Category Archives: Classic

Lending My Voice to The Wizard of Oz

I love reading aloud and so had a lot fun, at ALA, participating in the Lend Your Voice initiative by reading a page from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz along with such luminaries as her, him, her, her, her, her, and her.  The whole list of narrators can be seen at this Random House Audio blog post where they write, “The finished audiobook will be available at, with all proceeds going to First Book, a children’s literacy organization that provides books to underprivileged children and their communities.”



Filed under Classic, Reading Aloud

Lots of Oz Coming Soon to a Screen Near You, Maybe

Vulture has learned that Sam Raimi has been offered the director’s chair for Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, a prequel to the 1939 MGM classic The Wizard of Oz.

This from NYMag’s Vulture Blog.  Did I know this was in the works?  Not only did I not, but I also did not know that Warner Brothers’ has two Oz movies in the works as well. What I did know is that this is not Disney’s first Oz movie.  They also did Return to Oz which I like to show to my class after we’ve read the Baum’s book, viewed the MGM movie, and debated if it (the 1939 movie) is a good adaptation.


Filed under Classic, Other

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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Filed under Children's Literature, Classic

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

The Boxcar Children Vampires

Well, not exactly.  But having explored Little Vampire Women (“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any corpses,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.) I figured anything is possible.  So when I saw Abigail Goben’s mention of a vampire Boxcar Children book (in this post by Betsy Bird) I had to see to believe.

So, yep, here’s #120 by must-be-a-vampire-to-still-be-writing Gertrude Chandler Warner.

The publisher’s synopsis:

The Aldens meet Mr. Hudson, a local author who is best known for his novel about a vampire.  But rumors of a real vampire are going around town – a vampire who haunts the graveyard behind Mr. Hudson’s house!  But since vampires don’t exist, the children soon realize that someone must be trying to scare people away from Greenfield!  Who brought the old legend back to life – and why?

Hmm…they don’t exist, do they?


Filed under Classic

And Speaking of Movies…

To be fair, I need to see the movies, but at the moment I’m cranky as hell about what I’ve seen so far about two forthcoming movies based on iconic books of my youth.  Yet again (Percy Jackson anyone?) they seem to have upped the ages of the two protagonists substantially.  What is wrong with true tweens?

First there is Harriet the Spy: BLOG Wars (via 100ScopeNotes).

And then there is this Ramona and Beezus poster.


Filed under Classic, Movies

No Rabbits Were Hurt in the Writing of this Post

In the new series, Peter Rabbit will remain the central character in a cast that will return to what Alli calls the “bolder palette” of Potter’s early drawings. The likes of Tom Kitten will retain their mischievous personalities but the storylines will be new and “appropriate” for the next generation.

“Peter Rabbit’s father being caught by the farmer and being baked into a pie is not going to be our first episode. We’ll be skipping over some chapters,” said Alli.

You can read all about the next big classical children’s series appropriation-I-mean-adaptation here.  Then come back and enjoy this little palate cleanser.

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Filed under animal stories, Classic

NCTE: Old Books — New Journeys

The theme of the conference, “Once and Future Classics: Reading Between the Lines,” is designed to inspire courageous conversations about traditional and contemporary literature and foster lively discussions of how we teach as well as what we teach.

from Program Chair Carol Jago’s NCTE Convention Welcome

A big fan of classical literature in the classroom (I’ve even written a book about it), I was delighted when this was announced as the convention theme and can’t wait to see what will be said on this topic.  And if you are interested in what I have to say, come by next Saturday (2:45 -4:00 Marriott/Franklin 12 4th floor) as I’ll be presenting along with one of my terrific 4th grade colleagues Lesley Younge and Waller Hastings of Rutgers University about some old books.  Here’s a preview to whet your appetites.

  • I will be focusing on my favorites: Charlotte’s Web, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. Among other things I’ll talk about close reading with kids, Charlotte’s Wikipedia, Alice in Comic Land, and debating Oz.
  • Lesley will focus on how she connects old stories with our grade-wide study of immigration.  In particular she will talk about some fabulous work she is doing with Brer Rabbit and journeys her students take into Narnia, Wonderland, and Oz.
  • Waller will wrap things up with a look at the historical context of these books.

We are planning on a good time and hope some of you join us.


Filed under Classic, In the Classroom, NCTE

Revisiting: Little Vampire


At a recent HarperCollins preview I learned about the latest vampire-classic mash-up: Little Vampire Women.   Yes, Louisa May Alcott, who was no slouch herself when it came to a thriller, is collaborating with one Lynn Messina on a new edition of Marmee’s girls’ story, the undead meeting up with pickled limes this time round.

The title immediately made me think of Joann Sfar’s Little Vampire which is another species entirely.  I fell in love with the little fellow some years ago in the graphic novels Little Vampire Goes to School and Little Vampire Does Kung Fu! and was delighted when First Second reissued them and an additional story (Little Vampire and the Society of Canine Defenders) in one volume.  An excerpt from the school one can be read here.


Filed under Classic, comic, graphic novel


Sometimes it works:

“Fans can put away the axes right now, because he has done a fine job.” From the Times review of And Another Thing…Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three by Eoin Colfer.

Sometimes it doesn’t:

“If Winnie the Pooh had been given to a panel to pastiche, David Benedictus’s effort would have been a good contribution. But his sequel adds nothing significant….” From the Times review of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood.

via achokablog

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Filed under animal stories, Classic, Fantasy