105 Ways to Give a Book

New Way Of Looking For “Waldo”

Squeaking in under the wire with two Wee Ones (yeah, a little lame) Wednesday titles. They’re not new, and they’re not really related, except in my own mind — and in my review files. I’m off to some Girl Scout leader thing shortly, and these were calling to me, already written and waiting for their day in the sun. I had something else New and Exciting to do, but I kinda took a nap after work instead. So anyway...

Adèle & SimonAdèle & Simon, by Barbara McClintock, has gotten rave reviews for its old-fashioned look and meticulous drawings. And here I’ll agree. The drawings are amazingly detailed. It does make the Where’s Waldo? aspect of the book appropriately challenging. As Simon goes home with Adèle, along the way he loses his drawing, or hat, or coat, and the missing item is always in the picture somewhere.

But with everything going on in each scene, the items are pretty hard to find — even the second time through the book. At the back of the book is a little more information about the Parisian scene represented. It’s a beautiful, interesting book. I’m just not sure that kids of the Disney-color, videogame-graphic generation love the book as much as adults do.

Looking for a MooseLooking for a Moose, by Phyllis Root, is another Where’s Waldo? kind of book, but with moose parts. Mind you, the moose parts are still on the moose, but you can’t see the whole moose until the very end of the book. A group of four kids go looking for a moose, kind of in the we’re-goin’-on-a-bear-hunt way through the woods, the swamp, the bushes, and the hills. Along the way, sharp-eyed readers will be rewarded with views of moose legs, moose noses, moose antlers, and moose backs. But then at the end there are lots and lots of moose. (Mooses? Meese? It never sounds right, does it?)

The text has a sing-song ring to it. “Have you ever seen a moose — a long-leggy moose — a branchy-antler, dinner-diving, bulgy-nose moose?” and, “We look in the woods — TROMP STOMP! TROMP STOMP! — the treesy-breezy, tilty-stilty, wobbly-knobbly woods.” One of the best parts of the book for me is that the four children are of color — various shades of color, from very light skinned with brown hair to very dark with black hair. I’m always interested in a book with children of color that doesn’t make it about being children of color.

The title would be a fun read-aloud for a smaller group. The thing that might make it harder for a larger group is that the kids wouldn’t be able to spot the moose throughout the book, and some of the pictures don’t have a lot of contrast — they are mostly shades of brown, orange, and green — which might make it hard to see the pictures. But overall, a great book.

Image Is Everything

No Shame, No FearOkay, gut reaction on the hardcover of No Shame, No Fear: Imagine you’re a teenage girl scanning the shelves, looking for a good read. You pull out this book with a grayish, subdued cover. The title sounds all right, but the girl on the cover with her back turned isn’t all that engaging.

Forged in the FireBut now this. This is what I’m talking about: Forged in the Fire. Whereas the last image left you a little cold, this makes you hot, hot, hot. And it’s not just the fire on the bottom, echoed in the fancy scrolled letters of the title. No, that guy on the cover is a genuine hottie.

No Shame, No Fear sets up the story of a Quaker girl in the 1660s. In England, the Quakers find themselves persecuted by the government and picked on by the citizens, but they remain steadfast in their quiet, worshipful ways. Enter William, son of a rich man, who runs into Susanna by chance. He can’t get her out of his mind, and seeks her out. As he gets to know her — quite respectfully — he develops a deeper interest in her religion and way of life, quite at odds with his own pampered existence. Solid historical fiction with a love story/religion thing.

Forged in the Fire continues the story as William goes to London, hoping to make his way in the world without an apprenticeship and with hopes that he can marry Susanna. More religion and less love story, as the two are separated for most of the book. It’s a shame, really, because the romantic tension is pretty well dissipated with them in two different cities. Susanna’s parts of the book — the books are both told in alternating chapters — get a little lame, since she’s not doing much more than waiting. William’s sections focus on the terrible treatment of the Quakers, and then the plague hits London and things really get bad.

Both books were interesting reads. Both books open up questions of religious persecution and the nature of faith. Though readers looking at this book for a Christian book club should be warned that there is some, ahem, first-time lovemaking involved in the second book.

No Shame, No FearI did find the differences in the covers amusing. Candlewick must have learned its lesson though, because the paperback version looks like this. Closer, most definitely, in tone to the Forged in the Fire cover. So good job. But it’s going to be hard to beat the cute guy. Hey, I actually asked to review the book based on that cover — that’s got to be something, right? Forged in the Fire comes out March 13th.

Clementine Is Back!

My kids did go to school today, and I think we can all be thankful for that. Me, most obviously, for my free time. You, less obviously, for the sanity of this blogger. There was a two-hour delay, which was most appreciated after a late night watching the Academy Awards.

I can’t say why I was watching the Oscars, since the only1 film I’d seen that received any big nominations was Little Miss Sunshine (which totally rocks). Man, I remember the glory days of my moviegoing, when I would have seen up to three of the mentioned movies. In any case, I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a great job hosting, and now I know what movies I should watch, so that’s helpful.

The Talented ClementineAfter mentioning my organizing ideas for daily posts yesterday, I’m in the mood to give it a try, making today Middle Grade Monday. Timing is on my side, having recently received and read the new book from Sara Pennypacker, The Talented Clementine.

I put last year’s offering of Clementine among my best books of the year, if not among my best books ever. Sharp and funny, but always respectful of the age of of the character and the audience, the new book keeps up the Clementine we all grew to love. This time, Clementine’s class is going to have a talent show, but Clementine can’t think of a talent to share. Her family tries to be helpful, but they can’t solve her problem. Ultimately, it’s Clementine and her caring principal who realize her true talent and use it to its full advantage.

The funny girl we fell in love with in the first book is definitely back right from the very first line:
I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, “Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,” I listened anyway.
She also gives us an insight into the importance of dictionaries with this question to her principal:
“I’ve been wondering what the difference is between smashed and crashed.”

Mrs. Rice handed me her dictionary.

And then suddenly I didn’t want to know anymore! That is the miracle about dictionaries!
Or this:
In school, my teacher started in with the “Talent-Palooza” business so fast I thought it was the new last part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

“with liberty and justice for all and I know we’re all very exited to get to our big project,” he said. So it was too late for my secret plan of hypnotizing him into forgetting.
Marla Frazee is also back as the illustrator, lending her incredible talents to capturing Clementine and her world. Unfortunately for me, in the ARC the pictures stop about halfway through, but it will let me look forward to the release of the book on April 1 — and that’s no April Fools Joke! (Hahaha. I crack myself up.)

  1. I should mention that I went to the Oscar site, and I’d actually seen three other movies on the whole nominee list — Borat, Cars, and The Devil Wears Prada — so maybe I’m a notch more in tune than I thought. Oh, and while I’ve got you, what should Thursday be in the plan? Middle Grade Monday, Teen Tuesday, Wee Ones Wednesday, “    ” Thursday, Poetry Friday, Shout-Out Sunday. I know, Poetry Friday doesn’t work either, but that’s not my fault. 

Shout-Out Sunday

To ease my highly disorganized mind, I’m always sure that I’ll establish a set pattern for posting that will actually make my life easier. You know, like Middle Grade Monday, Teen Tuesday, Wee Ones Wednesday (okay, I just made that one up this very second), and so on. It seems like it would be so much easier to be organized that way. With that system in place, I’d have a Shout-Out Sunday.

But I’m a free spirit and ultimately disorganized. I post about what I want, when I want. I forget stuff. I let books slip through the cracks. I don’t always follow through on things. I commented on a few posts that linked to this month’s Carnival, thanking them for the links. But I never got around to them all. So thanks to all who linked to the 11th Carnival of Children’s Literature, as well as to those who participated.

I made some changes to my blogroll, but I didn’t elaborate on a few changes that could have used a little elaboration. So let me say now that I’ve enjoyed Miss Erin’s blog for a while, but her interview with Yellow Star author Jennifer Roy really impressed me. Boom! On the blogroll. Robin Brande is the one author that I have neither met nor seen here as a frequent commenter, but she is on my blogroll now, based almost entirely on this comment to the Seven Impossible Things self-interview:
Thanks for interviewing yourselves! You’re right, it is nice to learn a little about the people behind the blogs. For example, I was convinced Eisha was a short, black woman. Don’t even ask me why. I had this whole wardrobe and hairstyle picked out for you and everything. Now I’ll have to recut all the paper dolls.
At the “recut all the paper dolls” line, I knew that Robin must be a best friend I just didn’t know yet. Kiddosphere has been running a nice blog actually affiliated with her public library in a system very close to my own. She fuels my dream that one day, not only will my library system acknowledge my existence, but will tap into my knowledge and let me blog for them.

I’d also like to draw attention to a blog that’s been on my blogroll for quite a while. If you haven’t visited A Wrung Sponge recently, I’d have you take a look. What makes her blog stand out is that she writes mostly about books with African and African-American themes and books featuring children of color. As a white mother having adopted two black boys, she is conscious of finding books that reflect their experience, educate them as to their history, and celebrate them in their culture. She’s separated out her adoption/family-type posts to another blog and has focused A Wrung Sponge on books and original poetry and photos. While I liked hearing about her family, I think focusing her blog makes her a stronger voice of diversity in the kidlitosphere.

To change the subject entirely, I’ll give a little personal update. My kitty cat who was so sick is doing fine. Very pleased about that. My kids had snow days from school that ended up rivaling their Christmas break for days spent home. Today we’re looking at a surprise snow that has a fair chance of closing school tomorrow. I’ve got to come up with something for these kids to do, because I’ve run out of ideas and stamina. Don’t be surprised if I let them run the blog tomorrow.

Poetry Friday: Speak to Me

Speak To Me (And I Will LIsten Between The Lines)I loved this book when I first saw it a year ago. (Pause to look at the date stamped in the back.) Crap, two years ago. I don’t know that I can verify that it captures the feel of an urban school, but I do know that it really captures the feeling of third graders. Feeling pride in an eighth birthday. Worrying about losing a best friend to another girl in the class. Daydreaming. Saving a seat at lunch. Each poem is told from the point of the view of one of the kids in the class, most of whom are African-American. Oh, and the illustrations are also perfect.

So for the last Poetry Friday of Black History Month, I’d like to share a poem from Karen English’s book, Speak To Me (And I Will Listen Between The Lines).
The Reading Boy [Malcolm]

Omar came on Monday
We liked him quick because he can read
As good as the teacher

Tyrell looked at him long and hard
As the river of words flowed out of his mouth
On one breath
The reading boy

Lamont asked to change his seat
To the one by the reading boy
Who sang the words off the page

Teacher asked him a question
And everyone listened
He is the one who reads.
This particular poem means even more to me after seeing an article in the Washington Post Magazine about a third-grade teacher who started at a D.C. school, and realized that none of her students could read yet. In my suburban community, we obsess (it seems) about our kids reading the “right books.” It seems even more ridiculous when you look across the river at a community that needs inspiration and resources.

Liz at Tea Cozy is doing the Poetry Friday round-up today. I think I should get bonus points for writing this post this morning instead of, ahem, showering before work. Hey, I didn’t have time to do both, and I’m only at the library four hours today. Don’t judge me.

Blogroll Updating Week

Oh no! I almost missed Blogroll Updating Week!

Blogroll Updating Week was created by a now-defunct blog, A Weasel-Ball Suggestion, in 2003, when most of our blogs were not yet a twinkle in our eyes. It’s set aside as a time to check your blogroll links, dump the dead blogs, and add new blood. The week after President’s Day was chosen to allow bloggers to use the lamest Federal holiday on the calendar to update their blogs before the blogging “high season” of spring.

Okay, I made that paragraph up. But it’s still a great idea to check our links, clear out the old, and make room for the new.

After the New York City trip, I had a minor epiphany. I decided to add writers to my blogroll, but only writers that I have met — either in person or online. Other blogs, like Big A, little a, have very long lists of blogging writers, and I’ll direct you there for a more complete inventory. I’ve moved a few blogs from the book section to the writer section, where they seemed to fit.

I’ve added a few book blogs that I’ve been looking at for a little while. Now that the template changes for Blogger don’t require an entire republishing of the content, I’ll probably add a few more in the next few days. If anyone has a suggestion for funny mommy blogs, I’d love to hear it. Ditto funny-ish adult book blogs. (But not an “adult book” blog.)

Since I visit my blogroll friends just about every day, I don’t include every book blog out there. I tend to keep it for blogs that update daily or almost daily. I also tend to watch a blog for a while before adding it. Again, other blogs, like Big A, little a do keep pretty complete lists of book blogs. But if you think I’m missing something crucial, let me know.

11th Carnival of Children’s Literature

February’s a month chock full of themes. Valentine’s Day leads us to themes of love. President’s Day leads us to themes of American history and the presidency. Groundhog Day leads us to themes of rodents. It’s a month dedicated to profiling Black History. It’s a month linked to cold and snow and icicles. We even got Chinese New Year in the mix this time. So rounding up posts this month should be easy. Y’know, as compared to March. What’s March got? Leprechauns? Soooo lame.

However, these themes of the month — these multiple themes of the month — generally did not seem apparent in the posts I received for the carnival.

Yes, HipWriterMama shares a lovely snow day post.

WordSwimmer looks at Show Way in connection to black history. And Mitali Perkins points out a powerful film on the black experience of girls and children.

The Kiddosphere gives us Chinese folktales with Three Ninety Eight Thursdays Go to China and Reflect on Folktales in General. As does A Wrung Sponge in her post, Gung Hai Fat Choi.

Bookwink presents a video booktalk on love and the hilarious mix-ups caused by Cupid. I proclaim my love, of a sort, again.

But as it turns out, February isn’t confined by its noted themes. Its many, many noted themes. No indeed. It’s a month of reflection and quiet times. It’s a month to…

Write a book:
Big A, little a invites us to a wiki novel.

See an old book in a new way:
GottaBook writes a new Oddaptation.

See a really old book in a new way:
The Common Room presents Childrens’ Book: Dollie’s Big Dream, or The Man of Mirth.

See the movie too:
DigitalRich presents DigitalRichDaily: Unanswered Questions.

Be part of a community:
Midwestern Lodestar writes about the kidlitosphere.

Rest and renourish:
Liz In Ink presents Empty Baskets.

Tackle a tough issue:
Megan Bayliss presents Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast.

Be inspired to write a poem:
Kelly Fineman shares the nature of poetry.

Think about a poem:
Alone on a Limb presents A Poem to Start the Week: Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Juxtapose two poems:
Chicken Spaghetti shares a mash-up of Odysseus and “17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Any More.”

Reflect on first reading experiences:
Babylune presents Our Little Literary Awakening.

Reflect on book characters:
Miss Erin presents Love-to-hate characters.

Read a good book:
Tea Cozy’s Liz B reviews The Braid.
Trinity Prep School’s Maureen reviews Gregor the Overlander.
My Domestic Church reviews Trumpet of the Swan.
Gail Gauthier reviews The Good Fairies of New York.

Read books about reading a book:
A Year of Reading gives us the The Master List of Books About Books and Reading.

Decide to read the Best Books Ever:
Semicolon starts the Newbery project with The Golden Fleece.

Buy a book, before it’s too late:
Melissa Wiley talks about books going out of print, including her own.

Visit a reading theme:
Readable Feast presents The Super Bowl of activities and books.

Visit a genre:
Check It Out explores The Fantasy Genre.

Or indulge in a favorite genre:
Little Willow gives us a list of Coming-of-Age Novels.

Or a favorite author:
Scholar’s Blog presents Philip Pullman on Narrative.
Whimsy Books presents The One and Only Rosemary Wells.
Penny Richards presents Jane Yolen.
Trivium Pursuit presents Home-Spun Artists: Historical Sketches — Beatrix Potter.

Meet someone new:
Cynthia Leitich Smith presents Author Interview: Brenda Ferber on Julia’s Kitchen.

Support a serious cause:
Chasing Ray gives us a use for Young Adult books.

Or a silly one:
MotherReader asks us to kick celebrity writers to the curb.

Reflect on endings:
Wands and Worlds writes about The end of an era.

Follow a passion:
Barbara Bietz shares her writing passion.

Celebrate the child within:
Jen Robinson presents Being Childlike (No, Not Childish).

And even add something last-minute:
Book Moot explains the difference between concerned parents vs. book-banning know-nothing nutters.

Thanks to everyone for participating in this month’s Carnival. Next month’s Carnival is accepting submissions at the website at any time. Though you might want to wait until you’ve had a chance to write something spectacular. Maybe about leprechauns.

The Thing About Georgie

Sixty hours later, I’m back with my review of Lisa Graff’s book. How’s that for delayed gratification?

The Thing About GeorgieGeorgie is a dwarf. That’s the thing about him. But that’s not what ultimately defines him. He’s a boy who’s having trouble with his best friend. He’s a kid who is stuck with a difficult partner for a school report. He’s a son who loves his parents, but worries what a new baby will do to his family. Georgie does face particular challenges, but he also sees the challenges that everyone faces all around him.

In The Thing About Georgie, the chapters are often introduced by a description of what it’s like to be a dwarf. This narrator asks us to reach our arms over our heads, measure ourselves against a wall, and hold our tongue with our fingers. These exercises engage the reader in understanding Georgie much better than a mere description would have done. In the end, these opening segments relate to the story in an even more integral way.

In many children’s books these days you’ll find that the adults are useless, selfish, stupid, or cruel. Not so in this book. The adults are caring, kind, and supportive. They do occasionally disappoint, but not with intention or thoughtlessness. It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t pit the kid against the parents.

The Thing About Georgie is a book about a dwarf, but it’s more about growing up like any kid in elementary school with regular kid problems. Overall, it was fun and interesting getting to know Georgie.

Not Book Related, Just Venting

I meant to put up the review of The Thing About Georgie yesterday, but I just couldn’t do it. I need to feel inspired to write, and instead I felt inspired to take long naps and bitch at my kids. It’s been a long week.

You see, it snowed here on Tuesday. Actually, it was more sleet than snow. The kids were dismissed early and we spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon together, enjoying the free time. My library even closed for the evening, so I didn’t have to go to work. Yeah! Snow day for everyone!

I wasn’t surprised that school was closed on Wednesday, because the side roads were covered with a thick, heavy snow/sleet combo. I also stayed home from work with the kids and shoveled our driveway. The thing is, the snow/sleet combo was very heavy, and I am not so much in shape. I was able to clear out much of the driveway down to the street, but didn’t manage our sidewalk. The plow came through our street once, leaving one lane clear, but not two. By the time my husband got home from work, this snow/sleet combo was frozen tundra.

I give you all these details, because it is relevant to what happened on a wider scale all over the county. The plows hit the main street hard, but only cleared a single lane down all the side streets. I’m sure the plan was to come back later. But by the time they did, it wasn’t snow anymore, but a two inch thick layer of ice firmly attached to the roads. Normally, the ground here is warmer and helps melt the ice, but not after this cold snap. Also, most of the menfolk — and many of the womenfolk — went to work on Wednesday instead of clearing the sidewalks, driveways, and roads. By the time the DC work day was over, it was too late to shovel.

The upshot is that the schools were closed on Thursday and Friday as well, because the buses couldn’t get through the unpaved side streets and the sidewalks were too icy for walking to school. I mean, someone might sue if they fell. The schools may even be closed tomorrow, because nothing has changed over the long weekend. It hasn’t warmed up at all, and it’s impossible to clear off this snow. I know, because I watched my neighbor go at it with a metal shovel and a sledgehammer.

In the middle of this mess, my cat got very sick. After vet bills that could pay for plane tickets to London, it’s still pretty dicey. I want this cat to live because I love her, but also because now it’s an investment. I didn’t pay this much money for the cat to die in the end. No way. Not gonna happen. Even if I have to squirt watered down baby food down her throat and give her subcutaneous fluids with a needle and an IV bag, which we’ve been doing all weekend.

So the kids have been home almost as long as their Christmas vacation. It could have been restful, except for the whole cat thing. Oh, and did I mention when I went to work on Saturday the computers were all down? It is exhausting to answer questions for people all day when you can’t look anything up. Questions that would be easy peasy with a computer are a huge pain without one. Books on homing pigeons. The hierarchy of human needs. The author of a new book called You’ve Never Heard This Title.

I spent all Sunday in my PJs — which I never do  — put together the Carnival post and stared off into space. I didn’t even read a book. I didn’t even read.

Today the sun is shining. Whether it can help the roads remains to be seen, but it’s helping my mood. The cat ate a little on her own today, which is very good. I think the whole family is going bowling to get out of the house. The Carnival post is mostly done, and will be up tomorrow.

This post turned out longer than I thought it would. Sorry about that. It’s no longer a good introduction to the book, so I’ll give it a separate post. But, hey, it was nice to vent for a while.

Lisa Graff Interview

The problem with being almost last on an author’s seven-day blog tour is that all the good questions are taken. As the week went by, I saw all my questions posted here and there and here again. Big A, little a hit most closely to home using two questions specific to the book that were also on my thought list. I was glad to see that I was on the same page as the fantastic Kelly by wondering about (a) how did she mangage to make the book mostly about regular life problems, while having a character with such personal issues of being a dwarf, and (b) while other books make adults stupid, silly or useless, why did she have her book make them kind, well-meaning and supportive? I also may have said, in my head, “son of a bitch.” (Kidding, Kelly.)

However, the problem of interviewing after everyone else — with the additional issue of being asked to interview another author within the same time period — led me to a breakthrough. I now have a standard interview. It’s back-to-the-basics kind of questioning, but I like it because it is open to interpretation and should work for everyone.

Now, as a bonus for the book tour, the first three people to email thethingaboutgeorgie@harpercollins.com (it should say “Georgie Giveaway” in the subject line) with their name, address, and the blog where they saw my interview that day (i.e., MotherReader) will get a copy of The Thing About Georgie. Yay!

Let me present the lovely and talented Lisa Graff.

When did you start writing?

I’ve written just for fun since I was in elementary school, and I attempted to write my first novel when I was 14. But I guess I started taking myself seriously as a writer my junior year of college. I was studying in Italy, and for a year-long language project one of my professors helped me translate a children’s novel I’d written into Italian. It worked wonders for my Italian vocabulary, but it also gave me a unique in-depth look at my process of stringing words together and telling a story. That project made me realize that I had a very long way to go before my books would be something other people would want to read, but it also made me realize how much I loved telling stories, and how important it was to me to get better at it.

Where do you do your best thinking?

I get a lot of ideas when I’m on the subway or walking around the city. I think my subconscious is always chugging away at things, and it just takes a small spark of something to give me an idea. Living in New York is perfect for that, because there are interesting things going on everywhere you look. When I was in the midst of revising The Thing About Georgie two summers ago, I had been desperately trying to come up with a way to demonstrate Georgie and Andy’s strong friendship, while simultaneously thinking up some catalyst for their big fight, but I couldn’t find anything that worked. Then one evening I left my apartment to do laundry, and I passed a woman walking five Bichon Frises — and just like that, I knew that Andy and Georgie should run a dog walking business. (Who knows how the book would have turned out if I’d seen someone making balloon animals or training monkeys to roller skate or something…)

Who inspires you personally and/or professionally?

At my day job (I work as an editorial assistant at a children’s book publisher) I get to interact with a lot of writers on a regular basis. When I first starting working there, I was always hesitant when I had to call authors on the phone, because they seemed like these unapproachable geniuses to me, and how would they respond to me, the lowly assistant/wannabe writer? But they’re all so nice and friendly... it almost makes you forget they really are geniuses. It’s great to be around people like that, whose work you admire, and whom you really enjoy talking to as well.

Why did you need to write this book?

I have no idea, honestly. People often ask what inspired me to write Georgie, and the truth of the matter is that writing about a boy with dwarfism just sounded interesting at the time. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized that what I had actually written about was a topic that has interested me my whole life. Really, I think Georgie is about perception — the way others perceive us and if that affects how we perceive ourselves. The book was a way for me mull over topics that had been on my mind me for a long while.

How does this book reflect your own life experience?

Well, my life is very different from Georgie’s in a lot of obvious ways. For one thing, he’s a dwarf and I’m very tall. I often got teased or stared at because of my height, but not nearly to the extent that Georgie is singled out for his dwarfism. I’ve also never had a dog walking business or been in a play about the U.S. presidents. But some things are based on experience. Andy’s Italian family, for instance, is loosely based on the host family I lived with when I first began studying in Italy. And I think Jeanie the Meanie is the girl I would have been if I hadn’t been so shy when I was little. I was always bursting with opinions to tell people — some of them quite mean — but I was too much of a coward to let any of it out. Writing Jeanie’s character was a lot of fun (and a little bit cathartic) for me, because I could have her say and do anything at all.

What’s next for you?

My next novel is called The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, and it’s in the midst of copyediting and design right now. Those are nice stages for me as an author because it’s mostly sit-back-and-relax on my part. The book is about a twelve-year-old girl who, after having been framed by her ex-best friend for running a school-wide cheating ring at her private school, takes up conning shoppers at the local mall to earn back her lost scholarship money. It’s very heisty, in the tradition of The Sting or Ocean’s Eleven, and it should be a lot of fun. It comes out in January 2008.

I’ll actually have to review The Thing about Georgie later today or tomorrow, because I have to get to work — as in my actual job. I slept until 10:00 a.m. this morning, putting a serious dent in my blogging time, but I must have really needed the rest to have slept so long. You can read reviews at just about any other site on the blog tour, and I will give the book my personal thumbs-up as an enjoyable read for boys and girls (and grown-up bloggers).

More From NYC

Say you are at a book signing by famous children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola. Do you...
  1. get your books signed, tell him that you admire his work, and have your picture taken together?
  2. plug your blog shamelessly and write your phone number on his arm with a black sharpie?
  3. tell him of a vague connection you have to him and then ask him to read your manuscript?
While you think that over, let me back up. On Saturday of my New York City trip, I went to Books of Wonder at the suggestion of my friend Tim. I ended up there earlier than I had planned, but actually, in a cosmic way, just in time. As it turns out Tomie dePaola was reading from his new book Why?: A 26 Fairmont Avenue Book and signing books. I was so early — by chance — that I was number nine for the book signing. I picked out two books, and wandered around for a while.

Books of Wonder is a great store with art, rare books, and many signed books on the shelves. I picked up Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? signed by seven of the fourteen illustrators (including Mo) for the regular retail price. Very cool.

Mr. dePaola read a little from his book and took a few questions. Then it was time for the book signing. Back to my starting questions. What did I do? The answer is “a.” Though writing my digits on his arm would have been funny, in a “call security” kind of way. But the woman right in front of me choose “c,” which pissed me off. First, because even I — mistress of the brazen — know that it’s inappropriate to ask an author to look at your manuscript, especially at a book signing! Second, with her talking to him and his directing her to SCBWI, she totally bogarted my time with him! The bookstore assistant handed my books over while he and the woman were still talking, so he signed my books and was done with me before I could even open my mouth. Oh, and then the woman in her flustered state took my signed book, so I used the thirty seconds I had left to say, “Hey, that’s my book!” The word “dumb-ass” was left implied, as there were children present.

I did get my picture taken with the man, since the store had offered. I got to say, approximately,
“IreallyloveyourworkandIalwayshave Iamachildrenslibrarianandabookbloggerand IwassogladthatIhappenedtobeheretoday,”
before the music played me off.

Afterwards I went to tour Donnell Library with a Very Special Tour Guide. I saw Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, an original Newbery medal, and rare books. Betsy seems like her blog, if that makes sense to you. She had thrown me off by saying that she’s shy around famous authors, but I didn’t see much shy about her. Not that I’m a famous author, mind you, but she didn’t seem like the shy type. After the tour, Betsy and I chatted over beers (but each one was only five ounces in a sample set we shared) about blogging for fun and profit, the frustrations of the Newbery committee (including the frustrations of not being able to talk much about the Newbery committee), the great showing at kidlit drink night, and ALA in Washington, DC (my neighbor to the north). I think with the help of the lovely Liz at Tea Cozy (and I might want to tell her this), we’ll try to get something together for kidlit bloggers. Or bloggers and authors. Or both — still working on it. Anyone interested?

I’ve extended the deadline for submitting to the Carnival of Children’s Literature if you do so by email (at the end of my blogroll). If you use the Carnival site, it will forward on to the next host automatically, and she has enough to do without worrying about your wayward posts. You have Friday and Saturday to send something, and then I’m closing the door on this puppy.

Cybils and Carnivals

A Card From MoIt’s a very special day today, as the bloggers’ book award, the Cybils, are announced. I don’t have the Cybils Award graphic, so instead I’ll use this postcard of a monster in underpants.

I was a judge for the picture book category, and I think we picked a book with both kid appeal and literary value. Scaredy Squirrel is a funny book about a squirrel who is afraid of everything, so he stays safely in his tree, not trying anything new. But when he is forced to exit his comfort zone, he discovers something very important about himself. And yet... y’know, I’m giving away too much here. Read the book.

Better yet, buy the book. Jen Robinson had the wonderful suggestion of supporting the Cybils by purchasing a book from the list to show publishers that the awards relate to sales. I’d even go so far as to suggest that you purchase through the Cybils site rather than mine, so that tiny commission can go toward the award itself. (When you order books or other stuff from Amazon after going through my site or the Cybils site, the referring blog gets a small commission.)

There’s still time to submit a post for the Carnival of Children’s Literature. Either submit through the Carnival site or send me an email. (My email is at the bottom of my blogroll.) The official deadline was tomorrow, but I’ll make the last day February 17th, because I’m not going to get to this thing before Sunday.

With everything going on, I didn’t pull together books on love for Valentine’s Day, but I’ll direct you to last year’s Valentine’s post. I listed some of my favorite picture books about love in many categories, including gay penguin love. Now you’re going to look, aren’t you?

MotherReader Goes to a Party

Sorry I made you wait. By now you may have read a few posts about Who Was There. This is my experience, in tiresome detail, of a very cool kidlit drink night.

Arriving at Bar 9, I made my way to the back room, and met Betsy — or Fuse#8 — right away. She was wearing her “I Am Kiki Strike” T-shirt as promised, and we exchanged our so-glad-to-meet-you-at-lasts. We chatted briefly and went up to the bar. I released her to host her party, and ordered a chicken sandwich. Hey — I said tiresome detail, and I meant it, people.

Ordering at the bar at the same time was the only other person I had planned to meet at the drink night. Tim Bush, illustrator and gentleman, had offered me practical assistance for my visit to the Big City, and had agreed to make sure I made it home safely to my friend’s apartment. But we hadn’t met in person either. Well, he was very nice and fun to talk to. We talked for a while at the front of the bar instead of returning to the party already in progress. After fortifying myself with a chicken sandwich, one beer consumed, one beer in my hand, and some good conversation, I was ready to mingle.

Or so I thought...

See the rest “below the fold”!

When I walked into the back room, I realized that everyone was already in little clusters of people that they knew. I did the best thing I could: scurried to the quietest, least populated corner of the room. Now, who would have guessed what a wise decision this would be. Because it seemed that I met many people in my quiet corner. People who were dropping off their coats on the couches. People who were using the well-lit area to reapply lipstick. People who needed elbow room for a few minutes.

I quickly met all of the Longstockings. Actually, one was missing — as it is Longstocking policy to always have one member not in attendence in case the bar is attacked. Or maybe that’s Congress and the State of the Union Address. Anyway, I spoke with Lisa Graff, who gave me a copy of her book. Important, given that I will interview her on Saturday. I talked with Caroline Hickey, who will send her book shortly. And I talked with Jenny Han, whose book, Shug, I read, loved, and praised. We talked for a while about her book and her thoughts in writing it. She’s working on something for younger readers now, and I made her pinky swear to get me a copy.

In my quiet corner, I met Ron from Galleycat, and we talked about blogging for fun and profit. I met J.L. Bell from Oz and Ends, and we talked about blogging, writing in general, Newbery awards, and world peace. Though I may be wrong about the world peace one. He was a very interesting guy, very nice, and also quite attached to our corner.

Alvina from the Blue Rose Girls (A picture of Alvina, J.L. and me is on her site) made it back our way, bringing along Barbara Johansen Newman, who deserves particular mention for being one person who was specifically looking to meet me during the evening. So bless you, BJN. (A picture of me and Alvina is on her site.) Then some class of 2k7er’s entered my territory, which meant business cards for everyone. Huzzah! Yi Shun Lai told us about her book featuring a man-eating cabbage called, I believe, Cole’s Law.

Then, another kismet encounter in the quiet corner. A woman walked up holding a book — and this book was the one book in the whole Bloomsbury catalog that I was interested in reviewing. I told her as much, she gave me the book (or I wrestled it out of her hands), and sketched me in her notebook. We talked, along with J.L. Bell, about illustrations in middle-grade books. The author’s name is Ruth McNally Barshaw, and I’m sure I’ll be writing about her book, Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel, soon.

Time for a bathroom break and another beer (only three so far — don’t judge me). On the way back to the room, I ran into Betsy. We talked a bit, and she introduced me to Laini Taylor. She and her husband have the most beautiful art on their business cards. She has written a novel that Betsy just raved about, and I hope I’ll get to see it myself someday.

The back room had cleared out some now, and I just inserted myself in a conversation with two women. One was 2k7er Rebecca Stead, and we shared some kid stories and some laughs. One was Michelle Knudson, who’s the author of Library Lion, plus also the editor of the Junie B. Jones books. I LOVE Junie B. Jones. We talked about J.B.J. for a while, and I believe she said she would forward my J.B.J. article to Barbara Park. And I believe that was before I gave her my wallet.

With the party winding down about 11:00 p.m., and the host leaving (we had made plans to talk the next day), I was ready to head out. Seeing my new friend Tim on the far side of the couch engaged in conversation, I climbed behind Barry Goldblatt (at the time it seemed less rude then walking in front of him, but in retrospect may have been more rude) and sat between him and Tim. And found myself sitting across from Linda Sue Park.

Well, I wasn’t going home now. I was glad to meet her, and she reads my blog (yeah, baby!), so of course I like her. She was very nice and very charming. She’s putting out a book of poetry soon, which we talked about, in between the times that Barry Goldblatt was telling her which 2006 books were total crap (apparently many popular YA titles).

When she got up to leave, I did too. I was able to collect the promotion card from Tracie Zimmer for her new book Reaching for Sun. I mention her card because it was actually a packet of daisy seeds, which may be the cutest thing ever. In going to close out my tab, the wonderful Blue Rose Girl Alvina introduced me to David Diaz. Whom I did not know as a Caldecott-winning illustrator. But he did not seem the least bit offended by my ignorance, and was very charming. And a little hot, by the way.

Okay, now I was ready to leave, and Tim and I had a real chatfest as he escorted me across town to the door of my friend’s apartment. It was closing in on 1:00 a.m. by the time I got home. I had two ARCs, a number of business cards, and (at least) one new friend. Not bad for one night. Not bad at all.

[NOTE: Edited on 2/14/07 to add author links]

Mo Willems Interview Here and at The Edge of the Forest

Mo’s MailingsSo, Mo sent me a little something. Signed sketchbooks — including the famous Pigeon one — and an original Monster in Underpants picture! It’s a perfect way to introduce my interview with the man himself. On this site is one part, a little teaser. At The Edge of the Forest, you’ll find the rest of the interview, along with other reviews, articles, and features.

Teaser question: How did the sketchbooks get started? Who do they go to? And how, exactly, did the Pigeon go from being the sketchbook to a picture book?

That’s three teaser questions and consequentially requires dull exposition about the early 1990s.

Ahem. Back in the early 1990s (yawn!), I was part of a very young, very dissolute literary scene centered around a guy by the name of S. Pratt. Pratt had two things going for him: he put out a monthly ’Zine1 that older, less dissolute literary types apparently read, and he lived in a big loft where you could really party.2

Being dissolute, my friend quickly ran out of stuff to fill his ’Zine,3 so I suggested hijacking one issue with New Yorker-style cartoons that I’d doodled over the previous year.

The issue was a success, as it filled all the required pages and doubled as an xmas card for my clients and friends. So, the next year we made another. After a few years, Ersatz dissolutely dissoluted and Curious Pictures4 started to “publish” them annually. Staples were replaced with binding, the covers had two (count ’em, two) colors, and things generally appeared semi-professional.5

Some of the books are collections of cartoons, others short stories, or more serious illustration. Essentially, the sketchbooks are an outlet for me to play and experiment with things that otherwise no one in their right minds would publish.

This January I shipped out my 14th edition of the Mo Willems Sketchbook, entitled Mr. Willems’ Essential Reference Guide to MONSTERS IN UNDERPANTS [Abridged and Incomplete]. It is, as you might guess, a guide to various Monsters and their undergarments.

The most “famous” of these sketchbooks, I suppose, is the original version of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, which fell into the hands of an agent who was amused, who in turn showed it to multiple publishers, who were not.

Two years later my agent stumbled across an editor silly enough to be enthusiastic about the Pigeon and before I knew it, I was glamorously doing internet interviews.6

  1. Remember, this was before hipsters spent all their time on the internet. 
  2. Remember, this was before hipsters spent all their time on the internet. 
  3. Which appropriately enough was named Ersatz. 
  4. Where I worked as an animation director. 
  5. Now that I’ve taken over printing them again, it’s back to the staples… 
  6. “Interneterviews”? 

MotherReader Comes Back From New York City And Takes A Long Nap

I really wanted to give you the full scoop on the kidlit drink night and my whole New York City experience, but I don’t think it’s going to be today. I’m very sorry, but I’m soooo tired. I got back about 6:00 p.m. last night. My mother, brother, and baby niece were in north Jersey for a visit with relatives while I was in New York City, so I rode home with them. They stayed over last night and were here this morning. I visited with them and got ready for my Girl Scout troop’s meeting. Then I had the meeting and now it’s 4:00 and I’m pooped.

I’ll tell you this: I had a great time. A really great time. I promise I’ll tell my story tomorrow (looks like it might be a snow day!), but for now get the scoop from Fuse#8, Galleycat, and Blue Rose Girls. Alvina was particularly nice, introducing me to everyone — including David Diaz. The Caldecott winner. I didn’t know he was a Caldecott winner. Or what he did at all, for that matter. Oh, and I’m in one of the pictures on her site. Recognize the shirt?

If you check back tonight, I may have a Very Special Post related to the newest Edge of the Forest edition. You won’t want to miss it.

Off To The City

Poetry Friday HaikuIf you’re coming to Bar 9 tonight in lovely NYC, look for me wearing this T-shirt. Say hi.

Road to Paris, Eh

It’s not too late to take part in the book discussion of King of Shadows. So if, like me, you forgot about it yesterday, you can still go and add your two cents in the comments.

I’ll also remind you that I will be hosting the next Carnival here in February. I’ll shoot for a submission date of February 15th and upload on February 20th. You may submit a post to my email (click the button at the bottom of my blogroll) or at the Carnival site. 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, and groundhogs. Or cold weather. Or snow. You get the picture.

Today is the blog birthday of A Fuse #8 Production, and I wanted to get Fusie something special — besides writing out her whole blog name. But what to get for the blogger who has everything?

The Road to ParisSo I give the gift of debate. She liked The Road to Paris — and as it turns out, I didn’t. It is rare that I don’t agree with Fuse on books. In this case, I’m also going against just about everybody who read this book, given that it won a Coretta Scott King Honor Award.

My feeling is that Nikki Grimes wrote a fictionalized account of her own experience as a foster child who finds a good placement in a caring home. It’s probably a good story. But if you’re going to write about something that happened in the sixties/seventies, say that. Fuse mentioned how the lack of current slang made it feel like it could have happened yesterday or years ago. But I felt like the book was firmly placed in the past, which is fine, but then just say that.

Several things didn’t ring true for me for this time. When the teacher has the kids exchange Valentine cards, she doesn’t make the kids give one to everyone. Generally, schools don’t do that anymore. The street in a suburb of NYC has only three black families in neighborhood of white families. Really, in Ossining, a suburb of NYC? The kids seem completely thrown by Paris’s skin color. Again, really? In a metropolitan area? Who brings milk money? Waxed paper wrapped around her sandwich? Hello, plastic baggies. Nat King Cole came on the radio enough that it’s her mother’s favorite song. The photographs that were taken at Easter are black and white.

But here’s the kicker: When the dad of her friend sees her hanging outside the door, he calls her the n-word. That seems like something out of the sixties, especially when the mom shoos Paris away seeming scared of the dad. I’m not saying that there isn’t racism and that people don’t still use the n-word. But the scene doesn’t play right for this era. Then Paris gets mad at her friend for not sticking up for her in front of her dad. But it’s obvious that the mom is even afraid of the dad; why wouldn’t her friend also be afraid of being hit by the dad? You’d think that Paris would know what it’s like to be stuck in that situation, but she writes her friend off completely.

The story was fine, as a sixties story, but I thought that having the end of the story as the first chapter added a strangely false conflict. Would Paris feel bad about leaving this new, nice foster family to take a chance on her mom? Sure. Would she really have a serious debate about it or for that matter, a choice? I don’t know about that. I would rather have seen a more straightforward approach, more year-in-the-life, than building tension about what Paris was going to do next. I feel like the author — who everyone knows as a good writer — was too close to the subject. Or maybe she needed a stronger editor who could have mentioned that if you’re going to write a book that takes place in the sixties, you might want put the time period in the book and not make your readers guess.

Unfortunately, Fuse#8’s review was taken off her site in the whole Newbery Committee vs. Bloggers episode, but it lives on at the bottom of the Amazon review. She enjoyed the book, and the ambiguity of the resolution. She saw the book as more timeless since there weren’t references to current slang or technology. Anyone else have an opinion about the book? Or more specifically, can a book be timeless or is it always set in some time period by intention or design?

MotherReader Goes to New York City

Yes, folks it’s true. I will wrap up MotherReader week with a trip to New York City for kid lit drink night, as brought to you by Fuse#8. There I will lift a glass and toast all of you for your encouragement and suggestions.

As a mom, it’s hard to do something that’s just for me. It’s always about the kids, the husband, the extended family, the job, the Girl Scouts, the house... on and on. So, thanks to everyone who told me to take the trip. It really helped. Special thanks to Chris who sent a link to a bus company that goes directly from DC to NYC for twenty bucks. I’m going to give it a try. And also a special thanks to an illustrator who’s going to make sure I get back safely to my friend’s house in the Village.

For today’s MotherReader week celebration... um, post... I point you to the article in School Library Journal by Liz from A.C.A.F.A.A.T.C. (I know she doesn’t use that acronym, but it tickles me anyway). I am mentioned as one of the blogs to visit. I was glad to find myself a frequent visitor of the other blogs on the list. Except for one, and that is totally my fault and I will correct it immediately.

If you haven’t read my favorite curse word yet, there’s still time to go to my interview and... y’know, make a comment of some sort. Because comments are like little virtual Mother(Reader)’s day cards.

Just to top off the day, there are new pictures from Mo’s site. I like the Pigeon and Leonardo, but Knuffle Bunny looks like he needs some serious snuggling to soften him up. Or maybe a spin in the washer.

It’s All About Me Today

I imagine that every day all over the Internet, people are saying, “Enough with these famous authors with their pretty words and their great stories. Where, oh where, are the interviews with MotherReader?”

Well, as it turns out, there are not one but two interviews with yours truly. Today I’m featured in the Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast. These cool ladies of 7ITBB have been setting out over the kidlitosphere to get to know us. They’ve profiled Liz, Betsy, and Robert. Who knows when they’ll be coming for you. For extra interview fun, see if you can guess my favorite curse word before you get to that part. And please comment there, so it looks like people like me.

As a Cybils judge for picture books, my profile was also on their page on Friday. I missed it completely then because I was having a Bad Day, but now I’m happy to point it out as part of MotherReader week. (Hey, it was 7ITBB’s idea.) I could use a celebration, because I missed my own blog birthday in January. I’m a terrible blog mother.

Oh, and Sunday counts in MotherReader week because I broke the news about stuffed animals for the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and Leonardo the Terrible Monster. That was awesome. In the same post, I also opened up discussion as to whether I should go to New York City on Friday, February 9th — which actually, would make a spectacular conclusion to MotherReader week as I share time with my listed blog I would take to the prom, Fuse#8. And then we can celebrate her blog birthday in the proper way — with alcohol.

Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and Leonardo the Terrible Monster

What do they all have in common?

They’d all make great stuffed animals, that’s what!

In exceedingly cool news for a boring Sunday (well, boring if you don’t have a Superbowl party to attend), Mo announces that toys will be produced for all three of these great characters. They should be available to the general public in April. (Do you think I count as the “general public”?)

Mo will be at a toy trade show on Monday, February 12th, in New York City, signing books and bestowing his Mo-ness upon fans. (His Mo-ness is also now available in aerosol form.) The actual, useful information is available on his blog, and presumably will be posted on his website.

It’s funny that there should be this NYC-centered news on a day I’m deciding on a trip to NYC for the same weekend. I would love to go to Fuse#8’s kid lit drink night on Friday, Feb 9th. But there are quite a few obstacles. The cost of round-trip train tickets. A place to stay Friday night. Or how to safely get back to my place to stay on Friday night. Switching my work on Friday. What to do all day Saturday. It’s a lot to think about, so maybe my readers can help me out.

The round-trip train ticket would be about $200. I can afford it, but I generally don’t drop 200 bucks on a trip to go to a party. I have a friend in NYC, but she’s pregnant and really tired, so she could definitely host me Saturday night, but I’d be on my own to go to the party in the Midtown area (that part I’m okay with) and get back to her place in the Village on Friday night (which concerns me). Plus, she’s not crazy about me coming in, on my own, late at night on Friday. But she’ll do it. I think. I also promised I’d be out of her way for most of the day Saturday, because she has a class she needs to study for. I definitely can stay there Saturday night, and take the train back to D.C. on Sunday morning. I might — might — even have a ride to the Princeton Amtrak station on Friday, which would reduce my expense by $70. Which would certainly be helpful.

So help me out, people. Weigh in on my decision. Offer solutions. Tempt me further. Honestly, I could use some input.

(By the way, don’t forget what’s really important here: MotherReader broke the story of the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and Leonardo toys.)

Poetry Friday: A Snowball's Chance

First the poem by Shel Silverstein, then the story.
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I’d keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first — it wet the bed.
Thanks for coming to Poetry Friday. Round-up available at Big A, little a. Interested parties may stay for the story; all others may file out quietly.

My husband woke me up at 6:45 a.m. this morning to ask where he might find the camera to bring on his trip. While a phrase went through my mind as to where he might find the camera, I mumbled a reply and staggered to the kitchen to look for the rechargeable batteries. When he woke me, I was in the middle of a dream where a friend was telling me that I must know that we really weren’t friends and I should get over it. In the dream, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. And then I woke up, and I still felt emotionally jarred from the dream, because it was probably pretty accurate. There’s not a lot of hope for a day in which you’ve been rejected before you even woke up.

In this half-awake, emotionally raw state I said goodbye to my husband, who is going to Seattle for our film’s inclusion in a Sci-Fi short film festival. Then I convinced the girls to snuggle in bed for a few minutes (like twenty) before really starting our morning. We were all disappointed by the lack of snow, which had been predicted for overnight. My oldest told me a near equivalent of the snowball poem above, which did amuse us. Then the girls “phypnotized” each other to change their behaviors — one to stop picking her nose, the other to start eating corn. Too soon, we dragged ourselves out of the warm bed, dressed, ate breakfast, and I drove them to school.

As we approached the school, I realized that no one was walking to school. As we got to the school, we found the parking lot was nearly empty. Is it possible that the start of school was delayed due to light rain? As it turns out, yes it is possible, because this is the suburbs of D.C., where even the threat of sleet or snow is enough to cancel school.

We confirmed our guess on the Internet, and I went back to bed in an attempt to start the day all over again. but the forced sleep didn’t take, so here I am.

At least the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, so maybe spring will come early this year. At this moment, it’s all I can hope for. Unless... I look at the groundhog’s prediction as another sign of global warming, in which case the day is back to totally sucking.

Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors (BACA)

The Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors (BACA) really struck a chord out there. I’m being asked for a logo, guidelines, and a bumper sticker. Who knew?

The logo is in the works. I hope. I’ll say no more at this juncture.

Guidelines for celebrity author exceptions is tricky. I mean, first you’re letting in Lithgow, then Julie Andrews, and next thing you know Pamela Anderson’s got a book deal (title: Who’s Your Daddy?). It’s a slippery slope. The librarian host of The Magic of Books suggested allowing no exceptions for trading on name recognition, but allowing celebrities to write a book under another name. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. But I’m signing off on that rule, because it sounds good in theory.

However, I know we probably all have our personal exception, and that will be worked into the secret handshake. So, at the June membership meeting, I’ll shake your hand, wink, and say “Lithgow.” You’ll wink, and say “Julie Andrews,” or your preferred exception. Then we’ll both smile and nod knowingly. If you don’t have a preferred exception, then you can say “Carrot Top,” because that would be the funniest exception ever. (“I don’t like the work of Jamie Lee Curtis, but that Carrot Top is going places in children’s literature.”)

Fuse#8 wondered about the benefits of membership, considering the possibility that members would have free rein to whack an offending author on the head with his or her own work. While that would be lovely, it might lead to unfortunate arrests and unnecessary back strain from having to carry around all the relevant books on the off chance that one might run into Billy Joel at the corner Starbucks. So, I’m afraid I cannot endorse such actions, even though I might enjoy them.

Benefits of membership will include opportunities to display the logo on your page, to be particularly smug about celebrity authors, and to receive free soda refills at participating Wendy’s.

As BACA members, we will strive to shun celebrity authors in the blogging world. When a non-celebrity illustrator deserves to be recognized, the BACA member may wish to consider the “Spike Lee Who?” option. For instance, a blogger might note the exceptional work of Kadir Nelson by pointing out the availability of the book Please, Puppy, Please “as illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by some guy.” We will, as members, avoid giving undue publicity to celebrity authors, with the possible allowance of subjecting said celebrity authors to scorn and ridicule.

Our slogan: BACA off kids’ lit! It will look great on a bumper sticker.

The Other Two YA Books

Here are the two other books that I didn’t finish writing about yesterday.

The Boyfriend ListThe Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart
In this book we meet Ruby, or Roo, through her list of “boyfriends.” As she tells us, most of the boys on the list weren’t boys she kissed. Some she didn’t even talk to. But somehow they played a factor in her life. She is going to a counselor to help with the panic attacks that started coming after her boyfriend broke up with her, started dating her best friend, and ten other things in one week. The story captures the frenzied life of a teenager for whom boys and friends are of the utmost importance.

The Boy BookThe Boy Book, also by E. Lockhart (duh), continues Ruby’s story as she realizes important things about her ex-boyfriend, her friend, and herself. She goes on a week-long field trip with a mix of people, including her kind-of friend, her almost-friend, and her almost-boyfriend. As you can guess, it’s a sticky situation.

What I enjoyed about these books were how realistic they felt. Everything doesn’t just work out. Dramatic things can cause things to turn on a dime. And when a boy breaks up with you in high school, it is absolute torture. Oh, and the footnotes were really cool.

One question though: Do teens in Seattle use the word shattered for exhausted? I thought that was a British thing.