Friday, March 26, 2010

Drum Roll Please

And once again, I give you Betsy Bird...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Betsy is counting down the top 100 middle grade novels of all time. Today Betsy lists my favorite book of all time- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson in the #13 spot. Not even in the top ten! For shame!

Betsy found a copy of the original cover (how does she do it?) This one I believe is the current paperback.

I couldn't bring myself to see the movie. I didn't want it to mess up the movie that already lives in my head. Did you know that's why Madeline L'Engle books have never been set to film? She didn't want to do that to her readers. Love Madeline.  

I was one of the three- only three!?- who put this life-changing book in the number one slot. I can't wait to see what the remaining twelve are. Will my life be changed yet again? We shall see!

I love some of the quotes Betsy includes:

"It made me cry in fifth grade. And again in high school, and again and again and again each time I read it" (me too!)

"It made me feel older and wiser." (Again, me too!)

*An interesting note in Betsy's post is that Bridge to Terabithia is on the librarian's *death list*, meaning the book addresses the topic of death and as such, it falls on this list. (in the good company of Charlotte's Web) What makes Bridge different from Charlotte is you don't see it coming, which I think contributes to the young reader's feeling of being "older and wiser" upon completing the book. I think 5th grade is a perfect time for this one.  

Click here for the post

And check back with Betsy over the next few weeks for the remaining 12, SO FUN!!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three Quotes to Float your Boat

When you're in a rut, sometimes a great quote can really inspire. To me, when you combine a great quote with an old black and white photo, it's like being visited by an other-worldly muse. A muse who can push you on to greater heights in your belief that all this pen-to-paper stuff really matters.

I present, your muses- a few of my favorite legendary children's writers:

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it difficult to plan the day."
-E.B. White
author of Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan

"We write by the light of every book we've ever read."
-Richard Peck
author of A Season of Gifts, A Long Way from Chicago, A Year Down Yonder

"You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it's going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children."
-Madeline L'Engle
author of A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Now get to work, whatever beautiful work that may be!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Won't Sit Down, Won't Shut up

So apparently having 3 boys under 10 is affecting me, because I love this video and I like to play it loud and I feel it in my bones. And I'm singing from the perspective of the boys, not the shutter-upper. Go ahead and crank up the volume, you will love it too!

Freshly-Brewed Monday Book Recommendation #10

Twelve year old Lucy is a natural problem solver. When the distraught homecoming queen comes crashing through the doors of the family pharmacy with a hair disaster, Lucy knows just what to do. But if she is such a problem-solver why can't she help Gram and Mom get the pharmacy back on its feet, back to when it was the center of town and where everyone used to shop? Once news of the homecoming queen's salvaged hair hits the streets, girls start coming to the pharmacy for all sorts of help- makeovers, proms, bat mitvahs.  Will Lucy be able to capitalize on this and save the pharmacy? 

I loved girly girl books and this is one of them. And I love the cover! Lucy's spunk and optimism permeates the whole book and I think this book will be a huge hit with young girls. There is also a very sweet friendship between Lucy and her closest friend Sunny. I love books with tight gal pal friendships on a mission!   

Monday, March 8, 2010

Freshly-Brewed Monday Book Recommendation #9- Also Known As Harper

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal

Winnie Rae Early followed ten steps behind me the entire way home from school. It was hard not to fall into rhythm with the noisy sniff she took every third step. I knew without turning around that she was doing what she'd done all day long at school, lifting her arm up and wiping at the chapped underside of her nose with the underside of her wrist.

And so begins Also Known As Harper in one of the many complicated yet tender relationships in this book. The lives of Harper (named after Harper Lee) and her brother Hem (Hemingway) have been recently turned upside down. Hem sits on the porch each day waiting for Daddy's truck to pull in the drive, and big sister Harper knows that it won't but the worst part is, she doesn't want it to.

Harper is a poet. Words come to her unexpectedly and she has to get them down on paper. She loves her poetry and wants to share it with the world. Last year she missed the annual poetry recital because her Dad refused to sign the permission slip. Missing the recital broke her heart and this year her family's eviction and the fact she needs to be with Hem while her Mom works, will most likely mean she'll miss it again. What will their new homelessness do to the dreams that mean so much to Harper?

I've read several books this year dealing with families experiencing economic difficulties, but this one seems to take it a step deeper. Real issues of poverty, homelessness, its affect on children, are all grappled with in a very authentic way. It's a fresh take at looking at our belongings (all that stuff!) and our physical place in this world. If all our stuff is gone, and even the roof over our heads disappears, who are we? Who are we as individuals? Who are we as a family? It is an important book and I really grew to love the characters. I think you will too.

Friday, March 5, 2010

When You Reach Me- Tell the Truth

Have I mentioned yet how much I loved Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me? I haven't written the book recommendation yet because the book is still percolating in my head, I still think about bits and pieces from time to time as I go throughout my day. I think I'm also afraid I might let an important bit of the plot leak out, like a review or two did when I read them, and I don't want to be a spoiler! I can mention that Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is an important piece in the overall puzzle, which I am sure is only a huge draw to those of you who grew up in the 70s and 80s as I did! Meg was a heroine easy to love.

I wanted to write about When You Reach Me when it won the Newbery Medal a few weeks ago, but I still felt like I didn't have anything new to add to the conversation. Everyone loves it, everyone is talking about it and has been all year. It is quite simply, a marvelous read.

Instead of writing a review/recommendation, I want to give you this link to Rebecca Stead's blog. It caught my eye because it references the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox (which I loved, by the way, click here to see why).

Rebecca's comments sum up what I believe to be true about children's literature. Tell the truth, the kids want you to. Most people who feel called to writing for children have a child-like sensitivity and will deliver in a like-manner. Children are aching for it. God Bless you Madeline L'Engle, Roald Dahl and so many others. Let's try to tell the truth, it feels so good to be trusted with it. here it is.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Seussical Protegee Spotlight


OK, so I hope this isn't sacrilegious, but do you know P.D. Eastman? I know Dr Seuss would be OK with me doing this because they were friends. P.D. was Theodor Geisel's protegee, they were buddies! You've seen P.D.'s books, they even have the Cat in the Hat on the spine because they are part of the Dr Seuss Library. Heck, you might have even thought Dr. Seuss wrote them. But he didn't, P.D. did, or at least he illustrated them and some he wrote/illustrated. And they are incredible. Here's a few:

And that is just for starters! If you have these books in your house, I guarantee you will read them until they fall apart and you have to buy another copy. Oh, and I guarantee the pictures will stick in your kids heads for their whole life and they will have to buy them for their kids because they just can't get enough. 
(OK, maybe that part is just me:)

I know this is way tiny and blurry, but don't you remember just getting lost in this spread? Those dogs really know how to party! Kick your feet up and read Go Dog Go today in honor of Dr. Seuss, he won't mind! He taught P.D. everything he knew!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Freshly-Brewed Monday Book Recommendation #8!- The Year The Swallows Came Early

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Eleven-year old Groovy Robinson is one of the most adorable and compelling voices I've met this year.

Right from the get-go we learn "We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence. But that wasn't enough to keep my daddy from going to jail that year I turned eleven. I told my best friend, Frankie, that is was hard to tell what something was like on the inside just by looking at the outside. And that our house was like one of those See's candies with beautiful swirled chocolate on the outside, but sometimes hiding coconut flakes on the inside, all gritty and hard, like undercooked white rice." 

Groovy loves to cook, in fact going to professional chef school is definitely in the plans. But when her Dad gets arrested, right there in front of the Swallows Shop and Ferry, things get complicated. Groovy doesn't know why he's arrested, though she does know "Daddy seemed to get the kind of bosses who ended up firing him." Groovy's endearing relationships with her Mom (who owns one-quarter of the small town beauty shop), her Dad, and her friends Marisol and Frankie are heart-warming and real. Groovy encounters surprise after surprise as no one and no situation is exactly as Groovy has believed them to be. This book will please and delight its target audience - 8-12 year olds- as well as their parents!

The sunny seaside setting of San Juan Capistrano and the swallows returning home theme add a beautiful layer of place to this special book.