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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Cybils, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 476 - 500 of 942
476. Lazy reading day

I just got the Blackbringer paperback cover in the mail -- so exciting! It looks gorgeous, the same illustration as the hardcover but with different colors and an awesome new type design and "special effects" (making the type and figures shiny). So beautiful! (Ooh, and there's a quote from Holly Black on the front, which is vurry nice :-) I'm really excited about next year! First the paperback (in May), then Silksinger and Lips Touch in the fall. Yippeeee! What a year!

Oh, this is wayyyyy preliminary, but potentially much fun: I might be teaching a workshop on writing fairy tale retellings at a gorgeous lakeside retreat in New Hampshire in June (as part of an arts retreat with lots of other cool workshops). I'll have more info by and by. Here's the lake from up above:


Let's see. . . the writing goes well. I tried Jolie and Holly's 5,000 word challenge on Friday, and I wrote. . . 7,086 words!! WOWZA! Which brought me past the 50,000 word mark, but I have not "won" NaNo yet because the story is not complete yet. Much still to happen. This will be a busy week in "Bad-Ass Sci-Fi" land as I try to bring the events to their conclusion. Wish me luck!

Given the word glut of Friday, I figured I could mostly take Saturday off to loll and read (I did write for a few hours in the morning first!) I really need to crank some Cybils nominees through my brain, as you will see by this photo of unread books:
Caramba! How am I supposed to read all those??? Well, I wish I could, but that is obviously not possible, which is why there are seven panelists to divide up the work. Even so, I must read as many of them as I possibly can, so it was the couch for me most of yesterday, wrapped in the one blanket I have ever knitted (alpaca). There was an interruption in the afternoon to make vegetable soup with Jim -- something we do about once a week, and could probably compete in a husband-and-wife-mind-reading-soup-making competition, we're so good at it (new reality show!), and then there was a 10 pm trip to the very empty-on-a-Saturday-night gym. But otherwise, I read.

It reminded me of days back in college where, as an English major taking 3 or 4 lit classes simultaneously, I just had to read read read all the time. There was one memorable weekend when I was quite ill and alternately slept and read Gargantua and Pantagruel. All I remember of it is that I had a fever and the book gave me very strange dreams. There was apparently a healthy respect for fart humor in the 16th Century! Who knew? Well, anyway, reading all day yesterday was like college. . . but the books were more fun! Not that Wittgenstein's Nephew and The Sonnets of Petrarch aren't a hoot, y'all, but I'll take fairy tale retellings and zombies and kissing and fighting, please.

I read the very lovely and magical The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier, as well as a Rumpelstiltskin retelling called The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn, and there was another book that I'm not going to mention by name because I didn't care for it and gave up half way through. And then I started Ever by Gail Carson Levine, which I have not yet finished (but really like). I feel like I should have read more than three books (well, two and a half), but I'm not a speed reader. I want to slip into a little crack in between minutes and live there all cozy until I've read all these books, shifted them one by one to the "read" stack (which is in another room and is less impressive than the above photo!)

This Cybils process has been SO MUCH FUN! First, there's the joy of getting books in the mail, lovely lovely lovely books, all the time. And stacking them. And sorting them. And trying to choose what to read next. It's seriously like a box of chocolates (I wish you could say that without hearing the voice of Forrest Gump!), and I never know what I'll be in the mood for. Sometimes I pick five and then decide based on the first paragraph. Lately I've been trying to read all the fairy tale retellings together (blog post upcoming). The Fantasy/Sci-Fi category is great because we have fairy tales, vampires, post-apocalyptics, ghost stories, swords and sorcery, space ships, dragons, alternate history, distant planets, hidden kingdoms, time travel, gypsies, monks, evil corporations, zombie cheerleaders, kisses, murders, betrayals, curses, cloning, talking polar bears, lonely werewolves, evil tattoos, totalitarian regimes, slaves, samurais, beheadings, and more. Can you imagine? It makes me shake my head with sadness for people who have closed their minds to all the wonders of fantasy and science fiction.

I want to sit on the floor and pet all the pretty books like they're a basket of puppies. I am such a nerd for books.

Before the end I will have more to say about what I am learning, reading this slew of books, about how some books emerge from the pack, and how a book makes you love it, as opposed to merely liking it. It's a great learning experience, for sure.

13 Comments on Lazy reading day, last added: 11/25/2008
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477. Cybils Book Reviews - Two Heartwarming Tales of Survival

Two of the books on our list of nonfiction picture book nominees are stories of survival in the wake of Katrina. The fact that they both depict animals wins them big points in the kid appeal department.

Molly the Pony: A True Story, written by Pam Kaster, is the story of a small pony of the Americas (a cross between a Shetland and an Appaloosa) that opens with Molly being left alone in her barn to ride out hurricane Katrina. The pony survived on hay and puddles of water while she waited for someone to come for her. Two weeks after Katrina, she was found in her barn, the door having been blocked by a tree. Workers had to cut a hole in the side of the barn to get her out. Molly was taken to Ms. Kaye's farm until her owners could come and get her. Three months later, Molly became a permanent resident on Ms. Kaye's farm.

This, however, is only the beginning of the story. One day while Molly was napping in the pasture, a large Pit Bull ran into the pasture and bit her. Molly fell and kicked the dog, but it would not go away. The mauling left Molly with a badly damaged front leg.
At first the veterinarians thought they could not do anything to help Molly. Then they watched her closely for a few days. They were happy to see that she rested her healthy front leg by shifting her weight onto her back legs.

"Molly is a smart pony with a great attitude," said one veterinarian. "I think she could learn to walk with a prosthetic limb.* She knows how to take care of herself."

The veterinarians decided it would be best for Molly to go to the animal hospital at nearby Louisiana State University for the special surgery. They amputated* the injured leg below the knee and attached a stiff white cast. Molly stayed at the animal hospital for four days. Then Ms. Kay took her home.
The rest of the text follows Molly through her recovery and new role as an ambassador to children in hospitals and the elderly in retirement homes. Molly not brings smiles to the faces of all she meets, but she also leaves them behind, for the rubber hoof on the end of her prosthetic limb bears a smiley face.

The book uses photos of Molly to help tell the story. Challenging vocabulary words are printed in bold and marked with an asterisk. At the bottom of the page, readers find the words defined. An author's note at the end provides a bit more information about Molly, as well as resources to learn more about her story.

Just as Molly was left behind as families evacuated New Orleans before Katrina hit, so too were a dog and cat, both without tails, and both named Bobbi. Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival, written Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery and illustrated by Jean Cassels, tells how these two friends survived the storm and the harrowing months that followed. It also tells of the national effort made to find them a permanent home.

When Katrina hit, Bobbi was tethered to a porch with a length of chain. Bob Cat stayed by her side. There they rode out the storm and waited for help. Even though many were rescued, no one came for the Two Bobbies. Bobbi finally broke loose, and with Bob Cat at her side, the two tried to make their way around the city. The amount of damage caused by the hurricane made it impossible for them to find a home. For months the two wandered the city, often chased by packs of hungry and homeless dogs. After a time, Bobbi's ribs began to show, and Bob Cat's markings began to fade.

Four months later, the Two Bobbies found their way to a construction site. A worker's dog rushed over to greet them. The worker, named Rich, saw how thin they were and began to feed them. However, after a week of caring for the two friends, his boss came to the job site and told him the strays had to go. Rich took the two to a temporary shelter run by the Best Friends Animal Society. When the Two Bobbies were placed in separate rooms, Bobbi howled all night long, and Bob Cat paced back and forth. It wasn't until the were placed in the same cage that they were happy.

It was at this point that workers in the shelter realized that Bob Cat was blind. All those months wandering homeless in the city, Bobbi had been keeping Bob Cat safe. The volunteers at the shelter began to look for their family, but they were never found. When it was time for the shelter to close its doors, the Two Bobbies still had no home. Desperate to find them a family, the volunteers arranged for the two friends to appeared on CNN.
The very next day, the Best Friends volunteers left New Orleans. One of them drove Bobbi and Bob Cat to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, where they would stay until a new family could be found. They were on their way west when the news came in.

Hundreds of people wanted to adopt them!
Yes, the story has a happy ending, and I dare you to keep a dry eye when you read it. I've read this a number of times with my son and every time he asks, "Mom, are you crying again?" ("Why yes son, your mother's a sap.") I wish I could find some word other than heartwarming, but it's absolutely the best one to describe this incredible tale. You'll not only feel good reading it, but also buying it, as the authors are donating a portion of their proceeds to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Book: Molly the Pony: A True Story
Author/Illustrator:
Pam Kaster
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
36 pages
Grade:
K-4
ISBN:
978-0807133200
Source of Book: Interlibrary loan (Thank you Sweet Briar College!)

Book: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurrican Katrina, Friendship, and Survival
Authors:
Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
Illustrator:
Jean Cassels
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
32 pages
Grade:
K-4
ISBN:
978-0802797544
Source of Book: Copy received from publisher for Cybils consideration.

6 Comments on Cybils Book Reviews - Two Heartwarming Tales of Survival, last added: 11/24/2008
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478. Cybils Book Review - Little Green Frogs

I've seen my fair share of frog life cycle books, as this topic is a staple in the elementary curriculum. Egg . . . tadpole . . . froglet . . . frog . . . egg . . . Well, you get the idea. What I haven't seen recently is a fresh approach to this story. Until now.

Little Green Frogs
, written and illustrated by Frances Barry, is what Candlewick calls a "Fold Out and Find Out" book. Not nearly as fragile as a pop-up book, it is constructed in such a way that I consider it a novelty book. Translation - Great for read aloud, but if you want it last (particularly in a classroom), I wouldn't recommend putting it in the hands of the very readers it's aimed at! The pages in this book don't simply open to the left, they unfold in a circular fashion until the pages resemble the petals of a flower that has opened. Here's a view of the book partially opened.
The first page reads:
Frog eggs, frog eggs,
floating in the pond,
how will you grow?
The illustration shows five jellied eggs with a black mass in the center. Opening/unfolding the page reveals a lily pad and fish on the reverse. The next page reads:
Frog eggs, frog eggs,
hatching in the pond,
how will you grow?
The illustration nows show five eggs with tiny tadpoles emerging. The back side of this page reveals another lily pad, flowers, and insects.

And so it goes. Each page moves the story of the frog life cycle forward in text and illustrations. It also grows the reader's view of the pond, adding more lily pads, fish, flowers, rocks and more. The final page show five frogs climbing on some rocks, one with its long tongue darting towards an insect. It reads:
Green frogs, green frogs,
crawling from the pond,
read, steady, hop, hop.
When the book is completely open, five grown frogs are hopping off the pages to the words "Off you go!" The words "Lift here" appear at the top of the octagon that serves as the book's center. Lift here really means fold down. Upon doing so, readers will find information on how to raise tadpoles at home.

The metamorphosis as displayed in this format brings the magic of this change to life. The presentation is lovely and livens up the life cycle story. It does take some care to fold the pages back into the binding, but it is well worth the effort. I recommend this one for adding a hint of wonder and surprise to your life cycle lessons.

Book: Little Green Frogs
Author/Illustrator:
Frances Barry
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
22 pages
Grade:
preK-2
ISBN:
978-0763637255
Source of Book: Interlibrary loan (Thank you Alachua County Library District!)

**NOTE - Frances Barry has another Fold Out and Find Out book entitled Sunflower. I'm sure you can imagine how this seed to flower story unfolds.

3 Comments on Cybils Book Review - Little Green Frogs, last added: 11/22/2008
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479. Cybils NFPB: Checking Out the Reviews

I am slowly making my way through the Cybils nominees in the category of nonfiction picture books. Here is the list of nominated titles I have reviewed so far.
10 Things I Can Do to Help My World: Fun and Easy Eco-Tips, written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh

Astronaut Handbook, written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency, written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Courtney Martin

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ross MacDonald

Eggs, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Emma Stevenson

Fabulous Fishes, written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale

It's Moving Day!, written by Pamela Hickman and illustrated by Geraldo Valéro

Johnny Appleseed: The Legend and the Truth, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke

Looking Closely: Inside the Garden, written and illustrated by Frank Serafini

Nic Bishop Frogs, written and illustrated by Nic Bishop

Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
That's a paltry 18.6% of the titles. WOW! I have a lot of work to do! My esteemed colleagues on the nominating panel have also been hard at work reviewing titles. Take a look at some of their posts.
A few of the titles have been reviewed in depth elsewhere. If you are looking for the buzz on other Cybils NFPB titles, check out these reviews.
As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom, written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colón (Reviewed at Seven Imp)

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls (Reviewed at A Fuse#8 Production)

Duel! Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words, written by Dennis Brindell Fradin and illustrated by Larry Day (Reviewed at the excelsior file)

Gone Fishing: Ocean Life by the Numbers, written and illustrated by David McLimans (Reviewed at A Patchwork of Books)

Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton, written and illustrated by Catherine Brighton (Reviewed at A Fuse#8 Production)

Lady Liberty: A Biography, written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares (Reviewed at Writing and Ruminating) - **Also listen to the podcast review at Just One More Book!!

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield, written by Crystal Hubbard and illustrated by Robert McGuire (Reviewed at Write for a Reader)

Manfish: The Story of Jacques Cousteau, written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret (Reviewed at The Well-Read Child)

"Mrs. Riley Bought Five Itchy Aardvarks" and Other Painless Tricks for Memorizing Science Facts, written by Brian Cleary and illustrated by J. P. Sandy (Reviewed at Crazy For Kids Books)

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, written and illustrated by Claire Nivola (Reviewed at Kids Lit)

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Reviewed at A Fuse#8 Production)

The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum, written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Reviewed at Seven Imp)

Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story, written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Duane Smith (Reviewed at a wrung sponge)

Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, written by Robin Page and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Reviewed at the excelsior file)

This is the Feast, written by Diane Z. Shore and illustrated by Megan Lloyd (Reviewed at BooksForKidsBlog)

Trout are Made of Trees, written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Kate Endle (Reviewed at A Year of Reading)

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival, written by Kirby Larson and Mary Methery and illustrated by Jean Cassels (Reviewed at Chasing Ray)

Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw, written by Deborah Kogan and illustrated by Wanda Gág (Reviewed at Young Readers)

What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!, written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Reviewed at Wild Rose Reader)

What's Inside Your Tummy, Mommy?, written and illustrated by Abby Cocovini (Reviewed at The Well-Read Child)

Yours for Justice Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist, written by Philip Dray and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (Reviewed at Abby (the) Librarian)
Finally, here is a book trailer you must see!

3 Comments on Cybils NFPB: Checking Out the Reviews, last added: 11/20/2008
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480. Unicorns vs Zombies

So you might already have heard that Simon and Schuster is putting out a book (in 2010, a long ways away), entitled, catchily, "Zombies vs Unicorns."

Unicorns. John Green calls them "horned beasts of suck." How this would have hurt my 11 year old self, who loved them passionately (although strangely my unicorn rug, book ends, unwritten in journals, pillowcase, cushion, etc. all failed to make it inside my grown-up house. I think my poor mother is still trying to use up unicorn notepads back at home). Heading up Team Unicorn is Holly Black--here's just one of her arguments: "Unicorns are interesting because there is something to subvert, something to transgress. No one wants to see the zombie transgressed. Well, only crazy people."

Zombies. I just don't much care for the undead. Possibly because, before Pet Cemetery was even written, I had recurring nightmares (well, at least 2) about digging up my dead cat. In the Zombie camp is Justine Larbalestier ("Why Zombies Rule"): "You can fight them off. You can get away. But in the end? Not so much."

Read more about this epic battle here.

2010 is a long time to wait to see which side will prevail. So what, you might ask, is the status of Zombies vs Unicorns this year, now, 2008? Thanks to my position as reader of the 168 or whatever books nominated for the Science Fiction Fantasy Awards, I can answer that question with Hard Data.

In the zombie camp are Zombie Blondes, by Brian James, and Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters. If you are a reader who craves books about Zombie Cheerleaders, 2008 was great great great and will probably never be surpassed. Then there's Playing With Fire, by Derek Landy, the second Skulduggery Pleasant book (is a sentient, "living" skeletal creature a zombie?) There is also an undead hamster from hell (The Curse of Cuddles McGee, by Emily Ecton). He is perhaps more ghost than zombie, although his bones move, instead of staying sweetly in one place, the way a ghost's do, and I have now decided (mainly so that I can include this book) that if your bones move, you're a zombie.

Final count: 4 zombie books (I have read 2)

Unicorns are represented by Dark Whispers, the third book of the Unicorn Chronicles, by Bruce Coville, and Charm for a Unicorn, by Jennifer Macaire. I haven't read either of these; once I do, if I have anything interesting to add, I'll come back and say it.

Final count: 2 unicorn books (I have read 0)

In general, I am on Team Unicorn (although I will of course read the zombie books on the Cybils list with respect and careful consideration). How can one not be. Think of some of the classic books with unicorns, like Elidor, by Alan Garner, or The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis, or even (although it's not really a favorite of mine) The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle. Now think of the powerful, beautiful, moving books with zombies, books destined never to fall out of print. I can't think of any. But maybe my parents, busily buying me unicorn notepaper, kept such darkness from me... Read the rest of this post

7 Comments on Unicorns vs Zombies, last added: 11/28/2008
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481. Easy Reader Review: Spring is Here! A Story About Seeds by Joan Holub

Another book up for consideration in the Cybils Easy Reader category is this pre-level 1 offering by Joan Holub. According to the level chart on the back of the book, a Pre-Level 1 reader (as defined by publisher Simon and Schuster) is as easy reading as one can get, focusing on word repetition, familiar words and phrases, and simple sentences. With only 21 pages and 97 words, author Joan Holub

0 Comments on Easy Reader Review: Spring is Here! A Story About Seeds by Joan Holub as of 11/18/2008 10:10:00 AM
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482. Cybils Book Review - Boys of Steel

What does it take to bring superhero to life? In Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, readers learn that imagination and perseverance both were essential in giving America, and the world, its very first superhero.

Superman debuted in 1938, at a time when the Great Depression had lasted nearly a decade, and the world was teetering on the brink of war. If there was ever a time when people were looking for a fantasy hero, this was it. However, Superman's story began long before that date of publication.

When the book opens we meet Jerry Siegel, a shy kid with glasses who preferred books, and movies to the real world.
But Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers were fictional characters. They saved other fictional characters in pulp magazines and comic strips. They couldn't save anyone in the real world, where millions of people were struggling to find jobs during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They couldn't save Jerry's father, who died of heart failure during an after-hours robbery in his clothing store in Cleveland.
Not only did Jerry immerse himself in these fantastical worlds, but he also let his imagination wander, writing his own adventure and fiction stories. The retro- comic-style illustrations by MacDonald perfectly fit the subject matter. In the page that describes Jerry's love for writing, he is depicted working at his typewriter, while a group of boys plays ball outside his window. It's clear that Jerry doesn't fit in. He doesn't share the interests of other boys. However, there is one boy who is so like him that they "could've passed for brothers."

Joe Shuster was also a boy who enjoyed the worlds found in comic strips and pulp fiction. Like Jerry he was shy and not athletic. While Jerry created stories with words, Joe created them with pictures. He often spent his time at the kitchen table, drawing his ideas. Like Jerry, he had a difficult home life. When his family couldn't afford art paper, he made due with the back discarded wallpaper or wrapping paper from the butcher shop. In the winter when the family's apartment was cold because it had no heat, he drew "while bundled in several sweaters, one or two coats--even gloves."

Joe often illustrated Jerry's stories. Joe had a plan to to work with Jerry to develop a new character and comic strip, one that they could perhaps sell to a newspaper. Their first attempt centered on a man who fought for truth and justice. When the first publisher said no to the idea, Joe tore up the pages in disappointment.

In 1934, during a fitful night of sleep, Jerry woke to record his ideas for a new hero. A double page spread with a series of story boxes (4 on a page) shows Jerry in his pajamas while the hero in his head begins to take form. The hero would be strong, an alien (though he would look human), capable of leaping so high it would look as though he were flying, full of confidence, and a man with a secret identity. Early in the morning, Jerry ran to Joe's house to share his ideas. He looked over Joe's shoulder as he sketched. Jerry sketched all day, and finally their hero was created on paper. They put an "S" on his costume, for super, but also for Siegel and Shuster.

Joe and Jerry spent more than three years trying to sell their Superman idea. Finally, a man who was publishing a new type of magazine (a comic book), said yes. The Superman comic book was an enormous success. Joe and Jerry's superhero moved from comic books to radio, cartoons, books and movies. He even ended up on television.

The story ends this way.
Some people look up in the sky and see a bird or a plane, but nothing beyond. In the trying days of yesteryear, Jerry and Joe looked up and saw a star that no one had discovered before. They brought him to Earth and watched him become a superstar.

And today, on every story where his name appears, theirs do, too.
While the text itself ends on a happy note, Joe and Jerry's story is not nearly as rosy. Because they believed they might not have another chance to publish their story, they sold it and all the rights to the character for $130.00. Joe and Jerry did not get profits from the continuing sale of Superman stories, though they were employees of the company that is now DC comics and were well paid. When they asked for royalties, they were denied. In 1947, they sued DC for 5 million dollars and the rights to Superman and lost their suit. DC did offer them $100,000 to surrender all claims, which they did. Upon doing so, they were fired.

The author's note is extensive and continues to describe the difficulties that Joe and Jerry faced. In 1975, upon hearing that Warner Bros. Studies has paid DC 3 million dollars for the rights to make a Superman movie, Jerry began a letter-writing campaign. He told the story of how DC ruined their lives and got rich off their creation. There's more to the story, and to this day, negotiations with the families are still ongoing.

This dark part of their story is not told in the illustrated text, but it needn't be. Readers will be inspired enough by the story of how two young men came to create one of the greatest superheroes of all time. Overall, this biography is well-written, perfectly illustrated, and quite engaging. I highly recommend it.

Book: Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman
Author:
Marc Tyler Nobleman
Illustrator:
Ross MacDonald
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
40 pages
Grade:
2-6
ISBN:
978-0375838026
Source of Book:
Copy received from publisher for Cybils consideration.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen’s blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

If you want to use this in the classroom, don't miss the teachers guide. (Hey, I know it looks wrong (it IS wrong), but that's how Random House spells it!)

Other Reviews - Fuse #8
Interviews - Read this fab interview with Nobleman at Guys Lit Wire. (Thanks, Jules!)

4 Comments on Cybils Book Review - Boys of Steel, last added: 12/1/2008
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483. The City in the Lake

http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif The City in the Lake, by Rachel Neumeier (2008, Alfred A. Knopf, 294 pp).

There is a city on the shores of a lake, where live a king and his beloved son, the heart of the country. Within the waters of the lake lies another city, much more than a reflection of what is real. And Neill, the bastard, the king's other, older, son, stops one evening on the bridge, to watch for its appearance...to see if the carved stone tigers come alive in the water.

In a village far from the city, Timou has grown up in peace, learning to be a mage from her distant but loving father. But her peace is shattered when her father disappears, echoing the mysterious disappearance of the king's own son and the desolation that has befallen the kingdom. She leaves her home to find answers, journying through the Forest, into the city, and past its walls into the city in the lake. And the answers she finds, that bind her to Neill and to the fate of the kingdom, are a maze of magic and danger spun by an ancient sorceress--"an echo in a old story. A name in a history older than the Kingdom."

But another young man, who loves Timou, has followed her into the enchanted forest. There he faces a power strong enough to defeat the ancient evil that has awoken, a power that might claim him forever.

This is a lovely story, beautifully told. It is a slow read, in the best sense of the term, because to rush through it would be to waste its wealth of detail. Fans of Patricia McKillip, in particular, will love it; the cadence of the prose, and the sense of history, mystery, old magic, and things seen at the edge of sight that characterize McKillip are also to be found here.

As well as all that, one of the things that I personally really liked about the book is that the main characters are all people I would enjoy knowing in real life. This could be a sign of my own mental weakness, but I so much prefer to read about people I can care deeply about. So in a nutshell, here you have lovely world-making, people I like, and a satisfying plot.

The City in the Lake has been nominated for the Cybils Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category. My co-panelist Nettle also this book today (I just read it, wanting to wait until after I wrote my own). And here are a few more reviews, at The Well Read Child, at Book Obsession, and at Elizabeth Bunce's blog

0 Comments on The City in the Lake as of 11/16/2008 6:37:00 PM
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484. Cybils 2008 Nominees: Fantasy and Science Fiction - middle/elementary

Although I'm not a part of the Cybils Fantasy/Science Fiction team this year, I'm still following it closely, and not just because a book I published (Ratha's Courage) is a nominee. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I love YA fantasy and science fiction, and I love the Cybils, so I'm watching this with more excitement and anticipation than Christmas Eve. I've read so many of these books, and there are others that I'd love to read. The nominating panelists have a really tough job ahead of them!

Here are the 2008 nominees for Fantasy and Science Fiction in the middle/elementary age group:

39 Clues
written by Rick Riordan
Scholastic

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Airman
written by Eoin Colfer
Hyperion



Best Friend for Claudia
written by Beatrice Weinberg Katz
PublishAmerica



Boots and Pieces
written by Emily Ecton
Simon & Schuster



Boy of All Time
written by Che Dee
Calderwood Books



Cabinet of Wonders
written by Marie Rutkoski
Macmillan

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Dark Legacy
written by K. G. McAbee
Calderwood Books



Dark Whispers
written by Bruce Coville
Scholastic



Diamond of Darkhold
written by Jeanne DuPrau
Random House Children's Books



Dinosaur Blackout
written by Judith Silverthorne
Coteau



Dragon Flight
written by Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA



Escape the Mask
written by David Ward
Amulet



Ever
written by Gail Carson Levine
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: tcr |



Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague
written by Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain



Facttracker
written by Jason Carter Eaton
HarperCollins



Family Matters
written by Kristin Sheley
iUniverse



Farworld: Water Keep
written by J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain



Fish and Sphinx
written by Rae Bridgman
Great Plains Publications



Flora's Dare
written by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Harcourt



Girl Who Could Fly
written by Victoria Forester
Feiwel & Friends

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | Charlotte |



Gods of Manhattan
written by Scott Mebus
Dutton Juvenile



Graveyard Book
written by Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Grim Hill: The Secret Deepens
written by Linda DeMeulemeester
Lobster Press



Gypsy Crown
written by Kate Forsyth
Hyperion



Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go
written by Dale E. Basye
Random House Children's Books



House of Many Ways
written by Diana Wynne Jones
Greenwillow Books



Inkdeath
written by Cornelia Funke
Scholastic



Kaimira: The Sky Village
written by Monk Ashland
and Nigel Ashland
Candlewick Press



Lamplighter
written by D. M. Cornish
Penguin USA



Land Beyond the Clouds
written by Valerie Bishop
Light Publishing



Magic and Other Misdemeanors (The Sisters Grimm, Book 5)
written by Michael Buckley
Amulet



Magic Thief
written by Sarah Prineas
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: Charlotte | Nettle |



Mary Lamb Enters the World of Maze
written by F. T. Botham
PublishAmerica



Masterpiece
written by Elise Broach
Henry Holt

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Misty Forest Fables
written by Acrid Hermit
Fauna Trek



Monks in Space
written by David Jones
Annick Press



Once Upon a Time in the North
written by Philip Pullman
Knopf Books for Young Readers



Order of Odd-Fish
written by James Kennedy
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers



Other Side of the Island
written by Allegra Goodman
Penguin USA



Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
written by Chris Riddell
HarperCollins



Out of the Wild
written by Sarah Beth Durst
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Palace of Mirrors
written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster



Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister
written by Liz Kessler
Candlewick Press



Portal
written by Jaqlyn Von Eger
Trafford



Queste
written by Angie Sage
HarperCollins



Remarkable and Very True Story of Lucy and Snowcap
written by H. M. Bouwman
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books



Ring Dragonz
written by Mister Rengerz
Helm Publishing



Robe of Skulls
written by Vivian French
Candlewick Press

Reviewed by: Charlotte | Nettle |



Runemarks
written by Joanne Harris
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers



Savvy
written by Ingrid Law
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Seer of Shadows
written by Avi
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Shadow Diamond
written by S Brooke
PublishAmerica



Sisters of the Sword
written by Maya Snow
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire
written by Derek Landy
HarperCollins



Softwire: Betrayal on Orbis 2
written by PJ Haarsma
Candlewick Press



The Curse of Cuddles McGee
Aladdin



Things That Are
written by Andrew Clements
Philomel



Thornspell
written by Helen Lowe
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Travelers Market
written by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Idylls Press



Tygrine Cat
written by Inbali Iserles
Candlewick Press



Unnameables
written by Ellen Booraem
Harcourt



Warriors Power of Three: Eclipse
written by Erin Hunter
HarperCollins



Well Witched
written by Frances Hardinge
HarperCollins



Wild Magic
written by Cat Weatherill
Walker Books for Young Readers



Winter Wood
written by Steve Augarde
Random House Children's Books


2 Comments on Cybils 2008 Nominees: Fantasy and Science Fiction - middle/elementary, last added: 11/16/2008
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485. Cybils 2008 Nominees: Fantasy and Science Fiction: Teen

I just posted the list of Cybils 2008 nominees for Fantasy and Science Fiction: middle and elementary here. Now, here's the list of nominees for Fantasy and Science Fiction: Teen:

Adoration of Jenna Fox
written by Mary E. Pearson
Macmillan

Reviewed by: lainitaylor | Nettle |



Angel
written by Cliff McNish
Lerner Publishing Group

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Aurelie
written by Heather Tomlinson
Henry Holt



Battle of the Labyrinth
written by Rick Riordan
Hyperion



Bewitching Season
written by Marissa Doyle
Henry Holt



Bite Me
written by Parker Blue
Bell Bridge



Bliss
written by Lauren Myracle
Abrams for Young Readers

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf | Nettle |



Book of Names
written by D. Barkley Briggs
NavPress Publishing Group



Breaking Dawn
written by Stephanie Meyer
Little, Brown

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf | tcr |



Brisingr
written by Christopher Paolini
Random House Children's Books

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Chalice
written by Robin McKinley
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Charm for a Unicorn
written by Jennifer Macaire
Calderwood Books



Cherry Heaven
written by L. J. Adlington
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: tcr |



City in the Lake
written by Rachel Neumeier
Random House Children's Books



City of Ashes
written by Cassandra Clare
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | tcr |



Crimson Thread
written by Suzanne Weyn
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Curse Dark as Gold
written by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Scholastic

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf | Nettle | tcr |



Cybele's Secret
written by Juliet Marillier
Knopf Books for Young Readers



Cycler
written by Lauren McLaughlin
Random House Children's Books

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Damosel
written by Stephanie Spinner
Knopf Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Dead and the Gone
written by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Harcourt



Dead Girl Walking
written by Linda Singleton
Llewellyn

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Dead Is the New Black
written by Marlene Perez
Harcourt



Devouring
written by Simon Holt
Little, Brown

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Dingo
written by Charles de Lint
Penguin USA



Dragon Heir, The
written by Cinda Williams Chima
Hyperion



Dream Girl
written by Lauren Mechling
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Evernight
written by Claudia Gray
HarperCollins



Explosionist
written by Jenny Davidson
HarperCollins



First Duty
written by Marva Dasef
Sam's Dot Publishing



Found
written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Generation Dead
written by Daniel Waters
Hyperion

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | Nettle | tcr |



Ghosts of Kerfol
written by Deborah Noyes
Candlewick Press



Graceling
written by Kristin Cashore
Harcourt

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



How to Ditch Your Fairy
written by Justine Larbalestier
Bloomsbury USA

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | Charlotte |



Humming of Numbers
written by Joni Sensel
Henry Holt



Hunger Games, The
written by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | tcr |



Impossible
written by Nancy Werlin
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: Nettle | tcr |



Impossible
Penguin USA



In the Company of Whispers
written by Sally Lowenstein
Lion Stone Books



Ink Exchange
written by Melissa Marr
HarperCollins



Invisible Touch
written by Kelly Parra
MTV



Knife of Never Letting Go
written by Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press



Lament:The Faerie Queen's Deception
written by Maggie Stiefvater
Llewellyn



Last of the High Kings, The
written by Kate Thompson
HarperCollins



Lifeblood
written by Tom Becker
Franklin Watts



Little Brother
written by Cory Doctorow
Macmillan

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau | Nettle |



Lonely Werewolf Girl
written by Martin Millar
Soft Skull Press

Reviewed by: AmandaBlau |



Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
written by Michael Scott
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers



Masks Rise of Heroes
written by Haydon Thorne
Prizm



Melting Stones
written by Tamora Pierce
Scholastic



Moonstone
written by Marilee Brothers
Bell Bridge



Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
written by Nahoko Uehashi
Scholastic



Must Love Black
written by Kelly McClymer
Simon & Schuster



Nation
written by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins



Night Road
written by A. M. Jenkins
HarperCollins



Night World No. 1 : Secret Vampire/Daughters of Darkness/Spellbinder
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: tcr |



Nobody's Prize
written by Esther Friesner
Random House Children's Books



Noman
written by William Nicholson
Harcourt



Oh. My. Gods.
written by Tera Lynn Childs
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: tcr |



Other Book
written by Philip Womack
Bloomsbury USA



Pillage
written by Obert Skye
Shadow Mountain



Poison Ink
written by Christopher Golden
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by: Nettle |



Posse of Princesses
written by Sherwood Smith
Norilana Books



Pretty Monsters
written by Kelly Link
illustrated by Shaun Tan
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: tcr |



Princess Ben
written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Houghton Mifflin

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Ranger's Apprentice: The Battle for Skandia
written by John Flanagan
Penguin USA



Ratha's Courage
written by Clare Bell
Imaginator Press

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Red Necklace
written by Sally Gardner
Dial



Resistance
written by Gemma Malley
Bloomsbury USA



Revealers
written by Amanda Marrone
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: Nettle | tcr |



Sapphique
written by Catherine Fisher
Hodder Children's Books



Saving Juliet
written by Suzanne Selfors
Walker Books for Young Readers

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Secret of Bailey's Chase
written by Marlis Day
Echelon Press



Secrets of the Survivors
written by Mark L. Eastburn
Xlibris



Sky Inside
written by Clare Dunkle
Simon & Schuster



Starclimber
written by Kenneth Oppel
Harper Collins Canada



Stone Crown
written by Malcolm Walker
Walker Books Australia



Stowaway: Stone of Tymora, Book I
written by R.A. Salvatore
and Geno Salvatore
Mirrorstone



Stranger to Command
written by Sherwood Smith
Norilana Books



Sucks to Be Me
written by Kimberly Pauley
Mirrorstone

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf | tcr |



Summoning, The
written by Kelly Armstrong
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
written by Jessica Day George
Bloomsbury USA

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Swan Kingdom
written by Zoe Marriott
Candlewick Press



Switch
written by Carol Snow
HarperCollins

Reviewed by: EmsBookshelf |



Tender Morsels
written by Margo Lanagan
Random House Children's Books



Tim, Defender of the Earth
written by Sam Enthoven
Penguin USA



Time Paradox
written by Eoin Colfer
Hyperion



Treason in Eswy
written by K. V. Johansen
Orca Books



Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind
written by Fuyumi Ono
TokyoPop



Two Pearls of Wisdom
written by Alison Goodman
HarperCollins



Untamed: A House of Night Novel
written by PC Cast
and Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin



Vampire Academy: Frostbite
written by Richelle Mead
Penguin USA

Reviewed by: tcr |



Wake
written by Lisa McMann
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by: tcr |



Wild Talent
Thistledown

Reviewed by: Charlotte |



Worldweavers: Spellspam
written by Alma Alexander
HarperCollins



Zoe's Tale
written by John Scalzi
Macmillan



Zombie Blondes
written by Brian James
Feiwel & Friends


1 Comments on Cybils 2008 Nominees: Fantasy and Science Fiction: Teen, last added: 11/16/2008
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486. Kids's graphic novel day with my pals



Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey
Magic Pickle by Scott Morse
Korgi by Christian Slade
Little Vampire by Joann Sfar
Knights of the Lunch Table by Frank Cammuso
Kaput & Zosky by Lewis Trondheim with Eric Cartier
Stinky by Eleanor Davis



YNL:
Well, hello guys.
Prosper (8), Mao (7), Zhou (5), and Wendy Darling (5): Hello.
YNL: Happy Professional Development Day to you.
Prosper: Thank you.
YNL: So, you guys have been reading ALL DAY. Anything you've noticed about the books you've been reading?
Wendy Darling: They're comic books.
Prosper: They're all chapter books.
Mao: ANNND... the Ricky Ricotta books, all of them have the last line "That's what friends are for"!
Zhou: I noticed that they're all good. Magic Pickle is good.
YNL: Which one did you like the best?
Zhou: All the Ricky Ricotta books that we read.
Wendy Darling: The Ricky Ricotta.
Mao: I'd really say Ricky Ricotta's Might Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits.
Zhou: I would say two things: Ricky Ricotta's Might Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits and Magic Pickle.
Prosper: I kind of liked Kaput and Zosky.



YNL: What do you think about the art?
Prosper: The what?
Wendy Darling (his little sister): The pictures!
Mao: The art in Magic Pickle is really good. Because it's like comics and I like comics because they have like little squares of action.
YNL: Do the little squares do anything for you?
Mao: It's just like saying "Here's this, here's that, in this order."
Prosper: I like it because it really looks like a pickle.
YNL: So more realistic is better?
Mao: Speaking of pickles, can we have one?
Prosper: The drawings in Kaput & Zosky are pretty good but they're not perfect, but they don't have to be perfect to be a really good comic. I think the words have to be perfect.
YNL: So the words in Kaput & Zosky are perfect?
Prosper: Kind of. [lost reading again]



YNL: Hey, [Prosper], that page doesn't have words at all!
Prosper: Actually doesn't have to have words to be great. Look at this, [Mao] - he's walking along he meets this guy he shoots him, he's walking along he meets this guy he shoots him, he's walking along he meets this guy he shoots him, he's walking along he meets this guy he shoots him, he's walking along he meets this guy he shoots him...
Boys: Aww haww haww! That's great!
YNL: And that's funny.
Mao: Yeah
Prosper: Uh huh
YNL: How come?
Mao: Because it's like he keeps on shooting people and then someone else shoots HIM. that's the funny part.
Prosper: Look at this: [narrates a wordless page] Yay! Ha la lala, and then he gets out and he's like 'What the?' and dee dee dee, BLAM [hee hee hee] and then Oooh! Weee!



YNL: Ok guys. Here's Korgi.
Wendy Darling: I liked Korgi.
YNL: What did you like about it, little girl?
Wendy Darling: Because the girl was brave.
YNL: What about they way she's drawn? here's Kaput & Zosky, which art do you like better?
Wendy Darling: Kaput & Zosky. I like the color.



Mao: Little Vampire was good, because he threw up the guy that the monsters ate when he wanted to do kung fu to him, and in the end he was brung back to life and he was giant.
YNL: So you liked that there was a lot of surprises?
Mao: And I liked that there was chemicals involved, and the chemicals, they made him forget about what's happened, and they made him normal size again.
YNL: Do you wish you had a chemical like that?
Mao: Yeah!
Prosper: Why?
Mao: So I could make people forget everything and become tiny.
Prosper: What about if you shrunk somebody who was only this big, then they'd be a milliperson!
YNL: Hey, Kaput & Zosky: It seems like these guys are kind of mean.
Prosper: Why?
YNL: Why? Because they shoot everyone all the time?
Prosper: Heh heh
Mao: Actually that never occurred to me, because the red guy is always like SHOOT SOMEBODY! and the other guy is always like 'Wait, first we have to make sure nobody's around' - so they're really opposite!
YNL: Is that opposite?
Mao: Wellll, they THINK opposite but they have the same goals.
YNL: What's their goal?
Mao: Their goal is to go in charge of every single planet.



YNL: How about Stinky: did you like it?
Everyone: Yes.
YNL: There's no shooting in it...
Mao: No. But there is trying to get rid in it.
[And they're lost again. Prosper has Stinky, Wendy Darling is reading Korgi, Zhou has Ricky Ricotta, and Mao is into Kaput & Zosky]
YNL: Should I leave you guys alone to read?
Prosper: Yes.
Mao: Yes.
Zhou: Yes.

2 Comments on Kids's graphic novel day with my pals, last added: 11/19/2008
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487. Ratha's Courage

One of the great things of having a reading list with more than 160 book on it is finding yourself reading, and enjoying, books you wouldn't have picked out for yourself (yet strangely this didn't happen with many of my high school reading lists). One such book is Ratha's Courage, by Clare Bell, the fifth book of the Named series (2008, Imaginator Press). This book could be described as Watership Down Meets Clan of the Cave Bear (only with prehistoric cats as the main characters, and a different plot, feel, and style from either, she adds helpfully). But seriously. Watership Down is the only "sentient animals as characters" book I love, and Clan of the Cave Bear was amazingly successful at capturing prehistoric life, and Ratha's Courage works for me in similar way.

Ratha is the leader of a clan of prehistoric, sentient cats, who has led her people into a settled existence as herders rather than hunters, with fire tamed to serve them. But this peace is threatened when delicate diplomatic relations with another clan of hunter cats collapse...for the hunters share a group mind, and how can one society, that prizes the contributions of each individual, coexist with another in which the song of tradition dictates every action?

After a few doubts about sharing a story with sentient cats, I found myself swept into Ratha's world. I hadn't read any of the previous books, but this was not an issue. The cats became real characters in my mind, and their problems were gripping.

Ratha's Courage has an interesting publishing history. The first four books were written in the 1980s and 1990s, and this book was written 14 years later, when the first four were reissued. But due to publishing issues, it didn't see daylight until an independent publisher, Imaginator Press, took it on. I see in the front of the book that other new Ratha books have been written, and I am a tad surprised (given that I still don't consider myself a fan of sentient animal books) at how much interest I have in reading them....and, of course, in going back to books 1-4.

But it will have to wait, because, like I said, I have this reading list--all the wonderful, sweet, strange, and fascinating books nominated for the Cybils Awards in the science fiction/fantasy category (which you can see here).

3 Comments on Ratha's Courage, last added: 11/16/2008
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488. Easy Reader Review: I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems

One of the nominees for the Cybils Award in the Easy Reader category is this funny offering by Sesame Street scribe turned children's book legend, Mo Willems. Willems was the recipient of the 2008 Theodore Geisel Award for There is a Bird On Your Head, which also features Gerald Elephant and Piggie. In "Surprise", Gerald and Piggie observe a squirrel playing a hide and seek trick on a friend,

0 Comments on Easy Reader Review: I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems as of 11/11/2008 10:37:00 AM
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489. In the Company of Whispers

I just finished In the Company of Whispers, by Sallie Lowenstein (2008, Lion Stone Books, 360 pp). I am shaking a little, and sniffing. Oh my gosh. I don't think a book has had this much emotional effect on me since I first read Lois Lowry's The Giver* a few years ago.

In the Company of Whispers is a dystopia, set in the Greater East Coast Metropolis in 2047. The roaches are doing well; people, less so. Zeyya comes home one day to find her apartment sealed, yellow quarantine tape across the door, and no parents. Ever again. She takes refuge with her grandmother, in what might be the last single family house in the hellish city. And there she meets Jonah, whose intricate tattoos apparently let him commune with his ancestors...who says he is from another place, another people, for whom the past is always present.

Zeyya's story is interspersed with flashbacks to her grandmother's childhood in Burma, told with pictures, letters, and quotations from historical and contemporary accounts of Burma. For the first half of the book, I found this distracting, and I wasn't quite sure I was going to like the book in general. But then, as I let myself simply take it in, I began to understand the point--the intersections of past and present, love and loss that are at the heart of the stories.

And somewhere past page 250 I began to cry off and on as I read...but I was careful not to let any tears actually fall on the book itself, for this book, qua book, is a thing of beauty. It is heavy and luxuriant, the pages are glossy, the reproductions of old photographs beautiful. And I think these choices in book-making serve the story well.

In the Company of Whispers
is beautiful (and I'll add a picture of the cover when I get a new mouse...)

This book has been nominated for the Cybils Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category, and I'd like to thank the publisher, Lion Stone Books, for sending each of us panelists a review copy.

Here are two other reviews, at Wands and Worlds, and at Becky's Book Reviews.

*Other reasons why I am reminded of The Giver, besides the dystopian part and the focus on the transmission of memories, are the obvious similarities of character name (Jonah here and Jonas there), and also the important role played by a wooden sled...

9 Comments on In the Company of Whispers, last added: 11/14/2008
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490. Cybils Book Review - Wangari's Trees of Peace

Can one person make a difference in this world? If people believe in what you do and follow your example, can/will change occur? One need only read Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, for an unequivocal yes. Wangari Maathai, the 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is the subject of this picture book biography. Written in clear, simple text, and accompanied by vibrant acrylic illustrations, readers learn the story of the woman behind the Green Belt Movement.

Imagine living in a world filled with lush green trees, forests filled with birds, and fields ripe with food for harvest. Imagine leaving that world for the opportunities an education would bring. Imagine returning home to find a world that looks completely different. This is what happened to Wangari.

After six years of study in the United States, Wangari returned to her home in the shadow of Mount Kenya to find that the trees were gone. Where women once collected firewood from close to home, these changes in the landscape now meant they had to walk miles away to find it. There were no longer crops to feed the people, and the birds had disappeared.

The trees in Kenya were cut down to make room for buildings, but new trees were never planted in their place.
Wangari thinks about the barren land.
I can begin to replace some of the lost trees
here in my own backyard--one tree at a time.
She starts by planting nine seedlings.

Watching the seedlings take root gives Wangari
the idea to plant more--
to start a farm for baby trees, a nursery.
In an open space, she plants row after row
of the tiny trees.
Wangari recruited women of the village and gave them seedlings to plant. She shared her vision for a better future, one in which the land was green. Wangari and her women kept planting, even in the face of those who mocked them. Wangari paid them for the seedlings that lived past three months. As the green returned to Wangari's village, women in other parts of Kenya began to plant seedlings too.

Despite all these efforts, the cutting continued. When Wangari placed herself between a stand of mature trees and those who would cut it down, she was beaten and taken to prison. However, the movement to plant trees continued, and the green returned to Kenya. Not only did new trees take root, but the land became rich again with crops.

In page after page we see seedlings being planted and how the landscape begins to change. Near the end of the book, an illustration of the earth with Wangari and her trees firmly planted in Africa is accompanied by the text, "The whole world hears of Wangari's trees and of her army of women who planted them." The book ends full of hope and beauty, as we see the view from the top of Mount Kenya, and row upon row of mature trees.

The author's note in the back provides more information about Wangari and the Green Belt Movement she started in 1977. By 2004, more than 30 million trees had been planted and the movement had spread to 30 African countries and beyond.

It is fitting that this book about an environmentalist is printed on 100 percent recycled paper. I found the story inspirational, and young readers will too, as they see how with one simple action, one woman was able to start a movement that changed the landscape of a nation.

Book: Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
Author/Illustrator:
Jeanette Winter
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
32 pages
Grade:
K-4
ISBN:
978-0152065454
Source of Book:
Personal copy purchased for Cybils consideration.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen’s blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

10 Comments on Cybils Book Review - Wangari's Trees of Peace, last added: 11/12/2008
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491. Wake, by Lisa McMann

Of all the books I've read this past month (around 40), Wake, by Lisa McMann, was the page-turniest, grippingest of them all. I am very glad that I woke up early this morning and read it cover to cover before my Dear Children awoke, because I would have not have been happy to put it down! (Although I would, of course, have done so with a smile...and gone into the kitchen to prepare nutritious breakfasts etc. etc.)

17 year-old Janie falls into other peoples dreams. In high-school, surrounded by sleep-deprived classmates, Janie suffers.

"A boy named Jack Tomlinson falls asleep in English class. Janie watches his head nodding from across the room. She begins to sweat, even though the room is cold. It is 11:41 a.m. Seven minutes until the bell rings for lunch. Too much time."

Because Janie, even though still awake, would have to dream right along with him.

But much worse than suffering through the humiliations and sexual fantasies of her classmates is the nightmare that finds her when she is driving home from work one night. And this worst dream of all belong to Caleb, a boy she finds herself drawn too...

Janie struggles to control her dreaming, struggles to understand Caleb and his secrets, and suffers. It doesn't help that she's poor, with an alcoholic mom. Caleb is the only person she knows who might bring her out of her own personal nightmare, but he seems caught in a nightmarish situation of his own...

Like I said, this was a page turner-I read it in less than an hour. It moves so briskly in part because it is written in third person present, in short sentences and episodes that take Janie back and forth from dream to reality. I think this was an absolutely brilliant choice of tense and voice--the reader is present with Janie moment by moment, but not inside her head--just like Janie's situation when she's stuck in other peoples' dreams.

And I liked Janie and Caleb. They didn't get a chance to do a whole heck of a lot besides dreaming (and a bit of, um, other stuff in a (very) mild YAish sort of way), but neither of them were whiners, despite having cause (lots of cause). Janie is focused on working her way through college, and doing well in school. She's a good friend, and a caring person.

And I really liked the plot! Suspense, mystery, dreams holding the key to unravelling it, a nice dash of romance-good stuff! It is really easy to imagine this one being recommend from reader to reader. I myself am anxious to read the sequel, Fade (coming in February 2009). A third book will be out in 2010.

Jen had much the same reaction as I did; so did Sarah, at Sarah's Random Musings, and here's a review by one of my Cybil's co-panelists, at The Compulsive Reader.

And now I am going to be very unselfish and tell you that there is a "freaking huge contest" at Lisa McMann's blog (ending Nov. 25, 2008) in which I would really like to be a winner....

Wake (2008 , Simon and Schuster) has been nominated for the Cybils Awards in the Sci. Fi./Fantasy category. Thank you, Simon and Schuster, for sending us panelists review copies (and of course for publishing the book in the first place, which always helps).

7 Comments on Wake, by Lisa McMann, last added: 11/11/2008
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492. PW Best Books - Children's Nonfiction

This week Publisher's Weekly highlighted the books they feel to be the very best in a variety of categories. Here's what they chose for children's nonfiction.

The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir
Cylin Busby & John Busby (Bloomsbury)
No one with even a marginal interest in true crime writing should miss this page-turner, by turns shocking and almost unbearably sad, alternately narrated by an ex-cop who, in 1979, narrowly escaped assassination in an underworld-style hit, and his daughter, Cylin, then nine.

What the World Eats
Faith D'Aluisio, photos by Peter Menzel (Tricycle)
Visiting 25 families in 21 countries around the world, D'Aluisio and Menzel photograph each surrounded by a week's worth of food and groceries, then use these as a way to investigate different cultures, diets and standards of living as well as the impact of globalization—issues introduced conversationally and examined memorably.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out
National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, intro. by David McCullough
An all-star roster of more than 100 children's authors and illustrators, as well as a few scholars and former White House employers and residents, offers a history of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in entries that range from poems to presidential speeches, satirical cartoons to stately portraits; a blue-ribbon choice for family sharing.

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow)
Amusingly illustrated with period engravings, newspaper cartoons and ephemera, this stylish biography is top-notch entertainment.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Kadir Nelson (Hyperion/Jump at the Sun)
No baseball fan should be without this sumptuous volume, a history of the Negro Leagues delivered in folksy vernacular by a fictional player. While this handsome, square book could sit proudly on a coffee table by virtue of Nelson's muscular paintings, it soars as a tribute to individual athletes.

Ain't Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry
Scott Reynolds Nelson with Marc Aronson (National Geographic)
Nelson models the study of history as an active and passionate pursuit as he shows readers how he pieced together a panoply of facts and anecdotes to find the real-life subject of the folk song “John Henry.”

Several of these titles appear on the list of nominees for the Cybils in the category of Nonfiction Middle Grades/YA books, including Ain't Nothing But a Man, Our White House, The Trouble Begins at 8 and We Are the Ship.

The list for children's picture books includes only one nonfiction title. It also appears on the list of nominees for the Cybils in the category of Nonfiction Picture books. That title is:

What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!
Barbara Kerley, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic)
It's hard to imagine a picture book biography that could better suit its subject than this high-energy volume serves young Alice Roosevelt.

2 Comments on PW Best Books - Children's Nonfiction, last added: 11/8/2008
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493. Cybils Book Review - Fabulous Fishes

Fabulous Fishes, written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale, is, in a word, FABULOUS. It is exactly the type of nonfiction picture book that will capture the attention of readers and have them begging for more.

The text is written in simple, rhyming format. What Susan Stockdale has accomplished is elegant, because using words that are easy to read yet highly descriptive, she has given us an introduction to the amazing diversity that exists in this group of animals. Here is how the book begins.
Round fish,
clownfish,
fish that like to hide.
Striped fish, spiked fish,
fish that leap and glide.
The depth and breadth of information provided in the pairing of text and illustrations is astounding. Readers can learn about fish color, shape, size, and camouflage. Reading through the text made we want to know the names of the fish depicted, where they lived, what they ate, how they adapted and more. Let me repeat that. This book left me wanting more information.

Some of this thirst for information was quenched in the back matter, where each fish is pictured again in miniature and identified by name. Also included is a brief bit of information about it, as well as the location(s) where the fish can be found in nature. Here's what I learned about the porcupinefish.
When threatened, the porcupinefish blows up like a spiky balloon so it will appear too large to fit into a predator's mouth. (Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans)
Featuring 20 species of fish, the acrylic illustrations are brightly colored and boldly rendered. Each fish is pictured in its natural environment. The overall selection of fish is quite varied and helps readers to understand that fish come in all shapes and sizes, and that in many cases, the shape is not the "standard" fish shape so many of us imagine when we picture a fish. The illustrations in this book are a visual delight. You can learn more about the creation of the book in the article Every Picture is a Story.

I am crazy about this book and found so much to enjoy in it. You will too. I highly recommend this delightful introduction to these fascinating creatures.

Book: Fabulous Fishes
Author/Illustrator:
Susan Stockdale
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Date Published:
2008
Pages:
32 pages
Grade:
K-3
ISBN:
978-1561454297
Source of Book:
Copy received from publisher for Cybils consideration.

For all you teachers and librarians considering this book, be sure to check out the teacher's guide for the book.

Other Reviews: Young Readers

7 Comments on Cybils Book Review - Fabulous Fishes, last added: 11/13/2008
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494. Bewitching Season

Bewitching Season, by Marissa Doyle (2008) is the sort of book I would imagine Georgette Heyer thinking up if she had wanted to add Magic to her trademark regency/early 19th century) romances. Like many a Heyer romance, Bewitching Season features a smart heroine and a handsome and sympathetic male lead, and the setting is the London Season, when young girls of good families came out into society.

Persephone and and her twin sister Penelope are about to begin their season. Pen, the more vivacious of the girls, is eager; Persy, the more studious, feels sick to her stomach. She would far rather continue at home with their governess, learning not just the elements of a classical education, but magic as well.


For unlike the other young ladies, these twins come from a line of female magic users. And Persy will have to use both her magic and brains, and considerable help from her little brother this coming season, when her governess becomes ensnared in a plot to wrest power from the young not-yet-queen Victoria....Unfortunately for Persy, magic and brains are not much use in sorting out the tangles of young love, as she learns when her path keeps crossing that of handsome young Lochinvar.


In short, a pleasant read.


Poor Pen, who gets nothing to do in this book, is apparently going to have a much more interesting time in the sequel, Betraying Season, is coming May 2009.

Here's a rave review at The Book Muncher, and another review at Everyone has a Blue Castle.

And for more nineteenth-century fun, visit Marissa Doyle's blog, NineteenTeen.

Bewitching Season has been nominated for the Cybils Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Catagory--the complete list is here.

2 Comments on Bewitching Season, last added: 10/23/2008
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495. 175 Books

That’s how many titles were nominated in the Cybils Fiction Picture Book category, and how many I need to read in the next six weeks or so.

Two. That’s how many I’ve read so far. Neither one was a standout.

I am keeping my Library Elf hopping these days. Slowly I’m making my way through the Cybils database, clicking back and forth to my library catalog to see which nominees are in our local system, reserving all I can find.

It’s fun to observe which books catch the kids’ attention. Reading and discussing the nominees is something of a family affair, as most things are around here. Beanie has read more of the nominees than I have, so far. Guess I’d better get back to my databasing, so I can catch up.

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496. Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural


Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural
by Eileen Kernaghan (Thistledown, 257 pages)

In Scotland in the 1880s, Jeannie Guthrie, a sixteen-year-old girl raised by her school teacher father to love books, dreamt of being a famous author. This dream died with her father's untimely passing, and she was hired out as a farm girl. That life too came to an abrupt end, when, cornered in the barn by her lecherous cousin, Jeannie stabbed him with a pitchfork. Without picking it up.

"He clutched his shoulder and stared at the blood welling up between his fingers. "You've killed me," he said, and there was a kind of puzzlement as well as anguish in his look.
"I haven't," I cried. "I didn't." Something had happened, sure enough, and George without question was wounded; yet I felt it had naught to do with me.
"You're a witch," he said, and what I saw in his face now was hatred, and bewilderment, and fear."

Terrified that she has killed her cousin, and fearing that she will be accused of witchcraft, Jeannie flees to London. The fortuitous friendship with a free-spirited French girl, Alexandra David, leads Jeannie to a job as assistant/dogsbody to the formidable Madame Helena Blavatsky, a mystic seeker for spiritual truth, keeper of a salon frequented by the likes of Yeats, and a medium. Recognizing Jeannie's wild talent, Madame draws on her power to convince her audiences of her own spiritual abilities. And Jeannie meets Tom, a young, handsome, and skeptical student of zoology....

But when Madame's health fails, there is no longer a place for Jeannie in her menage. Jeannie's new position, assisting a charlatan in deceiving gullible audiences, is depressing, and, she fears, has alienated Tom. She flees to join Alexandra, who is now living a wild bohemian life in Paris, frantically seeking her own path to what lies beyond. When Alexandra goes too far, and actually enters the realm of spirits, it become clear that Madame's earlier warnings are true--that land is not inhabited by the the dear departed, but by much more sinister forces. Jeannie must follow Alexandra, or leave her trapped in a horrible otherworld.

In a book called "Wild Talent," I expected a lot more about Jeannie learning to live with her gifts, exploring their power, struggling with the how, the what, and the why of it all. There is a little bit of this, but the focus of the book is more on the historical fiction side of things--painting a detailed picture of life among the mystics of late Victorian London, and the artists and poets of Paris. The actual journey into the spirit world takes place late in the book, and only lasts 28 pages.

So if you enjoy well-written historical fiction, with particular reference to spiritualism, this is a book for you. Alexandra David and Madame Blavatsky were actual people, who led fascinating lives. Jeannie herself is a believable character within this historical context. On the other hand, if you are looking for wild magic, this might not be quite what you're looking for.

Wild Talent has been nominated for the Cybils Awards, in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.

1 Comments on Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural, last added: 10/25/2008
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497. Chiggers by Hope Larson - review



Chiggers by Hope Larson
I read this sweet-but-not-too-sweet graphic novel at the same time, and for the same reason (it's a Cybils nominee), as Betsy, Ms. Fuse #8, did, and I pretty much have to say... what she said.


Is that a cop-out? Yeahhh... but no! She just happens to have written just exactly what I'd've written (except, hrm, more words, 'cause of the part about me being lazy and sometimes being content to just go like, "ME LIKE," and I guess you'd have to say this current review would be an example of that).

Except that, unlike Betsy, I do have some memorable summer camp experiences, both as a camper, at Girl Scout camp and orchestra camp (I played oboe) and, if I'm not mistaken, some G&T camp where we read Walden Two and discussed behavior modification... and as a counselor, at a beautiful hippy-dippy camp up in Maine where I taught candle-making and fencing to Manhattan preteens wearing Echo and the Bunnymen t-shirts (in 1984). And reading Chiggers took me right back to camp, especially to Maine, and I found myself trying to remember the names of the girls in my cabin: tall Allison, shy Betsy, bubbly Deenie, and a girl we called Titsy, whose personality traits you may intuit all on your own.


Chiggers is terrific that way - the art, the plot, the characters all ring true. Even the trees look just right. Why, I remember the morning I found a dead mouse in a trap, and since I didn't have my glasses on I had to bring it right up to my face to see what it was, and then... but I guess that's a story for another blog.

1 Comments on Chiggers by Hope Larson - review, last added: 10/28/2008
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498. The Merchant of Venice (Graphic Shakespeare) by Gareth Hinds - review



The Merchant of Venice (Graphic Shakespeare) by Gareth Hinds
I'll admit, The Merchant of Venice has never been my favorite play - smug Portia, gloomy Antonio, is it racist or is it a comment on racism: whatever, Shakespeare - but this condensation by Gareth Hinds is skilfully done. He manages to reduce giant long scenes of greeting and farewell to fairly snappy exchanges, while incorporating the famous and beautiful speeches from the play (the quality of mercy; prick us and do we not bleed) in a reasonably organic way. And I personally like the scratchy, sketchy grisaille drawing style - I think it suits the setting - though I know that some people find it a bit drab.

The thing is, though, putting The Merchant of Venice in a modern setting is always problematic. The juxtaposition of real peril - Antonio's trial and potential death - with the lighthearted naughty teasing that takes place between Antonio's newlywed pals comes off as even more jarring. When Portia and her maid Nerissa dress up as men, travel to Venice, and save the day, the audience is clearly meant to be as impressed as their husbands are - but in a modern context, we more or less expect Portia - beautiful, rich, smart Portia - to pull a Nancy Drew. If not a Buffy, for Pete's sake. Shylock is lucky she wasn't carrying a stake.

Speaking of Shylock, his poor treatment at the hands of the otherwise noble Antonio and his friends just doesn't make it when they're wearing tailored suits instead of jerkins and pantaloons. A guy in a suit who says he's going to spit on a Jew is, nowadays, an irredeemable douche - and it takes a story much longer than this one to show him as otherwise. (I can't help it - I'm thinking of Tony Soprano here.)

There are just too many problems with this particular play for it to be anything but a hot mess except when presented exactly as written and in historical context. This is not to say that this book isn't immensely superior to graphic novel adaptations of Shakespeare by other authors. It is: they're terrible. It's just that other plays have aged better. I look forward eagerly to Gareth Hinds's treatment of almost any of them, as I am currently on the lookout for his King Lear.

0 Comments on The Merchant of Venice (Graphic Shakespeare) by Gareth Hinds - review as of 10/28/2008 6:41:00 PM
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499. Annie and Snowball and the Teacup Club

by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson. Simon & Schuster, 2008. (View and excerpt by clicking the link on the publisher's name). I've loved Cynthia Rylant's beginning readers ever since my oldest son was learning to read with Henry and Mudge back in the early 90s. Annie is Henry's cousin and best friend, and Snowball is her pet rabbit. Annie loves dainty, frilly things. She loves her

0 Comments on Annie and Snowball and the Teacup Club as of 10/30/2008 7:57:00 PM
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500. You Know Your Blog Has Been Quiet When…

…you start getting worried letters from kindhearted readers who want to make sure you aren’t back in the hospital or something. No worries; we are all well; I’ve just not been feeling very talky. Am spending a lot of time working in the yard—our mini-butterfly garden is really coming along, particularly the hundred billion weed seeds which were apparently lying dormant in that dry, dry soil until we oblingly began to water them. Now Beanie and Rose and I are out there every day, ruthlessly yanking up wee baby weedlings by the dozen. Ah, the blissful peace of gardening…

And I’ve had lots of Wonderboy stuff to occupy me: preparing for his IEP meeting tomorrow (yes, on Election Day, because I am a glutton for punishment, I guess), working some new PT exercises into his daily routine, reading Mother Goose on demand a hundred times a day…have I mentioned that he is awfully fond of the two Rosemary Wells/Iona Opie Mother Goose collections? As in, he wants them read and/or sung cover to cover approximately once every hour? Rilla, of course, approves wholeheartedly—except she wants it known that they are HER Mudda Doose books, and hers alone, contradictory evidence in the form of inside-front-cover inscriptions to Jane and Rose notwithstanding.

Speaking of reading, I’ve been kept quite busy, of course, with my ever-growing stack of Cybils picture book nominees. I think we have about 35 of them checked out from the library right now, and at least 20 more have arrived via post as review copies from publishers. I don’t know where I’m going to put them all. We are plumb out of shelf space. But reading them is fun, for sure. Ask Beanie. She’s way ahead of me. I’ve read about a dozen nominees so far, and I think she is upwards of thirty.

I am posting mini-reviews at Twitter, by the way, if you’d like a peek. More like mini-summaries, I guess I should say: these are my plot notes to help me keep the 175 nominees straight. I am finding I quite enjoy the challenge of boiling a summary down to 140 characters. You know brevity really IS a challenge for me, ahem.

Speaking of Twitter, you can always look for me there if you’re worried because of bloggity silence…the link above goes to bonnyglencybils, but my main Twitter profile is just plain bonnyglen. I often post short (duh, it’s Twitter) notes during the day about what’s going on around the house. I really love being able to look back, later, at these microglimpses of our days. They are like candid snapshots, the kind no one knows are being taken, the kind you linger over in the photo album because they are so filled with rich detail of what was really happening. Not that my tweets are necessarily “filled with rich detail,” detail being exactly what is hard to squeeze into a 140-character box, but I’m just going to assume you know what I mean. And sometimes a tweet does capture a detail you wouldn’t have been likely to record in any other medium.

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

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