Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colon. Based on the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Copy donated by publisher in support of the Cybils 2006.


A graphic adaptation of the 9/11 Report, putting forth the time line of what happened on 9/11, then the results of the commission's investigation of what lead up to 9/11, including how it happened, why, failures, and recommendations.

The Good:

Hats off to the person who decided that the final report could be adapted into a GN format. When I heard about it, I thought it was crazy; then I read it, and realized it was a perfect match.
This turns a dense and complicated report into something much more accessible. I hesitate to say it's easy to read, because how can anything related to 9/11 be "easy"? But it is easy to follow, and to connect the pieces.

Why it works: sometimes, a picture is more effective than words on a page. This is one of those times. Also, often I understand something better from seeing an illustration, instead of having something described. This is one of those times.

Slate interview with the illustrators
AmoXcalli review

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Robert's Snow: Bill Carman

Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure : Seven Impossible Things... has a full explanation, including all posts to date.

The auctions start in November and continue until December. Go here to look at the artwork, and to bid once the auction goes "live."

Please consider bidding on a snowflake, and letting other art lovers know about the auction and this opportunity to own a unique work of art.

And now, on to the featured artist of the day!

Bill Carman's snowflake is featured during the auction that runs December 3 to 7, 2007. It is called "Rabbit Warrior" by Bill Carman.

The little guy on the reverse says, "I want to be a rabbit warrior." Who doesn't? And there on the front, in all his glory and full armor: the rabbit warrior. What better testament to dreams and wishes?

From his website, Carman includes one of the best descriptions of college I've read: "kind of a harder high school." He got his MFA from Brigham Young University, currently teaches at Boise State University; and his artwork runs the gamut from art for Opera Idaho to the children's book, What's that Noise.

Bill's website includes many examples of his work; go, visit, and you'll find yourself lost in the pictures for hours. Holy Hannah, he can turn an Altoid tin into a work of art!

Here's a close up of the snowflake:

All images used with permission.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List. By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. 2007. Copy supplied by publisher, Random House (imprint: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers).

The Plot:
Naomi and Ely are been best friends since forever; grade school, high school, and even college. Naomi loves Ely, Ely loves Naomi; Ely is gay, but that doesn't stop Naomi from believing that Ely, her best friend, is, well, the one. Despite the evidence to the contrary: gay, remember?

Naomi and Ely have a friendship preserving "no kiss" list; the cute doorman has just been added. Naomi didn't think she had to add Bruce the Second, her current boyfriend, to the list; wouldn't it be obvious?

But Ely kisses Bruce the Second. And it changes everything.

The Good:
Do girls like Naomi exist, for real? Both Naomi and Ely are New York City kids, thru and thru. Naomi is the gorgeous one: you can just imagine that the Eagles song is about her (city girls just seem to find out early, how to open doors with just a smile.) She's gorgeous, all the guys fall for her, and she can seem like a total bitch.

But underneath -- Naomi is someone who has been betrayed and let down by almost everyone in her life. Everyone except for Ely. And then what does Ely do? Lets her down by kissing Bruce the Second. By falling in love with Bruce the Second. By falling in love with someone who isn't her. By having someone in his life who is more important than her.

Naomi is a hard girl to like; she can be a bitch. Hey, better to keep people away than to let hem hurt you. I'm not even sure I can say I like her; but do I understand her? Yes. And I'm intrigued that Cohn and Levithan took the risk of having such a hard person to like be at the heart of this book.

Also good: Cohn and Levithan did dual narrators in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist; here, there are multiple narrators, with Cohn and Levithan writing all voices. So we see people as they see themselves, as others see them; the masks they put on successfully, and the ones they don't realize they have on.

This is a book about the break up of a friendship; a friendship that is so close and tight, it didn't have room for anyone else. Oh, Naomi and Ely date others -- but their true loves and soulmates? Are each other. Naomi half realizes it, keeping boys at arms length (she's still a virgin); Ely has had many boyfriends, but it's all short, hot, romances, no real love. Naomi and Ely -- had this book been set in high school, ah, it would have been full of nights out and shared clothes and everyone in school half in awe, half in love with them. A world where NaomiandEly are one word, and they are the it couple who are not a couple. But can that intensity be maintained beyond high school? Should it?

Can that type of friendship survive growing up? Falling in love with someone else? No matter how glam and sexy and smart Naomi and Ely are together -- they are too close. They just don't realize it; until Ely kisses Bruce the Second. And Naomi begins to realize -- not that yes, Ely is really gay and so will never by her first lover or husband; but that yes, Naomi cannot be the most important person in Ely's life forever. And a girl who has been let down by her parents -- well, to Naomi, once she is no longer the most important person in Ely's life, its as if she is no longer the most important person in anyone's life. That's a lonely, cold place.

All too often, in teen books and movies and TV, there is friendship message that, well, friends are and will be BFF no matter what, if they just want to be. They ignore the reality that it is a healthy thing to grow up and perhaps apart; and to let in new people. It's refreshing to see this book address that; and to do so in a way where there are no good guys or bad guys, just flawed and very human teens trying to figure out who they are and what they want and who they want to be.

Other goods: While this is a book about breaking up, it's also a book about falling in love: Ely and Bruce the Second. And it's about Naomi being in love with Ely, and fighting against falling in love with someone who is a bit more available.

Final point: I heard David Levithan read a chapter of this in October. He is a fabulous speaker.

And, yes, it's one of my personal best books this year.

Kids Lit review
Propernoun review
sea heidi write review
emilyreads haiku
avenging sybil review
worth the trip review
2nd Gen Librarian review

Buffy Quote of the Week

Oops, sorry that I've been lax on this! Thanks, anon, for the reminder.

"My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for all that touchy-feely relating nonsense. But he was eaten. You're in my world now. Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time."
-- Principal Snyder, ep. "The Puppet Show"

Robert's Snow: Week Three

As you know if you've been visiting any children's book blogs for the past few weeks, Robert's Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 200 children's book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. The snowflakes will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to cancer research. You can view all of the 2007 snowflakes here. Jules and Eisha from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast have found a way for bloggers to help with this effort, by blogging about individual illustrators and their snowflakes. The idea is to drive traffic to the Robert's Snow site so that many snowflakes will be sold, and much money raised to fight cancer. The illustrator profiles have been wonderful so far - diverse and creative and colorful. And there are lots more to go.

Here's the schedule for Week 3, which starts Monday. As previously, this early schedule links to the participating blogs, instead of to the individual posts. You can find links to the posts themselves, and any last-minute updates, each morning at 7-Imp. Jules and Eisha have also set up a special page at 7-Imp containing a comprehensive list of links to the profiles posted so far. Also not to be missed is Kris Bordessa's post summarizing snowflake-related contests to date over at Paradise Found.

Monday, October 29

Tuesday, October 30

Wednesday, October 31

Thursday, November 1

Friday, November 2

Saturday, November 3

Sunday, November 4

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you're so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

See also the following note from Elaine Magliaro of Wild Rose Reader:

Note to Blog Readers about Blogging for a Cure: When Jules of 7-Imp put out her call in September for bloggers to interview/feature artists who had created snowflakes for Robert’s Snow 2007 at their blogs, a number of artists had not yet sent in their snowflakes to Dana-Farber. As time was of the essence to get Blogging for a Cure underway, we worked with the list of artists whose snowflakes were already in possession of Dana-Farber. Therefore, not all the participating artists will be featured. This in no way diminishes our appreciation for their contributions to this worthy cause. We hope everyone will understand that once the list of artists was emailed to bloggers and it was determined which bloggers would feature which artists at their blogs, a schedule was organized and sent out so we could get to work on Blogging for a Cure ASAP. Our aim is to raise people’s awareness about Robert’s Snow and to promote the three auctions. We hope our efforts will help to make Robert’s Snow 2007 a resounding success.


Thanks to Jen Robinson for putting this post together; she wrote and coded it, and I just tweaked it so it would work in blogger. Man, it's nice when the content creates itself...or is created by others. Thanks, Jen!

Best or Favorite: What's the difference?

Alvina of Blue Rose Girls asks, do you make the distinction between favorite and best?

I've been giving this a lot of thought lately. Sometimes, the books on my sidebar that says "best" are really my favorites; but I don't want to change it to favorites, because it's also possible that I personally feel cold about a book but recognize it as "best" and include it.

So, go over to Blue Rose Girls, and share your opinion on best v. favorite.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robert's Snow: Ashley Wolff

Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure : Seven Impossible Things... has a full explanation, including all posts to date.

The auctions start in November and continue until December. Go here to look at the artwork, and to bid once the auction goes "live."

Please consider bidding on a snowflake, and letting other art lovers know about the auction and this opportunity to own a unique work of art.

And now, on to the featured artist of the day!

Ashley Wolff's Snowflake is part of Auction 2: November 26-30 and is called "Kachinas Bearing Gifts" by Ashley Wolff.

Ashley's website shows her life as an artist, starting as a child who knew she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. She has illustrated more books than I can count, including the marvelous Miss Bindergarten series.

Ashley kindly agreed to an interview.

Liz B: I blog not just about books; but about how important story is in our lives. What children's book or children's book illustrator has most inspired you?

Ashley: If I had to choose a favorite from among many I admire it would be Barbara Cooney. She died in 2000 at the age of 83 and worked right up to the end. She wrote and illustrated over 200 books, AND married and raised a family. She illustrated one of my favorite books of all time: The Ox Cart Man, written by the poet Donald Hall. I think it is a perfect book. But all her books are beautiful. When she began her career illustrators were working mainly in black and white. The strength and delicacy of her line stood out in those early days. When everything switched to full color in the late 70s she began making wonderful gouache paintings.

Liz B: How did you get involved with Robert's Snow?

Ashley: My connection to Robert's Snow is through my editor and friend Alvina Ling. Alvina is a good friend of Grace Lin and when she told me the story of Robert's illness and this project I was eager to be involved.

Liz B: What inspired your snowflake?

Ashley: I drew my inspiration for this snowflake from the most recent book I did with Alvina called The 12 Days of Christmas/A Pinata for the Pinon Tree. The book and the snowflake are both dedicated to the author Philemon Sturges who died in 2005.

Liz B: Could you tell us something about The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Pinata for the Pinon Tree?

Ashley: Philemon Sturges and I met when I was in college and he was an architect, married to my favorite RISD professor Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges. He began writing children's books in the 90s and in 2000 we worked together on Who Took the Cookies From the Cookie Jar. It was my choice to set that book in the American Southwest because I had just returned from my first visit to the Grand Canyon and I was in love with the landscape, flora and fauna. We changed one name in his manuscript. The word "Robin" became "Raven."

The book's southwestern setting was so much fun that we went on to do She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain in the same landscape for cactus and canyon. For that book I invented the little town of Reederville, where everyone always has a book in hand.

For our 3rd book we did the 12 Days of Christmas. It is set in Reederville and features characters from both of the 1st 2 books. The "me" character who receives all the gifts is a badger who makes the enchiladas in Comin' 'Round the Mountain and the band of Mariachis is led by a collared lizard who appears in both previous books.

The hardest part of this book for me was finishing it after Philemon's death and without his jolly suggestions and the glee he took in what my pictures brought to his words. To honor his memory I collaged a favorite photo of him into a small, painted shrine in the opening spread. It was taken by Judy Sue at my mother's home in Vermont.

Liz B: I also blog about pop culture. What is your "pop culture" area of expertise?

Ashley: I don't know if I have one. I have two teenage sons and I know more than I want to about Halo 3, warhammer, world of warcraft and other mmp games. My husband writes about AIDS and infectious disease for the SF Chronicle, so I know a lot about those subjects and I pay attention to theater and movies. However, except for having a substantial pelvic region, I am not hip in any sense of the word!

Liz B: Thank you, Ashley! And I'm only hip enough to recognize the names of those games.

Here is a close up of Ashley's snowflake. Please consider bidding on a snowflake this year!

Images used with permission.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cybils: Nominations Close November 21. And Highlander!

I know what you're doing.

You have a few different books you want to nominate; but you know, much like Highlander, there can only be one. One nomination per category.

So, you're sitting back, waiting, hoping some of your favorites will be nominated by other people, so that you don't have to decide to pick one; rather, once 3 of your 4 titles are picked, you'll nominate that title.

I know your strategy. And it is sense making. As long as you don't wait too long and miss the deadline! November 21, people. It's closer than you think. Go to the Cybils blog; check the current nominees; and nominate your favorite title!

And because it has one of the best songs ever, a little You Tube for you.

And yes, we all loved Methos.

Oh, yeah. Topic. Go post your Cybils nominations today!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Poetry Friday: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Poetry Friday (will be edited tonight to add round up information ) The Round Up is at Literary Safari.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. 2007. Library copy. One of my personal Best Books 2007.

The Plot:

Inhabitants of a medieval village, from nephew of the Lord to beggar, provide a look at their lives via poetry and prose.

The Good:

Made of awesome.

There is a map of the village (a Medieval Manor, England, 1255) with plenty of details to linger over, from the various walls and fields, including the characters in the book.

Each person speaks once; tho characters sometimes mention once another, giving a fuller picture of each individual and the village itself. While most speak in varying forms of poetry, there is some prose; and there are also historical notes to explain things. For example, the son of a knight mentions the Crusades as he would see it; the note provides more detailed information on the Crusades.

How would I classify this book? Poetry? But it's got more than poetry, and will history lovers find it there?

History? The people are made up; and while there is an amazing bibliography (four pages worth!!), so I trust the history included, made up people saying things, even saying things based on historical fact, is, in my never to be humble opinion, fiction.

Fiction? While I love how this conveys a world, and a world view, there isn't really a plot or a main character.

Final words: great for teaching or classroom use, at home and at school, because in addition to the history aspect, the poetry is written to be read, like a play. So, a fun way to practice memorization and speaking skills.

More final words. It's illustrated by Robert Byrd, and he captures a medieval style and also includes tons of details for readers to pore over.

Anyway, here is a bit from

Otho, The Miller's Son

Father is the miller
As his father was of old,
And I shall be the miller,
When my father's flesh is cold.
I know the family business --
It's been drummed into my head;
How to cheat the customer
And earn my daily bread.

Oh, God makes the water, and the water makes the river,
And the river turns the mill wheel
and the wheel goes on forever.
Every man's a cheater, and so every man is fed,
For we feed upon each other,
when we seek our daily bread.

The rest of the poem is in the book.

Candlewick, the publisher, has these sample pages online, which also show Byrd's illustrations. Here are two more poems, with footnotes.


Lois Lowry likes it
Betsy Bird's review can be found at ForeWord: Shelf Space

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jensen Ackles is smart

His interview over at TVGuide shows that he knows and gets not only fan culture, but also, the whole business of viewing dynamics, etc.

Some good quotes:

TV Guide: There are Samoholics and Deaniacs out there. You each have your own coterie of fans, don't you?
Ackles: What's funny is the network always talks about how we skew to a younger audience, but at the events we go to, the ones who show up at the set are usually women ages 30 to 50. It's actually pretty cool.


TV Guide: What does it say that the CW put you up against Grey's, CSI, The Office and even Kitchen Nightmares?
Ackles: I understand the pairing of us and Smallville, the only show on the network we can really combo with. Yes, it sucks. It's very, very strong competition. They're all top-10 shows. The network's excuse for it is, "That's not your audience, it's an older audience." I disagree. The same age range watching those shows are tuning in to our show and buying the DVDs and watching them. It's hard being on a new network, a smaller network.

Sorry, Don. But there's room for both of you in my viewing schedule!

Robert's Snow: Rebecca Doughty

As a short reminder, Robert's Snow: For Cancer's Cure is an auction where you can "own a piece of art from your favorite children's book illustrator while helping to fight cancer. Participate in Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure, a unique fundraiser for cancer research. Since 2004, this online auction has raised over $200,000 for Dana-Farber, and with your help, we can continue this holiday tradition in 2007." The artwork is a five inch wooden snowflake, decorated by a children's book illustrator.

Robert's Snow was first a children's book, written by Grace Lin and inspired by her husband, Robert Mercer. More information on the project is here. Grace is one of the Blue Rose Girls bloggers, and Jules and Eisha explain at Seven Impossible Things... how we bloggers got involved in the project. I am highlighting five of the illustrators who have contributed snowflakes. This year, there are several auctions, starting in November and ending in December, with hundreds of illustrators donating time and talents to produce the snowflake art. Go here to look at the artwork, and to bid once the auction goes "live." Please note that not all the illustrators are being highlighted by bloggers.

And now, here's Rebecca Doughty.

Doughty is the illustrator of several books, including Halloween has Boo and One of Those Days;

Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life will be published April 2008.

Doughty's snowflake is part of Auction 3: December 3 - 7 , and is called "Flake With Holes" by Rebecca Doughty. More information about Doughty and her work can be found at The Schoolhouse Gallery.

Liz B: I blog not just about books; but about how important story is in our lives. What children's book or children's book illustrator has most inspired you?

Rebecca: Tough question... so many! One special favorite was: Boats Finds a House by Mary Chalmers, a poignant story about a little wandering cat in search of a house, and what makes a house a home. I was also a huge Dr. Seuss fan. His books gave me a love for the music and play of language. I often gravitated toward pared-down artwork, deceptively simple drawing that left much to the imagination. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson comes to mind. And I've always been partial to black and white. I adored my storybooks, but I was also absorbing all the pop culture of the time, (the 60's that is) comics and funnies, TV cartoons, Mad Magazine, and cartoonists like Charles Addams. Edward Gorey was another favorite. At an early age I was intrigued by humor and satire, and stories with deeper, darker subtexts.

Liz B: How did you get involved with Robert's Snow?

Rebecca: I met Grace and Robert in the spring at an exhibition at The New Art Center in Newton. I then became more familiar with Grace's work and the Robert's Snow project. When my agent Rebecca Sherman spread the word about this years' auction, I threw my name in the hat. There are many worthy fundraisers, and artists are often asked to contribute their art, but it becomes much more meaningful to participate when you're creating something especially for a project, and something outside the way you'd ordinarily work. Making a flake for Robert's Snow was like that, I felt more connected to the cause, and that was particularly satisfying.

Liz B: What inspired your snowflake?

Rebecca: In recent years I've been working on paintings using a group of odd little animal characters in psychologically charged narratives. Rabbits and holes appear often in the work. They're very small paintings but suggest vast landscapes, often with something disappearing off the edges of the painting. I thought this would translate nicely onto a snowflake. I imagined the flake as a tiny window to the snowy field, with many bunnies and holes beyond.

Liz B: Could you tell us something about your upcoming book, "Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life"?

Rebecca: I often listen to public radio while I'm working, and I also live in a busy city, so I'm too often reminded of how messed up the world is, how rotten people treat each other, and themselves, and the planet. So, instead of continuing to complain, I thought it might be time to make a positive contribution in some small way. I figure the best way I can do that is through my work, and with humor, so this is a funny book about spreading a little happiness and kindness around.

Liz B: Thank you so much!

Rebecca: Thanks again Liz!

Thank you, Rebecca!

And here, once again, is her lovely snowflake:

All images used with permission.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My TV Childhood

Inspired by video postings by Fuse and Bookshelves of Doom, I offer you some of my childhood classics that fall under the "no one has ever heard of them and I don't understand that" category.

First, it's nice to say hello.

And there are no locks on Story Box.

And no, I'm not sure if there was an OLD Zoo Revue. And yes, it was all about Freddy.

Sadly, I cannot find a clip from Yogi's Ark, which introduced me to the joy of the crossover, as well as the song The Perfect Place. I cannot even find lyrics for that darn song.

Robert's Snow Illustrators

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you're so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

Image used with permission; thanks to The Miss Rumphius Effect for doing all the code. I am participating in the blog project to highlight all illustrators who are involved in the Robert's Snow auction, but mine are later on in the process.

Please note that hundreds of illustrators are participating, and not all illustrators are being highlighted by blogs. See the Wild Rose Reader for an explanation of the process. The main point of Blogging for a Cure is to bring the auction to the attention of more people, so that money can be raised.

And now, this week's schedule:

Monday, October 22

Tuesday, October 23

Wednesday, October 24

Thursday, October 25

Friday, October 26

Saturday, October 27

Sunday, October 28

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Harry Potter: the Neverending Story

So, JKR said Dumbledore is gay.

And yes, I agree that it's not a surprise.

What surprises me most about some of the discussions I've read concerning JKR's comments is the insistence that an author cannot comment on or add to her own story. That the story is locked, sealed, and unalterable once it is in book form.

Me? I'm fascinated by idea that the story exists independent of the form used to tell it, whether that form is book, song, video, movie, TV series, interview. The form picked influences how the story can and cannot be told. And now, the Internet adds to the way that the story can be shared. I actually find it rather exciting, and full of possibilities.

Edited to add: Wizards Wireless is compiling a list of all posts on this most recent JKR interview. Go to W2 & let her know you've posted to be included in the round up.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Poetry Friday: The Courtship Of Eddie's Father

The round up is at Kelly Fineman's Writing and Ruminating.

In honor of my support of TV, I offer you one of the great theme songs of my childhood TV watching.

The Courtship of Eddie's Father (aka "Best Friend") by Harry Nilsson

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend,
He's a warm hearted person who'll love me till the end.
People let me tell you bout my best friend,
He's a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.

The rest of the song is here.

Wikipedia Information on the show; I love how it was based on a movie shot six years before the TV show. Quick, without looking, who originally played Eddie? And I loved how they changed Mrs. Livingston.
Still more on the show.
Bill Bixby still breaks my heart. I loved Brenda Benet on Days of Our Lives.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Laini Taylor shares some fantasy

Laini Taylor, author of Blackbringer, shares some fantasy writing on her blog.

What? That's not fantasy? In my world, it is. The glue, the mess, the lost temper. A knife? Without bloodshed? And look at the pretty made up words: acrylic matte medium. And at one point, she says that doing part of this is "pretty basic." He!

While reading that entry makes me think "pretty" and "I can do it too!" I know ... it's a fantasy. Or perhaps, science fiction? Either way, in my reality, it's just not happening, even as I enjoy reading about the process.

But buying those cool journals from Powell's is a reason to go to the 2nd Annual Kidlitosphere Conference next year!

Cybils Review

I have a review up at the Cybils blog for one of the nominated titles.

Go, look! And it has my photo!

OK, I lied. Not my photo, but the way cool jacket cover of the mystery book.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Amelie. DVD, Netflix* Rated R

The Plot:

Amelie grows up a lonely, imaginative child. As an adult, she is involved with the world; for example, she works as a waitress, has her own apartment. But she is still separate, more the observer than the participant. In part because of the death of Lady Di, she gets inspired to tinker in the lives of those around her, with mixed results.

The Good:

That synopsis so did not do justice to this wonderful, funny, insightful, heartfelt film. Amelie is a child who wants connection, but ends up isolated. Even as an adult, when she tries to fix the lives of those around her, she continues to want the connection with others but doesn't know quite how to do it. I know part of the reason I loved this movie is that at times I feel very much like Amelie, in terms of connecting with people. She has a better haircut and apartment than I do.**

Amelie is a French film, with English subtitles. As you know, I love films; I love TV. (More on that in another post.) One of things I love about films from other countries is that they show things that books cannot. No matter how well a book is written, a book cannot do what film can; here, it could not capture Amelie's apartment, her dress, her Parisian neighborhood, the non-verbal interaction of the customers at the cafe.

A side note about her apartment: I do get a bit house obsessed. So, while watching, I thought, wow, that's a great apartment on what a waitress makes! I almost wanted to rewatch on freeze-frame the apartment scenes.

*I have recently switched jobs. I thought, hm, if I use the local library, I risk late fees. I know how I am. Better to pay to Netflix than the late fees. And I love the convenience.

**News on the housing front. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teen Read Week

From Stephanie Kuenn, Communications Specialist, YALSA:

Happy Teen Read Week, everyone!

Help YALSA celebrate Teen Read Week! We need your help:

*Start by making sure your teens vote for the Teens' Top Ten at

*Ask the teens you serve to visit the Teen Read Week Web site at and vote on next year's theme

*Send your teens to to take the annual Teen Read Week survey about teen reading habits at

*Go to the Teen Read Week Wiki at and add your programs to our list

*Check out I Love Libraries,, which is highlighting Teen Read Week

*At the end of the week, enter our Win a Visit from Tiffany Trent contest and tell us all about your fabulous celebration! Rules and application are at

Why I Adore the Bookslut Blog

This post. Just the right mix of information with snark: "You can smell the contempt."

Favorite Podcasts?

Melissa at Pop Goes the Library is looking for podcasts to share with teens. I've already suggested Just One More Book. Go over to PGTL and share your favorite.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Looking for recommendations

Christine M over at The Simple and the Ordinary is looking for some readers advisory for her ten (almost eleven) year old daughter: Actually, she specifically wants books set in the 1st half of the 20th century in America (where people aren't riding in buggies and wearing sun bonnets). They don't have to be specific about a topic - just using the time period.

So, basically that is any time up to World War II (and yes, I checked with Chris, and up to and right after WWII is good; basically, 1900 to 1950.) I know, a kid who wants to read historical fiction! Awesome.

Any ideas? Let Christine (and Pippi) know.

First Annual Kidlitosphere Conference: The Last Post, I Mean It

2nd Gen Librarian has posted about the conference. If I have somehow missed your post (click on the labels below), please comment to this post and I'll edit this post.

ForeWord: Shelf Space

ForeWord Magazine: "Reviews of Good Books, Independently Published."

ForeWord has a blog, Shelf Space, and invited guest bloggers to post. This month, it's Jules and Eisha from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Go, take a look and say "hi".

Robert's Snow Illustrators

Please take time out to visit all of these blogs, and read about these fabulous illustrators. And, if you're so inclined, think about bidding for a snowflake in the Robert's Snow auction. Each snowflake makes a unique gift (for yourself or for someone else), and supports an important cause.

Image used with permission; thanks to Jen Robinson for doing all the code. I am participating in the blog project to highlight all illustrators who are involved in the Robert's Snow auction, but mine are later on in the process.

Monday, October 15

Tuesday, October 16

Wednesday, October 17

Thursday, October 18

Friday, October 19

Saturday, October 20

Sunday, October 21

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Werner von Trapp

Werner von Trapp has died. Thanks to the Old Coot for the information.

Like many people, I first fell in love with the film version of The Sound of Music; then I read the book, and liked it more than the film. Werner was called "Kurt" in the movie. The more I read about Maria von Trapp, the more fascinated I became; a multifaceted woman with considerable strength. But, not an easy person. I think she did what was necessary to ensure the survival of the family as a unit.

NYT Bestseller List

I have books I loved but have not yet discussed. And I feel guilty about it.

I'm feeling much less guilty about not having reviewed Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter. It's a great book, and I love the way it handles the love interests, and it's funny and smart and deserves a post of it's own.

Why am I guilt free (OK, guilt reduced, not exactly free)?

Because it's made The New York Times bestseller list, baby! Oh yeah. And yes, it is that good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poetry Friday: Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich

Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich: and other stories you're sure to like, because they're about monsters, and some of them are also about food. You like food, don't you? Well, all right then. by Adam Rex. 2006. Copy supplied by publisher, Harcourt, Inc.

The Plot:

A number of poems about a variety of monsters. Each monster gets a different type of unique poem; all are very funny.

A taste of the book:

The Invisible Man Gets a Haircut

"My hair is a fright!"
said Griffin one night.
"At least I assume that it is.
It feels awfully long,
and the part is all wrong,
and it's knotted with tangles and frizz."

The rest of the poem; well, you'll have to read the book!

The Good:

Brilliant. Why did I wait so long to read this one? (Oh, yeah, the kids took it.) A Best Book Read in 2007.

The Phantom of the Opera: poor guy. Each time it's his turn in the book, it's ruined because he has a song stuck in his head that twists his poem. From "It's a world gone crazy, a world gone wrong" (It's A Small World) to "All around the Opera House" (Pop Goes the Weasel) to... well, you get the picture.

This can work for all ages, but the older, the better, because of the references to other works, such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The illustrations; all done by Rex, all different, all great. The Phantom of the Opera (yes, I admit, he's my favorite) is done black and white, like a silent movie; the Mummy is against a background that looks like papyrus; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Henderson looks like a 19th century newspaper.

Plus, there are a ton of details hidden in the pictures. When the Invisible Man gets a haircut, a ton of other characters are in the background, including a snake-headed Medusa coming in the door. And, extremely amusing to me, is the paper that says the Bride of Frankenstein wants her hair like Britney Spears.

Peter Parker and Cheetah fight over this one. And Peter Parker calls it the Ghost Book, because on page 14 there is a ghost. He is also very amused by the idea of the invisible man getting a haircut.

The Poetry Friday round up is at Two Writing Teachers. someplace. I'll edit this sentence once I figure it out.

Author Blog
Blog from the Windowsill review
A Fuse #8 Production review
Kelly Fineman: interview with Adam Rex
MotherReader review
PlanetEsme review
Publisher's webpage, with author interview
Swarm of Beasts review
What Adrienne Thinks About That review

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Dark Dreamweaver

The Dark Dreamweaver. The Remin Chronicles, Book I. Nick Ruth, illustrator Sue Concannon. Copy supplied by publisher, Imaginator Press.

The Plot:

David, 11, is having nightmares. But it turns out they are not just bad dreams. There is a place called Remin: "When you dream, the threads of that dream travel through Remin where the imaginary aspects of the dream are given the illusion of reality." David's own nightmares (as well as an increase in bad dreams worldwide) are because something is rotten in Remin. It's up to David to find out and fix it.

The Good:

David is a typical, imaginative, eleven year old. When the caterpillar he's brought home turns out to be a wizard from Remin in disguise, his own years of reading fantasy leave him not only open to the possibility, but excited: "I've always read about other worlds: worlds behind mirrors, worlds where scarecrows are kings, worlds with schools of magic."

David takes the plunge and goes into Remin to help the caterpillar/wizard, Houdin. Once there, of course, it's not simple: there are adventures, challenges, skills to learn, puzzles to work out, and, in true fantasy fashion, a group of newly met friends to help.

There is humor; not only in the names of things and wordplay (Remin, REM sleep; Houdin/Houdini, Vulcanius mindmeldium) but also in David's own observations: " The spell had worked! He was in Remin! Well, at least, he was somewhere else."

I also liked that this is a chapter fantasy book that works for younger readers. There are maps and illustrations; and at just under 250 pages, is one of the shorter works of fantasy out there. Don't be scared by the "Book I" on the cover; David's adventures, and the mystery of Remin, get resolved in this book.

Remin Chronicles website
Wands and Worlds has a round-up of reviews
Jen Robinson's review (I'm not sure why this wasn't at W&W's round up.)

Sometimes, You Can't Win for Trying

Shannon Hale has a post up about her book, Austenland:

"And on the other hand, I've come under criticism from some for writing a "vulgar" and "trashy" book. This absolutely astounds me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for every reader having that individual reading experience, for their experience to be much different than mine. I'm just so surprised by it! If it were a movie, I feel pretty confident it'd be rated PG. When I was writing austenland, I thought, "People like me who enjoy romance but don't like to read the smutty stuff will dig this book! It's so fun and clean and yet still sexy!" And then come the accusations of vulgarity. sigh You really, really can't anticipate how people will respond."

It's also well worth it to review the comments for the post, as people respond to this (and other things mentioned in the post.)

I'm intrigued because Hale set out to write a "clean" book. (A term I use reluctantly because I don't agree that sex in a book makes it "dirty", yet it is a term that is used so frequently that I don't have much of a choice.) I didn't get into this aspect in my review, and I have since lent my copy out, but my recollection of the book is that Hale did a great job of being vague about the s.e.x, to the point that it was entirely possible for the reader to think that the main character was still a virgin. Oh, there were boyfriends and kissage and making out; but no s.e.x. Yet, apparently, just the multiple boyfriends (um, not all at the same time!) and the kissing/ making out (all very PG, as Hale says) was enough for people to say "no go." (Actually, vulgar and trashy.)

The point? For some people, even dating and kissing and trying to figure out "do I like guy y or guy x" is going to render a book "not clean." It can be very difficult to match the book to a reader, either as an author or as someone doing reader's advisory (whether the person doing RA is a librarian, parent, teacher, or blogger.) It's yet another reason I try to stay away from the term "clean" and instead ask, what it is the reader wants and is comfortable with reading. Matching up books and readers is an art, not a science; and not everyone shares the same standards, the same criteria, or even the same definition of what a term means.

First Annual Kidlitosphere Conference: The Last Post, I think

The last post: the podcast round up of almost everyone who attended the conference is up at Just One More Book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Boots!

I went shopping with my sister, Pixie, and she gave the thumbs up to these. She felt compelled to add that I could only wear them if it was actually raining or snowing.

Also? The pressure to get a tattoo increases (I believe her exact quote was that this would somehow be a tattoo substitute.)

Regarding said tattoo, the two main problems are : I am undecided about what to actually get, and where; and I am a wimp who fears the pain.

Should I get one? What should it look like? Being Irish, I'm inclined towards something Celtic. Discuss.

Also? Pixie said these were very similar to Cheetah's boots. Is that good or bad? Cheetah is seven. I am not seven.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Don Eppes Is My TV Boyfriend

I'd like to thank Carlie, the matchmaker between me & my new TV boyfriend.

This is how we met:

Carlie likes the TV show Numb3rs, with Don Eppes (FBI guy) and his math whiz brother, Charlie*. Now, Melissa and Carlie had tried to introduce me to this show before, during the infamous Flavor Flav weekend, I believe. But, it didn't take.

I was visiting Carlie a few weekends ago and we were watching Supernatural (pretty, pretty boys.) And Carlie then did the best Readers Advisory for TV ever. Picking up on a significant reason why I adore the show, she said, "You know, this show is just like Numb3rs."

"How so," I asked, wondering what a show about demons had in common with a show about crimes.

"Supernatural: two brothers and a Chevy Impala. Numb3rs: two brothers and a Craftsman house."

Casting it in the light of family drama and brotherly angst, I had to watch. How obsessed am I?

I chose to watch the Season 2 DVD rather than watch original shows this past month.

I am now slightly obsessed with the show, and Don Eppes. (Let's be clear: I'm not some crazy stalker girl who has confused Rob Morrow with the character he plays. And I know Don is not real.) Why I like the character: well, have you seen him? Adorable. But also? There is all the family drama and emotions; the two brothers who trying to reconnect, the father, the family dynamics. Sigh. Forget the crime solving, I like the conversation over dinner. And they bicker, just like Sam and Dean! Seriously, Alan Eppes is just like John Winchester; except nicer and not so psycho. And I don't think the Winchesters are Jewish.

Past TV boyfriends have included Brian Ash, Joe Dubois is my TV husband, and book boyfriend: Gen, of course, as well as Michael Jennings (and half of EEW's main characters). I think Will was one of my first book boyfriends.

So, confess. Don't leave me here on my own. Who is your TV/book/movie boyfriend or girlfriend?.

*edited to add: holy hannah, what a difference a hair cut makes.

First Annual Kidlitosphere Conference: Esme's Bookroom

I think it says a lot that I took so many pictures of Esme's Bookroom. It was inspiring and beautiful.

I have sometimes thought, wouldn't it be great to have one room of my home be a library? And here, it's an entire home of books. Better yet: they are not selfish books, sitting on the shelf for the owner to gaze upon. No, at Planet Esme's, its about sharing the wealth: "The primary purpose of the space is to serve as an inspiration, resource and meeting place for grown-ups who wish to deliver the best to children through read-aloud and literature-based education. Though the bookroom is primarily a resource center for adults, though we welcome well-behaved school-aged children (4 and up) who are accompanied by a guardian."

Perhaps I watch too much HGTV, but when I entered this welcoming sanctuary, this beautiful library, all I could think was: they need to do a show. No one would believe this book oasis exists!