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This blog is about teaching, my life’s work; literature, especially that created for children; history, especially as it is taught to and learned by children; Africa, especially Sierra Leone where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer; and other sundry topics as they come to my attention.
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1. Alice in Paris (with Madeleine and others)

Just came across this remarkable movie featuring Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeleine as well as others from James Thurber, Crocket Johnson, and Eve Titus.


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2. Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Over at the Nerdy Book Club today I’ve got a post highlighting this year’s Coretta Scott King award winners with the hope that it will help more learn about this important award.


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3. José Manuel Mateo and Javier Martínez Pedro’s Migrant

9781419709579_p0_v1_s260x420

The recent attention being paid to the many young undocumented immigrants coming across our country’s southern border brings to mind the remarkable book, Migrant by  José Manuel Mateo’s and illustrated by Javier Martínez Pedro. This story of one young boy’s difficult migration from Mexico to the United States is one spectacular book. Beginning in a rural village, readers learn why the young boy’s mother makes the difficult decision to leave. Their father has already left and, when he stops sending money and she cannot find work locally, she decides to leave with her two children, the narrator and his sister. The rest of the story is of their hard and frightening journey as they make way to Los Angeles. What really makes the book stand-out is that the poignant words are illustrated by one huge piece of art. Inspired by the codices the early people of Mexico and Central America, the intricate black and white art is viewed in an accordion format, something you fold it out as you read the story of the family’s journey. You can get a sense of this and the art itself at Jules’ featured post about it here.  Highly, highly recommended.


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4. Peter Pan Live

I’m very curious about the December 4th NBC live production of Peter Pan (with the just-announced Christopher Walken as Captain Hook).  I grew up with the yearly Mary Martin version (first broadcast in 1960) and, as a result, know the songs inside and out. I wonder, will they have Peter played by a woman as is usually the case with this particular version of Barrie’s story? And then there is that very problematic Tiger Lily American Indian story line. How are they going to make that acceptable for audiences today?

If you want a taste of the 1960 Tiger Lily, here she is as played by the very blonde Sondra Lee:

 

 


6 Comments on Peter Pan Live, last added: 7/21/2014
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5. Putting the Stop on the Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth

Travis Jonker has a manifesto: All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.  I like it. A lot. But still do have an exception.  Here’s my comment on his post:

Yes!!! I am with you on this with a caveat (see below). I have always tried to keep my read-alouds (to my 4th grade class) to as close to 200 pages as possible, but it has become harder and harder to stick to that what with many terrific mg books being way more than that. (One of my favorites from last year — Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts — is 352 pages. On the other hand, Jennifer Holm’s forthcoming The Fourteenth Goldfish, which I read aloud to my class last year, is a just right 208 pages.) My reasoning is that I feel that if some of my listeners aren’t 100% into the book (and I can’t believe all of them are rapt no matter how great a reader I am and how great many of us think the book is — they have their own tastes after all), they aren’t stuck with it too too long. And I also think it applies so much to newly independent readers who can lose steam.

That said, I think there is a place for books like Andy Griffith’s 26 Story Treehouse (352 pages) and Stephen Patis’s Timothy Failure (304 pages), books that are light, easy reading for kids who may not gravitate to the arguably more literary titles along the lines of those you mention. They love the longer length of these sorts of books. Makes them feel they are there with those reading so many of the other  longer popular titles (e.g. Percy Jackson or Harry Potter).


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6. Putting a Stop on the Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth

Travis Jonker has a manifesto: All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.  I like it. A lot. But still do have an exception.  Here’s my comment on his post:

Yes!!! I am with you on this with a caveat (see below). I have always tried to keep my read-alouds (to my 4th grade class) to as close to 200 pages as possible, but it has become harder and harder to stick to that what with many terrific mg books being way more than that. (One of my favorites from last year — Kathi Appelt’s True Blue Scouts — is 352 pages. On the other hand, Jennifer Holm’s forthcoming The Fourteenth Goldfish, which I read aloud to my class last year, is a just right 208 pages.) My reasoning is that I feel that if some of my listeners aren’t 100% into the book (and I can’t believe all of them are rapt no matter how great a reader I am and how great many of us think the book is — they have their own tastes after all), they aren’t stuck with it too too long. And I also think it applies so much to newly independent readers who can lose steam.

That said, I think there is a place for books like Andy Griffith’s 26 Story Treehouse (352 pages) and Stephen Patis’s Timothy Failure (304 pages), books that are light, easy reading for kids who may not gravitate to the arguably more literary titles along the lines of those you mention. They love the longer length of these sorts of books. Makes them feel they are there with those reading so many of the other  longer popular titles (e.g. Percy Jackson or Harry Potter).


4 Comments on Putting a Stop on the Middle Grade Novel’s Increasing Girth, last added: 7/16/2014
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7. My Life as an Illustrator (culminating in Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland)

I started out wanting to be a children’s book illustrator. As a child I was celebrated for my art work, starting in high school I began creating my own illustrations for some of my favorite books and stories, and in college I was an art major, focusing on printmaking. At that time the most scathing criticism was that your work looked  “illustrationy.” And so I did beautiful minimalist engravings and etchings in class and did my illustrations at home, careful to not let anyone in my printmaking world know about them, especially not the instructors — renowned artists themselves — whom I admired tremendously.

From college I went right to Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer. There I taught for a year and then worked as an illustrator for NGOs, creating various educational materials. My biggest project was to create illustrations for a multi-media presentation on bridge and road repair. I learned how to deal with cement, how to fix a hanging bridge, and so much more. I did posters on scabies, on breast feeding, on malaria prevention.  And at home I worked on illustrations for Kipling’s “The Elephant’s Child”, inspired by the gorgeous flora and fauna all around me.

When I returned to the US I considered an MFA in printmaking, but the lack of personal encouragement from my former instructors decided me — I’d stop feeling guilty about my illustration work and focus on that. And so I put together a portfolio and made the rounds (while also working full time as a teacher — I wasn’t brave enough to go free-lance full-time and, besides, I loved teaching).  I taught the legendary editor Janet Schulman’s daughter and she kindly looked at my portfolio, but we both agreed my work was too austere for her books. At Harpers  they held on to my portfolio for a while, but then suggested I do some things to make my art a little too cute for my taste. There were a couple of agents too, but nothing came of it.

Perhaps because of greater recognition for my teaching, work in early educational computing, and critical writing, I lost interest in illustrating. My final work is from 1998 when I had the idea of creating an edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that would be visually annotated for children.  That is, it would have loads of small Richard-Scarry-like-drawings that would help young readers understand the text, even the more antiquated passages.  And then Roxanne Feldman (aka fairrosa) whom I’d met online came to my school.  A savvy web designer, when I asked her if we could put a few of the kids’ drawings of Alice online she said “sure” and ended up putting the whole book online –  the first two and a half chapters illustrated by me and the rest by my 4th grade students. Sadly, a couple of years ago the school reorganized their servers and it is no longer online.

It is rare these days that anyone sees my work (or even knows about it) other than my “Elephant’s Child” illustrations as they are framed and sit over my couch right next to Robert Byrd’s original cover art for Africa is My Home.  Then last night  thinking about my current book project which involves making Alice accessible to young readers today, I remembered those Alice illustrations of mine.  And while I have no wish to continue that project (my focus is on writing now), I thought it might be fun to put them back online for others to see. Perhaps I will, at some point, put up some of my other old illustrations — I did some for Tolkien, L’Engle, and a whole bunch of folk and fairy tales. Meanwhile, if you want to see my efforts at Alice please go here.

 

 


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8. Reading Rainbow, The Doors, and Jimmy Fallon

This is awesome (and from 2012 — how did I miss it?). Via Elizabeth Law.


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9. Walter Dean Myers: There’s Work to Be Done

 

I believe in families, in the strength of families, and that the strength of a people can be determined by the strength of the families within that people. In December of 2015 the black family will have been established legally in the United States for 150 years. It was December, 1865, that the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery became part of the United States Constitution.

What I proposed to my family was an exhibit, to run in the fall of 2015 outlining the trials and triumphs of the American black family in documents….

Slave documents would constitute the first part of the exhibit, with the second part being a celebration of what marriage has meant to us over the years. It would be great if I could get Obama to declare November 1015 A Celebration of Black Families month. Anyone have his personal cell?….

It takes time to mount an exhibit…. It’s a great challenge but I love it. There’s work to be done.

Excerpts from “150 Years of the Black Family,” a May 2014 post on Walter Dean Myer’s blog.


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10. Walter Dean Myers R.I.P.

I think my life is special. In a way it seems odd that I spend all of my time doing only what I love, which is writing or thinking about writing. If everyone had, at least for part of their lives, the opportunity to live the way I do, I think the world would be a better place.

I believe that everyone is intelligent. I believe that everyone can be creative. I like just about everyone I meet. For me, life has been good and it’s up to me to appreciate it. I hope that the next book, story or poem that I write will be worthy of the time the reader spends with it. If it is then my life is successful. If it’s not, then I’ll try again.

The above is from Walter Dean Myers’s website.

The world is a lesser place without this remarkable, brilliant, caring, and —yes— very special man who did seem to like everyone he met.  He touched so many through his books, his public appearances, his personal contacts, and so much more than most individuals can do. I think of him as a mentor as I’m sure countless others do too whether they met him in person or through his books and writing. I will treasure all of those always.

His life was successful. A million times over.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

walter dean myers


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11. Fun and Loathing in Las Vegas (with apologies to Hunter S. Thompson)

We were somewhere around a fake white naked statue (or maybe it was a faux Roman mural or an ersatz Egyptian barge) on the edge of Caesars when the lack of sleep began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit light-headed; maybe you should take another look at your phone…it must be just past that guy in the diaper or the lightly clad girl dancing in a cage over there…” And suddenly we were outside and there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge white wet sheets, all swooping and screeching “Do It” and diving around  the taxi, which was going about a hundred inches an hour what with the Celine Dion concert getting underway.  And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn people?”

Then it was quiet again.  My colleague had taken her sensible sweater off and was pouring green tea from her flask down her gullet. “What the hell are you yelling about?” she muttered, staring up at the sun with her eyes closed and covered with pink publisher swag sunglasses.  “Never mind,” I said and grabbed my Iphone to do a quick Instagram before aiming us toward the not-the-Eiffel-tower Tower.  No point mentioning the sad women selling bottles of cold water, I thought. The poor thing will see them soon enough.

It was almost five, and we still had more than a hundred casinos to go.  They would be tough casinos.  Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But then there was no going back and no time to rest. We would have to tough it out. The 2014 ALA Annual Convention Exhibits were already open and, for good or ill,  we had  to get there to get to grab as many ARCs as our rolling carts could hold.


5 Comments on Fun and Loathing in Las Vegas (with apologies to Hunter S. Thompson), last added: 7/2/2014
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12. Lou Bunin’s Alice in Wonderland

Lou Bunin did a fabulous stop motion Alice in Wonderland film in 1949.  I’ve heard so much about it, but seeing it in total seems to be elusive. (Evidently Disney had a hand in this, wanting his version to be the movie version.) The clip below gives you a taste of why we Carrollians are so eager to get our hands on it. ( This young woman found a French subtitled version — scroll down to see it— that, she indicates, is not complete.)


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13. Africa is My Home: Meet the Author at Teaching Books

I’ve long known of the fantastic resource Teachingbook,net, a subscription service full of original material about young people’s books and their creators. And now I’m so excited to be there too along with Africa is My Home!  Go here to listen to me introduce the book, provide some information about how it came into being, and read some of it. And if you are really curious you can also go here to listen to me say my name and tell a little story about it.


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14. In the Classroom: Parents and Teachers and Children and Homework

I have never been much for homework. Nothing I’ve read indicates it does anything to improve student learning for the 4th graders I teach.  I do require that my students read a minimum of 30 minutes a night, but I try to keep their accountability for that as simple as possible so that the reading doesn’t become a chore.  We also give them a small amount of math to reinforce what they did in school, a bit of word study, and that is pretty much it. What I hope they do away from school is whatever they wish — read more, Legos, soccer, fantasy play (which, I’ve noticed, every year seems to be more vestigial for this age group), video games (they aren’t all bad:), drawing, or just hanging out.

When I do give homework I’m pretty fanatic about the kids doing it on their own. That is, no adults should be involved. I’m not a fan of arty projects where some parents get so involved that the projects look professional while others look exactly like what you would expect a non-dexterous kid’s to look like. And some parents, in my experience, find it impossible not to get involved in a piece of writing. Some kids end up leaning on them for this while others hate it.  The bottom line for me is that any work done at home should be the kid’s 100%. Where the parent CAN help in is encouraging them to do it, find a good/quiet place for it, and otherwise help develop their child’s independence and good study habits.

I was provoked to write this after reading Judith Newman’s New York Times piece,  “But I Want to Do Your Homework: Helping Kids With Homework.”  While what she writes isn’t new, she does it in a wry self-deprecating way. With helicoptering parents finding it hard as hell to stay back, I think there can’t be too many articles like these supporting them in doing so.


3 Comments on In the Classroom: Parents and Teachers and Children and Homework, last added: 6/23/2014
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15. Jude Watson’s Loot

I love me a good caper story. Lighter, smarter, funnier, and a lot less gory than many other sorts of crime fiction, done well, they are great fun to read.  And when a heist is involved, ideally in some exotic locale, all the better.  I’m not an expert by any means, but my favorite of these sorts of stories involve some sort of initiating event and then a super cool and super smart individual assembling and leading a motley crew to steal something from someone who doesn’t deserve to have it in the first place. Say the movies, “How to Steal a Million” or “Ocean’s Eleven.”  Now along comes Jude Watson‘s Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. Her name may not be terribly familiar to you, but what she’s written probably is, say a bunch of the 39 Clues books and many (many) Star War titles. But what caused me to snap up and read this title was when I learned that Jude Watson happens to also be Judy Blundell who wrote the fabulous National Book Award winner What I Saw and How I Lied.

It starts out darkly with a job gone very, very wrong. We meet the teen-ager March McQuinn, who has spent his whole life traveling around with his father, helping him with his cons and heists, mostly homeschooled in a desultory way. Now Alfie McQuinn has fallen off an Amsterdam roof and March is  sitting next to him listening to his dying words, “Find jewels.” The moonstones, the grieving March assumes, seven otherworldly gems that are the central objects of desire in this novel. But it turns out that his father means something else entirely. It seems March has a twin sister named Jules from whom he has been separated his whole life. She, like March, has had an unconventional upbringing and is equally  savvy in  the murky world of con artists and thieves. The two soon meet and end up in a dreary American foster home. There they join forces with two other smart young people and head off to solve the mystery of their father’s death, get those moonstones, and do a whole lot more that is far too complicated to describe in brief, not to mention potentially spoiling if I do. What I can say is that it is loads of fun.

As in the best caper and heist stories, this one is full of snappy dialog, razor-sharp sentences, and clever plotting. The baddies are deliciously nasty and deserve what they get, the kids are endearing, and all in all it is a great edge-of-your seat read.


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16. Val McDermid’s Northanger Abbey

I read Val McDermid’s reinvisioning of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey a while ago, courtesy of one of the egalley sites, and very much enjoyed it. This surprised me because Austen’s original is perhaps my least favorite of her novels, but McDermid pulls this new version off glowingly.

First of all, a well-known writer of adult crime fiction, McDermid does an excellent job with her sentence-level writing — that light wit and cleverness of Austen is nicely channelled. Having read a number of mediocre attempts to update Austen, this mattered to me enormously.  And then, she plays most amusingly with the recent obsession so many young woman had with the Twilight novels, a clever updating of Austen’s original heroine’s obsession with gothic romances.  Finally, she uses Edinburgh during the Book Festival as stand-in for the original’s Bath. Last summer, I was there for the first time and fell in love with the city and event. And so I can say for sure that McDermid does a lovely job capturing the sensibility of that time and location.

Now I’m delighted to see that Jo Baker, whose own Austen reinvisioning, Longbourn, was rightly celebrated last year (my review here), has enthusiastically reviewed this title for the New York Times.  She concludes:

Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” was in part a playful response to what she considered “unnatural” in the novels of her day: Instead of perfect heroes, heroines and villains, she offers flawed, rounded characters who behave naturally and not just according to the demands of the plot. So while everything in Austen is made up, nothing is ever a lie. McDermid’s writing has a similar honesty: She doesn’t let easy clichés or stereotypes slip by. In her crime fiction, the situations may be extreme, but her characters are human. This is also true of her “Northanger Abbey.” It may be an adaptation of someone else’s novel, which itself is woven with references to other, earlier books, but nothing feels forced, nothing feels untrue. McDermid makes it very much her own, although any skeletons in the cupboards remain strictly metaphorical.


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17. Summer Reading Suggestions from My Fourth Graders

Well, they won’t be “my” fourth graders after tomorrow. That is when we have our annual Arch Day when students go through an arch “and into the next grade.”  That said, today they are still fourth graders, great readers who, when I asked for some summer reading suggestions for their peers, had a great time.

The rules were the suggestions had to come from their independent reading choices; that meant they couldn’t list books I’d read to them or others they’d read for class projects.  Being avid readers, this wasn’t a problem. In fact, what was a problem for some was limiting their list to ten!  What I love is how the lists show what wide-ranging readers they are. You will see that one moment they are reading very sophisticated books and at the next something young and light.

Follow this link to my school’s open blog  to see some from each child’s list  to give you a taste of their wide reading range and to use when looking for books for children in your own environment.

 

 


1 Comments on Summer Reading Suggestions from My Fourth Graders, last added: 6/12/2014
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18. Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year

Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature‘s 2014 edition of their Best Children’s Books of the Year is now out. Here’s a description from their announcement:

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014 Edition includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in 2013. In choosing books for the annual list, committee members consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes.

Here are links to their honorees in the different age groups:

*Thank you Children’s Book Committee for including Africa is My Home on this list.

 


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19. Three New Picture Books

Chris Raschka’s The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening.  I’m a Raschka fan from way back. The range and variety of his work is astounding. Among my favorites are three featuring jazz musicians: Charlie Parker Played Be Bop,  John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, and Mysterious Thelonious.  Now along comes Raschka’s appreciation of Sun Ra and it is marvelous as the others. Sun Ra was one wild dude and Raschka captures his originality in words and images. Not just his life, but the sense and feeling of his music. Gorgeous.

Jose Manual Mateo’s Migrant.  This is a remarkable book providing a highly original look at those migrating across our southern border.  This story of a young Mexican migrant is told in English and Spanish and spectacularly illustrated in the style of a Mayan codex, folding out in a frieze so that young readers can explore the story in a wide variety of ways. Spectacular.

Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham’s A Home for Mr. Emerson is a gentle and profound portrayal of a remarkable man. Kerley has managed to write in spare and poetic text a lovely view of Emerson in a way that is perfect for a young audience. Fortheringham’s illustrations provide a lighthearted and fond view that perfectly compliment the text.

 

 

 

 

 


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20. Children’s Literature New England’s Fall Symposium

Some of the most transformational learning experiences I have ever had occurred at the summer institutes held for years by CLNE (Children’s Literature New England).  I started going in 1999 and didn’t miss a single one until they ended in 2006. I was blown away by them. First of all, the speakers! Not only were they some of the biggest names in the field, but their speeches were amazing. All of them. This was because the organizers saw to it that those speaking knew their audience and prepared accordingly.  But then there were the discussion groups, focusing on a set of books we’d been required to read, field trips, informal times, and more. It was during those summers that I made some important and life-long friendships. CLNE took hold of me and never let go.  And so I can’t recommend enough their forthcoming symposium, “Writing the Past: Yesterday was Once Today” to be held at Vermont College of Fine Arts, November 14-16, 2014. It is bound to be amazing. Here’s the overview:

In the myriad ways the past is presented to young readers, including history, fiction, biography, memoir, poetry and historical fantasy, what questions are raised? For audiences with short personal histories, programmed to look forward, what is the point of looking back? How trapped are readers, young and old, in their own times? Can a novel be more authentic than an historian’s account of the same period? What are the demands of writing, illustrating and reading about our own past or a time before our own? At Writing the Past, we will explore such concerns as authenticity, intention, credibility and narrative voice. In recreating yesterday as today, how does the writer avoid the slippery wisdom of hindsight? Most importantly, by reaching into the past what do we reveal, deliberately or inadvertently, about ourselves?

Presenters at the Symposium will include: M. T. Anderson, Susan Cooper, Sarah Ellis, Shane Evans, Jack Gantos, Katherine Paterson, Elizabeth Partridge, Neal Porter, Leda Schubert, Barbara Scotto, Brian Selznick, Robin Smith, Suzanne Fisher Staples, and Deborah Taylor.

For more details and to register go here.


1 Comments on Children’s Literature New England’s Fall Symposium, last added: 5/27/2014
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21. An Interstitial Moment: Pig not Fig

I am a lousy speller even in the best of times, but on a small Iphone with autocorrect my poor spelling and poor typing results in many errors. It is particularly vexing with twitter because tweets are so ephemeral and not easily corrected.  Yesterday I made one that gave me, a Lewis Carroll fan, some amusement. I was tweeting away at Candlewick’s fall preview when I did this one:

pigfig

The correct title is Sam and David Dig a Hole and so first of all, my apologies to Candlewick, Mac Barnett, and Jon Klassen.  It is Dig not Fig and Dave not Dace. But I have to say this error for once made me smile as it made me think of this passage from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

 

`Did you say pig, or fig?’ said the Cat.

`I said pig,’ replied Alice; `and I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.’

`All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

 

 


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22. Coming Soon: Gregory Maguire’s Egg & Spoon

Gregory Maguire’s Egg & Spoon is a rich and layered story, full of gorgeous images and sentences, a matryoshka doll sort of tale. That is, like those nested dolls that show up themselves in the story, this book involves bits and pieces of stories, one inside the other and then coming out again. We begin meeting Elana Rudina, a peasant girl starving in a village with a dead father, a dying mother, a brother taken off to serve the Tsar, and the other as a servant for the local landowner. One day, out of nowhere, a train appears containing the wealthy Ekaterina, another young girl, this one wealthy, on  her way to visit the Tsar in St. Petersburg.  Things take off from this point — journeys, mistaken identities, magical eggs, magical beings, mysterious monks, a prince, a magical festival, the Tsar, and — most wonderful of all, Baba Yaga and her house on chicken feet. This fabulous witch of Russian folklore is a fabulously written character,  funny, scary, wry, and just about everything possible in Maguire’s capable hands. At moments she reminded me of some of Diane Wynne Jones’ similarly gorgeously cranky and wonderful characters.

The plot is unique and complex, swirling around in highly unusual directions. It is staying with me and the more I mull it over the more I love it. Kids who are able and flexible readers, those with a predilection for older books of complexity and rich language and the ability to go with it wherever it goes will love it too I think. The child characters are delightful, brave and smart and complicated. And those magical characters — wow. This made me think of so many classical books I have loved over the years. Fairy tales galore, Russian and Scandinavian, especially, but other tales too — at one moment I thought of a favorite of my childhood, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. A unique and wonderful read.


1 Comments on Coming Soon: Gregory Maguire’s Egg & Spoon, last added: 5/29/2014
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23. A Few BEA Moments

While I did not make it to the Javits itself this year to participate in the heady event that is  BookExpo (nor will I get there today for the associated Book Con), I did make it to some related events. (Warning: lots of name dropping and gushing follows.)

On Tuesday I went to Candlewick’s preview and got very excited with their enthusiastic presentation of their fall books. One faux pas on my part: when some Toon Books books were passed out for us to look at while Françoise Mouly spoke about them, I tweeted the following before I understood I couldn’t KEEP the one I had and then felt a little silly when I got a particular response to it. Ah well, I’ll get the book soon enough!

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Wednesday was SLJ’s Day of Dialog.  The programming, as always, was fabulous.  Kudos to SLJ for keeping the numbers down. While this may frustrate those who are shut-out of going it makes for a relatively intimate event unlike BEA.  More about this year’s event here, here, and here.  And here are a few of my tweets and photos:

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On Thursday I went to the Random House party where I had an interesting celebrity moment.  Now there were some awesomely famous writers at the event. It was fun, for instance, to catch up with Raquel (R. J. Palacio) and chat about the incredibly fun project she is doing with Tom Angleberger and Adam Gidwitz — the retelling the first three Star Wars movies. But first I made a bee line for the latest actress-turned-children’s-book-author, Jane Lynch.  Just because I watched the first few seasons of Glee mainly because of her wonderful portrayal of Sue Sylvester.  And so when I saw her iconic face I couldn’t resist talking to her and getting a photo (with my friend Roxanne Feldman).  She was, not unexpectedly, lovely. I hope her book is too!

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After that I went to a very special dinner with Peachtree Publishers where I met Carmen Agra Deedy who, along with Randall Wright, wrote one of my absolute favorite books of 2011, The Cheshire Cheese Cat and the book’s illustrator, the incredible illustrator, Barry Moser.  Being able to talk at length  with these two and Peachtree’s fabulous publisher, Margaret Quinlin, (an Alice-phile, I discovered) was a complete thrill.

And last night, Friday, I went to a party for Candlewick staff, authors, and illustrators of which I’m now one (which I still can’t always believe!) at the very-appropriately-chosen Library Hotel. Had a great time chatting with various wonderful Candlewick folk. I have to admit being especially touched when Kate DiCamillo asked me how school was as she remembered our conversation at the same party last year when I was very glum about some tough social stuff that had been happening with my class. She has a remarkable memory in addition to being just incredibly empathetic in person as well as in her books.

So that is BEA for me this year. (It was unfortunately the same set of days as my 40th college reunion so I had to miss a cocktail party with Anna Quinlan — one of my classmates — on Thursday and a gala dinner last night. So today I’m catching up with an old friend in town for it.)


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24. Reinventing the Bookstore

When online shopping offers choice, convenience and competitive prices, why would anyone go to an actual shop? To try on clothes, perhaps. To sit on sofas or lie on beds. But if you’re after music, film or books, you’re more likely to go straight to the internet. In the digital age, bricks-and-mortar shops have to work much harder to attract our attention, let alone custom. Brands rip out and refit their stores every few years: interior design is, clearly, already crucial to their fortunes. But could design go further, and lure us away from our tablets and back onto the high street?

Curious to explore this territory, we asked four leading architecture and design practices to create a shop. Specifically, in the age of Amazon and e-books, a bookshop to save bookshops.

Four British architect and design firms were invited to reinvent the brick and mortar bookstore. Read about their results here.


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25. New Trailer for The Giver Movie

This one (unlike the first one) addresses color as per the book. Whew.


1 Comments on New Trailer for The Giver Movie, last added: 6/5/2014
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