Monday, February 25, 2008

NonFiction Monday: The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table: Elements with Style!The Periodic Table: elements with style created by Basher, written by Adrian Dingle, Kingfisher; 2007

What a fresh and original look at the periodic table! The book is compact in size, and gives a brief synopsis, including most the data from the periodic table such as the symbol, atomic number and weight, its standard state, color and classification.

The book is organized by periodic table group, the graphic at the top of the page shows each element's location on the table. The elements introduce themselves with a sense of humor and share facts about their appearance and uses.

Zinc, symbol Zn, says, "Here to protect and serve, I'm more useful than you'd zinc! I'm a very sociable element that's always happy to mix in with other metals."

The illustrations that represent each element make the book. Silicon is a computer chip/centipede while Aluminum is a stylized airplane. They evoke Japanese anime characters and the poster of the periodic table bound into the back of the book remids me of the Pokemon poster that used to hang in my entling's bedroom. I found the drawings utterly compelling.

The book invites casual reading as well as cover to cover absorption.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Author: Katherine Paterson

Oh boy, going to see Katherine Paterson tomorrow! Nice interview with her in the Houston Chronicle.

FYI: When you are stuck at Love Field in Dallas TX waiting for a flight that is hours delayed, you will be a lucky soul if you have Blackbringer by Laini Taylor in your bag. You will forget you are in an airport, you will not hear the PA announcements or smell the happy hour beer. You will be worlds away in Dreamdark.

Monday, February 18, 2008

NonFiction Monday: Planets, Stars, and Galaxies

Planets, Stars, and Galaxies: A Visual Encyclopedia of Our Universe
Planets, Stars, and Galaxies: a visual encyclopedia of our Universe
by David A. Aguilar, National Geographic, 2007

David Aguilar describes the planets of our solar system as well as dark matter, neutron stars, nebula, and many other phenomena of space in this book.

What makes this book different from others on the subject, are the glowing illustrations that Aguilar created from NASA and telescope photographs . The photos are enhanced and photoshopped to offer a "you are there" presence to the reader. What would it feel like to be in the middle of the Kuiper Belt? Well, pages 62 and 63 give us an idea. Imaginative space ships tour planets and space suited explorers stand on the surface of one of Jupiter's moons.

Aguilar fills the text with factual information. He explains how a star burns in a graphic that depicts the collision of two protons and the release of energy that is starlight. The location of supernova, nebula and other objects are marked in constellation maps when they are visible through binoculars.

The author has projected reader into the galaxy, traveling exploring and experiencing the wonders of the universe. We live in a time when the Space Shuttle program seems routine and low Earth orbit is the best we can do. The book could fire the imagination of kids who have seen the spectacular images of the space telescopes and now think, "been there-done that." Chapters, "Are we Alone?" and "Dreams of Tomorrow" ponder what is "alien life" and ideas for the future of space engineering.

If you believe the program How William Shatner changed the world, (and I do) my generation was inspired to "make it so" by Star Trek. This book fires the imagination and could also inspire a young person today to look skyward.

The Cybils

The Cybil Awards have been announced! I had the privilege of working on the Nonfiction MG/YA books committee this year and it was a great experience.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Author Visits

Check out this Tales from the Slush Pile as our hero introduces his book to a group of children.
See the kid in the front row trying to stand on his head?
And then the inevitable question...

Why I Love the TLA Annual Conference

OK, must leave early, early Tuesday morning to get there in time.

Just received this notice from the Young Adult Roundtable about upcoming TLA conference:

Tuesday afternoon, April 15

At 2:00-3:50pm, Texas author Rick Riordan will moderate the panel,

STRONG VOICES, OTHER WORLDS: YA FANTASY AUTHORS, featuring John Flanagan, Cinda Williams Chima, Jacqueline Kolosov, Libba Bray and Suzanne Collins.


Monday, February 11, 2008

NonFiction Monday: Surfer of the Century

Anastasia Suen has started Nonfiction Monday. BookMoot is planning to participate as often as possible, although, my most disliked word is "schedule."

Let the facts flow!

Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe, illustrations by Richard Waldrep, Lee & Low Books, 2007

Duke Kahanamoku was an Olympic gold medalist, the father of modern surfing, and an icon of Hawaiian culture.

Crowe tells the story of Kahanamoku's boyhood in Honolulu where daily swims in the ocean developed his strength and technique. Qualifying for the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, he made friends with another American athlete, Jim Thorpe.

Duke almost missed his first Olympic race because he overslept. In a wonderful display of Olympic spirit, his chief competitor, Cecil Helay, from Australia, refused to swim unless the officials let Duke compete. Such magnanimity is hard to imagine in today's endorsement rich, high-stakes winner-takes-home the-Wheaties-box environment.

He popularized surfing and promoted Hawaii all his life. Duke's Creed of Aloha is a fitting ending to an excellent biography of a man who always exhibited good sportsmanship and Olympic ideals.

Richard Waldrep perfectly illustrates the story with wonderous full color illustrations that evoke vintage art deco travel posters.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Author Name Pronunciation is a wonderful resource that our school district makes available to our students and teachers. One of their features is the Author Name Pronunciation which is "a collection of brief recordings of authors & illustrators saying their names. Hello, my name is . . ."

In some cases they simply pronounce their names, in others ,they briefly explain the origin of their name.

I've spent a considerable amount of time this afternoon just listening. Great fun.

Sadness: Phyllis A. Whitney

Phyllis A. Whitney died on Friday. She was 104 years old.

Whitney's books were a large part of my high school reading life, along with Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and Daphne DuMaurier.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dairy Queen

Dairy QueenDairy Queen: a novel by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, narrated by Natalie Moore, Listening Library 2006 (print edition published by Houghton Mifflin)

I knew the story of D.J. Schwenk, the football loving teen from Red Bend, Wisconsin, had captured the imagination of readers at schools where I sub, because several girls told me I "really" needed to read this book.

What I did not anticipate was being completely and totally blown away by Natalie Moore's insightful and wholly authentic narration. Her voicing of D.J.'s frustrations, her hopes and inner dialog is spot on, at once self-aware, wistful and totally endearing.
There is pride in her voice as she almost single handed keeps the family dairy farm going. Her resentment at her father's slow recovery from hip surgery is understandable as exhaustion overtakes her at times. Still, D.J. is philosophical and accepts the hard work and tries not to dwell on the toll it has taken on her academics and school life.

When Brian, the quarterback from the rival high school football team, is ordered to "help out" at the Schwenk farm by his football coach, D.J. is disgusted with his lack of discipline and work ethic. Used to training with her older brothers who are now away at college on football scholarships, D.J. finds herself enjoying their workouts which have evolved from the daily chores and agrees to act as Brian's trainer for the summer. As time goes by, she has to admit to herself that she enjoys Brian's friendship and that it might be evolving into something more.

Murdock captures life in a small town where football is the lifeblood of the community and cows are named for football players and coaches. I'm off to find the sequel. Surely, Moore gets an encore, she is D.J.'s voice for me.

Dairy Queen is one of twenty titles on the always excellent Texas Lone Star reading list for 2007-2008..