105 Ways to Give a Book

Five... No, Three YA Books

Last weekend I drove home to see my niece. My husband took off a day of work. My youngest skipped a friend’s birthday party. I gave up the chance to do any of the forty-two projects that needed doing. We drove three hours down and three hours back. Over the three days, we saw my niece for about four hours. Some of the problem was in scheduling. Some of the problem was in someone else not making a whole lot of effort to see us. It was a big disappointment for me and my family, and I may have ended up causing another family incident similar to the Christmas Debacle of 2006. Not that I yelled, or said mean things. We’re just a very sensitive family.

So, that happened.

My mother doesn’t have a computer, much less Internet. I did some helpful daughter stuff and then I read. Over the three days, including driving time, I read five young adult books.

Upon my return, it hit me how little of an accomplishment that was. There was no parade. No raise in my salary. No feeling of higher enlightenment. Why isn’t there some kind of Pizza Hut Book It program for adults? I want a personal pan pizza too, and I deserve it!

I can’t even write about five books in one post. Or can I?

Accidents of NatureAccidents of Nature, by Harriet McBryde Johnson
Jean has cerebral palsy and attends a summer camp with kids who have many different kinds of disabilities. She meets Sara, who opens her eyes with her sharp look at the world of normals and Crips. I found the book to be interesting and insightful, but I wondered how different the book would be if it were set in the present time instead of in 1970.

The FighterThe Fighter, by Jean-Jacques Greif
When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, there’s nothing like fiction about the Holocaust to make you feel like a whiner. This is a powerful, harsh, and graphic book. The story follows a young man, who gets taken from his home in France (after immigrating from Poland) and sent to the camps. The book is based on a survivor’s story and takes its title from the fact that Moshe was a boxer. But, of course, since he made it through such a horrible thing, he’s also a fighter. Oh, I get it. The common-word title also makes it a pain to look up when you don’t remember the author.

Saint IggySaint Iggy, by K.L. Going
In keeping with the dark theme of the day, I choose this well-written book about a kid who’s down on his luck. Iggy’s drug-addict mother has taken off, his father’s a drunk, and he’s facing expulsion from school. He turns to an older kid who is not much better off than Iggy, but at least he has a mom to turn to. It was an interesting book, but generally it’s not a good sign if the guy on the cover is wearing angel wings. I’m just sayin’.

As it turns out, I can’t write about five books in one post. The rest tomorrow.

BACA Off

From a post at Big A, little a, I find that Madonna has a line of children’s clothes based on her book The English Roses. That the line has been available for some time does not change the fact that I just heard about it now. And now is when I am reacting. I’m officially sick of celebrity authors.

I could complain about the quality of the work. Oh boy, could I complain. But what’s sticking in my craw is the greed. Come on, leave us our little bit of turf. If you can be famous (and usually rich) in your field of acting or music or global domination, leave the world of children’s literature for other people to become a tiny bit famous. Because you can imagine, for every book deal these celebrities strike, that’s less of the kid-lit pie for another author trying to get a break. Do celebrities have to be so greedy to take every aspect of everything because they can? Is that a good enough reason? It’s not... it’s just not... fair.

Now, I really don’t think that actors and musicians and global dominators will stay away from this tiny territory I’d like to carve off, fence in, and defend with a shotgun. But I can dream. And to that end, I initiate Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors, or BACA, and I state today, “BACA Off Kids’ Lit!”

Join if you like, if not for me, than for poor Kadir Nelson. The man deserves an author worthy of his work, and as long as the Spike Lees of the world are around, it ain’t gonna happen.

Cool Things Other People Are Doing

Today, Seven Impossible Things posts their interview with Roger Sutton, Horn Book editor and blogger at Read Roger.

Uber-blogger Defective Yeti is still accepting new, updated cliches to replace the old, worn out ones. I know there are some writers out there who could go to town on this idea, so go forth and submit.

Fuse#8 scoops me with her reviews of the new Mo Willems early reader books. They sound good, naturally.

I thought I’d be discussing the picture books for the Cybils awards, but there have been no emails from the other members of the group. Maybe there is some group posting problem. Maybe I’m wrong about when we were discussing the books. In any case, I have interview questions to both write and answer (but not answer the same questions I wrote), and I need to lend my assistance to another blog where I thought I’d be doing some posting.

Or maybe I’ll just take a nap.

10th Carnival of Children’s Literature

The weekend is a great time for a carnival, don’t you agree? I held off on plugging the wonderful Carnival of Children’s Literature hosted in January by Big A, little a until I figured everybody had forgotten about it. And then BAM!, I send out this reminder, and you realize that you never finished getting through all of those posts, one of which is my post on Hattie Big Sky featuring a lengthy comment from the author. I mean, the Newbery Honor Award-Winning author, Kirby Larson.

I can also safely announce that I will host the next Carnival here in February. I’ll shoot for a submission date of February 15th and upload on February 20th. I just have to figure out how to actually do it. You may submit a stellar post to my email (click the button at the bottom of my blogroll) or at the Carnival site. But give Melissa from Here in the Bonny Glen a little time to set that up.

I’m not going to set a theme, as February is full of them without my picking just one. So, send your posts on love, Black History month, presidents, or groundhogs. I’ll take them all.

Squalls, Like the Toothpaste

Today’s two-word weather forecast in the Washington Post was snow squall. Okaaay. I had no idea how to prepare for that. I wasn’t even sure what it meant. Was there truly going to be something different about the possibility of snow such that the word snow alone was not sufficient? Or even snow showers?

I am now given to understand that this is fairly common for the Northeast, but here in Virginia we don’t get snow squalls. When I told my husband, he was surprised by the forecast description as well. He thought it sounded like some kind of small Arctic mammal. “Oh, look, a snow squall.” I was more inclined to think of as a band name — as I think of everything, my current favorite being Cosmetic Puffs — or even a disease. “I can’t shake your hand. I’ve got squalls.”

As it turns out, I drove through the snow squall on my way home from work. It’s a whirling dervish of snow. Now why didn’t they just say that in the Post? Which brings me to my point. Kind of. Over at Defective Yeti is a little challenge to take an old cliché and make it fresh. For instance ready and willing becomes on it like a bonnet. Did I perk the interest of any wordplay-type folk? Check it out here. He said that he would post them on Friday, but there still may be time to submit something special. Oh, he has a link to an abundance of clichés if you should need some inspiration.

Notable Children’s Books

The Newbery and Caldecott Awards are great, but I really enjoy the ALSC Notable Children’s Books List. While the awards are limited to a few titles, this list brings together a diversity of culture and style. There are funny books as well as serious books. There are books set in Africa and books set in New York City. There are books with toddler appeal and books with teenage appeal (though there is a separate Young Adult list that I’ll talk about later). Best of all, I’ve often read a fair number of the titles. I’m also proud that many of my Top Picks for 2006 are on the list. So, yeah me. The highlights of this year’s list for me, personally, are:

Younger Readers:
Once Upon a Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong
I Lost My Tooth in Africa, by Penda Diakite
Wolves, by Emily Gravett
Lilly’s Big Day, by Kevin Henkes
Duck and Goose, by Tad Hills
Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding, by Lenore Look
Adele and Simon, by Barbara McClintock
Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis
Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Seeger
Scaredy Squirrel, by Melanie Watt

Middle Readers:
Hugging the Rock, by Susan Taylor Brown
Toys Go Out, by Emily Jenkins
The Year of the Dog, by Grace Lin
Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything, by Lenore Look
Rules, by Cynthia Lord
Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker
Team Moon, by Catherine Thimmesh

Older Readers:
Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson
Gossamer, by Lois Lowry
All of the Above, by Shelley Pearsall
Yellow Star, by Jennifer Roy
Counting on Grace, by Elizbeth Winthrop

Hmm. Seems like there’s a book missing from the list. I can’t quite put my finger on it...

I’ll also use this list to help me fill in the gaps of last year’s reading — since it will be a while before my library starts getting the 2007 books. I’m already noticing quite a shortage of boy books in my favorites, though it seems the Newbery committee had the same problem this year, so maybe it’s not just me.

Lisa Yee, Fusie, and KT

Yes, yet another day wherein I review no books at all. Not a one. Kinda makes you wonder what I’m doing here. I ask myself that every day.

Out and about, Wonderful Things are going on. The results are in for Lisa Yee’s contest. Funny stuff. I was highly in favor of Green Eggs and ’Nam, especially because the name itself was the main joke (as opposed to the description). I liked Mr. Brown Can Poo, Can You? for the same reason, so it’s not like I’ve got some sort of intellectual bent.

My BFF Fuse#8 is back in town with excellent posts on her Newbery Experience (good band name) and her take on the awards that are not Newbery. She is also profiled on the Seven Impossible Things blog with a fabulouso interview. I’ve mentioned that S.I.T. is doing interviews of bloggers and authors, right? Well they are, and the first two — of themselves and of Liz from A.C.A.F.A.A.T.C. (that is the worst acronym ever) — were very interesting. I’m on the list to be interviewed also, and not because I begged... Not only because I begged.

While you’re over at post of the Newbery Experience (or maybe a drink name), check out the comments. KT (whoever that is) has questioned the authority of the Cybils judges and the judging criteria themselves. She mentioned checking out blogs where she “found some mean spiritedness and some inarticulate criticism,” and that can mean only one thing. She read Tulane Readers Theatre.

Anyway, mean-spirited is so ten years ago. I’d prefer snarky, because it’s hip to be snarky (possible new Huey Lewis song). I also wonder about her comment, “If we are to take your awards seriously, we must know that you are serious persons with a serious way of evaluating the books.” This sentiment concerns me — being that I am not a serious person — so we might want to keep my judging role on the down-low.

And worrying about a serious way of evaluating the books is totally going to put a dent in my Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo strategy.

Oops. (Geisel Award)

Zelda and Ivy: The RunawaysAll right. There’s an award I shouldn’t have missed. I shouldn’t have missed it because one of the books receiving the award was a book that was given to me by the author. And was a book specifically recommended to me by a blogfriend. So...

Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award Winner:

Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways, written and illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
(No, not this one.)

Three Geisel Honor Books:
  • Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, written by Kate DiCamillo
    (No, not this one either — though I think it is funny that the lighter side of DiCamillo won and the darker side did not.)

  • Move Over, Rover! written by Karen Beaumont
    (Nope.)

  • Not a Box, written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
    (Yes! Many of the kids’ lit blogs reviewed it and liked it, but it seems that we missed her award — including the blogger who suggested the book to me.)
I am a bit confused by the award itself, which is for “the most distinguished beginning reader book”; I thought of Not a Box as a picture book. What’s up with that?

While I’m here, let me also mention the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children, which went to Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, written by Catherine Thimmesh. Great book, and also much talked about in the kid-lit world, including here.

Mo!!! Yeah!!! (Carnegie Medal)

Of course, it’s well known that more important than the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Pulitzer is the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video. Or at least it is now, because...
Author/illustrator Mo Willems and Weston Woods Studios, producers of “Knuffle Bunny,” are the 2007 Carnegie Medal winners. The DVD is based on Willems’ book “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale” and is performed by Willems, his wife Cheryl and their daughter Trixie. It is directed and animated by MaGiK Studio, with music by Scotty Huff and Robert Reynolds.
And now I can condense my Mo-related news in one blog post (whew) by also announcing that he has created a new set of beginning-reader books. They feature new characters — not the Pigeon — and are due out in the spring. I’m sure Mo will send my copies along sooner, though he didn’t really respond to that inquiry of mine...

Check out the new books here, and his post on the video (the winner of the Carnegie Medal) here.

Somewhat related — in that this is another author I am crushing on, and with whom I have shared at least limited dialogue — John Green’s book An Abundance of Katherines won a Printz honor award. Ever wonder what the reaction is when you’ve won a Printz honor award? Well, here it is. Total bonus: He is wearing the T-shirt that I showed on my blog. Total total bonus: He says it’s his new favorite shirt. Guess what? It’s my new favorite shirt too! We are so meant to be friends. The link is to his video blog with his brother. I’ve been enjoying the videos immensely — very funny stuff.

Like, Okay. (Printz and Coretta Scott King Awards)

American Born ChineseA graphic novel wins the Printz award. It’s a new day in Young Adult literature. The 2007 Printz Award winner is:

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang
(read it, didn’t love it, but lots of good buzz about it)

2007 Honor Books:
The Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults.

Copper SunKing Author Book winner:

Copper Sun, written by Sharon Draper
(read it, liked it, very powerful)

King Author Honor Book:
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to FreedomKing Illustrator Book winner:

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Carole Boston Weatherford
(no surprise)

King Illustrator Honor Books:
So, I’ve read about half of these. Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.

Yeah, Duh. (Caldecott Medal)

FlotsamReally no surprise here, given how much buzz there has been about this book. It’s on every “Best of 2006” list I’ve seen, and for good reason. The illustrations and the concept are amazing. The winner is:

Flotsam, by David Wiesner

Honor Books are:
I never made any predictions about the Caldecott, because I am judging picture books for the Cybil awards and didn’t want to put anything out there about my favorites. Flotsam is not my personal favorite, but it is an incredible book and well-deserving of its win.

Huh????? (Newbery Awards)

The Higher Power of LuckyThe 2007 Newbery Award has been announced, and it is The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron.

That sound you hear is a number of children’s librarians and kid-lit-loving people all saying at the same time...

Huh???

I’ve never heard of it. Like, at all. I don’t recall seeing it on anyone’s predictions. I don’t even remember seeing a review of it. So I suppose reading it will be a nice surprise.

I do know of the Honor books. They are:
But most important, here is what didn’t win. And for that we can all be thankful.

Be back soon with more awards.

Tulane Readers Theatre

Yesterday started off bleak. My younger daughter had lost a ring at school and was sad about it. My older daughter was having some friend problems. I’d been sucked into a situation helping a neighbor that was turning out to be quite involved. American Idol turned out to be quite depressing. (Did they always focus so much on the people crying as they left the audition? Brutal.) I was on my sixth day of a hacking cough, and I did not complete my winter clothes transfer.

But then this little search string lifted my spirits, and its name was “readers theatre the miraculous journey of edward tulane.”

If you read my blog at all, you’ll know how very, very wrong it was for this search to lead to MotherReader. I couldn’t dislike a book more than that bunny book, so the very idea of me having a readers theatre version of it was just funny.

But then I thought, what if I did have a readers theatre version of it? Especially with the possibility that the book will turn up on the Newbery awards list. At that point, I couldn’t stop myself, even if I had wanted to. So, I present:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: Readers Theatre
(But not really, because Kate DiCamillo would never sanction this version given that she probably likes her own book and might object to the satirical quality and occasional — but necessary — profanity)

Girl: Oh, I love you so much, pretty china rabbit!

Edward: I am much too vain to respond to your feelings of love.

Girl: Yeah, only I can’t hear your thoughts, so I believe that you love me too.

Grandmother: I think I shall tell you and your bunny a horrifying tale. It’s about a princess who was beautiful, but didn’t love anyone. She was turned into a warthog, killed, sliced open, and eaten. The end.

Girl: Wow, Grandmother, that story sucked. At least I love you, Edward, and I always will — meaning that if anything happens to you I will feel awful, really really awful.

Edward: Whatever.

Boys: Can we see your china rabbit? And perhaps inadvertently throw him overboard?

Girl: Noooooooooo!

Edward: Shit.

Girl: I’m heartbroken. I feel really, really awful.

See the rest “below the fold”!

Edward: I’m underwater. I am fully conscious and afraid, but unable to help myself in any way at all. I just wait for fate to toss me around. Curse that Winnie-the-Pooh, Raggedy Ann, and all those other toys who could actually move themselves. Not me, I just sit here on the bottom of the ocean scared and alone waiting, waiting, waiting. Oh, look — I am being scooped up.

Fisherman: What the…? I’ll take this toy bunny home to my crazy wife.

Wife: I’ll dress the bunny up in girl clothes, and fawn over it like a baby. I’ll tell it stories about my poor dead son who died in front of me and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Edward: I actually care about these stories. I guess when you’ve been on the bottom of the sea, anything seems better. Even continuing this book…

Daughter: I’ve come to take you away from the Fisherman and his Wife, because I’ve got nothing better to do then torment my mom. To the dump you go.

Edward: I think I feel something in my heart. After being loved, dumped in the ocean, and being loved again. I think… I’m starting to — No, it’s just gas. Oh, now I’m being buried alive under the trash, fully aware of what it means to be dead but not being able to die. Why hasn’t someone written a children’s book about this feeling?

Dog: Woof. I’m going to grab you and shake you.

Hobo: Hey, what’s this? A lost toy. You and your little girl must be very sad, just like everyone reading this book. I’ll take you with me for the next seven years.

Train Man: You shouldn’t be in here. But rather than kick you out with the china rabbit, I’ll throw the rabbit off first, for no real reason at all.

Edward: I want to cry, but then I’d be allowed some release from this purgatory to which I’ve been damned for my crime of… hold it, what was my crime?

Old Lady: Interesting rabbit. I need a scarecrow. I think I’ll nail him to a cross. Not like that means anything.

Boy: Jeez, what is that rabbit doing up there? I’ll take him home to my dying sister and my drunk, abusive father.

Sister: Cough. Cough. Rabbit. Baby. Pretty.

Boy: Okaaaaay. You are four years old — you can talk.

Father: Let me hit you across the mouth, boy.

Boy: Sarah loves that bunny. Too bad she’s going to die.

Father: She did die, while you were begging her to keep breathing. I’m going to bury her.

Edward: I’m so fucking depressed.

Boy: I’m leaving with the rabbit, and I’ll earn money by making him dance.

Edward: I’ve learned how to love and now I’m broken. Man, this sucks.

Boy: Let’s get something to eat. Oops, I can’t pay.

Café Owner: You can’t pay, so I’ll break your china rabbit, not because it will help me get any money, but because all adults are mean and/or useless.

Edward: True dat. Isn’t it ironic what I said back there about being broken? Because I meant it figuratively, but apparently that didn’t drive the point home so you’re going to actually break — Oh, that hurts.

Salesman: I fixed you, rabbit. You were dead and apparently on your way to china rabbit heaven, when I fixed you. I took you from the boy in a grave sacrifice on his part whereby I would fix you if I could keep you. No adult would make that kind of shitty deal, but he’s just a stupid kid.

Boy: Please let me see him one last time. It breaks my heart to leave, but you said I can’t have him.

Salesman: No you can’t, and you can never come back.

Edward: Heartbreak again. Big surprise. How long is this story?

Doll: You have to open your heart to be loved. That’s a lesson that all kids need since they are such cynical creatures. Oh, wait, no. That’s adults who are hardened and cynical. Kids don’t need lessons in opening their hearts to love. Remind me, why is this a kids’ book again?

Edward: All right! My heart is open already! I’ve been thrown in the ocean, tossed in the garbage, chucked off a train, nailed to a cross, watched a little girl die, been broken into pieces, taken from the last person who loved me, and stuffed on a shelf for years! And may I remind you that I am fully conscious of this entire experience but helpless to change my course of action one tiny bit. My God, enough already!!!!

Girl, Grown Up: Edward, I found you.

Edward: I love you. I just wish I could have said it in the beginning of the book so we wouldn’t have had to go through all this crap.

Girl, Grown Up: Yeah, only I still can’t hear your thoughts so I always thought you loved me back anyway and never had any problems with it. So I don’t even know what the point was of all that torture.

Edward: Neither do I, kid. Neither do I.

Organizing Book Thoughts On A Completely Random Day

I have today off work. I usually work on Wednesday, so this is actually an extra day of freedom in my week. I should be using this time to clean up my so very messy house. And I did a little bit of cleaning. But mostly... not.

I read a book. Desperate Journey. I liked it. I’ll talk about it later.

I puttered around the Internet. Found this great riff on the new iPhone. (Thanks Daily Nooz).

I ordered two shirts from One Horse Shy, the TEAM PLUTO shirt and the Stewart/Colbert 2008. I debated on the Orange is the New Tan shirt, but went with the others.

I laughed at the Chickens to the Rescue Stage Performance and promptly wondered how I could steal — I mean use — the idea. I enjoyed a review of Toys Go Out over at Seven Impossible Things, and not just for the subtle, anti-Tulane references.

I checked on another kidlitosphere friend to see if we can still help her win a photo contest and we can.

I threw in a load of wash. And then another. And there will probably be at least one more. I’ll fold the clothes and match the socks — oh so many socks — during the American Idol show I recorded. Don’t scoff, it’s the perfect laundry-folding show.

I need to put my sweaters in my dresser drawers, because apparently it is no longer going to be a balmy seventy degrees, but actually winter. And it’s January, so probably about time I got around to putting the cold weather clothes in my room rather then pulling sweatshirts out of the boxes one at a time.

But in the book world, a post in Finding Wonderland started me thinking about how I organize my thoughts about books. As I am done with a book, I make notes. Sometimes its just little reminders, a quote from the book, or a thought I had while reading. Sometimes I basically write the whole post. I tried writing in a notebook, but I kept misplacing it. I tried writing in a word document, but I found I would want to add to it at work. Now I send my notes in an email to myself and file the message in a reviews folder until I want to use it. Some, I suspect, will never be used. Some I use the next day; it just depends what I feel inspired to write about it.

So while I winterize my wardrobe, only three months behind schedule, comment and discuss your own system for remembering, recording, and reviewing books.

Doodling With Mo And Jon

I’ve made a conscious effort not to draw attention to particular posts at Mo Willems’ new blog. I gave him his own section in my blogroll — Just for Mo — and I visit every day, like a good blogfan should. But today I can’t resist highlighting his post of him and Jon (Jon who, you ask? Read the post.) making a large picture with his daughter. As I commented, it made me feel like I was there — and not in that creepy looking-in-the-window kind of way. Anyway, very cute — give it a look.

Strange Dream In The Edge Of The Forest

The King of the Creeps called to Emil and Karl. “I know that we were Counting on Grace,” he said, “but it looks like that Sweet Thang has failed.”

“You know I will not let you down, your highness,” said Emil, “I see Your Eyes in Stars, I daily sing your praises, Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You to the ends of the very...”

“Enough already! Your syrupy phrases are enough to make me crave The Loud Silence of Francine Green, and nothing’s worse than a mime,” said the king.

“A Klepto is,” muttered Karl under his breath, as he watched Emil pocket a small sculpture of a Black Duck.

“I’ve called you here to announce to the world at large that the new Edge of the Forest issue has arrived, with reviews of ten books in Twentieth Century YA Style, among other fine interviews, reviews, and articles. The Aftershocks of such marvelous works of writing will be felt far and wide,” said the king. “Let everyone know that the issue is ready for the people!”

“It shall be done,” said Emil, as he and Karl bowed and walked out of the room.

Book Reviews for Throwing Marshmallows

Thanks to those who de-lurked already, and let it be known that de-lurking can continue for the rest of the week. I’ve already visited some FoMR (Friends of MotherReader), and it’s been very interesting.

Now, I don’t remember if this particular site was a de-lurker or one that I found through my statistics, but I had to notice — and proclaim to all who would listen — that a homeschool site listed me as one of her favorite child literature blogs for moms looking for reading choices. Sadly, I realized that I have not reviewed any books this week. So, now folks may be coming over here from Throwing Marshmallows thinking that their friendly neighborhood homeschool blog led them astray. Let me assure those moms that I do indeed review books, and I am occasionally amusing about it. In the interest of respecting my audience — all thirteen of you — I’m pulling some reviews from the files covering books for a wide range of ages.

Silly Suzy GooseSilly Suzy Goose, by Petr Horzcek
A goose — drawn in the simplest form on white paper and cut out with the pen outline visible — wants to be separate from the crowd. She sees many different animals and wants to imitate them. She wants to slide like a penguin and jump like a kangaroo. (Actually, I’m beginning to wonder where she is in this story. Is it the zoo? Aren’t they concerned that this goose is making herself at home with all of these animals?) When she tries to imitate the lion’s roar, he chases her back to her group — as she flaps, slides, jumps, etc., all the way back. She hides among the group and is glad, sometimes, to look like everyone else. The grammar bothered me a little — “If I was a giraffe, I could STRETCH up high.” Should be “were.” It really bothered other reviewers, but since I mix up my tenses all the time, I wasn’t that miffed. It really is a cute book.

Martin Bridge on the LookoutMartin Bridge on the Lookout, by Jessica Kerrin
This early chapter book features three stories. In the first a girl, Laila, comes to his birthday party a day too late. After being angry at having his plans changed, they begin to have fun together. In the second story, Martin forgets his permission slip to go on a field trip. Since his mom is at work and can’t be reached, he has to spend the day with his old teacher. He sees a kid who was left behind and ends up making friends with him. In the third story, Martin and his friends mistakenly let the class parakeet out the window. The kids think they have found her, but it is a parakeet from another school instead. Fortunately, each bird gets to the right place. These are nice, gentle stories for kids moving into chapter books.

The ProphecyThe Prophecy, by Hilari Bell
Why oh why did they put the unicorn on the cover of this book? It’s going to make this fantasy adventure tale a hard sell to boys with this girly cover. The prince Perryn has done an awful job learning to be a warrior. However, he loves the library and studies for ways to rid the kingdom of a terrible dragon that has been ravaging the land. He finds a prophecy that appears to solve the problem, but he needs a bard, a unicorn, and a special sword. His father the king won’t believe him, so he takes off on his own quest to save the kingdom. It’s a good book, and a fun adventure that could be enjoyed by both boys and girls. Hand it to a boy with the book open, or in a paper bag.

Team MoonTeam Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, by Catherine Thimmesh
I don’t generally pick up nonfiction unless it’s in my particular areas of interest. But after hearing all the good things about this book from different reviewers, I made myself start reading it. It was great. And I learned stuff. I didn’t realize that upon the astronauts’ descent to the moon, they were almost out of fuel. They had sixty seconds to make it down or abort the effort. Or keep going and probably crash. Wow. I didn’t know about the rigorous space suit testing or the photography lessons the astronauts took to show the best pictures of the moon. And all this done without the sophistication of today’s computers. Really mind-blowing.

Amazing GraceAmazing Grace, by Megan Shull
Grace is a teen tennis superstar. But distracting from her love of the game is the pressure of being famous. It’s not enough that she plays mean tennis, she also has to be perfect all the time to hold up her end in endorsement deals and modeling contracts. It all becomes too much for her and she wants to escape. Her mother arranges for her to go to Alaska for a while and disappear into a small town. Without all the pressures and luxuries that celebrity brings, Grace — now Emily O’Brian — finds herself free for the first time as a teenager. She can go around the town by herself, not worry about her appearance, and maybe even fall in love. It’s a very sweet book. There are some heavy and some cautionary issues, but overall it is very light. Grace does drink in the book at a party, but pays for doing so. Generally a book worth the good buzz.

(Now that I’ve thought this through, let’s just say that I found out about Throwing Marshmallows because she de-lurked. It makes a better story, and encourages folks to say “hi” sometimes.)

In Cyberspace No One Can Hear You Read

Delurk Hey people, apparently it’s official DeLurking Week!!! I’ve seen this a few places, but I got the graphic from Paper Napkin. I was going to save this for next week, and if I don’t get much in the way of responses, I still reserve the right to do it on Monday — even if it won’t be official. However, if you’re a frequent visitor of MotherReader, take the time to say “hi.”

My blogroll buddies are excused since I know they come by and comment. And believe me, I do appreciate it.

Special and unrelated thanks to Fuse#8, who made me realize that I could use the labels for comedic value, thus totally solving my lazy labeling issues.

Go Here, And There, And Also There

Today I’d like to take some time to highlight some of the fantastic things going on in the blogs all around me. And not because I’m too lazy to write my own post. Okay, not entirely because I’m too lazy to write my own post.

I’ve always been impressed with the huge number of author interviews that Little Willow has on her site, but I’ve never mentioned it. So, I’m mentioning it now. You can see the whole list here. I also never mentioned how much I liked her book list of Tough Issues for Teens. Particular kudos for the rating system, which I find very helpful with this topic.

On an entirely different note, Lisa Yee is running a contest on her site with some of the most hilarious results. Honestly, you will laugh as you read these entries. The rules are:
  1. Think of a title from a children’s/middle grade/young adult book.

  2. Change the FIRST LETTER of ONE of the words to make it into a whole new title.

  3. Then add a sentence describing the new book.
I entered this:
Little Souse on the Prairie
Ma, Laura, and Mary finally come to terms with Pa’s drinking problem.
Not sure you’re the funny type? Then hop on over (this would be so much funnier if you realized that the html address is “bunnyplanet”) to a re-post of an old favorite from Blog from the Windowsill and tell her which children’s book you’d like to live in.

Now, you’ll either get this immediately or you’ll have to follow the link to appreciate it. Either way it’s pretty clever. There’s a new ringtone available for download. It’s John Cage’s 4:33. Get it? Follow the link if not and look in awe at the workings of minds more creative than ours. (Thanks to BB Blog for the link.)

Not funny enough? Then read the best Christmas wrap-up I’ve seen so far over at Defective Yeti

Still not enough? Then let me award my new favorite phrase from 2006. The phrase that I believe has the staying power to work its way into our daily lives, if we just give it a chance. The phrase is “kibbles and bits.” The context from Go Fug Yourself:
It takes a brave woman to expose her kibbles and bits to the elements like this. I would be worried that I might take a drastic case of Nipple Hypothermia, and you know, once one of those falls off, it’s almost impossible to get it back on.
If you follow the link, you’ll see the referred-to dress and, if I’m not mistaken, some kibble.

As it turns out, it would have taken far less time to review a book after all. Who knew?

You See, I Would Have Guessed “Dedicated Reader”

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen
 

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
 
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
 
Book Snob
 
Fad Reader
 
Non-Reader
 
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Or even “Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm.” Fun quiz. Thanks to Blog From the Windowsill for the link.

Hi, Kirby Larson — Author of Hattie Big Sky

Oh, man. Kirby Larson came by with her comment on Inviting Discussion on Hattie Big Sky... and God and you missed it! Actually, it’s not your fault (as we say in my house, “not reeeeally”) since I didn’t give you the heads-up. Here is part of her response:
My goal in telling Hattie’s story was to tell it as true as I could. And Hattie does believe in God, partly because she’s a product of her time, partly because of her own life experiences, and partly because of my own life experiences. So, because she believes, her faith was part of the story. It was as important to include as was Traft’s complexity, Perilee’s loyalty and Mattie’s chattiness.
Since she commented in a different place than the original post, I took the liberty of pasting her comment in at the end of the original discussion. Or is it the end of the discussion? You are certainly welcome to add your input, and I will feature this post again (some would say “even yet again”) during the 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature. If you haven't signed up yet for the Carnival, time is running out. Get over to the site or to Big A, little a and do your duty for the kidlitosphere. Kelly has also just posted her review of Hattie Big Sky today. Coincidence? Actually, yeah.

Newbery Hopes and Not-Newberyish Selections

It’s almost Newbery time again, and A Year of Reading is starting off the predictions round-up. I’m feeling lazy, so I’ll let Franki say it:
[Listed are] our top 5 hopes/predictions along with other chapter books of the year that we’ve loved. Since we started our blog with this Newbery goal, we’d love to do a round-up of everyone’s Newbery predictions/hopes. If you post your Newbery predictions, let us know in the comments and we’ll do a round-up in about a week so we have it up and ready before the Newbery is announced on January 22.
I am not even going to hold it against the Year of Reading blog that both of the blogwriters put that Tulane book on their lists. But you won’t see it on mine. My predictions/hopes for the Newbery, with links to my reviews, are:
  1. Yellow Star
  2. Gossamer
  3. Shug
  4. Hattie Big Sky
  5. Weedflower
And five other chapter books that I loved, but that don’t seem Newberyish, are:
  1. Clementine
  2. Toys Go Out
  3. The Year of the Dog
  4. Flashcards of My Life
  5. Happy Kid!
I’m seriously rooting for Yellow Star. It blew me away. Really. Read my review. But the others were also solid, great books. I feel a little bad at the lack of “boy” books in my list. There may be some good contenders, but I didn’t read them.

Book Discussion Group

Over at Scholar’s Blog there will be a Blog Book Discussion Group that will begin in February, with the book King of Shadows. In Michele’s words:
It’s a combination of fantasy and historical novel — and I found it totally gripping. Discussions will be over on the Scholar’s Blog Spoiler Zone and will begin on February 6.
She also mentions the less dramatic cover you’ll see through Amazon rather than through her site. Funny story. I had a copy of the book on a shelf behind my desk, but I was sure it wasn’t the right book because the cover was so completely different from the one I saw on Scholar’s Blog. But apparently it is indeed the same book, and I will be participating in the book group.

I wish I had more time to wax poetic over Michele’s idea — because I think it’s fantastic — but I have to get ready to talk to my Girl Scout troop about cookie sales and other fun things.

Either/Or Meme

I took this meme from Journey Woman because I just liked it. It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes:

There are three kinds of people in the world. Those that are good in math, and those that aren’t.

Get it? Well, here’s the meme breaking down everything that is essential about a person into either/or.

Hamburger or hot dog?
Hamburger, no doubt.

A kiss underneath the stars on a clear night, or in the rain?
Stars. I don’t think people who constanly suffer raindrops on their glasses can ever really love the rain.

A snowy morning or a warm afternoon?
Warm afternoon, preferably reading. Though I also love quiet snowy mornings, but in the DC area we get maybe three a year.

Hot chocolate or coffee?
Coffee. I drink one cup — and only one cup — every morning.

Email or a phone call?
Phone call. I LOVE to talk.

A limo or a VW Bug?
VW Bug — or if I could make the slightest change, my 1974 Karmann Ghia back (it’s a VW bug squished down).

A Long Island iced tea or a martini?
Long Island iced tea. Bring on the tipsy!

A book or a movie?
I generally pick a book over watching a movie at home. But, I’d pick watching a decent movie in a theater over a book. I don’t go to the movies as much as I’d like, given babysitting limitations and the price of tickets, but I also LOVE seeing a movie in a theater.

Tea or soda?
Soda. I hate tea.

An axe murderer for a friend, or a clown?
A clown, as I suspect that under the makeup, there’s a darker humor brewing.

A peaceful lake or a restless ocean?
No question, the ocean. In fact, this is how I divide my husband’s family “type” from mine. They’re lake people. We’re beach people.

A singular best friend or many acquaintances?
Many acquaintances, because I like different people for different reasons, so I can’t imagine one person would fill my conversation needs.

A job as a burger-flipper for McDonald’s, or as a stunt woman?
Burger flipper, because I am not very brave and could use the burger-flipping time to write my novel.

A dog or a cat?
Cat. I’m not fond of dogs in general.

I’m not going to tag anybody, as I was not tagged myself, but you’re welcome to do it yourself. Or add on to it in the comments if you want.

Five Interesting Things Looking Back

My good friend Liz tagged me with the Five Interesting Things meme. Now I have done this one twice. Once as a biography and once in a series of connections between books and things from my 100 Things About Me List.

But being a meme whore, I’ll do it again — with a twist. I’ll give you five things about me as evidenced by posts from the last year (all of which are among my favorite posts).
  1. I’m a pretty cool mom (and write a great post title — “The Coolest Mom, The Smallest Weasel, and That Bitch, The Tooth Fairy”)

  2. I make short films — for like, a hobby.

  3. I can be quite brazen. (“You’re Mo Willems,” I said cleverly, since famous children’s book authors often forget their own names.)

    1. No, really.

  4. I have amazing faith in people to respond to me — whether I propose a kidlitosphere-wide challenge five months after starting a blog, or that a famous, talented author will answer my ridiculous questions.

  5. I am cosmically doomed and irony-prone.

    1. But I hope that’s part of what makes me funny...

    2. ... if indeed, I am funny. (But now the coverage of the [Nobel Peace Price] is just insane, and I can’t even pass a Hallmark without seeing the Pinter tea light holders left over from last year.)
Now, I’ll alter the meme (can I do that?) and send it back out there. The meme is now Five Favorite Posts. Find your own five favorite posts of the past year and link to them. It can be breaking a story, making a story, a nice piece of writing, a review you felt great about, or anything you want to show from the past year. Fuse#8 was already thinking of doing that, so I totally tag her (my favorite line from Fuse#8 is probably “pint-sized Buster Keatons”). Then how about some highlighted posts from Blog from the Windowsill, Chicken Spaghetti, Gotta Book, and Original Content. If anyone else wants to join in with their favorite posts of the year, I highly encourage it. It’s a great way to force you to look back over where you’ve been over the past year, and maybe give you ideas for where you’re going.

I Love The New Year

I love the brand-new-start feeling of a new year. Oh, I really do. There’s a feeling of magic in the air that this is the year that I will get organized, lose weight, exercise routinely, update my wardrobe, travel more, worry less, eat healthy, learn guitar, clean house (literally), clean house (figuratively), call friends, take long walks, write books, keep in touch, and be a better blogger. The possibilities are endless! For a funnier version of resolutions that are actually pretty close to my own, look at Mamarazzi’s snarky version.

I also love the looking back and navel-gazing that comes with the new year. What did I do last year? What did I accomplish? And, of course, what did I read?

I’ll probably do more on this topic later, but I can say now that I read about a book a day, even though I certainly didn’t review a book a day. I don’t keep good tabs on my titles (a goal for the new year), but I read about seventy Young Adult books, seventy Middle Grade books, thirty Adult titles, and two hundred picture books. Not bad for a year’s work.

Today, I have enjoyed seeing the retrospectives of some of my blogfriends. I love how A Year of Reading tackled the high points of a year in the kidlitosphere, and not just because they included my 48 Hour Book Challenge (by the way, do you think we need a winter one?). They also updated their 100 Cool Teachers list, needing only a few more names to earn its name. Fuse#8 does an incredible round-up in the Golden Fuse awards. In Finding Wonderland we get more insight into the Young Adult Cybils with a creative listing of characters and their yearbook awards. Oh, and Emily had a baby!

If you feel like jumping into some discussions that didn’t get nearly enough play with the holiday season, head over to the post at Chicken Spaghetti about the pending removal of The Lovely Bones from a middle school library. The post is short, the discussion is long — and could be longer, if you have something to add. I’m actually okay with the book not being in a middle school library, others disagree, and the discussion has been very civil and very interesting. Stop on by.

I’ll plug my own discussion topic that might have received even more attention, if I hadn’t chosen to post it on December 21st. In Inviting Discussion On Hattie Big Sky... And God, I applaud the book itself but ask about the role of faith within the book. Does the inclusion of Hattie’s faith make this a “Christian book?” What makes something Christian fiction? Is it just a matter of who publishes it, or is it something else? And the question that I haven’t really seen answered: since Hattie’s faith is at least as integral to the book as her cantankerous cow, why hasn’t it been mentioned in any of the reviews of the book? Is including the word “God” or “faith” in a review or description a code for a certain type of book? I hope I’ve piqued your interest in reading the original post and the wonderful comments that have already come in. And perhaps you’ll add your own. There are rumors that a Very Special Guest may appear to comment, so let’s hear your voice.

In this week, I’ll be looking over my blog for my favorite posts of the year. I’ll be looking over my lists for my favorite books of the year — though I’ll be reading 2006 books long into 2007, so my final list of Best Books of 2006 may not be posted until March. And I’ll be looking at my favorite blogs to see if you are doing the same. Great job in 2006, kidlitosphere, and let’s rock this blogworld and bookworld in 2007!

Small Aside, Big Break

Have you ever been in a situation at work where you are sure you know better about something than the people above you, but no matter how much you say about the issue no one will listen? Maybe you think that if only other people outside the inner workings knew about the issue, than maybe things would change, since it always seems that uproar from the public — even the uproar of one person — weighs more heavily than the professional, educated opinions of numerous staff members.

And then there is an article about the issue on the front page of a local, yet major, newspaper (that you can’t link to, because the place where you work is already wary about you having a blog in the first place), and you feel a wave of relief because finally what to do about this issue is off your conscience, knowing that if this article doesn’t change things then nothing will.

That ever happen to you?

It feels great.

Happy New Year!

I loved the idea of blog resolutions that I first saw on Semicolon, but her ten goals — though admirable — seemed a little much for me. I’m going to boil mine down to one goal that she mentioned in her list. My blog resolution this year is to comment every day on at least three blogs. I’ve noticed in the mommy blogs that people comment more — to give support, compliment a post, or say “true dat.” We have a great community here in the kidlitosphere, and I want to foster that in the small daily ways, as well as big yearly ways.

What big ways? Why, as a Cybils picture book judge, of course. The short lists came out today and are posted at the Cybils website. I’ll list the categories in which I’m most interested, but just the titles without links if you don’t mind. I’ve had a bit of Cybil envy the last few months, as everybody was getting their free books and reading like mad to narrow the list down to five in each category. (Picture books alone had over a hundred nominees!) I felt a little bit left out, even though I knew that I could not handle reading eighty books over the busy holiday months. It was why I wanted to be a judge and only deal with five titles. Five picture book titles, so I don’t even have much to read. I actually feel kind of lazy about it now. Here are the nominations for picture books, middle grade fiction, and young adult fiction. Annotations (or lack thereof) are from the Cybils site, and asterisks indicate the books I’ve read.

Finalists of Young Adult Fiction with eighty nominated books:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
*A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life, by Dana Reinhardt
*Hattie Big Sky, by Kirby Larson
*Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
*The Rules of Survival, by Nancy Werlin

Finalists of Middle Grade Fiction with 63 nominated books:

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, by Laura Amy Schlitz
This gothic page-turner features a feisty orphan, a houseful of secrets, and a villain preying on unsuspecting victims.

Framed, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Take a small grey Welsh town. Add great works of art. Stir.

Heat, by Mike Lupica
A heartwarming tale of immigration, baseball and familial love. It’s a reminder of what the U.S.A. and Americans can be.

Kiki Strike, by Kirsten Miller
What’s better than Girl Scouts, books, and an underground world under New York City? Absolutely nothing! That’s why Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City is one of the most entertaining books of the year.

*Weedflower, by Cynthia Kadohata
WWII serves as the backdrop to this tale of internment, friendship, and growing flowers in the dry desert dust of Arizona.

Finalists of Picture Books with 111 nominations:

Emily’s Balloon, written and illustrated by Komako Sakai
A bittersweet glimpse into the mind of a toddler who has befriended a yellow balloon.

Learning to Fly, written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
A simple book with an important message, this is the story of a penguin who wants to fly and his friend who helps him. The humorous illustrations add to this message about dreams and friendship.

*Scaredy Squirrel, written and illustrated by Melanie Watt
An anxious squirrel, who is most comfortable staying in his familiar surroundings and sticking to his rigid daily schedule, is surprised when the unexpected occurs. The illustrations and the text features add to the humor.

*Waiting for Gregory, written by Kimberly Willis Holt, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
A young girl, living in the whimsical, imaginative world that only Gabi Swiatkowska can create, anticipates with great excitement the birth of her cousin, only to grow increasingly confused by her family’s peculiar responses to her questions about exactly how and when the baby will arrive.

*Wolves, written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
A clever book-within-a-book that uses expressive collage and mixed media to tell the tale of a curious rabbit who finds real-life adventure in addition to the information he expects when he checks out a library book about wolves.

Surprises? That I’ve read most of the Young Adult titles (I’m going to have to read The Book Thief now, aren’t I?). That I haven’t read most of the Middle Grade books (what have I been reading instead?), and that Duck and Goose isn’t on the Picture Book list. I guess I’ll finally get to see Learning to Fly though, and that’s very cool.