Monthly Archives: January 2009

Fine. I Did it. 25 Random Things About You

I was tagged to do this on facebook, ended up having fun doing it, and so here  is a slightly edited version of what I did over there. The rules are: once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. (I did some tagging over at facebook, but if anyone wants to do it on their blog — consider yourself tagged as well.)

1. Fortunately, I remembered Remy Charlip’s book Fortunately.

Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.

Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.

Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.

Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.

Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.

2. Unfortunately, that only gave me my first random thing.

3. Fortunately, even though I’m not always into these things, I hate to be left out so I am happy to have been tagged for this. (Thanks Jen and April!)

4. Unfortunately, it makes me self-conscious as I wonder what anyone really would want to know about me.

5. Fortunately, I have a certain degree of hubris so will forge ahead.

6. Unfortunately, that means I just have to mention my dog, Lucy. A poodle. She turned me into a sappy dog person. Love to watch The Dog Whisperer and feel smug as she is not like those dogs —so far (she’s still a puppy).

7. Fortunately, I do like other living things too. Say cats.

“Name the different kinds of people,” said Miss Lupescu. “Now.”

Bod thought for a moment. “The living, ” he said. “Er. The dead.” he stopped. Then, “…Cats? he offered, uncertainly.

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

8. Unfortunately, I’m terribly allergic to them. Cats, that is.

9. Fortunately, that means no cat boxes in my house.

10. Unfortunately, it probably means Sharyn November thinks a bit less of me.

11. Fortunately, there are a few other dog folks out there hopefully tolerant of my new status as one of them.

12. Unfortunately, this thread seems to be dribbling away and I’ve got to come up with another random thing. Ah, the living and the dead…

13. Fortunately, my favorite book this year won the Newbery!!!!

14. Unfortunately, my favorite book of all time, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland did not.

15. Fortunately, it couldn’t and that doesn’t matter to Lewis Carroll. He’s dead.

16. Unfortunately, the Newbery appeared out of touch to some of the living out there.

17. Fortunately, it does matter to Neil Gaiman and other living (and, I’d like to think, dead).

18. Unfortunately, I’ve got to move on again.

19. Fortunately, we’ve got Obama.

20. Unfortunately, he’s got a hell of a mess to clean up.

21. Fortunately, he appears up to the task.

22. Unfortunately, the world is still as it was — full of war, famine, and horror.

23. Fortunately, the world is still as it was — full of hope, goodness, and happiness.

24. Unfortunately, I’m not sure these are all random facts about me.

25. Fortunately, I think that is okay.

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Filed under Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, Newbery

Two Brilliant Stars Go Out Too Soon

Many readers of this blog will not know these names, but many will.  I am sick with shock and sadness at learning that Kate McClellan (incoming president of the ALSC, the arm of ALA that focuses on children’s services and, among many other things, the Newbery and Caldecott Awards) and her dear friend Kathy Krasniewicz were killed yesterday in Denver.

Two town women, longtime librarians for the Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich, were killed en route to the Denver airport Wednesday morning when their cab was struck by a hit-and-run driver, police said.

The library’s head of youth services, Kathy Krasniewicz, 54, of Palmer Hill Road, Riverside, and former youth services director Kate McClelland, 71, of Dorchester Lane, Riverside, were killed in the accident, a library official said Wednesday night.

Rest of the article here.

I can’t yet process this news, but will say that these women were shining, shining, shining stars and it is hard to imagine this world without them.  I first got to know them attending the summer CLNE institutes and then at various NYC publishing events.  They were such V.I.Ps but always lovely and generous and remarkable women.

Just after the Monday press conference I ran into them and Kate and I together quelled about The Graveyard Book winning the Newbery. Kate went on to say she thought Coraline should have won its year too and I happily agreed with her.

My profound sympathies to all their family and friends.

What a loss. What else is there to say?

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Patrick Ness’s The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking)

I found Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Nevery Letting Go remarkable, but with the worst cliff-hanging ending ever.  So, along with other fans, I was thrilled to hear Candlewick editor Andrea Tompa tell us about the sequel at their ALA preview breakfast.  What’s more, she kindly sent the jacket copy so I could post it here.

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss.

Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order.

But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer?

And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode. . . .

The second thrilling volume in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Ask and the Answer is a tense, shocking, and deeply moving novel about resistance under the most extreme pressure.

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Genuine Child Popularity

I suspect that the Newbery award will do for The Graveyard Book what it always does for medalists  — draw children to it. It is my impression (and I’d be happy to be shown some data that proves me wrong) that its popularity prior to the Monday announcement (e.g. its best seller status) was because of teen and adult Gaiman fans not children.  For example, I noticed that only one caller on yesterday’s NPR segment about the book mentioned a child. The rest were adult fans.

Last fall I’d heard some wondering about whether the book would appeal to a younger audience so I read it aloud to my fourth graders to see for myself.  As I wrote here, it was a huge hit; I was convinced then that it was a children’s classic, but I saw very few mentions of other children reading it.  So I’m delighted that the Newbery will now reassure other gatekeepers that this is a book for children as much as for teens and adults.  Truly popular.

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Filed under Neil Gaiman, Newbery

A Giddy Gaiman Gal

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Sharon’s evidence of my happiness at the Newbery announcement at the press conference.  More photos documenting the event over here.

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Now THIS is the sort of celebrity-written kid book I go for!

There’s been so much discontent in our small little corner of the literary scene about celebrities (say actors or singers or politician’s children) dashing off children’s books.  Well, I just want to point out that Neil Gaiman is one BIG celebrity and I’m not seeing any carping about that, thank goodness!

In fact, the Newbery is getting media mention in places heretofore I would suspect the word has never been used.  MTV, anyone?

Neil Gaiman, the prolific multimedia scribe who we’ve been mentioning quite a bit lately in reference to the upcoming 3D animated adaptation of his novel “Coraline,” has been awarded the John Newbery Medal — one of the most prestiguous awards for children literature — by the American Library Association. Gaiman received the award for his recently published story “The Graveyard Book,” about a boy raised by ghosts.

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Sentiment, Coming-Of-Age, and Morals, Oh My

“It’s a great fantasy novel and really good for kids who like Harry
Potter and don’t mind the dark quality,” said Rosie Camargo, a book
seller at The Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, which specializes in
children’s books. “I’m so happy he won. They usually pick something
more sentimental—a coming-of-age story, or there’s a moral.

Neil Gaiman’s ‘Graveyard Book’ captures Newbery award — chicagotribune.com

As may be evident by now, I’m on the moon that he won. However, not because of the reasons given by this book seller. (And my apologies to her if this is a snippet of a soundbite that isn’t really what she thinks. What she said is what many seem to feel which is why I’m responding to her.)

1. Be careful about giving it to fans of Rowling’s work as this book is very different.  The first few chapters are basically self-contained stories and it is not the driving, pacing, page-turning adventure of the Harry Potter sort at all.  As I was reading it aloud to my 4th graders some commented on this, even noting that it was a bit slow at times. (Not for me, mind you, but these happened to be reading HP at the time.  So I’d be careful about giving it to those sorts of readers.)

2. As for sentimental — try reading the last line without weeping.  At one point when I was reading the book aloud I asked the kids if they’d like to hear the last three words.  It wouldn’t give anything away I assured them.  And so I did, and so I will here: “…heart wide open.”  If Camargo is equating sentimental with banal, then that it isn’t, but heart-wrenching, moving, and tender?  Yes, it is that as much as any of the other recent winners.

3. And it sure as hell is “a coming-of-age story.”  Can’t even say anything further other than yes it is.

4.  There’s a moral or two therein.  About families, about learning, about those last three words, “…heart wide open.”

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