Archive for June, 2007

Poetry Friday: Éireann Lorsung

h1 Friday, June 29th, 2007

Music for Landing Planes ByThis week’s happy accident: I got a catalog from a nonprofit literary press, Milkweed Editions. And in said catalog I find a book of poetry from an author who is totally new to me, Éireann Lorsung. Already I’m in love with the title – Music For Landing Planes By – and the cover art, “Plenty” by Jennifer Davis. And the blurb mentions Lorsung’s website, ohbara.com, where she sells her handmade crafts and clothing. So I checked it out. The clothes and pillows are cute, in an Anthropologie kind of way. And she makes these shadow-box things that look like this, which I like very much.

But the real happy accident here is that, in the book’s description in the catalog, they include a complete poem, “Dressmaker.” And… wow. I’m reminded again what it is poetry can do better than any other medium. The imagery is firmly grounded in the tangible and everyday – cloth, pins, scissors. This, plus the terseness of the phrases, the almost argumentative tone, gives the poem a raw elemental feel that perfectly underscores the theme. Here’s a taste:

Nothing touches like tan velvet touches
the palm. Now the cracks come, because what gives
without taking?–Doesn’t exist. Say

you forget what is lanolin, what is raw about fleece
uncarded & unwashed. Say the silver feel
of charmeuse lines your sleep. You’ve lost

what there was before pins & needles, sound
a scissors makes through cloth on a hardwood floor,
thick waist of the dressmaker’s dummy…

Read the rest here. And another poem, “Volans,” is here. Now I’m off to find her book…

One Asinine Thing Before Breakfast and
a Review of Waves by Sharon Dogar

h1 Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Before I share a YA review today, can I just share something so asinine that it’s almost funny?

There is this “what’s my blog rated?” thingy (to be precise) going around. You can see it here. For kicks and grins, I entered our blog’s name earlier this week. We got a “PG” rating, because the word “gay” showed up five times (that would be in the Summer Blog Blast Tour interview with Brent Hartinger, who is openly gay). Then, for even more kicks and grins and ’cause I was rather appalled (seeing as how just inches from the Brent interview was the Holly Black interview, in which she gives the most potent, most delightfully trash-talkin’, she-could-teach-some-sailors-a-thing-or-two answer thus far to the Pivot curse-word question, yet that somehow wasn’t any naughtier than being gay clearly is), I entered the URL of just Brent’s interview and got this:

Online Dating

Yes, it’s an “NC-17″ rating, because the word “gay” shows up twenty times (and, incidentally, the word “pooped” shows up once).

For yet even more kicks and grins, I entered the URL for Holly Black’s interview. Seriously, did you even see her response to the Pivot curse-word question? But, apparently, being gay is even more profane, because her interview just warrants this rating:

Online Dating

Yes, include the word “gay” — no matter if you’re talking about, I dunno, sweet, bubbly, patriotic, philanthropic, humanitarian angel bunnies who are little saint bunnies or nun bunnies and who happen to be gay — and you get slapped with the rating that is, for all intents and purposes, the new “X” rating.

I’m trying to think of some really clever way to point out how oafish that is or trying to think of some really profound, witty, and famous quote on stupidity, but I’ll let it speak for itself. Moving right along:

I simply had to read Waves by British author Sharon Dogar (Scholastic’s Chicken House imprint; April 2007; library copy — I’m featuring both covers there, just for fun) when I saw the Philip Pullman quote on the cover in the way of advertising the novel: “A remarkable novel . . . suffused by an atmosphere both sensuous and sinister.” Pullman could tell me that the phone book is infused with an atmosphere both sensuous and sinister, and I’d reconsider spending some time reading it (you know, those yellow pages are pretty hot). Read the rest of this entry �

Co-review: Polly Horvath’s newest (and upcoming) novel, The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane

h1 Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane
by Polly Horvath
(cover art by John Hendrix)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux –
Books for Young Readers

Set for a July ’07 release
(review copies)

Synopsis (straight from Horvath’s site, as we don’t want to slip and reveal plot spoilers for those wanting to read it): “When an accident leaves teenage cousins Meline and Jocelyn parentless, they come to live with their unknown and eccentric Uncle Marten on his private island. They soon discover that the island has a history as tragic as their own: it was once an air force training camp, led by a mad commander whose crazed plan to train pilots to fly airplanes without instruments sent eleven pilots to their deaths. Jocelyn, Meline, and Uncle Marten are soon joined on this island of wrecked planes and wrecked men by an elderly Austrian housekeeper {Mrs. Mendelbaum}, a very mysterious butler {Humdinger}, a cat, and a dog. But to Jocelyn and Meline, being in a strange new place around strange new people only underscores the fact that the world they once knew has ended.”

Jules: So, yeah, we just read an advanced proof of Polly Horvath’s newest novel, The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane. We thought it was a great premise and had some strong moments, yet we both found it to be somewhat unsatisfying. We weren’t sure if we were even going to review it here at 7-Imp, but 1). we both adore Horvath’s writing (Everything on a Waffle, The Canning Season, The Trolls, The Pepins and Their Problems — oh, the list of great books goes on and on); 2). the novel had its moments; and 3). as Eisha said, “Horvath can take it.” I mean, come on. She’s the Polly Horvath, well-known, well-loved, well-respected. Not to mention her National Book Award. She could squish us with her little ‘ol (and very talented) literary pinky.

Read the rest of this entry �

Picture Book Round-Up, Including the Return of Kate and More of Helen Cooper’s Scrumptious Pumpkin Soup

h1 Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

“The Trouble with Dogs . . .” Said Dad
by Bob Graham
Candlewick
June 2007
(First American Edition)
(library copy)

They’re back! Isn’t it great to see Kate and her family again? God, I missed them and their laid back, earring-wearin’, music-magazine-readin’, tattoo-sportin’ lifestyle. And, yes, of course we get to see Dave and Rosy again. It’s eight months after their release from the Rescue Center, and they’re comfy and happy in their new home. Rosy’s running the show, taking over the couch, just generally kicking back and enjoying the life of a dog. But Dave? He’s “small and wild. He slipped and he slid; he leaped and he skittered. He was take-me-as-you-find-me, don’t-care Dave,” exuberant and joyful and excited and “full of the joys of spring!” — but still needing “a firmer hand,” says Mom one day. After calling Pup Breakers (“We can take the pounce from your pup, the bounce from your bunny, or the squawk from your caged bird,” says the ad in the phone book), the Brigadier shows up at their home, even making the nearby birds twitter nervously. His commands to Dave are firm and loud, and he even brings a slip chain, being sure to instruct the family in “short, sharp jerks” on it. A change comes over Dave, days after this training; he’s “lost his sparkle . . . his crackle and fizz.” But, the next day, the Brigadier softens a bit after Dave runs to him, as if happy to see him, Kate thinking she actually spots a smile underneath this stoic man’s mustache. And then, in a spot-on funny and tenderly-rendered and perfectly child-centered moment, Kate tells the Brigadier, who’s stayed for dinner, that Dave doesn’t need lessons anymore:

“And why is that, young Kate?”

“Because . . .” Kate whispered, “because I think shouting hurts Dave’s feelings and we should always be polite to our dogs.”

There was silence.

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #34:
The Kidlitosphere’s Sweetheart, Cynthia Leitich Smith

h1 Monday, June 25th, 2007

Last week’s Summer Blog Blast Tour was really fun, and it is fitting this Monday to return to our blogger interview series with a chat with, arguably, the most beloved presence in the kidlitosphere, author Cynthia Leitich Smith, since Cynthia’s most recent novel is a YA one.

Cynthia is an author of YA gothic fantasy novels, children’s books, and short stories (who quit her government law day job over ten years ago to write full time for children and teens); a member of the faculty of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults; and a speaker who has a passion for connecting with readers and a vibrant online presence. Her primary blog, Cynsations, offers — through the blog itself and through links to her main author siteinterviews, reading recommendations (organized by age and genre), publishing information, writer resources, information on literacy advocacy, children’s and YA literature resources, children’s and YA literature bibliographies, an extensive list of “diverse reads,” information on awards, and news in children’s and young adult literature. Her author site also contains “teacher / librarian / researcher resources related to multicultural literature, represented communities, Native American literature, and books related to war and peace.” Really, Cynthia’s site and blog are must-have resources (we here at 7-Imp have linked to Cynsations many a-time, particularly for her informative interviews). She says below in our interview that this is her “way of fulfilling the author’s natural role as youth literature ambassador.” We are glad she does so and provides such a valuable resource to the kidlitosphere.

Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #16: Meet J.Lo!

h1 Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Adam Rex is the best thing ever (to pick up Adrienne’s favorite phrase). At last week’s 7-Kicks list, Adam’s name came up and then several of us were discussing our big, big love for his books. So, Eisha asked what the possibility would be of getting an illustration for this week’s list, and Adam sent two, never-seen-before ones. Woo hoo! In his words, “I couldn’t see the fun in simply giving you permission to post something that already appears elsewhere on the web, so I’m sending two images that appear nowhere else I know of.” Thanks, Adam!

Meet J.Lo — to the left here. This illustration is . . . well, here’s what Adam said about it:

“This one is really more in keeping with the spirit of your ’7 Kicks’ feature. I have an illustrated novel called The True Meaning of Smekday coming out this September . . . I painted the cover, which can also be found on my blog, and drew a lot of black and white illustrations for the interior. For the cover we went with a sort of typographical cityscape, and it always bothered me that I never painted either of my two main characters. So this week I made a portrait of my lead alien, J.Lo. The paint was literally just barely dry enough to scan him and send him to you, so that’s the exciting thing I did this week.”

If you go here, everyone, you can read a brief comic about the upcoming release of the novel (to be published by Hyperion in September 2007).

And then he sent us this illustration, too, page ten of his upcoming fall picture book, Pssst! (Harcourt). “I think if you know nothing of the book but the title and this page, you can still get a decent idea where the story’s heading,” he told us. The book cover, as well as some failed ideas for the book cover and other things, can be found on his blog, Editpus Rex.

Many, many thanks to Adam Rex for the great art work this week!

As usual, we look forward to reading everyone’s lists. We realize a lot of folks are at the ALA conference this weekend, but this will not deter those of us not seminar-hoppin’ in D.C. to share our lists (but, boy, do we wish we were there, too).

{Oh, and here’s our usual intro for any new people: 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. Absolutely anyone is welcome to contribute, and your lists don’t have to be book-related} . . . Read the rest of this entry �

Final SBBT interview

h1 Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Don’t miss the final Summer Blog Blast Tour interview today: Justina Chen Headley over at Finding Wonderland. Go here to read this great interview.

Whew. We can’t believe it’s the last day. What a blast (pun intended) it’s been!

And, in case you missed all the action, go here to this great list of authors interviewed in the SBBT (organized by author) at HipWriterMama’s site. Thanks, Vivian! Oh, and Little Willow has a wrap-up here, too — a full SBBT schedule with all the links. Excellent.

We were honored to be a part of this. Thanks to the SBBT mama, Colleen Mondor, for coordinating this entire thing (here’s her “moment for reflection” about the entire venture).

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #33:
Holly Black: Faeries, Prom and D&D.

h1 Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Holly BlackSeven Reasons It Must Be So Utterly Awesome To Be Holly Black:

1*  She won the first ever Andre Norton Award for Valiant in 2006.

2*  She went to two proms this year, and one of them actually served alcohol (more on that later…).

3*  Over the past month she’s toured across the country and back, gone to WisCon, Book Expo America, and the Sycamore Hill Writer’s Workshop, and today she’ll be at ALA in D.C. She’s a busy, busy woman, doing very important things and hanging with seriously cool people. And yet she took the time to be interviewed by three bloggers for the SBBT.

4*  She almost became a librarian. This makes us, like, practically related.

5*  She slept on Cecil Castellucci’s couch.

6*  She has lots and lots of very cool shoes. That may be a shallow thing to mention in a literary interview, but whatever. Look at those black-and-red ones!

Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #32: Mitali Perkins: Author, Teacher, and Closet Cyber-Geek (SBBT Interview)

h1 Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Mitali’s portrait by Jamie Hogan

Seven Things You’re Going To Love About Mitali Perkins (Like You Don’t Already):

1* When we asked for a picture to go with this interview, she sent us this lovely portrait by Jamie Hogan, illustrator of her recent middle-grade novel Rickshaw Girl. Aw. Pretty.

2* Her website. Mitali’s Fire Escape is chock full of resources like booklists, contests, and frequent updates about public appearances and interviews. It also has a fabulous new look, thanks to the excellent web stylings of Little Willow.

3* Her blog. Mitali is an active and beloved member of the kidlitosphere, and posts on a range of topics: book reviews, movies, writing

4* …and an ongoing series of posts called “Why I Write For Children,” which deserves its very own mention.

5* Her other blog. Well, actually, that of her character Sameera from First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover. Sameera, aka Sparrow, is the adopted daughter of a presidential candidate, so she posts about the current crop of “first kid wannabes and their parents.” She’s also on MySpace and Facebook. For a fictional character, she’s awfully prolific.

6* She really is as nice in person as you’d think she is from her blog. I got to meet her at Charlesbridge’s Open House a few weeks ago, and she was utterly charming and gracious and funny. And she’s an engaging public speaker, too.

7* Most of all, her books. Mitali writes about kids “between cultures” – i.e., kids who are struggling with a cultural identity, having been born and/or raised in a different culture from their parents – with all the empathy and candor of someone who has been there herself, and wants to reach out to the next generation.

Read the rest of this entry �

Mmmmm, literature . . .

h1 Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Hey, let’s take an interview break and talk about an actual picture book (though we are having fun this week focusing on YA lit). Don’t forget the little post below this one, which highlights today’s SBBT schedule, and don’t miss all the great interviews.

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel Books
First American Edition: April 2007
(originally published in 2006)
(library copy)

So, there’s this boy named Henry who loves to eat books. It all starts one day when he wasn’t paying attention (actually, of all things, he’s got his head turned away from his afternoon snack to watch his cat take a dump, to be blunt about it). Instead of licking the popsicle in his hands, he licks a phone book.

Mmmm, phone books.

He then gets hooked on books, saying “I don’t think so” to that whole Just Say No concept — he eats a single word, then a whole sentence, then an entire book. “And by the end of the month he could eat a whole book in one go” (there he is on stage, the double page spread shows us, performing for a happy crowd as The Incredible Book-Eating Boy). And he’s not a picky eater — he devours storybooks, dictionaries, atlases, joke books, and books of facts, having devised a yummy concoction in the blender. To top things off, he got smarter with each book read. With dreams of becoming the smartest person on earth, he keeps eating books but then finds himself feeling ill. Worst of all, “{e}verything he was learning was getting mixed up.”

Read the rest of this entry �