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Okay . . . soooooooo this. Look at this, oh ye children’s librarians. Breathe this. LIVE this! Become this.
So naturally I had to find out who she is. Go to YouTube and she has numerous videos under the moniker OoeyGooeyLady. Almost all her videos date back two years. Real name? Lisa Murphy. And as you might expect, she has a whole web presence as well. Certainly those videos, the hand rhymes ones, are invaluable for children’s librarians. There are other good ones there too. Here’s a different one of her videos on respecting kids.
Kinda sorta could watch her all day. Thanks to Alison Morris for the link.
From this blog I complain about so many things you’d think I was some kind of permanent grumpus. For example, you know what really bugs me? When a TV show or movie can’t be bothered to show a kid reading a real children’s book and instead gets their prop team to make some fake one. Recently I watched an episode of Louie that did just that (though props to the show for making it clear that a woman who knows her children’s literature is desirable, particularly if she’s played by Parker Posey). So though I’m loathe to credit commercials, Intel got it right when they decided to hire Bob Staake for a bit rather than just make someone up. Credit too to Travis Jonker for spotting the Staake.
At first I thought this animated book trailer for Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight was burying the lead. Yes the book looks good, but listen to that music. Then look at the credit at the end. “Original Music by Eric Wright”.
Turns out I was confusing the fellow’s name with Eric Wight. An easy mistake to make.
A nice video from Louisville on the importance of reading early:
Here’s something I’ve never done before. For years I’ve been waiting for the moment when a book I loved and reviewed dipped out of print only to come back again. Since I’ve only been doing this gig since 2006 I wasn’t sure what that first book would be. Then, this year, I got my answer. Back in October of 2007 I reviewed a book by a newcomer going by the moniker of Sam Riddleberger. The book? The Qwikpick Adventure Society. I absolutely adored it, floored by some of the new things it was doing. Years passed and no one paid the book the appropriate amount of attention it deserved. Then Mr. Riddleberger decided to publish under his real name, Tom Angleberger, and next thing you know he’s written a little book by the name of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and the world was never the same. What with his earlier efforts out of print and his name so incredibly bankable, I had high hopes that this might not be the last we’d seen of Mr. Riddleberger/Angleberger. Then this year, behold! Do mine eyes deceive me? No! It’s back! New cover, new title, old book.
So for today’s Flashback Wednesday we’re going to reprint that old review I did of the book . . . slightly modified. There are a couple mentions in the original review of things published “this year” that had to be updated. I’m going to keep the parts about the rarity of trailer park kids that aren’t abused, though in the comments of my original review Genevieve mentioned that The Higher Power of Lucky could be considered another alternative. Fair enough.
As a children’s book reviewer there is one fact that you must keep at the forefront of your mind at all times: You are not a kid. Not usually anyway. And because you are not a kid, you are not going to read a book the way a kid does. I keep talking in my reviews about how your own personal prejudices affect your interpretation of the book in front of you, and it’s bloody true. I mean, take scatological humor in all its myriad forms. When I read How to Eat Fried Worms as an adult, I didn’t actually expect the hero to eat worms (let alone 30+ of them). And when I read Out of Patience by Brian Meehl I really enjoyed it until the moment when the local fertilizer plant became… well, you’d have to read the book to grasp the full horror of the situation. Actually, Out of Patience was the title I kept thinking of as I got deeper and deeper into The Qwikpick Papers. Both books are funny and smart and both involve gross quantities of waste to an extent you might never expect. I am an adult. I have a hard time with poop. Poop aside (and that’s saying something) there’s a lot of great stuff going on in this book. It’s definitely a keeper, though it may need to win over its primary purchasing audience, adults.
Lyle Hertzog is going to level with you right from the start. In this story he and his friends, “didn’t stop a smuggling ring or get mixed up with the mob or stop an ancient evil from rising up and spreading black terror across Crickenburg.” Nope. This is the story of Lyle, Dave, and Marilla and their club’s first adventure. The kids say that they’re The Qwikpick Adventure Society because they meet regularly in the break room of the local Qwikpick convenience store where Lyle’s parents work. When it occurs to the three that they’ll all be available to hang out on Christmas Day, they decide to do something extraordinary. Something unprecedented. And when Marilla discovers that the local “antiquated sludge fountain” at the Crickenburg sewer plant is about to be replaced, they know exactly what to do. They must see the poop fountain before it is gone. The result is a small adventure that is exciting, frightening, and very very pungent.
Someone once told me that this book reminded them of Stand By Me, “except no dead bodies and no Wil Wheaton.” They may be on to something there. Author Tom Angleberger works the relationships between the kids nicely. It’s a little hard to get into the heads of all the characters considering that we’re seeing everything through Lyle’s point of view, but the author does what he can. As for the “sludge fountain” itself, kids looking for gross moments will not be disappointed. You might be able to sell it to their parents with the argument that it’s actually rather informative and factual on this point (though I suggest that you play up the relationship aspect instead).
There are few kid-appropriate taboo topics out there, but if I was going to suggest one I might say it was the issue of class. Oh, you’ll get plenty of books where a kid lives a miserable life in a trailer park and gets teased by the rich/middle class kids in their class about it, sure. Now name all the books you can think of where the main characters live in a trailer park and that’s just their life. Or have parents that work in a convenience store and there isn’t any alcohol abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, etc. I swear, a kid who actually lived in a trailer park these days who tried to find a book containing kids like themselves would have to assume that abuse was the norm rather than the exception. So when I saw that both Lyle and Marilla lived in a trailer park and it wasn’t a big deal, that was huge for me. Also, sometimes a book with kids of different religions or ethnicities will make a big deal about the fact. Here, Lyle’s Christian, Dave’s Jewish, and Marilla’s a Jehovah’s Witness and not white but not identified as anything in particular. Quick! Name all the Jehovah’s Witnesses you’ve encountered in children’s books where the story wasn’t ALL about being a Jehovah’s Witness! Riddleburger is making people just people. What a concept.
I’ve been talking a lot this year about books that don’t slot neatly into categories. The kinds of books that mix genres and styles. The Qwikpick Papers will be classed as fiction, no question about it, but its prolific use of photographs certainly separates it from the pack. For example, there’s a moment when the kids are trying to figure out what to do for Christmas. One of them suggests opening a fifty-gallon drum of banana puree that’s been sitting behind an empty Kroger store and there, lo and behold, is an actual honest-to-goodness photograph of a rusty, decaying, very real banana puree barrel. I don’t know whether to hope that Mr. Angleberger took the picture years ago and was just itching for a chance to get to use it, or that he created the barrel himself for the sole purpose of including a photo of it in his book. I also enjoyed the hand-drawn portions. The comic strip All-Zombie Marching Band deserves mention in and of itself (though technically William Nicholson’s The Wind Singer did it too).
I say that the poop, the sheer amount of it, will turn off a lot of adults. At the same time though there are plenty of moments that will lure the grown-ups back in again. Particularly librarians. Particularly librarians that have ever attempted an origami craft with a bunch of kids. For these brave men and women Lyle’s line about the process of doing an unfamiliar animal will ring true. “You follow the instructions through like thirty-four steps and all of a sudden there’s this funky zigzag arrow and on the next page it has turned from a lump of paper into a horse with wings.” YES! Exactly! Thank you!
All in all, I’m a fan. The characters ring true, the dialogue is snappy, the unique format will lure in reluctant readers, and talk about a title custom made for booktalking! There’s not a kid alive today who wouldn’t want to read the book when confronted with the plot. It has ups. It has downs. It has a great sense of place and a whole lot of poop. Take all angles into consideration when considering this book. On my part, I like it and that is that.
At approximately 9:22 EST on Friday, July 27th I sent the following Tweet to the interwebs:
These are the kinds of serious thoughts that course through my brain on a given morning. I might hear a One Direction song (yes, I’m a 34-year-old mother, what of it?) and think “That song could be a lot better if it just had some children’s authors involved.”
So I tweeted. And to my infinite joy the tweets blossomed and bloomed to the point where we now have a serious task before us, people. Namely, name this boy band.
The members would include Tom Angleberger (the shy one), Mac Barnett (the dreamy one – evidence here), Michael Buckley (the big brother), Tony DiTerlizzi (the one who understands you), Jarrett Krosoczka (the street smart one), and Dan Santat (the goofy one <— Jarrett’s suggestion).
Names that have been bandied about include (but are not limited to): D-Zine, Vizual Literacy, Reluctant Readerz, 32Pagez (my personal favorite), The Endpaperz, The Krosoczka Effect, the Origami Lunch Ladies and their Sidekick Dan, The Spine Tinglers, Cloth Overboardz, The Flappet Jacks (but only if it’s a jam band). Surely there are more named to be had here. Let’s have a redo of the time I asked you for good roller derby names. Boy band names . . . GO!
After all, where were you the last time you heard the pop hits:
U Don’t Need a Newbery (To Know I Luv U) – Suggested by T.S. Ferguson
Blurb Me – All three suggested by Alison Fargis
OH NO! I did it again - Suggested by Mike Boldt
Edit Me Badd – Suggested by Cece Bell
These would all be from the album “Wordz+Picturez” (as suggested by Jarrett).
And yes, I’ll talk about the opening ceremonies at the Olympics yesterday soon. I just need to process it is all. So many Mary Poppins . . . . so many . . . .
Time to brush up on your high school German meine damen und herren. Yes The Strange Case of Origami Yoda got its own pretty impressive fan trailer straight outta Germany the other day. It’s interesting, but I was even more taken with the German name of the book. Yoda, I Am! Everything, I Know! As overseas titles go, that’s gotta be one of my favorites. I also like the description of the book that accompanies the video: “Eigentlich ist Dwight ein totaler Loser.” No matter where you go in this world, “total loser” is a universal.
I swear I didn’t mean for this to happen, but by complete coincidence the Germans have the floor today. This next one is actually a small filmed version of a picture book called Vom Kleinen Maulwurf, der Wissen Wollte Wer Ihm Auf den Kopf Gemacht Hatte by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Eribruch. You can debate what the best possible translation of this might be, but I think my favorite has to be Wikipedia’s The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business. See it and you’ll comprehend why.
Needless to say, this book has yet to be published in America. Not even the Plop-Up version. Jules brought to to my attention after her fantastic post on Maurizio Quarello’s take on Bluebeard led to a fascinating discussion in the comments of what Yanks do and do not find squeamish. Thanks for the link, Jules!
Ruh-roh. I heard that someone wanted to do an “updated” musical take on Alice in Wonderland for Broadway. Of course, that brings to mind another musical as well: The Wiz. Updating classics isn’t as easy as all that (though I’ll forgive many things for “Ease on Down the Road”). Here’s an interview with the woman playing Alice. Join me as I wonder if it’s possible that the music was written in 1982. Hoo boy.
This one’s interesting, and related to children’s literature in that much of my own childhood was spent reading New Yorker cartoons. Cartoonist Liza Donnelly and I have something in common. We both attended Earlham College (fight fight inner light, kill, Quakers, kill!!). We also both have an interest in humor and women.
SLJ represent! Though I could not attend this year’s KidLitCon (the annual conference of children’s and YA bloggers) many others did and they have all posted links to their recaps of the event here. So while I could not be present, fellow SLJ blogger Liz Burns of Tea Cozy showed up and has a fabulous encapsulation of that which went on. Lest you label me a lazy lou, I did at least participate in a presentation on apps. Yes, doing my best Max Headroom imitation (ask you parents, kids) I joined Mary Ann Scheuer and pink haired Paula Wiley. It went, oddly enough, off without a hitch. Attendees may have noticed my gigantic floating head (we Skyped) would occasionally dip down so that I seemed to be doing my best Kilroy imitation. This was because the talk happened during my lunch and I wanted to nosh on some surreptitious grapes as it occurred. You may read Mary Ann’s recap here and Paula’s here, lest you fail to believe a single word I say.
Speaking of Penderwicks, the discussions fly fast and fierce over at Heavy Medal. To my infinite delight, both Jonathan AND Nina are Penderwick fans. Wow! For the record, I agree with their thoughts on Amelia Lost as well. That book has a better chance at something Newberyish than any other nonfiction this year. This could well be The Year of Amelias (Jenni Holm has an Amelia book of her own, after all).
Heads up, America! According to an article in The Guardian, “The debt-laden businesses behind some of the biggest names in childrens’ TV and books are selling off some of the nation’s best-loved characters.” Personally, I figure the Brits can keep their Peppa Pig. It’s Bagpuss I want. Or The Clangers. I grew up watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon so I’ve an affection for these. Any word on the current state of King Rollo?
Aw yeah. Authors talking smack about authors. Granted it’s living authors talking about dead authors (dead authors talking about living authors is a different ballgame entirely) but it’ll stand. Two dude who write for kids break down J.M. Barrie, The Yearling, etc. and then end with unanimous praise for what I may consider the world’s most perfect children’s book. Go check ‘em out.
I said it about Laini Taylor. I said it about Jeff Kinney. Heck, I even said it about J.K. Rowling and now, my friends, I’m saying it about Tom Angleberger: I was into him before it was cool. Seriously, a show of hands, how many of you out there can say that you read his first middle grade novel The Qwikpick Adventure Society written under the pen name of Sam Riddleberger? See, that’s what I though. I did and it was hilarious, thank you very much. The kind of thing you read and love and wish more people knew (plus it involved a poop fountain. I kid you not). Years passed and at long last Tom got his due thanks to a little unassuming title by the name of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. By the time Darth Paper Strikes Back came out, Mr. Angleberger was a certifiable hit with the 9-12 year old set. Fortunately for all of us he hasn’t rested on his laurels quite yet. He’s still willing to stretch a little and get seriously wacky when he wants to. Case in point, Fake Mustache. Just your average everyday twelve-year-old-takes-over-the-world title, Tom’s desire for total and complete goofiness finds a home here. I was into Tom before everyone else was, but considering how much fun Fake Mustache is I guess I’m willing to share him a little.
If he hadn’t lent Casper the measly ten bucks then it’s pretty certain that Lenny Flem Jr. wouldn’t have found himself pairing up with famous television star and singer Jodie O’Rodeo to defeat the evil genius Fako Mustacho. You see, Casper wanted to buy a mustache. And not just any mustache, mind you, but the extremely rare (and luxurious) Heidelberg Handlebar #7. A mustache so powerful, in fact, that when Casper puts it on he’s capable of convincing anyone of anything. Now Casper, posing as Fako Mustacho, has set his sights on the U.S. presidency and only Lenny and Jodie are willing and able to defeat him.
To read this book, kid or adult, you need to have somewhere to safely place your disbelief. I recommend storing it in the rafters of your home. Failing that, launch it into the stratosphere because logic is not going to be your friend when you read this. Literal-minded children would do well to perhaps avoid this book. The ideal reader would be one who reads for pleasure and who enjoys a tale that knows how to have a bit of fun with its internal logic. Once that’s taken care of you’ll be able to really get into Angleberger’s wordplay. He throws in just a ton of fun details that are worth repeating. Things like the fact that the state legislature tends to meet in the local Chinese buffet restaurant because
I was going to spend a lot of time on this Fusenews. Then I picked up Doug TenNapel’s Cardboard and lost most of my evening in the process. So it goes. I really am going to have to be brief today. To sum up:
Opinions I do not share. #1: “Here is a list of eleven children’s books that still have value in a writer’s adult years.” I might agree with you if you meant that Rainbow Fish makes for an excellent source of protein. #2: “Ten Tips for Avoiding Terrible Children’s Books.” This may actually be the strangest collection of children’s book-related advice I’ve seen in years. I live in hope that I misread it and that this is all the stuff you’re supposed to avoid, not do.
Stephen Fry + a pub called The Hobbit = lawsuit city. Actually, you don’t even need the Stephen Fry part.
It’s spine poem time! With Poetry Month right around the corner you just know you want to partake. Spine poem it up!
Of course THIS month is Women’s History Month. So I wrote a little guest blog piece just for the occasion where I noted the little known historical heroines making their debut in juvenile print this year.
Speaking of apps n’ such, did you know that over in Italy where the Bologna Book Fair takes place there is now a Bologna Ragazzi Digital Award? In incredibly good idea. International apps. A whole new world.
New Blog Alert: New to me anyway. We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie which describes itself as “Being a Compendium of Children’s Books by Twentieth Century ‘Adult’ Authors Currently Out of Print”. It’s beautifully done. Go see.
#87 The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (2010)
On the one hand, it’s a gimmick. On the other hand, it’s a hilarious gimmick that gets middle school boys and their insecurities down pat. That said, it’s accessible and well-written. You can’t get much better than that. - Melissa Fox
At last! The appearance of a book that has come out recently enough that I had a chance to review it myself!
Here’s the plot description from my own review: “Tommy comes right out with his dilemma on page one. ‘The big question: Is Origami Yoda real? . . . It’s REALLY important for me to figure out if he’s real. Because I’ve got to decide whether to take his advice or not, and if I make the wrong choice, I’m doomed!’ It’s strange to think that Tommy would be this torn up over an origami finger puppet belonging to the school’s biggest dork. But then he starts recounting for us the wonders of Origami Yoda’s advice. It may not always be spot on, but it’s certainly heads and tales more intelligent than Dwight, the boy who created the puppet and who voices him (poorly). Example: How do you get out of a potentially embarrassing situation when you’re in the bathroom and you spill water on your pants so that it looks like you peed yourself? Origami Yoda says: ‘All of pants, you must wet.’ See? Strangely good advice. Of course, then Tommy starts asking Origami about Sara, the girl he likes, and the answer he receives leaves him conflicted. Believe the talking folded paper or consider it a hoax and play it safe? The book is filled with little drawings and sidenotes as different classmates weigh in on the Origami Yoda conundrum.”
Here we have yet another Abrams surprise hit. Angleberger had been writing middle grade novels for years prior to Yoda’s success but it was always under his pseudonym Sam Riddleberger. With Yoda he was able to break out of his confining nom de plume and take advantage of the near universal love of Star Wars we all share (the real Star Wars, not The Clone Wars or the faux prequels, thank you very much). Thanks in part to its brilliant cover, in part to its post-Wimpy Kid era interiors, and the fact that Angleberger knows how to put pen to paper, the book has been popular ever since. There was the sequel starring Darth Paper and another that will be out this fall (I believe) involving a Wookie-related cootie catcher. And yes. Mr. Angleberger does one helluva good wookie call when asked.
For extras, I’m just including my review’s previous links wholesale!