105 Ways to Give a Book

Scream and Run Away

There are tons of books that would be perfect for a Halloween review, but that would involve far more work than sharing the Lemony Snicket inspired song "Scream and Run Away." Happy Halloween, everyone. Stay safe out there, especially my New Jersey and New York friends.

Thursday Three: Monsters

Hush, Little Monster
by Denis Markell, illustrated by Melissa Twai

Little Simon 2012, reviewed from library copy

Hush, Little Monster"Hush, Little Monster, don't you howl. Daddy's gonna give you a screeching owl. If that owl won't say 'whoooo,' Granny Ghost will bring you a big, bad boo!" Silly version of the song with lots of monster visitors, but the bright colors and cartoon style keep it all in fun. Some slightly spooky pages with zombies, but also silly situations like an ogre sneezing from all the hair shed by the wolf man. Light fun for Halloween or any time of year.

Vampirina Ballerina
by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Hyperion 2012, reviewed from library copy

Vampirina BallerinaA vampire girl who wants to be a ballerina is faced with unique challenges. Finding a night class is hard enough, but how do get the perfect positions when you can't see yourself in a mirror? Of course then there is the question of fitting in. But this little ballerina keeps at it with family support and it all turns out fine. The talented LeUyen Pham lends her special style in the illustrations with lightness and humor. Fun for the whole family, but especially the ballerinas.

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody
by Ludwurst Bemonster

Feiwel & Friends 2012, review from library copy

Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody“In a creepy old castle all covered with spines lived twelve ugly monsters in two crooked lines.” For Madeline fans, I need go no further to explain the shear enjoyment of this book. With the rhythm and set up of the original, this book copies the illustration style. though it’s hard to compare the gentle Madeline with the little monsters who inhabit the castle – even if they are some cute little monsters. Though not well-behaved ones. “In two crooked lines, they bonked their heads, pulled out their teeth, and wet their beds.” The book takes a dark turn with Frankenstein loses his head, goes to the hospital and starts eating people. And the book ends with all the monsters headless. It’s done in fun and with a silly feel, but it might be worth knowing before, say, you read the book to a room of preschoolers. Probably a better bet for k- 2nd grade. But very well done.

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Asleep at the Wheel

I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted anything. I blame my habit of writing up notes on books at home, work, or PTA meetings and then doing NOTHING WITH THEM. Apparently, they don't magically transform themselves into posts, so lesson learned.

Other than not turning my notes into coherent reviews, I've been keeping up on the Cybils nominations and background organizational work. I made a weekend trip home to see my mother and niece where my Internet access depends on random unguarded wireless. I spent time and emotional energy on the Kid's musical, Seussical. She played Mayzie La Bird and was flawless in her performance with a bluesy voice and brassy attitude. (The video is on Facebook, fyi.) The election has also kept me mentally occupied in a nail-biting sort of way, and I'm really tackling my household clutter... at my own snail's pace.

Being back in the library, I've been seeing some great new picture books. The middle-grade stuff has also been tempting, but I haven't had the time to do nearly enough reading at home. But hopefully I can share some of my favorites here... as soon as I decipher my notes.

Last Call for Cybils Nominations

Today is the last day to nominate a book for the Cybils awards, so head over there and make sure that your favorite children and teen books of the year are listed. For some ideas, check out Cybils "wish list" posts around the Interwebs, including a selection at the Cybils.

Also you can feel a little generous by donating a book in the Ballou book fair. There are lots of great choices to help this underfunded D.C. high school, and we are making a difference - book by book!

Poetry Friday: Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It

I have a lot of chores to do today, so let's get right to the book.

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It
by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

HarperCollins 2012, reviewed from library copy

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do ItStart with the idea that William Carol Williams' famous poem about plums in the icebox was pretty lame as a plea for forgiveness. Then turn the template of that poem into a series of false apologies and you have one entertaining poetry book for kids. Many of the poems allude to other familiar stories like Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, while others refer to everyday situations. Well, with a bit of a stretch as to the normalcy of a kid's world, but it's all in good fun. The humorous, lightly sketched illustrations add to the entertainment value of a book of poems all entitled, This is Just to Say. My favorite:
This Is Just to Say

while you were buying
doll dresses
I sanded off
your Barbie's face

you constantly
and praised.

Forgive me
her beauty
was only
skin deep.
Find more Poetry Friday selections with our host Teaching Young Writers. Also, don't forget to get in your Cybils nominations which are coming to a close (checking calendar....) on Monday, and consider sending a book to Ballou (which sounds like a Seuss village) the fall book drive which ends on Sunday. Go Nationals!

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

KidLitCon 2012

The conference began, as so many do, with me auctioning off extra ARC's on the front steps of the library. After our group's visits to the publishers, we realized that we couldn't take home so many books. Yes, I could have waited for the Leave-an-ARC-Take-an-ARC cart, but what would have been the fun in that. Also I didn't know that it was there or that I would take yet another bunch of books with a bonus tote bag. But it was fun hanging out with new blogger friends Amy and Alyssa just giving away books.

Entering the impressive New York Public Library building, I started off with a session on Twitter led by blogger icon Teri Lesesne, The Goddess of YA Literature. A true believer, she even let us use the computers to tweet during her presentation. I followed a few of her suggested folks as she was talking and I noted #titletalk, #nerdybookclub, and #mglitchat to get me into the world of chats. Best of all, she made me feel a more comfortable in exploring Twitter and on setting limits - time or otherwise - on my involvement.

Art of the Picture Book was an exciting opportunity to learn more from an art student who talked about the divide between the "craft of illustration" and "fine art." With examples, selections, and videos from illustrators Jess Ferro used her expertise and passion for picture book illustration to help get through the divide. I hope later to link to her talk as it was fascinating!

After lunch, everyone attended the Critical Reviews session. The panel was packed with knowledgable people, and I was taking notes throughout trying to keep up with the discussion. Liz gave us some great funny bits, while Monica blushed about her relationship with Philip Pullman.

Next was a panel discussion on the Changing Relationship between the Author and the Reader in the Age of Social Media with authors Michael Northrop, Gayle Forman, Alyssa Sheinell, and Adele Griffin. The main topics on the table were the social media needs of an author and the right public/private life balance. It was interesting to me how much time authors put into correspondence - especially if they write books about sensitive issues.

The keynote speech was different in that it was at the end, and that speaker Marueen Johnson used the little-known Phone a Friend option for it. It was a causal discussion along with her good friend Robin Wasserman on a meandering path of social media and branding and critical reviews and author meltdowns. I'm not sure I liked it, but I'll certainly remember it.

We had to move out to the library pretty promptly at the close, and we fit in a stop at the hotel to freshen up before the KidLit Drink Night. I also grabbed a slice of pizza because I knew I wouldn't have a real chance to eat. And I did not, though I was able to talk to Melissa, Maureen and Charlotte about kids and conferences. I chatted with Monica and Sondy about possible Newbery award winners for this year. I introduced two Cybils Chairs - Terry and Mary Ann to each other in actual real life. I had a brief exchange with the woman of the weekend, Betsy Bird, who pulled together one fantastic conference and got a little more face time with Greg before he hit the jet-lag wall.

After a wine-fueled attempt to find my favorite junky store and a cupcake shop - both of which were closed - we had to call it a night. Which really meant more talking back in the room about the great time we had at KidLitCon 2012. Hope you join us there next year, in Austin.

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KidLitCon 2012: Day One

Traveling light, I left for New York City with a purse and an ingeniously packed laptop bag containing a change of clothes, toiletries, and an iPad that I barely know how to use. I came back from KidLitCon 2012 with much, much more including fifteen ARC's, ten hardbacks, five F&G's, four tote bags, three notebooks, two mini-shampoos, and a Ganesha's Sweet Tooth toothbrush.

Of course, I also came back with great memories, new friends, and a fresh perspective. And I have a representative photograph of that... which I took from Kelly at Stacked.

I took the bus in on Friday and missed the first session of publisher previews, but did get to have lunch with old friends Liz Burns and Kelly Jensen. I was particularly excited to meet another longtime blogger friend in actual real life, Leila from Bookshelves of Doom. Then it was off to Penguin, where I was unfortunately late for guest authorGayle Forman, but was treated to a preview of upcoming titles. I loved the the enthusiasm displayed each editor for the books coming out of their division and was excited to bring home a bag of some of the talked about titles. The marketing department shared their thoughts and book trailers as we munched on cupcakes, and the art department gave a very interesting presentation on book covers and how they come to be.

After talking to a few other bloggers, I headed to the hotel room that I shared with Liz and Kelly, where I met up with Lelia and her charming friend Amanda, and we all traded books from our various previews. Reviewing middle-grade and picture books like I do, I got more books than I could take home, but I also gave away most of my YA titles.

After a brief tidying up, we headed to the KidLit dinner at Ichi Umi, which features the longest buffet of sushi and such ever. I was able to touch base and share table space with Greg Pincus as we tried to remember which yummy morsels we had put on our plates. (The monk fish liver was fabulous.) I had exchanged brief hellos with our speaker, Grace Lin, and made cutesy faces at her adorable baby. Yes, she brought her baby. What a treat! (Thanks for the picture, Sondy.)

Of course the real treat was her presentation of her journey as an artist. It was personal and meaningful, exploring her revelation to find her own style by looking to what moved her and incorporating her cultural and individual identity. The lovely talk was followed by a signing of her new book, Starry River of the Sky.

The day was over before the karaoke could begin, though some of us stopped at the bar on the way back home. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Maureen.) We closed the night pretty early though, saving our energy for the upcoming big event: KidLitCon.

Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.

Cybils Nominations Begin

Nominations for the Cybils begins today. This is happening, people!

There are a few changes to be noted. One is that you will register first, which is an extra step in the process but does allow you to keep track of your nominations on a personal page. The other changes are to publisher nominations, so read more into at the Cybils page. It also wouldn't hurt to review the FAQ's, but I'll address two big ones here:
Which books are eligible?

Any English or bilingual books published in the U.S. or Canada between the end of one contest and start of another. For 2012, that means books released between Oct. 16, 2011 and Oct. 15, 2012. Books must be specifically published for the children’s or young adult market.

Does it help if a book has lots of nominations?

NO! In fact, the online form will kick the nomination back if a book's already been listed. It needs to get on our radar only once for consideration. After that, it's up to the judges.
So get over there and nominate the books that we need to see. It's Cybils time!

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