Archive for January, 2007

The 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature
and a Bit of Shameless Bragging

h1 Saturday, January 20th, 2007

The 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature is up over at Big A little a. Many thanks to Kelly for hosting. She even categorized the posts, and there is a lot to see. Time to re-visit your favorite blogs and discover some new ones while you’re at it.

snowsnake.JPGKelly has posted at the Carnival a lovely photo from of a chilly, winter landscape. As I began typing this, I wondered if I had any interesting winter photos of my own to tack onto this post. And I remembered one, though whether or not it passes as interesting will depend on the reader . . . My husband makes it an annual tradition — when we actually get winter weather, that is — to trek through the snow (at least once around the house) without any shoes or socks. Freak. He enjoys cold weather, whereas I have no blood or something and get chilly in 80 degree temps (freak) and watch in horror through the window when he makes these frosty exploits. He snapped a photo one year of his tattooed foot in the snow. Click to see a larger version if you’re into shivering and all. Freak.

Also, excuse our momentary boasting, but we’re just excited: We are a bit slow in getting to this, but we just discovered that we were named on the School Library Journal blog as a Blog to Bookmark in 2007. Here’s the link. (People will be watching in ’07? I better stop saying dude so much). Wow. We’re honored. Even though I’m almost two weeks late in seeing this, I do visit their blog and am excited they’ve noticed us. Since I managed to fail even leaving a comment over there (dude, I blame low coffee consumption thus far today; it’s making me unable to work with any technology this afternoon), we’d like to thank SLJ.

Don’t forget the first installment in our interview series just below this post if you haven’t seen it already. Don’t you just wanna hang out with Liz?

We hope everyone who is currently ala’ing is having fun in Seattle.

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #1:
Liz from A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

h1 Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Hi to all from Jules and Eisha. We regret that we are not participating in Poetry Friday for a second consecutive Friday, but we had it in our heads that we would try to highlight a blogger or author or author/illustrator (yes, we have an author interview coming up that makes us squeal in adoration like Eddy Tulane in front of a mirror) once a week. And here we are sneaking up at the end of another week, so we want to go ahead and feature our first blogger, the always-gracious Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

And in the name of Coming Attractions, we will feature the fearless Fuse #8 in an installment of Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast, coming to a monitor near you in the very near future. Ditto for Roger Sutton, whose blog so many of us have a swoony crush on. Yes, I boldly asked and am pleased to say that Robin Brande cannot call me a wuss. And the respectable Mr. Sutton agreed and even said it sounds like fun. I think I squealed when he agreed, though I’m trying to sound all calm and professional about it now. Many thanks in advance to him, as he’s one busy editor, we’re sure. (And we will get to all our favorites before the twenty-second century. In the meantime, while you wait, you can ruminate upon and formulate your witty and insightful responses . . . “ruminate, formulate” — isn’t that a lost INXS song?).

We are pleased to feature Liz first. She not only generally rocks and, we might add, rocks hard (isn’t that how those young ‘uns talk today?), but she also went out of her way to give us thoughtful feedback on a nerdy blogging question we had recently.

One last thing, and we’ll get right to it: 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. Now on with the show. Read the rest of this entry �

Co-review — Toys Go Out: Being yet another clever book by the talented Emily Jenkins

h1 Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

toys-go-out.gifToys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic
by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
September 2006
Schwartz & Wade Books
Eisha: library copy; Jules: personal copy

The lowdown on the book: Emily Jenkins’ Toys Go Out is a chapter book, if we must call it that, which is about three best friends, who just happen to be the beloved toys of a little girl who “lives on a high bed with fluffy pillows.” Lumphy is a stuffed buffalo, StingRay is a stuffed stingray, and Plastic isn’t quite sure what she is. But she endeavors to find out. The book consists of six related stories about their adventures inside and outside of the girl’s room (which involve the terrifying bigness of the washing machine, the vastness of the sea, dogs, and much more) and their musings on the meaning of life. The book is the recipient of a 2006 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book, and Jenkins’ previous titles have been Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor recipients on two occasions, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, and an American Library Association Notable.

Jules: Okay, that was the formal description of the book. Here’s my gushing, informal one: This book is perfect and wonderful, and I think I’m in love with Emily Jenkins’ writer-mind. I know you thought it was nearly perfect or perfect as well, Eisha, right? I mean, I try to avoid using “charming” and “quirky” to describe books, but it’s both terrifically charming and hilariously quirky. So there.

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The Edge of the Forest and Our Interview
with the Courteous Mr. Alan Gratz

h1 Monday, January 15th, 2007

Check out the January ’07 issue of The Edge of the Forest, edited by Kelly Herold of the ever-informative Big A little a. In addition to this month’s features and book reviews (including features by Allie at Bildungsroman/Slayground, MotherReader, and Franki from A Year of Reading), Eisha and I contributed to this month’s issue by interviewing Alan Gratz, the YA author who penned Samurai Shortstop (reviewed here by Eisha way back in August) and who is working on a new title, which you can read all about at the interview.

Because Eisha and I both knew Alan when we all lived in Knoxville and both worked with him in theatruh endeavors, I am including a picture of him here as a very solemn-looking Badger (with a walking stick at that) in a children’s stage adaptation of Wind in the Willows from ten years ago! Hee hee. Gotta love it. I think Alan has a healthy sense of humor and will laugh, though for all I know he’s now plotting my demise, at the very least attaching a picture of me to the center of a dart board at this very moment. To be fair, that’s me, standing in the center of all the actors — the one with the bizarre mime-like make-up, hand-flapping my way across the outdoor stage as a shadow interpreter in the show. I’m signing “DANGER!” and with a very alarmed look. I don’t remember what exactly Mole was up to at that particular moment, but it couldn’t have been good.

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled activities . . .

h1 Sunday, January 14th, 2007

. . . to talk briefly about a bit of business.

Soon after Eisha and I created this blog, we did a short post about how we would really rather not accept review copies from publishers and authors, since we were in this for fun. Well, we’ve changed our minds. To be perfectly frank, getting noticed by publishers, which we have, is flattering — not to mention that sometimes it’s nice to avoid being on a long holds list at the pubalic liberry (sorry, but that phrase is all that I remember from having to read The Human Comedy in high school). And, since the sole reason we do this is to aid readers in book selection, review copies will keep us a bit more in-the-know.

However, once Eisha and I started talking about whether or not to accept review copies, some ethical issues popped up for us. We then turned to some esteemed kidlitosphere bloggers to get some advice, and we quickly saw that reviewing books today is evolving so rapidly due to the world of blogs. Read the rest of this entry �

Move Over, James Lipton! . . . or
Bloggers, Let’s Get to Know Each Other

h1 Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Eisha and I set a little blog goal for the new year: We wanted to take some time to get to know some of our favorite bloggers out there, especially since we’ve only been blogging since July ’06. For my part, I’ll often stumble upon little tidbits of information about a blog or blogger and find myself rather amazed — such as, so-and-so has only been blogging for about a year? when I assumed they’d been doing it forever. I remember reading somewhere that so-and-so was a professor when I had assumed she was a librarian. Or I’ll see a blogger’s picture and think about how I imagined them looking totally different. You get the picture . . .

So, we thought, why not do some informative and fun interviews? We’re going to start by interviewing ourselves in order to set the tone. But then watch out . . . We’ll be coming after you, begging for an interview if you can stand it. We’ll hit our favorite blogs, and we have quite the list. We promise not to ask things like “chocolate or vanilla ice cream?” or “Disney or Warner Brothers?” {shudder} like in those email forwards you sometimes get. In fact, we’re throwing in the Actors Studio Pivot Questionnaire, ’cause we think it’s so fun.

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Barkbelly by Cat Weatherill

h1 Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

I have Kelly at Big A little a (actually, her mother) to thank for reviewing this book and making me want to read it. I just finished it and found it to be a delightfully original work (though you’d think it wouldn’t be, considering its premise — a story about a wooden boy). I just discovered, too, that Fuse reviewed it as well (and look at that snazzy, new cover she links to), but I’ll get to that in a minute.

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Perfection and loveliness

h1 Monday, January 8th, 2007

Don’t believe me? I’m that self-proclaimed Blogger Who Speaks in Hyperbole, so I don’t blame you. But, really and truly here are two picture books from ’06 that you don’t want to miss.

For the record, I promise I read things other than fiction picture book titles. But oh my, there are more from ’06 to keep talking about, so here we go with two stand-out titles that I’m just getting around to reviewing, one which was just released this past December.


Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
(published by HarperCollins Publishers, December 2006)

This is a perfectly uncluttered, perfectly simple, perfectly perfect little book that I wish I had made {slapping myself on forehead now}. Seriously, not that it’s so simple that a dolt like me could have created it, mind you. I don’t mean that. I mean that Portis makes it look effortless, though I’m sure it wasn’t. And oh is it clever, too. It is even designed to look like a box, what with its brown cover and back and end papers and its net weight printed on the front and a “this side up” on the back.

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Poetry What?

h1 Friday, January 5th, 2007

{One more update: Round-up is here. Thanks, Elaine!} . . .

{Update: I don’t know who’s doing the ‘ol round-up today, but it doesn’t matter. I do, however, want to direct readers to Chicken Spaghetti’s Poetry Friday entry, which is here. She links to “No Nightmares, Please: Why is so much children’s poetry filled with sadism and doom?,” written by Jeff Gordinier at the Poetry Foundation’s site. It’s ever-so funny. Enjoy! And thanks for the link, Susan} . . .

I’ll be honest. Poetry Friday just snuck up on me and slapped me upside the head. The fact that it’s Friday just surprised me. What can I say? I’m still in holiday mode, and every day feels like Saturday.

So even though I admittedly scrounged for this, I still bring it to you with admiration. I read this recently in the introduction to either Liz Rosenberg’s edited anthology of Earth-Shattering Poems (1998) or 2000’s Light-Gathering Poems (both published by Henry Holt). I really should be able to tell you which one, but I didn’t make note. Nevertheless, it stuck with me:

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?

And those, my friends, are the words of Emily Dickinson. Happy Poetry Friday. As for me, I’m off to get coffee and try to settle into the day (which I now accept is Friday).

Get along, little cowboy

h1 Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

cowboy-ned-and-andy.gifI like to go and visit the blog of author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (“the JJK blog”) when I have the time. He’s funny and I wanna hang out with him. It’s that simple. I mean, just look at this Christmas tree he and his sister and brother and cousin did up one year (and here are some other creative ones).

I also, of course, get handy-dandy tidbits ‘o information on his blog. I think I squealed when I read that he’s just finished Punk Farm on Tour and that it will be hitting bookstores and libraries everywhere in the fall of ’07 (if you haven’t read Punk Farm, why then there’s a hole in your life. Run now to the nearest library or bookstore and experience it). And he sometimes generously writes about other authors and/or illustrators and their new titles on his blog. Thanks to one of his posts about Cowboy Ned and Andy by David Ezra Stein (published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books; July 2006), I was eager to go pick up a copy. And what a treat it is to read . . .

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