Archive for September, 2006

Two monstrously good books

h1 Saturday, September 30th, 2006

O yes, it’s here! It’s here! There was a knock on my door this morning, I saw through the window a mail man walk away back to his mail-mobile, and there on my doorstep was the new Sendak title, Mommy?! Joy o joy, and my heart did a little jig or two.

And I’m here to tell ya it is well worth the wait. I think I’ve made it clear (more than once, actually) that Sendak is the object of my literary hero worship, so you may not be surprised that I. am. in. love. with. this. book . . . Happily, I must add, my two-and-a-half-year old loved it, too. This one got the “again! again!” verbal seal of approval after I initially closed its pages.

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Mmmm… chocolate…

h1 Friday, September 29th, 2006

Woo-hoo! I am one of three winners in author Robin Brande’s monthly Free Chocolate givaway! How awesome is that? When you enter, she asks for an essay explaining exactly why you should win. I gave her 3 compelling reasons, which I think gave me an edge:

1. I like her blog. Really, I’m not just brown-nosing – she’s quite funny and smart, and apparently has a lot of willpower, since she keeps giving up things like chocolate and tortilla chips. I even put a handy link to it over in the “Seven Impossible Children’s Book Blogs and Sites” list, so you guys could check it out too.

2. I really need a bigger ass. I mean, doesn’t everybody?

3. She and I have a weird connection: on her “about” page, she describes her Broadway debut in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. See, my husband is a set designer who frequently works with Barrington Stage Company, where that show premiered before it moved to NY. Small world! See? Tenuous obscure connection = give me chocolate!

I wonder what reasons Brooke and Marci gave…

Go forth, chocolate lovers! Enter! Next month it could be you!

Last night I dreamed of a children’s poet laureate . . .

h1 Thursday, September 28th, 2006

prelutsky.gifcathedral.gif . . . oh, and some chickens, too.

Devoted blog reader, if you will allow us to wander from a book review one more time this week, we just must announce that The Poetry Foundation made their decision yesterday and chose Jack Prelutsky as the country’s first ever Children’s Poet Laureate. Yes, first ever. This is right up there with the day that The New York Times finally created the bestseller list in children’s books. (Arguably, this is much bigger news; but it’s pretty rad that children’s lit is gettin’ the attention it deserves).

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“[O]ne man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” . . . *

h1 Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

2006 BBW; Read Banned Books: They're Your Ticket to Freedomstupids.gifYay rah for intellectual freedom! We are smack dab (to be precise) in the middle of the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week. What has been the most challenged book of the 21st century thus far? What was the most frequently challenged book from last year? The answers can be found at ALA’s site if you click on the Banned Books image on the left. And celebrate your freedom to choose what you read and what you think by reading a banned book this week. Some are pictured below, or click here. I, personally, suggest The Stupids Die (1981) by Harry Allard and James Marshall — if not as your banned book choice of the week, then for the mirthful moment in which Grandfather Stupid crashes through the living room wall on his motorcycle and informs the family that they’re in Cleveland, not heaven.

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Ow. Ow. I had no idea . . .

h1 Sunday, September 24th, 2006

snowflower.gif. . . that foot-binding in the-days-gone-by of China was so painful. I say that at the great risk of sounding dreadfully dingy, but I just had no idea it was so flat-out bloody, even resulting in death for many young girls — oh, and that it served as a source of erotic fetishism for men when the girls became women. Who knew? Not I. When I mentioned to Eisha that I was reading about it, she commiserated, having experienced her own shuddering cringes, I’m sure, when reading about the bone-breaking, blood-tinged foot-binding pain in Donna Jo Napoli’s Bound. I know, I know. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it — that it would bring about excruciating pain. But, I’d never really thought about it or, obviously, read about it. Lisa See describes it with great candor and detail in her latest novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), a book that is marketed for adult audiences but was reviewed by School Library Journal as a great title for YA audiences as well.

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I need your opinion…

h1 Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Nick & Norah's Infinite PlaylistWanna play God? Here’s your chance: by entering a simple blog comment, YOU may determine whether or not I finish this book. And you’ve probably never even met me!

Here’s the deal. I started Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan a few days ago, because it sounded like something I’d dig and it got such raving reviews, esp. on other blogs. But… I’m 84 pages in and I’m still waiting for it to grab me. Is it just me? Do I need to give it more time? Will it be worth it?

Here’s what I think so far:

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Coming-of-age By the River

h1 Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Steven Herrick’s By the River, published in 2004, is a beautifully-told novel in free verse. A lovely, lovely book this one is. And I have been wanting to read it since it was first published, but no local libraries had it. Herrick is an Australian literary sensation of sorts, as I understand it, and this book itself garnered many honors in Herrick’s home, including a Children’s Book of the Year Honor Book for Older Readers by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. All of that’s to say that the book is an Australian wonder, but it seems to have stayed there in all its glory a while, mate. But now I have Front Street Books to thank for its Spring 2006 publication here in the States, complete with a new jacket and book design. Finally, I have it in my hands. (And, to give credit where credit is due, I have the honorable Judith Ridge, also a member of the Child_Lit listserv, to thank for recommending the book. She doesn’t know me, but she raved about it on Child_Lit and piqued my curiosity. Besides, she has an informative blog, especially for those who want to keep abreast of children’s lit in a country other than this one).

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New Picture Books That You Cannot Live Without,
Part 2:

h1 Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Hello, it’s eisha and Jules again. Part 2 of our fabulous 2006 picture book round-up includes new titles from some of the best-known kid lit creators: Peter Sis, Peter McCarty, Mo Willems, Walter Dean Myers & Christopher Myers, and Lane Smith. Enjoy…

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Allicatter gatorpillars and allibutter gatorflies
gettin’ what’s due to ‘em . . .

h1 Monday, September 18th, 2006

calef1.gifHi there, devoted blog reader. Eisha and I try to stick to book reviews for this, our beloved blog, but we did initially agree to occasionally post about the relevant and/or momentous library and/or children’s literature-related news. And, well, this is exciting news. I’d put it in the form of a haiku in honor of the news and its literary form, but we’ll leave that to Little Willow, since she’s so good at writing hoe-downs, too (tee hee — no pressure, Little Willow).

Anyway, the news that will get you children’s lit geeks (and we say that lovingly) as excited as we are is that on September 27th, The Poetry Foundation will inaugurate the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. This is big and wondermous news, folks.

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Sharp North by Patrick Cave; Or, a Novel That Addresses my Zombie Fears

h1 Friday, September 15th, 2006

sharpnorth.gifAt the risk of sounding like a big ‘ol flake or pathologically worrisome (which I probably am), I must admit that I fear one of those awful, grim catastrophes in my lifetime — whether it be biological or environmental or warfare-related or what-have-you — that will make life not unlike a zombie movie. Rather, the atmosphere will be such. We’ll all be afraid to go out, or — worse yet — simply won’t be able to go out; I’ll be kicking myself for not having stored cans of food and bottled water; and I’ll be pining for the old days of freedom, wondering why I ever took for granted even the uninspired or monotonous days. Total chaos. A total dissolution of the rules of society we agree upon. Hey, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and I do have at least one other friend who admits to this fear as well. (In fact, when I saw the horror that unfolded for the lower class of New Orleans during the flooding that occurred around this time last year, I thought, this is how they must feel.) I guess when I became a mother, too, these fears intensified, but I digress . . .

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