cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “children’s books”

Reading Round Up: January


January. If I could somehow whisk myself away to a warmer clime, one with no snow, and a proclivity towards blue sky. Just for January. That’s right–January is my least favorite winter month. The day job requires I stick around, so I combat my winter blues with copious book reading. January racked up 17 books. I’ll highlight the hits.

Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Absolutely provoking, yet falls short of being truly inspirational due to a tendency to bring in too much personal angst. While the author’s experience has meritable points, that an elite education tends to prepare graduates for being stellar at certain aspects, such as being lawyers or being English professors, it falls short at mundane abilities i.e. talking to tradesmen. But that isn’t everyone’s experience, and the point he makes unravels into an unfortunate profanity-laced rant in the last few chapters.

The first half of the book is the most effective, and by the numerous sticky notes I flagged in this section, made the most impact. An abundance of worthy passages on what a college education should be in found the first half; however, the second half of the book becomes more or less conjecture, and loses traction.

Overall, an effective thesis concerning the value of an elite education, give or take a few moments of ranting. No shame in a state university diploma after all.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Continuing right from where the first book left off, Ada relates her story of adjusting to life in Kent during WWII. Much stays the same, the hardships of war, the loss, the deprivation; however, Ada sees many changes as well: her foot surgery is successful, Susan becomes her legal guardian, they must live with Lady Thornton in one of the estate cottages, and Ruth, a German Jewish girl, comes to stay with them.

Ada still struggles with the shadows of her past life in London, but is slowly learning to open her heart to the good things that come her way.

A bit faltering in the beginning, yet once the strong characterization and plot take hold as in the first book, Bradley’s sequel is just as riveting. It’s hoped Ada’s story will continue.

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

A reimagining, rather than a retelling of the Chinese folktale of Mulan, Dickerson’s version is set in 15th century Lithuania.

In this version, Mulan is the illegitimate daughter of Mikolai, a warrior father who has died. Mulan serves as a warrior to save her mother from becoming homeless, and to escape from an unwelcome arranged marriage.

The first half of the plot relates Mulan’s adventures as a soldier. With realistic detail, Mulan struggles to meet the demands of fighting amongst men, while trying to hide her identity. During battle she meets and becomes friends with Wolfgang, a duke’s son. Inevitably their friendship develops into something deeper once Wolfgang discovers why he is attracted to and is protective of the young soldier known as Mikolai.

Unfortunately, the second half of the story becomes enmeshed in being more of a romance novel than the adventure story of the first part. Attention to historical detail and the smooth rendering of the multiple points of view, tip this more towards a four star than a three star review.

This story refers to characters from the previous book in the Hagerheim series, yet it can be read as a standalone.

The publisher provided a free copy in exchange for a review, with all opinions being mine.

Eye of the Crow by Shane Peacock

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

What of the boy Sherlock Holmes? So little is known of who or what he might have been like, that it is fair game to improvise, and maybe take liberties in creating his backstory.

This is the case in Eye Of The Crow, the first in a series about Sherlock Holmes as a boy. Shane Peacock, an obvious admirer of Doyle’s famed detective, has provided a fast-paced supposition of young Holmes.

Smartly written, and full of action, as well as memorable characters, Peacock provides a worthwhile read.

Prince Not So Charming by Roy L Hinuss

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

What happens when you cross a reluctant prince with a reluctant dragon? Answer: You get a book that fractures the fairytale motif with humor and fast action.

Mike Allegra, writing under the nom de plume of Roy L. Hignuss, presents the first book in a series highlighting Carlos, a prince of a kid who would rather grow up entertaining the court than ruling it.

Throw in some potty humor (because what kid doesn’t appreciate how “duty” sounds like, well you get the idea) and a dragon who shirks his fiery calling, along with royal parents who totally don’t get their son, and a new favorite is shelf ready.

This is a recommendation for those young readers transitioning from early readers to chapter books. A fun read with whimsical drawings.

Rewired by Ajay Seth

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Providence can be the only explanation for the series of events that starts with an infected raccoon bite and leads to an experimental procedure that changes the field of prosthetics.

Dr. Ajay Seth. a professed small town surgeon from Ohio, relates the case of Melissa Loomis through a conversational narrative which includes personal anecdotes that add a warmth to his story. What really stands out is the quiet faith that radiates through Dr. Seth’s writing, as his patient puts her trust in him, and as the doctor acknowledges how the events were beyond coincidence.

More than another medical miracle book, this is a story of exploring options and celebrating victories when defeat seems imminent.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided this book exchange for a review, with all opinions being mine.

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Debatable: Worst Picture Book. Ever.–Recap


My first Debatable argument that Gene Wilder was such a vastly superior Willy Wonka than Johnny Depp, as suggested by Mike Allegra, won so amazingly, so soundly, that  I felt uber confident I would easily  win the second round.

I did not.

Image result for sad cat in the hat

See–even the Cat is sad he didn’t win about being such a loser.

Mike questioned my acknowledged labeling of Love You Forever against The Cat in the Hat as the worst picture book ever as a frumpled win. No, I am not a “sore” loser–just a bit of a hair splitter. After all, even Mike admitted LYF isn’t a children’s picture book in that it is more of a picture book written for mothers.
Well, I shall not sour grapes the issue (a shameless plug for my monthly DOWO post). A win is a win. Congrats, Mike.

Next month we go Round III of Debatables. We hope you will continue to bear with our quibbling. Maybe you can help us figure out what to take on next for a topic. Here are the guidelines:

  • Being children’s book writers, we are trying to keep topics close to books children read–picture books up to YA (Willy Wonka actor sparring was inspired by Dahl’s book)
  • The more improbable the better–none of the usual Narnia vs Hobbit fare. Go for the silly, the extreme, the profound. Mike especially likes a challenge.

Do you have an issue of children’s bookery you would like to see Mike and I tackle? Send in your suggestions to either Mike or me in comments.

We’ll post the top picks and see what happens from there.

Children’s Books for Forever


I don’t think I will ever outgrow my liking of children’s books. At one point I began collecting them as I came across them in yard sales, thrift stores, and the cast offs from the public library. I probably would have done better to start my collection after I had done my college moving days. Carting crates of books during a year of several moves created in me to appreciate children’s books in a different fashion. I no longer have my collection, and I don’t terribly regret the decision to dissemble it. I still am a confirmed reader, promoter, and writer of children’s stories. They remain my fave.  Here’s a hint–if you are feeling somewhat blue about the edges, go grab a kid’s book and read it. Better yet, grab a kid and a book and read the book to the kid. No more blues.

With all that being said it gives me great smiles to present the New York Public Libraries first ever 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 Years. First posted on School Library Journal’s site September 30, 2013 (I am a bit behind in my inbox readings).

 

100YearsChildBks strip1 NYPL Unveils 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 YearsIn alphabetical order by title, this list is as follows:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Judith Viorst. Illus. by Ray Cruz. (1972)
All-of-a-Kind Family. Sydney Taylor, illustrated by Helen John. (1951)
Amelia Bedelia. Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel. (1963)
The Arrival. Shaun Tan. (2007) Bark, George. Jules Feiffer. (1999)
Because of Winn-Dixie. Kate DiCamillo. (2000)
Ben’s Trumpet. Rachel Isadora. (1979)
Big Red Lollipop. Rukhsana Khan. Illus. by Sophie Blackall. (2010)
The Birchbark House. Louise Erdrich. (1999)
The Book of Three. Lloyd Alexander. (1964)
The Borrowers. Mary Norton. Illus. by Beth Krush and Joe Krush. (1953)
El Gallo De Bodas: A Traditional Cuban Folktale. Lucía M. González. Illus. by Lulu Delacre. (1994)
Bread and Jam for Frances.
Russell Hoban. illustrated by Lillian Hoban. (1964)
Bridge to Terabithia. Katherine Paterson. (1977)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin, Jr. Illus. by Eric Carle. (1967)
Caps for Sale. Esphyr Slobodkina. (1938)
The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss. (1957)
Chains. Laurie Halse Anderson. (2008)
A Chair For My Mother. Vera B. Williams. (1982)
Charlotte’s Web. E.B. White. Illus. by Garth Williams. (1952)
Chato’s Kitchen. Gary Soto. Illus. by Susan Guevara. (1995)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. Illus. by Lois Ehlert. (1989)
Corduroy. Don Freeman. (1976) Curious George. H.A. Rey. (1941)
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. (1962)
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Mo Willems. (2003)
Esperanza Rising. Pam Muñoz Ryan. (2000)
Freight Train. Donald Crews. (1978)
Frog and Toad Are Friends. Arnold Lobel. (1970)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. E.L. Konigsburg. (1967)
George and Martha. James Marshall. (1972)
The Giver. Lois Lowry. (1993)
Go, Dog. Go! P.D. Eastman. (1961)
Goodnight Moon. Margaret Wise Brown. Illus. by Clement Hurd. (1947)
Grandfather’s Journey. Allen Say. (1993)
The Graveyard Book. Neil Gaiman. Illus. by Dave McKean. (2008)
Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss. (1960)
Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. (1955)
Harriet the Spy. Louise Fitzhugh. (1964)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. J.K. Rowling. (1998)
Hatchet. Gary Paulsen. (1989)
The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. (1937)
Holes. Louis Sachar. (1998)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Brian Selznick. (2007)
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Simms Taback. (1999)
Jumanji.
 Chris Van Allsburg. (1981)
Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Yuyi Morales. (2003)
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. Kevin Henkes. (1996)
The Lion and the Mouse.
Jerry Pinkney. (2009)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. (1950)
The Little House. Virginia Lee Burton. (1942)
The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (1943)
Locomotion. Jacqueline Woodson. (2003)
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China. Ed Young. (1989) 100YearsChildBks strip2 NYPL Unveils 100 Top Children’s Books of the Last 100 YearsMadeline. Ludwig Bemelmans. (1939)
Make Way for Ducklings. Robert McCloskey. (1941)
Matilda. Roald Dahl. Illus. by Quentin Blake. (1988)
Meet Danitra Brown. Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. (1994)
Millions of Cats. Wanda Gág. (1928)
Miss Nelson is Missing!
Harry Allard. Illus. by James Marshall. (1977)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Richard and Florence Atwater. Illus. by Robert Lawson. (1938)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
Robert C. O’Brien. (1971)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale.
John Steptoe. (1987)
My Father’s Dragon.
 Ruth Stiles Gannett. Illus. by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948)
My Name is Yoon.
 Helen Recorvits. Illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska. (2003)
Olivia.
Ian Falconer. (2000)
One Crazy Summer
. Rita Williams-Garcia. (2010)
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales.
Virginia Hamilton. Illus. by Leo/Diane Dillon. (1985)
The Phantom Tollbooth. Norton Juster. Illus. by Jules Feiffer. (1961)
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue. Maurice Sendak. (1962)
Pink and Say. Patricia Polacco.  (1994)
Pippi Longstocking. Astrid Lindgren. (1950)
Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. (1968)
Rickshaw Girl. Mitali Perkins. Illus. by Jamie Hogan. (2007)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Mildred D. Taylor. (1976)
Rumpelstiltskin. Paul O. Zelinsky. (1986)
A Sick Day for Amos MCGee. Philip Stead. Illus. by Erin E. Stead. (2010)
The Snowy Day. Ezra Jack Keats. (1962)
Starry River of the Sky. Grace Lin. (2012)
The Stories Julian Tells. Ann Cameron. Illus. by Ann Strugnell. (1981)
The Story of Ferdinand. Munro Leaf. Illus. by Robert Lawson. (1936)
Strega Nona. Tomie dePaola. (1975)
Swimmy. Leo Lionni. (1963)
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.
William Steig. (1969)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Judy Blume. (1972)
The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. Julius Lester. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. (1987)
Tar Beach. Faith Ringgold. (1991)
Ten, Nine, Eight. Molly Bang. (1983)
Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose. Tomie dePaola. (1985)
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka. Illus. by Lane Smith. (1989)
Tuesday. David Wiesner. (1991)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle. (1969)
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Christopher Paul Curtis. (1995)
The Westing Game. Ellen Raskin. (1978)
When You Reach Me. Rebecca Stead. (2009)
Where Is the Green Sheep? Mem Fox. Illus. by Judy Horacek. (2004)
Where the Wild Things Are. Maurice Sendak. (1963)
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Verna Aardema. Illus. by Leo/Diane Dillon. (1975)
Winnie-the-Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illus. by Ernest H. Shepard. (1926)
A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle. (1962)

So many wonderful friends. I love a great list filled with great books. I hope you found some good old friends as well.

Honk If You Love Books


That’s right…Honk if you love Books!

Passing through a town I spotted this in a parking lot:

And what made it extra delightful was how a Goodwill store  was just one parking lot over, a bit of  a conceptual juxtaposition tickle to see a promotion to recycle used reads instead of used clothing and sundries, a new way of thinking against the standard. I looked up the site and discovered a few things from their FAQs:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Discover Books? Discover Books is a for-profit corporation with a social mission.  They are in the business of collecting used books from thrift stores, library discards, residential curbside pickups and collection boxes located throughout North America.  They sell used books online at discounted prices to be read again, or donate them to literacy-based or community service organizations greatly in need of free reading materials. When books cannot be sold or donated, they are recycled, diverting millions of pounds of books from landfills each year.
What will happen to the books placed in my hosted bin? The books placed in the collection boxes have always followed three pathways: they are resold to other readers, donated to children, families and literacy organizations in need, or responsibly recycled.  This has always been the case and will not change.  If you would like to talk to a Discover Books representative to learn more, please email us at info@discoverbooks.com or call us toll-free at 888-402-BOOK(2665).

All this brought to mind my original idea back in February when I began blogging how I wanted to gather a cavalcade of readers, those folks who promote books through voracious reading and reviewing.  Book Boosters was born and although I had hoped to have 500 BBs by June I can’t complain about having 35 so far.  Especially since I haven’t done any active promoting (I don’t Tweet, Face, Stumble, Link or such–old-fashioned, maybe–time deprived, very much so).

So if you are reading this and find you fit the Book Booster profile and don’t see your name on the list, please let me know and voila, you will be added. There are no dues, annoying ads, or newsletters.  I am working on a secret handshake.

Happy Pages,

CricketMuse

Are you a Book Booster?

  • Do you love books?
  • Do you have favorites you read, recommend, and even re-read?
  • Are you a frequent flyer at the local library?
  • Are you an on-line regular of book sites, be they promoting to buy, review, or boast books?
1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You...
1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perchance you operate on a need to read basis–you have to have a book in hand, by the bed, stashed in the car, or have one nestled in the backpack.

You then, my friend, are a Book Booster.  And you are in good company.  Add your name to the list and welcome to the shelf of those who appreciate and advance the cause of books.

Join the continuing ranks of Book Boosters:

1.  www.BookWrites.wordpress.com

2.  www.eatsleeptelevision.wordpress.com (adambellotto)

3.  www.homeschoolhappymess.com

4.  www.carolinareti.wordpress.com

5.  www.opinionatedmama.wordpress.com

6.  www.jessileapringle.wordpress.com

7.  www.wcs53.wordpress.com

8.  www.spookymrsgreen.wordpress.com

9.  www.cecileswriters.wordpress.com (Samir)

10.  www.HannahBurke.wordpress.com

11.  www.thecoevas.wordpress.com

12.  www.Jayati.wordpress.com

13.  www.collecthemomentsonebyone.wordpress.com

14.  http://scriptorwrites.wordpress.com (scriptor obscura)

15. http://jinnyus.wordpress.com/

16.  http://1000novelsandme.wordpress.com/

17. http://literarytiger.wordpress.com/

18.  http://chicandpetite.wordpress.com/ (Bella)

19.  http://booksandbowelmovements.com/ (Cassie)

20. http://bookrave.wordpress.com/

21. http://fromagoraphobiatozen.wordpress.com/ (Marilyn Mendoza)

22.http://bibliophiliacs.wordpress.com/

23.  http://thoughtsonmybookshelf.wordpress.com/

24. http://shelovesreading.wordpress.com/

25.  http://ajjenner.com/

26.  http://artsandyouthlove.wordpress.com/

27. http://readingreviewingrambling.wordpress.com/

28. http://365amazingbooks.wordpress.com/

29.  http://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/

30.  http://bookpolygamist.wordpress.com/

31. http://aliciadevoursbooks.wordpress.com/

32. http://readinginterrupted.com/

33. http://bundleofbooks.org/

34. http://bitsnbooks.wordpress.com/

35. http://justonemonkeytyping.wordpress.com/

I hope your peruse the above blog sites, especially if you favor reading, and adore books.  And next time you are done with that read, consider donating it to the friendly little parking lot box.

Musings of a Voracious Reader: Children’s Authors


Do you remember when you opened the door to reading?  When all those dark squiggles on the page made sense as they revealed themselves as words which you slowly understood when connected with other words formed entire ideas known as sentences leading into paragraphs filling the entire page? The bumbling, stumbling, tumbling of phonetics to get it all to connect. Then suddenly it became less work and it seamlessly flowed until it happened without you realizing it how the true joy of opening a book and falling in love with the story within suddenly filled your days.  You had become a reader.

As you discovered reading, you found certain books appealed to you for some reason. Those first authors, those books of our childhood, are the ones we tend to remember forever.  Who doesn’t always remember his or her first love?  Below are some of my favorite children’s authors, a mixture of classics and newly established. I hope you will add your own.

wikipedia.com

Beezus and Ramona

Where the Wild Things Are

http://www.goodreads.com
(all further images from goodreads)

Green Eggs and Ham

Charlotte's Web

Goodnight Moon

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Winnie-the-PoohHarold and the Purple Crayon

A Little PrincessAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

The Story of FerdinandThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1)Pippi Longstocking

Black Beauty The Story about Ping

Doctor Dolittle and the Green CanaryMary Poppins

Whew! That’s barely a thimble full of books and children’s authors that have left an impression on me as a reader.  While I could fill pages upon pages of children’s authors musings, I must give credit for where it all started:

So, Book Boosters and other voracious readers–what books do you remember from your childhood?

A few contributing suggestions:

Related articles

The Baby Robin Song


American Robin -- Humber Bay Park (East) (Toro...

American Robin — Humber Bay Park (East) (Toronto, Canada) — 2005, by User:Mdf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we have been watching the last batch of robins readying for their imminent departure I found myself humming a tune:

There were four robins in the nest

and the little one said:

“I’m squished.  Move over.”

So they all moved over  and one flew out,

and there were three in the nest

and third one said:

“I’m squished. Move over.”

So they all moved over and one flew out,

and there were two in the nest

and the second one said:

“That’s better.  You good?”

And the first one said,

“Yup.  Works for me.”

At least that’s what I think is going on.   I had received an update on the baby birds whilst out shopping yesterday (we take our baby birding seriously) and contemplated rushing home to watch the event.  Costco won out and by the time I got home one of the birdies had flown.  Towards the evening it looked like another might be heading out but then all three hunkered down into the nest so only the tips of the beaks were sticking up.

Smart birds.

A summer storm kicked in an hour later and that birdie knew the nest was the best place to be if being a baby bird.

This morning I heard a cacophony of cheeping outside my bedroom window.  Upon checking I found the third baby robin just below the nest and forlornly indicating its angst of separation anxiety.  When it saw me approach it flew up into what I call the launching pine (it’s where all the robins seem to fly from the nest).  It hung out there for the longest time.  It’s still there and I still hear its lamentable cheeps.  I wonder if it’s having second thoughts about leaving the nest?

As I listen to its pitiful cheeps this book came to mind

I think our little bird is saying, “Mom? Mom?”  And I hope mom bird stops by and encourages her baby to find flight, grab a worm, and enjoy the sights.  At least that’s what I’d recommend.

UPDATE: the birds are gone. Rats.  I came home from morning appointments and the nest was empty.  I hear scattered cheeps up in the pines and I hope to spot them on the lawn learning how to get their own grub.  A couple of pics to share:

Getting Ready

I’m out…now what?

Airport Moments


Cover of "The Terminal (Widescreen Editio...

Cover of The Terminal (Widescreen Edition)

 

I’m sitting here in the middle of a two hour layover at an airport that could use a serious makeover.  There is a pervasive nuance of worn out and drone in this place.  It’s not that I’m a world traveler and have a large repertoire of airports to pull out from experience to offer up comparisons, I’m calling it as I see it.  Plus, having caught a flight out of an especially aesthtic airport this morning (Portland–PDX–Orgeon progressive at its best),  it’s a real let down to spend excess time in a rundown terminal.  I shall not name it, except to say it’s in the Southwest and it’s hot out there.  Real hot.  Like I hope I have a covered tarmac to the plane because it’s heatstroke weather hot outside. (I didn’t–I nearly melted like a candy bar left on the dashboard)

Being between flights there is not much to do.  On the other hand, there is plenty to do in the people watching department.  My writer’s mind is storing all sorts of vignettes as I pretend I’m occupying myself with my laptop (well, I guess I am–this post is proof).

First Moment:
People-mover walkways never cease to amaze me.  Why do people walk on boring airplane motiff carpet when they can be transported on the rolling terminal sidewalk?  A fave is to stride aboard and walk with purpose, as if I am a Person Of Importance. Slow movers ride the right side as I power-walk down to my place of destination. The scenario:

“Sylvia checked her voice mail quickly, before reconfirming her flight and gate number.  Securing her phone into her purse, she mentally rehearsed her opening remarks  once again, allowing spots of applause and appreciative chuckles within the time frame.  Her thoughts were hampered by the incessant recording “the sidewalk is ending–please watch your step.”  Wait, that could be a metaphor.  Life is like a moving sidewalk in that we simply step on and roll through life and if we aren’t careful we can end up stumbling at the end.  Sylvia decided she would work it into remarks.”

Second Moment:
How does someone end up working behind an airport Burger King counter?  I pondered this as the cashier rang up my purchase. Did she think at fifteen that she would be handing back, “Have a nice day” with someone’s change when she was 32?  Would she go back, if possible, and say, “Girl, listen up to the counselor. You had better sign up for geometry, take that Biology II class, and don’t forget to study for your vocabulary test on Wednesday, otherwise you will be still wearing that zip up fugly polyster uniform when you get out of high school.”  She maybe took the wrong Frost path.

Third Moment:
“Look at this, no hands.  It’s self-propelled.”  This comment is directed to the woman in the airport courtesy wheelchair. The attendant grins widely as he walks alongside her.  She looks over at him like he’s popped a lugnut off his hubcap and his sanity is seriously wobbling.  Then, she smiles and they both share a laugh before he grabs a hold of the handle and continues pushing her towards her flight.  My thought: “Cool.  Way to make a rainbow in the middle of day.”

There are many more micro-moments: the guy in a ponytail, too tight plaid bermuda shorts and too small Calvin and Hobbes t-shirt and no visible carry-on luggage (hmmmm…), the grandma next to me reading her e-reader (who says Greys don’t do tech?),  the anxious bumped passengers waiting to get their name called off the short list (reactions range from resignation to disgruntled subdued rants shared on phones).

I remember watching a movie with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones a few years back, The Terminal,where due to circumstances beyond his control, Hanks ended up living at the airport, all the while harboring a passion for Jones, who is a stewardess.  I would not want to live at the airport, at least not this one.

Eve Bunting wrote a picture book, Flyaway Home,  about a father and young son who choose to live at an airport instead of the streets.  Both the movie and the book showed how airports are made for short visits and not lengthy stays.  Wait–my flight is finally being called.  I’m bound for home, or will be home soon enough.  Airports, are best suited for destination portals, and people watching.  Home addresses they do not make.

 

#3: Picture Books Are for Any Age!


“What do you write?” is a question often traded at a writer’s conference.  My answer is usually an embarrassed “everything.” It’s true.  I write middle grade, YA, adult, poems, non-fiction, plays, book reviews–I like to write!  My favorite genre, the one I no doubt have spent the most time on, is picture books.

There is something incandescently, transcendentally, most amazingly wonderful  when it comes to experiencing a picture book.  They are even better when shared with a child.  I don’t mind reading them on my own.  Oh, picture books are only for kids?  Is that a bona fide rule?

Moving on with my Cricket List: Musings of a Voracious Reader, I decided to tackle my #3: Picture Books.This is a tough one because it could go on from here until next Tuesday because I have so many favorites.  I could probably start entire blog about picture books.  So instead of a list I am posting thumbnail covers of picture books read, admired, reread, find timeless, find amazing, and want to share with the world. Barnes and Noble supplied the images.

Enjoy!

Click, Clack, Moo Tacky The Penguin If You Give A Mouse A Cookie The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Sheep In A Jeep Book Cover Image. Title: On the Night You Were Born, Author: by Nancy  Tillman Book Cover Image. Title: The Story of Ferdinand, Author: by Munro  Leaf Book Cover Image. Title: Make Way for Ducklings, Author: by Robert  McCloskey Book Cover Image. Title: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Author: by Eric  Carle Book Cover Image. Title: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Author: by Judith  Viorst Book Cover Image. Title: The Quiet Book, Author: by Deborah  Underwood

 Goodnight Moon (Board Book) Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? Happy Birthday to You! Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business Chicka Chicka Boom BoomOpposites Frog and Toad All Year (I Can Read Book Series: Level 2) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Harold and the Purple Crayon (50th Anniversary Edition) The Runaway Bunny   Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel  Corduroy  Guess How Much I Love You Moo, Baa, La La La! The Little Engine That Could Mouse Paint I Am a Bunny It Looked Like Spilt Milk Little Bear's Friend (I Can Read Book Series: A Level 1 Book) Leo the Late Bloomer Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? Blueberries for Sal (Picture Puffin Books Series) Stone Soup Little Gorilla Lap Board Book Harry the Dirty Dog Good Dog, Carl (Classic Board Books Series) Prayer for a Child Whistle for Willie

Tree Is Nice Andy and the Lion Windows with Birds The Snowy Day

This is only a thimble’s worth in the sea of picture book reads.  I stopped at page 15 of Barnes and Noble’s picture book list.  Feel free to browse on your own.  And  make sure to pop a couple of picture books in your basket when shopping at your local library or bookstore.  Picture books are forever.

Beary Wonderful Books


Recently I attended a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) writing conference. There is something so energizing about them.  Everyone who is attendance is somehow connected with writing or illustrating books for children, which means this is a gathering of grownups, a room full of adults whose main concern and occupation is celebrating the wonder of presenting the world so that it appeals to children.

I have attended other types of writer conferences, and learn much from them–yet, they are so much more serious in tone.  Writing is a serious business, of course, of course, and I do take my writing quite seriously.  But, there is something about attending a SCBWI conference that is delightfully different.  There is this celebratory exuberance, this uncontainable joy that cascades over, around, and through the conference.  We are all gathered together because we know how to celebrate like a child.  We all take delight in the unexpected rainbow.  We sing the praises of butterflies and dragonflies and kites that flit upon the summer’s breeze.  We are all grown-up, but haven’t forgotten the wonder of childhood. We’re talking a fun-filled work and learn weekend.  I like it.

The main reason for attending the conference is to learn all about the business end of writing for children: submitting manuscripts, understanding the trends, listening to expert advice and soaking up valuable insights.  There is also the anticipation of connecting with other writers, and maybe even an author.  This is how I rediscovered Jesse Bear. 

On the first day, as we selected seats, made polite small talk, and exchanged introductions, I glanced around at name tags and stopping at one I thought “Hmm, that name sounds familiar.”  I then realized I was conversing with the Jesse Bear author!  These books are sweet, gentle reads that embrace the warm fuzzy moments of childhood.   Nancy White Carlstrom, is the author of these delightful books, and  each read is like receiving a hug of reassurance that the world through a child’s eyes is ever so pleasant.

During the break I took the opportunity to ask Nancy a few questions, which she graciously answered.

CM: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the publishing world?

NWC: Picture books are more quirky and loud. Those are getting the attention in the market place.

We then talked about how quiet stories, like Jesse Bear, (and the ones I like to write) are not in the forefront like they once were.  Newer books focus on characters who tend to be naughty, loud, or even angry.  Most certainly, these books are entertaining, yet Nancy and I both agreed there are times when a child needs a gentle read, a quiet time book to settle down.

CM: Why is a successful author like you attending the conference?

NWC: I have several novels I never finished.  I’m going to be submitting books I want to write now and need to know what the market is doing.

In the few minutes we had between sessions we traded concerns, tidbits, and comments about the current status of the children’s book market.  Sitting together the next morning and continuing our conversation we even discovered we had mutual friends.  That six degrees thing kind of sneaks up on a person now and then.

Overall, I came away with quite a bit from this last conference.  One big takeaway is the encouragement I received from Nancy’s example of a pro sitting with the novices. She showed me that even when the trends don’t go our way, we as writers shouldn’t get discouraged.  Getting our writing published and appreciated is an important part of the creative process; however, more importantly Nancy demonstrated to me we write because writing is what we do.

  

From Embers to Sparks–from movies to books


Image Detail I love kid movies, well, most of them.  I enjoy being able to whisk off to a land of fantasy where good triumphs over evil without the awkward uncomfortable scenes of gratitutious violence and sex.  I like to practice safe plot.  I am a squeamish movie watcher. It’s true, I will admit it.  Real life is tension-filled, and so after a tough day at work when I settle down to escape into a movie, I don’t want to experience even more tension–hence, I kick back with a good ol’ kids flick now and then.  This is how I came upon The City of Ember.

The movie definitely wasn’t going for an Oscar ride, yet I embraced its quirkiness, and celebrated its ingenuity.  Plus, it had Bill Murray as a villainous mayor.  Good stuff.  Liking the movie piqued my interest in reading it as a book.  Of course the book is better than its movie counterpart; however, the movie had a visual quality than surpassed the book in many ways.

What I really embraced was that this is  author Jeanne DuPrau’s first novel.  Writing a book, having it published by a major publisher, and then getting a movie made from it.  Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about, folks.  My little hope-to-get-my-book-published-goal goes pitter pat with hopefulness at this kind of success story.

Curious as to what happened to the folks from Ember, I returned to the library for the sequel, The People of Sparks.  I had to wait for the book!  Hold requests equal popularity, and increased the anticipation factor, especially considering the sequel came out in 2004.

The sequel takes up right after The City of Ember.  While the first book shows its strength in originality, the sequel proves up the ability to take an old theme, xenophobia, or the old “us vs them” idea, and puts a different spin on it.  DuPrau presents an allegory, in a way, with her sequel.  The idea of how history can repeat itself if we aren’t careful is woven throughout her story.  This theme is prevalent in the following passage: pages 75-76 Image Detail

“You don’t know about the Four Wars?”

“No. War–what’s that?

“A war is when one bunch of people fights with another bunch, when both of them want the same thing.  Like for instance if there’s some good land, and two groups of people want to live there.”

“Why can’t they both live there?”

“They don’t want to live there together,”  he said, as if this were a stupid question.  “Also, you could have a war because of revenge.  Say one group of people does something bad to another group, like steal their chickens.  Then the first group does something bad back in revenge.  That could start a war.  The two groups would try to kill each other, and the ones who killed the most would win.”

“They’d kill each other over chickens?”

War, in all its complications, is brought down to the question of killing over chickens.  Isn’t it amazing how kid lit can teach lessons that all adults could benefit from?

 

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