Archive for September, 2006

New Picture Books That You Cannot Live Without:
An Ode in Three Parts

h1 Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Jules and Eisha here, co-posting again. We were ooh’ing and aah’ing recently in great excitement over some new picture book titles that are out (as in, all are 2006 titles, and some are brand spankin’ new) and that have been created by some of the more well-known names in this field. We divvied up the titles and decided we must tell you about them (and there will most certainly be a Part Deux to this post and probably even a Part Three, since we each have a nice stack ‘o books). So, hold on to your horses, cowgirls and cowboys; here we go. Yee haw!

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Life’s little literary surprises

h1 Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

alphaoops.gifI woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, and that’s for sure. The morning just started off badly. But, despite my crabby mood and as a devoted children’s librarian myself, I still planned on taking The Girls on our usual weekly library story time trip. I usually drive a bit to one of the Nashville branches; there’s a library down the road from us, but this Nashville branch has a story time schedule that happens to jibe with my wee one’s nap schedule. But, to make my already cantankerous mood this morning worse, this aforementioned wee one was particularly fussy and didn’t nap as long as she normally does, so off we went for the first time to the story time at Smyrna Public Library, just down the road from us, which is scheduled a bit earlier in the day. Miss Thang (yes, we call her that — I know, it’s a tired ‘ol, blah nickname, but it stuck and is often fitting), the least wee of the two, screamed at me for the unanticipated and untimely termination of “Sesame Street,” but, hey, I had five minutes to get to story time. Oh, the toddler wails! Oh, my tetchy, ugly mood! Oh, I needed some more coffee! But we made it out the door, me still scowling, I’m sure.

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Born-again Bunny; or, What’s up with Edward Tulane winning the BGHB award?!?

h1 Monday, September 11th, 2006

The Miraculous Journey of Edward TulaneIt’s not easy being a bunny. Especially if you are the titular toy bunny (sorry, rabbit – he hates the b-word) in Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

We know, a lot has already been said about this book. And what the (mostly positive) reviews (by such luminaries as Ilene Cooper and Katherine Paterson) have said is true. It’s beautifully illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. It’s beautifully printed and bound by Candlewick. And it has Kate DiCamillo’s elegant narrative voice that has already won the undying admiration of readers for such instant classics as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. But… it’s also got some… well, quirks. Some of these have been mentioned as well, notably in Elizabeth Ward’s review in the Washington Post.

Julie and I had similar ambivalent reactions to the book when we read it a few months ago. And when it was announced as the winner in the fiction category for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards… frankly, we were both a bit shocked. We kind of talked briefly about the fact that one of us should maybe post something, sometime, about it. But it’s harder than I thought it would be to pin down and put into words exactly what’s up with this book. So J. and I decided to post about it together, conversation-style. And of course, please feel free to add to the discussion with your comments.

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Midwestern Paranormal Noir

h1 Sunday, September 10th, 2006

The Driftless AreaHere’s the thing: I work as a children’s librarian, but I love to read adult lit too. But since I don’t have a lot of exposure to the review journals for adult books, I don’t always hear about all the cool new grown-up books coming out. In some ways this is kind of sad, and I wish I could make more time to peruse LJ and PW to see what’s happening on the other side of the library. But sometimes it results in what I like to call “happy accidents” (a phrase I borrowed from Bob Ross): I’ll come across an interesting-looking book, completely by chance, and get to read it with absolutely no idea what it’s about or what other people have said about it. The Driftless Area by Tom Drury was just such an accident, and I’m quite happy about it.

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911: The Book of Help

h1 Sunday, September 10th, 2006

911.gifI always wanted to read this book, published in 2002. But I never got around to it. I finally picked it up a week or so ago, knowing that the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks was looming. And now it’s just one day away. I can still hardly believe it ever even happened.

911: The Book of Help is sub-titled, Authors Respond to the Tragedy. And that’s just what it is — a collection of twenty-two essays, poems, and short fiction by authors who typically write for young adults with drawings by Chris Raschka (done on the day of the attacks as the second tower fell), all created in response to the terrorist attacks. Edited by Michael Cart with Marc Aronson and Marianne Carus, a portion of the book’s proceeds were given to The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. All of the authors and Raschka donated their work. The title of the book makes a seemingly obvious connection between the date of the attacks to the emergency assistance phone number one uses to call for help. (But this terrible irony of the attacks is something that doesn’t always occur to folks right away). The book is divided into four sections: Healing; Searching for History; Asking Why? Why? Why?; and Reacting and Recovering.

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Hey, this is one Good-Lookin’ book

h1 Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

honky-tonk.gifI could just mention this wonderful book in the picture-books-about-music thread that is going in the comments section of the “Never leave your cat alone” post. A few of us started discussing picture books about jazz, but Eisha also mentioned picture books about the blues, opera, and salsa. So, I could just throw in another comment about Honky-Tonk Heroes & Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music (2006), but then you might not see it. And this is one swingin’ book, ya’ll, that you won’t wanna miss. And, yes, the title of my post is rather lame, as I’m trying to work in a Hank Williams lyric. Humor me here.

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Red in the hood, seven little cowboys,
& pinto bean stalks

h1 Monday, September 4th, 2006

hood.gif

I love it when contemporary authors/playwrights/screenwriters/etc. play with fairy tales, as long as it’s done well. There are so many great picture book adaptations, novel adaptations, variations on a theme, stage and screen adaptations, fractured fairy tales, etc. I wish I could live multiple parallel lives at once, and one of the things I’d do is study to become a fairy tale scholar of sorts. I could start out as Maria Tatar’s lackey. A librarian can dream.

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Teenie, Cute, and Small

h1 Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

… and no, I’m not talking about myself, cheeky. But I admit that each of these books struck a personal chord with me. I was always the shortest girl in my class, and as such I think I got an extra serving of the sort of pawing and cooing and manhandling that little kids tend to get from bigger people. Even from other kids my age, who seemed to think it was neat that they could pick me up as easily as their baby siblings. Well, almost as easily – I called a halt to it around 4th grade after being dropped on the four-square court one too many times.

The point is, it’s not easy being small. You’re always having to ask for someone’s help to reach something, or to carry stuff. And no one takes you seriously. These books speak to that aspect of childhood, and find something to celebrate in smallness.

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