Archive for December, 2006

lean on me (or a wild thing)

h1 Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Okay, so I try to stick to book reviews only, and I’m straying now with this post, but this. must. be. shared, since he is the supreme one and all. Love it.

New Holiday Titles, Act One: Skeptics ‘R Us

h1 Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Don’t you think we should take a look at some new holiday picture book titles? Now, when I say “holiday,” I promise I won’t narrow that to Christmas only. As TadMack at Finding Wonderland put it so well, it’s happy EidChrisSolKwanZukkah, thank you very much. But let’s take this list slowly, divide it into parts, since we’re probably all busy preparing for whatever we celebrate anyway. And the first two are Christmas titles, and they are each little joys in their own, lively ways. So, even if you say humbug to the entire season (and on most days, I wouldn’t blame you), these are worth seeing and might cheer you up. And these two titles are for the Santa Skeptics, just going to show that the Buddha was right when he said, “there is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt” (as well as “fruitcake gets a bad rap; I mean, it’s really quite tasty,” one of his more lesser-known comments) . . .

Santa Knows by Cynthia & Greg Leitich Smith and illustrated by Steve Björkman; published by Dutton Children’s Books — First page of this book: “Alfie F. Snorklepuss yanked his little sister’s Christmas stocking from the fireplace mantel.” What the . . . ? you wonder. Well, I would venture to guess that Alfie’s been hangin’ out and talkin’ trash with Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie, that’s what. While Reginald set out to disprove the existence of the town’s friendly dinosaur, Alfie sets out to prove to his sister, Noelle, that there is — gasp — no Santa Claus. Read the rest of this entry �

Booktalking With Renee

h1 Monday, December 11th, 2006

Best Christmas Pageant EverHey, check it out… Renee, of Shen’s Books Blog and Renee’s Book of the Day, has her Holiday Books Booktalk podcast up. Wanna hear my squeaky southern self rambling incoherently about Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever? Go listen.

Back from the beach?
Now let’s embrace the cold . . .

h1 Saturday, December 9th, 2006

Yes, you’ve been to the beach-in-your-mind in order to avoid the bitter cold. But, we can’t deny it for that long, my friends. Time to embrace it, whether you want to or not. And, at least here in the South, we’re still crying, let it snow! . . . And so as we prepare for the snow-we-hope-we-get, we can kick back with our hot cocoa and read these new, snow-covered picture book titles. These are just a couple, a start for now. But please do add titles (new, such as these, or even some of your older favorites) in the comments section, should you feel so inclined . . .

snowsounds.gifSnow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Story by David A. Johnson; published by Houghton Mifflin — It’s night time, the snow is falling silently, and a young boy snores in his bed with his cat purring at his feet. As the boy wakes and the day begins, we hear a swoosh, a slush, a smoosh and a crash, a crush, and a clank. As the sub-title of this one indicates, these busy sounds are the only words in the book, accompanied by David A. Johnson’s dreamy watercolors. Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: That Poem I Keep Forgetting To Remember

h1 Friday, December 8th, 2006

*{Note: Read here at Chicken Spaghetti for today’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone.

We had our first snow of the season Monday. We’re having a bit more today. It’s almost winter, and it seems especially sudden after such a mild autumn. The leaves are gone, the radiators are clanging and hissing, all the stores have their snow shovels on display… It’s funny, but the same thing happens to me every year around this time. I get a couple of lines stuck in my head from this poem, only I can never actually remember the rest of the poem, or the poet.  Just these words:

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold

But every time I step outside to that sort of frigid bright winter sunlight – the kind that looks plenty warm from inside, but always comes with that fierce, inhuman New England wind – those lines pop into my head. And then they kind of scroll around in my brain on autoplay, over and over, until I have to look it up. And I discover (again) that the title is, in fact, “The Sunlight on the Garden.” And it’s by Louis MacNeice, an Irish-born poet and playwright from the first half of the 20th century. And I discover (again) how achingly lovely this poem is, and why the imagery stays with me year after year:

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Here’s the rest of the poem. Enjoy, and have a lovely day.

Romance for Pre-Tweens? Help! Anyone?

h1 Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Juliet Dove, Queen of LoveFellow Kid-Lit colleagues, I need a little help.  I am the Childrens/YA Librarian in a smallish public branch library.  I have a 9-year-old female patron who keeps asking me for “romance” books.  But without S-E-X, of course – seriously, she explicitly stated this.  Like I was about to hand over an Elizabeth Lowell novel.  But I digress…


Princess AcademyToday I gave her Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville.  We were also contemplating Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (I haven’t read it, but it’s got the sort of thing she seems to mean when she says romance – princesses and princes), but based on reviews I think it may be a little long, and a little short on the actual princess-getting-together-with-prince.  

The fact is, I’m stronger in YA and picture books than I am at middle grade fiction.  So I thought I’d throw this out to the blogosphere… any ideas?  Fuse #8, Big A little aBrookeshelf… you guys are awesome at middle grade stuff.  Anyone else?  Whoever comes up with the most titles gets… um… a free set of Edward Tulane postcards.  And my undying affection.

Oh, and I should mention… she’s reading at grade level (4th) – maybe slightly above.

Let’s hit the beach, shall we?

h1 Monday, December 4th, 2006

Brrrr. It’s cold. So, let’s take a look at two picture books about the splendid seashore that made a bit of a splash (awful pun intended) this year so that your imagination can run away with you and warm you up at least for a moment or two.

beach.gifBeach by Elisha Cooper — Has Elisha Cooper ever even made a bad book? I think not. He is the go-to man for depicting the extraordinary in the ordinary, one of the best examples of this being 2005’s A Good Night Walk — one of my favorite picture books — which was borne of evening walks with Cooper’s infant, fussy-in-the-evenings daughter, seeing and celebrating every, little thing along the way. This is the quality at which he excels and which children inherently possess — quiet, keen, potent powers of observation. Read the rest of this entry �

Four New Bed-time Beauties

h1 Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Let’s talk four new, beguiling bed-time books, shall we? We can add them to our growing list. One of them is from an award-winning, master author/illustrator who has been at his craft for over four decades; one of them does not set out to be a bed-time book but works well as one; one of them even features — subtly, that is — a certain jolly, sack-carrying, gift-giving man of the holiday season, should you be seeking out some good, new Christmas titles; and one of them might get the wee ones riled up before bed-time, but I’m still putting it in this category. Just humor me. And each one of them, save for one, was expertly crafted by one person, an author/illustrator. Let’s get right to it then . . .

while-you-are-sleeping.gifWhile You Are Sleeping by Alexis Deacon — This one is told from the point-of-view of a young girl’s toys and all their efforts to take care of her during the night. Parents will, in particular, get a chuckle out of the opening scene of the fatigued toys, collapsing at the end of a long day of play: “We are the bedside toys. Do you ever stop to think what we go through, night after night, to look after you?” Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Word Up, the Sequel

h1 Friday, December 1st, 2006

*{Note: Read here at Big A little a’s site for today’s Poetry Friday round-up. And to read a thumbs-up review of another of Kulikov’s illustrated picture books, be sure to read the review at the top of that link, Kelly’s thoughts on Betty Lou Blue by Nancy Crocker} . . .

In a fairly recent Poetry Friday post, I told you about a picture book that is not written in rhyme and not a poetry anthology of any sort — The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Giselle Potter, published in March of this year. But I chose it for Poetry Friday, because — chances are — if you love poetry, you love words. And here, I wrote, is a picture book for you. Well, along came the über-talented Kate Banks in August of this year to bring us Max’s Words, illustrated by Boris Kulikov — which, I’m happy to humbly suggest, is what you can read right after you read Schotter’s book. The Boy Who Loved Words rejoices in those marvelous morphemes. And Banks’ cunning, playful book rejoices in putting those wayward, winning words together to make our savory sentences and unique, little units of meaning; our beguiling stories; our shapely, pleasing poems. Ah, how sweet it is . . .

Read the rest of this entry �