Archive for December, 2006

Be-Doop, Be-Doop. Oo-Ah, Yeah!
Let Your Fingers Do the Talkin’ . . .

h1 Friday, December 29th, 2006

I’ve had in my possession for many weeks now (as in, it’s now technically overdue at the library; I hang my librarian-head in shame) The Deaf Musicians by the legendary Pete Seeger and the poet Paul Dubois Jacobs with illustrations by
R. Gregory Christie (published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in October of this year). I’m finally getting around to my review. I can’t let this one slide.

Can someone give me an amen? As a sign language interpreter myself (what I did for a living before becoming a librarian), of course I’m going to be drawn to this book, but with that aside, it works on many levels and for many ages as the snazzy, finger-snappin’, thought-provoking title that it is. Read the rest of this entry �

The Last Poetry Friday of ’06 . . .

h1 Friday, December 29th, 2006

{Note: Head here to read this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy . . . in which Liz awards me a prize for the “longest introduction that has nothing to do with the actual book” and a “bonus link to a video of Choppin Broccoli”!} . . .

So, yes, it’s the last Poetry Friday of ’06. You’d think I’d have some poignant farewell or new beginnings-themed poem for you (anyone else remember the Dana Carvey-era Saturday Night Live and his amusing parody of the acutely untalented but pompous rock star? His name was Derek, and he had a passionate rendition of a really bad song, made up on the spot, called “Choppin’ Broccoli”? In one episode I remember, there’s a medley featuring the “Choppin’ Broccoli” wonder in which he bangs on the piano and randomly sings “new beginnings . . . new beginnings . . .” Alas, I cannot find it online anywhere. And, wow, that is my Best Digression Yet — not to mention I’ve really dated myself now).

Anyway, I feel like for our Poetry Fridays — when it’s my turn, that is — I only review rhyming picture books anymore, but allow me to do it one more time. I’ve been reading, reading, and reading some more for the committee work I’m doing for the Cybils Award (Fiction Picture Books committee), and there are several nominated titles that I’ve yet to discuss but want to tell you about. So, this week for Poetry Friday, I’ll tell you about one Cybil-nominated title that happens to be a rhyming text. It’s a ‘lil charmer, too . . .

the-princes-bedtime.gifThe Prince’s Bedtime written by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Miriam Latimer; published by Barefoot Books, September 2006 — It’s bedtime in a faraway kingdom, and one stubborn, little prince refuses to go to sleep. Looking for some sort of cure, the King goes so far as to send forth a royal request: “If anyone knows how to make the prince rest, please come at once to the royal address.” Having already rejected his mother’s silk quilt, the cook’s cookies, and the maid’s hot milk, he stays on his stubborn course and rejects the physician’s medicine; Read the rest of this entry �

Octavian Nothing: Yeah, it won the NBA, but what you really want to know is… what do Jules and Eisha think?

h1 Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

We promised, and now we deliver: Jules and Eisha will now turn our powerful intellects and rapier wits to discussing the 2006 winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson.

Usually we’d begin with a summary of the plot for those who haven’t read it yet, then go on to discuss the merits and pitfalls of the work while trying to avoid spoilers. But I’m going to declare right now: if you haven’t read it, but think you will, you probably shouldn’t read this. I think the more you know about this book in advance, the more damage you do to your experience of reading it. I’ll just tell you this: if you’re the least bit curious or interested, READ IT. Whether you end up liking it or not, whether you agree that it works as young adult literature or not, this book is worth at least an attempt at reading it for yourself. Even if it doesn’t move you, it will definitely make you think.

Beware, intrepid reader. There be Spoilers beyond these waters. You have been warned.

Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: a Holiday Cop-Out

h1 Friday, December 22nd, 2006

*{Note: Head on over to A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Hello, strangers. Remember me? The OTHER Seven Impossible blogger? It’s been kind of a crazy couple of months for me, and I know I’ve been kinda scarce around here. But it’s my turn to do Poetry Friday and I told Julie earlier this week that, sure, no problem, I had it covered. Well… I’m supposed to embark on a two-day, 1000+ mile road trip to see the family (and Julie!) in about 12 hours, and I haven’t packed. Or wrapped my presents. Or even read the books I said I was going to review for PF today. That’s pretty much how I roll.

So… here’s what I’m doing instead. I’m sharing a poem – a sweet, short little poem, that seems like a nice way to commemorate a journey. It’s “Poem” by Thomas McGrath. It’s so short I’m just going to give you the whole thing, and hope that the copyright police have a little holiday spirit about it:

How could I have come so far?
(And always on such dark trails?)
I must have traveled by the light
Shining from the faces of all those I have loved.

For all the other holiday travelers, I wish you a safe and happy journey. To Julie – thank you so much for keeping this blog going with almost no help from me. And to Blaine, thanks for your expert tech support and general coolness. To everyone who reads, comments, and/or links to us on your own blogs – thank you, it is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of such a dedicated and talented community. And Happy Holidays to all.

* * * * * * * * * *

christmas-remembered.gifJules here. I hope Eisha doesn’t mind me tacking something on here. Since she’ll be travelling (and coming to see me — woo hoo!) and we’ll all be busy with the holidays (hey, my oldest is almost three years old and she really “gets” the holidays now, so this year it’s more exciting than ever), we probably won’t be too busy on this here blawg. So, I just wanted to say a quick Happy Holidays to all, too. I’ll be celebrating and reading Tomie DePaola’s Christmas Remembered, which I’ve already started and am enjoying (and it’s not poetry, but I’m just tagging along for the ride here on Eisha’s Poetry Friday post). We will soon post a co-review we did of M.T. Anderson’s Octavian, and it’s long enough to tide you over during the holidays (when we co-review, we tend to get a bit chatty and informal and, well, just downright garrulous); I know you’re waiting with bated breath. Hee hee. Happy Holidays to all, especially the kidlitosphere community. — Jules

Even More Holiday Titles:
And a Very Ursine Christmas to You

h1 Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

I think I’ve mentioned before that post titles are not my strength . . .

ive-seen-santa.gifLet’s take a moment to look at another new holiday picture book title that will intrigue the wee ones. Originally published in Great Britain in 2005, we now have Tiger Tales, an imprint of ME Media, to thank for the 2006 U.S. publication of I’ve Seen Santa!, written by David Bedford and illustrated by Tim Warnes.

Read the rest of this entry �

Harvey Slumfenburger and a Surly,
Cognac-Drinkin’* Santa: An Appreciation

h1 Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

*(Courvoisier, anyone?)

Indulge me while I take a break for a moment from new holiday titles to write a tribute to what are probably my top-two favorite Christmas picture book titles ever (and that’s a bold statement, as there are so many great ones).

harvey-slumfenburger.gifDoes it get any better than John Burningham’s Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present (published in ’93)? I ask again, does. it. get. any. better? I think not. A friend of mine — an educator and former professor of mine as well — used to say that she, as a teacher of young children, wanted every child to be and to feel noticed. I love that. Well, that’s the glory and brilliance of this book — that Santa, though tired, though beat from his one-night world odyssey of gift-giving, takes the time to deliver the one present that he inadvertently missed. Read the rest of this entry �

The Edge of the Forest, December ’06

h1 Monday, December 18th, 2006

If you’re not familiar with The Edge of the Forest, a monthly online journal devoted to children’s literature, then let me make your day by telling you about it. Kelly Harold of Big A little a is the journal’s Editor and Webmaster, and every month she and her editorial board and team of contributors bring you book reviews, interviews with blogging authors, a “Best of the Blogs” column, a once-a-month round-up of children’s favorite books, and much more. (And, ooh! ooh! This month, they bring us “Sounds From the Forest,” in which Andrea and Mark of Just One More Book!! talk to Kelly and Anne Boles Levy, the founders of the Cybils Award, about the genesis of the award and how blogging has changed children’s book reviewing today).

Anyway, Yours Truly also contributed a feature in the December issue of this informative online journal. So, if you’d like to read reviews of four recently-published picture books with rhyming text — all nominated for a Cybil Award in the Picture Book (Fiction) category — then, by all means, go here to do so. The featured books are: Estelle Takes a Bath by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma; Sail Away, Little Boat by Janet Buell and illustrated by Jui Ishida; Stoo Hample’s Book of Bad Manners by none other than Stoo Hample; and The Red Lemon by Bob Stakke. There are also, as usual, many other reviews by other contributors in this month’s journal. Enjoy!


New Holiday Titles, Act Three:
I Have a Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum

h1 Monday, December 18th, 2006

i-have-a-little-dreidel.gifOver at Chicken Spaghetti, there was a recent post about Hanukkah titles. Oh my, what a great list with all kinds of wonderful contributions. Susan started it all with her personal holiday reading recommendation, many great kidlitosphere minds joined in, and then Susan even added an update to the post. If you’re looking for some highly-praised Hanukkah children’s titles from Those Bloggers in the Know, then this post is a great place to look.

And here’s a great new Hanukkah title: Maxie Baum’s I Have a Little Dreidel, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (published by Scholastic in October of this year). Read the rest of this entry �

New Holiday Titles, Act Two:
Oh Come, All Ye Burnt-Out

h1 Saturday, December 16th, 2006


Merry Un-Christmas written by Mike Reiss and illustrated by David Catrow; published by HarperCollins Publishers (September ’06)

Mrs. Claus Takes a Vacation by Linas Alsenas; published by Scholastic (October ’06)

Here are two refreshingly funny ’06 picture book titles for anyone who has ever experienced a tad bit of ennui and/or felt a bit burnt-out with the bustling-about of the holiday season. These are two immensely enjoyable books. So, put aside your rum-laden eggnog for a moment, and read ahead. Only the most serious of scrooges won’t enjoy these . . .

Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Rhyming and Coupling with
Rover and One Pygmy Hippo

h1 Friday, December 15th, 2006

* {Read here at Big A little a for today’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Let’s take a look for this week’s Poetry Friday at two amusing ’06 picture book titles, one of them nominated for a Cybil in the Fiction Picture Books category and both of them written in rhyming text — closed couplets, to be exact, for you Poetry Sticklers (and I say that fondly).

ninety-three-in-my-family.gifNinety-Three in My Family by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Mike Lester; published by Abrams Books for Young Readers — Know someone with a lot of pets? Bet they don’t have as many as the little tyke in this Cybil-nominated book; he lives with ninety-two humans and animals — and all in one home — as he tells his stunned teacher one morning during class. Oh my but this is a funny book (there’s one pygmy hippo named Bernice in the home if that gives you an idea of the book’s freakish funniness). Read the rest of this entry �