Archive for August, 2006

Spanish Gothic

h1 Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Shadow of the WindI finished a book today that I’ve been trying to read, on and off, for about a year. A friend at work recommended it to me last year, and unfortunately the first time I started it coincided with my Collection Development class, which didn’t leave a lot of time for recreational reading. Then there was my Cataloging class, a huge bibliography I had to help compile for my library’s Summer Reading Program, etc…. and somehow this one kept being shoved to the bottom of the pile. But I finally got to page 487 today, and even though it’s not the sort of book I usually read, I am glad I gave it a chance.

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Never leave your cat alone . . .

h1 Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

parker.gifI heard it’s Charlie Parker’s birthday, so here’s a quick shout-out for Chris Raschka’s wonderful picture book Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992). The text has an infectious rhythm, and Raschka’s energetic, vivacious illustrations amaze, as usual (and Raschka is our most recent Caldecott Award winner); it’s jazz on the pages of a book (with a recurring line being the title of this post). Your favorite toddler will likely enjoy it, too, even if not familiar with jazz. I promise. But do yourself a favor, too, and read this one. Happy birthday, Charlie, who played that mess just like it didn’t mean a thing, ya’ll. I think I’ll listen to some jazz today in honor . . .

(Whew. See, I really can write a short post) . . .

Where do dreams come from? Let Lowry reveal . . .

h1 Saturday, August 26th, 2006


It must be hard, in some ways, to be Lois Lowry or any other insanely talented writer who has written a novel that is considered a modern classic. When you read one of their subsequent works, hard as you try, that pesky classic lingers in your mind and you compare it to the title you’re currently reading. Lots of reviews of Lowry’s work compare what she’s written to The Giver — a superb piece of writing, indeed. I dare say that The Giver became the backdrop against which we compare other contemporary science fiction books in the realm of children’s literature (but that is arguable; feel free to argue). Nevertheless, as Eisha put it when I told her I was reading Lowry’s latest, you can’t crank out The Giver every time, nor should you be expected to. So, let’s look at the merits of Lowry’s Gossamer, published in April of this year, in its own singular light.

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A First in the Eternal Book-vs.-Movie Battle

h1 Friday, August 25th, 2006


Hey. So, I just finally watched Shopgirl, that film based on Steve Martin’s novella of the same name. And I know this is “A Blog About Books,” but this is the first time I’ve ever experienced this and I think it’s worth noting: I liked the movie BETTER than the book!

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Light and loss, gossip and God in New England

h1 Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

abide.gifEisha added a link to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust here on our blog. I always have my own, little internal sturm und drang about looking at such sites — I really want to, being the book nerd I am, but perhaps I will see something I want to read and will want to add it to my already unwieldy reading list. It’s almost as if I look at them all squinty-eyed with my hands partly covering my face, not unlike you would look at a train wreck if you passed it. You are compelled to look, but you’re scared. But, well, I did. I went. I saw. I added. In fact, I was so intrigued by Pearl’s review of Elizabeth Strout’s Abide With Me (2006) that I didn’t just add it to my list. I went and got it from the library and started it and found it hard to put down.

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Some random, impressive, new picture book titles . . .

h1 Monday, August 21st, 2006


A bit of a qualification here: When I discuss a new picture book title, I mean new-to-libraries and not necessarily super hot off the presses. Hey, I’m choosing not to work outside my home until my daughters enter school, so we gotsa watch our budget. In fact, I just generally avoid the children’s sections of bookstores anymore so that I’m not baited by these gorgeous new picture book titles . . . So, the following titles are new, as in 2006, but not necessarily brand spankin’ new. In other words, check your library; they probably have them. And these are ones that are, for many reasons, particularly snazzy-great for your pre-schooler/toddler. The one pictured here, Brian Pinkney’s Hush, Little Baby, is my favorite thus far this year and is mentioned in my bed-time list. This one spills over with so much joy that the characters rarely have their feet on the ground. And it’s a fascinating study of what an illustrator can do with line in a picture book — in this instance, Pinkney’s lithe and lovely arcs. Happy reading!

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The inevitable Book Thief review

h1 Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Book Thief If you’ve spoken to me at all in the past few weeks, odds are you’ve already heard me mention The Book Thief by Markus Zusak at least once. And if you’ve picked up a newspaper, or a review journal, or glanced at anyone else’s book blog, you’ve probably read at least one review of it. Everybody, everywhere is talking about it. Which is the main reason I’ve been reluctant to talk about it here. But I must. This is that kind of book. It just will not leave me alone. This book does not lie down quietly in the subconscious – it stomps around the frontal lobe and bangs its fists on the inside of the skull. The copy I’ve had checked out for waaay too long has utterly refused to let me return it until I write some of this stuff down. So, okay already…

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Happy birthday, Eisha!

h1 Thursday, August 17th, 2006


“There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents … and only one for birthday presents, you know.” — Lewis Carroll

My apologies that this is not book-related, but it’s a quick birthday greeting to Eisha, my blog partner-in-crime and true friend, who turns 22 today (tee hee). Eisha, this is a Miri Pi drawing for you; it’s a three-eyed dude (hey, she’s two) and a birthday balloon for you. I know it’s small, but when I try to make it bigger, it’s even more difficult to see. Anyway, happy birthday and may you celebrate with lots of wine and sweet words (to paraphrase Plautus — not that I’ve been reading Roman playwrights of late, but I saw that quote somewhere before). — Jules

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My Polly Predicament

h1 Wednesday, August 16th, 2006


Polly Horvath’s ever-present muse is one quirky and offbeat and funny benefactor. I love her books. Most of them are geared for the child in the intermediate grades, but I don’t care how old you are, you will love Everything on a Waffle (2001). As a Horn Book reviewer put it, Horvath nails subtlety and slapstick, a difficult thing to do. And 2003’s The Canning Season, a Young Adult title, is compelling storytelling. Horvath has many wonderful books; she’s a talented writer.

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The Sad Book by Michael Rosen

h1 Monday, August 14th, 2006


“The best book creators express things to a one-year old that a one-hundred-year old can also respect.” — Betsy Hearne

I’m a little bit late in getting around to this one. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (2004, but with a 2005 first U.S. edition publication date), a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book, is one I’ve been wanting to read, and it really was worth the wait. Saying this picture book is moving would be an understatement; it’s heart-rending, yet very hopeful.

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