Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Place to Talk About A Conspiracy of Kings

Since it is not very nice of those of us who have gotten the ARC to keep publicly rubbing salt in the wounds of those who have not, I’ve started a group for those who do want to talk about it.  Go here to join.  And please pass the word along to others who may be interested. (Or let me know if there already is such a group elsewhere and I’ll join it instead!)



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On Lists

Just read an essay about a new book out celebrating the list, Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay. It immediately made me wonder if Eco knows of E. B. White’s use of lists in his children’s books, one of his most delightful and (certainly to my students) recognizable stylistic tics. For example, here’s narrator White on Templeton in Charlotte’s Web:

The rat had no morals, no conscience, no scruples, no consideration, no decency, no milk of rodent kindness, no compunctions, no higher feeling, no friendliness, no anything.   (pg 46 of the Annotated Charlotte’s Web.)

And then there are the lists over at McSweeney’s.   In honor of this past week’s holiday they are currently featuring a  Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Lists, but they’ve got many, many, many more.  Some are lame, but some are pretty witty, say  Mundane DreamsLast Night’s Top Five Alphabet-Soup Spoonfuls, The Most Famous Haiku of All Time, or Great Books of the Twentieth Century, as Reviewed by My Boss.

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They’re Back! The Exquisite Corpse Episode 5 is Up!

“Hold everything,” said Boppo.

Everyone obeyed as much as possible. Joe held the birthday card with their parents’ urgent cry for help. Nancy held the bull-whip in readiness. The baby held the last note in the “Star Wars” theme song. Einstein held his breath.

Want to know if the baby and Einstein ever breathed out?  What Nancy did with the bull-whip?  Well then, go read the rest of the latest episode of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, this one penned by the witty Gregory Maguire and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.

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A Bit o’ NCTE

This was the first convention that I’ve been to since I got my Iphone and I went a little wild using the camera for tweeting purposes.  For those not following me on twitter— what is wrong with you?  (just kidding) —- here are those photos.  By no means a good overview of what I did, but a few things nonetheless.

So on Friday after the general session with Julie Andrews and her daughter, I stopped in to the celebration for Lee Bennett Hopkins — lots of fun to hear such distinguished poets as Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, and Walter Dean Myers roast Lee.  Sadly, I couldn’t stay for more of them as I wanted to catch a graphic novel session taking place across the hall.  I came in in time to be part of a draw-off between Matt Holm and Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The idea was for Matt to draw Lunch Lady and  Jarrett to do Babymouse, each with an audience member coaching them.  Well, I sure ran right up to coach Matt so he did Lunch Lady serving in my NYC classroom.

Here’s me coaching Matt (with chair Joan Kindig in the background)

Here’s Jarrett with his which had something to do with Babymouse in Canada.

Afterwards  a bunch of us went for coffee. That’s Shana Corey, Jenni (in pink, natch), Matt (in his Babymouse tee-shirt-thingie), and Joan Kindig.

Jan Greenberg (my lunch partner and who then did our Notables session)

Friday afternoon was our Notables session. The room was too small and hot, someone in the back of the room stepped on a cord shutting down the projector and the mikes causing a slightly nervous moment, but otherwise all went well.  It was my third and final time doing this so I’m glad it was successful and hope it happens again next year.   In addition to Jan, we had Barry Denenberg, Philip Dray, Scott Reynolds Nelson, Marc Aronson, and the following whose pictures I managed to snap while also timing and overseeing the rotations.

Here’s Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

Jen Bryant

Stephen T. Johnson

While strolling through the exhibits  I ran into G. Neri, Lisa Yee, and Peepy

And at the Scholastic Brunch on Sunday was the very tall Patrick Carman (doing something to make himself shorter here).

And last, but not least, here is Sarah of thereadingzone!


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Jack Langstaff, Wild Mountain Thyme, and Other Specialnesses

One of the iconic members of the CLNE group was the marvelous imp, Jack Langstaff.  He led us in song and dance and was such a wonderful part of the experience that it was very hard when he was gone.  I do have to say Gregory Maguire has a lovely singing voice, but as anyone who was around for Jack at CLNE knows, no one can replace him.  After mentioning (and first mispelling) “Wild Mountain Thyme” in my previous post I went searching for a video of it. Didn’t find one with Jack, but did find this one of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez singing it.

And then here is Jack in one of his beloved Revels.

Kinda cool and Thanksgivingy, I think.  Enjoy the videos and the holiday for those who celebrate it.

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I am one of those CLNErs. That is, starting in 1999 (relatively recent compared to those who were involved many, many years before me) I began attending the annual summer institute of Children’s Literature New England.  I hadn’t intended to make it an annual thing, but like many others, once I started I couldn’t stop.

These institutes were extraordinary.  There were required readings, some quite dense, lectures, small group discussions, poetry, singing, talks of a caliber quite remarkable.  And those who gave the lectures and talks!  Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, Tim Wynne-Jones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Diana Wynne Jones, Brian Selznick, M. T. Anderson, Alan Garner, Elizabeth Partridge, Neil Gaiman, Jill Paton Walsh, and so many more.  The directors were and are Gregory Maguire (yes, that Gregory Maguire) and Barbara Harrison. The other attendees were incredible too:  writers, editors, librarians, educators, booksellers, and every sort of person who was besotted with children’s literature. In 2005 I was honored to be a speaker and in 2006 to be a discussion leader.  Sadly, that was the final institute.

Now there are bi-yearly colloquy. The first was “The Opening Page” in May 2007 and the next, “Secrets Told and Untold” will be this coming May 6-9 at the Essex in Vermont.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend as it is the same weekend as my nephew’s college graduation.  Believe me, otherwise I would definitely be there.   Yes, as Pam Munoz Ryan joked in 2007, there is a bit of a cult quality to CLNE (e,g, I can’t hear “Wild Mountain Thyme” without choking up), but it is a good sort of cult —one of devotees to children’s literature, who love to read, talk, and think about it in a myriad of ways.  I will miss profoundly my CLNE friends this coming May and will be thinking about all the special experiences I will have to miss this time.

But you don’t have to. I highly recommend this quite remarkable weekend. I mean, check out the speakers:  Ashley Bryan, Nikki Grimes, K. T. Horning, Joanna Rudge Long, Elizabeth Partridge, Peter Sis, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Tim Wynne-Jones. But those are just the speakers — so many other luminaries are bound to be there as well, just as participants.  Again, if it weren’t for my nephew whom I adore, I would absolutely be there.


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I’m Back in the World of Sounis, Attolia, and Eddis (not to worry, no spoilage in this post)…

and before too long you will be too.

Yes, ARCs for Megan Whalen Turner’s A Conspiracy of Kings were indeed available at NCTE.  But silly-in-need-of-instant-gratification-me was unable to wait till then and so last Thursday, after getting word that they were “in the building,” I nipped over to HarperCollins for my copy while my class was in PE (fortunately there is a convenient subway line that made it possible for me to do this).  I’m now about half way through and have to say I’m not rushing because I want to savor it (and, let me tell you, it is worth savoring).


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Smart Kid Reviews: First in a Series

I started a Book Bloggers Club this year for kids who had blogs with me when they were in 4th grade. So far I’ve got six 6th grade girls in the club (one brings a friend who brings a friend, etc) and we are all enjoying it very much. One of our first events, as some of you know, was to see and review the Where the Wild Things Are movie.  They are also reading and reviewing other new and forthcoming books.  Here are links to some of their reviews:

C16km thinks Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant is a, “a very haunting but amusing read…” Read her full review here.

C16bf thinks Suzanne LeFleur’s Love, Aubrey, “…is an amazing book, and it pulls you through the pages.”  Read her full review here.

C16lw thinks Hilari Bell’s Player’s Ruse is “…extremely suspenseful and makes you want to just keep on reading it.” Read her review here.

C16rc is a huge fan of Lisa Graf’s Umbrella Summer. Read her review here. here

Not-a-romance-reader C16uw reviews Tera Lynn Childs’s forthcoming Forgive My Fins here.


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Yes!! Claudette Colvin Wins Young People’s National Book Award

Congratulations to all involved in the creation of this year’s young people’s winner of the National Book Award, especially author Phillip Hoose, editor Melanie Kroupa, and Claudette Colvin herself.  As I think I made clear in this post, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice is one of my favorite books of the year.  Hurray!

I’m a big fan of the runners-up too:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
(Henry Holt)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)


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A Blog After My Own Inappropriate Heart

Philip Nel just pointed out to me that Lane Smith and Bob Shea had scooped me on the “Andy Warhol, Children’s Illustrator” post with an actual picture book the wiggy guy did.  More importantly it is on their blog, Curious Pages: Recommended Inappropriate Books for Kids.   A blog I didn’t know about till Phil told me about it a few minutes ago.  A blog full of my favorite snarky, subversive, weird, dotty, bizarre, clever, and not-your-usual children’s book books.  They’ve got stuff by Gorey, Hoffmann, Belloc, and a whole bunch more.


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