blogging. I spent some time on the site yesterday. "Sameera" is doing a great job covering all sides of the ' 08 campaign. I need to nominate my favorite junior high library for the contest.

Sameera Righton, the main character in First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover and First Daughter: White House Rules (Dutton Books For Young Readers), is blogging about the real first kid wannabes in the '08 campaign from now until November 2008 at

To celebrate the release of the first novel in this two-book series, we're giving away ten signed copies. Here's how to get one if you're interested:

THIS SUMMER: Five libraries (school or public) can win free signed copies as visitors come to Sparrow's blog ( from June 15 - September 1 and leave the name of the library they love in the comments. The five most frequently mentioned libraries win the books.

PUB DATE CONTEST: Five libraries can win free signed copies on pub date by linking to and sending the most visitors to Sparrow's '08 campaign blog ( before June 14, 2007. Right now, the libraries in the lead are:

* Beaverton City Library, Oregon
* Westerville Public Library, Ohio
* Mamaronek Library, New York
* West Bend Library, Wisconsin
* Bellingham Public Library, Washington

Book Designer: Chad Beckerman

Excellent interview with Chad Beckerman about the role and responsibilities of an associate art director.

I knew I loved his book designs (The Last Apprentice) but it was fun to learn Beckerman is a kindred spirit. He is a book smeller!

At the end of a project you get to hold onto something you helped make, that is so rewarding. I think that's something that is sort of archaic now a days but it's kind of great. This might sound odd but the first thing I do when I get a new book in from the printer is I smell it. There is nothing quite like smelling the fruits of your labor. The fresh ink can give you a headache. But it’s a great feeling. Much more rewarding than candy.

I love cracking open a box of new books, admiring the pristine covers, then fanning the pages to the middle of a book and smelling that glorious fragrance, that bouquet of ink and fresh paper.