Archive for August, 2007

Aunt Nancy and the Bothersome Visitors

h1 Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Aunt Nancy and
the Bothersome Visitors

by Phyllis Root
with illustrations by David Perkins
Candlewick
July 2007
(review copy)

There is a reason I get excited at the release of a new Phyllis Root title. She is a master storyteller (and wrote the best creation myth this side of Genesis in Big Momma Makes the World). And it’s not as if she needed to prove to me her superb story-spinning skills any more with this new title from Candlewick, consisting of four boisterous trickster tales (two published previously and individually in 1996 — and two written in ’07), but you better believe that with this collection of stories, she shows that — somehow — she gets better and better with each book. I don’t know how this is possible, since she’s been a supreme storyteller since practically Day One.

Aunt Nancy is a crackerjack if ever there was one. She’s clever and quick (“{l}ucky for Aunt Nancy her head wasn’t up on her shoulders just to keep her ears from fighting with each other”) and knows how to take care of herself. And we know this, because she manages to outwit four pesky, unwanted visitors at her door, each one spotlighted in four entertaining tales: Old Man Trouble, Cousin Lazybones, Old Woeful, and Mister Death.

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Seven Impossible Tri-Reviews Before Breakfast #1: Featuring Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production

h1 Monday, August 20th, 2007

Random House edition with cover art by Peter BrownJules: We at 7-Imp, as you may know, are fond of co-reviews, our euphemism for flappin’ our gums about a book. We are happy today to have a guest co-reviewer – our tri-reviewer, we suppose – Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production. Yes, she agreed to be the the Mo to our Curly and Larry; the Groucho to our Chico and Harpo; the Bart to our Maggie and Lisa; the Harry to our Ron and Hermione; the Gleek to our Zan and Jayna. Oh, you get the idea, and someone stop us now . . .

And you may notice this is numero uno in a new series, ’cause we thought it was so much fun that we’ve got another one lined up soon. And another one after that. And another one. Someone stop us again . . . Really, the chance to talk books with some of our favorite bloggers? We couldn’t pass up the idea.

Back at the beginning of this year, I reviewed Barkbelly by Cat Weatherill and noted that a sequel would be forthcoming. Betsy read the review (indeed, she had reviewed the title herself) and left a comment, asking if we imps were game for reading said sequel, Snowbone (Knopf Books for Young Readers; July 2007; with cover and interior art by Peter Brown), when it was released. And, since I have the memory of an elephant when it comes to my to-be-read piles, I reminded Eisha and Betsy of this pledge these six months later, secured some review copies, and we all three read away at (about) the same time. And now we’re here to yak it up about performance storyteller and UK author Cat Weatherill’s sequel to her ’06 story (’05 in the UK) about a boy hatched from a wooden egg who flees his loving home (with human parents) after a dreadful accident at school, beginning a quest for his real home and family.

{Note: Snowbone Spoilers revealed below} . . . Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #24: Featuring Mo Willems

h1 Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Art copyright © 2007 by Mo Willems from Knuffle Bunny Too

Art copyright © 2007 by Mo Willems from Knuffle Bunny Too.

Welcome to our weekly 7 Kicks list, the meeting ground for listing Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week (whether book-related or not) that happened to you. (If you’re new, please know that everyone is welcome to leave their lists).

This week we have Mo Willems to thank for our illustration: It’s Trixie and her daddy! They’re back in Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, which we co-reviewed here at 7-Imp this week. If you didn’t read that review or don’t have time now, here’s our official analysis: It completely delivers in every way, and we pretty much thought it was flawless. I believe it has a September release date (Hyperion), so people won’t have much longer to wait to find out what the pre-school-aged Trixie and her beloved bunny are up to this time.

In this image, Trixie and her daddy — who was initially reluctant to head out and retrieve Trixie’s rightful bunny (“Trixie’s daddy tried to explain what ’2:30 a.m.’ means”) — are on a mission to right a wrong. Our review has much more info if you’re interested in hearing more about this great book. We thank Mo Willems most kindly for sharing an ilustration with us and our readers this week.

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

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Tantrums, Fussing, & Whining, Oh My . . .

h1 Saturday, August 18th, 2007

The parenting-manual section of a bookstore mostly gives me the willies. Perhaps I’m not being fair and perhaps I should read more of these titles. I’m almost sure of this; I’m almost sure that a handful of them are truly helpful, but approximately 99.999% of the parenting self-help books really make me want to run screaming from the bookstore. (I feel compelled here to add: Should one of my children have a really serious problem, I am sure I’d be turning to a book or two, and I know that I am quite blessed to have healthy girls.) I’ve said it before — at my “Mother of All Books” post from this time last year — and I’ll say it again: We mamas are flooded with parenting manuals (and magazine articles — oh, the magazine articles! Make them go away!) about how to be a better mother (“10 Ways to Lose That Baby Weight,” “15 Ways to Make Your Child Smarter,” “Is Your Child Eating Enough?” “Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Play,” you get the picture) — with the implication here being that we’re just not good enough and also trivializing the intensity and complexity of mothering.

But today I make an exception. I will be reviewing an actual parenting self-help book from a woman who . . . well, I just think she’s got it goin’ on. She is one of only a few exceptions I will make when it comes to books like this. I mean, just look: She’s got me straying from children’s lit for a moment and reviewing an actual non-fiction title.

The No-Cry Discipline Solution:
Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears

by Elizabeth Pantley
McGraw Hill
May 2007
(review copy)

We here at 7-Imp, thanks to the blog itself, have had the opportunity to talk to some of our very favorite authors, people we would otherwise not have had a chance to talk to, and we are truly grateful for such correspondence. (I’m talkin’ getting an email out of the blue from authors like The One, The Only Haven Kimmel, whose writing we adore, and having to pick ourselves up off the floor.) But when parenting educator (and president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company) Elizabeth Pantley emailed me to tell me about her new book on discipline, I just about squealed. Okay, so I did. She is a SUPERSTAH in my world. I think I jumped up and down. Here is a picture of her below; I hope she doesn’t mind me lifting it from her Amazon profile. I just want to hug her neck. Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry �

Poetry Friday: Happy birthday, Eisha!

h1 Friday, August 17th, 2007

a fabulous cake from Magpie's in Knoxville, TennesseeIt’s not only Poetry Friday, a definite cause for celebration in our book any ‘ol week, but today is Eisha’s birthday! Happy birthday to her!

This might be a real stretch, but here’s what I did for her birthday, which happens to fall on the day we celebrate poetry: I wrote a cento! Having been inspired to create one, thanks to a post over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, I decided for my cento (a poem made entirely of pieces from poems by other authors) to be created from lyrics from some of Eisha’s favorite songs. Yes, each line of the cento is from a different song. It was harder than I thought, but I hope she at least gets a kick out of it, recognizing the words from some of her favorite tunes. The songs from which each line comes (and the musicians) are listed below the cento.

Did I, ahem, mention it’s a stretch? And it was too difficult to make a cheery, happy birthday-esque one. But it was fun, and I hope it makes a modicum of sense.

Happy birthday, Eisha! Here’s your birthday cento, pieced together from some of your favorite songs . . . Read the rest of this entry �

Co-review: Knuffle Bunny Too and Peter Sís’ The Wall

h1 Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Knuffle Bunny Too:
A Case of Mistaken Identity

by Mo Willems
Hyperion
Release date: September 2007
(Advance readers’ copies)

Jules: Trixie’s back, and this time she knows plenty of words. She also has another dramatic epiphany: Last time it was realizing she left her beloved Knuffle Bunny in the washing machine at the laundromat. This time, hand-in-hand with her Daddy on her way to preschool, she comes to the harsh realization that her favorite plush doll is not as one-of-a-kind as she thought it was. Another girl in her classroom, Sonja, has a Knuffle Bunny as well. After lots of glaring and fighting over their dolls, including the correct pronunciation of its name (in what I suppose is a nod — and a very funny one at that — to the number of times Willems has probably been asked if it’s pronounced “Kuh-nuffle” or “Nuffle”), the teacher removes the dolls from their clutches and then — egads! — mixes them up when she returns them. And this time the “Trixie realized something” moment comes at approximately 2:30 a.m., making it an interesting night, indeed, for Trixie’s daddy, as they both attempt to return the right dolls to their rightful owners.

Eisha, what did you think? Is this not a completely winning sequel in every way? And I was worried, too, since sequels can be tricky things, but it totally delivers. And I’d like to quickly add that my three-year-old, when we first read it, immediately said “that’s not Trixie’s bunny” when the teacher returned them all mixed-up. I hadn’t even noticed this yet. Leave it to a child with their superpower-sharp observation skills.

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Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #40
(The One Shot World Tour: Best Read with Vegemite Edition) — Margo Lanagan

h1 Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Margo in India, January 2007; photo credit: Steven DunbarWelcome to 7-Imp’s stop in the first-ever One Shot World Tour, as organized by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. The One Shot World Tour will involve approximately fifteen, more or less, blogs highlighting children’s and YA authors from different countries around the world — and all in one day for each stop (hence the “one shot” moniker). Today’s stop is Australia (and a bit of New Zealand). As author Margo Lanagan, our interviewee today (pictured above from a January ’07 visit to India), described it perfectly at her blog, Among Amid While, it’s an “Australian-themed children’s and teen literature multi-blog gabfest.” Today, each participating blog will post the master schedule of which blogs are talking about what books and which authors from Down Under (scroll down to the bottom of this interview to see the One Shot World Tour: Best Read with Vegemite schedule for today). Most bloggers will be talking up their favorite Australians writers/books, but a few blogs will be interviewing authors as well.

And we’re happy to be one of those blogs, because Australian author Margo Lanagan is gracing our site today. To call her “highly-acclaimed” does not even seem to do her justice. Lanagan is one of the most original and fascinating voices in YA literature today.
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Co-Review: Margo Lanagan’s Red Spikes

h1 Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Allen & Unwin cover of Red SpikesRandom House cover; jacket illustration by Jeremy CanigliaJules: Here we are again with a co-review, this time of Red Spikes, a collection of ten short stories by Australian author Margo Lanagan. These stories were originally published last year in Australia by Allen & Unwin, one of Australia’s leading independent publishers (their cover is shown on the left here), and Random House/Knopf will be releasing them this October with the cover you see on the right (jacket illustration by Jeremy Caniglia). Eisha and I were thrilled to have an opportunity to read advance proofs of this collection of short stories.

And I have Eisha to thank for turning me on to Lanagan’s writing in the first place. She reviewed White Time here in February of this year, and we have an interview with Lanagan lined up for tomorrow’s “One Shot World Tour: Best Read with Vegemite!” — a focus on Australian writers, which will be happening at a handful of kidlit blogs, all organized by Colleen Mondor (go here to see the full schedule). I really enjoyed this collection of stories and Lanagan’s writing and am grateful to have finally read some of her stuff. I want to recommend this book to everyone I know — as in, shout-it-from-the-rooftops recommend — and I don’t normally read short stories. Get me.

Instead of trying to summarize the collection as a whole or summarizing each story, I’ll send you to this link. And I echo that woman’s sentiments about the story “Winkie” in this anthology. Holy crap. I don’t know which was scarier, though: “Winkie,” a horror fantasy story borne from the nursery rhyme “Wee Willie Winkie,” or “Under Hell, Over Heaven,” which brings the Catholic construct of Limbo to life for the reader. Yes, Lanagan takes you to the very edge of Hell. Did I already say holy crap? Lanagan really takes you to the settings of each of her fantasy/speculative fiction stories, and her writing is — at turns — eloquent and evocative and provocative . . . . and she really knows how to SCARE THE PANTS OFF OF YOU, as my middle-school self would put it. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #39: Sarah J. Stevenson, a.k.a. aquafortis

h1 Monday, August 13th, 2007

Sarah as a punkin' head babyWelcome, readers, to another installment of our usually-weekly interviews. Today is a Part Two of sorts, since we interviewed one half of Finding Wonderland, TadMack, two weeks ago. Now we’re getting to know the other half of Finding Wonderland, Sarah J. Stevenson, a.k.a. aquafortis. And yes, since TadMack sent us a sweet baby pic, so did a.fortis. So, let’s just have our little moment:

OOH, PRECIOUS PUNKIN’ MUFFIN!!! SUGAR-BRITCHES!!! YOU ARE SO ADORABLE WITH YOUR SERIOUS WITTLE FACE AND YOUR BIG OL’ TYPEWRITER!! YOU SWEET LIL’ ITTY BITTY FUTURE-WRITER YOU!! SUGAR-BEAR!! SQUASH-BLOSSOM!! BUNNY-BOO!!!

Ahem.

Since it’s Part Two, we’ll just assume that you already know how awesome Finding Wonderland: the Writing YA Weblog is – where a.fortis and TadMack talk about writing, share news and fun tidbits about the YA lit world, and hosted 7 (that’s SEVEN, people) interviews for the Summer Blog Blast Tour in June. And we’ll assume you also are familiar with their companion blog, Reading YA: Readers’ Rants, where they each post lovely, insightful reviews of the YA fiction they read.

But perhaps you haven’t seen a.fortis’s personal blog, aquafortis, where a.fortis talks about her artistic endeavors, travels, and other random stuff (which we’ll hear more about in the interview below). She also reveals the origin of her unusual screenname:

Welcome to aquafortis, the blog that bites. It bites because the term “aqua fortis” was the alchemical term for nitric acid, a necessary component in etching onto zinc plates for intaglio printmaking (which I happen to enjoy, though I use copper and ferric chloride now). It also bites because of my biting wit (uh…I hope), and lastly, it bites because it just does.

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7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #23: Featuring G. Brian Karas

h1 Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Jules: Can someone just pick me up off the floor please, because I love our image for this Sunday, sent to us by G. Brian Karas, who just so happens to be one of our favorite illustrators here at 7-Imp. Doesn’t that illustration just make your day? I’m telling you what . . . we love it, and we thank Brian for sending it. This image comes from Today and Today, the anthology of haiku by Kobayashi Issa, which Karas illustrated (released this March by Scholastic, and reviewed here by Yours Truly). In fact, this illustration is, hands down, my favorite from the book (which is a bold statement, as the entire book is beautiful), so extra big thanks to Brian for sending it just for our 7 Kicks lists today. And, really, if you haven’t experienced Today and Today yet, well . . . go treat yourself. Karas divided the haiku — and the story that those verses and his illustrations tell — into seasons, and this illustration is from the summer spread. I wish I could make it even bigger for you, but that’s probably the best we can do here with our blog’s template. Just look at that yellow and the texture to that image . . . it’s even more beautiful up close, so don’t miss the book, one of the best poetry anthologies I’ve seen this year. (And, P.S., Elaine — this pic’s for you!).

Brian also sent this cover image from his next illustrated book, Big Bad Bunny (a Richard Jackson book for Atheneum Books), written by Franny Billingsley, author of The Folk Keeper (which I have always wanted to read; I’m just eight years behind). Big Bad Bunny will be published in ’08. Now, that’s a funny cover. We’re looking forward to this book, ’cause did I mention that Eisha and I love G. Brian Karas’ illustrations? (And — as I said in my reviews of Today and Today and Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide! — we think the “G” must stand for “ginormously talented”).

Many thanks to Brian!

Now, on to our kicks . . . For any new folks: Welcome to our weekly 7 Kicks list, the meeting ground for listing Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week (whether book-related or not) that happened to you. If you’re new, please know that everyone is welcome to leave their lists.

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

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