Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Interesting article, "Stephenie Meyer: A New J.K. Rowling?" in Time this week.
Journalist, Lev Grossman makes many on target observations about the Twilight series and Meyer's writing.

Meyer's books are full of gusting emotions. Bella never stops gasping and swooning and passing out and waking up screaming from nightmares. Her heart is always either pounding or stopping. (Bella's histrionics don't feel at all unrealistic. When you're writing about adolescents, melodrama and realism are the same thing.)

...and this bit...

There's no literary term for the quality Twilight and Harry Potter (and The Lord of the Rings) share, but you know it when you see it: their worlds have a freestanding internal integrity that makes you feel as if you should be able to buy real estate there

Her next book Breaking Dawn, will be out in August, 2008.

oh, as a personal aside:

Can the copy writers and headline thinker-uppers pu-leeeze STOP writing headlines like "Is [insert name of author here] the next J.K. Rowling?"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iggy Peck, Architect

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, Abrams, 2007

My first thought when I saw this book was how perfect it would be for the GT Architecture unit taught in my local school district. With humor and rhyme, Andrea Beaty describes young Iggy Peck, who has a passion for building even as a baby.

Young Iggy Peck is an architect
and has been since he was two,
when he built a great tower--in only an hour--
with nothing buy diapers and glue.

Nether his mother, the neighbors or his second grade teacher, fully appreciate his talent. Thankfully, his building zeal is not daunted by his teacher's displeasure and he figures out how to construct a new bridge from odds and ends when the old one collapses, and traps his class on an island.

The story rolls off the reader's tongue easily. Illustrator David Roberts has made canny use of quadrille paper for the background of the cover and title page.

Iggy's architectural efforts are familiar which is half the fun of this book. The tower he constructs out of stinky diapers is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He creates Neuschwanstein from pieces of chalk. The St. Louis Arch is constructed from "pancakes and coconut pie" and he recreates the Sphinx from mud and dirt in his yard.

I also noted the book design is by Chad W. Beckerman who blogs at Mishaps and Adventures. I was already a fan of his work.

Whether you are introducing the concepts of architecture of just celebrating the urge to build, Iggy is a splendid little fellow and there is no doubt, he has a bright future a head of him as we are left with images such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Acropolis on the last pages.

Buy it for your library, now!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Threadless T-Shirts

My Threadless T-Shirt letter features a new design!
"Attack of Literacy"

NonFiction Monday: Now & Ben

Dewey: 609/.2

Now & Ben: the modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta, Henry Holt, 2006

As soon as the reader opens this book the endpapers display a timeline noting Franklin's numerous inventions and progressive ideas.

Barretta's opening illustration depicts Franklin's many roles as a writer, diplomat, printer, musician, postmaster humorist, scientist, inventor, traveler, philosopher, cartoonist, statesman inscribed on cobblestones while Ben stands framed in a style reminiscent of the one hundred dollar bill.

The book describes Franklin's inventions and ideas and depicts how those ideas are still in use in the present.

Experiments with lightning lead to the invention of the lightning rod. A store clerk uses the Grabber for grabbing a box of cereal that is out of reach, while on the opposing page Franklin uses his Long Arm to reach a book high on a shelf.

His See Far/See Near became today's bifocals and his improvements to fireplace design helped move smoke out of houses. He designed the first clock with a second hand and as the reader looks at a school bus driver checking the mileage on the odometer and we see Ben's odometer on a cart which was used while he was postmaster general to measure postal routes.

Barretta shares the information with humor. We see an alarm clock buzzing at 6 a.m. with the moon still high in sky while bleary eyed kids struggle to struggle to wake up. Franklin advocated the idea of daylight savings as a means to save candles and gain more daylight for farmers.

Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father of choice to study in depth here in 5th grade. His extraordinary life lends itself to many areas of the curriculum. This is terrifically engaging nonfiction picture book that would be great fun to share with students.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paris, je t'aime!

My Google homepage is dialed to a live cam image of the Eiffel Tower. I loved this photo of the sunrise on Feb. 2 because it was beautiful and the bands of color look like the French flag.
The Eiffel Tower was "born" on March 31, 1889 so it just had a birthday. It is a universally recognized symbol of Paris and la belle France.

Our neighbors just got back from a spring break in Paris but I haven't seen their pictures yet so I am going to indulge my inner French major now and take a trip to Paris through children's books.

Everybody Bonjours!
by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy. Knopf, 2008.

This book (livre) est tout à fait charmant.
On the title page we see a family packing for a vacation and arriving at the airport. A little girl lets her teddy bear listen to the headphones on the plane. As they arrive at their hotel, the text begins:

When in Paris...
everybody bonjours.
From shores.
In stores.
On guided tours.
Everybody bonjours!

We follow the family down the Seine, through the Louvre, up the Tour Eiffel and down into the Metro. The story has a nice rhythm that swings along with the page turns. The book won my complete devotion though, when I arrived at the text, "batter pouring," with a picture of the family buying a crêpe sucrée from a street vendor. I will have mine , avec Grand Marnier, s'il vous plait.

Identifiable Paris landmarks are featured on each page but McMenemy has been subtle. I know our young tourist is visiting Notre Dame because of the view and the gargoyles. She watches a street musician performing with the Pompidou in the background.
Each illustration features a little mouse (shades of Goodnight Moon) which is fun to look for.

The endpapers display a map of Paris and various landmarks. There is a splendid "Out and About in Paris" at the end of the book, with thumbnail drawings and a brief description of each locale.

Anatole by Eve Titus, pictures by Paul Galdone, Knopf, originally published 1956.

Titus wrote a series of Anatole books, including Anatole and the Cat, Anatole Over Paris and Anatole and the Piano.

Anatole is a Parisian mouse who loves his wife and six children but does not want to steal food to feed them, he wants to earn it. He has the idea of providing critiques to the Duvall Cheese Factory in exchange for the cheese he takes. As a mouse, he knows cheese and his discerning palate results in more sales for the cheese company and food for Anatole's family. Paul Galdone's distinctive style and tri color scheme is still engaging and fresh.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the series, Random House has reissued the first two books in the series, both Caldecott honor books.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

The adventures of the courageous little Madeline who poo-poos the tiger at the zoo and proudly displays her appendicitis scar. This classic story, set in Paris, evokes the city in every way thanks to Bemelmans's loose and sketchy illustrations .

Honk!: The Story of a Prima Swanerina by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole, Hyperion, 2000.

When a ballet crazy swan named Mimi, sees a production of Swan Lake from the ledge of the Paris Opera House she is determined to join the corps de ballet. Mimi is undeterred by failure and when she finally makes it onstage, she is a hit! I always love reading this story and sharing photos of the actual Palais Garnier. Henry Cole depicts the famous theater from the famous grand staircase to the stage door.

Eloise in Paris
by Kay Thompson, drawings by Hilary Knight, 1957

Eloise is on her way to Paris with "Nahnee." Their preparations are classic Eloise mayhem. She embraces Paris with joie de vivre. Her favorite word is pas de quoi. Originally published in 1957, Eloise encounters Christian Dior and Yves Sain Laurent as she is measured for couture clothing. They visit the Louvre, Versailles, picnic in the Bois de Boulogne and dine at Maxim's. Hilary Knight captures Paris from the cafe awnings -- Aux Deux Magots to the Arc de Triomphe.

I loved the Franglais that flows across every page. It sounds like the way I speak French nowadays.

Il y a beaucoup de sights to see
for instance you can go to the Eiffel Tower
it is absolutely large and rawther high
so I always tie my binoculaires
to my head in this breez and go up sideways.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The rest of the story?

Here is a jumping off point for a YA novel if I ever heard one.
Read and listen to the story at NPR. night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Babymouse: Lucha Libre

TLA session: Babymouse!: Using Graphic Novels in the Younger Grades

Matt Holm gave a talk on using graphic novels with emerging readers. He reviewed the history of "comic" books and cartoons.

It doesn't matter what age you are, it is just fun to watch someone draw. Matt asked for volunteers to give him ideas for different Babymouse roles.

Here is Babymouse Lucha Libre

The finishing touch: a pink heart!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TLA 2008

With my trusty Scholastic backpack on my back and my pink swoosh shoes on my feet, I have been walking the halls of the Dallas Convention Center this week at the annual Texas Library Association Conference.

This backpack suits me better than any other I've used. It seems to hold the maximum number of books possible before my clavicle cracks under the strain.

Lots of great stuff in the booths. I've already put one load in the car but these are the "can't wait to read" titles I picked up today! The Skulduggery Pleasant sequel, a new Elise (Shakespeare's Secret) Broach, another glorious K. Y. Craft cover for Juliet Marillier, the new Joan (how entling no. 3 loves her) Bauer, the 3rd book in the Warrior Heir series by Cinda Williams Chima, Brent Hartinger's Geography Club and Katie Grant's new series starter: Blue Flame. Now, which one do I read at dinner tonight?

My conference started with a lovely bloggers tea at the Adolphus Hotel that was hosted and organized by Anastasia Suen I skidded in right off the freeway as everything began so I sat down at the first empty chair I saw.

Dear Diary,
Today I sat at the tea table with, storyteller and Bluebonnet author Tim Tingle (Crossing Bok Chitto) and Betsy and Ted Lewin. The Lewins shared their new book, Horse Song with us. Happy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Movie: Guardians of Ga'Hoole

About once a week, BookMoot gets comments on an old 2005 post about the possibility of a "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" movie.

Now there is some more news via Variety.

Zack Snyder is set to direct "Guardians of Ga'Hoole," an animated feature film based on the series of children's books by Kathryn Lasky.


Script was written by John Orloff ("A Mighty Heart") and John Collee ("Master and Commander"). The pic will be produced by Zareh Nalbandian, with Donald DeLine, Deborah Snyder and Lionel Wigram exec producing.

The fans will be so happy now. They can debate the casting and screenplay decisions.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué rico! Americas’ Sproutings,

Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué rico! Americas’ Sproutings
, Haiku by Pat Mora, picures by Rafael López, Lee&Low, 2007

This collection of haiku poetry bursts with color and flavor on every page. Each poem focuses on a particular nut, berry or edible that is native to the Americas. The words sing and the illustrations glow with the essence of blueberry-ness or peanut-itude or what it means to taste and eat prickly pear.

Mora has included some history and interesting facts about the "sproutings" of the Americas.

"Papayas...are believed to have originated in southern Mexico and Central America"

"Once considered poisonous, tomatoes are now one of the world's most prized foods."

"In 1995, potatoes became the first vegetable grown in outer space."

The poetry is delicious. Reading "Vanilla" sent me into the freezer for some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Quick! Lick white river
running down the cone cooling
your warm summer laugh.

Rafael López has created spectacular art work to accompany the verses. His colors are vibrant and beautiful. The book touches so many curriculum areas, poetry, science, nutrition, history, art and more.

I would consider this a must-have purchase for the core collection of any school library.
Put it on your next order now.
Bound to Stay Bound : Follett : Mackin :

Monday, April 07, 2008

NonFiction Monday: Sabertooth

Dewey: 565.79

by Patrick O'Brien, Henry Holt, 2008

Patrick O'Brien thinks BIG!
Whether it is The Great Ships, The Hindenburg, Megatooth, Mammoth or his book Gigantic! : how big were the dinosaurs?, O'Brien brings larger than life history to young readers.

This book explores the background of the sabertooth cat as well as other ancient "sabertooth" mammals. O'Brien illustrates the actual-size of a Smilodon canine tooth and compares it to an actual-size tiger tooth from today. His paintings evoke the fur and coloration of the cats as he speculates on their possible colors and patterns. A cat's unsuccessful struggle to escape a tar pit provides scientists today with the bones and fossils that teach us about this animal, its prey and enemies.

O'Brien brings prehistory to life in his paintings. The watercolor gives a softness to the landscapes but he also paints the skeleton and skulls of Smilodon and other cats, with precision.

This is a must-have for a school library.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Princess Baby

Princess Baby by Karen Katz, Schwarz & Wade, 2008.

This baby does not want to called Cupcake or Little Lamb or Sweet Gumdrop. She wants to be addressed with her proper title, Princess Baby! When her parents understand, at last, all is well.

Princess Baby wears sparkling gold shoes and a glittering crown. Bright patterns make up the illustrations which are influenced, no doubt by Katz's interest in textiles.

The love the parents feel for their "princess" is reassuring and heart-felt as the family embraces on the final page. If you know a family with a new baby girl, this is the book for them.

Interview with Karen Katz Author Spotlight@RandomHouse