Archive for April, 2007

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #23:
Blue Rose Blogger, Fire-Spinning & Puppeteering Rollergirl, and Illustrator Linda Wingerter

h1 Monday, April 30th, 2007

This week we continue our series of blogger interviews with The Blue Rose Girls by talking to illustrator Linda Wingerter. It’s been great fun to chat with the multi-faceted Linda, who seems to live and breathe the arts (and also roller derby and fire-spinning).

She is one of the seven Blue Rose Girls, but she also has her own individual blog, Antimonia. When we asked her if there were any regular features at Antimonia, Linda said that, nah, “it just flows along with the waves of life.” This seems like an apt description for Linda herself, who is, as her blog explains, “keenly interested in chance connections and found objects; currently conducting a life experiment in following synchronicity. I like anything that cultivates coincidence, and any place or event that is a crossroads of random people” (“antimonia” itself means “the mutual incompatibility, real or apparent, of two laws; equally rational but contradictory,” she explained). Linda added, “there are so many things I love — painting, fire spinning, roller derby, writing, puppeteering, etc that they are often in conflict with each other and my life seems to lack focus. But I’ve always had a feeling that they all are a pieces of a larger, more extraordinary whole. My blog is a way of looking at all these things, like a map, with the hope of finding the big picture.” Linda also broke her dominant hand while skating in November of last year and very candidly discusses her healing from that, both physically and otherwise, at Antimonia.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #8

h1 Sunday, April 29th, 2007

It’s time for another installment of 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks . . . For those new to our series, this is where we all stop in every Sunday to report seven (more or less is fine) Good Things that happened to you (or that you read or saw or experienced or . . . well, you get the picture) this week.

* * * * * * * eisha’s list * * * * * * *

La Tourelle Resort & Spa1* Last weekend, when we were househunting in Ithaca, the husband’s soon-to-be employer couldn’t get us a room at the usual hotel because of some festival that was going on… so they put us up in a spa resort! With a giant chess board outside! And I-swear-to-god the most amazing mattress I’ve ever slept on. Didn’t have time to try out the free-to-guests sauna, but I’ve never seen what the benefit of sitting around sweating is supposed to be anyway.

2* While staying at said resort, we saw a deer grazing on the lawn through our window Saturday night. And we saw four very brazen deer nonchalantly grazing right next to the highway as we drove home on Sunday afternoon.

Read the rest of this entry �

Middle-Grade Books Round-Up, Part Four:
Two First-Timers Make Their Mark

h1 Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Here’s the continuing middle-grade novel round-up, the first book here being for the younger set and the other being for your slightly older middle-grader (I’ve mentioned before that I hate the category game, but I feel like I need to point that out).

And both titles feature some unforgettable heroines, so let’s get right to it then. Without further ado, meet Moxy. Meet Cadence . . .

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little
by Peggy Gifford with photographs by Valorie Fisher
Schwartz & Wade Books
On the shelves: May 8, 2007
(review copy)

Nine-year-old Moxy Maxwell may not have actually started her required summer reading — Stuart Little, of course — but she’s at least had it on her person practically all summer. It’s “spent a considerable amount of the summer soaking up sun and water,” as she has carried it with her everywhere: in her backpack, on her lap, and in the car on the way to rehearse her water-ballet daisy petal routine, where it then promptly fell into the pool. “It was also true that Moxy’s mother had found Stuart Little on the porch under the broken leg of the wicker coffee table more than once.” When the book opens, it’s late August — specifically, it’s the day before school begins — and Moxy’s mother warns her: If she does not stay in her room and read all of the book, “there were going to be ‘consequences.'”

Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Rainer Maria Rilke

h1 Friday, April 27th, 2007

{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up can be found here at a wrung sponge} . . .

ChrysalisSo, I seem to be going through a bit of a flux-phase. Over the past few months I’ve finished my MLS, my husband has gotten a job that necessitates a move to a whole other state, I’ve become an aunt… Maybe that’s why lately I’ve been really thinking about who I am vs. who I want to be, what I do vs. what I wish I were doing, etc. Not quite mid-life crisis, but… close.

Hence, this poem has a lot of meaning for me right now:

“I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Annemarie S. Kidder).

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

Man, I just love Rilke. I wish I read German so I could really actually read Rilke. Maybe that’s one of the things I should try to do next…

Read the rest of the poem here.

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #22:
Blue Rose blogger, lounge singer wannabe, and author/illustrator Meghan McCarthy

h1 Thursday, April 26th, 2007

This week we continue our series of blogger interviews with The Blue Rose Girls (on — surprise! — a day you might have least expected it) by talking to author/illustrator Meghan McCarthy. Just like it did when we chatted with bloggers Robin Brande, Anna Alter, and several other folks, it feels a bit awkward to ask the first blogger interview question — “What do you do for a living?” — when chatting with Meghan. If you keep up with picture books today, you’ve likely heard of Meghan and so you very well know what she does: she creates energetic, spirited, rather spastic (that’s a compliment) picture books — both fiction and nonfiction — with bold colors and animated characters and with much humor that is, as Publishers Weekly put it, “right on target for mischievous younger readers.”

We think it’s safe to say that Meghan is a large part of the spunk and feist (We just made up that word. She’s feisty is what we mean — the good kind of feisty; not the troublesome kind) and dynamic energy of The Blue Rose Girls. We think this — from Meghan’s Aliens Are Coming! site — says it all. This is under “About Me” on the “About the Author” page of the site: Read the rest of this entry �

Picture Book Round-Up (including a donkey, some ducklings, a diapered possum, and some leprechauns)

h1 Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Here are some brand-spankin’-new picture book titles as well as a couple from last year that I’m just getting to . . . If anyone is wondering, by the way, yes, we’ll have a blogger interview this week. Look for it on Thursday.

Onwards, then, to some winning picture book titles . . .

Little Donkey and the Birthday Present
by Rindert Kromhout and
illustrated by Annemarie van Haeringen
(translated by Marianne Martens)
First published in 2001 in the Netherlands under the title Kleine Ezel en jarige Jakkie
North-South Books
March 2007
(review copy)

Here’s a lively addition to the list of international books to look for this year, this time a Dutch import. Little Donkey’s back (having been introduced to us in 2006’s Little Donkey and the Baby-Sitter, which I’ve never actually read but really want to now) . . . His friend, Jackie, is having a birthday party, so off Little Donkey and Mama Donkey go to purchase a gift for him. But Little Donkey’s great turmoil is that he wants to keep the present he’s picked out for Jackie: a kite with a long, long tail. He decides it’ll just stay in his possession, offering up alternate toys for Jackie’s gift, but Mama Donkey kindly — but resolutely — says no. Read the rest of this entry �

Middle-Grade Books Round-Up, Part Three:
Mysteries (and a bit ‘o magic) that lie way down deep

h1 Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Way Down Deep
by Ruth White
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
March 2007
(library copy)

When Ruth White — one of children’s literature’s most celebrated authors (and, yes, let’s pause and do a little dance for teacher/librarian writers such as herself) — brings us a new novel, it’s cause for celebration in my book. Ruth White can transport you to another time and another place with great ease and can bring the reader such superb characterization — of that complex creation called a Southerner, no less — that you feel as if you’re in the presence of a master. And she never fails to provide a bit of wise, home-spun commentary on the Big Things of our emotional inner lives, both our strength of spirit and vulnerabilities as humans — and without ever laying it on too thick. As School Library Journal once put it well, White is a “real truth teller.” Not to mention, her books are infused with those mysterious, amorphous matters of the heart — love, friendship, familial devotion. Yessirree, when I’m in the mood for some good, old-fashioned Appalachian storytelling, some good Southern fiction, one of the writers I turn to is Ruth White.

On the whole, White doesn’t disappoint with her new title, Way Down Deep, which is — as pointed out by Lee Smith — part fable, part mystery. But, as KLIATT and Booklist also point out, we’re also dealing here with elements of folklore, fantasy, biography, and even magic realism (and, Publishers Weekly wrote, “{s}ome of White’s narrative teeters on the wobbly edge of farce”). The publisher itself will tell you it’s a bit of “fairy-tale magic.” There’s a little bit of everything here, but White pulls it all together with the cohesive thread that is, at its core, a tender narrative about the relationship between a caretaker and her child — and what it truly means to be a family. Read the rest of this entry �

Note on Blogger Interview and
Middle-Grade Books Round-Up, Part Two

h1 Monday, April 23rd, 2007

{Note: Sorry there’s no blogger interview today. Yes, we tend to feature those on Mondays. We promise to continue our ongoing discussion with The Blue Rose Girls as soon as possible — most likely, another day later this week — and, after that, with a lot more bloggers with whom we want to chat. For now, enjoy a book review — uh, “recommendation” or whatever it is we’re supposed to call them in the wake of the discussion Roger started. I say that with no snarkiness, by the way} . . .

Eisha and I began a Middle-Grade Books round-up last week (it’s here if you missed the scrotrageous fun we had writing it), and so here I am to do a Part Two of some more middle-graders I’ve read. I intended to write about four — yes, count them, four — titles in this post, but I started with the first title on my list and found myself writing, ahem, a bit more than I’d expected. So, I’ll continue with the other stack of middle-grade novels in a little while. For now, make way for The One. The Only. Emma-Jean Lazarus:

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
by Lauren Tarshis
Dial Books for Young ReadersMarch 2007
(library copy)

I just had to pick up a copy of Emma-Jean; my curiosity was piqued with all the blog buzz about the book (see here, here, here, and here). This — Lauren Tarshis’ first novel — could be a case study in children’s lit classes for the examination of voice used successfully in a novel — particularly, chapter one, exactly where heavy use of voice should reside as we meet our characters. The protagonist, Emma-Jean, has quite the distinctive style and manner of expression. I guess there are arguments goin’ around for her being autistic, but I don’t buy that. Now onwards and upwards then . . .

Middle-schooler Emma-Jean Lazarus doesn’t like messy, disorderly things like emotions and, quite frankly, friendship — except for with her mother, the doctoral student who is a boarder in their home, the school janitor, and her pet parrot (all believably-drawn secondary characters, I might add in approbation). She’s wicked smart and terribly aloof, a classic misfit. She makes it “her habit to keep herself separate, to observe from afar . . . She maintained a general policy of staying out of the messy lives of her fellow seventh graders.” She’d rather stand on the perimeter of everyone else’s illogical, irrational lives, thanks very much — not unlike a super sharp tween-aged social anthropologist at work: Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #7

h1 Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

It’s time for another installment of 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks . . . For those new to our series, this is where we all stop in every Sunday to report seven (more or less is fine) Good Things that happened to you (or that you read or saw or experienced or . . . well, you get the picture) this week.

*eisha’s list*

Well, it was kind of a weird week, wasn’t it? But we’re here to focus on the good, and that seems like a very good idea right now. So:

1* Since I live in MA, Monday was a state holiday (Patriot’s Day – they’ve got a couple of these weird Revolutionary War-related holidays that no one else celebrates up here). So I had a 3-day weekend, which is always a good thing. Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Nikki Giovanni

h1 Friday, April 20th, 2007

{Note: Today’s Poetry Friday round-up is over here at Big A, little a} . . .

VTTrees are never felled . . . in summer . . . Not when the fruit . . .
is yet to be borne . . . Never before the promise . . . is fulfilled . . .
Not when their cooling shade . . . has yet to comfort . . .

…from A Poem on the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
by Nikki Giovanni

Like everyone, I was stunned and horrified by the massacre at Virginia Tech on Monday. Like many, I have a friend who teaches there, and spent part of the day worrying, checking the VT website and the news, back and forth, waiting for them to release names of victims… until he got out of lockdown and answered his email. Thankfully, he did answer, and he is okay.

MotherReader spoke very eloquently about the tragedy on her blog. So did Paul. I don’t think it’s my place to say anything here, and even if I did I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s sick and it’s sad and it shouldn’t have happened, these things just shouldn’t happen, ever, to anyone.

But I ran across this today on the Poetry Foundation website, and thought it was worth sharing. It’s Nikki Giovanni, who you probably know teaches at VT, speaking at their convocation on Tuesday.

{Addendum to post: We realize that at least one of our regular readers is deaf; we apologize for the lack of text here re Giovanni’s speech. Perhaps the Poetry Foundation or Virginia Tech itself will have the text printed somewhere. If anyone needs us to look for that, we’re happy to do so. Also, a portion of Giovanni’s speech is printed at A Wrung Sponge’s Poetry Friday entry for today. Thanks} . . .

{Addendum #2: Here is the transcript at Virginia Tech’s site; thanks to Marcie at World of Words for the link!} . . .