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Right from the title, I had a hunch that this would be an excellent book. Why? Haven’t most of us while growing up daydreamed about being “the star of the team”? It’s a universal desire. Then I read the dedication, which I always do to find out where the author’s heart is. After I read Beverly Stowe McClure’s dedication, I knew this would be one of her best efforts as a writer ever. I wasn’t wrong.
Because the basketball action was described perfectly—plenty of action, and no needless words, I knew that I was on the right path for a good read. Right on that first page I was introduced to many of the important characters, and one of the book’s major conflicts. One line stood out showing how well the author knows kids and how to appeal to their reading taste: “She looked as if she’d swallowed up a bug and was about to puke the thing up.” Now, I knew my granddaughter, Megan, would love this book because a little grossness goes a long way with young readers.
Good writing goes a long way, too. This novel is action-packed from the get-go. I think that Beverly Stowe McClure is half author, half sportscaster, and half star basketball player, (I hope you caught a little humor there.) But what I said is absolutely true. The author really knows the game of basketball, and kids. Those are two elements that really make this book a fun-read,
Speaking of humor, that’s another quality of the book: it is laced with humor along the way to the championship game. And Kate struggles with staying true to her good values or being narrow-minded and negative. We are never sure how it’s all going to turn out, especially after she has a major setback. And the author provides us with a number of surprises before we sit down for the final game of the season.
I liked all of the characters, especially Kate, Emily, Coach Mom and Ray. They always talk like real people, thus creating very believable characters and a story to remember. There are lessons to be gathered from this novel. They reveal themselves in a subtle way as you read the book, lessons that I hope all my grandchildren know such as: life is a team sport.
For a truly superlative, clear-eyed review of How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, I beg you to read Ann Friedman's review for the New York Times Book Review. Read on for my somewhat personal, reflective, rambling review that is really a thank you, tribute and plea to get everyone to like (and share) the writing of brilliant, funny, articulate women like Moran - and Tina Fey, (Tina, if you
If you are fond of anecdotes and children's literature, pick up WILD THINGS! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature, written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter D. Sieruta. Packed from cover-to-cover with funny stories and little known facts about famous authors, secret feuds, inspired illustrations, and classic characters, this is a great resource for readers and writers alike.
This fun book contains true tales, the stories behind the stories. If you've read up on your favorite classic authors, you may already be familiar with some of these occurrences, such as the chapters and characters cut from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but there are also plenty of things that aren't widely known, as well as gems that are worth repeating. One of my favorite sidebars detailed the time author Richard Michelson was mistaken for Leonard Nimoy - while having dinner for the real Leonard Nimoy, whom the fans thought was his father.
The real lives of beloved authors and the inspiration behind the books we know and love can be surprising. WILD THINGS shares funny bits as well as sad stories: the authors who remained closeted for most if not all of their lives, worried it would affect their book sales and public image; the books which were not championed or honored until after the writers had passed away; the ghostwriters who never got their due; the illustrators who purposely added details to their artwork which may or may not have been appropriate; the authors who had multiple career paths, intertwined or wholly separate; the people who felt overshadowed by others in their field; and those who were not pleased with their celebrity status, preferring to stay below the radar.
WILD THINGS! was clearly written with respect and appreciation not only for stories but for storytellers. The trio of researchers, Bird, Danielson, and Sieruta, are also reviewers and bloggers. They know their books and know their audience, and in this volume, they acknowledge the work and the lives of a plethora of authors, ranging from Louisa May Alcott to J.K. Rowling, from Kay Thompson to Lemony Snicket. Give this book to your favorite children's librarians and literature buffs - they will dig it.
Learn more about the book and watch exclusive interviews with various authors and artists at http://wildthings.blaine.org
Read my interview with Julie Danielson and Betsy Bird.
Rose is a high-functioning autistic fifth grader who loves homonyms and her dog, Rain. When her father lets Rain out one stormy night, Rose begins to search for her missing dog — which sets off a chain of unexpected events. A candid, sophisticated, empowering read. Books mentioned in this post Rain Reign Ann M. Martin [...]
In a follow-up to the wildly popular Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi once again proves that vegetables can be much more than an unappetizing side dish hastily steamed in the microwave. These beautifully photographed, flavorful recipes are an inspiration to those wishing to eat healthier in the age of the "vegi-renaissance." Books mentioned in this post Plenty [...]
Be Neil Patrick Harris — the actor, magician, father, husband, son, and sandwich-shop employee — in his choose-you-own-adventure autobiography. Even if you don't know who Doogie Howser or Barney Stinson are (be honest, you do), you'll love NPH's entertaining and irreverent look at Hollywood, parenthood, and his own idiosyncratic fame. Books mentioned in this post [...]
A compassionate look at how the medical industry currently handles aging, terminal illness, and end-of-life issues. Often medical professionals ignore quality of life, or a person's overall well-being, in favor of more treatments. There are no easy answers, but our reluctance to address these issues has not helped us to make more informed choices. Books [...]
You are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable...
-- There's more. Listen to the entire piece as performed by the author:
If you can't see the video player above, you may watch video on YouTube or Vimeo.
My favorite lines of the poem arrive at the end:
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.
- For Women Who Are Difficult to Love by Warsan Shire
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
Star Wars Reads Day (in schools) IS TODAY!!!
Look for nationwide events in libraries & bookstores tomorrow also . . .
Click here for more details
By now, many of you may of a certain age and state of parenthood should have received or given a copy of Jeffrey Brown's books Darth Vader and Son and/or Vader's Little Princess on Father's Day, Christmas or another gift giving
I love Matt Phelan. His graphi novels tackle serious, intriguing subjects while preserving a sense of playfulness that takes center stage in the picture books that he illustrates. Druthers, Phelan's newest picture book (and, if I did my research accurately, his first picture book as author and illustrator) is perfectly playful and especially sweet.
It's a rainy day and Penelope has
I read and reviewed my first Bob Graham book back in 2010 and have been amazed and delighted by everything he does since then. His newest book, Vanilla Ice Cream, is no exception. Graham is a miniaturist with a global vision, a deeply gifted storyteller and a gentle, subtle teacher.
Vanilla Ice Cream begins in the heat and dust of India with Annisha and Suhani, who are playing
While India and Pakistan are locked in a deadly struggle, strange things begin to happen around the world. Animals behave oddly, a teenager drowns on dry land. Child psychologist Caitlin O'Hara is seeing some of these behaviors in her practice. Could the events be connected? The truth is out there, but will she find it [...]
Isaacson's incredible retrospective of the digital revolution over the last 200 years not only offers great insight into the minds of the inventors, but also focuses on the surprising amount of collaboration that allowed many of the ideas to succeed. Whether you're a true technogeek or simply interested in human behavior and history, The Innovators [...]
Adelina is scarred from a disease and has become an abomination in her world. Gaining a mysterious, powerful gift, she joins the outcasts of the Young Elites to battle the wickedness of her Kingdom and the darkness in her heart. Following the Legend trilogy, this series is full of the same promise. Books mentioned in [...]
The Star Wars trilogy — retold in picture book format! Written by Tony DiTerlizzi and illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie's concept art. Now a new generation can thrill to Luke's adventures, escape in the Millennium Falcon, and defeat the evil Empire. Books mentioned in this post Star Wars the Adventures of Luke... Tony DiTerlizzi Sale Hardcover [...]
Through a brilliant melding of science and philosophy, "The father of sociobiology" boldly tackles humanity's biggest questions — namely, what is our role on earth, and how can we continue to evolve as a species? Wilson's writing style is accessible as always, and his passion and empathy continue to push us toward greater levels of [...]
Set in 19th-century New Zealand amidst the frenzy of a gold rush, Catton's stunningly ambitious novel pays homage to Victorian masterpieces but is far from traditional. The characters and structure are ruled by the Zodiac, and as the chapters wane in size, powers shift and revelations multiply. A flawlessly executed literary achievement and winner of [...]
STAR WARS READS III
is October 10 (in schools) &
October 11 (in libraries & bookstores)
For more info visit:
Star Wars Reads Day on Facebook
Look for great events at your local
bookstores & libraries, or host your own with these awesome ACTIVITY PAGES!!
Jeffrey Brown, author of Star Wars: Jedi Academy and Jedi Academy: Return of the
Little kids love to see their (tiny) world presented to them on the pages of a book. They also love to arrange and organize things, whether it's toy animals, goldfish crackers or twigs. And, they also appreciate a good rhyme. 100 Things that Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz satisfies all three of these with a charm and simplicity that harmonizes with the thoughtful choices and engaging
Research agents for even a short while and you're almost sure to come up with two competing bits of wisdom:
LOOK FOR AGENTS WHO REP THE BOOKS MOST LIKE YOUR OWN!
AGENTS WON'T TAKE ON WORK TOO SIMILAR TO WHAT THEY ALREADY REP.
Guess what? BOTH these contradictory statements are true! ....Yayyy??
Of course you want to pick an agent who does the kind of books you do, and hopefully reps some authors you admire. . . but yep, that agent will likely decline if the books are too
similar. I wrote a post way back in 2011
about WHY agents can't take on work that competes with what they already rep. It's all still true, so I won't rehash it here.
But if you want to be able to tell if they are two close for comfort - try this: If you break the books down into general CATEGORY, TONE and THEME - TWO of these can match. But if all three overlap, it's probably too close.
In other words:
I could rep two funny picture books ... but not two funny picture books about Ninjas. I could rep two picture books about Ninjas, if one was funny, while the other was non-fiction/factual. I could rep two funny Ninja books... if one was a picture book and one was a middle grade. (That isn't to say that there isn't room IN THE WORLD for multiple funny picture books about Ninjas, btw... just that I personally would feel uncomfortable repping all of them!)
In the case of something like "heartfelt middle grade fiction about girls growing up" - where there are certainly lots of great books that seem to overlap... the differences might be more subtle. I rep both Linda Urban
and Kate Messner
, for example - two great authors, both sometimes writing in a similar space - but you wouldn't confuse CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT with BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. You just wouldn't. On the surface there are similarities, but there's a difference at the bone.
So if you're researching an agent who reps what you write... and you've thought about the chart and you see the surface similarities but you still think YOUR difference is different enough... you might as well try querying the agent... why not, right? Nothing to lose. Nobody is going to be mad at you - the worst that can happen is, you get a rejection, and that isn't anything to lose sleep over.
Does this make sense? Helpful, or have I muddied the waters even further?
If you don't already have a preschool or school age child, you may not know just how enthralling the story of the Gingerbread Man is to little kids. I think they love this story because it satisfies many of their most basic instincts, drives and interests. There is food, specifically cookies with candy on them. There is a little (cookie) boy behaving badly and being downright sassy. And
This is the book Percy Jackson fans have been waiting for, the fifth and final volume in the Heroes of Olympus series. The action is nonstop as the demigods attempt to stop the earth mother Gaea from waking while protecting Camp Half-Blood. Fans won't be disappointed with this thrilling conclusion. Books mentioned in this post [...]
When Jam and four others are given unique journals and assigned Sylvia Plath for a "Special Topics" class in a boarding school for fragile teens, they discover new ways to reconnect with their lost loved ones and one another in this insightful, moving novel about grief and loss. Books mentioned in this post Belzhar Meg [...]
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In first-rate style, replete with her wicked humor and merciless eye, Mantel cuts to the quick in this dazzling and diverse collection of stories. Ranging from sinister to unsettling, these sharply drawn and thrillingly unpredictable stories further demonstrate the insightful intelligence and dark brilliance of this gifted author. Books mentioned in this post The Assassination [...]