Archive for October, 2006

If the Wolves Come Out of the Walls . . .

h1 Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

wolves.gifWe’ve already mentioned the two best new scary (and funny and clever) books to creep out your favorite kid today, but I’m doing a quick All Hallow’s Eve shout-out for another great spooky, creepy, scary book — The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean. Published in ’03, it features another of Gaiman’s daring and defiant female protagonists, Lucy, who is just sure there are wolves in the walls. And, as everyone knows, if the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over — or so Lucy is told, but she’s brave enough to battle them. McKean even got a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year award (2003) for this one. And well-deserved it was, as he seems at the top of his game with this visual romp. As School Library Journal described it, McKean used “painted people; scratchy ink-lined wolves; and photographed, computer-manipulated images” with four panels on some pages, giving it a nice graphic novel feel. And, yes, it’s hair-raising and shuddersome, as a good scary book should be, but it’s hysterical, too. So, pick this one up today in the spirit of getting creeped out. Oh, and there is a staged production of the book (“for everyone over 7 who is not a scaredy cat”) that will arrive in the U.S. in early 2008. Check out this creepy ad for it (information about the production and the links come from Fuse #8’s ever-informative site). Woo hoo! Though I doubt it’ll come to Nashville (wah wah), maybe Eisha can catch it for me in the Northeast.

Happy Halloween!

A Clucking Cow, a Belle Babe, Peggony-Po,
and One Rollicking Road

h1 Monday, October 30th, 2006

Hey. Jules here. I’m back. Let’s talk some great, new picture books I have here in my hands, shall we?

Before we get to these wonderful ’06 titles, allow me to also enthusiastically encourage nominations for the Cybil Awards. As Eisha mentioned in the recent Poetry Friday post, we are both involved, separately, on nomination committees for the fledgling and fabulous new Cybil Awards. I am honored to be on the Picture Book nominating committee; I just got online to visit my local library and max’ed out the number of items I can have on hold — picture books, picture books, and more picture books so that when you — yes, you! — go here to nominate the one high-quality picture book you think is the most outstanding (for good reasons) this year, I will be all prepared and will have, likely, read it (I’m keeping my eye on the nominations, of course) or at least know where to get my hands on it. As someone else commented on the Cybils site, this is a great way to create a reading list. And I’m diggin’ it (though I’m all sturm-und-drang about which book to nominate myself — Waiting for Gregory? Mommy?? The Sound of Colors? It’s so hard to pick just one, but the exercise is good for the ‘ol mental juices).

Okay, on to these lovely new picture book titles: Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Reason for Poetry, Rexroth, and Request for Nominations

h1 Friday, October 27th, 2006

*{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy} . . .

“It is not poetry’s fault that it has so small an audience, so little effect upon the frightened, money-loving world. Poetry, after all, is not a miracle. It is an effort to formalize (ritualize) individual moments and the transcending effects of these moments into a music that all can use. It is the song of our species.” — Mary Oliver

It’s my turn to post a lil’ something for Poetry Friday. But Julie had found that Mary Oliver quote and tossed it my way, and I agreed it needed to be shared. I mean, if you’re bothering to read this, you probably don’t need a justification for the existence of poetry. But it’s true, not everyone gets it. Read the rest of this entry �

For David

h1 Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

“Think of things that disappear/Think of what you love best/What brings tears into your eyes/Something that said adios to you/before you knew what it meant/or how long it was for . . .” — Naomi Shihab Nye

Let me just say up front: Excuse this savagely personal post. I try to stay professional and keep on the topic of book reviews only, but . . .

I have this obscenely overactive work ethic. For the purposes of this blog, that translates into me thinking that I need to post something at least every other day, though Eisha and I never committed to a particular number of posts at particular intervals. But I haven’t posted in a few days and feel fairly worthless towards doing anything productive this week in terms of reading and writing . . . other than this post.

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Poetry Friday: Louise Glück’s Averno

h1 Friday, October 20th, 2006

averno.gif*{Note: Visit here at Chicken Spaghetti for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Did Eisha and I mention last week that we’re thrilled to finally be participating in Poetry Fridays? We really are. Eisha was looking forward to composing this week’s poetry post, but she is unable to and so I will humbly be doing so again. This week’s selection is not from the realm of children’s poetry, but we promise to get to that soon (not that it’s a requirement . . . I just don’t want to seem as if we’re neglecting all the wonderful poetry for children out there).

This week’s selection is Louise Glück’s most recent anthology of poetry, Averno, which was announced on the 11th of this month as a 2006 National Book Award Finalist in Poetry. Read the rest of this entry �

Introducing The Cybil Awards

h1 Thursday, October 19th, 2006

cybils_medal2.jpgActually, they’ve been introduced on plenty of other kidlitosphere blogs, but this is the first time we’re mentioning them here. The blog edition of children’s book awards — pretty exciting!

It all began when the honorable Kelly at Big A little a posed a most thought-provoking question: “This month we’ve seen a spate of book awards, some of which have left us wondering: couldn’t we, the intelligent, savvy members of the kidlitosphere do better? Or, at least, differently?” So, Kelly and Anne Boles Levy of Book Buds inaugurated a new book awards (Blog Edition, V. 1.0, as it were), and then the nominations for a name for these fledgling awards commenced. I humbly offered “The Still Hots” in honor of the brilliant last page of Sendak’s masterpiece (yes, I have probably worked Sendak into 90% of my posts), but that suggestion was mostly in jest, though it has a certain ring to it, eh? Nonetheless, “The Cybils” was chosen as the title for these awards (read here if you’re wondering why), and Stephanie Ford at the Children’s Literature Book Club designed the medal you see here.

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BGHB Awards, Part 2: So then…

h1 Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

… after the Most Excellent Ms. Ehlert did her thing, Mary Beth Dunhouse of the BPL stepped up to introduce the Nonfiction honors and winner. Although… really, almost all the books were non-fictiony this year, don’t you think? I mean, Mama and Sky Boys in the Picture Book category, and Yellow Star in the Fiction & Poetry category, were all based on real events and/or people. But I digress…

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Alice’s Wonderland of Prose

h1 Tuesday, October 17th, 2006


Alert: This review includes a spoiler for, of all things, A Farewell to Arms. I’m just sayin’ . . . in case you haven’t read it and want to one day.

I confess that sometimes I wonder if our humble little blog here shouldn’t be focused on solely children’s lit (since it’s such a huge part of what Eisha and I do); we would then have a sharper (but not necessarily better) focus. However, if that were the case, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how beautiful a novel like Alice McDermott’s latest is — not to mention that, as YA author L. Lee Lowe put it so nicely in one of the comment sections of our blog, “I need to read widely across all genres, and extensively in adult lit. It’s important to know the best that literature has to offer, and to learn from it. Poetry, too, is particularly important in order to see how language is being stretched to its fullest.” For shizzle, Lee (how’s that for stretching language to its fullest?). And, though McDermott — a National Book Award winner — writes prose and not poetry, this literary stretching Lowe speaks of is what McDermott does so well.

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BGHB Awards: Reporting from the Field (Trip), Part One

h1 Sunday, October 15th, 2006

I know, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for this. I’m sorry I don’t have pics – I did snap a few with my cute new camera phone, but since I was trying to be surreptitious, and it is only a camera phone, I only have a handful of very small fuzzy indistinct images of people milling around drinking wine, some of whom may be famous authors and illustrators but you can’t really tell. Anyway, you’ll be glad to hear that I was able to avoid any awkward, tearful confrontations with Kate DiCamillo, and that I DID NOT EMBARRASS MYSELF IN FRONT OF ROGER SUTTON.

I did, however, manage to embarrass myself in front of James E. Ransome and Jarrett J. Krosoczka; possibly also in front of Taylor Morrison, Lois Ehlert, and Robin Smith (one of the judges/presenters), and only narrowly escaped embarassing myself in front of M.T. Anderson. Oh, and I discovered that my friends and colleagues are not so much friends-and-colleagues as they are ENABLERS.

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New Picture Books You Cannot Live Without:
The Finale to our Ode

h1 Saturday, October 14th, 2006

The two of us again . . . Here’s Part III, the finale, to our new-picture-books post (as in, those done by authors/illustrators whose names you’ll, most likely, recognize). Don’t forget the new book from the king of all wild things . . . er, I mean the king of all author/illustrators, Maurice Sendak. That is covered in another recent post. As for the following titles, they’re all ones not to miss and created by authors and illustrators whose collective talent is enough to knock your collective socks off.

moose.gifLooking for a Moose by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Randy Cecil — Phyllis Root is one of my favorite children’s book authors (Jules talkin’ here); she possesses such staggering talent that I don’t know how she can keep from falling over when standing. In this new title, she showcases her gifted talents for wordplay, and she writes with a rollicking rhythm that flows right off the tongue: “We scrape through the bushes scritch scratch! scritch scratch! the brambly-ambly, bunchy-scrunchy, scrubby-shrubby bushes.” Read the rest of this entry �