Saturday, August 29, 2009

Babymouse: Dragonslayer

Babymouse: dragonslayer by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Random House, 2009 -- publisher supplied review copy

So, I'm looking at books in the children's section at Boulder Bookstore and I hear a snicker, then a cough of laughter, then that sort of sustained snort that morphs into a laughing guffaw. I looked over my shoulder and saw a boy, I would peg him at 5th grade, reading ... a Babymouse book. He was smiling as his eyes darted across the pages which were being turned eagerly.

When I read this interview with Jennifer and Matthew Holm at, I knew this bit was right on.
We started out intending the audience to be elementary school girls, but the series has really found its own audience. Boys love it (they don’t care about the pink), and the age group skews higher than we thought.

I love Babymouse. I bought a pink telephone a few years ago because of Babymouse. In fact, the entlings would swear I am going through some sort of pink period, not unlike Picasso went through his "blue period."

I have to say though, that Dragonslayer is my very, very, favorite installment in this series so far.

Here is the pink-print: 1 graphic novel featuring my most beloved illustrated novel character + most of my favorite fandoms + a struggle with the academic subject that filled me with the most confusion, fear, and self doubt = the fun, the whimsy, the heartfelt chuckles that are this latest in the Babymouse series.

The academic subject that filled me with the most confusion, fear, and self doubt was not chemistry. I could balance equations until the cows came home which resulted in the best grade I ever made in science. No, early on, I decided math was one of those things I just did NOT get.

I can look back now and see it was a developmental thing. I actually got much better at math as time went by but I do not think I ever felt that way. I completely identify with Babymouse's wail, "But I'm not good at math!" The dragon that Babymouse must slay is MATH. Happily, as she IS a marvelous reader, she has tomes of characters from beloved fantasy stories to help her.

It is important to realize that just because we do not understand a subject or it is difficult does not mean we cannot get better at it with practice and stick-to-it-ness. The Holmes sibs never hit the reader over the head with "the lesson" or "moral of the story" though. They just tell a hilarious tale of an endearing and brave everymouse who is doing the best she can. I will NOT give away a single one of the extremely witty allusions because their appearances will delight the reader.

I *heart* Babymouse. I am Babymouse.

This one has to be on your library shelf.
School librarians, it is the start of a new budget year. Put this one on your acquisition list!
Now would be a good time.
I've even linked some vendors for you below!

Bound to Stay Bound Login
Follett Titlewave Login
Mackin Login

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Craig Ferguson: JKRowling/Stephanie Meyer Spoof

I think Craig Ferguson is so funny. I think this is the first time I've seen Meyer figure in a comedy sketch.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The London Eye Mystery

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Narrated by Paul Chequer, BBC Audiobooks Ltd, p2008. Audiobook downloaded from the public library

This is a splendid YA mystery that I picked because it was on the Texas Library Association, 2009 Texas Lonestar Reading list. This list continues, year after year, to present the most entertaining page-turners out there.

Ted and his older sister, Kat, wait in line with their cousin, Salim to ride the London Eye. A stranger approaches them and offers them a free ticket for the ride. As Salim is the visitor, they urge him to take it and go ahead without them. They watch the glass capsule make the 30 minute circuit, carefully following its progress. As the sealed car empties at the end of the ride, Kat and Ted realize that Salim is not among the passengers. He went up the Eye, locked in a transparent, glass pod but did not return.

What happened to Salim?

This is a very interesting and multi-layered mystery. The most fascinating aspect to the story is the character of Ted who, apparently, has Asperger’s Syndrome. He is fascinated with weather. He has encyclopedic knowledge of clouds and all weather phenomena. Listening to Ted's point of view, I was struck by how he uses something, as seemingly, unpredictable, as weather to help him relate in his own way to his family and the world around him.

In this story, Ted can handle and accept that there are variables to weather. An understanding of the many variables which impact the weather is soothing to him. If he can interpret the variables he can predict the weather. He cannot as easily interpret the swirling emotions of his family and the trauma and horror of a missing child. Of course it is his detached, out of the box thinking, that will solve the mystery of Salim's disappearance.

This is a terrific story and underscores to me AGAIN, how fiction--the genre--can shed light and insight and provide a new perspective.

It brought The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon to mind.

Alas, Dowd died in 2007, what a tragedy. Must check out her other novels.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fuse #8 Books to GREAT Movies!

Fuse#8 hits it out of the park, grand slam, bases loaded, with her take on "Best Children's Book to Film Adaptations."

Brave Little Toaster fans of the world, UNITE!

But, seriously, I bow and make obeisance to her all knowing librarian's skills to have found this Psych homage to Holes and ...keep watching...

Princess Pig

Princess Pig by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Tim Bowers, Random House, 2009 -- publisher supplied review copy

A commoner, who suddenly finds herself bedecked with the trappings of royalty, discovers that it is not easy being a princess. This is not The Princess Diaries, nor Just Ella. Instead, Spinelli has cleverly translated this familiar theme to "down on the farm" for little guys.

Pig eagerly assumes the title of "Princess" when when a gust of wind drapes her with a sash from a nearby country fair beauty pageant à la Miss America. She acquires a crown ( a broken teacup) and gold necklace (flowers) and basks in "publicity." It is lonely at the top though and she realizes a being a princess may not what it is cracked up to be.

This traditional story takes wings and soars thanks to Tim Bowers imaginative, cuddle-up-close-let's-savor-the pictures illustrations. His farm animals faces are comic and expressive. His rich shadings and hues give the pages warmth and a slightly (to this reader) nostalgic feel that harkened me back to the Eulalie (Eulalie Banks) illustrations from the Platt & Munk books of my childhood.

Look at Pig's face when she first puts the "crown" on her head. Her pleasure is a thing to behold as is the dismay of the other animals. I've enjoyed Bowers's other work but Princess Pig is a treasure.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Airborn in Space

How very appropriate! Hoorah for Kenneth Oppel!

Oppel's take is at his blog, Kenneth Oppel!

From the Quill & Quire:

According to a press release from the Canada Council for the Arts, astronaut Robert Thirsk, currently aboard the International Space Station with fellow Canadian Julie Payette, has brought with him two books by Canadian authors РAirborn by Kenneth Oppel and Deux pas vers les étoiles by Jean-Rock Gaudreault.

From CBC:

Oppel, who is probably best known for his Silverwing trilogy, was thrilled to learn that his novel was chosen for this journey. "I'm so honoured that Robert Thirsk chose to take my novel Airborn with him on his six-month mission," he said.

Airborn is the story of a 15-year-old cabin boy who sets out to find a mysterious flying creature.

"It's completely thrilling to think of it in orbit aboard the International Space Station," Oppel said in a release from the Canada Council for the Arts.

"I'm very proud of Canada's involvement in the ISS and the astronauts really do exemplify the best of human co-operation, learning and enterprise. I'm delighted that my book is in such stellar company."

This and that

Movie: The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson introduces the first trailer for The Lovely Bones.

Do read "When Harry Met Bella: Fanfiction is all the rage. But is it Plagiarism?" by Elizabeth Burns and Carlie Webber -- School Library Journal, 8/1/2009

Ben & Jerry's "library" ice cream? Li-berry Pie icecream?