Monthly Archives: May 2010

What is It About The Hunger Games?

My friend fairrosa has made up an interesting poll “asking readers what elements from the book keep their interests up most.”  Go vote (poll is over to the right of the page) and check out the interesting results to date.

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Michael Patrick Hearn remembers Martin Gardner

I have read aloud Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland yearly to my fourth grade class yearly since 1990. And I have always read from Martin Gardner‘s Annotated Alice. His passing was a great loss and there have been and will be many tributes to such an extraordinary man.  Here is Michael Patrick Hearn’s.

Martin Gardner was my literary godfather. He was the most generous man I have ever known. I owe him everything. When I was only 20, he convinced Clarkson N. Potter to contract my book The Annotated Wizard of Oz as a successor to his own superb and now classic The Annotated Alice. He was always recommending me to editors he knew even up to last year. We often exchanged articles before publication to get the other’s thoughts on the subject. Mine benefited inestimably from his input. While he could so adroitly explain the most complex concepts to layman and expert alike, he retained the curiosity and the heart of a child. His integrity was impeccable, his prose lucid and profound. His influence was vast. Few realize that an article he wrote on L. Frank Baum and the Oz Books in The New York Times Book Review inspired the Broadway musical The Wiz. Who else was quoted by John Fowles in The French Lieutenant’s Woman and named by Nabokov a character in Ada or Ardor?.  Of course it was his sister Judy, not Martin, who told me that. He was the gentlest and most modest of men. A true gentleman. Like everyone who had the honor of knowing him, I feel blessed to have been his friend and he mine. I will miss him terribly.


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SLJ’s Day of Dialog

On Tuesday I attended School Library Journal’s Day of Dialog “a free, day-long program where librarians, publishers, authors, and vendors meet to discuss issues that affect the book and library world for children and teens.”  Running in the Javits alongside BEA it was absolutely splendid.  My thanks to SLJ for doing this and congratulations to everyone involved in creating such a stimulating and worthwhile day.  (A special shout-out to my Newbery 2008 bud Luann Toth, SLJ’s book review editor,  as I know she did a lot of the hard work to put these incredible panels together.)

It began with breakfast and I saw many friends of the librarian, reviewer, and publishing sort.  All day long editor-in-chief Brian Kenney and Luann  did a fine job keeping everything on track — ringing an adorable little bell to signal beginnings and ends.  (The only thing I’ve experienced that sort in this world is Mimi Kaden’s kitchen timer at the Harpercollins previews.)

The first panel was “Steampunkery” and since I love the genre it probably was my favorite of the day.  Moderator Cory Doctorow was terrific, asking the sort of questions that got great answers back from the panelists. And wow, what a splendid collection they were — authors Scott Westerfeld and Cherie Priest, and librarian (and self-identified fangirl) Karen Grenke.  Fortunately, rather than my trying to recap it all for you, SLJ filmed it and you can view it for yourself.

Could anyone top that?  Well, the next panel, “Drawing the Line Between Picture Books and Graphic Novels”  was pretty amazing too.  Moderated by Roger Sutton, the panel consisted of David Wiesner (who is working on a graphic novel of his own — don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see it), Laura Vaccaro Seeger (who was fascinating, explaining how the die cuts in her work function in an intriguing animation sort way), George O’Connor (who is doing those cool Greek god books and is pretty god-like himself), Mark Siegel (who has to have a few clones to do all that he does — run FirstSecond and his own work and be a dad and…), and Wendy Lukehart (a really smart and informed DC librarian). Is there a line between picture books and graphic novels?  Not according to this panel.

The luncheon speaker was Cornelia Funke.  I’ve heard her before and she did not disappoint this time.  She spoke about learning from child readers that the character in the Inkworld they most connected to wasn’t a child, but the adult Dustfinger.  And so that gave her the confidence to create an adult protagonist for her new book Reckless.   She spoke with such excitement about this new book world (set in the 19th century — wondered if it too would be steampunk although she didn’t say that) that she got me excited about it too. And then she read the first chapter getting me even MORE excited.  So when they announced there would a drawing for 25 signed copies of ARCs I dropped my card in and was delighted to discovered at the end of the day that I’d won one! (Victoria Stapleton took this photo before I won— I was just holding the book because I wanted it. And then I got it — so thank you, Victoria, Zoe, and the others at LB. )

Interspersed throughout the day were sessions of publisher’s pitching new books.  Short and informative pitches came from Sterling, Sourcebooks, Random House, Penguin, Macmillan, Little Brown, Houghton Mifflin, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Candlewick, and Brilliance Audio. Nicely done, all of you!

The final panel of the day was “The Care and Feeding of Tweens.” Moderated by Vicky Smith, the panel consisted of Rebecca Stead, Tim Green, Gennifer Choldenko, Robie H. Harris, and Lisa von Drasek (superstar librarian at Bank Street College).  Lots of wonderful talk about what are tweens, who created the title (marketers), and what means most — the kids themselves.

The day ended with cocktails, book signings, and lots of schmoozing.  A truly excellent day — again my thanks and congratulations to all involved.

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Ah, Those Nontraditional Nonfiction Book Reviews

I loved the challenge by 100scopenotes to create nontraditional nonfiction reviews. I tried,  but all my ideas were too ambitious to complete in time so I stood back and admired all the amazing ones that were done.  But now we’ve got to pick our favorite?  A winner? Yikes!

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Margaret Wise Brown’s 100th Birthday Party

Brenda Bowen had the fabulous idea of celebrating Margaret Wise Brown’s 100th birthday on the steps of the New York Public Library.  And so yesterday at 2PM a bunch of us including Betsy Bird, Jeanne Lamb, Dianne Hess, Lori Ess, and Stephen Savage joined her under one of the lions (I think perhaps Patience, but can’t be sure) to sing, blow up balloons, eat cupcakes, and urge the curious to come by and celebrate too.  Sort of a teeny weeny flash mob of literary types. Next year we will be back, bigger and better, for the 101th.  You coming?

(Stephen is kindly taking this pic)

Lori attempting to read The Runaway Bunny to Stephen’s daughter Chloe.

Dianne channeling Margaret.  And check out the yummy cupcakes.  Brenda even brought candles for them.

Our fab hostess, Brenda.

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Coming Soon: Knuffle Bunny Free


Aggle, flaggle, sniff.

I was fortunate enough to receive the F&G of the forthcoming finale to the Knuffle Bunny saga at Thursday’s HarperCollins preview.   That afternoon my Book Blogger club met and we read all three books, noting the beautiful development of Trixie over time.  The kids were incredibly quick to catch all sorts of lovely little touches. Two of their posts can be read here and here.


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Popotamus anyone?

via Sharyn November


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Guard: Sir, what are you doing? Rodgers: Um… haunting the library.

Who You Gonna Call?

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Good Question

from Betsy Lerner. Mine?  Maybe Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

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Bill Bryson on the Quirks of Home

Looking around my house, I was startled and a little appalled to realise how little I knew about the domestic world around me. I had absolutely no idea why, for example, out of all the spices in the world, we have such an abiding attachment to salt and pepper. Why not pepper and cardamom, say, or salt and cinnamon? And why do forks have four tines and not three or five? There must be reasons for these things. Suddenly the house seemed a place of mystery to me.

The Guardian is featuring excerpts from Bill Bryson’s forthcoming book, At Home: A Short History of a Private Place.  Today’s is all about toilets, stairs, and the lawn.  Previously:  “The Secret Life of Your Home” and “The Story of the Electric Light.

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