Thursday, February 28, 2008

My adoration of Jenna Fox

Mary Pearson is a terrific writer, so I was very excited when I opened a package from Holt and saw an advance of her new book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. If you've read her previous YA novel, A Room on Lorelei Street, expect something very different. Jenna Fox is just as good in terms of quality, but it's got a much different tone.

Because this book won't be out until April 2008, now is a good time to stop reading if you don't want to be even remotely spoiled.

The plot:
A long time from now in a state far far away (California), seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox awakens from a year-long coma. What she can't figure out is why she has a phenomenal grasp of everyone's history except her own. She knows the entire text of Walden but doesn't remember that she always called her grandmother Nana, not Lily. Her mother is reluctant to let her go to school or drive, and she never sees her father anymore; he still lives in Boston. When she is allowed to go to school, it's to a local charter where all of her classmates have something wrong with them. When she tries to log onto the Net to find out the details of the car accident that took a year of her life, her access to the information is denied. There's a hidden key in her mother's mattress to a closet, and that closet contains a secret Jenna is desperately trying to crack. Eventually, her mother and father do tell her the truth about her missing year. Or at least, they tell her most of the truth. The rest...she remembers.

Why you'll love it: There's always lots of talk about the theme of identity in YA lit, and here Pearson has taken it to its furthest extreme. Jenna has to figure out who she is with no memory of who she used to be. She's surrounded by people who tell her half-truths and she gets the feeling she's an inconvenience to them. Pearson has built an amazing futuristic world where science may be quite different from what we know now but the basic human condition, that we want to know ourselves and be loved by others, has stayed very much the same. The line on the front cover asks "How far would you go to save someone you loved?" I think the real question here is, "How far would you go to save yourself?" (Of course, the question of how far you'd go to save the one you love is one that drives the book, but I think the other one is far more overreaching.) This is a creepy, creepy book along some of the same the lines of David Lubar's True Talents and Nancy Werlin's Double Helix. It also reminded me of Airhead by Meg Cabot, which I'll review at a later date. And it's already been picked up for a movie.

Mary Pearson's Jenna Fox page.

crossposted at carlie @ bccls

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A cool new blog, for real!

We all love nonfiction, right? The demand for high-interest nonfiction for kids grows every day, and now you can add a cool new blog in which writers talk about writing nonfiction: I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

From their bio:
Here we will meet the writers whose words are presenting nonfiction in a whole new way. Discover books that show how nonfiction writers are some of the best storytellers around. Learn how these writers practice their craft: research techniques, fact gathering and detective work.

Looking for a handy, diverse list of fun nonfiction for teens to kick-start your recommended nonfiction booklists? Check out Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults' list "I'm Not Making This Up."

crossposted at carlie @ bccls

Printz: Eligibility

Continuing my series of posts about the Policies and Procedures of the Printz Committee, taken from the YALSA website. All of these posts are labelled with the tag "Printz." And now; eligibility! What books are eligible for the Printz? From the YALSA site:


The award‑winning book may be fiction, non‑fiction, poetry or an anthology.

As many as four honor titles may be selected.

Books must have been published between January 1 and December 31 of the year preceding announcement of the award.

To be eligible, a title must have been designated by its publisher as being either a young adult book or one published for the age range that YALSA defines as "young adult," i.e., 12 through 18. Adult books are not eligible.

Works of joint authorship or editorship are eligible.

The award may be given posthumously provided the other criteria are met.

Books previously published in another country are eligible (presuming an American edition has been published during the period of eligibility.)

If no title is deemed sufficiently meritorious, no award will be given that year.

The chair is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.

Unlike the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Printz Award does not require the attendance of the winning authors at the awards ceremonies. However, it is understood that authors will be encouraged to attend.
So, that's the criteria, for those wondering. Questions? Comments?

Friday, February 22, 2008

But I love you, EW!

Sadly, EW doesn't share the love; or, rather, some of it's writers don't.

From the review of the Beowulf DVD, written by Ken Tucker:

"Zemeckis says in a making-of that this film has 'nothing to do with the Beowulf you were forced to read in junior high - it's all about eating, drinking, killing, and fornicating.' To which I can only respond, Oh, you poor, deluded baby boomer: Bob, do you think young people in 2008 have an Old English epic poem on the syllabus? American literacy is lucky if junior high schoolers get a stray Hemingway short story into their diet of crappy young-adult novels."

Wow. What, does Tucker get paid for how many groups he can insult at one time?

Excuse me. I'm going back to reading some young-adult novels.

Poetry Friday: Supernatural

The last two episodes of Supernatural have been out. standing.

So I decided to be inspired by that show; and here are my poems for Dean and Sam, aka pretty, pretty boys.

The Philosophy of Pitchforks by Sue Owen

In the dark pit of hell,
I imagine that the pitchfork
comes in pretty handy
to hurl the evil ones

into their pitch-black places,
hurls, flings, and tosses
them down as a part of
their permanent torment there.


The rest of the poem is at

Orfeo by Jack Spicer.

Hell is this:
The lack of anything but the eternal to look at
The expansiveness of salt
The lack of any bed but one’s
Music to sleep in.

The complete poem is at

And, finally:

Prayer To Persephone by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here

The round up is at Big A little a.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Buffy Quote of the Week

Xander: Whoa, Giles has a TV. Everybody, Giles has a TV. He's shallow like us.
Ep: The Harsh Light of Day

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Printz: Calendar

And my continuing Saturday Morning series, highlighting the Policies and Procedures of the Printz Committee.

And now, the Calendar:

The Committee will observe the following calendar:
May-June: Committee members and chair are elected or appointed.
July: The chair sends letters of welcome to committee members. Letters will include a calendar and a copy of these policies and procedures.
September: Reading can commence as galleys become available.
January: Midwinter Meeting
May: By May 15 the chair will have assembled and sent to committee members a list of all nominated titles.
June: Annual Conference: The committee will meet in three closed sessions to discuss all nominated titles.
September: By September 15 the chair will have assembled a second list of titles nominated since Annual and will have sent them to committee members.
December: December 1: Final date for submission of field nominations.
December 15: Final date for nominations by committee members.
January: January 1: Chair will send list of all titles nominated since September 15 to members.
January: Midwinter Meeting: Committee will meet in three closed sessions to select a winner and honor titles (if any).
June Annual Conference: Committee will have the opportunity for input into the oversight and planning of the Printz Awards Program.

The above is taken from the YALSA Website.

For the Printz Committee I'm on, we are in the post-January Midwinter Meeting time period.

For the Printz Committee that just picked this year's Award Winners, they are in the planning stages for this June's Printz Awards Program.

Carlie Webber, a contributor to this blog, is on the slate of candidates for next year's Printz Committee, so that is the May-June time slot at the very beginning of the Calendar.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'


Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Part of the reason I like this nonsense rhyme is the last stanza; I find it haunting.

And it reminds me of a book I read in high school, The Moondancers by WJ Weatherby.

I cannot find a description online and my copy is packed, but it was one of those historical romance books where the following happened: girl in the UK abandoned by loving father, she grew up and was hanged for something, but the hangman loved her so fixed it so she wouldn't die (in which I learn that the weight and height of the body is important in figuring the length of rope to have a proper hanging), and then they both escape to the US and get separated. I think she thinks he's a little stalkerish, plus the whole hangman thing isn't appealing. Of course, they meet various historical people in 19th century England and America and then she finds her father and it turns out he is now an evil western land baron, and believe it or not she ends up getting hanged AGAIN and saved again by The Original Hangman. They do wind up together after all. Despite the stalkerish/killing her/not killing her thing.

Man, I loved that book. I have to find that box....

Round up at HipWriterMama.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I have discovered the joys of Netflix; so much so that I have a full queue. I know! I cannot add more until I delete some. Or maybe I should increase from two at a time....

Anyway; I am almost done watching the first season of Dexter, as originally shown on Showtime. CBS will be showing season one starting Sunday February 17 at 10 p.m.

The Plot: Dexter is a blood splatter expert for the Miami Police Department. He is also a serial killer.

The Good: I adore Dexter; both the show and the character study.

Dexter's adoptive parent, Harry, was a cop who recognized that young Dexter was showing all the signs of a sociopath (or is it psychopath? or both?). Anyway, long story short, instead of locking young Dexter up, Harry tries to teach Dexter to, well, be more human; to fake the emotions he does not feel; and to not kill people. As Harry realizes that young Dexter and later teenage Dexter cannot be stopped, Harry instructs Dexter to channel his impulses for the greater good: to kill only those criminals that the law cannot convict. Flashback theatre, starring a brilliant James Remar as Harry, is featured in each episode.

So that is what grown up Dexter does. The child-killing pedophile? Dexter gets him. The drug dealer who escapes conviction again and again? Does not escape Dexter.

So you cheer Dexter -- but only up to a point. Because Dexter is a killer; and the questions that haunt the show include, whether Dexter will "break" and kill outside of Harry's rules; or whether Dexter will make a mistake and kill an innocent; or whether Dexter will be caught. And the show graphically reminds you that Dexter kills. Again and again.

I think part of the fascination, for me at least (and others) is the whole idea of guilt and innocence, good and evil, as well as whether a killer can indeed by "redeemed" the way Dexter appears to be. Are serial killers born, or made? Can a serial killer be "cured"? If Dexter is so cut off from his emotions, how to explain the attachment to and respect for his adoptive father, Harry -- to the point where years after Harry's death, Dexter still follows his father's rules of killing?

Plus, hey, crime show and I love my crime shows. Even if the hero is a bit, er, unconventional.

Oh, and for the record? No way in Hell would I want Dexter as a TV boyfriend. But you know whose boyfriend he is? Darla!

Also, this is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay.

Switch from Showtime to CBS: I imagine that some of the murders (both the ones that Dexter commits as well as the ones he investigates) will be toned down for TV. Also, the language can be a bit much; Dex's sister, especially, is given to spouting the f word every third sentence. (I think she thinks it makes her look tough; actually, I found her rather annoying.) But that can be dubbed.

Buffy Quote of the Week

Harmony: "I don't know why I let you be so mean to me."
Spike: "Love hurts, baby."
Ep: The Harsh Light of Day

Best Staircase Ever

Or is it Best Bookcase Ever?

Take a look (from ApartmentTherapy.)

All I know is... I want.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Printz: Committee Members

From the YALSA Website:

Committee Members

The Committee shall consist of a chair, eight members, a consultant from the staff of Booklist, and an administrative assistant if the Chair requests. Beginning in 2002, the Chair and four members will be appointed by the Vice President/ President-Elect of YALSA. The remaining four members will be elected by the membership of the Association.

Members serve two-year terms beginning immediately after Annual and ending after Annual of the announcement year. All members are required to attend all Printz Committee meetings held during the selection process. In the event a member is unable to complete her/his term, the President of the Association shall appoint a replacement from among the members of the Best Books for Young Adults Committee.

The chair is a voting member of the committee with all the rights and responsibilities of other members. In addition, the chair presides at all meetings of the committee and serves as a facilitator of both discussion and committee business. As such, the chair must serve as a list owner of an electronic discussion list created through the YALSA office solely for use by the committee, and take responsibility for list maintenance. The chair has sole responsibility for any contact with publishers.

In consultation with the Chair, the Vice President/President-Elect may appoint an administrative assistant for the term. The administrative assistant is not a voting member.

The Editor/Publisher of Booklist magazine, the Printz Award's sponsor, will appoint a consultant to the Committee from among the magazine's Books for Youth staff. This consultant may participate fully in all book discussions but may not participate in voting.

The 2009 Committee, including Chair and Administrative Assistant, are listed at the YALSA Website. As you can see, half are elected; half are nominated. I was elected; eight people ran, and four were elected. This year. Carlie Webber (a contributor here at Tea Cozy) is running. To vote, you need to be a member of YALSA (and, I believe, a member as of January 1, 2008). When the ALA elections open, I'll post the full slate.

I think it's interesting that the substitute for the Printz is drawn from Best Books; it makes sense, under the assumption that a BBYA member is more likely than not to have read the eligible books. I guess I'll be careful around any BBYA members!

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

Becky at Farm School has a most excellent post up in honor of Charles Darwin's Birthday on February 12.

She begins it with a quote that is very true: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” Charles Darwin

Wow. How true that is.

Farm School's post has a great list of resources about Darwin, from children's books to documentaries.

The only thing I didn't notice was fiction books about Darwin, (CORRECTED: the list does include fiction books!) which allows me mention Robin Brande's Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature. OK, so Darwin isn't in that book, but in addition to just being a great book, it's a great look at science, evolution, what "scientific theory" really means, and religion.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Buffy Quote of the Week

Buffy: "You ready?"
Xander: "Let's rock and roll."
Spike: "'Let's rock and roll'? You actually talk like that?"
Ep: Doomed

Monday, February 04, 2008

NonFiction Monday: National Geographic Investigates

For Nonfiction Monday, here's a look at the National Geographic Investigates Series. I reviewed one book in this series, Ancient Egypt: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Egypt's Past by Jill Rubalcaba; Janice Kamrin, Consultant, and now here is a look at two other titles in the series. Copies supplied by Raab Associates.

Ancient Inca: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Inca's Past by Beth Gruber; Johan Reinhard, Consultant

Ancient Greece: Archaeology Unlocks the Secret's of Greece's Past by Marni McGee, Michael Shanks, Consultant

It's About: This series explains archaeology, the process, the finds, how there is always something new to be discovered or a new interpretation to be made. I like the photos; I like the time lines; I love the resources. And I like how there is something unique about each book.

The Good:

For the Inca book: Mummies! Love mummies. And I also liked learning more about Gupis -- the knots in colored string to record calendar and keep track of livestock "without anyone who can read the stories tied into the colorful strings, understanding the ancient Inca is a lot like solving a mystery."

I was also intrigued by how people with an interest in this -- people like me -- may be contributing to the destruction of archaeological sites, grave robbing, and the simple physical impact of the people visiting the sites. This has led to such virtual tours as the 2005-2006 Machu Picchu Display at the Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History.

For the Greece book: I loved the description of an archaeology site being like a crime scene. (I like crime shows and books, in addition to history books; I guess this shows the two have more in common than I thought.)

It's amazing to think of the discoveries still being made, as well as interpretations to be refined and changed. This also included the issue of ownership of ancient artifacts such as the Elgin Marbles.

The book also featured my favorite artifact that makes history real: the cup of Euripides. WOW.

A general note about nonfiction:

One of the reasons I like nonfiction, and so look forward to the sharing of books via Nonfiction Mondays, is there is so much great nonfiction out there. Schools can only teach so much in a given day; so having nonfiction books available to learn more or learn more in depth is great.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Adventures In Oz

Adventures in Oz (founded on and continuing the famous Oz stories by L. Frank Baum) by Eric Shanower.* Copy provided by publisher IDW Publishing. Graphic novel.

The Plot: Five stories continue the adventures of Dorothy & Co in Oz. And this is Baum's Oz, not Garland's. Fans of the movie may be both disappointed and puzzled; fans of the book will love it.

The Good: A beautiful book; I loved the feel of the pages, the vibrant colors.

I love the adventures, and that it is a continuation of the book Oz. While I love movies, one of the problems with movies of teen and kids books is that often it leaves a "younger" impression in people's minds; Oz is not a "baby" book or a little kid book.

The five stories: The Enchanted Apples of Oz; The Secret Island of Oz; The Ice King of Oz; The Forgotten Forest of Oz; The Blue Witch of Oz.

I have to say, it's been years and years since I read the original Oz books; but in 3rd to 5th grades, I adored them. (note to self: when you have time, reread the books.) So I cannot say for sure if the language is Baum-like. Regardless, here are some of the quotes I enjoyed:

"I don't think it's a good idea to wander around in a castle that just appeared from thin air."

Dorothy: "Are you sure this is safe?"
Cowardly Lion: "My dear, surely you know by now that nothing is completely safe."

*Yes, the same Eric Shanower of Age of Bronze. I know!

Other reviews:

The AmoXcalli review

Note: I read this last year, as part of last year's Cybils stuff. This is an example of the stuff I read, loved, but just didn't get around to reviewing; and now, I can. Yay!

Printz: Charge

And now, let's start looking at the Policies and Procedures!

To begin, the Charge:

"To select from the previous year's publications the best young adult book ("best" being defined solely in terms of literary merit) and, if the Committee so decides, as many as four Honor Books. The Committee will also have the opportunity for input into the oversight and planning of the Printz Awards Program. Committee size: 9, four to be elected, plus a consultant from the staff of Booklist, and an administrative assistant if requested."

From the YALSA Website.

I'm on the 2009 Committee, meaning the "previous year" is the current year, 2008. Further on in the policies and procedures, there are some more detailed bits about criteria, but for now, note that best is about literary merit alone. So far, there have been either three or four Honor Books each year.

The Printz Awards Program (note to self: get ticket for this years bash); let me just use the description for this year's program:

"Michael L. Printz Program and Reception
Monday, June 30, 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Come listen to the Michael L. Printz winning author and honor book authors speak about their writing, followed by a dessert reception. The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. The annual award is administered by YALSA, the fastest growing division of ALA, and sponsored by Booklist magazine.
Tickets: Advance: $29. Onsite: $35"

To compare, the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet is, well, a Banquet held on Sunday night and is $89.

The Edwards Luncheon (which I'm planing on attending) is Saturday noon and $59.