Archive for January, 2007

The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett

h1 Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Donkeys might have a long history of being symbols of ignorance, but in Sonya Hartnett’s The Silver Donkey (Candlewick Press; First U.S. edition — September 2006; my source: library copy), the donkey is instead a symbol of many noble qualities: patience, dependability, allegiance, kindness, humility, courage, and much more. I should say right off the bat here: Hartnett is one of my top-five favorite authors. And, once again, she didn’t let me down with this middle-grade title, which is profound and intense and graceful all at once. Hartnett seems to be writing in the tradition of the classics of children’s literature here (think turn-of-the-last-century children’s titles) — persuasively and strikingly so. Read the rest of this entry �

Going Steady (or However Those
Young’Uns Say It These Days)

h1 Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

anatomy-of-a-boyfriend.jpgAnatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky (Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers; January 2007) showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep as a review copy that I might be interested in reading. And here’s the thing: I don’t tend to read teen chick lit (and, lest anyone think that’s said in a derogatory manner, it’s not at all. It’s also how Snadowsky herself refers to the novel). If I weren’t taking a temporary break from librarianship and were working on a daily basis with teens, I’d read it way more often. But, since I currently am not spending my week days trying to encourage teens to read for pleasure, I tend towards the — as Eisha put it on our “About Our Blog” page — “Man Booker Prize-winning high art metafiction, whatever” . . . That might make me sound impossibly snobby, but believe me when I say that when I read others’ reviews (on my favorite blogs) of teen chick lit and the like, I envy them and the fact that they are, likely, way more in touch with what the average teen today would want to read.

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #3:
Roger Sutton — Everyone’s Dreamboat Blog-Crush

h1 Monday, January 29th, 2007

Angry Irish PoetTo run with Mitali Perkins’ analogy of middle school (or junior high school) crush-like feelings and someone on a blog you really admire mentioning your name or your blog (the so-called blog-crush phenomenon), Roger Sutton’s blog is the coolest, hottest guy sweeping past your shoulder in the hallway (okay, we feel weird just having called the blog of the Editor-in-Chief of The Horn Book “hot,” but we’re runnin’ with an analogy here). Just about everyone in that cyberspace realm called kidlitosphere wants to ask Read Roger to the Friday night dance in the school’s gym (you know, with the bad decorations and teachers standing around and girls and boys lined up on opposite sides of the basketball court, shuffling their feet).

Fortunately for us all, Roger and his blog will not — as Susan put it in the comments section of the aforementioned Mitali link — brush past you in the hallway, shoving you into a locker and giving you the ‘ol brush-off. He has agreed to an interview in our fledgling Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast series. Read the rest of this entry �

Speaking Of Interviews…

h1 Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Who Is Melvin Bubble? Who Is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel
Roaring Brook Press, 2006
(source: library copy)

The premise of this picture book is kind of like Citizen Kane for kids. The author, Nick Bruel (of Bad Kitty fame), gets a letter from a boy named Jimmy, suggesting that he write a book about his best friend Melvin Bubble. So Bruel embarks on a series of interviews to discover just “who is Melvin Bubble?” Almost every page is a separate “interview,” with a different character rattling off everything they know or don’t know about the mysterious Mr. Bubble. His mom thinks he’s “the messiest boy in the world,” his teddy bear wants us to know that “he really likes hugs,” his dog chimes in with “Woof Woof Arf Woof…” and you even get random commentary from the Meanest Man in the World, the Tooth Fairy, and a zebra. You also get a little of the author’s reaction to each interviewee (“Hmm… Maybe we should move on.” for the monster), just before he transitions to a new character with “Now let’s ask…” Finally, it all comes together when the author asks Melvin Bubble himself who he is.

This book is so brilliant. Each interview is laugh-out-loud funny, and the author’s pithy reactions bring the reader in on the joke. But it’s also a lot of great lessons wrapped up in an accessible, enjoyable, non-didactic package: in defining one’s identity as something separate from how one is viewed by others, in not judging others by what someone else says about them, in the value of going straight to the source if you want to know the truth about something. The cartoonish, brightly-hued illustrations are a perfect compliment to the goofy text: think Michael Martchenko’s collaborations with Robert Munsch.

Clearly, I loved this picture book a lot. But you shouldn’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.

Seven Impossible Things I Like About
17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and
Counting to 10 with Karen Ehrhardt and R.G. Roth

h1 Saturday, January 27th, 2007


17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore
by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
December 2006
published by Random House Children’s Books
(my source: review copy)

About: It’s just what the title tells you. A little girl lists all the things she’s gotten busted for, most of them targetted at her younger brother — such as, stapling his head to the pillow; gluing his slippers to the floor; telling him his fortune (involving consumption by hyenas), while reading his palm; and freezing a dead fly in his ice cubes.

Seven Impossible Things I Like About
Counting to 17 with Offill and Carpenter —

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Poetry Friday: Seriously, I Need Some Snow Already.

h1 Friday, January 26th, 2007

{Note: Head here at Chicken Spaghetti for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Winter has finally come to Massachusetts.  Sort of.  We’re finished with that weird, wrong, lingering balminess that made Christmas seem more surreal than festive.  It’s really really really cold out there now.  There’s what David Foster Wallace called a “true, religious-type wind” blowing around.  But.  January is almost over, and we haven’t even had a single inch of snow.  Not one.  A couple of flurries – that’s it.

I moved up here for snow.  What the hell?  Is it really just El Nino, or is this global warming?  Have I seen the last of the serious, two-foot New England blizzards?  Do I have to move to Saskatchewan? What is the point of single-digit temperatures with you-don’t-even-wanna-know wind chill factors if there’s NO SNOW?

Anyway, here’s a bit from a poem that pretty much sums up the weirdness: “A Winter Without Snow” by J.D. McClatchy.

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #2:
A Fuse #8 Production

h1 Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Hello there. Jules and Eisha here, continuing our interview series . . . There is much blog-crushing going on — in the kidlitosphere and even beyond — for A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy (we’ll call her Fuse) runs the show over there, and she always keeps things quite informative and entertaining. As Roger Sutton put it, she’s intrepid.

So, let’s get to know her a bit, shall we? And we’d like to quickly add again — in the name of Coming Attractions — that upcoming interviews will feature Roger Sutton, the editor-in-chief of The Horn Book (as if we have to tell you kidlitosphere folks his title); author Haven Kimmel (if you haven’t read about our good fortune, read here); and author Emily Jenkins, who has graciously agreed to an interview. Eisha and I are big fans of her work, especially her latest title, co-reviewed here. We are really looking forward to talking to her and bringing her to you, our readers. More blogger interviews to come soon, too. We promise.

Before we get to Fuse, here’s our Perfunctory Curse Word Disclaimer: Remember that we use the Pivot Questionnaire in our interviews. Remember that it includes the what-is-your-favorite-curse-word question. It’s optional for folks to answer, but if they do, we will not edit their responses in any way; yup, we’ll post their responses exactly as they send them to us. Some people might not use “*”s to edit their saucy words. If you’re easily offended, just don’t read that question.

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Here’s what we here at 7ITBB love about Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production: Read the rest of this entry �

A (Not-So) Simple Twist of Fate

h1 Monday, January 22nd, 2007

just-in-case.gifhow-i-live-now.gifWhen Meg Rosoff brought us How I Live Now in August ’04, I was pretty much floored, particularly by the stirring and unforgettable ending (the flowers, oh the flowers!) and generally by the indelible, singular voice of the novel’s protagonist, Daisy. How I Live Now was raw and smart and incisive and possessed what Guardian Unlimited Books aptly called (here in July ’06) a “dark lyricism . . . {Rosoff} writes outstandingly about vulnerable people.” (And, I might add, who can forget Piper as well?) . . .

In her second offering, Just In Case (published by Wendy Lamb Books; August 2006; my source: library copy), Rosoff once again impresses with grace and insight, bringing us a tale that is — at its heart — driven by philosophical musings on fate and mortality. Read the rest of this entry �

The Big Awards

h1 Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Short, quickie announcement: ALA has announced The Big Award Winners. I’m particularly thrilled to see Sonya Hartnett’s Surrender get a Printz Honor. And Eisha’s beloved Kadir Nelson has been honored as well. Oh and James Marshall is the recipient of the Wilder Award for his lasting contribution to children’s literature. YES! YES! The Stupids somewhere are cheering. Go here to read about all the winners.

And, scene.

Pinch Me

h1 Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Haven Kimmel

So, when Jules had this idea to start interviewing all our fellow bloggers and featuring them here at 7ITBB, I thought, “Neat.  That’ll be fun.”  I thought other bloggers would get a kick out of it.  I thought we might get a little more traffic, to boot.

 I didn’t think it would lead to HAVEN KIMMEL ACTUALLY EMAILING US.  Yeah, the Haven Kimmel.  The one author we both agreed would be a must-invite to our Fantasy Author Coffee/Wine Extravaganza.  The author who shows up on both of our “About Us” pages as an all-time favorite.  The author who (speaking personally, but I’m sure Jules would agree) absolutely slays me with her ability to completely immerse herself in the voice and perspective of a child, who writes about the intimacies of small-town life with such warmth and wit and eloquence and grace.  The author who has made “speedy-quick” a permanent fixture in my vocabulary.  Haven.  Kimmel.  Emailed.  Us.

And in her gracious email, which is a lovely piece of prose in its own right, she enumerated all the reasons why she would indeed be the perfect guest for our soiree:

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