Sunday, January 31, 2010

Movie: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for featuring this video of Wes Anderson's acceptance speech for the Special Filmmaking Achievement Award from the National Board of Review for the film Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books Poll

Fuse #8 is not asking for just one. She's giving me 10 whole slots and a whole month to come up with my top ten middle grade books of all time. Why is this so hard?

Aiming for LOWER test scores? Fire the school librarians

MOOT POINTS on the vital importance of school libraries

I have yet to meet a school administrator whose attitude is, "Woah, slow down now, our school's test scores are TOO good!" In my experience, they are constantly looking for that edge, that extra something that will motivate students and enhance the learning environment in order to RAISE test scores.

It would be crazy to REMOVE personnel and programs that have demonstrably improved student achievement, wouldn't it?

Jen Robinson;s Book Page points to this article, "Parent Volunteers to Play Larger Role in Dearborn Public School Libraries."

The Dearborn school district is attempting to deal with budget issues, in part, by laying off many of their school librarians and obliterating (my word) their school library programs.

from Obliterate = "1 a : to remove utterly from recognition or memory b : to remove from existence : destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of ...
2 : to make undecipherable or imperceptible by obscuring or wearing away"

My suggested headline for this article would be:

After reading the article my heart went out to:
  1. the librarians facing the loss of their jobs

  2. the impossible mission of the eight librarians who will be left to build, support, run, and teach at 32 libraries

  3. the earnestness of the parents who understand these programs are important and want to volunteer to fill the void

  4. the students who are being denied a vital part of their education

Michigan is one of the MANY states that has demonstrated the importance of school libraries to student success in
The Impact of Michigan School Librarians on Academic Achievement: Kids Who Have Libraries Succeed.

From the Executive Summary, pg. ix:

Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) reading test scores rise with the extent to which the state’s school library programs are headed by qualified school librarians. The relationship between school libraries and test scores cannot be explained away by other school or community conditions at any school level.

Parents and tax payers must hold the district administration and state legislators accountable.

The kids deserve better.

More information and links to many studies on the importance of qualified school librarians and library programs are available at Library Research Service.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Babymouse: The Musical

Oh joy, coming soon -- BABYMOUSE: THE MUSICAL
Curtain up, light the lights! Will the irresistible, irrepressible Babymouse win the lead in the school musical, or will Felicia Furrypaws steal the show?

Now, when will we QUILTERS be able to buy Babymouse Fabric? Hmm?
Hello? Paging Andover Fabrics!
Please make them an offer they can't refuse. I need some Babymouse PINK in my fabric stash.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Covers

Update: Good news for everyone via PW. "Bloomsbury to Rejacket ‘Magic Under Glass’"

I've said this before, I will say it again.

A. Children and young people want and NEED to find themselves in their school libraries.

B. We ALL judge a book by its cover.

C. When a cover does not represent the story and the characters within, it is denying my students a vital reference point as they choose what to read.

I was subbing at a school library where I was asked by a young woman to help her find a book that had a character "like me," she said. There was no time to bring up the catalog and search because the teacher had the class on a too short time window.

I'm faster than the computer anyway.

As I scanned the stacks it seemed my only obvious choices for books with African American characters were Bud, Not Buddy, Bucking the Sarge, and The Ear, the the Eye and the Arm.

I could not see any FICTION with a character "like her." The nonfiction and biographies areas had a good selection but she wanted a NOVEL.

I frequently encounter that "how can this library not have (insert name of book I am looking for here)" feeling when I am subbing. To be fair, I don't know the whole story. Maybe books have been lost or damaged. It is also possible that the books are checked out.

There may have been some books there for her but based solely on the covers, she couldn't tell.

Book covers are a frequent topic during author discussion panels at conferences I attend. As a reader and fan, my heart goes out to authors who have very, very, VERY little if ANY (zero) control over the cover that is going to represent their work to the world.

I hear about people signing contracts without reading the fine print.
Sadly, I am used to hearing that Congress will not/cannot/refuses to read bills before they are passed in to law.
I would like to think that Bloomsbury's tumble over the cover for on Jaclyn Dolamore's Magic Under Glass is just another case of publishing-person-in-charge-of-book-covers bungling the photo pick and did not know what or who the book was about.

Alas, Little, Brown's lightened "cover" Stickys in The Mysterious Benedict Society books would indicate this is not the case. Bookshelves of Doom has compare and contrast illustrations of this phenomena.

Bookshelves of Doom has prepared a very comprehensive list of links on the latest whitewashing cover incidents and commentary. Do click over there and read all the links. They took a long time to put together.

Publishers, please, you are messing with my kids! They are looking for themselves.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Free Monkey

Maureen Johnson has not mentioned Free Monkey in a while.

I enjoyed this offering by tea company, PG Tips, who was responsible for Free Monkey's presence in her life

Read the story of Free Monkey here under Blog Related Questions.

Sometimes it is personal

The ALA ALSC Book & Media Awards have real personal meaning to me this year.

They are always such fun and humbling as I realize that once again my reading has been utterly inadequate or right on the mark. This year, though, I have had the honor of meeting maybe even, sort of, kind of friending, not one, not two but THREE of the Honor winners.

It is a wonderful thing to think these books will sport a lovely medal on their covers now!

2010 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Book
Mare’s War by tanita s. davis and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

OK, I will have to confess that I have actually never met, face-to-face, in-person, shaken her hand, stood in the same room, city block, county, state or even had a coffee with the awesomeness that is Tanita S. Davis but her support from her blog to BookMoot and the Kidlitosphere in general make me feel like I know her, like we could sit down at the kitchen table and talk for hours. She is a kind and generous spirit who has a way of making a blogger feel like they have just written something profound/hilarious/meaningful/important. Tanita and Mare have been nominated for a NAACP Image Award too.

Mare is an unforgettable character. So is Tanita.

2010 Newbery Medal--Honor Book
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, published by Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers.

At the 2007 Texas Library Association conference I asked Grace Lin to sign a book for one of my young relatives and while she did, I mentioned that I was one of those Kidolitosphere bloggers who followed her blog and that her trip to Hong Kong had been a virtual vacation for me.

Now, I don't know if she had REALLY ever looked at this-here blog -- she made me feel like she had and she had someone take our picture and she talked to me and it was just ... w o n d e r f u l. My dragon and I really love this beautiful book. Check out the photos of her early morning phone call on her blog, gracenotes

2010 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal --Honor Book
The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani and published by Charlesbridge

I served on a Cybils committee with Chris Barton, which is really a wonderful way to get to know your fellow kidlitospherians (VOLUNTEER.) I hoped I would get to meet him, in person, at TLA but who knew if I would really see him? Walking through the exhibit hall, bent in half by a too many books and arcs in my backpack, I was stunned to hear a man say, "Camille?" as I staggered by him.

Good Gad! It was Chris Barton. He had recognized my shoes from a photo of my shiny new pink swoosh Nikes that I had posted before leaving for the conference.

Readers of his blog, Bartography, have followed his twisty-turny road to publication so this is sweet for all of us. I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled, thrilled for him.

BTW, If you are one of my librarian friends who I contacted about booking him for an author visit, I TOLD you so!

Monday, January 18, 2010

NonFiction Monday: Annieographies

I am reminded that a splendid blog for picture book biographies is over at:

Anneographies - Author Anne Bustard on her fave picture book biographies and a few collected biographies, too, birthday by birthday.

Anne's site is a day by day calendar of birthdays of the famous and infamous and picture book biographies that celebrate and inform.

It is worth a daily click to see who is featured.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Now is the winter of our discontent

Dear School Librarians,

Go read this post by Ms Yingling as she ponders Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.

I loved Yingling's personal take on the five important things she strives to do for her students.

I loved her list because...

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;

Shakespeare. Richard The Third Act 1, scene 1, 1–4

It has been cold. Very cold. People are cranky.

School is back in full swing now. Benchmark testing is ramping up. January seems long but the real-deal state assessment tests are not far away. Each grading period offers the potential for disaster as paid-up Spring school trips hang in the balance.

School situations that parents worried about all Fall are about to become more fraught with peril for all concerned as (teachers, fine arts directors, coaches, administrators, crossing guards, bus drivers, or cafeteria workers) either pick the "other" kid in the audition/tryout, or give the grade, or make the comment, or write the note that will send the parents stomping to the (department head, principal, or school board) to complain.

When things swerve out of control in daily life, people seek control in other areas and often that means a narrowed gaze at the library books their children are reading. Book challenges in schools happen for all kinds of reasons but usually the least of them is the book itself. It is rarely JUST about the book.

Think now, before the Spring thaw--what can you do to attract parental good will and student involvement? As librarians we need to be the "children of York" making the "winter" into the glorious summer for our students.

Hopefully your program is thriving as you:

  • book-talk,
  • teach and plan lessons,
  • purchase library materials
  • present to parent groups,
  • mentor students and faculty,
  • catalog,
  • serve on committees,
  • troubleshoot your automation system,
  • attend professional meetings,
  • plan and carry out book fairs, author visits and reading programs,
  • supervise student workers, parent volunteers, and library aides.

But on those days you are feeling overwhelmed, just try for
Ms Yingling's Five

Monday, January 11, 2010

MotherReader: Comment Challenge 2010

MotherReader: Comment Challenge 2010

Going to try my very best.

2008 -- Two Ambassadors

Jon Scieska was the absolute best, perfect, appropriate, inspired pick for the role as our first Ambassador of Children's Literature.

His visit to Houston in 2008 at Blue Willow Bookshop was an event officiated by a Cub Scout color guard, a brass fanfare and a red carpet.

I had never met an ambassador before. I attempted to get into a session with him at TLA once but the crowd was so large that the fire marshall closed the room before I got there.

I told him how much I had enjoyed his reports from the embassy, especially when his diplomatic intervention had been required to help Mo Willems with Knuffle Bunny 3.

Earlier, in 2008 Houston was graced with a visit by Katherine Paterson who came to speak at the Cool Brains InPrint series.

I know during her time as Ambassador she will be doing a lot of talking, like above, but, I will remember the joy on her face as she met with the children there that day. Her face was shining!

We are so happy about your appointment, Madame Ambassador.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Does anyone read "Shoe" books anymore?

Watching the movie, Ballet Shoes was a lovely experience. I thought it captured the spirit of the book in every way. Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige, and Lucy Boynton play the Fossil sisters. Emilia Fox (honestly, there seems to be a member off the extended Fox acting family in everything I watch these days) was lovely and Marc Warren gives a low key performance which is miles away from his character, Danny Blue, in Hustle.

Such a well done movie and it made me wonder, do children read Noel Streatfeild's books anymore?

Lookin back, I would like to think I was one of those bright, precocious youngsters who read before she could walk. Alas, this was not the case. I recall, quite vividly, being sorted into the "buzzards" reading group in first grade, not the "blue birds." Things improved when they discovered I needed glasses but I was not an avid reader until fourth grade.

That year, I was at a new school, in a new country. The school library was tiny but it had ONE thing I had never encountered before, a librarian type person who talked to me. That library lady ran a mini-book club out of a tiny closet in the school. She had Puffins and Penguins and I could buy books.

My problem was, I had no idea what to read. I can remember staring at the shelf, utterly clueless, so she handed me Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild.

I loved that book. In the months that followed, I acquired many more of the "shoe stories." She would make it a point to greet me and show m new books that she thought I would enjoy. I always followed her suggestions.

I read White Boots aka Skating Shoes which I loved because I was learning to skate. I think White Boots may have been my favorite book. Two girls, Lalla and Harriet, one rich, one poor, share training time at an ice rink. Lalla is being groomed for skating stardom, Harriet is there to strengthen her leg muscles after an illness.

The Painted Garden, aka Movie Shoes was fun because of the appearance of Pauline Fossil from Ballet Shoes, who has become a Hollywood movie star in the story. An unpleasant and difficult middle child named Jane, lands the lead in the film version of Secret Garden while her family is staying in California.

In Here Comes the Circus aka Circus Shoes, brother and sister, Peter and Santa, join their Uncle Gus, who works for a circus. They learn tumbling and appear in the circus performances.

Streatfeild's other books never caught my imagination the way these four did. Maybe my time of unconscious delight had already passed when I encountered them.

In these stories the characters are from loving families of modest means and usually under some kind of emotional or financial distress. The characters are thrust on stage or onto the ice or into the circus ring where they learn to excel or at least withstand the experience in some way. All the books celebrate the value of hard work and hours of practice.

Today, Eva Ibbotson's novels evoke a similar happy reading hum in me. The shoe books, with their poor but genteel families must seem pretty tame stuff to readers today who love the quick cut action of Percy Jackson or the sparkle of the Twilight books. I'm trying to recall if anyone I know has read them recently.

Those two years abroad made me a life long reader (and saddled me with a life long spelling disability as I easily drop in the British spellings for"practising," "flavour," and "colour" when I write.)

I also think of that librarian, whose name I do not recall, when I walk the shelves with kids and pull books off the shelves and ask, "how about this one?

Green Man

Via Jenni Holm

Adults Go Wild Over Latest In Children's Picture Book Series

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Trellis Magazine Poetry Contest

Trellis Magazine
The purpose of the Trellis Literary Corporation is to be a nonprofit private foundation which can publish, print, and distribute materials that foster the appreciation of the fundamentals and craft of writing in the English language; provide a forum for learning, research, and sharing of literature; and help writers of all ages find a voice for original, creative expression.

Trellis Magazine has opened a new poetry contest for writers of all ages and skill levels!

The Valentine's Day Poetry Contest deadline is January 31, 2010. Contest poems will be published in our first free Poetry Booklet during February, in time for Valentine's Day. See details on the website Contest page at .