105 Ways to Give a Book

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Steal Back the Mona LisaThe Good:
I liked the look of Meghan McCarthy’s picture book Steal Back the Mona Lisa! but only skimmed it at work. Reading it with my seven-year-old, I had time to pause over the pictures and look for the bad guys hidden in the different scenes, and I really enjoyed it.

Jack is sleeping in his room in New York City, while in France, two crooks are stealing the Mona Lisa. Their master plan is to paint a disfiguring mustache on the lovely lady. Jack goes on a secret agent spy mission to find the missing painting. He has special agent clothes, a special agent watch, and special agent transportation to take him to the scene of the crime. There are parts that are a little confusing for an over-thinking adult. Like where is he driving to meet the jet (it looks like the Pacific coastline)? But I can’t imagine kids will care when they can put themselves in a secret agent’s shoes. Oh, and there’s a little bonus history section at the end about the real theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911.

Skippyjon Jones in Mummy TroubleThe Bad:
Maybe it’s just bad for me, but I didn’t like Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble by Judy Schachner. I did like the first Skippyjon Jones book, but I haven’t been a fan of the sequels. Sorry. In this book, Skippyjon Jones — as his alter-ego Skippito — goes to sees the mummies in Egypt with his Chihuahua friends. He gets in trouble and almost becomes a mummy himself, but escapes with two pawfuls of peas (don’t ask). There are lots of silly jokes (like the peas) and lots of songs and lots of Spanish words sprinkled throughout. Skippyjon Jones lovers needn’t write this book off, but it did nothing for me.

The Biggest ParadeThe Ugly:
The story of The Biggest Parade by Elizabeth Wintrop is fine. A man is responsible for making a great town parade and involves everyone, but there is no one left in town to watch the parade — except for the man’s dog who didn’t want to be in the parade and now has an important role to play as spectator. Again, the story is fine. But the pictures! Yikes. Creep-out city. You may get fooled by the pretty-cute dog on the cover, but the people are weird. Ugly weird. Look closer at the bottom of the cover and you’ll see ugly, big-nose guy, the crying, creepy twins, and the legless, big-headed baby. Yes, legless. The baby is in a back carrier but there are no legs sticking out of it. I say again, yikes.

How Was Your Day?

I get up this morning at 7:30. Okay, 7:39 thanks to the nine-minute snooze on my alarm clock. Get the kids ready for school, which involves getting their breakfast and making their lunches. For the rest, I am the cheerleader. Get dressed. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Does everyone have homework, backpacks, coats, shoes? Let’s go.

Home again. Find the books I am reading to the second-grade class today. Darn, left one at work. Find replacement book. Look for paperwork I need to give the teacher. Can’t find it. Decide it would be a miracle if I found it in this mess and give up, gracefully.

Call the roller-skating rink to book a date for the Girl Scouts. Call Girl Scout service unit coordinator to pass on skating information. Firm up some details of the skating outing. Collect ten old toys for second-grader to take to school for the swap. Wonder how many she will refuse to exchange. Throw in two extras.

Call the Rec Center to register second-grader for ballet class. Explain to two people that no, she doesn’t meet the age requirement for the class, but yes, the teacher said that she could sign up for it. Remind same two people that second-grader was already signed up for same class in the fall, when she was four months younger, so it really was just fine. Get bumped up to program manager. Leave message conveying problem and resulting irritation.

Search house for working flashlight and globe to bring to work for program today. Wonder briefly how many children will comment on dent in globe from where second-grader stepped on it. Gather other supplies for program, including plastic bag and fake tea lights. Find two books for program tomorrow.

Send out email for a change in Drama club’s meeting place next Tuesday. Remember to check Tohubohu’s site for biography information update. Look briefly. Decide that unless listed as a hooker, not important. Check MotherReader. Wonder why only one commented on Cathy’s Book post. Perhaps didn’t need to stay up until midnight to post that one. Lesson learned.

Pick up pocket calendar from scattered Girl Scout papers on floor. Realize that change in admission for skating will affect budget plans. Make quick note on budget paperwork.

Take shower. Get dressed. Wonder if anyone notices obsession with black T-shirts, sweaters, or tops with whatever else. Decide should make it a thing, like Simon on American Idol. Put powder in new shoes.

Grab bagel and juice box to eat during lunch with second-grader. Grab books to read to class. Grab books for library programs. Grab globe, flashlight, and other gear. Grab jacket for later. Take one last look for papers for teacher. Amazingly enough, find them. Go to school.

Read Estela’s Swap, since it’s related to the swap tomorrow. Read But Excuse Me That Is My Book to the class, with second-grader playing Lola. (Put in audio one more time, giving blogfriends a last chance to hear and comment). With five minutes left, read Chickens to the Rescue. Accept lively response. Join class for lunch.

See fifth-grade daughter in cafeteria. Say hello. Ignore panicked expression as she wonders if I will try to sit with her. Return to second-grader’s table where I am appreciated. Run into first-grade teacher who inquires after now-second-grader. Discuss second-grader’s attention problems. Leave school.

Get in car. Drive to work. Hit seven red lights. Squeak through three yellow lights. Come to information desk. Sit at computer. Wonder what stinks. Realize that new shoes have manure on them from gardening work at school. Understand how truly fitting this is.

And it’s only 2:00.

Cathy’s Book

Apparently, I live in a cave.

A few months ago there was all sorts of buzz about a book that incorporated a new marketing paradigm. It was big news in the book world. Many bloggers of teen books and writers and authors wrote about this new book. There was alarm! There was disgust! There was nausea!

And I never noticed.

So, when the publishers wrote and asked if I’d like a copy of the book to review, I said, “Sure.” And when I received it, I put it aside and kind of forgot about it. But then I saw a mention, just a tiny mention, on a blogfriend’s site. I can’t even remember where. And I thought, “Oh, I have that book,” and started reading it.

As it turns out, it’s pretty darn entertaining.

Cathy’s BookCathy’s Book: If Found Call 650-266-8233 includes business cards, photos, a menu, and a napkin, among many other things in a pocket on the inside cover of the book. The book itself has websites to visit, numbers to call, codes to break. It bills itself as an interactive experience, and I agree. I’m not a huge puzzle-solver kind of gal, but I found the whole thing pretty intriguing. I liked leafing through the paper crap, and I tried a number and web search or two. It was fun. The format of the book is interesting too, with sketches on every page and sometimes excerpts from instant messaging. The story kept me moving along, wondering what would happen next.

Cathy’s been dumped by her older boyfriend and wonders what went wrong. But wondering isn’t enough, especially when she has an unexplained needle mark on her arm. With the help of her best friend Emma and a variety of self-done disguises, Cathy investigates her ex-boyfriend. She goes into his house, rifles through some papers, and finds more mysteries to solve. Soon she’s in over her head with no way back. The characters are seriously flawed. Victor drugs Cathy to take blood. Cathy breaks into his house. Cathy’s mom drinks gin like coffee. Thinking about it, why would Cathy want Victor back? Why would Victor continue to have feelings for Cathy if she’s a stalker? But I suspect that is the adult in me talking, and this book is very clearly for teens.

Halfway through the book, I wondered who in the kidlitosphere had reviewed it. Searching Technorati, I found what appeared to be lots of teens’ blogs raving about the book, but no one else. Okay, one brief review from The Goddess of YA Literature, but that was all. It was as I went further back that I realized the whole marketing controversy.

Is there a vow of reviewing silence that I was supposed to take as a stand against marketing tie-ins? Did I miss a meeting?

I guess in this world of cross-promotion, product placement in movies, and viral marketing, it’s going to take more than one changed line in a book to get me riled up. I mean, I believed LonelyGirl15 was real until I was forced to accept the truth, and now she has ads after the videos. If I hadn’t searched for information about this book, I would have never known about the marketing tie-in. It’s certainly a less obvious product placement than other books. But, presumably, those books didn’t make money on the promotion of the product. But, supposedly, neither did Cathy’s Book. But it did get cross promotion on Cover Girl’s website. But Target is connected with J. Otto Seibold and promoted The Fuchsia Is Now! and no one has raised a fuss. I’m sorry, what was the issue again?

Oh, maybe it was that girls are going to flock to Cathy’s Book whether it’s linked to Cover Girl or Clinique, or even coveralls because it’s a fun book. Not a great book, but a fun book.

Shivers and Chickens

Last Monday, I listed some books that had come into my library. I said I’d be back later in the week with fuller reviews of the ones that I took home. Well, that didn’t so much happen. In my defense, I specifically didn’t promise, and last Tuesday I did manage to get in a post about the Charlie and Lola book. Remember? The one where my kids did the reading with British accents?

The Shivers in the FridgeSo, it’s really my own fault if Fuse#8 scooped me on The Shivers in the Fridge, by Fran Manushkin. In fact, I’m glad she did, because her review has only made my own thoughts on this book that much clearer. Really.

There’s a family living in the refrigerator. They are very cold and very alarmed by the monsters that keep grabbing things. They huddle together at night, and the mom tells the boy stories. One by one, they each venture out to find a better place and get taken by the monsters — or as we like to call ourselves, the people — until only the boy is left. Then it’s up to him to be brave and face the monsters himself.

As it turns out, the whole family are magnets. When they are taken out one by one, they are returned to their home on the front of the fridge, and there they are happy and warm. After we finished the book, my seven-year-old daughter asked me why the family is called the Shivers if they aren’t really meant to live in the fridge. And I don’t have the answer for her. I also don’t know why they didn’t recognize the people they must have seen in the kitchen. When I first read this book, I liked that I didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t guess that they were a family of magnets. But, the story didn’t hold up to further readings. Plus, I wasn’t crazy about the illustrations.

Chickens to the RescueNow, Chickens to the Rescue was pure fun. The illustrations are cute and funny. The story is simple and silly. It takes place on a farm, and every time something goes wrong, the chickens rush in and save the day. Until the end... but you’ll have to read it to see what happens that day. This book would be fun at storytime with children chiming in on the chickens to the rescue refrain. As it turns out, Fuse#8 scooped me on this book too, but it was so long ago that it probably doesn’t even count anymore. Really.

Edge of the Forest: MotherReader Enhanced

This month in The Edge of the Forest I’m back with the last list of funny books for all ages. This time it’s books for teens. A shout-out to Little Willow who gave me some great suggestions and helped me fill in some gaps. Later I’ll post the titles here on MotherReader as part of my “MotherReader Suggests” section. In the meantime, cruise on over to The Edge of the Forest and check out the features, reviews, and interviews that it has to offer. You won’t be sorry.

Reader Meme

About a week ago, Blog From the Windowsill tagged me for a book meme. I had seen this particular meme making the rounds and was deeply frightened, knowing I could do it no justice. I have a terrible memory for books I’ve read and for my childhood in general. But I’ve been tagged, and fair is fair. I did make one of the middle questions (it was number three) the last question, so I could end on a strong note.

1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?

Let’s say five, because I know it was before kindergarten, and my mom swears that I taught myself.

2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?

I remember having lots of books. All kinds of Dr. Seuss. Lots of those little Golden Books. I remember specifically the Frances and the Raggedy Ann books. As an older child, I know that my whole bookcase was always full.

3. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?

I re-read pretty much everything. Some favorites were the Little House series, the Narnia books, Judy Blume books, Pippi Longstocking, Raggedy Ann, and Winnie the Pooh.

4. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?

I’m guessing here, but I’d say The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, but I have no idea when I read them.

5. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?

Again, I’m guessing, but I don’t think I read Little Women until I was an adult.

6. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?

I haven’t the slightest idea. So, instead let me tell a book-buying story. I grew up in a small rural town in Virginia. Every couple of months there would be this huge book sale in a converted barn. People came from all over to buy overstocks, damaged books, returns, etc. Not only was this before eBay, but I don’t think even the discount booksellers had hit the scene yet (and if so, not in the Shenandoah Valley), so this was a big deal. My mom and I would go early and wait in line. When the doors opened, we made our way around the tables upstairs (the nicer stuff) or the shelves downstairs (lots of books without the covers). With people shuffling along down the tight aisles, there wasn’t a lot of time to ponder our choices. If we were interested at all, we grabbed a copy of the title to look at later. There were some people stocking their bookstores, but not many and they were civil about it. They might take one of each title, but they didn’t hoard them all. Once we’d filled our box or bag, we took our selections outside for a closer look. The ones we didn’t want went back on big tables left there for this purpose. Then mom and I would negotiate for what she would buy for me (I suspect the entire F. Scott Fitzgerald collection fit in that category) and what I was paying for myself (maybe the green leather copy of The Hobbit seen here that I bought for two bucks). The book sale was one of my absolute favorite things, combining reading and bargain shopping. What total bliss.
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Not Buying It

I believe that everyone has one useless skill.

I know someone who always finds a good parking place in a full lot. I know someone who always wins small games of Bingo or door prizes. My kids, apparently, can do British accents. And though these skills actually can be quite useful at times, they are useless in terms of marketability. There are no parking-place finder jobs. There are no door prize winner jobs. There are no British accents jobs (unless you count the success of Gwyneth Paltrow and Renée Zellweger).

My useless skill is bargain shopping. It’s a skill born of equal parts willpower, luck, and good shopping instincts.

I demonstrated willpower when I went into Staples at 6:00 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to buy a laminator, 100 recordable DVDs, and photo paper which will cost me a total of ten bucks after rebates. (Don’t worry — I never forget the rebates). I walked out of Staples with nothing else.

I demonstrated luck when I went into JC Penney’s this spring and found the lowest priced clearance stuff ever — everything was $2.77 — right inside the door. I found a perfect pair of black pants, a black shift, and a jacket to wear over the outfit. When I got home, I realized that the pieces I had put together for about nine bucks was the three-piece outfit that sold in the store for ninety dollars. If there were some sort of shopping Olympics, I would have won it.

I demonstrated good shopping instincts (and a little bit of luck) when I took my daughter to Ross last week and bought three jeans, cargo pants, one sweater, and six shirts for less than a hundred dollars. Plus, the sweater and one pair of jeans were from Limited Two, where such things usually run about forty dollars each.

Not Buying It: My Year Without ShoppingProbably because I am so good at it, I love shopping. I can’t imagine a year without it. But that is what Judith Levine chronicles in her book, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping.

After a $1001 Christmas shopping season — in which she didn’t think she was being particularly generous — Judith and her husband decide to undertake a project to not shop for a year. They also skip other consumer entertainment, like movies and plays and dinners out. They are asked by many friends what is “allowed” in their yearlong lifestyle. They allow themselves all groceries, but argue about whether wine is essential. They won’t pay for a movie or dinner, but they occasionally allow their friends to treat.

The journey takes them through the simplicity movements in NYC and a self-sufficient man in Vermont. Along the way the author talks about our consumer nation — in regards to 9/11 (Show you’re not afraid. Go to restaurants. Go shopping.) and as our given American right. It’s an interesting book that varies from essay-type passages, to information laden sections, to her own personal experiences. The book didn’t change my life, by any means, but it was interesting to read about one person’s perspective on the experience of consuming.

I Am Thankful For StatCounter

I’m going to guess that most blog entries written today will focus on thankfulness in a sweet and moving way. But not this one. While many people will be wrapped up with family all day or (ugh) watching football, some of us may be using the sweet day of freedom from work and errands to catch up on our blog reading. I think we blog devotees deserve something special today.

First of all, if you missed it on Tuesday, at the end of my post on Charlie and Lola books I included an audio file of my two kids reading from the book. With British accents. So, here’s an excerpt from Lauren Child’s But Excuse Me That Is My Book, and I will keep putting it in my posts until all my blogfriends comment. I’m not kidding.

Today, I am thankful for StatCounter. Not because it records my statistics, but because its keyword search feature brings me joy. I glance at it every day, and usually the searches are for books, authors, or my blog name. But sometimes a search string stands out with a particular comic flair, and I wish I could write to that person specifically and offer my advice, suggestions, or validation. Today is that day.

I am always late
I hear ya. I am always late too. But while my lateness is due to some cosmic — and perhaps comedic — force, I suspect you are just a lazy bastard. My advice? Move faster.

Good to shave eyebrows
I’ve answered this question right in the blog entry title just to save the searchers time. No.

Wine that goes with spaghetti

Winnie the Pooh look like a pimp
True dat.

videos of Vanessa Anne Hudgens sneezing
I can’t imagine why anyone would want such a thing, so let me point you instead to some links to other great videos, including “Lecture Musical.” I even have a link to a movie I helped to write and produce.

gay penguin love
...is a beautiful thing. This search refers to the wonderful book And Tango Makes Three, which was number four on the Amazon children’s bestsellers list just a couple of days ago. Strange, since it came out a couple of years ago. But I stand by this book now and forever.

funny passages without punctuation
Without any punctuation at all? No, can’t help you. But I did write a post with only one period. You could try that.

use ennui in a sentence
I’ll let Jon Stewart do it from his commencement speech at William and Mary in 2004. “We declared war on terror — it’s not even a noun, so... good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.”

ethic carrying a plate
I don’t know what this means, but I think with a little tweaking that it could be a great band name. Or book title.

poems for the dysfunctional family
...and now we’re back to Thanksgiving.

If you do want to read a little bit about real thankfulness, then enjoy the newest Carnival of Children’s Literature, Thanksgiving edtion, put on by Readable Feast. Happy Thanksgiving.

Charlie and Lola Make The Big Time

I love Lauren Child’s books about Charlie and Lola. Really, really love them. When I first saw I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato, I was impressed by the particular comic style. The illustrations put me off at first, but I found that they were an acquired taste, like blue cheese or Curb Your Enthusiasm. After I got over the big eyes and pieced-together scenes, I found myself a true fan of the artistic interpretation and how it complements the text.

Then one day I’m minding my own business, and what should come on the Disney Channel but Charlie and Lola! These kids had made the big time with their own short animated series. You can imagine my trepidation given that the show is from Disney, home of such horrors as Pooh Adore-ables and really too many other travesties to children’s literature to name. But, as it turns out, the Charlie and Lola episodes are great. Most preschooler shows these days look like they were put together by the Committee of Important Lessons for Children (so that parents will feel better about their kids watching TV, and therefore we can plug the related toys, books, and clothes). But Charlie and Lola is just clever, funny, and entertaining. What a concept.

But Excuse Me That Is My BookWhen a new Lauren Child book, But Excuse Me That Is My Book, came to my library, I brought it home to read to my seven-year-old. She seemed to be strangely familiar with the story. As it turns out, she had already seen the Charlie and Lola show from this book. Or, more accurately, this book was made from the show. Now the characters have come full circle. First a few books, then a few shows, and now books from the shows.

But you won’t see me complaining this time, because these books are good. How good? School Library Journal Best Books of 2006 good, where it’s listed along with other tops of the year like Lilly’s Big Day and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Moon.

But Excuse Me That Is My Book tells the story of Lola’s need to find her favorite book at the library, her heartbreak when it’s not there, and Charlie’s assistance in finding her something new. It’s spot-on perfect.

But you know, this post was supposed to be about Winter is My Favorite and My Best, which is also extremely very good, being the story of Charlie and Lola waiting for snow, playing in snow, and talking about snow. Okay, the book reads better than that. Imagine it with characters who entertain and amuse you.

But the best things about these books — besides the clever writing, incredible illustration, and comic style — is that you almost have to read them with a British accent. Especially after having seen the shows, it would be hard to resist. I know I’ve just made my British readers cringe, but maybe this version will win you over. Here’s an excerpt from Lauren Child’s But Excuse Me That Is My Book, as performed by the MotherReader players.

What Came To My Library

Today is the last day to nominate a book for the Cybil Awards, the book award from the blogging community. Hopefully this award will hit somewhere between the fancy-schmancy Newbery/Caldecott/Printz awards and the popular-purchase Quills. You don’t have to be a blogger to nominate a title, so look at the lists and see if your favorite books are there. If not, add your voice. I’ll be a final judge for picture books, so I’m keeping an eye on that list myself.

Speaking of lists of picture books, it’s time again for...

What Came To My Library.
  • Snow Is My Favorite and My Best, by Lauren Child
    I don’t even need to read this book to know that I’ll take it home. I LOVE Charlie and Lola books, even ones based on the shows (more on that later).

  • Chickens to the Rescue, by John Himmelman
    As things around the farm go wrong, the chickens rush in to make things right — with crazy results. Simple text will make this book fun to share with my beginning reader. Plus chickens are funny.

  • Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble, by Judy Schachner
    Liked the first Skippyjon Jones. Didn’t like the second. But my kids liked both. I’ll give this one a chance.

  • I Am A Ballerina, by Valerie Coulman
    My seven-year-old takes ballet, so I’m a sucker for ballerina books. What sets this book apart for me is that the ballerina is Asian — and so is my daughter’s best friend and ballet partner. It looks like a sweet book.

  • The Shivers in the Fridge, by Fran Manushkin
    There’s a little family that is living in the fridge. Why? We don’t know — until the end. Worth another read at home.

  • Sally’s Snow Adventure, by Stephen Huneck
    The Sally books do nothing for me personally. This one is cute enough with a story about Sally going skiing, getting lost, and being found by the rescue dogs. I do like the picture of the dachshund standing upright on skis. Dachshunds are funny.

  • Oops, by Arthur Geisert
    In this wordless picture book, a little pig in a pig family spills his milk, causing a chain reaction that eventually destroys the house. Didn’t like the idea when I first heard about it, not crazy about it now.

  • Grumpy Gloria, by Anna Dewdney
    Gloria the dog loves her child companion, but when she ignores Gloria for a new toy, Gloria gets grumpy. The older kids try to cheer her up — in some ways that you wouldn’t wish on any dog — but nothing will do until her best friend comes back to play with her. Cute with particular appeal to the younger kids, given the main character and the simple, large text.

  • Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson? by Lois Grambling
    Uneven story of a kid who wants to bring his dinosaur to school. He hopes to set him on bullies on the playground (which makes the kid seem young) and have him help the school band for homecoming (what elementary schools have homecoming?). Bugged me.

  • Steal Back the Mona Lisa, by Meghan McCarthy
    Funny story of a kid who travels to France from New York on a secret spy mission, with all the required secret agent gear. Looks like fun.

  • The Gingerbread Girl, by Lisa Campbell Ernst
    The old couple makes a girl hoping that she won’t run away, but she does. But while she was baking, she overheard the story of her brother, so she won’t make the same mistakes. She runs away, lassos the fox, and ends up coming home and teaching everyone to bake gingerbread kids. Then why run away in the first place? Plot holes in picture books aren’t pretty.

  • Once Upon A Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong and illustrated by David Small
    I’m not usually a fan of wordless books, but I read a good review about this one and at first glance, it looks like I’d like it. I’ll take it home for a closer look.
So, not a bad crop of picture books. I took home seven for a closer look, and released five to the wild (along with another five Maisy/Arthur/Dora books I didn’t need to review). With any luck, I’ll be back later in the week with fuller reviews for some of the keepers. But I’m not making any promises.
Category: 2 comments

Poetry Friday: Monster Edition

Frankenstein Makes a SandwichThis poetry book has been making the rounds of the bloggers, but when I laid my hands on a copy, I had to lend my highly credible voice to the mix. Yes, I say, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex is hysterical.

The quirky quality starts with the subtitle:
And other stories you’re sure to like because they’re all about monsters, and some of them are also about food. You like food, don’t you? Well, all right then.
Even the credits and book info are fun. One notices that they are laid out in a strange way. Upon closer investigation, the note at the bottom of the page says “The Invisible Man Makes a Snow Angel, 1897.” Yeah, I guess that is what it looks like. Here’s the illustrations note: “The illustrations in this book were created with oils and... oh gosh, lots of stuff. What? Sure, he used some of that. Yep, that, too.”

The table of contents is a detailed “menu” of treats, including “The Lunchsack of Notre Dame” and “Godzilla Pooped on My Honda.” The illustrations throughout are fantastic, and varied in style.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite poem, “Count Dracula Doesn’t Know He’s Been Walking Around All Night With Spinach in His Teeth”:
Will someone please just tell him? It looks so undignified.
The zombies almost mentioned it. The Headless Horseman tried
But when he said, “Vhat are you staring at?”
they lost their nerve and lied.
I want to meet this Adam Rex. I think we’d be friends. I think we’d have to be after I’ve just ripped off all of his own information to make this post, rather than write my own funny analysis of the book. But honestly, why bother when the author (and illustrator) can show you much better than I can just how funny/clever/silly this book is.

Food Security

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that hungry is an imprecise name and has made the move to represent this population as food insecure. I can’t imagine why this wonderful idea didn’t surface before now. Apparently, we don’t need to solve problems. We just need to rename them so that they are less emotionally charged. After all, people may galvanize to help hungry people. But when the same people have low food security, it seems much less pressing.

A fictitious Bush insider gave insight to other changes following this colossal break-through.

The homeless will be referred to as the housing insecure.

The poor will be the monetarily challenged.

Even the word poverty itself is making a change.

The fictitious Bush insider spoke on the issue. “We’re changing the accent on the word poverty, so it will now be said as poverté. We’ve noticed how Target improved its image when people started saying Targét — even gaining a couture line. We’re hoping for the same thing with poverty... I mean poverté.”

He adds, “We’ve also been looking at other ways to change the feeling about the monetarily challenged. With the popularity of the word “extreme” — as in extreme sports — along with the rise in the simplicity movement, we’ve decided to combine those concepts in regard to poverty. We see positioning these folks as living an eXtreme simplicity lifestyle, which adds a little cachet to their condition. Certainly they’ll find being fashionable a suitable alternative to wage increases or health benefits."
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Blogosphere Mentioned In The National Book Awards

In the National Book Awards, the award for young people’s literature went to M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party. From the Washington Post:
In his acceptance speech, Anderson made a point of noting that Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award. “There is a lot of dithering in the blogosphere,” he said, about whether graphic novels are worthy. This can now be laid to rest.
The other finalists in young adult literature were Martine Leavitt for Keturah and Lord Death (don’t know it), Patricia McCormick for Sold (haven’t got it yet), and Nancy Werlin for The Rules of Survival (Amazing).

The Washington Post also reported:
Yang said he thinks we’re “in the middle of a renaissance for the graphic novel” — finally seeing “an entire body of work” in the form that aspires to be literature.
My favorite part of this whole thing? That M.T. Anderson talked about the blogosphere with regard to books. That’s us, guys!
Category: 1 comments

Seventy Out Of One Hundred

I hadn’t made any announcement about it being Children’s Book Week, because on this blog every week is Children’s Book Week. I mean, when has it not been a week about children’s books since I started this thing? However, some bloggers including Bloomability (home of my retired dots template) and Fuse#8 (home of the Hottest Men in Children’s Literature) have celebrated by posting about a list of the Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children. It’s a great list, even though it’s seven years old now. It hits across picture books, easy readers, and chapter books as well as a variety of styles. The blogger game is to copy the list and bold the ones you’ve read, put an asterisk by the ones you liked, and a minus by the ones you hated. And then there is the all-important number reflecting how many you’ve read.

I did the bolding and asterisking and minusing, but I left the document on my work files. I’m not sure if I feel like putting the whole list up here anyway. I’ve read seventy that I can remember, but I have a terrible memory. I’m guessing I read at least five more. I liked most of what I read, or had a pretty neutral reaction. The only books I didn’t like were The Veleteen Rabbit because I hated the idea of the kids stuffed animals getting tossed (which explains some of my Tulane distaste). I didn’t like Sylvester and the Magic Pebble because the idea of turning into a rock freaks me out. As a kid I found Jumanji creepy, and I stick by that assessment today.

There are some mistakes on the list that should have been corrected. Both the Little House series and a couple of individual books from the series are listed. That’s just wrong. Some huge notables are missing from the list that show up on the kids’, books like Holes and Redwall and Harry Potter. The list tends toward books that teachers maybe read as children, rather than reflecting newer titles. Plus a 1999 list is kind of showing its age.

I’d love to see the American Library Association take on the process of an online survey of children’s librarians. There are tons of lists over at ALA’s site, but it would be cool to have one book popularity contest, but from knowledgeable people. I know some of you librarians must have some pull and could urge the association in this direction.
Category: 1 comments

Round-About Thankfulness

After about a week without working, I’m going back to the library tomorrow.

I am not happy.

Since I had so much leave to spare and so much to do at home, I took a little sabbatical. It’s the first time I’ve taken time off for anything other than a vacation or a school break. Just time off for its own sake, to clear my head and clean up some projects.

I really liked it.

I liked having time to think my own thoughts without rushing from one place to another. I liked giving some extra attention to my blog and catching up on the blogs of my peeps — and their peeps. I liked reading books on the back porch while the kids were at school.

I’m going to miss it.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my job. I do. But there are times I miss summer vacation. You teachers will know what I mean, and everyone else will probably remember looking forward to school ending for the summer. As a kid you could look forward to long, fun, empty days with time to play, dream, and read. Sometimes you need a break.

I still need one.

I had hoped to do more around the house — as it sorely needs some attention — but I ended up drifting among unfinished projects. I don’t know if more time would have allowed me more focus, or if I just expected too much of one week. I looked longingly at NaNoWriMo. Ideas for books were jumping around in my head, but with a mind swamped with stuff, the ideas were hard to hold onto. I can imagine why a writer would quit her or his job and stay home to write, because it’s hard to write — or even think clearly — when you have so many things competing for your attention.

I want more time.

In thinking about writers and writing, I’m amazed by the energy and confidence and drive it must take to commit yourself to writing. On one side there is the security of a steady job with a consistent paycheck. On the other side is the possibility of financial reward and a creative outlet. I’m impressed that anyone would take that whole-hearted plunge into writing books.

And I’m thankful.

Because if writers didn’t keep taking chances, we’d be missing these incredible books born of diligence, perseverance, and intelligence. I don’t know how you do it, people, but I’m glad you do. And I’ll keep reading your books and telling folks about them.

I’ve got work to do.
Category: 3 comments

Monster In The Backpack

The Monster in the BackpackFinally! A new beginning reader book that is interesting and funny. Lisa Moser might be poised to join the ranks of Cazet and Rylant if she can bring us more books like The Monster in the Backpack.

Annie has a new backpack with pink and blue flowers. It also has a monster. When Annie goes to unzip the backpack, the monster yells, as does Annie. When she takes another peek inside, the monster yells again.
“Do you ever whisper?” asked Annie.

“Do you ever knock?” asked the monster.

“How can I knock on a backpack?”

The monster scratched his head. “You’re right," he
said. “Next time, ring the doorbell.”
Annie questions the small monster about being in her backpack, but decides to continue on to school with him. I guess as monsters go, he’s pretty cute, even if he did eat Annie’s lunch. Except for the carrots, because carrots make him burp. The monster creates problems for Annie all during the day, but in the end, she finds that having a troublesome monster is better than having no monster at all.

The simple, bright illustrations by Noah Z. Jones add to the sense of fun and whimsy of the book. The story is just enough for young readers to enjoy, and the silliness throughout will keep them reading.

Pimp My Blog

Notice anything different?

I’ve been sick of the dots for a while, but couldn’t find a template I wanted to use. My kind husband changed one of the basic Blogger ones to accommodate my title in the sand. Beauty.

I made some changes to my blogroll as well. I took out some blogs that weren’t updating, and added some that I’ve been reading but hadn’t listed. In the interest of keeping things simple, I decided not to add writers’ blogs to my blogroll. While many of the book blogs list writers, none list parent blogs, and I want to bridge those worlds. I’m still visiting my writer friends so, y’know, no offense.

I’m especially proud of my tagline, since it just came to me today after months of thinking about it. Well, not constantly thinking about it, but still a great last-minute save.
Category: 14 comments

Instructions And You

Every once in a while, particularly after eating about half a loaf of French bread on my own, I think about bringing down my carb intake. While cutting carbs seems impossible, I try to reduce my carb-loaded breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s then that I stock up on Atkins and South Beach products, until the next French bread attack hits.

I picked up some South Beach Diet Denver-Style Breakfast Wraps because it seemed like an easy way to add variety to my breakfast. It being a new product for me, I read over the microwave instructions.

Microwave Cooking Instructions:
  1. Tear open one end of pouch. Okay, got it.
  2. Place one wrap (in pouch) fold-side down on microwave safe plate or paper towel. Fold-side down, makes sense.
  3. Microwave on High for 1 minute 45 seconds. Sure.
  4. Remove wrap from pouch before eating. What the...?
The instructions could have said Remove wrap from pouch and eat. Or Remove wrap from pouch and enjoy! But, no. It was Remove wrap from pouch before eating. Which begs the question, was this a problem as they rolled out this product? Were people coming back from the marketing studies saying, “This wrap is disgusting. It tastes like plastic. Oh, you take the plastic off. Great, now it just tastes like eggs rolled up in cardboard. Much better.”

I may make this a periodic feature here at MotherReader, so if you have any great product text to share, send me an email or comment below. I’m willing to bet that this decade can give old Lather, Rinse, Repeat a run for its money.
Category: 2 comments

Okay, It’s Not Quite Irony, But Still

Yesterday I had the perfect book for Poetry Friday, but it was an incredible seventy-three degrees outside and I didn’t feel like sitting down by the computer to write an entry. Journey Woman did a wonderful round-up of the bloggers who probably didn’t have perfect weather (or who may have written in advance like organized people). But back to me.

Autumn LeavesIt was warm and sunny on my front porch, or concrete stoop if you want to be more accurate. I went outside with some Poetry Friday possibilities, one of which I ended up liking. I was so taken by the look of the fantastic yellows and oranges of the leaves against the blue sky, that I took a couple of pictures. Today the top of the same tree is already faded and brown, which just goes to show how ephermal those moments of beautiful clarity really are.

After my short photo session, I delved into a teen book that looked promising, Fringe Girl. I planned to set aside the afternoon outside to finish it.

(Now, in case you are thinking with a snarky tone, “I wish I had that kind of time to sit outside and read,” let me explain something. I took off a few days of work this week since I had a lot of leave and needed a breather. I had planned to use the time to tackle some house projects, but how could I have predicted two freaky warm days at the end of the week? I’d be crazy to work inside on those days. And I didn’t really have that kind of time to sit outside and read. The mess inside my house puts me one notch away from a visit from Social Services — or Mental Health Services. I certainly can’t have anyone over anytime soon. But just like the top of the tree turned brown in one day, these perfect days are also fleeting and you can’t take the chance on missing them.)

Anyway, I was reading Fringe Girl sitting on the concrete porch/stoop, and it was pretty warm outside. Wearing a T-shirt and capris, I also took off my shoes. As I sat there with the sun beating down on my back, I started actually getting hot. And while it was lovely to be in the sun, the front-yard view of my lawn and another house had nothing on my backyard view of trees and more trees. Plus the concrete was not being kind to my butt.

I decided to retire to the backyard, which doesn’t get the full sun and has actual chairs. I walked through the house to the back porch, which was already covered with brown oak leaves. In my bare feet, I stepped outside.

There was a lump under my feet that signaled to me that I had not stepped on just a layer of leaves on the mat. With instincts sharp from years of stepping on things in my daughters’ clothes-covered floors, I wondered what toy I had crunched with my feet this time.

It was a dead chipmunk. A. Dead. Chipmunk.

A gift, presumably, from my lovely white cat. Also, presumably, not the same one that she brought into my house months ago. And one of the worst things I have ever stepped on with my bare feet, presumably.

After an extreme attack of the willies, and a run for shoes — any shoes — I threw the poor dead thing into the woods behind my house. I left my shoes on for the rest of my reading afternoon and only occasionally had shivers with the force of an electrical shock go through my whole body.

Is it irony that I took my shoes off to enjoy the beautiful day and then stepped on a dead chipmunk in my bare feet? Probably not in the most pure definition of the term. But I do believe that it’s a result of my irony-prone nature. In fact, Irony Prone would be a great band name.... or book title. Oh, DIBS!!!
Category: 5 comments

Rickshaw Girl

What a beautiful day we had here! After two days of rain and drizzle, the sky cleared. The temperature went up to seventy degrees, and the bright sun made it feel like summer. The orange and yellow leaves were brilliant against the cloudless blue sky. And I was soaking this all in from the the concrete porch of my house with a book in my hand (of course).

Then a UPS truck pulls up in front of my house. A package? For me? Yes indeedy. It’s special delivery for MotherReader. Now, I don’t get many books from authors or publishers. If I’m asked to look at a book, I generally do. Once in a while, I ask the author or publisher for a book — but only if I have some confidence that I’ll like it.

Rickshaw GirlIn this case, it was a book I had requested — Rickshaw Girl, by Mitali Perkins. I had loved her book Monsoon Summer and had recommended it for my county’s 2006 summer reading program. Monsoon Summer was such an interesting and engaging look at India through the eyes of an Americanized teenage girl. I loved the way the reader could get a feel for the problems of India, without the book feeling preachy. With the new take on another culture and the accessibility to younger teens, Monsoon Summer was a great choice for our summer reading list and continues to be a standard recommendation of mine.

So, when I opened today’s package and found Rickshaw Girl, I did something I never do. I stopped reading the book I had out, mid-chapter — maybe even mid-sentence — and read this book.

I was not disappointed.

Naima is a girl on the verge of heading out of the salwar kameez (long-sleeved tunics over cotton pants) and into a saree (yards of fabric wrapped around and over the shoulder), living in Bangladesh with her mother, father, and little sister. Her father drives a rickshaw to support the family, but without a son to help with the work, it’s hard to make enough money to pay back the cost of the new rickshaw. Naima wants to help, but as a girl she isn’t allowed. She does make lovely alpanas, the painted patterns done on the family’s paths and thresholds — even winning a prize for the best alpana in her village on International Mother Language Day.

Knowing her family is in trouble, Naima tries to help. Unfortunately, she only succeeds in making things worse. But after pulling back into her domestic role, she finds that her drive, her mind, and her talents can push her toward success for herself and for her family.

Rickshaw Girl is written for a younger audience than Monsoon Summer, which did throw me for a few pages. I was expecting another Young Adult book. But after I got into the book, I really enjoyed the story. As an adult, I could certainly see where the plot was going, but I wasn’t bothered by it. The strength of the book is in showing another culture without it feeling like a lesson. While Mitali includes a glossary in the back — with pictures — she relies on context and short descriptions in the story to keep the reader informed. She also has an author’s note in the back about the importance of mini-loans in these developing rural areas, and the strong role that women are playing in the local economies.

I’m looking forward to giving it to my daughter to read, and perhaps even to her teacher to read to the class. For everyone else looking for a good book on South Asian culture and Girl Power, Bengal style, put Rickshaw Girl on your wish list for 2007.

Odds and Ends

It’s seventy glorious degrees outside. It looks like I picked the wrong day to put away my kids’ summer clothes. I’m bagging that project, writing a bit here, and then going outside to read a book in the sunshine. Who can blame me? But before I go, here are some odds and ends to keep you busy. I promise an actual book-related post tonight. Really.

I heard about this distraction at Bookshelves of Doom and Fuse#8, and had to post about it here. Because it’s sooo cool. Try it.

Bill and I saw Borat (the preview’s on the page) over the weekend. Unbelievably funny. And I pick the word unbelievably very purposefully, because as you watch this movie you cannot believe what you are seeing. Borat takes everything to its most offensive level — and then pushes it one step further. It’s comic genius.

Virginia may not be a total wash as it looks like we may have turned the entire Senate around by a margin of about 7,000 votes. Sometimes it’s hard to live in this state, but there are times when it really hits home how much your vote does count.

Beyond Rivalry linked to me because of that Book Meme, and in reading through her blog I found this list of Things I’ve Done. Now, I hadn’t done many of them, but at the bottom of the list is a link to a cool site, 43 Things, where you can set your own goals. Whether you want to swim with the dolphins (yes), lose weight (yes), or shave your head (uh, no), you can pull together a list and see what other people are doing. I can see myself wasting a lot of time there, y’know, reading about goals instead of, like, achieving them.

Not For The Irony Purists

I have always thought that I am not a lucky person. I am lucky in having a wonderful family, good job, nice house, steady income — all those important basics. But when it comes to the little things, stuff just kind of happens to me.

If I leave early for an important meeting, I will get a phone call, have trouble parking, and take the elevator to the wrong floor. If I happen to have the coolest distraction for kids in my very own car, I will break it within five minutes. And the list goes on and on.

But yesterday I realized the true nature of my state of being. It’s not that I’m unlucky — a label that never really fit anyway — it’s something more, something that accounts for the unique quality of my brand of unluckiness, which is three parts bad luck and one part funny.

I am an Irony Magnet.

Let’s look at the example of Kids Lit Happy Hour, shall we?

I had planned to go to New York City for the weekend, but my long-time friend was unable to accommodate my family and me. We looked for hotels, but couldn’t find anything close to reasonable. At that point, we had to bow out of the visit. I debated taking the train up Monday to attend the Sweet & Vicious party and stay with a friend who recently moved to the city. But I’d have to spring for the round-trip train ticket, which seemed a little much basically to go to a Happy Hour, even if you’ll meet some cool authors.

Taking off the five percent discount my friend assured me that one can usually find on the Internet, it would cost $171 for the train.

We decided to go to Virginia Beach to visit my mom, brother, and baby niece. We had to board our diabetic cat, since she needs shots twice a day.

(Quick Irony Magnet Quiz. Which cat requires the twice-a-day shots, expensive medicine, and routine vet check-ups? Is it:
  1. the beautiful white cat the girls got as a kitten who curls up next to any sleeping person and is a joy to watch?
  2. the sweet older cat who never scratches or bites and purrs when you just look at her because she is so happy to be with you?
  3. the neurotic cat who lives under our bed and only comes out at night, when she alternately climbs all over us wanting attention while we sleep and jumps down to barf on the carpet?)
The boarding at the vet isn’t much, but they charge eight dollars to give her each shot. Then, as it turns out, she had fleas — already ironic enough, since she never goes outside — and had to be treated with special vet stuff. Then the vet included in the full course of flea treatment for the next six months in her discharge package. The final cost of my cat’s stay at the veterinarian so we could go home for the weekend and I wouldn’t spend money on the trip to New York City?

It was $171.38.

You see? Three parts bad luck, one part funny. MotherReader, Irony Magnet.

(Oh, and you’re right. The answer is c, the neurotic, needy, barfing cat.)
Category: 7 comments

In Defense Of... Oh, What’s The Use

There are many things I don’t “get.” Uncrustables, for instance. Was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever such a time sucker that we needed a frozen variety? Hummers are another head-scratcher for me. How much rough terrain are these drivers handling on I-95? I mean, other than the occasional Hyundai. And then there is the Constitutional amendment that just passed in the state of Virginia. Did people not read it? Did they read it, but believe what they were told anyway? I can’t imagine a rational argument in support of this amendment, but it passed.

I don’t get it.
Category: 2 comments

Go Adam! Go Adam! Go, Go, Go Adam!

While Susan and I were runners-up (runner-ups? runners-ups?) in the mock-election posters contest proposed by Defective Yeti, Adam at Literary Gas won with his mighty clever entry. See the whole enchilada at The Morning News. Then get out there and vote.
Category: 6 comments

New York City Totally Sucks

I just want to make it clear that I would far rather be here typing up this list of recent picture books than joining Fuse#8 and The Longstockings (that would be a great band name, btw) at Sweet & Vicious in New York City. And even though I was supposed to be in NYC today meeting said personages, along with other authors and editors who would have undoubtedly been floored by my charm and clever turn of phrase and would have offered me (a) a co-authorship opportunity, and (b) a book deal, I am extremely happy to be (a) cooking brownies for the Girl Scout bake sale, and (b) summing up some books recently added to my library system. So, freakin’ enjoy them.
  • The Gingerbread Cowboy, by Janet Squires
    The gingerbread boy with a cowboy twist. Okay variation.

  • The Three Witches, by Joyce Carol Thomas and illustrated by Faith Ringgold
    Kind of freaky-looking witches. Seems like a folktale of some sort. Oh yes, there it is on the inside cover, a folktale from the Gulf States. Doesn’t do anything for me.

  • The Best Kid in The World, by Peter H. Reynolds
    Sugarloaf tries to be helpful, but it doesn’t work out well. She gets the Best Kid in The World award for trying so hard. His other two books, The Dot and Ish were much better.

  • Bats at the Beach, by Brian Lies
    Rhymes are just okay, but the idea of bats at the beach cracks me up. I like it.

  • Hansel and Diesel, by David Gordon
    Hansel and Gretel with pickup trucks. Follow-up to The Ugly Truckling. Neat twist on the old story.

  • The Costume Copycat, by Maryann MacDonald
    Angela’s older sister Bernadette always gets the breaks when it comes to Halloween. Cute siblings story and would have been a good story to tell at school for Halloween, if I’d remembered it.

  • I’m Dirty! by Kate and Jim McMullan
    Just like I Stink! but with a construction truck. Cute for truck lovers.

  • Farm-Fresh Cats, by Scott Santoro
    Something hits the ground from outer space, and instead of cabbage, the farmer finds he is growing green cats. They start growing everywhere, so the farmer decides to sell them at a roadside stand and — because they are no more trouble than potted plants — the city people buy them. It’s a very strange concept. The title creeps me out. I know they are saying that the cats are just grown there, but doesn’t that also imply they are eaten?

  • The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat, by Lynne Berry
    Good as a Halloween book that’s not about Halloween. Odd — but interesting — black-and-white illustrations. The witch orders her cat around but the cat won’t listen, finally with dire consequences for the cat.

  • Toot and Puddle: The One and Only, by Holly Hobbie
    This book is really about Opal. A new girl (pig) is in Opal’s class, and she likes to copy Opal. But she can’t seem to copy her dance moves to make the chorus line look perfect, so Opal helps her. Cute, as Toot and Puddle books always are. Maybe I’ll pick it up later.
Of these books, I took home Bats at the Beach, The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat, and Farm-Fresh Cats (to investigate further).

Now, I’d better get the brownies ready for the bake sale. And I’ll get ready for my exciting Girl Scout leader meeting with lots of moms and no, repeat, no alcohol at all, while I think how lucky I am to be here in lovely — if somewhat socially conservative — Virginia, instead of dirty and smelly New York City drinking with bloggers, authors, and editors. (Oh my!)

.,./,.,./,/////;//., (Sorry — my fingers slipped on the keyboard wet with my tears.)
Category: 5 comments

In Defense Of Marriage According To My Own Moral Code

I try not to get political, but frankly this post is as much about reading — and reading carefully — as it is about politics. Below is the proposed Constitutional amendment for Virginia.
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Now, I haven’t paid too much attention to this amendment for two reasons. One, I think that there are more important issues this country faces than whether the gay couple who has lived next door to you for fifteen years can call themselves married and making double-dog dare sure that can’t happen. Two, I think that making a Constitutional amendment for the sole purpose of limiting rights of an entire group of U.S. citizens and Virginia residents is... what’s the word?... wrong.

I had noticed that Virginia Democrats were focusing on telling people that the text of the amendment went farther than people were thinking, to basically outlaw arrangements between unmarried couples. Before reading the text, I thought this approach was a cop-out. It shouldn’t be in the Consititution because it sanctifies discrimination. I believe we will look back at this period of time in the same way we now look back at making marriages between races illegal, and we’ll be ashamed.

But looking for the first time at the text, I am horrified by the extent of the language that many people won’t even read. Let me break it down in verse style, so you’re forced to read it slowly.
That only a union between one man and one woman
may be a marriage valid in or recognized by
this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions
shall not create or recognize
a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals
that intends to approximate
the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.
Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions
create or recognize another union, partnership,
or other legal status
to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Don’t blindly trust what your politicians or church or friends are telling you. Some of them may not even realize the extend to which this amendment — and other amendments in other states — will go.

Read. Think.
Category: 2 comments

Old Business, New Post

Apparently, there’s still time to participate in this great contest from Defective Yeti and the Morning News (of Seattle, it appears). The deadline has been extended to Friday, November 3rd (and I’m only a little bit upset that he thinks that the funniest sign so far has been pen on posterboard, which means mine is not the funniest). Now, I know Chicken Spaghetti and Literary Gas have put up their signs, but the kidlitosphere has a chance to REPRESENT! If you can’t do a full sign, you can do a flyer or banner and post them on some streetlight or bulletin board. I know we have some creative and quirky people out there, so get right on it. In fact, I’ve got another idea percolating. Do you think I can submit two entries?

Remember how I proposed sample questions to Printz-winning author John Green when he left me out of his blog tour, and then how he so nicely answered them as if I was a legitimate questioner instead of a freakin’ nutball? Good times. You can enjoy that post all over again as a part of the Eighth Carnival of Children’s Literature over at Scholar’s Blog. There are lots of fantastic posts you probably missed, some — unlike mine — actually relevant to the theme of Halloween. Michele also took on the challenge of the 100 Things list, which is so very cool. What are you waiting for? Break down the essentials of your very being into 100 bite-sized chunks.

Eisha from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast mentioned her complete and utter enjoyment of my “Pinter tea lights” comment, making her blog my new favorite. Because I’m that easy. Honestly. Having trouble remembering to what I am referring? Here it is:
It’s Teen Read Week, and I haven’t even taken down the Nobel Prize decorations yet. I think it was said best at Defective Yeti about the hype and tension of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And I have to agree. I mean, it used to be that you didn’t even hear about the Nobel Prize for Literature until the week before it happened. Even the chocolates with the faces of Naipaul and Morrison were only available on the day of the announcements. But now the coverage of the event is just insane, and I can’t even pass a Hallmark without seeing the Pinter tea light holders left over from last year.

Eisha’s comment: i thought the “pinter tea lights” line was hilarious. shoulda said so at the time, but the fact that your post reminded me that it was teen read week, which i’d totally forgotten, so overwhelmed me with shame that i couldn’t bring myself to type.
Eisha is forgiven.

Speaking of hype, I dissed Halloween decorations and then felt a little bad since so many nice people, like Nancy, enjoy them. I recanted a bit in my own comments, and now here, because I’m not really that much of a Grinch about Halloween (what would the Halloween equivalent?). I don’t mind seeing the decorations around so much, I just get tired of the constant pressure to make everything so much MORE. I just would like a little simplicity once in a while.

Speaking of Nancy, Journey Woman is coming along nicely with her best passages in children’s literature contest. The most Poetic passages needs the most love, so you people of lovely words, stop on by. I submitted lines from Clemency Pogue: The Hobgoblin Proxy in the funniest lines.
The hobgoblins, the girl, and the increasingly impatient fairy watched from behind the bottom half of a door that opened like a scandalous bathing suit, in two pieces. This being France, the top was open.
I could have found dozens of Junie B. Jones passages for the Funniest category — ’cause I love the Junie B. — but I also put Junie B. Jones in the memorable category as well with this comment:
Okay, when I think of memorable, I think of a passage that I can actually remember, accurately. Now, I admit to having a terrible book-memory, but one passage I can quote, without a doubt, is from Junie B. Jones. It starts the beginning of most of her books (can’t remember — hah — when it stops showing up).

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.”
While recently I listed the joys of Junie B., this month I got back to the funny book list. If you haven’t finished reading the new Edge of the Forest, there’s still time before it self-destructs. At least, that’s what I was told would happen.
Category: 4 comments