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Providing children's literature news and reviews for the elementary school crowd: librarians, teachers, and you. scopenotes@gmail.com
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1. Covering the Newbery (#14): Dobry

1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon

Early Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: I don’t mind this one. It connects, in an abstract way, with the story of a peasant boy who aspires to be a sculptor. It does, however, fall into the current silhouette craze. Points deducted.

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1934: Invincible Louisa

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

1932: Waterless Mountain

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven


1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

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2. Link Du Jour: Top 10 Graphic Novels

Booklist recently announced their list of the Top 10 Graphic Novels for youth, and you have to give them points for originality. While there’s a couple titles on the list you might know (The Unsinkable Walker Bean, Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty), I’m willing to bet my cardigan (well, maybe an item of equal value) that there are a few you weren’t aware of. And really, isn’t that what makes a like this worth it? I’m off to find a copy of Return of the Dapper Men. Click here (or the image below) to read.



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3. Link Du Jour: Watch/Cringe As Celebrities Make Children’s Books

As you may have heard, there was a memorable meeting of pop culture and children’s lit this week on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice. The contestants were tasked with creating a children’s book and boy did it entertain – often for completely unintentional reasons. Click below to watch.



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4. Poetry Friday: The Mix-Up

On the first day of National Poetry Month (April 1st), I’m hosting a gallery of book spine poems (or centos, if you want to get technical) submitted by you. If you give it the ol’ college try, take a picture and post it to your blog, or send it my way via email (scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com). Click here for some tips on creating your own. If you try it with kids, send those in too – I’m also putting up a gallery of student work on April 1st, which I’ll add to for the entire month.

In preparation for the big day, I’m posting a new book spine cento every Friday in March. I used books from my daughter’s library for today’s entry, and it’s one of my favorites. Best read by two voices – one voice for the first three lines, another for the last two:

Be sure to check out the Poetry Friday roundup at a wrung sponge.



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5. Cover Curiosity: Bag It

Is your cover in need of something to make it stand out? Bag it.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day by Ann Hodgman

Zitface by Emily Howse

Any to add?



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6. Poetry Friday: Odd Smell

April 1st is a mere two weeks away, bringing with it the glory that is National Poetry Month. On that day I’ll be hosting a gallery of book spine poems (or centos) submitted by you. Interested in getting in on the action? If you give it a try, take a picture and email it to me (scopenotes at gmail dot com) or post it to your blog and let me know.

For those who want to try it with kids, I’ll also put up a students-only gallery on April 1 and add to it for the entire month.

How do you create a book spine poem? Click here to read my tips.

I’m posting a new cento of my own every Friday until April 1, and today is no exception. Here goes:

Be sure to check out the Poetry Friday roundup at Liz in Ink.



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7. Scenes from World Read Aloud Day



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8. Morning Notes: eBook Millionaire Edition

TODAY, THE WORLD READS

I like special days where the method of celebration is clearly described in the title. Take today’s special day, for example – World Read Aloud Day. Grab a book and read it out loud – to your class, your child, yourself. Click here for details.

DOCTOR SEUSS, MORE DIRECTLY

What was Seuss really saying with his classic books? Click here for the answer.

(Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link)

NOW HEAR THIS (PODCAST)

Have you subscribed to author/illustrator Katie Davis’s podcast yet? It would do ye some good, as Davis consistently interviews children’s lit luminaries and provides reviews from the likes of Jennifer Hubert Swan (Reading Rants) and Betsy Bird (A Fuse #8 Production). This week, she interviews Terry Doherty (of Reading Tub fame) and even kindly shouts out my Covering the Newbery project.  Click here to download.

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein. On shelves September 2011.

Chances are you’ve already seen this one, as it’s been making the rounds pretty swiftly this week. Clear space on the shelf.

Based on the massive hype surrounding every step The Hunger Games takes towards theaters, I’m predicting a modest to larger-than-predicted hit for this adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel. Click the image above for the inside word on casting.

(Thanks to Omnivoracious for the link)

The interesting tale of an eBook success story. Click the tweet above to read.

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9. Cover Curiosity: Cons-istantly Covered

It almost feels redundant to mention it, but Converse All-Stars are about the biggest thing going in middle grade/YA cover trends right now. It makes sense – they’re so uniquely versatile, with the ability to span generations and look hip at every stop. Let’s spy some recent examples:

The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone

Tales of a Madman Underground by John Barnes

The Wednesday Wars (paperback edition) by Gary D. Schmidt

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Love and Other Things I’m Bad At by Catherine Clark

They Come From Below by Blake Nelson

Totally Joe by James Howe

I’m sure I missed a few here – any to add?



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10. Covering the Newbery (#13): Invincible Louisa

1934: Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs

Early Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: I like it! Will kids? No! Your thoughts?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

1932: Waterless Mountain

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven


1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow

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11. Link Du Jour: Matilda and the eBook

In a beautiful mash-up of the Roald Dahl classic Matilda and the current ebook revolution, author/illustrator Aaron Renier (The Unsinkable Walker Bean) crafts a comic strip that digital dissenters and aficionados alike should take a look at. Excellent stuff.

Click here (or the image above) to read it at Unshelved.



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12. Poetry Friday: The Genius

On April 1st, I want to kick off National Poetry Month with the bang it deserves.

But I’m gonna need your help.

I’ll post a new book spine cento here every Friday in March. On Friday, April 1st I’ll put up a gallery with your submissions. Click here for more information on creating your own book spine poem.

Give it a try, snap a photo, and send it my way (scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com) or post it to your blog and let me know.

Here’s my first March poem:

Be sure to check out the Poetry Friday roundup at The Small Nouns.



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13. Let the Countdown to National Poetry Month Commence!

April is National Poetry Month, or as I call it ’round these parts, National (Book Spine) Poetry Month. I actually do the air parentheses and everything. Last year, inspired by the amazing work of Nina Katchadourian, I tried my hand at creating a book spine cento. Here were the results:

I also encouraged all comers to give it a shot as well, and was amazed by what I saw.

Click here to view the book spine poetry gallery

Let’s kick off National Poetry Month in style. Create your own book spine poem, snap a picture, and send it my way (scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com) or post it to your blog and let me know. Starting tomorrow, I’ll post one of my book spine centos every Friday for the month of March. On Friday, April 1st, I’ll post a gallery with all of the entries I receive from you.

Here are my tips for creating a book spine cento

  1. Check out last year’s book spine poem gallery for inspiration.
  2. Get to  a place with plenty of books. A library works nicely. Or a large home collection.
  3. Start looking at titles, and see what strikes you. Arrange and rearrange in your head. The best part of this type of poetry is the fact that you don’t know where you’ll end up.
  4. Have a pencil and paper with you to write down titles that stand out – you can refer back to them later.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use the library catalog to look up titles with specific words or phrases that fit.

Do you want to try book spine poetry with your students during April? I’ll post a second gallery on April 1st exclusively for student poems, and add to it for the entire month.

Click here to view last year’s awesome student book spine poetry gallery

So create your own, send it my way, and see your work in these here pages on April 1st.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with.



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14. Review: Look Who’s There! / What Do You See? by Martine Perrin

Look Who’s There!
What Do You See?
By Martine Perrin
Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN: 9780807576762; 9780807567128
$8.99
Ages 0-3
In Stores

I don’t tend to notice board books all that much.

This time, I noticed.

Originally published in France, Martine Perrin’s Look Who’s There! and What Do You See? have a look and interactive quality that immediately grabbed my attention. The same will be true for youngsters.

Look Who’s There! is about the natural world, each spread focusing on a different animal hiding behind something in its environment:

What Do You See? is a series of scenes combining object and animals, highlighting cause and effect:

The artwork and design steal the show here. Dramatic die cuts adorn every spread, encouraging readers to find out what’s next. Both books have a modern, geometric look that focuses attention. Color is used effectively, with each scene employing two contrasting hues. This gives every page an individuality that kids will remember.

Beautifully executed and entertaining from front to back, Look Who’s There! and What Do You See? are the kind of books that become favorites.

Review copies from publisher

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.



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15. Morning Notes: Odd Duck Edition

INDIES CHOICE/E.B. WHITE READ-ALOUD NOMINEES ANNOUNCED

I’m especially curious to see who wins the Middle Reader category, as it is loaded with talent. Click here to read.

GO FLY YOUR GOLDEN KITE

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators recently dished out their Golden Kite and Sid Fleishman awards. Some great choices to be seen. Click here to check out the winners.

(Thanks to A Fuse #8 Production for the link)

FEEL FREE TO SLEEP ON THIS BOOK

Photographer Yusuke Suzuki gives new meaning to the term “bedtime book”:

(Thanks to NOTCOT.ORG for the link)

Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers. On shelves June 28, 2011

Looks like we have a good ol’ blockbuster in the wings. Fun activity: put this on the shelf and see how long  it is before you see it again.

Watch. Connect. Read. Has a great roundup of resources related to this and other books by Dav Pilkey. There’s even a video of Pilkey himself, which marks the first time I’ve ever laid eyes on the guy. Click here to check it out.

It would take a lot for me to give up the Dewey Decimal system for classifying books. It’s just…so…organized. But there are those shooting for a more bookstore feel. Click the image above to read.

Over the weekend, I p

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16. Review: Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj

Cat Secrets
By Jef Czekaj
Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 9780061920882
$16.99
Grades K-2
In Stores

On a purely technical level every book engages the reader, right? The act of reading or listening demands at least a small amount of participation. Then you run into a book like Cat Secrets, which shows the heights to which engaging can go, as it pulls kids into its participatory tractor beam. Confidently stepping into territory Mo Willems has been dominating in recent years, Cat Secrets takes a wrecking ball to the fourth wall and speaks directly to its audience. An audience that will be quite delighted.

Can you prove you’re a cat? Because that’s what you’ll have to do if you want to read Cat Secrets. Non-felines are not allowed. A trio of suspicious cats guard the book, and aren’t going to let just anyone crack the cover. They administer a couple tests to determine if the reader is a cat. Meowing and purring ensue, but the third and final test (napping) proves to be the cats undoing, as they can’t help but take a snooze themselves, leaving their book of secrets up for grabs.

The simplistic cartoon illustrations are an excellent match for the comedic text, creating a unified mood that screams funny. Bold colors coat every surface, with minimal backgrounds to focus attention (as if it were needed) on our main characters.

The conclusion is more calm then expected and no actual secrets are revealed – aspects that, while lending contrast and continuing the mystery, make the ending seem slightly abrupt.

Well-suited for read aloud settings, Cat Secrets will find plenty of kids eager to join in he fun.

Review copy from library.

Watch the book trailer for Cat Secrets:

Also reviewed by Bigfoot Reads, Muse Reviews, Outside of a Dog.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.



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17. Covering the Newbery (#12): Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

On Mondays I’m doing my darnedest to re-cover every book that has won the Newbery Medal. Let’s take a look at our latest candidate…

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

Original Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: Hmm, I like the bold colors of the redo, but overall I’m not a huge fan this time out. What do you think?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1932: Waterless Mountain

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven


1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow

1928: Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

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18. What Do You Do When an eBook Won’t Die?

HarperCollins recently made news for proposing a 26 checkout limit on their ebooks from public libraries.

Click here to read the article in Library Journal.

GalleyCat also covered the story.

This is crazy, right?

The blog Librarian in Black thinks so.

Same goes for BoingBoing.

Check out #hcod on Twitter for more reactions.

One one hand, basic ownership rights seem to apply. When a library buys a book, they own it, right? It isn’t the fault of libraries that ebooks never die. I like the idea that if we purchase a Beezus and Ramona ebook for my library, we own it forever. Well, ebooks are a bit different, as you don’t actually “own” an ebook – just the license for one.

But I can see where HarperCollins is coming from in terms of wanting to maintain the status quo.

I recently re-purchased almost every Ramona title for two of my school libraries. They were getting on in years, grungy, and were in need of a cover refresh. This sort of thing goes on at every library around the country. It isn’t a scam – the books break down over time or start to look dated and new copies are needed.

Now imagine if every Ramona book, at every library, never needed to be purchased again. No matter your opinion on ebooks, that’s a huge change.

But this 26 checkout business reminds me a little of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron – it feels like an artificial handicap that can’t last.

Where do you stand?

(Top Image: ‘eBook Readers Galore‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/43017881@N00/5052936803)



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19. Morning Notes: Cybils TV Edition

MARTIN AMIS, HATER

It seems crazy to me how dismissive some can be toward children’s books. Controversy erupted this week when adult author Martin Amis stated in an interview that ‘If [he] had a serious brain injury [he] might well write a children’s book’. While I don’t think Amis speaks for all authors writing for adults, I also don’t think his sentiment is wildly atypical. What do you say? I enjoyed Philip Nel’s recap and response to the controversy at his blog Nine Kinds of Pie. Click here to read.

MARGARET MCELDERRY 1912-2011

Influential children’s publisher Margaret McElderry has passed away. Click here to read her New York Times obituary.

AN EBOOK, MINUS THE ‘E’

Your oddity of the day – a printed book with “hyperlinks” created with colored thread. Click here to read.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for the link)

SUPPORT LM_NET

In my traveling as a school librarian, I’ve found the wealth of knowledge on LM_NET immensely useful. Now the popular school librarian listserv is facing some financial trouble. Click here to learn more.

(Thanks to Blue Skunk Blog for the link)

OWLY INK

That’s devotion.

(Thanks to PopCandy for the link)

Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. Currently #1 on the New York Times Children’s Picture Books bestseller list.

Like it or not, the –licious saga continues. The latest in the series nabs the top spot. Click here to read the entire list.

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20. Cover Curiosity: It’s a Hit

An agreeable side effect of featuring cover lookalikes is that I occasionally find a suggestion in my inbox. Today’s Cover Curiosity is a perfect example. With credit and thanks to Cindy Dobrez, school librarian and Bookends blogger (a site you should be reading if you aren’t already), I bring you a possible trend in the making (and one that I quite fancy):

Cover #1:

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

And cover #2

I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson

Side by Side:

The similarities here are pretty clear – and you’ll get no complaints from me.

Did I miss any that fit in this group?

On a related note, how do you feel about UK cover for I Think I Love You?



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21. Library Slang Dictionary: Shelf Candy

Shelf Candy

-noun

1. A book that has an eye-catching cover, but is poorly written.

Ooh – that looks like a good book.

Don’t bother dude – it’s total shelf candy. Worst book I’ve ever read.



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22. Covering the Newbery (#11): Waterless Mountain

Another Monday, another Newbery cover gets redone. I’m attempting to freshen up each and every Newbery winner, you see, starting at the start and working my way up to modern times. How did things turn out this go-round? Let’s have a look…

1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer

Early Cover:

My Redo:

Side by Side:

Verdict: It looks updated, but still could use a bit of excitement I think. What say you?

Read Previous Covering the Newbery Posts:

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven


1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow

1928: Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

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23. Morning Notes: Paparazzi in the Library Edition

NEW BOOKS (NOT) JUST AROUND THE CORNER

Publishers Weekly has a fine (and impressively thorough) roundup of Fall 2011 children’s book releases. Click here to identify your favorites.

JOIN THE BOOK BATTLE

The books and judges are set for School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids Books (beginning March 14). Resident children’s lit data wizard Eric Carpenter has created a Bracket Challenge, where you can predict the winners. I just completed mine (go One Crazy Summer!) and all comers are welcome. Click here to fill out your bracket.

MOST INEXPLICABLE BOOK-RELATED ITEM ON AMAZON EVER

I actually don’t think I’m using hyperbole here, folks. Click the image below to check out the appropriately named Vintage Primitive Book Lot Bundle Antique Shabby Chick Bunch Grungy Distressed Wizards Den Witches Study:

PAPARAZZI IN THE LIBRARY

If celeb-culture obsessed parents get a look at these images of Tom Cruise and his daughter in a Vancouver Library, expect circulations for Jonathan London’s excellent Froggy Gets Dressed to go through the roof. Click here to read.

‘LOST’ ENID BLYTON BOOK UNEARTHED

Real headline alert! The late children’s lit legend had Mr. Tumpy’s Caravan under her hat. Click here to read.

AUTHOR SUES BOOK REVIEWER

I kid not. Click here to read.

(Thanks to Read Roger for the link)

CELEBRATE SEUSS

On February 26th from 9-11am, every Target store will host a Dr. Seuss storytime. Nothing wrong with that. Click here for more information.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. Currently #7 on the New York Times Chapter Book Bestsellers list.

The Newbery bump finally got around to Heart of a Samurai, push

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24. Video: Organizing the Bookcase

Stop motion has always been my animation of choice. It routinely beats out CGI in the character department. This pleasingly lo-tech method is used below to create one of the best book videos I’ve seen in a while. Many thanks to author Debbie Diesen for the link.



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25. A Children’s Literature Breakfast

Last weekend I traveled to Chicago to attend Anderson’s Bookshops 9th Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast.

Here’s how the morning went down:

Actually, I should start with the night before…

11:00pm – Motown Night at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. Loud and great. And loud.

Okay, now the day…

5:30am – Riiiiiiing! What’s that you say? I can’t hear you over my ringing ears. I question my decision to hang out in front of the huge speakers the night before. This may be a problem.

6:45 – MapQuested directions in hand, I head out to Naperville, IL.

7:30 – Dang, the Chicago suburbs are spread out. I arrive at the banquet hall expecting to see a pretty big group of people. I see a huge group of people. Lesson learned – never underestimate the draw of Weird Al.

7:35 – I meet up with fellow school librarian and Chicagoland local John Schumacher (he of the must-follow Twitter account @MrSchuReads and excellent blog Watch. Connect. Read.). He is also, thankfully, good at saving seats. The inevitable Anderson’s Bookshop swag (filled with all manner of poster, bookmark, button, and sticker):

7:45 – What do you know? It turns out I’m sitting at a whole table of Twitter folks. Here we are, not tweeting:

@100scopenotes @mindi_r @akgal68 @mentortexts @mrschureads

(Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts for the photo)

7:55 – I realize that author Tim Green is sitting at our table – my students love his books. I ask him if any other former NFL players have ever approached him about getting into the writing biz. He says “no”. Indeed the path from sports star to author is not a common one.

8:10 – I realize that Order of the Odd Fish author James Kennedy is scheduled to talk about his 90 Second Newbery project at the end of the event – nice!

8:20 – Words in the Dust author Trent Reedy is the first of five keynote speakers. He talks about the military service in Afghanistan and the true events that led to him writing his debut novel. A moving account.

8:45 – Anderson’s emplyees Jan Dundon and Kathleen March share a few of their favorite recent books, including Cat Secrets, A Pet for Petunia, Young Fredle, and Small Persons with Wings. I am instantly inspired to buy a bunch of books.

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