Friday, November 30, 2007


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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rider, Alex Rider

Oh, good.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Trailblazing Life of Daniel Boone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie: Pictures of Hollis Woods

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

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

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

Friday, November 23, 2007


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

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

Music: Lord of the Rings

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

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

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


Film Score Monthly Podcast.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Basal ...Comics

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

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

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Movie: Inkheart

A trailer is out for Inkheart: the movie!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Iron Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Verry intrresting

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

Author: Mike Lupica

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

I liked this summary paragraph about his books:

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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happiness: Giada de Laurentiis

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

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So much to see and do

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

The October Edge of the Forest is now online.

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

Monday, November 5

Tuesday, November 6

Wednesday, November 7

Thursday, November 8

Friday, November 9

Saturday, November 10

Sunday, November 11

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


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


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


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


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


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


Blake Nelson at The Ya Ya Yas

Pumpkin Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovely reads.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Classics I have never read

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

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

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

I have never read:

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

Oh the shame, shame shame.

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

Craig Ferguson's J.K. Rowling

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, November 02, 2007

Back of the Moon

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

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

Back of the Moon

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