Monthly Archives: December 2010

Fifty Favorites from 2010

With the caveat that there are many highly touted books that I haven’t seen, here are fifty of my favorites from 2010:

  1. Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
  2. April and Esme Tooth Fairies by Bob Graham
  3. As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins
  4. Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
  5. Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu
  6. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
  7. City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
  8. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
  9. Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  10. Countdown by Deborah Wiles
  11. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen
  12. The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sis
  13. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
  14. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve
  15. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
  16. Frozen Secrets by Sally M. Walker
  17. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone
  18. Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
  19. Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Red Nose Studio
  20. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutch
  21. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
  22. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  23. Keeper by Kathi Appelt
  24. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  25. Mirror by Jeannie Baker
  26. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  27. Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties by Lesley M.M. Blume, illustrated by David Foote
  28. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  29. Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath
  30. The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds
  31. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  32. A Pocketful of Posies by Salley Mavor
  33. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
  34. The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett
  35. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  36. The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
  37. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Christian Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
  38. Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
  39. Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz by Beverly Gherman
  40. Spork by Isabelle Aresenault
  41. Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
  42. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  43. There’s Going to be a Baby by John Burningham, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
  44. They Called Themselves the K.K.K. by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  45. Trash by Andy Mulligan
  46. The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli
  47. The War to End All Wars by Russell Freeman
  48. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  49. Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth
  50. Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon

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Whither Writing Tools?

There’s been whole books on the pencil and other writing implements.  So how about one on something that makes revision easier — the lowly eraser?  The too-often maligned spellchecker (which spelling-challenge me loves, loves, loves)? That came to mind when reading this from Brian Hayes on Electrifying Language.

The eraser had a particularly bad reputation, under the thesis that “if the technology makes error correction easy, students will make more errors.” I have to add that my own view of the computer as a writing instrument has always been that it’s not so much a better pencil as a better eraser, allowing me to fix my mistakes and change my mind incessantly, without ever rubbing a hole in the page. The first time I held down the delete key on an early IBM PC and watched whole sentences and paragraphs disappear, one character at a time, as if sucked through a straw—that was a vision of a better future for writers.

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“What is the apocalypse but an everlasting snow day?”

Couldn’t resist that quote today (as NYC copes with a blizzard) from Scott Westerfeld’s piece at a New York Times’ debate on YA dystopic literature (guess we never get tired of discussing it, do we?).  Others in the fray are Maggie Stiefvater, Jay Parini, Paolo Bacigalupi, Andrew Clements, Lisa Rowe Fraustino, and Michelle Ann Abate. So far no actual debating, but it is still early.

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The Best Christmas Present Someone Else Got

Not the dog (although that would be a pretty great surprise too).  The lamppost.  Now in its rightful place in Neil Gaiman’s snowy Narnia-ish backyard.  I’m now imagining how cool it would be to come across one tomorrow morning here in Riverside Park in NYC as we are hunker down for a blizzard.  Of course we have some pretty neat lampposts already so it might not stand out as it does here.

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Lemony Snicket’s Christmas Story

Christmas Eve, folks. Those stockings are hung with care by now, I hope?  The kiddies headed to bed soon with those sugar-plums ready to dance in their heads? All great and good, but what about those who don’t —gasp— believe in Santa?  Or don’t celebrate this particular holiday?  To the rescue is the one and only Lemony Snicket with his Christmas story, The Latke Who Wouldn’t Stop Screaming.  As can be anticipated giving the author and title, this is a wry little story, charmingly illustrated by Lisa Brown, that — spoiler — does not end happily for the title character.  Here are Daniel Handler (filling in as he always does for Mr. Snicket) and Lisa Brown presenting the book:

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Tricky Time Travel

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Sort o’ Santa

via Neil Gaiman

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We had a Magician at OUR Holiday Party

It’s been an intense few weeks at school and yesterday we were all very ready to drink and make merry at the staff holiday party and so weren’t too thrilled to be told to first go to the theater for some magic.  My team and I grumbled and sat at the back (for a swifter exit to what really mattered) and got even crankier when ordered to move down to be closer to the stage.  Audience participation? Big whoopee.  But when Steve Cohen got going we were blown away.  The guy is truly amazing. And so may I suggest that if you are in NYC and want to do something a bit pricey, but different go to his Chamber Magic show at the Waldorf Astoria.

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Every Cat Gets Its Day

According to Anita Silvey today is Cat Herding Day.  She elegantly honors it by featuring Wanda Gág’s glorious Millions of Cats.  I’m going for something a bit less refined.

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Call for Contributions to a Forthcoming Anthology about Children and War

J.L. Powers,  editor of this forthcoming collection of war pieces, contacted me and because it struck me as both timely and a very worthwhile endeavor I’m posting the specifics from her website here.  Please get in touch with her directly (information is below) if you are interested in contributing.

Children and War (working title)

When American politicians mention the “hidden costs” of war, they are referring to inflation, higher taxes, and medical care for veterans of U.S. wars. Even when we invoke images of human suffering, children and teenagers are often the forgotten part of the story.

Yet who can forget images of the Vietnam “baby lift,” when Amer-Asian children were flown out of Vietnam to the U.S. to be adopted by American families? Who can forget the horror of learning that Iranian children were being sent on suicide missions to clear landmines?[1] Who wasn’t captivated by stories of the “lost boys” of Sudan, who traveled thousands of miles alone through the desert, seeking shelter and safety?

Children, like adults, lose their homes and families during war. They may travel for miles, alone or with others. They become refugees and victims of rape; they are recruited as soldiers; they suffer from PTSD, starvation, malnutrition, disease, and disability. In a recent report, UNICEF stated that from 1985-1995, over 2 million children had been killed in war; 4-5 million had been left disabled; over 12 million had become homeless; more than 1 million had been orphaned or separated from their parents; and over 10 million suffered psychological trauma.[2] Their experiences affect the next generation as well.

This anthology, to be published by Cinco Puntos Press in 2011 or 2012, will explore all angles of children’s and teenagers’ experiences in war. The core of the book will be personal essays, memoirs, journalistic accounts, and historical narratives, both previously published and original pieces. It may also include photos, artwork, posters, and other debris that depicts the effects of war on children and teens. Though the book will be primarily non-fiction, we may include some fiction, and we are willing to consider pieces about both current and past wars. “War” is defined liberally to include both “official,” declared wars as well as secret, unofficial wars, such as those carried out by governments on civilians in places like Chile, Argentina, and Zimbabwe. All submissions, queries, and suggestions should be sent to J.L. Powers at jlpowers@evaporites.com by June 1, 2011. Pieces of up to 6500 words are fine. If a piece has a higher word count, please email and ask me about it–exceptions can be made. All acceptances are conditional. The publisher exercises final editorial control over which pieces will be included. All contributors will receive payment.


[1] Steven Stalinsky, “Iran’s Top Strategist, In His Own Words,” The Sun (New York) 14 February 2007. http://www.nysun.com/foreign/irans-top-strategist-in-his-own-words/48638/

[2] UNICEF, “The State of the World’s Children 1996,” http://www.unicef.org/sowc96/1cinwar.htm.

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