Archive for February, 2007

Ugly Fish and Pretty Great Story Times: A Valentine
(and a Bit of Dispatches From the Field)

h1 Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

First things first: The Cybil Awards are being announced today, so woo hoo! All eyes over at the Cybils site, please!

Secondly, here’s my valentine for today (having already bestowed some upon my family) . . . I have been waiting patiently for a good, long while now to get my hands on a library copy of Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon’s Ugly Fish (June 2006; Harcourt Children’s Books), ever since Jarrett J. Krosoczka recommended it on his blog (look, JJK won’t steer you wrong; he did, after all, introduce me — again, via his blog — to David Ezra Stein’s Cowboy Ned and Andy, which I reviewed here, is one of the Best Picture Books Ever You Can Give as a Birthday Gift to A Friend, and makes me tear up every time at the end — yes, every time, though I know what’s comin’).

Now, I don’t live in Nashville proper, but I drive quite a distance every Tuesday to attend the story times at the big, beautiful, main branch of the Nashville Public Library (with their slammin’ slogan, “a city with a great library is a great city” . . . to which I say, word) in downtown Nashville. The main library has a staff of three full-time performers — known collectively as Wishing Chair Productions, as I understand it — who also entertain with marionettes (read the wonderful history here). They put on an excellent story time. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #7:
Lisa Graff, First-Time Author, Drops By

h1 Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Knock. Knock . . . Who’s there?

Interrupting Cow.



Oh wait, that’s Eisha’s favorite childhood joke (as mentioned previously in our co-review of M.T. Anderson’s Octavian, of all places). We got carried away there, but we hope we at least made your milk-snortin’ inner child laugh.

Let’s try again: Knock. Knock. Who’s there?

First-time author Lisa Graff, knocking on our cyber-door. Perhaps she heard we like to have fantasy author wine/coffee soirees. Oh wait! She’s not a mirage. She’s real! She’s really come to say hi, to chat with us on her seven-day blog tour. Lucky us! We’ll even offer her some peach raspberry pie (see below) with the coffee (and then we’ll have wine).

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #6:
Kelly Herold at Big A little a

h1 Monday, February 12th, 2007

You know how with each of our blogger interviews we have explained to you, dear reader, why we love our chosen blogs so much? Well, with Kelly Herold at Big A little a, we just don’t know where to begin, honestly. There are many things to love about her and her blog.

First of all, just how professional is she? (Rhetorical question; you’re supposed to just nod and say “amen”) . . . Truly, she always writes with the utmost courtesy and respect and professionalism, yet she’s far from a stick-in-the-mud, too. She is witty, smart as hell, has a refreshing sense of mischief when needed, and can really appreciate a good joke. But you’ll never see her spewing forth negative energy or getting downright silly on her blog or saying “dude,” which we — unfortunately — slip into entirely too much here at 7-Imp (the new abbreviation for our blog’s title that has just stuck — isn’t it wonderfully naughty?). Essentially, we feel like the cheap, dollar-store knock-off of Big A little a and strive to one day be just like her. To continue with the junior high school analogy, she’s the President of the 7th grade Student Council, but she’s seriously hip and terrifically nice, too. And we all admire her and want to a> be as cool a leader as she is and b> sit next to her at the pep rally (those of us who attend pep rallies and don’t go sit in the library, as Jules did in high school. Seriously. No kidding. Nerd alert. They were just too peppy, dude . . .) and be her friend. (Um, Eisha feels compelled to admit that during pep rallies she could usually be found making out with her boyfriend in the band’s storage room. But she would have shared her fries with Kelly and Jules at lunch.) Read the rest of this entry �

“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo” *

h1 Sunday, February 11th, 2007

* {The ever-so talented Paul Simon}

I began this post as one of those picture book rounds-ups that I like to do. I intended to share four new(ish) picture book titles with you. But I, very enthusiastically, wanted to begin with Suzy Lee’s The Zoo and found that I had innumerable glowing comments to make about it, or so it seemed (and I was talking a lot, bringing about a very long post). I decided, then, to give this title its own post. So here goes my heartfelt admiration for this flat-out splendid picture book title:

The Zoo by Suzy Lee
(not to be confused with the Suzy Lee of The White Stripes’ variety);
First American edition March 2007;
my source: review copy

Wow. Wow. Wow. This is quite the mesmerizing and impressive picture book. I’ll be hard-pressed to find an upcoming ’07 picture book title whose illustrations please me as much as Suzy Lee’s do in The Zoo (obscenely bold statement, I know. It’s only February. But I mean it, and someone can call me later on it, if necessary). First published in Seoul, Korea, in 2004, we have, as always, Kane/Miller to thank for bringing over to the States a delightful title from another country and for introducing us . . . well, I’ll speak for myself . . . for introducing me to an author/illustrator I may have, otherwise, never heard of.

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul” (Cicero); “Dude, free books!” (Socrates)

h1 Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Yes, that is actually one of Socrates’ lesser-known quotes.

So, Eisha and I don’t normally use blog space to talk about book give-aways. However, the folks at Chronicle Books are not only nice and do good work, but they have a book give-away going on now that involves some really great titles, including autographed copies of Dianna Aston’s and Sylvia Long’s An Egg is Quiet, Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall’s Ivy and Bean, Mark Shulman and Adam McCauley’s Mom and Dad Are Palindromes, Komako Sakai’s Emily’s Balloon, and much more. (I reviewed most of those titles last year, so hit the search box if you want to know my humble opinion on those titles, but I can tell you now they’re excellent books — each and every one of ’em). Here is all the information you need if you’re interested. That link also takes you to some author interviews, book excerpts, and much more. As Socrates is known to have stated in his later years, “free books are all good.” And I know that — let’s face it — we librarians can be downright maniacal and unpleasant when it comes to getting our hands on autographed copies of our favorite books. Am I right? The. claws. come. out.

And speaking of free books, on Tuesday of next week, 7-Imp will have a visitor come a-knockin’ at our cyber-door: Lisa Graff, author of the just-released The Thing About Georgie and member of the spirited Longstockings, will be dropping by here on her seven-day blog tour. She kicks things off on her own blog; then she’ll join us; and for the rest of the week, she’ll visit Kelly at Big A little a, Little Willow at Bildungsroman, Fuse, MotherReader, and Gothamist. We get to ask Ms. Graff all kinds of fun questions, so don’t miss that interview on Tuesday (and that’ll be right after Monday’s blogger interview). And here’s where the free books part comes in again. As Lisa explains at the above link:

During the tour, HarperCollins is also running a BOOK GIVEAWAY SPECTACULAR. The first three people to email a special, Georgie-tastic email address each day and tell them where they saw my interview will receive a *free* copy of THE THING ABOUT GEORGIE. Free books!! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

That last line there — “Free books!! It really doesn’t get much better than that” — should really be attributed to Socrates, known to have been his first words. Lisa obviously has issues with lifting authors’ words. Yikes. Embarrassing for her. Cringe-tacular.

We’re excited about getting to know Lisa better. She seems, thus far, to be a wicked funny person. And to have a hand in helping someone perhaps get a free book, too. Woo hoo! Geez, if someone we know wins a free book, let us know.


Poetry Friday: Valentine Edition

h1 Friday, February 9th, 2007

Happy Valentine’s Day from Team 7ITBB! We’re celebrating early with one of the most excellent, unsentimental love poems ever, “Falling In Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. Posing as muse is Gus, who belongs to Eisha’s sister. Who’s a good boy? Hmm? Is it Gus? YesHeIs! Ooh, SuchAGoodBoy!!! You’reSuchASweetie! OOF! Okay, Gus, that’s enough. No! NO!! Down, boy! Okay… okay. Good boy.

Anyway, the poem:

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Read the rest here. You can also find an edited version in Caroline Kennedy’s anthology A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children (Hyperon, 2005), illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Happy Valentine’s Day!

{And visit here at The Blue Rose Girls’ site for today’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Cybils Party? Anyone?

h1 Thursday, February 8th, 2007

eisha: Now that I have your attention… I was wondering if anyone in the Boston-ish area would like to get together for a post-Cybils celebration? I’m thinking something low-key, just a quiet gathering of lit-fanatics, maybe somewhere that would offer alcohol… Anyone else interested?

The actual Announcement Day won’t do, of course, since many of us will be obligated to spend it in recognition of that OTHER holiday that’s taking place. And the weekend immediately following is also a holiday, so that’s probably out. So, how about Saturday, February 24th? Like, 7:00ish? I’ll try to think of a good location, if it turns out anyone else is game.

You don’t even have to be directly involved with the Cybils. You could just be someone who happens to enjoy good books and is pleased that bloggers came up with such a cool award. Or, you know, a librarian, or a writer, or someone in publishing, or someone who knows how to read… whatever. Just leave a comment here if you think it’d be fun to get together and celebrate.

Who knows? Maybe the idea will catch on and they’ll be throwing Cybils Parties all over the continent!

jules: On that note . . . I can’t fly up to join you all in Boston, though I’d really love to meet some of you kidlitosphere (and otherwise) bloggers in the Boston area. But is there anyone, by chance, in the Nashville area who wants to meet up? I don’t think there are any Cybillers out there from this area, but I could be wrong. Anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? (“Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. ‘Voodoo’ economics” . . . but I digress).

And, as lame as this sounds, I’d prefer to meet up during the day. I’ll explain why to anyone who might want to get together if, uh, anyone’s out there?? Thanks!

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #5:
Emily Jenkins — One of Our Favorite Writers
(According to Us)

h1 Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

This author interview with the talented Emily Jenkins might seem a bit random. It’s our first one on our own blog (and, really, if you want to see some kickin’ author interviews that occur on a regular basis, you best head over to Little Willow’s author chats at Bildungsroman and the interviews by the nice folks over at Just One More Book!! . . . They have it goin’ on. And there are probably a slew of others we’re forgetting). Honestly, though, what happened is simply that we read one of Emily’s latest creations, last year’s Toys Go Out (published by Schwartz & Wade Books), illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, and we marvelled at the fact that she seems to be guided by quite the clever muse and that she keeps continually wow’ing us with the skillful writing in her children’s titles. She, in short, quickly became one of our favorite children’s book authors in the crowded landscape of children’s literature. So, we asked for an interview and were kindly granted one (and we appreciate it “very extremely hugely much” and feel like quite the “lucky ducks,” to quote her playful and colorful ’04 picture book title, Daffodil).

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Margo Lanagan Rocks My World.

h1 Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

White Time by Margo Lanagan
Eos/HarperCollins, August 2006
(source: library copy)

I’ve read some outstanding Australian YA novels over the past year: Undine by Penni Russon, Magic or Madness? by Justine Larbalestier, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (reviewed here)… But as far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to accept Markus Zusak as the King of the Australian YA Renaissance, then I’d like to crown Margo Lanagan as the Queen. If you read Black Juice, the 2006 Printz Honor winner, you know what I’m talking about. Anyone who can pull off a story where clowns are revered like royalty has to be a bonafide genius. And I’m happy to report that she shows the same astonishing combination of imagination and eloquence in White Time.

If you haven’t read either book yet… well. You’re in for a serious treat. Remember the first time you read something by Ray Bradbury? It’s like that.
Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #4: Pamela Coughlan, a.k.a. MotherReader

h1 Monday, February 5th, 2007

Hey, we’ve been scooped! The Cybils decided to interview MotherReader at the very same time that we did! And somehow we didn’t notice until this moment that the Cybil interviews and our 7ITBB ones start off with the same two questions. Oh well, since we’re fellow Cybilians, I hope Anne and Kelly & Co. aren’t too miffed at us. And really, with the double-interview thing going on, do you need any more proof that Pamela Coughlan truly is the Mother Of All Readers? Can we officially declare this MotherReader Week? Get your Mo Willems tealights out…

What we love about MotherReader: She’s funny. Really, really funny. Her Tulane Readers Theatre post was one of the funniest things seen on any blog so far this year. And she’s passionate about great books, especially of the funny variety. She’s even got a MotherReader Suggests… sidebar on her blog, listing funny choices for every stage of reading, from newborns all the way to adults. She’s also unflinchingly honest about the not-so-great books, and has recently spearheaded a movement to prevent celebrities from misusing their fame to monopolize the children’s lit market: BACA, Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors. Can I get a “Hell Yeah!”? Read the rest of this entry �