Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sixteen Books!

Delightful interview with the intripid Everdeen Sisters (otherwise known as the creators of that video-gone-round-the-children’s-book-world:  Now Or Never (Battle of the Books Style).

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Tea with the Creator of Earthsea and Other Wonderous Places


I am very appreciative when I receive the occasional invitation to meet an author here in New York City, but tend to leave the reporting of these events to others.  Besides, being a classroom teacher I can only attend such events when my schedule allows and/or my administrators say yes and others cover for me.  Then there was yesterday. I’m still starry-eyed about it and so feel I just must mention it here  —  tea with the legendary Ursula K. Le Guin.  I first came across this icon  in college when I read The Left-Hand of Darkness. Later I fell hard for the Earthsea books and more recently have enjoyed many others by her.  While I think of her as a writer of science fiction for older people, when I mentioned that I’d be having tea with her some of my fourth graders’ faces lit up as they were fans of her Catwings books.  I went thinking I’d just watch her from afar, certain she’d be too imperious to approach, but not so — I was encouraged to sit with her and she was a pleasure to meet.  One thing I pass on— she loves to receive letters from students — check out her website for her address and encourage them to write her!  My great thanks to those who made it possible for me to attend this special affair.


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Book Tweets

So this week there are only two matches at the BoB so we wanted to come up  with something for the other days.  At first we considered facebook updates, but since they’ve changed them the look isn’t as icon and so that wouldn’t have been  much fun. So, instead, we did what we are doing — twitter!  Yes, our contestents all twitter.  Here are some of their tweets. Be sure to go to the BoB blog over the next few days to see more.



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Carnegie Shortlist 2009

Thanks to bookwitch for alerting me to the shortlist for this year’s Carnegie.  While I’d agree with her and Nicolette Jones at the Telegraph that it is very boy-oriented, even more so what strikes me is that it skews older in terms of readership. (Something I love about the Carnegie is that they have a shadowing process — kids read and review the shortlisted books. We wanted to this with the BoB, but didn’t have time to get it organized this year. Next year though — hopefully we can pull it off!)

So here’s the shortlist:

Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic (which I loved, loved loved and can’t wait till it is published here this fall).

Kevin Brooks’ Black Rabbit Summer (which I must admit sounds a bit too darkly realistic for my taste).

Eoin Colfer’s Airman (which I also enjoyed tremendously — steampunk, Verne-ish, great fun indeed).

Siobhan Dowd’s Bog Child (admired and respected very much).

Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys (haven’t read, but sounds interesting).

Patrick Ness’ s The Knife of Never Letting Go (also loved and adored this one).

Kate Thompson’s Creature of the Night (which I have on my to-read shelf because I like so many other of her books  — need to get too it soon).


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And the BoB Rages On!

We are on to Round 2 in SLJ’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books. Yesterday after Match 2 I was able to briefly catch up with the two opponents of that competition.

EA: Congratulations, Chains.  You are off to Round 3 now!

C: I’m so excited!  Tender was a fantastic opponent, I’ll say that.  We are pretty different, but managed to fight it out fairly, I’d say.  My great thanks to Judge Booth for deciding for me.   I’m a bit nervous about going up against that BIG BOOK next week, but I’m in good shape and he may be surprised!

EA:  It is going to be quite a match, I grant you that. Can’t wait to see it.  I mean, you both are set in the same time period, but are otherwise so very different!  Now Tender Morsels hope you aren’t feeling too tender after your defeat.

TM: It was tough.  Chains was a worthy contender though.  I’m not happy, understandably (and Margo is disappointed too as is only to be expected). But it is all in good fun, after all.  A few nicks — nothing more.

EA:  Go for a lovely long bath and a massage — both of you!  And thank you so much for taking time to talk to me.  Hope you and everyone else check out today’s match — another intense one between two remarkable books!

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Nightmare Inducing?

The scary children’s book that is even scarier for adults | Books |

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Mo Willems Goes to High School

Sit Down, Shut Up, a new animated series set in a high school premiering tonight on Fox, has an interesting pedigree. According to this article, after seeing a copy of Knuffle Bunny in a bookstore, the show’s creator, Mitch Hurwitz brought Mo Willems into the project.

Hurwitz may or may not have been aware of Willems’ track record as an animation producer and scripter (The Off Beats, Sheep in the Big City, Codename: Kids Next Door) before moving onto a new career as a children’s book author and illustrator. Knuffle Bunny itself had been turned into a cartoon short using the same technique of drawn characters atop photographic backgrounds, but Willems’ sharp-edged character designs also caught Hurwitz’ eye.

“I got in touch with Mo, and he actually designed [SDSU‘s] characters. He has asked that the show not be represented as Mo Willems’ show, because he’s like the number one picture book guy and there’s a lot of inappropriate stuff for kids. There’s a lot of stuff that’s inappropriate I think even for Will Forte.”

These excerpts from the show give you an even better sense of Mo’s distinctive style.  I have to say, despite Mo’s visual style and all those Arrested Development folk (loved that show), the bits I’ve seen so far are not wowing me, but hopefully the full show works better for me.

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Out-Of-The-Blue-Kid-Book-Sightings: The Phantom Tollbooth


This week’s episode of “Parks and Recreation” (a new NBC show starring Amy Poehler) featured none other than Norton Juster’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth.  Amy’s character Leslie, a town bureaucrat attempting to get a park built in an abandoned construction site, holds a town meeting where she attempts to distract the nay-sayers with, of all things, this classic.  You can see the whole episode here.


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Battle of the (Kids’) Books Round One Is OVER!

As one of the folks running SLJ’s Battle of the (Kids’) Books, I have to say I am very happy with it so far.  The judges have been magnificent.  Our idea was for this to be fun, for people to look at these books freshly and it is clear from the comments that many are doing so.  While some wondered at the idea of even attempting to compare two very different books, I am delighted at how each of our first round judges found ways to do just that in thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent, and respectful ways.  Each came up with his or her own criteria, wrestling mightily with this difficult task, but prevailing in every case.  Surprises have been the norm for many different reasons and  I hope that the BoB’s spectators consider each book anew and perhaps take up a book they hadn’t previously planned to read.   Mashing up books this way got some fascinating issues out to be considered.  Fantastic food for thought.  And now on to Round Two!

  • This Monday Tim Wynne-Jones will decide between Octavian Nothing Vol. II and The Trouble Begins at 8.
  • On Tuesday Coe Booth will decide between Chains and Tender Morsels.
  • On Wednesday John Green will decide between We Are the Ship and The Hunger Games.
  • On Thursday Nancy Werlin will decide between Graceling and The Lincolns.

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Bo, the National Mascot Now?

The opportunity to work on a book about the White House’s mascot, is the ultimate for us,” said Aryal. “Young readers will love the playful story line, the beautiful illustrations by celebrated artist Danny Moore, and they’ll learn interesting White House facts and traditions along the way.”

Aryal said the book has been in the works for several weeks, and when Bo’s identity became known, they put the finishing touches on the story.

Herndon, Virginia publisher Mascot Books is behind the book. They’re responsible for publishing more than 150 other children’s books that feature mascots for well-known colleges, sports teams and elementary schools.

Bo, America’s Commander in Leash will be released on April 23, and will be available for $14.95 in stores or online at

Kids’ Book Features Obamas’ New Dog

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