Fuse #8

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


If you are looking for the newest posts of A Fuse #8 Production, look no further than our new location on the School Library Journal homepage at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1790000379.html. Adjust your web browsers accordingly.

You may also find the RSS feed for the site at http://feeds.feedburner.com/SLJAFuse8Production.

Same great Fuse #8 taste. Same great Fuse #8 flavor.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The RSS Feed Is Up!

On Friday, June 22nd the RSS Feed for A Fuse #8 Production's new home at School Library Jounral will be up and running. You can locate the address of this feed here (but not until the date in question). Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It Begins . . .

The move. The move is nigh. Time to pack my bags, give this place a once over, and head for my new home. The next few days are going to be much with the trial and error. Particularly the error part of the equation.

You must be patient with me for a while. I've so much to write about, after all. A lovely book release party with Lesley M.M. Blume. A Harper Collins preview that bandied about a whole host of new and upcoming books. Reviews galore. I'm working out some mighty interesting bugs as we speak.

Ah! We are up! Check me out at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1790000379.html for today's postings. You may wish to update your link as well. I think that may be my new address.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Video Sunday

Oh what a lovely luscious line-up I have for you pretty chickens today. As you may have noticed, I'm now permanently eschewing topics. Topics are hard. They require thought and thought on a Sunday is to be avoided at all costs.

Today is my husband's birthday today, so let's have a bit of a birthday video, care of Barry Yourgrau's Nastybook.

Mr. Yourgrau has a whole host of these videos available here as well, by the by.

In keeping with British accents and the like, there's a rather amusing book trailer out there for Leonardo's Shadow by Christopher Grey. We haven't had a book trailer for a novel in a while. Eh voila.

I don't review YA but I don't mind showing their videos. My favorite part was seeing that the guy doing the voiceover, one Michael Dobson, advertises his own website during the credits. Why on earth would a man working via his voice have headshots? Curious.

Speaking of things that are curious, we're straying off-topic now and venturing into Ohmygodthat'sawesome territory with the next two videos. First up, the few-cha! I can't link the video here directly so just click on the tasty link.

I want two of these in my home by next year, people. Make it happen. Thanks to Eric Berlin for the news. The next one? Just neat.

And as for the last link, not only is it on-topic but it's quite a treat. A confusing treat, but a treat nonetheless. You may have heard some mention of the upcoming documentary The Hollywood Librarian. Well here's the trailer for it.

It's nice enough but when you compare the trailer to the description of the film, the two don't add up. Ah well. Just something to send you on your way this lazy hazy Sunday.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

BEA Party Hearty Recap

I don't suppose I talked much about the cool BEA publisher parties that went on during BEA, did I? I thought about it, but until recently I wasn't sure what to say. I mean, here's the Random House Party summed up to to a tee:

1. Went to the Top of the Rock
2. Saw Judy Blume
3. Said nothing to Judy Blume because I am shy and, let's admit it, what on earth do you say to Judy Blume? Do you say, "You're Judy Blume!," and gape. Cause that's what I'd do. I would.

Actually, it was much more than that. The party was held last Saturday night on a balcony at the Top of the Rock. Rockefeller Center, to be clear. I'd always wondered why people would go up to the tippy top of Rockefeller Center when The Empire State Building is so much taller. Arriving from an elevator that played movie clips on its ceiling (it even dims the lights) all was clear. When you're on the Empire State Building you can see everything with the exception of Central Park. Why? The bloody Rockefeller Center is blocking your view, of course. But once we arrived we had a stellar view of the city. Bellinis were served alongside a variety of tasty appetizers and treats. Jazz musicians pumped out tasteful tunes and the booze was free with the flowing. Seated around the space, both outside and inside, were a bunch of different authors. Judy Blume. Markus Zuzak. Libba Bray. Jerry Spinelli. Etc. And which ones did I speak to? None! I am shy! I don't know these people! Huzzah!

After the mingling, we (Monica and The Resident Husband Who Is Mine) decided to ditch this swank party and hobble on over to the Simon & Schuster Spiderwick shebang. Party hopping. Can't be beat. So to an old factory by the trainyards we did roll and there we found the action well underway.

I should note that I didn't take any pictures of any of these outings because, silly me, I'd removed my camera from my bag earlier that day to upload pix of BEA. Ha. Fortunately, there are editors at Simon & Schuster who are more than happy to share their own pixelated prowess. Observe:

It took us a while to get a handle on the theme. At first we just figured that the place was doing some kind of odd advertising for... saltines. Hm. Odd. I imagined that Pepsi would pay better. But as we looked around we started to get it. Everything was oversized whereas we, the guests, were fairy sized. Oh ah!

Now the image above is a bit brighter than the actual par-tay. Imagine a lot more smoke, and a lot more people in a dimly lit room. Danny Elfman music pipes in from a lobby where props from the movie (a whole Arthur Spiderwick study, in fact) allow you to poke and pry about.

This pic is a little closer to what it felt like.

Yes. That poor man behind the counter is cutting a gigantic hamburger with an electric knife. It's a magnificently huge creation. People were also encouraged to pose in front of a nearby green screen to have themselves fairyfied. I declined the honor.

Now here's where I was a bit disappointed:

I'd been under the impression that we, the guests, would get to see scenes from the upcoming Spiderwick movie. No go. Instead there was a perfectly nice video with Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi on the next book in the Spiderwick series. Or rather, the new Spiderwick that is a separate series altogether. No film clips, true, but the fact that the gift bags all had copies of the next Spiderwick story inside. What else lifted my spirits?


Oh, sweet gigantic cupcake the size of an elephant's skull, where have you been all my life? Don't let the eerie lights and smoke fool you. I fell in love at first glance. Alas, our romance was not to be. Other people partook of its sweet sweet chocolate mousse filling too. It wasn't a one woman cupcake. That baby got around.

And sadly Tony DiTerlizzi, I learned once I arrived, could not attend. His wife done went and had a baby and Tony decided to do the good daddy thing. This was sad for me. I once played a game of Literary Trivial Pursuit and found a card that listed his name as "Tony DiTerlizzido". Thinking it funny, I sent it to him. I was going to ask him what he'd thought of it. Had he attended that would have upped my count of Authors Spoken To to 2. #1 was Sarah Beth Durst who was cute as a bug's ear and whose book Into the Wild has still not hit bookstore shelves. I'm anticipating subtle buzz. Sarah was seated at a table with author Delia Sherman. Who, now that I think of it, I may or may not have had contact with in the past. Hm. Maybe I could have talked to her after all.

Another author I could have spoken to and didn't was none other than the delightful Holly Black, shown here:

You can't see it here, but she had this streak of white in her hair which made her easy spotting. The downside? I couldn't figure out what to say to her. Unless I've been in contact with an author in some fashion, I freeze up around them. I become the Abominable Betsy (some would argue that I already am). So no, I never said a word to Ms. Black. She seemed charming though. And it really was a lovely party. If you went out onto the balcony you had a great view of the trainyard below and the river not much farther past that. Plus, did I mention that they had a gigantic cupcake? *sigh*

By the by, don't let my recap of BEA be the only one you read. Publisher's Weekly recently posted Children's Books at BEA: A Photo Guide. It shows the Random House authors at the Top of the Rock, just as I mentioned. No Spiderwick party, though. Guess I scooped 'em there. Please also look at a recent Shelftalker piece that offers a smart assessment of the layout and problems with the BEA show itself. I ran into Alison on the floor, so I can assure you that everything she says is absolutely true.

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Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominations

Look. Just because something happens overseas, that's no reason to ignore it. I am referring, of course, to the Hans Christian Andersen Award nominations. Thus far I haven't found any American blogs listing the nominated persons. This will not stand, fellow citizens! So here, lifted directly from the IBBY website with some tweaks, are the nominees:
• Argentina: Author: Beatriz María Ana Ferro; Illustrator: Isol Misenta
• Australia: Author: Jackie French; Illustrator: Shaun Tan
• Austria: Author: Lene Mayer-Skumanz; Illustrator: Linda Wolfsgruber
• Belgium: Author: Anne Provoost; Illustrator: Kitty Crowther
• Brazil: Author: Bartolomeu Campos de Queirós; Illustrator: Rui de Oliveira
• Canada: Author: Brian Doyle; Illustrator: Pierre Pratt
• China: Author: Qin Wenjun
• Croatia: Illustrator: Svjetlan Junakóvic
• Cyprus: Author: Kika Pulcheriou
• Czech Republic: Author: Iva Procházková; Illustrator: Adolf Born
• Denmark: Author: Bjarne Reuter; Illustrator: Lilian Brøgger
• Egypt: Author: Fatima El Maadoul
• Finland: Author: Irmelin Sandman Lilius; Illustrator: Virpi Talvitie
• France: Author: Marie Desplechin; Illustrator: Claude Ponti
• Germany: Author: Peter Härtling; Illustrator: Jutta Bauer
• Greece: Author: Voula Mastori; Illustrator: Vassilis Papatsarouchas
• Iceland: Author: Gudrun Helgadottir
• Ireland: Author: Kath Thompson; Illustrator: Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
• Italy: Author: Mino Milani; Illustrator: Roberto Innocenti
• Japan: Author: Shuntaro Tanikawa; Illustrator: Akiko Hayashi
• Lithuania: Illustrator: Kestutis Kasparavicius
• Mexico: Illustrator: Mauricio Gómez Morín
• Netherlands: Author: Guus Kuijer; Illustrator: The Tjong-Khing
• Romania: Author: Iuliu Ratiu; Illustrator: Stan Done
• Russia: Illustrator: Nickolay Popov
• Serbia: Author: Dragana Litricin-Dunic
• Slovak Republic: Author: Ján Navrátil; Illustrator: Olga Bajusová
• Slovenia: Illustrator: Lila Prap
• South Africa: Author: Beverley Naidoo; Illustrator: Piet Grobler
• Spain: Author: María Asun Landa; Illustrator: Ulises Wensell
• Sweden: Barbro Lindgren; Illustrator: Eva Eriksson
• Switzerland: Author: Jürg Schubiger; Illustrator: Hannes Binder
• Turkey: Author: Ayla Çinaroglu; Illustrator: Nazan Erkmen
• United Kingdom: Author: David Almond; Illustrator: Jan Pienkowski
• USA: Author: Lloyd Alexander; Illustrator: David Wiesner

The elected Chair of the International Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury, Zohreh Ghaeni (Iran) and Jury members from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, France, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America, will meet in March 2008 to select from among these nominations the winners of the 2008 Andersen Awards.

The results will be made public at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, Monday, 31 March 2008 and the Awards will be presented to the winners at the 31st IBBY Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark on 7 September 2008.
I've a passing familiarity with thirteen of these author/illustrators. I need to work on that. My hope and dreams? Well, it'd be simply swell if Shaun Tan finally got his due. Anyone familiar with The Arrival would agree. As for authors, Guus Kuijer's The Book of Everything was a small gem overlooked this award season past. It's a little late for Mr. Alexander, but they might feel obligated to hand it to him. Which would kind of be a shame, considering he's not around to appreciate it and many of these other people are. As for Wiesner, does he really need another award? Really? Really really?

Thanks to Achocka blog for the link.

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Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around

Pooh's gotten all riled up about this one. Those of very little brain and too much tummy might get a tad disturbed by a very different bear of very great brain and too little tummy. The army has, for reasons one cannot quite pinpoint, created the Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot or, quite simply, BEAR. Note the adorable ears.

Gary Gilbert, from the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Centre in Frederick, Maryland, said that the teddy bear appearance was deliberate.

"A really important thing when you're dealing with casualties is trying to maintain that human touch."
The robot revolution is nigh. And it's adorable!

Thanks to Shaken & Stirred for the link.

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Ankle Biter Reading Material

A friend has a new bright n' shiny baby and suddenly you're in the hot seat. What to buy said baby? You don't know what's good anymore. Heck, when you were a kid babies didn't even read! Oh if only there were some kind of a list out there that that collected the best books for newbies. Some kind of, oh I dunno, Best Books for Babies of 2006 or something.

Every good librarian has a gap in their knowledge. Mine's baby related. I can't really judge any of these books except for the ones I saw in their original picture book format. Ah well. It's nice to be able to rely on experts like the Center for Early Literacy when this kind of thing comes up.

Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the link.

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Confession? I'm Kind of a Fan.

But maybe that's just because my last name is Bird.

I love the explanation of what it looks like, of course. Proves that Go Fug Yourself is run by secret Harry Potter fans.

Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Poetry Friday - The Collected Works of Susan Ramsey


From Poetry Northwest, Fall 2001

A Mind Like This

is like looking through that drawer

for Scotch tape and coming up instead

with the instructions for the digital watch

you threw away three years ago, a maze

made of cheap pink plastic and three ball bearings,

the scissors you warned them were only for fabric, a roll

of the paper tape they gave you to close your eye

for sleep that spring you had Bell's Palsy, and half

a pack of basil seeds.

It's missing the Big Play because you're busy watching

the lovers quarrel two rows down, look up

as the crowd surges to its feet around you,

touchdown. It's knowing they used sets from King Kong

as tinder for the burning of Atlanta

while being uncertain of your best friend's birthday,

forgetting the name of your fifth niece, but knowing Carlo

was Emily Dickinson's dog. When a mind like this

hears that Burleigh Grimes was the last pitcher

to throw a legal spitball in '43,

you'd think it had spotted a sapphire in the gravel.

It's saving pocket lint and bottle caps

while bread and diamonds thunder down the chute.

It's a theater where pleasure and frustration

are mutual understudies, a computer

which refuses to interface seven fifteenths of the time.

It's dutifully viewing the list of cathedral features

in Strasbourg, then watching the memories dragged like sand

from a beach besieged by wave after wave of years,

until only a bit of carved stone remains, a fragment

small enough to lodge in a human heart.

Of course you didn't take a photograph.

And of course sensible friends return with cameras

full of statues and windows and twenty-foot clocks,

asking vaguely, "Where was that again?"

Be comforted. This ridiculous mind will save

your incised memory of the tenth pulpit step,

preserving for you how some particular hand

carved under a stone leaf, small in all that grandeur,

his round-skulled puppy, sleeping, chin on paws.

This week's round-up courtesy of Hip Writer Mama.

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Horn Book's Summer Reading

Bad new, folks. Apparently Horn Book Magazine has acquired a way to see into my very brain. Look at this magnificent Summer Reading List they just put out. It's like we're soul mates or something.

Beach - Beach? Someone else on this planet read and loved Beach? *sob* I'm not alone!

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County - Excellent. The buzz starts low, but if I can keep it up then this book will be causing a veritable blaze of glory by the time the award season circles through.

Aggie and Ben - Awwwww. Just... awwwww.

The Green Glass Sea - Look, Ellen! They included your book!

Larklight - Suh-weet. Now please to find me a child who likes it. I love it, but I want some confirmation that there's a kid somewhere anywhere that digs horrible white space spiders.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair - Look, Laura! They included your book too!

To Dance - This makes me happy.

I'm really going to have to read this Rex Zero and the End of the World book aren't I? It just keeps cropping up.

Please go to bookshelves of doom for a full encapsulation of all the further summer reading lists out there.

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Crazy Question

For you children's librarians out there (or those with a remarkable knowledge) I've a crazy question. You know those books where you flip pages and change the image before you? For example, the image is of a face and you can flip to change the eyes, nose and mouth, thereby creating a wide variety of different combinations? Right. What are those books actually called? Is there a term for them? Because, to be frank, I haven't a clue.

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I Guess I Could Substitute Cinnamon for Garlic or Something . . .

Author Robin Brande of Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature would like us to have a potluck together. We like Robin Brande. Ipso facto, we think that this is a good idea. She says:
Instead of any of us trying to meet each other at Book Expo or ALA or any other conferences, we’d pick some spot in the center of the country–someplace easy to get to, like Las Vegas or Denver or Salt Lake City or some other hub–and we could bring our significant others and children or not, and just set aside a Friday and a Saturday to actually hang out face to face and speak words to each other that do not involve typing.
I know she says we should bring exotic foods, but I'm bringing brownies. Sorry guys, but that's about as "exotic" as I get. They have cinnamon in them, so that's cool, right? Right?
Anywho, you should hear her out on it.

I vote, Denver.

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Cool Library

So my co-worker calls over to me the other day and says, "Hey! The Conjuring Arts Research Center's library is looking for a cataloger."


Wait. The what now?

The problem with living in New York, as I often say, is that there are too many doggone things in it. If any other town in America happened to have a Conjuring Arts Research Center then you can BET everyone in the city would know about it. Heck, they'd probably have a Conjuring Arts Research Center Parade every year or something. But in New York, even the coolest of places disappear in the midst of all this schtoof.

Ah well. If you're a cataloger, boy have I got a job for you.

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I'm Just Glad That Tim Meadows Is Getting Work

Fans of Shredderman should be pleased. Tonight marks Nickelodeon's premier of the Shredderman movie. Shredderman Rules is directed by Savage Steve Holland (really wish I were making that one up there), Tim Meadows aaaaaand . . . . no one else. Let me know how it was, kids.

They've bumped Ned up from the 4th grade to the 8th grade. But considering the changes we just heard about in the Dark Is Rising movie, I'm not gonna be all that picky.

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Too Tired To Post

Saw Knocked Up last night. Awesome movie. The downside? It's 2:17 a.m. and I need to be at work in the morning. Sorry, beauties. I'll post continually during the day instead.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Review of the Day: The White Giraffe

The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John. Illustrations by David Dean. Dial Books. $16.99.

I was at an ALA Conference skimming through the convention center when I stumbled across the Dial booth. I was a little too late to get the hottest galleys that day, but a person can still root out a hidden gem here and there if they’ve a yen to. I think it may have been the cover of “The White Giraffe” that caught my eye first. Deep blues with a pale ghostly giraffe obviously reflecting the moonlight off its hide. I’m not usually drawn to animal stories but there was something deeply compelling about the image I saw here. “Is this any good?,” I asked the clearly exhausted Dial employee. To the best of her ability she assured me that it was a worthwhile read, so I took it home. So here’s where it becomes awkward. It may well be that in the future this is a much beloved title that no one disputes as distilled genius in a glass. Maybe. But as far as I could tell, author Lauren St. John hasn’t quite yet gotten a feel for how to write for a young audience. There are things in this book that work, but by and large they’re outweighed by the sheer mass of the things that do not. A good start, but a book that could have stood a little more editing

When eleven-year-old Martine’s parents die in an accidental fire, she finds herself bundled away from England and sent to live with her grandmother in Africa. And that might have been fine except for the fact that it’s obvious right from the start that Martine is not wanted by this unfamiliar relative. Lonely in a strange new land, one night the girl spots a white giraffe in the moonlight. And unaware of a legend that speaks of a girl who will someday ride such an animal, Martine begins to fall in love with her new home. Yet poachers are invading Martine’s grandmother’s land and Jemmy, the beautiful white giraffe, is almost certainly in danger. It will take all the girl’s strength and resilience to discover who the traitor on the reserve is and, when the time comes, realize how to rescue Jemmy.

Now it’s clear that St. John’s a writer through and through. Listen to this line: “Pale spiky thorn trees and ragged shrubs dotted the long yellow grass, which glowed beneath the blazing summer sun as if it was lit from underneath.” THAT is how you write a sentence. THAT is how it is done. Food too is described deliciously as “omlettes made from fresh farm eggs and wild mushrooms, a heap of crispy bacon, and tomatoes fried with brown sugar.” A human being could subsist on these words alone if you let them. So imagine my distress when on the next page the resident magical black friend puts her hand on our heroine’s forehead and says, “You have the gift, chile . . . Jus’ like the forefathers said.” Even if you take away the whole white-girl-is-going-to-save-us-all idea, surely there was a better way to introduce that idea.

All right. So maybe some of my objection to this title is rooted in its basic premise. White girl goes to Africa and connects with a magical creature there better than any actual African could because she is “the one”. So how much does Martine’s race really matter? I read the first chapter or so of “The White Giraffe” after reading the bookflap, secure in the belief that my heroine was black. When it turned out that she was not, the entire reading experience took a shift to the left. I had been enjoying the book, you know. As first chapters go, I may have to nominate “The White Giraffe” for Most Gripping Opening of 2007. It’s thrilling in the best sense of the word. So do we blame a book for putting a European lady in an African setting? Not a bit of it. But when it's clear that there are legends built around Martine, that's when things start to get uncomfortable. I mean, just for argument's sake, would it have been so bad if Martine had been black? It's not like we're swimming in black heroines in children's books these days anyway (and certainly not in fantasy).

There were other issues, I suppose. Martine is eleven but in terms of basic ideas like racism she resembles a six or seven-year-old more. That means that you get passages where apartheid gets a brief glossed over mention without much meat or heft to it. There are small plot gaps as well. Martine doesn’t tell her grandmother about her gamekeeper’s unnatural violence because Tendai “didn’t want to distress her unnecessarily.” It’s a literary device that’s as unnecessary as it is frustrating. Like those movies where the characters won’t call the cops, even when the homicidal maniac is threatening them with a machete. Heck, when Martine’s grandmother, a woman who (we later find) would protect her granddaughter with her life, allows Martine to go BACK into the super scary ship full of bad guys with guns there is just no good reason for it. No sane guardian would let their kid do that. And there are other moments of sheer coincidence. Grace, a holy woman, spontaneously appears in Martine’s secret alcove at just the right moment. You know Ms. St. John must have felt some slight awkwardness with moments like this. After all the book even says, “Martine was still reeling from the bombshell of finding the woman she’d wanted to see, here, in this sacred space.” You me both, hon.

But did I mention that the writing was sometimes great? That a giraffe’s eyes are described as the wisest and “most innocent” in the world? And I liked Martine’s dreams and the subplot that involves some mean kids in her school. It’s the details and the idea of a white gal being the savior of Africa that gives me the willies. I look forward to what St. John puts out in the future. A memorable read, but it could definitely have been stronger.

On shelves now.

Notes On the Cover: Can’t put it down. Credit Dial with snagging one smartie of a cover for this puppy. Artist David Dean's interior illustrations are lovely to look at too. It's a pity they weren't in color, what with the beautiful hues on the cover and all hat. A good choice in any case.

First Line: “People like to say that things come in threes, but the way Martine looked at it, that all depends on when you start counting and when you stop.”

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Smoochy Smoochy

Uh-oh. Bad news, guys. I know we were getting all excited about The Dark Is Rising movie coming out. I mean, Walden Media's doing it, but they were so nice with Bridge to Terabithia that we were willing to forget about what they did to How To Eat Fried Worms. Well, we shouldn't have. In this woeful rehash of the book-to-film translation (I guess the misspelled Newbery Award in the first sentence should have been a tip-off) we learn that Cooper's novel has had a couple nips and tucks here and there. It reads:
But within those broad story strokes are major changes, including much more action than Cooper ever imagined, changed relationships and motivations, including the addition of a love interest for The Walker (who is much younger in the movie) and a new reason for him to betray the Light, a very different take on Merriman (in the books he’s essentially Merlin; screenwriter John Hodge told me they dropped all the Arthurian stuff from the film), new abilities for The Rider, and plenty of adventure elements – the impression that I got from what we saw was Indiana Jones meets Harry Potter.
Oh. I will rewrite that one for you so that you feel the full weight. It said, "the addition of a love interest for The Walker". In their defense, Christopher Eccleston is hot as hell. So.... there's that. Then my eyes drift back over the sentence and I shudder in the very depths of my soul.

And they're dropping the Arthurian stuff? Dude, when your poster looks like this

do you think it's the brightest idea to drop all connections to the essential mythology of the book? I mean, what if this movie's a hit and you want to remake the other titles in the series? How's that whole Grail/talking to the friggin' son of Arthur himself idea gonna work out for you?

Thanks to Oz and Ends for the link.

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It's Not Cricket (hee hee)

Due to the frustrating nature of the McSweeneys website, I can't directly link you to the article I'd like you to see. In any case go here and scroll down to the following:


It probably says something about me that this letter was my favorite:
Dear Editor:

Maybe it's just these postmodern times, but I finished your April story on gardens with a painful sense of reader's whiplash. Was it fiction or nonfiction? Your table of contents and editor's note did little to resolve this question, and the story itself was frustratingly self-obfuscating. One moment the reader is getting helpful advice on seed planting and the next a young boy is speaking with a bunny that's wearing an ascot. Please don't throw us so violently down the rabbit hole (pun intended!) again.

Kevin Oberlin
Age 11 months
Missoula, Montana
Thanks to Adam Rex for the link.

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48-Hour Book Challenge on the Horizon


Thar she blows! Thar she also apparently got some original Babymouse art to celebrate the upcoming 48-Hour Book Challenge. Yes, MotherReader is throwing down the gauntlet yet again and it's up to you pretty pookies to do some serious reading. The rules are here. This week-end, tackle those mounting piles you haven't had a chance to go through yet. Not me. This thing's falling on the same week-end as my husband's birthday, so sorry m'dears. Then again, you should be grateful. If I write two reviews in a day my head starts to swell up and I get a violent onset of "the fevers".

Go win it for the gipper then.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Library Furniture

It sort of stands on its own, I think.

I wonder if you could request the book. I know there are a couple titles I've been meaning to work my way through. Then again, would you really want to snuggle down to Octavian Nothing? Or The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs? Thank you, but no. I think I'll pass.

Thanks to BB-Blog for the link.


Toldja It Was Sequelrific

Pop quiz, hotshot.

The Plain Janes is which of the following:

A) A hit

B) Good for all ages

C) About to be accompanied by a sequel entitled Janes In Love.

D) All of the above.

Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.

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Free Books a.k.a. Meghan McCarthy's Party Draws Nigh

Free books!

Fine. So Book Expo came and went and it's possible you feel full to overflowing of free books. If, however, you'd like a couple more, why not hit Meghan McCarthy up for some? As she wrote me:
So I found out my publisher is going to give me 2 cartons of books to give away at my party this Saturday.
2 cartons, people. Books for everyone. Okay. So unfortunately I can't go as it's the same night as my husband's birthday party. But you guys throw damn good shindigs without me, I've noticed. That last Kidlit Drink Night? Dude, I snuck in there and no one needed me at all. So go give Meghan your support. Eat her food! Take her books!

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It's More Interesting To Note What They Haven't Done Than What They Have

From Cynopsis comes two different bit of news regarding picture book to TV screen adaptations:

WGBH Boston has partnered with Canada's Studio B Productions Inc. to develop and co-produce Martha Speaks , a new animated series based on the popular kid's book of the same name by author Susan Meddaugh (1992/Houghton Mifflin). Designed to expand kid's vocabulary through language and story-telling (and eating alphabet soup), the Martha Speaks series will be comprised of 40 half hour episodes and is slated to be ready for air in fall 2008 on public TV in the US. Studio B will hold international distribution rights for the property.
And then later . . . .
National Geographic Kids Entertainment has inked a deal for the TV development rights to author Jerdine Nolen's kid's book Plantzilla . Nolen and David Catrow, illustrator of Plantzilla and numerous other kid's books (and political cartoons), have teamed with writer Mark Drop and NG to adapt the book into an animated series for K6-11. Plantzilla revolves around the adventures of third grader Mortimer Henryson and his best friend Plantzilla, the classroom plant.
As me title says, I'm far more interested in the books they haven't considered for animation than the ones they have. Is there a Click, Clack, Moo in the works? An attempt to woo Mo to give up all Pigeon-related rights? A back and forth over who gets Fancy Nancy? Such an odd business, television.

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Children Like Bad Man

I totally ripped that title off of Bookninja. Totally. Sorry, dude.

It was worth it though. Here's the article.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Review of the Day: New Socks

New Socks by Bob Shea. Little Brown & Company. $12.99

What is it you want out of your average everyday picture book? Do you want a story? A plot of some sort with a beginning, middle, and an end? Or are your demands a little more broad? I mean, what if a picture book went and just talked about socks for pages at a time? These days, publishers of children’s literature have had their eyes opened wide by the phenomenal success of titles like, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. So suddenly it’s perfectly okay for the narrator of a work for preschoolers to talk to them one-on-one without having to go so far as to dredge up a standard storyline. With Bob Shea's, "New Socks", all you have t do is combine an ultra-mod look with an over-the-top enthusiastic presentation and you’ve got yourself a book that walks the line between what’s cool and what’s inspired.

A glasses-wearing yellow chicklet (who is apparently named Leon, though the book never calls him that) asks you to guess exactly what it might be about him that’s so new. The glasses? Not so much. No, he’s wearing his New Socks. They fit him to a tee, look good, and there’s nothing better for sliding across a wooden floor. As we watch, the chicken uses the socks to overcome his fear of big slides and pretend to ring up the President. When at last his energy dies down a little the chicken says to the reader, “What can’t these New Socks do?” The last line in the book sums it all up. “Now I’m all excited to get pants!”

First off, this may well be the very first hipster picture book I’ve encountered, published in the last five years. Mod titles are a dime a dozen and you can find more rock, rockabilly, punk, jazz, and blues books for kids than you’ll ever have a need for. But how many of us have ever encountered a hero with thick black-framed glasses and a singular fashion sense? If the chicken in this book confessed that he found these socks at an awesome vintage store in Williamsburg for $3.00, I wouldn’t blink an eye. The fact that it takes a childhood staple (a sometimes unnatural love for the inanimate) and molds it into a picture book format is just gravy on the cake. So to speak.

As I may have mentioned before, “New Socks” probably owes its very existence to “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus”. This isn’t to say that the two books are particularly similar. Aside from the avian hero who talks to the reader, the two are fairly different in terms of tone. No, it just seems to me that had “Pigeon” not garnered itself a Caldecott Honor and numerous profitable accolades, Little Brown & Co. might have been less inclined to take a chance on the pair of bright orange footies found here. The Mod look, coupled with the joyful storyline, makes the book unique. I can think of plenty of books that could be considered “good design” but that don’t have so much as a lick of humor to them. So it’s nice to sometimes see an exception to this rule. I'm not sure how repeated readings will fare, mind you. Still, I can see adults growing tired of the reading of this book long before their kids ever do.

“New Socks” to my mind, is the very antithesis of the “Fancy Nancy” books. Clean lines. A color palette of orange, yellow, and aqua blue. And nary a sparkle or a smidgen of glitter in sight! I mean, technically it’s all about fashion, but in a completely different kid-centric way. Where “Fancy Nancy” is all about embracing the idea of fanciness in a pseudo-grown-up style, “New Socks” feels more open and honest. We’ve all had that one piece of clothing that we’re just so jolly well pleased with. I mean, let’s face it. If I had a pair of big, comfy, plush, bright, beautiful orange socks I’d probably go all nuts over them myself. The chicken here is true to himself. This is what pleases him and he’s just so happy with his newest acquisition that it’s all he can do not to tell you about it for pages on end.

You know who this chicken character reminds me of? Have you ever watched those old Looney Tunes sequences involving Foghorn Leghorn and his small bespectacled chicken friend? This, right here, is that same chicken only modernized, hipstered up, and contemporized within an inch of his life. As I page through the book, I wonder if it will end up being a good read aloud with kids. Put just the right amount of force, bluster, and sheer good spirits into a reading and this chicken may veritably leap off the page. It’s worth a shot anyway. As new books go, it’s nice to find a title that’s so well and truly pleased with itself. If you’re looking for something fun, but you want to purchase a picture book that’ll suck in style-centric parents, you couldn’t ask for a more ideal title than “New Socks”.

On shelves now.

Other Blog Reviews By: Your Friendly Librarian,

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Hot Men of Children's Literature, Part 39 in a Series

It's been a while, hasn't it? Guess that just means it's time to get back to my bread and butter. My raison d'etre, and all that (pardon my French). Yes, I've been tossing about today's particular HMOCL for some time now in the back of my brain. It's rare that an author gets big, has loads of talent, and yet somehow remained below my radar all this time hotnesswise. Today's feller is a Canuck through and through. My first, if I stop to think about it.

I present to you . . . .


And he can brood. Awesome.

His website, for the record, might serve as a good example for you fellow author/illustrators out there. Look how nicely everything is laid out. First of all, there's a good intro that allows you to skip past if needs be. Then there's the information itself, clearly labeled and colorful. It's got study guides for teachers and up-to-date news. You can even find a way to contact the author. The sole element missing is a blog, but that's all right. There's time enough for that in this world. Plus the guy happens to be a top-notch writer. Those of you who never saw Airborne (cool Canadian paperback cover too) are missing out. For fun, check out some of the cheapo paperbacks he wrote long ago as viewable on Wikipedia.

Plus he's totally cute. Like, totally.

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Things That Make You Go ARGGGGG!

Complacency sucks. We should all experience the bitter taste of bile rising in our throats at least once a day and now, thanks to a couple links I've found here and there, you're going to get that chance. I've a twofer for you here. If the former doesn't rouse your rebel blood and cause you to scream an unholy shriek of defiance then the latter most certainly will.

First off, Shaken & Stirred directed me to a little Library Journal piece entitled BEA Journal: Bloggers vs. Reviewers. Ah yes. The mythical rivalry between bloggers and reviewers. The fact that some bloggers can also be reviewers? Well, I'll just clip out a little piece of this article for your consumption. It speaks of the Ethics in Reviewing session that occurred:
I started the day off with a bang, sitting in (actually standing with notepad in one hand and trusty Nikon in the other) on the discussion of the growing influence of bloggers in the book world. It was a rehash of the ongoing bloggers vs so-called "real" reviewers argument, which is a good/bad one. This session, alas, was disappointing because the panelists all were legitimate reviewers, including a critic for the NY Times and a college lit professor, who also blog.

Those folks aren't the people causing concern. It's others going by the handle of Book Girl, or Book Dog, or Bookasaurus, etc., basically book nerds with no chops who pound away on their PCs while their 18 cats prance in the background. Those are the people I wanted to see defending their legitimacy, not some Times ace.

You'll be pleased to hear that I've sicced all 18 of my cats on this writer (though a good 14 of them took two steps out the door and then promptly began attacking my doorstop instead).

Nothing like a bit of massive stereotyping to start your day off right, eh whot? Whatever you do, don't tell the poor fellow that the New York Times has started culling some of their reviewers from amongst the bloggers amongst us (or so I heard this past week-end). I don't think he'd be particularly pleased.

My second entry doesn't actually make me mad. How could it? I mean.... well see for yourself:

In case you can't quite read that, it reads The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill about Global Warming. I'd cry but I'm having too good a time laughing to do so. It's the children's faces that get me. They look so smug and self-satisfied.

You should definitely hear the Kidslit take on it too. She's the one who discovered it, after all.

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Quill Nominations 2007

Poor misbegotten Quill Awards. I mean, they describe themselves as, "the only book awards to pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz. They are the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of all the groups that matter most in publishing--- readers, booksellers and librarians." Not actually true. The Cybils might have something to say in the matter. But in any case, the Quill Nominations were announced at BEA this year. We seem to have a nicer crop of titles than usual too. Observe (as I have lifted these wholesale from the website in question):

Graphic Novel

Making Comics
Written by Scott McCloud
Published by HarperCollins

Ode to Kirihito
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Published by Vertical

Alice in Sunderland
Written by Bryan Talbot
Published by Dark Horse

Exit Wounds
Written by Rutu Modan
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

Aya Written by Marguerite Abouet
Illustrated by Clement Oubrerie
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

Children's Picture Books

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon
Written by Mini Grey
Published by Alfred A. Knopf

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy
Written by Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
Published by HarperCollins

Written by David Wiesner
Published by Clarion Books

Orange Pear Apple Bear
Written by Emily Gravett
Published by Simon and Schuster

Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship
Written by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu
Photos by Peter Greste
Published by Scholastic Press

Children's Chapter/Middle Grade

Written by Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Published by Hyperion Books

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Written by Jeff Kinney
Published by Abrams/Amulet

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Written by Brian Selznick
Published Scholastic Press

Pick Me Up
Written by Jeremy Leslie and David Roberts
Published by DK Children's Books

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3)
Written by Rick Riordan
Published by Miramax Books

Young Adult/Teen

American Born Chinese
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Published by First Second Books

The Green Glass Sea
Written by Ellen Klages
Published by Viking

Written by Alice Hoffman
Published by Little, Brown and Company

Life as We Knew It
Written by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Published by Harcourt Books

Written by Patricia McCormick
Published by Hyperion Books

I was rather fond of Ms. Pfeffer's thoughtful take on her chances. And as I recall, they changed the voting requirements this year.

The Voting Board
The Quills Voting Board, comprised of over 6,000 invited booksellers and librarians, will vote for the 19 category winners between June 18, 2007 and August 31, 2007.

Consumer Voting
Following the announcement of this year’s winners on September 10, 2007, readers will get to cast their online votes for The Book of The Year from September 10 to October 10, 2007. To cast your vote log on to www.quillsvote.com.

Fascinating stuff. I know where my votes lay. Yourself?

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The Equivalent of Math in These Here Parts

Nuff said.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards Announced!!!

As found here:

Fiction and Poetry:

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party (Candlewick) by M. T. Anderson

Picture Book:
Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories (Porter/Roaring Brook) written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr (Groundwood) written and illustrated by Nicolas Debon

The judges also selected two honor books in each category:

Fiction and Poetry:
Clementine (Hyperion) written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Rex Zero and the End of the World (Kroupa/Farrar) by Tim Wynne-Jones

Picture Book:
365 Penguins (Abrams) written by Jean-Luc Fromental, illustrated by Joelle Jolivet
Wolves (Simon) written and illustrated by Emily Gravett

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Houghton) by Loree Griffin Burns
Escape! (Greenwillow) by Sid Fleischman

Hey, man. We all have those favorites that didn't make the cut, but by and large this is a pretty out-and-out good list. It's also going to seriously affect the order in which I read and review books. I have Rex Zero, but I wasn't going to get to it for a while. What a difference an award makes, eh?

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The Lisa Yee Lookalike Contest Continues

You know how you won't spot a trend for a while and then before you know it it's everywhere? I mentioned recently that a book presented at the Random House preview had some book jacket similarities to Lisa Yee's titles. Compare and contrast for yourself.

There was this:

As opposed to these:

Brendan Buckley does so well because not only do we have half a child's face staring upwards, but the title itself contains the main character's first and last name. So when bookshelves of doom presented a new entry, I was thrilled. Shown here:
Ideally Storky's last name would be in the title and he'd be looking up, but I think it's a fine new entry into the Lisa Yee Lookalike Contest anyway. Good show!


Increase Your Karma

I received the following e-mail just the other day and thought I might share it with you:
I wanted to write to you about a volunteer project that some of my fellow UCLA library school students and I have been involved in. We volunteer at an LA County juvenile detention facility, providing library services to incarcerated youth. They have a tiny and virtually inaccessible library at the facility, so we bring books to a few of the living units, conduct book talks, and agitate for better library services! Along with UCLA's Graduate Students Association, we are currently conducting a book drive to obtain more books, especially books requested by the youth. We have set up an Amazon wish list at http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/3GB06L568M0Y3.
I'm a particular fan of library students as it is, so this sounds like a wonderful thing through and through. If you've a spare dollar or two in your pocket, please give this wish list a looksee.

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Somehow I Missed This One

A show of hands now. How many of you were aware of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books? Okay. Better question. How many of you were aware that it came out a while ago and was written by a former editor and creator of The Purple Crayon? I wasn't, but there's a rather good interview with one Mr. Harold Underdown on Cynsations. Informative stuff.

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Long Time Passing

Children's Picturebook Collecting offers the following statement:
Based upon our experience, there are fewer key collectible picturebooks on the online market than a year ago, continuing a trend we have seen over the past couple of years.

Try a search on any of the metasearch book finding websites, such as ABEBooks, Addall, Bookfinder, or the ABAA, for first edition Caldecott Medal books, or Beginner Books, or I Can Read Books, or Seuss books. Sort the results from high price to low price (the thought being the high priced books would most likely be first editions), and see how many books turn up. The results will show that many first edition books are not currently being offered for sale.

Entirely possible. They go one to explain why this might be. Well worth a glance by your eyes, if you like.

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Yet Another Recap

In case you've not tired of them, check out the Chat Rabbit recap of Book Expo. I gotsta get me some of that sweet sweet Photoshop manipulation for my own posts. Tis suh-weet.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Book Expo: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Severe Back Pain

I was trying to figure out how exactly to write up my recent visit to Book Expo '07 (motto: Grow uncomfortably close to your fellow man in a humongous space). Should I recap all the pretty pretty books I brought home? I could but then you wouldn't hear about all the cool books I wanted but passed up because I already had access to them. So instead I'll talk today about what it's like to visit a Book Expo Convention... thing. This was my first one, y'know.

First off, what's the difference between Book Expo and an ALA Conference? Sounds like a riddle of the raven/writing desk variety, doesn't it? But that was the question that popped into my head as I neared the ludicrously out-of-the-way Jacob Javits Convention Center located in beautiful Lower West Manhattan. I've done ALA twice, which is enough to make me think myself an old hand. Plus I'd attended Comic Con at this same center not a month before. To my mind I was just going to waltz in there, locate books, and waltz out.

Flaw to My Plan #1: Waltzing in is not possible. You must dodge, before you even enter, numerous people handing out flyers and ads for products you do not want before you're 50 feet from the door. Some of these people are on Segways, which makes them look like some kind of advanced legless robot. Or deeply uncool. One of the two.

After you dodge the people screaming, "Free books on the Web!" you are inside the convention center. Now the last time I was there it was full of comic book geeks and people dressed up in costumes. That didn't change much on this round. I saw a Jack Sparrow and a Borat within the first two minutes I was inside. Another thing that hadn't changed? The temperature. Jacob Javits was acting like the lovely little greenhouse it was. I saw unfortunate Information Desk volunteers literally falling to sleep as gentle sunbeams lulled them into a sense of false complacency. Fortunately, I was prepared. In the past the Javits has apparently been cold, but not knowing this I packed light. Score thus far - Javits: 0, Fuse #8: 1.

I lost my hometown advantage in attempting to find the Registration Desk, however. To my mind, Javits somehow managed to grown an extra floor or two since I'd last visited. I spent most of the day running up and down stairs and escalators, never quite figuring out what belonged where. Still, once I had my handy dandy map and plastic nameholder thingy, I was good to go.

I've heard a fellow librarian say that they don't much care for Book Expo because the publishers are so clearly trying to woo booksellers rather than librarians. I never really had a sense of that. Bloomsbury, FSG, and Clarion were all super sweet to me, making it very difficult to limit my book intake. When you walk into a convention saying, "I will only take a couple of books" you are deluding yourself. Even if you have stacks and stacks and stacks of the puppies piled on your desk at home *cough* it's hard to say no to the nice editor carrying the shiny middle reader about time travel.

I'd like to offer an apology to Clarion, by the way. You see, at one point in my travels I happened to stumble upon the Little, Brown & Co. booth as they filled their table with cookies (shown here:).

Well, I'm not made of stone. I doggone ate those delicious cookies I did. Oh, Little Brown. Why do you increase my calorie intake so?

After eating a delicious cookie, however, I was thirsty. And this being New York (America's answer to Europe) and not Portland, Oregon, there was not a drinking fountain to be seen. So what did I do? I asked Clarion if I could have one of their water bottles. The water bottles clearly meant, I later realized, for the poor starving/thirst-ridden editors unable to leave the boiling hot convention center all day. I felt bad. However, the water was very good and no one in the booth even blinked when I asked. Still. Bad form on my part.

Thing I Am Most Proud Of: I found the Roaring Brook Press booth early on and managed to get some delightful First Second ARCs, making up for my failure in Seattle earlier this year.

In my travels I discovered a lower level where even more booths were located. The convention organizers had cleverly sequestered all book signings to this floor, and it was there that I was able to find Kids Can Press, Scholastic, and Kane/Miller. My sole regret was that I couldn't find hide nor hair of Simply Read Books. They're one of my favorite independent publishers, cranking out gorgeous little creations each and every year. They weren't on my map though so I can only assume they didn't come out. Alas.

The book signings looked like fun. In this kind of situation you get a free book and have its author sign it for you. At the end of the hall is just a line of authors. Some do better than others, of course. I felt badly for the new teen author whose publisher kept working the lines trying to get her some new fans with a, "Do you like fantasy? Do you like fantasy?" While there, I ran into Monica Edinger and Joan Kindig and we waited for Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith to sign their new book Cowboy & Octopus. Then it turns out that Joan was the woman I replaced on the Newbery last year. We had a nice "woah" moment there.

In my travels I also ran into Paul Acampora, Richie Partington, Karen Breen, and John Mason. I saw Jerry Pinkney staring vacantly into space. I had Adam Rex sign his True Meaning of Smekday and got the second copy Christopher Paul Curtis has ever signed of his new book Elijah of Buxton. I met lots of other people too but my memory is freaky. While having lunch in a little oasis Candlewick set up (next to Carolyn Mackler) someone used the phrase "ALA aphasia". It's the sensation you receive (usually at ALA Conferences) when you meet someone that you know you've met before but you can't quite place where. I suffer from a lot of ALA aphasia. I'm not proud of it. It just happens.

By the way, Candlewick has just started putting their catalogs on CD-ROM. I think this may well be an idea that strays into brilliance. Who else is tired of the thick piles of paper catalogs gumming up your workplace? I know I am. Plus a CD-ROM could have interviews, behind the scenes stuff, and a host of cool extras.

At one point we ran into author Maryrose Wood who had a door prize from that Young Adult Literature Prom a month or so ago. You may remember it from John Green's quickie recap. Well here's the prize she got:

Yes. She really was carrying Knuffle Bunny, Too in there. But we did arrange it a little for this shot.

My secret plan is to find a way to adapt my body into the perfect Book Expo shape. Evolution begins with me. This secret plan requires that my shoulders grow enough muscles to easily carry several bags worth of ARCs without serious consequences to my central nervous system. However, knowing my luck I think I'm more likely to grow hips as wide as bookcases and just carry my wares that way. About this time Monica and I were weighed down with bags upon bags. Here you may see the aforementioned Mr. Jon Scieszka shocked at the amount of them.

Shocked, I say!

So by that time we decided to take off. Sadly, all the tickets for The Knight Bus were already sold out and it would not take me home. We did get to see it parked and ready, though.

I'd blame the blurriness of the shot on how fast it was moving, but you probably wouldn't believe me. With reason. Instead, we eventually found a cab to take us back into Columbialand and I changed right quick so as to turn around and go back to the same area for the Kidlit Drink Night. I took the train almost all the way there but because I was wearing painful shoes I thought that maybe I could hop a quick cab the rest of the way. During rush hour. On a Friday.

Fun Fact: Don't ever do that. Ever. Ever ever ever.

I made it eventually and zee party? She was hopping. Thanks to the good people at Kane/Miller I remembered to wear a blue dress and all kinds of folks were milling about. I saw Matt Phelan & wife, Michael Buckley & wife, Greg Fishbone & no wife (though one might well have been floating about), various Longstockings, Margo Rabb, Tim Bush, a nice microbiologist and a bunch o' bloggers. I finally got to meet our own Sheila, Liz B, and perhaps even Adrienne. I'm leaving people out, so please forgive me. The room, she was a little eensy weensy bit packed. I should have rented out the back area, but someone already had it. Lackaday.

To my delight, Cheryl Klein was there with her Harry and the Potters fan finger in tow.

And how cool was it that the creator of The Leaky Cauldron was by her side?

After that it was off to The Copacabana. A place of airbrushed pink fronds, thick carpets, and female waiters (not men) wearing Cat in the Hat hats. Bloomsbury was kind enough to place right smack dab between Shannon Hale and Katie Grant for the duration which was all kinds of awesome. They made for great seatmates. And I'd tell you about their new books, but then I'd have to kill you. During the course of their conversation I learned that Grand Rapids, Michigan is a difficult place to find a restaurant in if you're from out of town. Also, Ms. Hale knows many of the verses from I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo, and Ms. Grant's family history is fascinating (it involves two skulls and a single body in a tomb).

The real highlight of the evening were the winners of the E.B. White Read Aloud Award. The winner in the picture book category was James Howe and Marie-Louise Gay for the remarkable Houndsley and Catina. I only recently discovered this book on my own when a young girl asked for it on the Reference Desk. It's a gem of a book. One that somehow got completely passed over on many of the 2006 Best Book Lists. I may have to break my ban on reviewing previous years on this blog just to give this title the attention it so sorely deserves.

Howe, for his part, was a delight. He mentioned that he felt "uncharacteristically nervous" that evening. And he quoted Catina who, in the midst of her desire to write a book, says without hesitation that, "My book will win prizes!" And so it has. Most touchingly, Howe mentioned that his partner Art "is my Houndsley". Once you've read the book you'll appreciate that statement. When Gay went up to speak someone at my table mentioned that they'd been admiring her outfit long before they knew who she was. Gay turned out to be a wonderful speaker as well. She spoke of how, when reading the manuscript, it went a long time without mentioning that Catina was a cat and Houndsley was a dog. Her speech was a lovely encapsulation of what it's like for the illustrator when a manuscript arrives on their doorstep.

You may recall that the winner of the chapter book read aloud portion went to Watt Key for Alabama Moon. A person gets a certain mental image of a writer when they read them. I'd seen Mr. Key as a 55 or so man of little hair and ample stomach. Instead this young man with a soft Alabama accent took to the stage and spoke of his initial wonder on coming to New York. He mentioned that he had no idea that his book would be published for children, how much he really want to sign something anything when he first came to the city, and his desire for shiny gold stickers to put on his book. He charmed the entire room from the minute he stepped on that stage. If you happen to get the chance, I highly urge you to bring Watt Key to your school or library. The man knows how to give a speech.

Marcus Zusak was one of the later speakers. It took us a while to figure out, but every table had about ten copies of The Book Thief on them. And every copy was signed with a different dedication (per table, I mean). So... ow. Poor, Mr. Zusak. I'm sure his hand must be throbbing by now. He mentioned at one point that, "Writing is like climbing a mountain and there's sanity at the top." That was nice. And he was followed up by the Fancy Nancy ladies who had a running Powerpoint of little girl fans dressed to the nines behind them.

So that was that then. On Saturday I did some more hearty partying, but that will wait for another day. I can't imagine what the poor publishers and authors must be feeling right now. At least I didn't have to get up early all week-end. Foof.

No Video Sunday today, m'loves. And a special hug and kiss to Anne Schwartz who asked whether I wrote posts this long every day. Bless your heart, m'darling. I only wish I could do so.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

And What Have We Learned Today, Children?

Book Expo rages on but for this blogger my convention center days are past. I'll do a nice recap of everything I've seen and done tomorrow, but allow me to say this much for now.

What I Learned:
  • This it is unwise to wear painful shoes to a drink night and dinner in the hopes of "breaking them in". My feet have informed me that they will not be taking orders from me any longer. They somehow acquired an agent during the last few hours. I'll be speaking to them in a conference call tomorrow to discuss such issues as moving-from-the-couch and whether-I'll-ever-wear-those-damnable-shoes-again.
  • That when one plans a Kidlit Drink Night during a conference one should not naturally assume that it will be a small crowd. One should, if one were thinking clearly, get a room at a nice bar or club.
  • That cabs are apparently hard to come by around the Jacob Javits Conference Center. Who knew?
  • That Marcus Zusak is not afraid to sign 200+ books, but them on tables in a restaurant, and have a different sentence in every single one.
  • Did I mention my feet? Cause they're really putting up a fight right now. I think one of them is going to start verbally abusing me in a minute.
I learned other things as well, but those are good for a start. More tomorrow, popples.

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The Chain Letters of Blogdom

I done been memed by Mentor Texts & More.

Is it called a meme because it's all about me me?


Irregardless, there are rules to this sort of thing. Observe.

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

We are in a contrary mood today, however. I will do the tag, but I talk enough about myself as it is. Now you want to know more? 8 facts? I'm feeling dull at the moment, so I'll instead offer you 8 facts you might not know about my workplace, The Central Children's Room of New York Public Library instead.

  1. We have Eric P. Kelly's Trumpeter of Krakow Newbery Medal. No, really! It's in a cute little green velvet case. I've shown it to people who were unaware that the Newbery was an actual honest-to-goodness medal medal. Well, it is, and this is what it looks like.

  2. We have a bunch o' original paintings by N.C. Wyeth from an edition of Robin Hood he illustrated.

  3. We have a couple cut paper scenes by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen enjoyed cutting paper into complex little scenes which he would hand out for fun. We have two, I think.

  4. We have a collection of letters sent to a little girl. As a child she would write to famous authors and illustrators and she saved all their responses. In her later years, these were donated to the Central Children's Room. One by L. Leslie Brooke (I still feel the Caldecott should have been named the Brooke Medal) is a lovely little creation involving unhappy balloons.

  5. We have the real Mary Poppins umbrella. Author P.L. Travers donated it to the library. Yet another item Disney will never get its greedy paws on. HA!

  6. We try to keep every single drawing done in this library by its illustrator. That means that we've a lot of great James Marshall and Jose Aruego pictures done long long ago on butcher paper.

  7. We're currently about to digitize our entire collection pre-1923. Then it will be available for free online. We're also sending books off-site to a remote storage facility where they will be available only by request.

  8. We've an original woodcut by Wanda Gag from her book Millions of Cats. It's quite lovely.
I'd meme 8 more people, but honestly I don't want anyone to feel obligated. If you think it would be fun, however, go wild.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Poetry Friday - The Collected Works of Susan Ramsey

I'm not dead to the irony of posting a poem like this in the Summer of my own years. What the hey, as they say. It's a sonnet, I think.

The Year Hits Perimenopause

Autumn has decided what the hell.

She knows the symptoms and already frost

has tarnished her. She's not a fool. She knows

however much she feels like May the snows

are coming, so before this chance is lost

she's going to wear red, show off her tits,

plump apples, bulge pumpkins. She is going to swell

each bunch of grapes to cleavage and shadowed musk.

Fuck decorum, honey, take a bite.

Take two. Each day is shorter than the last

and colder, so her unimpeachable night

is thick with glitter, rhinestones, sequins, glitz.

She thinks that maybe she'll even try her luck

and use her license for a few young bucks.

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Though I seriously doubt that anyone in the NYC vicinity is going to be checking blogs today, please remember to stop by the Landmark Tavern tonight at 5:00. I'll be in a dress and everything. Come by.

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This Just In!


The Library of Congress announced today that, through its Center for the Book, it will create the post of National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Appointed for a two-year term by the Librarian of Congress, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will speak to the importance of fiction and non-fiction books in children's lives. Selected for extraordinary contributions to the world of books for young people, the National Ambassador will encourage the appreciation of young people's literature throughout the United States through both personal and media appearances.

“The Ambassador will be an award-winning author or illustrator whose position will acknowledge­at the national level­the importance of exceptional authors and illustrators in creating the readers of tomorrow,” said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. The National Ambassador program is a joint initiative of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children's Book Council (CBC). The appointment of the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will be announced in January 2008.

“We are thrilled. The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will honor and promote the essential role young people's literature plays in every aspect of our society,” said Simon Boughton, Chair of the CBC Board of Directors and Executive Vice President & Publisher of Roaring Brook Press.

The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature will travel and speak extensively during the two-year term, participating in book and reading promotion events throughout the United States. While each term will bring new events in different areas of the country, the National Ambassador will speak in Washington, DC each fall at the National Book Festival and in New York City each spring during Children's Book Week.

The National Ambassador will choose a platform on which the two-year term will focus. This platform will emphasize literacy, education, and related issues concerning books and young people. In addition to regular speaking engagements, the National Ambassador will work with national media outlets to promote this platform to an even wider audience.

The National Ambassador for Young People's Literature position is patterned after the Children's Laureate in the United Kingdom. The Center for the Book and the Children's Book Council will administer the project jointly, including naming the Selection Committee, overseeing the selection process, and organizing the National Ambassador's travel schedule.

The Selection Committee will consider all nationally-prominent creators of fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults in the United States. Selection criteria will include, but will not be limited to, level of national prominence and popularity with young people, as well as the candidate's known enthusiasm for specific issues in children's and/or young adult literature.

Financial support for the National Ambassador program is provided by Cheerios(r) cereal, which has been getting books into children's hands and encouraging families to read together through its Spoonfuls of Stories(r) program. Over the past 5 years, Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories has distributed more than 25 million books free inside boxes of Cheerios cereal, and donated more than $2 million to First Book(r), an international children's literacy organization. Additional financial support for this program is provided by HarperCollins Children's Books, Penguin Young Readers Group, Random House Children's Books, Holiday House, Inc., National Geographic Children's Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Harcourt Children's Books and Candlewick Press. The CBC, through its associated 501(c)(3) entity, the CBC Foundation, is seeking additional financial support for the National Ambassador program from the private sector and encourages those interested in supporting this exciting program to contact CBC and CBC Foundation Executive Director, Robin Adelson at 212-966-1990 or Robin.Adelson@cbcbbooks.org .

# # # The Children's Book Council, established in 1945, is the non-profit trade association of publishers and packagers of trade books and related materials for children and young adults in the United States. The goals of the Children's Book Council are to make the reading and enjoyment of children's books an essential part of America's educational and social goals; to enhance public perception of the importance of reading by disseminating information about books and related materials for young people and information about children's book publishing; to create materials to support literacy and reading encouragement programs; and to encourage the annual observance of Children's Book Week. The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 by Public Law 95-129 to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. Its entire program is supported by private funds. To carry out its mission, the center has created two national networks: affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and national reading promotion partners, mostly non-profit organizations, such as the Children's Book Council, that promote books, reading, literacy, and libraries. The Center for the Book plays a key role in the development of the National Book Festival, held each year on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Found via the Marketing Director of the CBC.

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