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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Crater Lake National Park, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Review: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A young, bored boy finds a mysterious tollbooth in his room. Hopping into his small, electric toy car, he enters the lands beyond where he meets all sorts of characters in Dictionopolis, the Valley of Sound, the Doldrums, Digitopolis, and more places filled with wonder that open his eyes to the world around him. Click here to read my full review.

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2. The Return of the Iron Guy and the Great Greg Heffley Debate

Hey, hey all you readin' and rockin' guys in blogland! 'Tis I, Iron Guy Carl, posting again after a looong absence. I've hated to be gone for such a long time but life is sooo busy these days that I hardly get time to look at my computer. But I got inspired to write again lately after my annual trip to North Myrtle Beach beach a couple of weeks ago. It's really beautiful down there, as you can see:

It's also a very fun place--here I am, tackling a burger that's worthy of the Iron Guy!

But I also got the chance to see my good friend Library Ninja Bill:

There he is with his wife (known in the superhero world as The Valkyrie) and my wife (known to crimefighters everywhere as The Blond Phantom)

It was good to see him and catch up. Among the things we talked about was my review of Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by the terrific Alan Silberberg. I reviewed that book on the Boys Rule Boys Read blog and you can see my review here. In that review, I said that I liked it a whole lot more than the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. "Those are pretty strong words," said Bill. Well, I feel pretty strongly about that book. It's terrific and you really need to find it. It started a little debate between us as well. I told him what I'm about to tell you. And I tell you this because you, like Bill, you are trusted friends and only to you could I confess this deep, dark secret. You ready??

I'm not a Greg Heffley fan.

Yes, I know that's a lot to take in. But be prepared for the second great shock. Want to know why I'm not a fan?

Grag Heffley's a jerk.

There! I said it! I know that puts me in the bad graces of guy readers everywhere. I

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3. sfg: hat

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4. sfg: monster

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5. tree thief

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6. James Preller Interviews . . . Alan Silberberg, author of “MILO.” Part One (that’s right, there are “parts!”)

Readers can connect with Milo, by Alan Silberberg, in very different ways. I suppose that’s true of any book, we all bring our disparate selves to the text, but it seems especially true for Milo, a story for middle grade readers that embraces broad goofy humor on one end, and authentic, emotional grief on the other. Actually, that’s not true. Those qualities aren’t on separate ends, but are intermingled throughout. It’s a book where a boy can sneeze on someone’s neck in class, then return home to a house of fog and loss, where no one has quite figured out how to move forward after a death in the family. For me as a reader, it wasn’t the humor that hooked me. It was the humor combined with real emotional depth.

That rare thing in children’s books: a boy in full.

After I read Milo, I wanted to meet Alan because I sensed that he and I shared things in common. So I contacted Alan through his website and requested an interview. There was much I wanted to discuss, and our conversation flowed so naturally, that our Q & A went on slightly longer than The Reagan Years. I decided to break it up into two parts. I’m indebted to Alan for his time and patience and for the care he took in answering my questions.

(Whew. I’m relieved he’s not a Yankees fan.)

Alan! Hey, thanks for stopping by all the way from Montreal. Which is still in Canada, right? Could you please leave the soggy Uggs by the front door? Yeah, the moose, too. That’d be swell.

It’s true, Montreal is still in Canada. But you know, I’m from Boston (Go Red Sox!) so my heart — and shoveling technique — is from New England.

I gather that you didn’t initially set out to tackle this huge, daunting topic –- the death of a parent.

You are so right! When I started writing this book my goal was to write a pretty silly book that would include my cartoon illustrations. What started as a goofy look at a 7th grade kid starting a new school turned into something much deeper once I realized I had my own story to tell.

I know that this book grows out of your own personal experiences. Could you give us a little background on that?

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7. octopi

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8. star struck

1 Comments on star struck, last added: 5/28/2009
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9. sfg: fish

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10. smoke

3 Comments on smoke, last added: 6/2/2009
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11. sfg: bear

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12. petticoat

3 Comments on petticoat, last added: 7/22/2009
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13. sugar face

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14. reflection

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15. timber outpost

1 Comments on timber outpost, last added: 7/30/2008
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16. hungover

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17. pester

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I don't have time for a FULL post - so thought I'd share a cartoon I just did in James Thurber's attic - and the passage that goes with it from my current project, MILO.

I am not one of those “honor roll” kids, whose hand is always in the air and knows the answers without even hearing the full question. Those kids kill me because they like the sound of their own voices so much they raise their hands just to sneeze. I bet if they counted how many words they say everyday it would be in the millions because they never shut up!

(from MILO - being completed at the Thurber House Summer 2008)

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19. sfg: black

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20. jaundice

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21. surprise the clown

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22. lonely clown

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23. gruesome


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Spring. A false promise when you live in Montreal where the groundhog shrugs in February and doesn't even bother checking on his shadow. Spring just lingers on the sidelines as the long days full of sunlight trick us into thinking the warmth will soon follow. And it will follow. But it will be in May.

Spring. A busy time for me. MILO is now in front of me and as I jump in with my fabulous editor at Aladdin, Liesa Abrams, I get to re-visit the story and fix my boo-boos and strengthen some of the connective fiber that feels a tad flabby.

What I am loving is getting my cartooning muscle back into shape as I add and fix the cartoons that make Milo the special project that it is. I love the feeling. And love how my narrative can stop and then a cartoon makes the punctuation mark. Like in this cartoon from MILO - where he and his friend Hilary have just had a heavy talk and then Milo sees some older kids and wishes he could be as cool and wear a wool cap all year long...

...and then back in the narrative Milo gets it. And vows to burn all his wool caps when he gets home.

Being busy is a good thing. And watching your work grow and bloom is a springtime gift even if I still have to wear my winter coat. It's springtime in my office. And for now, that's good enough for me.

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25. snaggle tooth

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