I’ll get to the contest in a second, but first a couple of related things.
I’ve not been shy about expressing my enthusiasm for Rebecca Stead’s forthcoming middle-grade novel, When You Reach Me, and so was delighted to see it garner two starred reviews (Kirkus and Horn Book) although it doesn’t publish till July. Yesterday the book’s editor Wendy Lamb and Random House marketing queens Adrienne Waintraub and Lisa Nadel came to my school, first to meet some of our students (great fans of the book as well) and then to join our staff book club meeting (about the book). It was great fun; the kids were impressive and my colleagues were blunt. Some liked the book and some didn’t and they had no problem letting our guests know just what and why. Lots of talk about the title (and some others that were considered), the cover, A Wrinkle in Time, New York in the 70s, age-range, and more. Wine, cheese, and a terrific time overall. My great thanks to Wendy, Adrienne, and Lisa for coming!
Now about the contest. Adrienne sent a big box of ARCs, more than we needed. I was going to give them back to her because they had run out of ARCs and people were banging down their door for them. However, they’ve done another printing and the ARCs are mine to give away! (This book is truly a Cinderella story. They had no idea the book was going to garner so much interest and so the first ARC printing simply wasn’t enough. I wonder how often there are second printings for ARCs?) So, using the contact form above, tell me briefly (tweet-size 140 characters or less) why you want the ARC and be sure to include your full name and mailing address. My committee (my class) and I will select as many as we have ARCs and I will mail them off as quickly as I can.
“Donald is so popular because almost everyone can identify with him,” says Christian Pfeiler, president of D.O.N.A.L.D. “He has strengths and weaknesses, he lacks polish but is also very cultured and well-read.” But much of the appeal of the hapless, happy-go-lucky duck lies in the translations. Donald quotes from German literature, speaks in grammatically complex sentences and is prone to philosophical musings, while the stories often take a more political tone than their American counterparts.
Why Donald Duck is the Jerry Lewis of Germany – WSJ.com
Thanks to Eva, I’ve just come across a new series on NPR with a great premise. They are asking for confessions of “…your illicit literary (or not-so-literary) love” and they’ve started with Brad Melzer confessing that, ““Real Men Read (And Love) ‘Twilight’ — Really.”
One of my guilty reading pleasures is definitely New York Magazine. It is full of trashy articles about the unhappy rich, teens doped up on Ritalin, adults too, private school mania, and so forth. I tell myself I have to read it because of my work (as I teach in a school that is the sort often featured), but who am I kidding? I read it for pure pleasure — guilt-ridden.
Anyone else want to ‘fess up?
I know, I know. Green. Green. Green. What can I say? I’d be green with envy too. But I’m writing this to let you know that you have a wonderful reading experience to look forward to. Collins does not disappoint. And rest assured that I will not divulge anything here that might compromise this upcoming pleasure for you.
So I came home earlier this week to a package with a mockingjay on the cover. Heart pounding I opened it and found an ARC for Catching Fire, the highly anticipated sequel to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, one of my favorite books of last year. Instead of immediately scarfing it down, I decided to nurse it. Now I admit that it defies logic that I managed to take a few days to read it as it is as much a page turner as its predecessor. However, I knew it would be a year until the third volume and so I wanted this reading experience to last as long as possible. As a result, in addition to appreciating the remarkable plotting, world building, and character development that are as strong as ever, I was reading slow enough to register (and recollect) Collins’ little humorous asides here and there, especially some wry comments from our girl, Katniss. Unfortunately, I can’t quote them without giving stuff away, but do look out for them.
Is it as good as The Hunger Games? Yes. Yes, indeed. Certainly, I’d wondered. With the games over and Katniss and Peeta due to take off on the Victory Tour, wouldn’t this be a bit of a let-down of a read? Well, no, not at all. I promised no spoilers so I’m not going to provide any plot info. I’m sure you can find that elsewhere if you want it. I can only say that Collins is developing this story in a way that is thrilling, confounding, and occasionally mind-blowing. Major and minor characters from the previous volume reappear and become more complicated in every way. The world does too.
Now I have read a lot, a lot. So I can often see where an author is taking me. But Collins? She managed to surprise me over and over as I read this book. The twists and turns of the plot are brilliant and I definitely did not see things coming. What is going to happen in the third volume? I have to say — given the many astonishing moments in this second one — I haven’t a clue.
Pullman has thought of one more hobby he could take up. Should Hollywood decide against making movie versions of the second and third parts of His Dark Materials, he has a plan. “If the studios don’t make the next two films, I might do them myself with puppets in the garden shed, like Noggin the Nog.”
There is a beat, before Pullman breaks into a broad grin: “Wouldn’t cost very much.”
Philip Pullman interviewed in The Scotsman
The Writer’s Oath
I promise solemnly:
1. to write as often and as much as I can,
2. to respect my writing self, and
3. to nurture the writing of others.
I accept these responsibilities and shall honor them always.
The above is at the end of the first chapter of award-winning fantasy writer, Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic, a terrific book for kids who want to write fantasy stories. My fourth graders write them every year as part of our Cinderella unit and I have found this book an excellent resource. They love taking the above oath and they love repeating Gail’s first three rules:
1. The best way to write better is to write more.
2. The best way to write better is to write more.
3. The best way to write better is to write more.
Long long ago (before Harry Potter) I was a huge fan of fantasy literature, but could find nothing about teaching it so ended up writing a book about teaching it myself. Now it is much more acceptable to use it in the classroom, but most books on teaching writing tend to focus more on other genres. A longtime fan of Gail’s novels, I was delighted to see her book and discover how excellent it is. I’ve known Gail ever since she won a Newbery Honor for Ella Enchanted (long story for another blog post) and so knew she had been teaching writing to a small group of kids for years. This book is the thoughtful outgrowth of those experiences along with many examples from her own experience writing fantasy.
And now this incredibly thoughtful writer has just started a blog! In her introductory post she writes, “For my blogging life, I intend to post once a week, and I will probably blog mostly about writing, but I don’t know that for sure.”
I look forward to seeing where she takes this new writing vehicle.
NY1 has a little feature with some bits from the show here.
My theater companion, Betsy Bird, has a very thorough review here. It was a lot of fun seeing it with her!
And one more positive review is here.