Archive for November, 2006

Children’s Literature Across the Board
(including two reeeeeally outstanding YA titles)

h1 Monday, November 13th, 2006

I am trying to do better about reading children’s lit in certain age ranges; I usually go to town on my picture books and YA titles, the two ends of the continuum. But — for whatever reason — I don’t read as many beginning readers and chapter books, in particular. So, I’ve been doing some reading lately in each age category (I don’t think I missed any, though — technically — board books aren’t represented here) and figured I’d do a post featuring one title for each one (my YA category, though, features two stellar titles I just finished). So, let’s get to it — children’s literature across the board, from picture books to the two best YA titles I’ve read this year.

* * * Picture Book * * *

Here’s a little gem for you: Hippo! No, Rhino by Jeff Newman, nominated for a Cybil Award in the Fiction Picture Books category. This is a sly, clever, hip, little slip of a book; it’s mostly wordless; and it’s got the look of a picture book that might have been the shizizzle when I was a toddler (in the ’80s — okay, um, the ’70s). Enter the zoo with a baffled zookeeper who doesn’t quite know his animals (and looks not unlike Cheech or Chong) Read the rest of this entry �

Eureka! Short reviews alleviate workload, prevent procrastination.

h1 Monday, November 13th, 2006

Hey, remember when Wired asked all those authors to come up with six-word stories?  (I heard about it through Fuse #8.)  Well, the other day I stumbled across a blog called Fussy, totally by accident.  And this blog’s author does five-word book reviews.  A-ha, I thought.  Brilliant!  That is something I can do, even with another paper due.  And it’s a great way to tell you speedy-quick about some of the new picture books I just got in at work last week.  But, this being 7ITBB, I have to give it a Seven-Impossible-style twist.  So, I bring you (drumroll, please):

The Seven Word Book Review! ™

Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Giant lift-the-flap* design makes familiar concept cool.

* Compound words joined with hyphens still only count as one word.  ‘Cause I said so.

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The Welcome Return of Charles Frazier

h1 Sunday, November 12th, 2006

thirteen-moons.gifWhew. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about an adult title, since I’ve been doing my duty and reading picture book after picture book for the Cybils committee on which I serve. But what a rich title to return to after my little hiatus. Charles Frazier is back after a literary absence just short of ten years (his breathtaking and National Book Award-winning Cold Mountain — for which I have a great fondness, since it’s a nearly perfect and lyrically-written odyssey and since I lifted my daughter’s beautiful name from this grand, lovely piece of writing — was published in ’97). I dare say it’s been more than thirteen moons since we’ve heard from him; and thank goodness he’s returned, because he’s one of our finest contemporary American authors with a distinctive voice and capable of such evocative, unforgettable prose (according to this link at Wikipedia, Frazier was offered an eight million dollar advance for Thirteen Moons, all based on the success of Cold Mountain. Could it be true? Who knows, but if it is true . . . wow). Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: I’ve got the Cybil Bug

h1 Friday, November 10th, 2006

*{Note: Visit Journey Woman for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Howdy, strangers.  I know, it’s been a while.  As Julie mentioned, I’ve been kinda busy with school lately, and haven’t been posting nearly as often as I’d like to.  But thanks to Mistress Cybil, I’ve definitely been reading a LOT of excellent poetry for children.  I thought I’d use my share of the Poetry Fridays to highlight some of the nominees that I’ve been especially tickled about.  For example:

Hey There, Stink Bug!Hey There, Stink Bug!  by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Leslie Evans.  This book is a complete package – excellent linoleum block-and-watercolor illustrations (love them, LOVE THEM!!!); clever, fun, and largely read-out-loud-able poetry; and fascinating facts about insects sure to please the budding entomologist, or anyone who likes trivia of the gross-out variety.  For example, did you know that aphids reproduce asexually, and already have new live aphids developing inside them when they’re born?!?  And that skipper caterpillars can “force-fire” their own poop over three feet away?!?  Dude… that’s just nasty.

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Some Non-Fiction Picture Book Titles:
From the Splendid to the So-So (and Back Again)

h1 Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

{I must quickly note — though unrelated to literature and related only to our site’s format — that we are finally ad-free! Woo hoo! Thanks, Blaine!} . . .

Get me. I recently admitted that I don’t read enough non-fiction, but here is a post about a couple more noteworthy non-fiction picture book titles I’ve experienced. Three in one week. Don’t pass out on me. (And I think I’ll throw in a few more in the way of poetry — technically, non-fiction, too, though I usually don’t have a problem getting my poetry).

perfect-timing.gifThis title you see on the left here is not only a good book, but the author, Patsi B. Trollinger, grew up in Tennessee (I was even told she’s a native of Sullivan County, not terribly far from where Eisha and I both used to live, in gorgeous East Tennessee). Trollinger’s Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World’s Greatest Jockeys — published in September of this year — became a reality after her interest was piqued when she saw a brief, six-line story about him in a local newspaper (she now lives in Kentucky), according to her web site.

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These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things . . .
(Oh, and The Best Picture Book Line of the Year Contest)

h1 Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Mwahahahahaha. Eisha says I’m a Temptress/Bad Influence. She has a paper due very soon, but I convinced her to co-post with me on some of our favorite picture books of the year. What are friends for, if not to help you procrastinate?

In the many years we’ve been friends, there have actually been some books upon which Eisha and I have not agreed; in other words, she’s recommended one to me that I didn’t care for, and vice versa. But it doesn’t happen often. We have quite similar taste in books. So, it’s not a surprise to me that our favorite-picture-books-of-the-year-thus-far lists are similar. We’re going to say a bit about each one here. And I’d like to add that we are not superhuman librarians (well, I’ll speak for myself; Eisha did meet Jarrett J. Krosockza and told him he rocks!) who have read each and every picture book published in ’06, and the Paradigm of All Picture Books could be published right as we’re ringin’ in the new year, for all we know. But, for what it’s worth, we are huge picture book fans and pretty much read them like there’s no tomorrow.

Wolves by Emily Gravett —

Jules: Some wonderful things have been said about this book (published in ’05 but not until ’06 here in the U.S.) on some wonderful blogs that we often frequent Read the rest of this entry �

More Picture Book Pleasures —
Lions and Sheep and Rabbits. Oh my!

h1 Saturday, November 4th, 2006

This is supposed to be a Part Two of sorts to my most recent picture book post, but let’s just drop that whole parts-of-a-whole concept. I’ve got a huge stack of picture books to read — which makes me happier than the pre-born-again Eddy Tulane in front of a mirror. Some have been nominated for the Cybil Awards, and some have not. Let’s just get right to it, and if you enjoy picture book posts, then you’re in luck, ’cause I’ve got a lot more to talk about in the near future.

librarylion.gifLibrary Lion by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes — If, by chance, you have been reading some particularly uninspired books lately, well then here’s a sight for sore eyes. This book is just gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. And if you’re a library-lover, then be prepared to swoon. And when it comes to those books with memorable first lines, add this one to the list: “One day, a lion came to the library.” Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Word Up

h1 Friday, November 3rd, 2006

*{Note: Visit here at Big A little a for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Chances are, if you love poetry, you love words. “Lickety-split,” “tremulously,” “chockablock,” and “aflutter” . . . they just roll rhythmically and wondrously off the ‘ol tongue, huh? So, here’s a book for you: The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Giselle Potter (and who doesn’t love Giselle Potter and her rather postmodern-folksy illustrations that seem to get better with each book). Published in March of this year, this is an irresistible book about the joy of words (also featuring a poet-in-peril for those of you who need a stronger tie-in for Poetry Friday). I promise I have children’s poetry anthologies sitting in my lap here; it’s just that this charming picture book about the love of words made me think of the love of poetry and gives me a slightly different take on Poetry Friday this week. Plus, I love any book with the word “macaroons” in it. Yum.

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Embrace Your Inner Wimp

h1 Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

extreme.gifI don’t read enough non-fiction. There. I admitted it. I’m trying to rectify it, having received the requisite lecture after lecture in graduate school about its importance. And now I’m here to say I’ve read a great non-fiction title in the realm of children’s lit — Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton. Is this, technically, a picture book? I don’t know (it’s well over the standard 32-pages), but I don’t care. Where ever it gets categorized, it’s one rockin’ piece of non-fiction.

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