Monthly Archives: April 2010

All Things Moomin

I am so very excited about Macmillan’s reissue of the Moomintroll books.  Just got the first four and plan to take them along to reread tomorrow on a l-o-n-g bus ride with a lot of fourth graders to Cape Cod.  For those who have only vaguely heard about this series do check out Tor’s Moominweek.  They’ve many wonderful posts going up every day this week. Too too fun!

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Filed under Children's Literature

Random House Summer Preview

Random House jumped into the virtual preview arena last week and the archive of the event is available here.  While not as slick as Scholastic’s recent one it is nonetheless very informative.  There are some audio problems at the beginning (but this is, mind you, their first attempt at this), but you can just click through the pages in the upper right box to see the whole thing. Congratulations, Random House!  So who is next?

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Not Your Usual Earth Day Fare


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In the Classroom: Blogging about Jacqueline Wilson

Often when we have a special event in the school I suggest to my students that they blog about it.  And to get them to think about audience I tell them that if their posts are worthy I will write a post here, link to their posts, and encourage all of you to go visit and comment.

So here I am doing so about the posts they did about the remarkable Jacqueline Wilson who recently visited our school (and whose  be-ringed fingers you can see above signing books for her fans).  I personally first came across her years ago in England. I brought some of her books back for my students, but I could only get a few of them to bite.  Of late we’ve had more success and so she had some seriously excited fans in the audience at our school.  To assist them in their posts I took notes about her talk and they used them when writing their own.  (If you feel like commenting on any of their posts, they will be thrilled!) AB is a big Wilson fan and was thrilled to see her and get a book signed. LW is one too. As is JJ. Others in the class also reported on the event so check out the posts by  AL, SP, GB, TA, ZF and TR.

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Exquisite Corpse Episode 16: Tastefully Done Body Parts

“Oh,” thought Nancy, “sometimes the world is too ridiculous to be born.”

And why would Nancy think this? Read Kate DiCamillo’s addition to this shaggy dog tale to find out.

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Congratulations, Betsy Partridge!

Betsy’s Marching for Freedom, winner of SLJ’s 2010 Battle of the Kids’ Books, has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Young Adult Catagory.  Bravo!

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Filed under awards, Battle of the (Kids') Books

Gene Luen Yang’s Prime Baby

I moved from the Midwest to a New York City suburb when I was in high school and in addition to learning that my in-University City-fashionable mini-skirts were dowdy as hell in Dobbs Ferry, I was dismayed to discover that the major newspaper of the area DID NOT HAVE A FUNNY PAGE.  The daily paper still doesn’t, but for a brief and lovely time the weekend Magazine did contain a few serial comics by a bunch of wonderful graphic novelists.  One of my favorites of these was Gene Luen Yang’s Prime Baby now out in book form.

It is the story of Thaddeus who is none too happy with his attention-hogging baby sister.  A sardonic, isolated, and book-smart (if not people-smart) eight-year-old seeking the right sort of attention from his parents and peers, Thaddeus is a cranky, but endearing protagonist.  And when he determines that his little sister has something to do with a bunch of aliens…well, read this witty graphic novel to find out if this is all about sibling jealousy, math nerditis, singalongs, or world domination.


Filed under comic, graphic novel

Revisiting: Don Wood’s Into the Volcano

Like so many others I’m taken by the almost science-fictional aspect of the current cloud created by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption.  That is, how the machinery of contemporary air travel in Europe has been forced to a near-halt by Mother Nature.  And it also made me think of Don Wood’s wonderful graphic novel of a few years back, Into the VolcanoHere’s what I wrote after first reading it.

Wow. Don Wood’s Into the Volcano is one powerhouse of a graphic novel that you won’t want to miss. In fact, as far as missing goes, I almost missed my bus stop so engrossed was I in this totally wild adventure in and under and around an erupting volcano. The word gripping is completely apt for this (here comes another trite but accurate word) roller coaster of a read. Wood grabs you on the first page as brothers Duffy and Sumo are called out of their classroom to meet their father who immediately turns them over to a cousin they have never met before, the burly Come-And-Go. Before any of us can take a breath, the two boys (who appear to be between 8 and 12 years of age) are flying off to their just-learned-about mother’s home island of Kocalaha. Once there they and we are thrown into an extraordinary adventure involving questionable people (are they good or bad?), an erupting volcano, secrets (of every sort), life and death circumstances, heart-stopping moments (many of them!), and family ties. A truly brilliant work.

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Aging-Up Characters

This probably isn’t so new*, but it seems to be fairly pervasive just now. This being the aging-up of characters in movie adaptions of kids’ books presumably to snag a bigger audience.  The book Percy Jackson is in middle school whereas the movie Percy is in high school. Same thing with Harriet Welch.  And now it looks that way with Beezus as she too has been bumped up to teen status in the forthcoming Beezus and Ramona.  Are there others you can think of?

*  Just remembered teen Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. (Dorothy is eight in the book.)


Filed under Children's Literature

Teaching With Blogs: Top Ten Children’s Books

Earlier this week I told my class about the Top 100 Children’s Book Poll and how my votes counted.  I then wrote a post (over at my class blog) with my top ten list (and how I fared in the final voting) and an invitation for them to create their own lists.  It is a fun assignments for avid readers. Here are some of their results:

  • RG’s top choice is  The Hobbit “….because it’s amazing, has a story behind it and great characters.” Go here to see the rest of his list.
  • SB chose Hugo Cabret for number one. The rest of his list is here.
  • GN thinks her #1 Charlotte’s Web is, “…a classic. It’s touching, funny, and AMAZING!!!”  See her list here.
  • FB’s top choice is His Dark Materials (hmmm…that is three books, but I can’t blame her).  Her list is here.


Filed under Charlotte's Web, Classic, His Dark Materials