105 Ways to Give a Book

The Thursday Three XIX: For President

(Let’s just pretend it’s Thursday, because I could not finish this post yesterday with my head full of cold.)

With the election just days away, let’s see who’s running for office in fictional picture books.

Grace for PresidentGrace for President, written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
When Grace wonders why there haven’t been any women presidents (sorry, Hillary), her teacher uses her question to teach about presidential elections with a school-wide election. Grace runs for president against a boy in another class. Even though Grace works hard on her campaign, the boy relies on the Boy Vote to put him in office. The children represent states with the all-important electoral college votes. In the end, the election comes down to one kid — a boy. Will he follow the Boy Vote, or will he look at the best candidate? C’mon it’s a children’s book. Of course the best candidate wins. (America can only hope for so much.) This is a great book to talk about campaigns, elections, and the electoral college. The message that women and African Americans can be president is perfect and ridiculously timely.

Max for PresidentMax for President, written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Max and Kelly both want to be class president. They both make signs and buttons and promises. Kelly wins. However, “Kelly knew that she needed a good vice president to help get work done.” Taking that responsibility seriously — unlike some candidates — Kelly picks Max and they work together to make the school better. The book is simple in text and concept, but would be a nice preschool introduction to elections, cooperation, and the importance of picking a great vice president.

Duck for PresidentDuck for President, written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
The animals at the farm decide that they don’t like their chores and hold an election to get rid of Farmer Brown. Duck helps with voter registration, and wins the election by a landslide! But he finds running a farm is hard work, so he puts his new campaigning skills to work for a higher office. And then still higher! Of course, as you might expect, he finds running the country very hard work, and so he leaves the vice president in charge (again, the vice president’s office seems pretty important) and takes another path. Kids will love the silliness of the book, but the basics of campaigns and elections are represented. Adults may chuckle at Duck playing the saxophone on late-night TV à la Clinton. Lots of fun.

Three Reading References

Barack ObamaI’m not going to take long on the Obama thing, but I have to mention the three references to reading or children’s books in the informercial last night. Yes, three.

In a speech segment Barack says, “No government program can turn off the TV set or put away the video games or read to your children.” The emphasis was his, as well as mine.

Then Michelle Obama talks about how Barack has his thing that he does with each of his daughters, “and for Malia it was reading through every single Harry Potter book, and they got through all of them.”

Then the segment about the family in Kentucky starts with showing the dad reading a bedtime story to his little girl.

Not bad for books and reading, huh?

(Okay, I have to add something. I went to find the video where Michelle and Barack talk at a party about reading Harry Potter, which I found. But it led to another video titled — I kid you not — “Barack Obama Reads Witchcraft to His Children.” You have to laugh, right? The video features Michelle talking about Barack reading the books, but starts with a text statement, “Does Barack Obama oppose Harry Potter like most Christian parents?” Most Christian parents? Really? So I suppose that the huge Pottermania that has spurred on the children’s book industry for almost ten years can all be credited to Jews. You’re welcome.)

Kaiju Haiku Winner!

My daughter won Adam Rex’s Kaiju Haiku contest!!! She doesn’t know yet, being at school, but she’s going to be thrilled! She loves his books, as I mentioned, and who doesn’t love winning stuff?

With the variety of entries, two grand prizes were awarded in a younger and older age category. You’ll see the other winner and illustration, plus the runners-up over at today’s post.

(Congratulations, my angel!)

Halloween Storytime

Halloween Storytime! Now with annotations!

In my ABC Storytime series, this is my break for Halloween. These are books I’ve read in the classroom and for preschool programs, so they are on the upper end of the picture book age range. Songs and fingerplays are all over the Internet, so I’m not putting them here. Personally, I tend to use “Spider on the Floor,” “Five Fat Pumpkins,” and “Ten Little Witches.”

Boris and BellaBoris and Bella, by Carolyn Crimi, takes us into the land of vampires, mummies, and monsters. But just because they’re spooky or undead doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems too. Bella Lagrossi is very messy, and Boris Kleanitoff is too neat. They are neighbors, but don’t get along. When they both try to have competing parties for Halloween, everyone goes to the house of a more congenial host instead. As Bella and Boris go to yell at Henry Beastie, they find all the flaws in the party — like maggot muffins with too much muffin and not enough maggot — and refuse to have fun. When the dancing starts, they do come together and have a good time. Of course, they learn to accept each other, and also each to make little changes for the other. It’s a funny story with great wordplay, phrasing, and puns. Kids love all the gross-out references in the text and illustrations. Great fun.

The Scariest Monster in the Whole Wide WorldThe Scariest Monster in the Whole Wide World, by Pamela Mayer, is not a monster story, despite the title. Instead, it’s about finding the right costume when kid and parents disagree. Thea Dewlicky had won second prize last year at her costume parade with her fairy costume. This year, her parents are planning the costume that is sure to win, but Thea has other ideas. She wants to be the scariest monster in the whole wide world, with scales and claws and an ax in her head. Her parents are horrified, and take her shopping to find a suitable outfit, but Thea cannot be swayed. Along comes Grandma, who lets the kid be a kid, but finds a way to make the parents happy too. Along with being a fun Halloween story, it’s a good message for over-involved parents. Who will probably totally miss the point.

The Hallo-wienerThis one is always a winner: The Hallo-wiener, by Dav Pilkey. It’s the story of a dachshund who is always teased by his doggie classmates, but especially after his well-meaning mother gives him a hot-dog costume for Halloween. But when his doggie friends are spooked by a ghoul, it’s the little dog who saves the day. It’s a funny book, but you can add a little spooky suspense when the ghoul comes into the picture.

The Ugly Pumpkin The Ugly Pumpkin, by Dave Horowitz, is about a pumpkin that isn’t picked for Halloween because he looks so strange. As he travels through November, he comes upon more like him and realizes that he’s not a pumpkin at all. He’s a squash! And he’s just in time for Thanksgiving! Cute twist on the ugly duckling story with a nice transition to the next holiday on the calendar.

Nonfiction Monday: Yes We Can

I don’t usually participate in Nonfiction Monday, mostly because I’m generally not organized enough to do so. But today I’ll start my week of politics, elections, and um... Halloween with a biography.

First, let me say it makes no sense to me when people — or campaigns — say that we don’t know Barack Obama. With two books, numerous articles, twenty-two months on the campaign trail, and umpteen episodes of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, what’s left to know?

But for people who may want a quick version of the man, let me recommend Yes We Can: A Biography of Barack Obama, by Garen Thomas. I won this from the raffle drawing at the Kidlitosphere Conference. Greg got the picture book Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, but I like my book better anyway. (Nyah-nyah!) Written for older elementary school kids, the book covers Obama’s life story with an interesting narrative. The first two-thirds of the book seem drawn very strongly from his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. The last third fills in the rest of the story, namely his law school and political years. The book includes lots of photos, and chapters are separated by quotes from Obama — including a section of his New Hampshire primary speech, “Yes We Can.”

Having gone to press before the Democratic primaries ended, Yes We Can misses most of 2008 in its coverage. And, of course, it will also miss the result of the election, now eight days away. It doesn’t have the personal depth and elegant writing of Dreams from My Father or the policy implications of The Audacity of Hope, but for kids or adults who want to know who Barack Obama is, this title is a great place to start.

Blog The Vote

I know only yesterday I said that I was moving my Obama Love to YA for Obama, but I have to share this video from a rally in my home state of Virginia. It is inspirational, energizing and 100% positive. It actually gave me goosebumps and a lump in my throat. Please take the five-and-a-half minutes to watch it and pass it on to your friends. Please.


Let me note this line, from the five-minute mark: “Everyone in this auditorium, at some point, somebody stood up for you... They might not have been able to vote, but they marched and fought so you could vote.”

Because that’s what it all comes down to — voting. In that vein, I hope that you’ll be participating in a online event to Blog the Vote. I’ll let my new-best-friend Lee Wind explain:
Blog the Vote is a one-day Kid and Adult Lit Blogger Event, where we all blog on Monday, November 3rd, about the importance of voting on Tuesday, November 4th. Blog the Vote is about sharing WHY it’s important to vote. It’s about the issues that will be decided by whoever wins this election.
He hatched this plan alongside the amazing Colleen Mondor, who has agreed to track and keep a master list of posts. Here’s what she has to say:
The plan is to run a One Shot event on Monday, November 3rd, where all participants blog about why they personally think voting matters this year. You can write a post that touches on historical issues or policies of significance today. Anything you want to write about that expresses the idea that voting matters is fair game. The only hard and fast rule — and this is very hard and fast — is that you do not get to bash any of the four candidates for president and vice president.
Go to Chasing Ray for the official announcement and to get your post on the master list. As an example, Little Willow has the right idea already with this intensely moving post that incorporates voting issues and books. A winning combination in anyone’s... um, book.

YA for Obama

If I didn’t do this, the next twelve days would be all election, all the time at MotherReader. So I’ve accepted an invitation to join and post at YA for Obama. I’ve put up a new post today and uploaded two videos. (Not my own — don’t be silly.) Anyway, come on by if you need a place to read, talk, vent, and connect. You’re invited.

Cybils Nomination Lists

After two weeks of nominations and behind-the-scenes work, the Cybils nomination lists have been posted. In my category, Fiction Picture Books, we have 175 books to read and narrow down to the top five titles. Or seven. Let’s say seven. I’m already aware of at least seven fantastic books among the selections, and I’ve only seen about a fifth of them.

This is going to be tough.

ABC Storytime: H is for...

For the letter H, you could do a whole program on horses or houses. Depending when you start in the school year, a Halloween program often lines up quite nicely. I’ll take an ABC break next week to post a Halloween storytime, but for now let’s stick with...

The Letter H

Book: Harry’s Home, by Catherine and Lawrence Anholt

Fingerplay: “Houses”
Here is a nest for robin
(Cup your hands.)
Here is a hive for bee
(Put your fists together.)
Here is a hold for bunny
(Form a circle with hands)
And here is a house for me.
(Form a peak with hands)

Book: Happy Bees, by Al Yorinks

Song: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it
And you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

(Repeat with... stomp your feet, shout hooray, do all three.)

Book: I Call My Hand Gentle, by Amanda Haan

Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”
Open, shut them,
Give a little clap, clap, clap.
Open, shut them,
Open, shut them,
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.
Creep them, creep them,
Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.
Open wide your little mouth
But do not put them in!

(Follow the directions of the song and you can’t go wrong.)

Book: Hamsters to the Rescue, by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Rhyme: “Hickory Dickory Dock”
Hickory, Dickory Dock
The hamster ran up the clock.
The clock struck one
And down he run.
Hickory, Dickory Dock.

(I tell them I’m replacing the traditional mouse with a hamster.)

Alternate Books: Little Hoot, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Hiding Hoover, by Elise Broach; Hungry Hen, by Richard Waring

Haiku Contest Update

I didn’t get back to update yesterday’s post with my seventh grader’s entries to Adam Rex’s Kaiju Haiku Contest. I think she did an amazing job, especially considering that she just sat down with a piece of paper and tossed off about seven choices. These were the two she tweaked for the maximum impact.
Scaly, green monster
Sleeps under my bed at night.
What a freeloader.

The monster glowered
With bloodshot, watery eyes.
Allergy season.
I love the wit in these. Another related example of her sense of humor is how she named her fish. Yes, he is a Siamese Fighting Fish named Koobish — after the creature in The True Meaning of Smekday. But the funny thing is that since I warned her how... disposable these fish can be, she’s decided to keep the name Koobish for all of the subsequent fish and use subtitles. So we’ll have:
  • Koobish
  • Koobish II: Judgment Day
  • Koobish III: Revenge of the Fish
  • Koobish IV: A New Hope
  • Koobish V: Koobish Harder
Man, she rocks.

Poetry Friday: A Contest, But Not Mine

Can I use my Poetry Friday spot to highlight the last day in Adam Rex’s Kaiju Haiku Contest? Today is the LAST DAY to submit entries. The Grand prize for a kid includes an illustration of the winning haiku, a signed copy of Frankenstein Takes the Cake, and a Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich lunchbox. Adults or kid runners-up will receive a signed copy of Frankenstein Takes the Cake with his or her haiku illustrated on the title page. The judges are ready to look over the entries, but there isn’t much time left, so think up something quick.

I forgot to mention this to my daughter, who loves Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday. In fact, she named her new fish Koobish, after the creature in the book. She’s going to kill me. Though, now that I think of it, she still has this afternoon, and she works best under deadline. Just like her mom. If either of us think of something, I’ll update this post with our entry.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Becky’s Book Reviews. I suspect she’ll have lots links to actual poems for you to read.

By the way, thanks to Kelly for introducing me to online sand art. Until I saw it I didn’t realize I could waste even more time online and avoid cleaning the house.

A Debate... Version

OMG, now I know where McCain/Palin came up with their “Who is he?” campaign concept! The Penguin! I think Palin even got the wink from him. It all makes so much sense.


The Debate — Yeah, I’ll Go There

I know most of the kidlitosphere bloggers don’t like to talk about politics on their blogs, but I gave up that high ground long ago. Um... sorry? Anyway, I’m offering a safe space to comment about the debate last night because I feel that some of us — and by that I mean me — need to talk about it.

Now my motto is, “If you can’t say anything nice, at least make it funny.” Based on that, I searched the opinions for a good bit about the debates that rang true, but was also funny. This is the only one — so far — that made me laugh:
McCain came off as sour, agitated and petulant. Obama — man, nothing rattles that guy. But McCain was two tics away from a vein-popping “You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson moment.
Gotta love movie quotes. And this was from Crunchy Con, a blog about conservative politics and religion. Makes you wonder what the liberals are saying! Oh wait, that’s me.

I found that quote in a round-up of opinions from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, a great place to find out more about the debate if you’re so inclined to do so. Or you can read the transcript at the New York Times. Like you’ve got that kind of time.

My main thought watching the debate was that Obama was calm, cool, articulate, and... presidential. McCain was like the angry old guy at the homeowner’s association meeting sniping about untrimmed hedges on the neighbor’s lawn.

Now there were times I got mad. McCain’s assertion that talking about horrible things shouted at rallies equals slandering all Republican rally attendees is a ridiculous diversion from a serious issue. I don’t think “health” of the mother should be put in finger quotes, no matter what you think the “pro-abortion movement” (my quotes are deliberate and derisive) is doing.

I was baffled by the rising celebrity of Joe the Plumber. Anyone else think that maybe Joe just needs a good accountant? Oh, and there were moments of amusement. The crowd actually laughed at the question of the moderator, “Why would the country be better off if your running mate became president rather than his running mate?” Obama talked about why Biden would be good president if need be. McCain instead talked about Palin like she was his feisty kid, even saying that he was proud of her. Gee, thanks, Dad. One of the best examples of Obama’s coolness, and his way of turning the topic around, was at this point in the debate.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think she’s qualified to be president?

OBAMA: You know, I think it’s — that’s going to be up to the American people. I think that, obviously, she’s a capable politician who has, I think, excited the — a base in the Republican Party.

And I think it’s very commendable the work she’s done on behalf of special needs. I agree with that, John.

I do want to just point out that autism, for example, or other special needs will require some additional funding, if we’re going to get serious in terms of research. That is something that every family that advocates on behalf of disabled children talk about.
Personally, I wouldn’t have been able to hold back a laugh at that question. This would also have been an ideal time for Obama to make sure that McCain understands that Palin’s son has Down’s Syndrome, not autism. I would have paid money to see that correction by Obama with a pointed and yet totally cool look. Awwwk-ward.

Overall, I thought it was certainly a more interesting debate than the other two. I do wonder if McCain realizes that going completely negative during the debate gave Obama the opportunity to answer all the criticism with his actual policies and the actual truth. In some ways, the whole debate came off more like the world’s angriest interview of Obama.

So, what did you think?

ABC Storytime: G is for...

Oh, computer! I missed you sooo much!

My computer needed a little adjustment and left me stranded with Bill’s laptop hooked up to the Internet. Honestly, it was only a step up from using an Etch-A-Sketch and smoke signals. Good news for Bill, though, since I am totally on board with him getting a new computer. In fact, I’m surprised at the depth of his patience for having waited so long. He’s a good man.

Anyway, now to the letter G. There aren’t great songs for this letter, as far as I know, and I’m not sure if the fingerplay rhymes are in public domain. Hmmm. I’ll just give you extra books.

The Letter G

Book: Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae

Book: The Three Silly Girls Grubb, by John and Ann Hassett

Book: Gorilla! Gorilla! by Jeanne Willis

Book: The Great Gracie Chase, by Cynthia Rylant

Book: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by James Marshall

Book: The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldon

Book: Grandmother Winter, by Phyllis Root

(Okay, here’s one rhyme I’m pretty sure is common knowledge.)

Action Rhyme: “Grandma’s Glasses”
These are Grandma’s glasses.
This in Grandma’s hat
This is the way she folds her hands.
And lays them in her lap.
Here are Grandpa’s glasses
And here is Grandpa’s hat,
And here’s the way he folds his arms
And takes a little nap.

(Add motions to the rhyme — dainty for Grandma, bigger for Grandpa.)

My America

It wasn’t easy making a new America that we could all enjoy in our own political ideology. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun. And you can do it too!

First I had to put Maryland, the District of Columbia, Vermont, and Hawaii in the blue — which was a given for all states concerned.

Next, we had to make some tough state trades. We’re giving up New Mexico for Idaho; North Carolina for Indiana and West Virginia; and Colorado for Kentucky (this is clearly the most painful). But most importantly we need a land bridge to connect the East and West coasts, so a big sacrifice needs to be made. We’re giving up Florida for Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. It’s unfortunate, but necessary. You know what? Given global warming, Florida isn’t going to be worth much soon anyway. Sorry about Disney World though.

There you have it. Welcome to the Divided States of America. Let each section run itself as it sees fit. Lately, it seems like the only option.

(Another well-written article has come out on the disgrace of the McCain campaign attacks, this one stating, “[H]e is attempting to resurrect the threadbare narrative which holds that Obama, by dint of color and heritage, is something foreign, something scary, something not of us. It’s an offensive argument, yes. But in a nation as riven and fearful as ours, it is also a dangerous one. After all, it is a short leap from toxic words to toxic deeds.” The article also notes something that I saw as I watched McCain trying to talk around the angry mob, that “McCain seems ashamed, and he has good reason.”)

Cybils: Missing in Action

Okay, we admit that the comments sections of the Cybils nominations are hard to read. They go on forever with duplicates and page turns making it hard to see if your favorite book is listed. Well, now we’re asking what good books haven’t been nominated. Give us some of your favorites that you’d like to see there, and maybe someone will agree and make the suggestion. There’s already a round-up of posts started at the Cybils, and you can add your Missing in Action list too.

Mine is only picture books, at least for now. I haven’t decided which one of these to nominate, but maybe one of them is a forgotten favorite of yours that I can share.
  1. Ladybug Girl, by David Soman and Jacky Davis
  2. M is for Mischief, written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
  3. It’s Not Fair!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
  4. Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman
I’ve seen my absolute favorites on the Early Reader, Middle-Grade, and Young Adult lists, but that doesn’t mean that your best-loved books are there. It’s only a couple of days until nominations close, so be sure that you’ve put in your two cents.

The Biggest Fear

Originally, I thought that John McCain had sold his soul to the Republican Party. Now I think it’s possible that he has sold his soul to the devil. Lately it doesn’t seem like a big distinction, but it is. It really is.

I disagree with the ideology of the Republican Party, and think that cutting basic social services to undocumented immigrants is wrong. I am appalled with the political strategy of the campaign, and think that wasting the time of the American people on stupid issues like “lipstick on a pig” is wrong.

However, I am absolutely horrified by the current approach of McCain/Palin, and think that inciting angry mobs with insinuations and lies is wrong. Not just wrong in ideology or wrong in politics but morally wrong. Like God-Should-Smite-You-Down Wrong.

Who’s with me? Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, says in a Washington Post editorial that not only is the jeering use of Obama’s middle name insulting to Muslims, but more importantly, “The real affront is the lack of firm response from either McCain or Palin... [to] denounce the use of Obama’s middle name as an insult.” He goes on to note that the most recent attempts to change the level of disrespect have been small.

Along with middle-name teasing, which we should have been done with in grade school, we hear that we don’t really know Obama. This message coming after two books he wrote and twenty months on the campaign trail — and delivered by someone who apparently doesn’t read and has been on the campaign trail for barely one month. We hear that Obama “pals around” with terrorists and felons. Of course, Ayers bombed buildings before Obama was an adult, and the University of Chicago and two nonprofit boards seem to have vetted him into society, but somehow Obama should shun him. Now Rezko was convicted after Obama had dealings with him over his house and property, but somehow Obama should have predicted that and shunned him too. The Wright controversy won’t be coming up, because Palin has her own preacher issues. Plus, it’s a lot of work to paint someone as both a radical Muslim and a racist Christian — but looking at the campaign, it was still worth a try.

Now McCain and Palin take all this crap on the road and get people really, really angry. The party line is that they can’t control what the people in the rallies say, things like “terrorist” and “get him.” Oh, or what people do, like threatening the media after Palin slams the media. Bullshit. If they’re going to rile up the people, they have to take the responsibility. Or, as said in this New York Times editorial, “The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder.” The writer, Frank Rich, begins his article starkly and bluntly, noting our biggest fear with an African-American candidate.

And I swear, if some angry, idiotic person takes this sewage and does something stupid, unmentionable, unconscionable, then John McCain is going to hell. And at that point, the country’s going to hell in a handbasket with him.

Poetry Friday: Girl Scout Camp Haiku

After I got back from the Kidlitosphere Conference at 6:00 a.m. on Monday morning, and after a full week of work, blogging, and activities, I got to go to Girl Scout Camp. Oh joy.

Now I like nature, but mostly as viewed through a screened window — as God intended it.1 However, I make sure our troop goes camping because I believe that we should all stretch our comfort zones.

The first word I heard about the camp was not promising, but the trip was a wonderful experience. We kept a laid-back approach and gave the girls freedom to explore and fall — literally, in the actual creek water. Here’s our weekend in a series of haiku. (Oh, Anastasia’s got today’s Poetry Friday round-up.)
Mice? In the cabins?
You have to be kidding me.
Should have picked the tents.

Finally let loose.
teens buck sophistication
to play on the rocks.

Into our silence
the creek babbles, birds chatter
the forest leaves speak.

Taking off our shoes
The cold water feels so good
On our tired feet.

Nine middle-school girls
and three leaders in one room.
Sleep proves elusive.

Morning hike reward
a sun-dappled waterfall
Complete enchantment.
  1. I’m kidding. Actually, I love being outdoors, but I’m not particularly outdoorsy — if you know what I mean. 

Library Makeover

What a brilliant idea! Three Montgomery County Libraries wrote to the “House Calls” column of The Washington Post for design help for their teen sections. The designers offered wonderful and economical suggestions to make the YA sections more teen-friendly. I like this Bethesda makeover best, but that’s probably based on my fondness for Ikea (note the chairs). It also looks like the only one that has made it past the concept stage. You can read the article here, with links to the specific makeovers.

ABC Storytime: F is for...

F is for What the...?

Sorry, still thinking about the election and debate. I’ll only say one thing about the debate last night: High Def is not McCain’s friend. Honestly, the man looked like the crypt-keeper.

Anyway, back to the letter F. Yet again there are so many good picture books to use for this letter that I’ve done whole programs on just fish, farms, or friends. Oh, and food is a good one too. Here is a nice combination.

The Letter F

Book: Ten Little Fish, by Audrey Woods, or The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark, by Ken Geist

Song: “Once I Caught a Fish Alive”
One, two, three, four, five.
Once I caught a fish alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Then I let him go again.

Why did you let him go?
Because he bit my finger so.
Which finger did he bite?
This little finger on the right.

Book: Punk Farm, by Jarrett Krosoczka, or Farm Flu, by Teresa Bateman

Song: “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”
Old MacDonald had a farm
Ee-i-ee-i-oh
And on this farm he had a cow
Ee-i-ee-i-oh
With a moo-moo here
And a moo-moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo-moo
Old MacDonald had a farm
Ee-i-ee-i-oh.

(Continue with farm animals and sounds until you get sick of it.)

Book: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, by Melanie Watt, or Ned’s New Friend, by David Ezra Stein, or Bear’s New Friend, by Karma Wilson, or if you want to do a British accent — and who doesn’t — a Charlie and Lola book, You Can be My Friend, by Lauren Child

Song: “Make New Friends”
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.
A circle is round. It has no end.
That’s how long I want to be your friend.

Book: Fox and Fluff, by Shutta Crum

Palin Interlude

I wouldn’t do this, but I feel you may be looking to me to provide you with these latest Saturday Night Live Tina Fey sketches, and I dare not disappoint. As a compromise, I’ll just provide the link. Okay, the link and two of my favorite bits:
Palin: “Can I call you Joe?”
Biden: “Of course.”
Palin: “Okay, cause I practiced a couple of zingers where I call you Joe.”
That one actually explains a lot.
Ifill: “Governor Palin, would you extend same sex rights to the entire country?”
Palin: “You know, I would be afraid of where that would lead. I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.”
Ooooh. Snap!

I found this interesting article in The Washington Post that helped me understand why so many people thought Palin did well in the debate. In “Artful Dodging Trumps Evasion, Studies Show,” it’s noted that:
... most people are extremely poor at spotting even dramatic discrepancies between questions and answers. They found the failure was especially acute when answers were semantically linked to questions... The psychologists found that irrelevant answers delivered fluently and with poise scored higher with audiences than answers that were accurate, on-topic, but halting.
Another editorial opinion blames, quite scathingly, the press for letting Palin off the hook. Me, I blame Joe Six-Pack. Mainly because I can’t believe that we can now use that expression as an endearing reference to the down-home, regular American in the political arena.

Cybils Update

The Cybils are totally rocking! Bloggers in the Kidlitosphere is going above and beyond to let teachers, librarians, writers, publishers, and parents know about the Cybils. Go team! Head to the individual category on the Cybils website to leave your nomination in the comments section of each post. Nominations are open in all categories for nine more days.

Remember that there is a one-book-per-category rule for nominations, and that multiple nominations of a book don't help its chances. I’m organizing the category of Fiction Picture Books and serving as a first-round panelist. Right now there are about seventy books in this category! Keep those nominations coming!

Poetry Friday: The Poetry of Sarah Palin

Okay, okay, one more day of politics. Sarah Palin actually did well in the debate in that she spoke in a folksy way that people seem to enjoy (“doggone it”), she looked directly in the camera like a trained newscaster (or a celebrity), and she recognized her audience as the people watching on TV (Ifill who?). It was an... interesting approach to the debate to just ignore the questions posed if she didn’t like them. I wouldn’t have guessed one could do that. And apparently any trace of substance was totally off the table in favor of generalities, slogans, and jingoism. I read a comment somewhere that compared the debate to her cramming for a test and then padding the exam questions. My thoughts? “You betcha.” In case you missed it, here’s a short video of debate highlights that sums up the style pretty well.

In honor of her victory over low expectations, here’s a little something from Slate on The Poetry of Sarah Palin. They note, “It’s been barely six weeks since the arctic-fresh voice of Alaskan poet Sarah Heath Palin burst upon the lower 48. The poems collected here were compiled verbatim from only three brief interviews. So just imagine the work Sarah Palin could produce over the next four (or eight) years.”
On the Bailout

Ultimately,
What the bailout does
Is help those who are concerned
About the health care reform
That is needed
To help shore up our economy,
Helping the —
It’s got to be all about job creation, too.

Shoring up our economy
And putting it back on the right track.
So health care reform
And reducing taxes
And reining in spending
Has got to accompany tax reductions
And tax relief for Americans.
And trade.
We’ve got to see trade
As opportunity
Not as a competitive, scary thing.
But one in five jobs
Being created in the trade sector today,
We’ve got to look at that
As more opportunity.
All those things.

(To K. Couric, CBS News, Sept. 25, 2008)
Already from last night we have, “I may not answer the question / The way you want to hear / But I’ll talk straight / To the American people / And let them know my track record.” What more is there to say? Oh, Poetry Friday is hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

Purely Political

Okay, I’m trying to avoid politics, but today, with the Vice-Presidential debate, it’s gotta be fair game. Right?

So I find myself fairly amused that Sarah Palin might do well tonight simply because expectations are so very, very low. How low?
Several members of the media, including MSNBC anchors and guests and an NPR reporter, have asserted that Gov. Sarah Palin faces “low” or “lowered” expectations in the upcoming vice-presidential debate and that she therefore faces a lower bar for victory than Sen. Joe Biden. They have made these assertions — that she will win if she simply beats (lowered) expectations...
Basically if she doesn’t freeze up, giggle uncontrollably, or drool on herself, she could be seen as doing fine. You have to laugh.

I was heartened by the Washington Post article that noted, “Six in 10 voters see her as lacking the experience to be an effective president, and a third are now less likely to vote for McCain because of her.” What the poll fails to state is that the other four voters are in comas. Or at least that is the only explanation I can discern after hearing Palin’s response to Katie Couric’s question about what newspapers she reads.


Reading? What’s that all about? The video is even funnier in its own way than the new Saturday Night Live sketch. Though, that said, I did totally crack up at “Katie, I’d like to use one of my lifelines.” That line wasn’t from the real interview, but parts of the skit were actually word for word. You have to laugh.

So with all of this, why does McCain think Obama is gaining in the polls? Here is McCain’s exchange on  Fox & Friends, as released by the Fox News Channel:
HOST BRIAN KILMEADE: Right now a recent study says and the polls reflect that Barack Obama is gaining ever since this crisis has landed in everyone’s kitchen table, why is that?

McCAIN: Because life isn’t fair (laughs)... He certainly did nothing for the first few days. I suspended my campaign, took our ads down, came back to Washington, met with the House folks and got on the phone, and also had face to face meetings.
Because life isn’t fair. What a great slogan that would be for their campaign. McCain/Palin: Because Life Isn’t Fair.

I mean really, you have to laugh. Because I’m not — I am NOT — going to cry.

Cybils Nominations Are Open

The Cybils are here! The CYBILS are here!!! Nominations open today for all categories and remain open for the next two weeks. Go to the individual category on the Cybils website to leave your nomination in the comments section of each post. 

Anyone 13 or older — authors and publishers included — may nominate a book in one of nine genres. But note that there is a one-book-per-category rule for nominations. Books published in English between January 1 and October 15, 2008, are eligible. (Books that come out later than October 15 will be eligible next year.) The books will go through two rounds of judging. Finalists will be announced January 1, 2009. Winners will be announced February 14, 2009.

I’m organizing the category of Fiction Picture Books and serving as a first-round panelist. Hey, I’m even profiled! I feel so America’s Most Wanted. Of course, today I’m highlighting the picture book category with my brilliant — okay, brilliantish — introduction:
A good picture book is a pleasing merger of text and artwork. A great picture book is a celebration of story and illustration, with lasting appeal for kids and/or adults. The best picture books completely excel in art, story, kid-friendliness, and adult appeal.

A Cybils-winning picture book adds that special “It Factor.” In message, in world-view, in connection, in humor, in reach, a book with “It Factor” rises to a higher level. These are the picture books we bring home to show our seventh-grade daughter. These are the titles that we recommend repeatedly to everyone who will listen. These are the ones we buy even if we have no preschool children, and the ones we pull out to read again and again. And at the end of the Cybils judging, these are the books that we hope to share with you.
When I first checked, there were already ten nominations in this category by 10:00 a.m. EST. Keep ’em coming!

Kidlitosphere Conference 2008

This morning our hamster escaped, my cat is in trouble with the law, I deeply needed Second Breakfast at 10:30 a.m. and it was Oreos. What a perfect time to write about the Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference.

I started my day at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, September 25th, to make my 7:20 flight to Portland. Summing up that day, I almost missed my connection, dozed and read through a long flight, had lunch, stole a roll from the hotel’s buffet, and took a nap. For all intents and purposes (anyone else ever thought that phrase was “for all intensive purposes”?) my conference experience started at 5:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby when Sara Zarr saved me from my aimless wandering by saying hello.

After I congratulated her on her awesomeness, we chatted about travel and wondered how we’d know our people when they arrived. We shouldn’t have worried, as Laini’s legendary pink hair showed us the way to the bloggers and authors gathering by the bar. Conference organizer Jone was there as well, and our group begin to pull in the attendees by some sort of literary force.

In this pre-downtown excursion, I met Maureen from Confessions of a Bibliovore, Anastasia Suen, and author Alma Alexander. It wasn’t long before the dynamic duo of Jackie Parker and Colleen Mondor hit the scene and actually recognized me from my rarely posted photos. We hit it off immediately, and kindred spirit feeling was quickly confirmed on the ride to Powell’s City of Books where we discussed Portland, politics, and Dr. Horrible.

Powell’s was overwhelming, but it was fun seeing my peeps all around. We left as a group to get dinner only to find a bit of a wait. I used my time wisely, meeting Lee Wind and Suzanne Young. But when I saw that Bridget Zinn, Adrienne, Farida, Betsy, and Mark Blevis were already there and up for a table, the opportunist — the very hungry opportunist — in me latched on to that group without another thought.

Betsy Bird entertained us with stories as Mark and I munched down our elk burgers. (High in protein, low on fat!) I heard about Adrienne and Farida’s Fabulous Day in Portland. A possible Newbery contender was revealed, while Bridget talked about the recent book she Did Not Like. (I totally stole this picture from Laini.)

After a failed attempt to visit Voodoo Donut, it was back to the hotel and a drink with Jen Robinson, Gregory K. (and brother), Jackie, Colleen, Suzanne, and my New Best Friend Lee. (I mean, everybody’s new best friend. The most likable guy ever.) It’s very possible more people were involved as I have no evidence either way, and the lack of sleep was getting to my brain.

Now, conference day. Panel discussion on bridging books and blogs. Blah, blah, blah.1 Hold it! That’s Eric Kimmel! Talk to him! Talk to him!!! Duo panel about blog tours. Blah, blah, Funny stuff. Blah, blah.2 Stepped out to take some deep breaths before...

MY session on building a bigger blog. Once I started talking, I felt comfortable and it seemed to go very well. It was packed, especially since we had to move to a smaller room, but I liked the cozier feeling. I got good feedback from the attendees and it was well received. I’d like to make the handout available later. Maybe here, or on the conference site.

Next was the Cybils session, and then I lunched with those folks — Jen, Jackie, Colleen, Anastasia, and Sarah. This was my first time meeting Sarah Stevenson, and she was so nice. It’s like her super power. We talked a lot of Cybils and promotion stuff, making it a working lunch. Then it was off to hear Laini and Jen talk about the author and book reviewer perspective on blogging. Good stuff. Gregory K. gave a knockout presentation on promotion and using social networking sites. I skipped the last session about author blogs to refresh and regroup.

The last official conference activity was a time to meet the authors, and I did my best to meet them all. I chatted with Sara Ryan and Sara Zarr. I got books from Barbara Shoup, Christine Fletcher, Matt Holm (signed Babymouse book, so my kids will love me!), Clare Bell, Lisa Schroeder, Emily Wing Smith, and Deb Lund. I chatted with many, many more people and took cards, postcards (the prettiest from Dana Arnim, whom I actually tracked down to get her lovely card), and pins.

Afterwards, it was non-stop socializing through drinks and dinner. I finally caught up with Kirby Larson and browsed her new book. Love-ly! We talked about her next book, which will also be a picture book, and her next, next book, which will be a another hysterical... I mean historical novel.

Dinner was great with a cool crew, including the duo that rocked the blog tour discussion panel — Colleen and Jackie. The next table over was blitzing through the raffle, but I did win a couple of items with my tickets. After two wins, I passed on the rest of them to Mark Blevis and the Readergirlz so they could share the joy of winning. (Actually, I gave them to Lee who gave them to the Readergirlz, but I still deserve credit.)

After dinner, it was yet more socializing at the hotel bar. I fit in a catch-up session with Betsy Bird and her fanged sock puppet. I think the puppets were some sort of club — or cult. I could have stayed up until dawn, but my my voice started to go about midnight. So I took that as a hint, left the die-hard party folk, and headed for bed.

Sunday was breakfast with Lee and Maureen, and our tearful (okay, not really) goodbyes. Jone took me on a field trip to Multnomah Falls and we used the car ride to talk conference stuff, since I’ll be taking the show to D.C. next year. Once back in Portland, I hooked up with Jackie, Colleen, Lori, Holly, and Dia to finally get to Voodoo Donuts. After lunchtime, I was on my own in Portland, where I explored the street festival/art show at length, checked out the waterfront, and made another trip to Powell’s. At 5:00 p.m. I was D-O-N-E. But I still had hours to go until my flight, and even more hours until I hit Virginia again. I cruised through that period on my last bit of steam, got home, and slept like a baby.

Now things are back to normal — by which I mean the chaos of the the hamster, the cat, and the breakfast Oreos. But you know what? The hamster was quickly caught, the cat is under house arrest, and the Oreos actually were the perfect choice. It’s all good.

(OMG, I don’t know when I have ever written a post with more links or more pictures or that took this long to put together. Whew. I’m worn out. You should know that I’m getting all these links from the Portland Kidlit site where attendees are linking to their posts. Go there to read about other folks’ experiences.)

  1. Kidding. 
  2. Still kidding.