Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can't wait to read it!

Tasha Saecker of Kids Lit blog has read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins and describes it as "amazing" and "worth the wait."

Tasha is one of the original Kidlitospherians. I believe her!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Amanda Craig profiles Kenneth Oppel in the TimesOnline.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Copyright Limbo

The copyright backlog lengthens beyond eighteen months...the new new $52 million goverment computer system is a Fail.

What a racket.

The delays do not appear to be hampering the business of the major publishing houses or those willing to spend $685 for a "special handling fee" that expedites registration. But the slowdown is frustrating hundreds of thousands of little-known people with big dreams. They paid $45 for the right to claim legal ownership of poems, fabric designs, plays, jingles, even computer manuals.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Pararescuemen in Action

Dewey: 358.4

in Action by Michael Sandler, Bearport Publishing, 2008
ISBN-10: 1597166332

Saturday was Armed Forces Day!

A commonly cited statistic is that more than 700,000 children in America have at least one parent deployed in the United State armed forces. Children also have grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers who have served or are currently serving.

So, books about the armed forces are an important part of a school library collection. There are always a group of kids who want to read every book available about military units, military hardware, ships, aircraft and vehicles.

Sets of books on these topics are a staple of many nonfiction publishers. The recent action of the U.S. Navy SEAL snipers against the hijackers of the Maersk Alabama highlighted the usually low key work of special forces.

Bearport's Special Ops series focuses on the work of the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy Seals, Delta Force, Marine Force Recon and Pararescuemen.

My review copy of Pararescuemen includes color photographs of pararescue jumpers training and living their motto: So others may live.

The history of the PJs date back to WWII. In more recent times they have rescued the splashdown capsules of NASA space missions, survivors of Hurricane Katrina and personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A nice two page spread illustrates the "PJ's Gear." A glossary, index, bibliographpy and "read more" are also included. The book has a nice design and clear, easy-to-read typeface.

I recommend this series for elementary school libraries.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just One Wish

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison, G.P. Putnam, 2009

I have been a fan of BBC America's Guy of Gisborne... er... I mean, BBC America's Robin Hood series. That is until they killed off Maid Marion. Really, I'm asking you, how could they do that? I think having the television series in mind made this story even more fun.

Annika will do anything to help her little brother Jeremy get well. She just wants him to have a positive attitude when he goes in for surgery to remove the brain tumor that threatens his life. She braves the Black Friday crowds and does battle in a toy store to buy the Robin Hood action figure he yearns for. His favorite TV show is Teen Robin Hood.

But Jeremy wants to meet the "real" Robin Hood not just own the action figure. "Teen Robin Hood" is played by Steve Raleigh, a handsome young actor who is one of the reasons that Annika, herself, never misses an episode. The Make-a-Wish Foundation will take too long and a personal letter might never reach him.

The only way to make this happen for Jeremy is to find Steve Raleigh and ask him to make her brother's wish come true. Is he an arrogant celebrity or is he a friendly guy? The surgery is scheduled and time is short.

How do you find a television star?

Romance, screwball schemes, show business, paparazzi--I liked this funny and tender story very much.
I highly recommend it for junior high and high school libraries.

Reading Aloud

Thanks to neilhimself for this link in the NYTimes, "Some Thoughts on the Lost Art of Reading Aloud" by Verlyn Klinkenborg.

Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th- and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They are the breath and mind, perhaps even the soul, of the person who is reading.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Don't Lick the Dog

Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with DogsDon't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs by Wendy Wahman, Henry Holt, 2009

Not sure if he is endorsing children's books but I think Cesar Millan would give this book a thumbs-up. Wendy Wahman has created a sweet rhyming text to guide children through the steps of interacting with and meeting and greeting dogs.

The illustrations really star with two page spreads and bright color wheel inspired pictures.

Dogs of every variety make stylized and smiling appearances in a way that reminded me of the opening sequence of the animated movie, 101 Dalmations. With simple strokes and lines, Wahman manages to create real dogs and children who regard each other with interest. When children need to avoid a nervous or angry dog, the text warns them to stand quietly and let the dog walk away or "cross your arms and turn your back when Jake jumps up and barks like that."

The advice is delivered in rhyme which makes it an easy and oh-so-enjoyable read-aloud.

Loved it!


Wendy Wahman Intervies

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Author: Rick Riordan

Back in June or July of 2005 the youngest entling and I made our way over to Blue Willow Bookshop to hear this guy named Rick Riordan talk about his new book, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1).

The entling finished it before night fell and the book became my carry-along book anytime I was subbing in a library.

The rest is history.

In the years that have passed, I have had moving conversations with parents who tell me how much they owe to Riordan because his books were the ones that turned their child (and usually it is a son) into a reader.

I have only missed one Percy Jackson signing. That was last year and I really did have to attend entling no. 2's college graduation. They were the same weekend. It was hard. I had to really, really think about it.

In about fifteen minutes, my youngest and I will saddle up to see RRR one more time and have him sign The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5)..

There were less than 30 people in the store that first time we saw him. Today, they are using the campus of my old high school because they expect so many people.

It has been a grand ride.

Thank you, Rick.
You are a rockstar.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Audiobook Mootings

The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau, read by Katherine Kellgren, Listening Library, 2008

I may have indicated that I am an uber-fan of Kellgren's narration of the Jackie Faber saga. I knew that I was enjoying this story but did not note that Kellgren was reading until I was nearly finished. Her versatile voice and acting bring each character to life.

In this fourth book in the series, the city of Ember, itself, returns to the story to save the people of Sparks.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson, read by Jeannie Stith, Brilliance Audio, 2009

Reasons why I loved this book:

Terrific! Fun! Wholly entertaining! Sympathetic and engaging characters! Loving family! Siblings who like and care for each other! Witty dialog!

When an exotic new guest, Mrs. Amberson, checks in to the Hopewell Hotel, the Martin's family's life will never be the same. She is one part diva, one part New Age health nut and eight parts "fairy godmother and Glinda the Good. Staying for an indeterminate length of time, she makes the doings of the Martin family her personal business. As Scarlett is in charge of the upkeep on her room, the Empire Suite, she becomes Mrs.Amberson's gopher and assistant.

Scarlett is hoping: that her brother can follow his dream to become an actor, that her sister Lola can find happiness with her wealthy boyfriend and that her younger sister can overcome the emotional and physical ravages of cancer.

This story had me racing back to my MP3 player at every available moment

Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer, read by Sean Patrick Reilly, Listening Library; Unabridged edition, 2006

Sean Patrick Reilly perfectly captures the shadings of Colfer's laconic humor and the sweet poignancy that underscores so many of his novels.

Fletcher Moon is a real private investigator and he has the badge to prove it. Although he is only twelve years old, his powers of observation and deduction prove to be right on target. (His name,"fletcher" = a person who makes arrows.) When he is hired by another student to get the goods on a member of the notorious Sharkey crime family, Fletcher's own well being is under threat. Colfer continues the lovely sub-theme of parental love that underscores his books.

Reilly's gentle Irish cadence roots the story. When there is a sequel, Reilly must continue as the narrator. First rate!

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Madisun Leigh, Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition, 2008

One of the best books of 2008. This is historical fiction at its very, very best. Madisun Leigh's interpretation of this story is beautiful. Her performance as Isabel, a thirteen year old slave in Revolutionary War era New York City, is a fine thing. The young slave, Isabel, has to walk a fine line to avoid the danger posed by her cruel and capricious owner and still remain true to herself. As the loyalists and the rebels square off, and the war begins, what side could a slave choose?

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, read by Carolyn McCormick, Scholastic Audio Books; Unabridged edition; 2008

Collins chilling and compelling dystopian tale echoes today. Can't wait for Catching Fire.