Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good on ya, Penguin!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, Amulet, 2010

Study hall and lunch periods are where the social lines are drawn and alliances are made in that odd world that is junior high school. Author, Tom Angleberger gets it just right with whimsy and humor. He has an ear for middle schoolers and a ton of empathy for them too.

A sixth grader named Tommy has asked his classmates to comment and describe their experiences with another 6th grader named Dwight and their opinion of the counsel dispensed by his odd little origami Yoda finger puppet. In different first person narratives, they share their stories.

The question is, does the puppet possess the insight and power of the Force (à la Star Wars) to advise junior high school students or is Dwight just weird? There is no doubt that Dwight is one of the oddest and most eccentric characters they interact with. His behavior puts him outside the pale, even for a sixth grader. Amazingly though, his Yoda finger puppet seems able to impart wisdom and advice that pays off for the kids who follow it. Dwight voices the puppet but swears he has no control over Yoda's pronouncements.

The "empathy" credit line from elementary school, for kids who are different, taps out quickly as the insecurities of adolescence kick in. Teens who are out of step with the herd can pay a heavy price, socially. Dwight has found a way to cope or has he? Is Yoda real?

Angleberger leaves many questions unresolved (clever lad) but provides a completely satisfying ending that left me smiling.

The book was designed by Melissa Arnst. The elegant origami Yoda on the cover will compel young (and old) readers to reach for the book. The stories are presented as typed case files on well-worn and somewhat crumpled pages. "Hand written" notations and doodles illustrate the margins and add to the story line and humor. The book ranks highly on the "BookMoot page turnability scale" which factors in line spacing, margin size, background page color/texture and story pacing on the page. I should have sensed the presence of Jedi art director master Chad W. Beckerman earlier here.

Charmed by this story I was. Yes, hmmm.

Directions for folding Origami Yoda are included as well as credits to other paper folding origami Yoda masters.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Manga

Dewey: 741.5

In a school library the number one, top circulating books are (almost) always...drawing books. They are the refuge of the struggling reader and a siren call to every student doodler.

In case you have not noticed, Japanese manga is a perpetual draw in junior high and high school kids. While subbing in a junior high library recently, I observed a young artist sketching a character. She drew the large, bright eyes, the delicate nose, the swooping hair and the ... fox ears peeking through the character's hair.

Walk in to any major chain book store and wander over to the manga aisle. You will see at least 3 young persons sitting there, cross-legged, reading intently, back to front.

One issue with usual manga and "how to draw manga" books for the elementary school library is the casual treatment of nudity and the ... décolletage ... shall we say, of the female characters.

The market has responded. These drawing books focus on chibis , fantasy characters and modestly clad humans. The all important eyes and action poses that are characteristic of manga are explained and broken down into easy to follow steps.

Xtreme Art Ultimate Book of Trace-and-Draw Manga by Christopher Hart, Watson-Guptill, 2009.

The Manga Artist's Workbook by Christopher Hart, Potter Style, 2009.

Manga for the Beginner -- Chibis: Everything you need to start drawing the super-cute characters of Japanese Comics by Christopher Hart, Watson-Guptill, 2010.

Drawing Manga: Animals, Chibis, other adorable creatures, by J. C. Amberlyn, Watson-Guptill, 2009.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sadness: Sid Fleischman

Author Sid Fleischman died March 17 in his home in Santa Monica, Calif., at the age of 90.

I write what I am.
When I sit down to a blank sheet of paper,
I may become a yellow-haired boy,
a snarling pirate,
a prankish wizard's ghost,
or even a dog with arrogant worlf's eyes.
But beneath all the makeup, the wigs and putty noses
- that's me
off on a fresh adventure and having a much fun as I can.
From Sid

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You're Lovable to Me

This time of year I am always drawn to bunny books the way I am to the lovely little fuzzy-wuzzy, sweet little toy bunnies that appear all over the world of commerce for Easter baskets.

You're Lovable to Me by Kat Yeh, illustrated by Sue Anderson, Random House, 2010.

This book is more about Mama Bunny than her children. The story reassures children of their mother's unconditional love despite the fact that "it had been a big day, it had been a hard night." Mama vows "no matter what your feelings are, what ever they may be...I'm you mama. You're my bunnies and you're lovable to me."

Apparently none of these bunnies are teenagers yet.

Mama is a single parent. After the bunnies are in bed, she washes the dishes, works at her desk and falls asleep on the sofa. When Grandpa Bunny arrives for evening tea he tucks a blanket around his sleeping daughter and repeats the stanzas and states, "I'm your papa. You're still my bunny. And you're lovable to me."

Sue Anderson's soft color palette gives the story a quiet tone which fits a bedtime story.

This is a nice little tribute to parenting. It may be that the book will strike a chord of empathy in the kiddos' hearts for their parents, but, like the book, Five Minutes' Peace by Jill Murphy, this story might be more appreciated by parents than kids.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Animal Fair

The Jungle Grapevine by Alex Beard, Abrams Books, 2009
Alex Beard draws from his travels in Africa to recount a story that is inspired by the game of "telephone."
When the animals overhear a comment or' conversation, they do not quite get it right when they repeat it. A crisis builds with each mis-telling until the whole animal kingdom is in an uproar. "I heard it through the grapevine" is the theme of this story.

Beard has a naive painting style that flows and is not contained by the frame of the double page spreads. The animals eavesdrop and spread the gossip from the margins of the page.

The dangers of gossip and not listening are gently depicted.

A Paddling of Ducks: animals in groups from A to Z by Marjorie Blain Parker, illustrated by Joseph Kelly, Kids Can Press, 2010.

This ABC book is a riotous celebration of animal collective nouns. Certainly, the best known book of collective nouns is James Lipton's comprehensive An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition. Marjorie Blain Parker has limited herself and selected one noun for each of the twenty-six letters in the alphabet.

In super-lit and vivid color, Joseph Kelly' pseudo realistic style echoes the groups' names with unexpected humor. A band of monkeys plays on wind instruments in band uniforms but the "bloat of hippos" labors away on exercise bikes.

Parker has selected animals that are familiar and others that are exotic. Fish in the "run of salmon" all sport a number as they would in a marathon race. The "labor of moles" wear hard hats and operate earth-moving equipment while being overseen by a "watch of nightingales." The pages offer more details which are fun to discover. An otter shares the "O" page with the"bed of oysters" and an anteater appears on the "A" page with the "army of ants." It is hard to choose just one but, I think my favorite page is the "skulk of foxes" -- no, the "crash of rhinos."

This is a very entertaining and visually stunning book. It clearly conveys the concept and meaning of collective nouns. This is a must-have for a school or public library.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sadness: Fess Parker

Farewell Fess Parker.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Author Visits via Skype

Author, Darcy Pattison has posted a list of 24 Tips & Settings for Skype Author Visits at her blog, Fiction Notes. Most districts have this capability now.

Her tips are WELL WORTH your time. She is so smart to consider lighting, appearance, props and the setting in general. Especially important... is her tip to LOOK AT THE CAMERA not the computer screen.

These tips are excellent for anyone making use of this technology in any capacity. Go read it now.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Richard Armitage Reads Bedtime Stories

Oh my.

Richard Armitage reading bedtime stories on Cbeebies.

John Thornton, Guy of Gisborne, Lucas North
My heavens.


Author: Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor on Good Morning Texas

David Tennant reads on Cbeebies

The Doctor, my only Doctor

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Girl in the Know

Dewey: 613

Girl in the Know: Your Inside-and-Out guide to Growing Up, written by Ann Katz, R.N., PhD., illustrated by Monka Melnychuk, KidsCan Press, 2010

Growing up is personal. I cannot imagine a better source to have at hand than this informative, interesting and completely helpful little book.

Katz gets to the "The Body" facts right away. She reviews a girl's anatomy and describes the changes that will occur along with puberty. Melnychuk's drawings illustrate clearly without threatening a parent's tender sensibilities.

There is so much more to growing up though and Katz addresses the changes in family relationships, friends, nutrition, hygiene, exercise, sleep patterns and academic challenges that can occur. She succinctly reviews the issue of physical and sexual abuse and harassment as well as sexual attraction. Readers are urged to discuss their feelings on these issues with a parent or trusted adult.

The text is very engaging and the overall design of the book is excellent. Melnychuk draws young women from diverse ethnic backgrounds, underscoring that puberty affects all girls. The book is nicely sized at just under 21 cm., just right to fit on a nightstand, in a purse or a backpack.

This is a terrific resource. I hope it also makes its way into pediatricians' offices so doctors can recommend it to the families they serve.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Movie: Guardians of Ga'hoole

BookMoot first heard murmurings of the movie-fication of Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'hoole series in 2005.
This series has SUCH a strong following. I hope the fans are pleased
This looks stunning!
Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for finding it!