Archive for December, 2007

Spanking Shakespeare and Welcoming Wizner

h1 Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

{Friendly Warning: Some plot spoilers below} . . .

In author and English teacher Jake Wizner’s first book, a YA novel entitled Spanking Shakespeare (Random House; September 2007; review copy) — also a Fall 2007 Book Sense Teen Pick — we meet Shakespeare Shapiro. It’s his senior year of high school. He’s never had a girlfriend; he’s never kissed a girl; his brother, Gandhi (yes, Gandhi), who is two years younger, has a girlfriend, will lose his virginity before Shakespeare, and is terrifically popular at school; and he has only two close friends: “Neil Wasserman, whose favorite thing to do is discuss his bowel movements; and Katie Marks, who favorite thing to do is tell me how pathetic I am.” And then there’s his name:

“It’s hard to imagine what my parents were thinking when they decided to name me Shakespeare. They were probably drunk . . . I’ve given up asking them about it because neither of them is able to remember anything anymore, and the stories they come up with always leave me feeling like it might not be so bad to dig a hole in the backyard and hide out there until I leave for college next year. That is, if I get into college.” Read the rest of this entry �

Sam’s Surprise

h1 Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Sam Riddleburger has created a Christmas keepsake for those involved with the Blogging for a Cure effort and those hanging ornaments on trees this year (those celebrating in other ways can still make one and, say, hang it in your window). It’s awfully thoughtful of him. Go see.

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #58: Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect

h1 Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Here’s a kidlit-blogger who probably needs no introduction, but we’re going to do it anyway. It’s Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect, and we’re pleased as can be to feature an interview with her this week. We’re both pretty big fans of Tricia’s, particularly since we got to hang out with her and many other fabulous bloggers over coffee at the Kidlitosphere Conference in Chicago a couple of months ago (somehow we were in the group that didn’t get wine at Target). Eisha also has the pleasure of overseeing Tricia’s esteemed and insightful participation as a panelist on the Nonfiction Picture Book Nominating Panel for this year’s Cybils. Tricia is an enthusiastic and knowledgable kidlit lover, which is exactly what you want in a Cybils panelist.

Here’s another reason we love her: she sent us a baby pic. Prepare for cute-baby freakout…

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Holiday Titles Round-Up, Part Two:
A Chanukah Nutcracker

h1 Monday, December 3rd, 2007

The Golden Dreydl
by Ellen Kushner
Illustrated by Ilene Winn-Lederer
July 2007
(review copy)

Well, not really a Chanukah Nutcracker, but Ellen Kushner — the host of Public Radio International’s Sound & Spirit — was inspired by the klezmer orchestra, Shirim, to write this book. Shirim had created a klezmer version of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” for the Chanukah season, and — as the Charlesbridge site puts it — “Ellen decided she wanted to right [sic] a story based on The Nutcracker, but with a Jewish flavor. Instead of Clara going to a Christmas party and receiving a nutcracker that turns into a prince from her uncle, Sara goes to a Chanukah party and receives an enchanted dreydl from her aunt and it turns into a princess — a girl her own age who accompanies her on a magical journey through a mystic kingdom.” A stage adaptation was written and then brought to life, followed by a performance on Sound and Spirit (here’s more information on both). If you go to the book’s home on Charlesbridge’s site, you can listen to a lively clip. Read the rest of this entry �

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #39: Featuring Julia Denos

h1 Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

Jules: We have Jackie at Interactive Reader to thank for our new-found adoration of Julia Denos’ illustrations. Jackie featured Julia and her snowflake in October for the Blogging for a Cure effort for the Robert’s Snow auctions. Here is that feature; if you missed it, go read and enjoy, ’cause it’s a great interview and feature, and — bonus! — Julia is pictured eating one of her picture books and saying, “as a fanatical picture booker, I can’t deny the urge to chew a well designed spread.” This statement immediately endeared her to me, as I understand this urge, you see. And Eisha was all squealy over her artwork, too, proclaiming it as “crazy beautiful,” which it is, and saying that it’s “exactly the sort of art I’d want to create if I had a shred of talent.” You can see at that feature of Jackie’s that a lot of other bloggers immediately fell in love with Julia’s style and immense talent. So I asked Julia (who I think also goes by “Jules” — kickin’) if we could feature her today, and lucky for us, she agreed.

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Holiday Titles Round-Up, Part One:
Holiday Cheer, Latino-Style

h1 Saturday, December 1st, 2007

Well, it’s December 1, and remember my challenge to myself to round-up some reviews of new holiday titles? I’m not going to review only holiday titles all month. Oh lordamercy no. But what better day to throw a holiday review out than on the first day of the mostly-crazy-making but sometimes-lovely month of holidaying?

So, here we have Susan Middleton Elya’s and Merry Banks’ N Is for Navidad, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Chronicle Books; September 2007; review copy). This is both a celebration of Christmas, Latino-style, as well as an alphabet book in rhyme. Each letter of the alphabet introduces a new Spanish word in bold, brightly-colored fonts, even generously giving an entire page to “Ch” (“for chiles, to string, not to eat!”); to “Ll” (“for llegada,” or Arrival); three entries for “N” (“N is for the nacimiento we’ve made. Ñ is for niño. He’ll soon be displayed. At midnight we all head to church for la misa. At last! ¡Navidad! Each month, a sonrisa”); and two entries for “R” (“R is for risas. We laugh at the joke. Tio has tricked us again. We’re still broke! Rr is for arroz to go with the beans. Company’s coming. We know what that means”).

At the close of the book, the authors provide a note, which explains the meaning of the Spanish words and explanations of some of the customs. This makes this already-good book even better; it’s a small crime when picture book authors in such books fail to give us clueless readers some help (I know nothing about a Latino version of Christmas. Make that “knew,” ’cause now I’m a bit in-the-know, thanks to the informative Author’s Note). Read the rest of this entry �