February 10, 2010 @ 8:29 pm | Filed under: Links
January 11, 2010 @ 8:01 pm | Filed under: Links
Have resolved to make better use of my Delicious account to keep track of books I read about online and want to remember to check out. Such as:
- The Miss Rumphius Effect: National Puzzle Month – Great Reads – “Here are some books and/or series that will encourage readers put on their thinking caps. Also included are links to related puzzling resources.” I keep forgetting to check out Winston Breen. Flagging this post so I’ll remember!
- A Year of Reading: Predicting the Caldecott and Newbery Winners 2010 – Mary Lee’s Franki’s predictions, including: “My very favorite picture book of the year, as you all know is OTIS by Loren Long and it is my hope and prediction for the Caldecott.”
- Chasing Ray – Nonfiction Books for Curious Readers – Science book recommendations including Houghton Mifflin’s Scientists in the Field series & Extreme Scientists—looks like stuff up Jane’s alley. Also of interest: “Finally, after reading Anastasia Suen’s Wired, I was reminded yet again of how valuable nonfiction picture books truly are. This patiently written step-by-step overview of electricity’s journey from dam to living room light switch is truly a brilliant book. Suen completely demystifies the process making it clear to even the least technologically inclined.”
July 5, 2009 @ 7:25 pm | Filed under: Books
Laurajean asked for some more book recommendations.
I’m going to list some favorite reads off the top of my head, with or without notes as I have the time. I may come back and add to the list later. And please all of you feel free to chime in with your own recommendations!
I’m thinking of books that aren’t already on all the lists of classics and don’t-misses. These are don’t-misses, in my opinion, but I never seem to see them on the lists.
Novels I’ve read recently and especially enjoyed (and posted about—check the lefthand sidebar for links):
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
• Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. True account of a Harvard academic’s discovery that the baby she carries has Down’s Syndrome. A deeply moving narrative about the strange, inexplicable, often difficult events of her pregnancy—all the more moving because this is not a woman for whom the decision to bear her child regardless of his condition was a given. She seems almost surprised to discover that she and her husband cannot bring themselves to consider aborting the child, although nearly everyone she knows—doctors, professors, family—are urging them to do just that.
• The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery. One of Montgomery’s only books written for an adult audience. Not her best novel by far, but I find it curiously enchanting and reread it about once a year. The story of a timid, browbeaten 28-year-old woman who, for reasons best discovered as you read, throws caution to the wind and defies convention and family opinion by moving out of her mother’s house to nurse a disgraced and dying friend—the daughter of the town drunk. If you’ve read many of Montgomery’s short stories, you know that she is mighty fond of Giant Coincidence as a means of moving a plot forward, and this trait is laid on at its thickest in this novel. But somehow—it works and makes for a heartily satisfying read.
• I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I’ve only read the first 30 pages! But I’m loving it, and everywhere I turn this book pops up on someone’s list of Favorite Books Ever. I don’t know how I missed it—it only came across my radar a couple of years ago in Noel Perrin’s A Child’s Delight—but it went into my TBR pile immediately. I made the mistake, however, of buying it—which means library books and review copies keep usurping its place at the top of the pile. That’s not at all fair of me, though, because I also bought The Actor and the Housewife, didn’t I, and I read that one right away. Maybe it was because Scott pinched it from me, which spurred me to pinch it back.
• If you haven’t read the grown-up Betsy-Tacy books, then for heaven’s sake put them on the list—Betsy and the Great World and Betsy’s Wedding. And—no, more than and—especially!—especially the related but not-Betsy-Tacy book, Emily of Deep Valley. I’ve written about that one before, a long while back. Hmm, maybe I need to do some more writing about Betsy et al. Anyway, here’s what I had to say about Emily—
Emily is the kind of character we don’t often see in these days of “you have to do what’s right for you.” What seems “right” for Emily, devoted scholar, is a college education like the rest of her high-school chums. But she lives with a very elderly grandfather, and somehow, somehow, she can’t bring herself to leave him alone. That, her conscience whispers, wouldn’t be right.
Sometimes, you see, “right for you” isn’t the same as just plain Right.
Doing the real right thing, Emily finds, is often the hardest thing. She also finds out that the Right Thing can be like a doorway, and when you step through it, you find beauty on the other side, beauty in places you never knew existed.
• Oh! I know what not to miss. I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell, and its several sequels. Oh my goodness, these too warrant their own post or series of posts. Fred Chappell is one of the primary influences on my writing—and reading—life. I had the great privilege of studying under him in grad school—he was actually the reason I chose that particular MFA writing program; I turned down a full scholarship at another MFA program for a no-scholarship deal at UNC-Greensboro in order to learn from Fred. Next to saying yes to Scott, it was the best decision I ever made. Okay, so I Am One of You Forever: enchanting. Prose written like poetry written like tall tale. No, wait, this really does need to be its own post. So never mind, or stay tuned, or do mind and go read the book and then we can talk, or something. A feeble sentence of plot summary: boy growing up in the mountains of North Carolina enjoys visits from a series of eccentric relatives. One of those books that’s make-you-cry funny and then turns around and outright makes you cry. And the language, oh my Lord, just gorgeous. Sentences like fat ripe plums you want to sink your teeth into, and the juice runs down your chin.
That’s five (plus the four from the sidebar). I could keep at this all night, but there’s a baby who needs me. Enough for now? Shall we keep this going? Sharing our favorite books for getting lost in?
March 25, 2009 @ 8:31 am | Filed under: Books
“I have no more run in me.” —That’s Good, That’s Bad by Joan M. Lexau, illustrated by Aliki
“Koala Lou, I DO love you!”—Koala Lou by Mem Fox
“Bub.”—from the book of the same title by Natalie Babbit
“Never tease a weasel, not even once or twice…”
“Pish, posh, said Heironymus Bosch.”—quote and title by Nancy Willard. Also:
“‘Forever and ever, my nibble, my nosh,
Till death do us part,’ said Heironymus Bosch.”
—and readers of Scott’s blog will recognize his sometimes-tagline taken from the same much-loved book:
“Let the crickets rejoice and the mantises pray.”
Here’s some for you to guess:
“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” (A play, not a book. With our Rilla in the house, we use this one all the time.)
“The real baby doesn’t like that.”
“George Washington’s hogs, on the other hand, were a genteel and amiable sort.”
“When the bear arrived, of course, there weren’t enough macaroons to go around.”
“Where else does an old turtle crossing the road make all the difference in the world?”
This one is one of Alice’s new favorites, with good reason: “She went boneless.”
“Call in Mr. Pye!”
“Tut, tut, it looks like rain.” (A gimme.)
“We’re meant to be invisible.” (That one’s really hard. I’ll be shocked if anyone gets it. It’d be easier to guess if you could hear it spoken out loud.)
The day before my daughters’ tenth birthdays, I always sing:
“Ohhhh, (child’s name) is ten tomorrow
and then all of us are ten!
We will all be ten tomorrow,
we will all be ladies then.”
I wrote Scott at work to ask him, because I was blanking, what book our oft-used line “Of course, he was not mistaken” came from. He reminded me it’s not from a book at all. It’s from Harvey. Of course.
I’ll add more as I think of them!
Welcome to the May 2008 edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature!
I promised a no-frills edition this month. It’s a lazy Saturday morning in my house, the kind filled with cartoons and sugary cereals. On Saturday mornings, you would never know what booksy people we are. Saturday afternoons are different. There is nearly always a library run on Saturday afternoon. Sometimes Scott will take some of the kids; other days, I’ll swing by during errand-running to pick up whatever we might have on hold. It’s always fun to see what Scott or Jane might have requested from inter-branch loan during the week. Jane’s queue this week seems to be full of Miss Marples and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. Scott has a knack for hunting up interesting new books in all genres, including children’s and YA. At our old branch in small-town Virginia, the librarians told me they used to watch for his requests and snag his returns for their own reading lists. They mourned when he left. We mourned to leave them!
Clare B. Dunkle is a librarian turned author. Becky Laney offers a fascinating Interview with Clare about her recent novel, The Sky Inside, at Becky’s Book Reviews.
For more author interviews, step Into the Wardrobe, where Tarie presents a conversation with author/illustrator Katie Davis, and pay a visit to MotherReader, where Pam Coughlan interviews Kelly Bingham about Shark Girl.
As an author myself, I am always interested in what attracts a reader to a book. Of course, I’m interested in this from a mom’s standpoint as well. It’s fun to see what turns my individual kids on to a title. Rose is at the classic 9-year-old girl stage which leaps at anything with a horse on the cover. At Under the Covers, Lisa Chellman shares some observations about book covers in Book Jackets with Familiar Faces. “Has anyone else noticed,” she asks, “celebrity look-alikes on children’s and YA book covers?” Don’t miss the comments for an informative response from the editor of one of the books Lisa discusses.
The always thought-provoking Jen Robinson shares her own book-appeal criteria in My 6 P’s of Book Appreciation at Jen Robinson’s Book Page.
A number of bloggers submitted book reviews this month. Here’s a wide selection:
Susan Gaissert posted on one of my favorites, Heaven to Betsy, at The Expanding Life. Sounds like Susan and I share a common grief over the out-of-print status of the high-school Betsy-Tacy books.
At In Need of Chocolate, Sarah writes about a book Jane keeps sticking in my to-be-read pile: Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. I’m going to treat myself to it at last this summer!
Over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Jules & Eisha give us a delightful back-and-forth about E. Lockhart’s YA novel The Frankie Mystique.
In honor of Asian Pacific Heritage month, Jenny Schwartzberg reviews Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit at Jenny’s Wonderland of Books.
At The Learning Umbrella, Sara reviews two books: Swallows and Amazons and The Willoughbys.
Nancy Arruda raves about a picture book at Bees Knees Reads. “Traces is a book of beautifully written verse by master children’s writer Paula Fox and illustrated by Karla Kuskin.” You had me at “beautifully written verse.” By the end of this carnival, our library reserve list is going to be a mile long.
Case in point: after reading cloudscome‘s review of Millicent Min: Girl Genius at a wrung sponge, I can’t wait to read this book. (Jules & Eisha sold me on The Frankie Mystique, too.)
At A Year of Reading, Mary Lee presents an interesting look at how kids of different ages responded to the same picture book: Experimental Read-Aloud. She says, “As an experiment, I read aloud the same book in Preschool-5th grades. (I am a classroom teacher, not a librarian, so this was a unique experience for me.) The differences in their responses were fascinating.”
Becky offers a Young Readers review of As Good As Anybody by Raul Colón, “the story of two men: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Two men. Two stories. Both powerful.”
In Weekly Geeks Challenge: Outsiders, Jenny of Read. Imagine. Talk. discusses three books about people on the outside: The Hundred Dresses, Loser, and The Giver.
Libby Gruner muses about the depiction of childhood in Peter Pan at Lessons from the Tortoise.
Several contributors sent in posts about ways of sharing books with children.
Jill at The Well-Read Child feels strongly that Fighting Illiteracy is a Community Effort.
Heather Young recalls how her children followed their own path to reading in Books, books, books! at An Untraditional Home.
At The Reading Zone, a blogger recounts a conversation between two teachers which reveals how they are Censoring in the Classroom.
Silvia and her sister-in-law have hit upon a wonderful way to share beloved books with their children: by having Familiar Voices record the text on mp3 files for iPod enjoyment by their Lucky Kiddos.
One of Karen Edmisten‘s famous Ramona stories captures exactly why sharing books with children is its own reward: Why I Love Our Read-Alouds, Part 937.
And wrapping up our carnival, Elizabeth O. Dulemba presents a fabulous photo-essay of an event I would have loved to attend: the 1st Annual Children’s Book Illustrator’s Show! I loved all the pictures showing kids sprawled on the gallery floor with books in the background.
Thanks for visiting this month’s carnival. Next month, author Susan Taylor Brown will host a carnival with the theme of fathers in literature. You may submit a post to Susan using our carnival submission form. To explore past kidlitosphere carnivals, visit the archives.
UPDATE: Eek!! I just went to the BlogCarnival site to enter the info for this post, and I discovered EIGHTEEN MORE SUBMISSIONS that must have come in after the deadline this morning. That means BlogCarnival automatically began forwarding them to next month’s host instead. Bear with me while I figure out what to do. Meanwhile, enjoy the posts below.
UPDATED UPDATE. I know what we’ll do. I’m out of time for this endeavor, so if you missed the deadline and want your post to be included, you may submit the link in a comment below. But listen, folks, on-topic posts only, please. I’m seeing an awful lot of spam there, or self-promotional pieces that are merely book promos, and a bunch of posts that have nothing at all to do with children’s books. If I spot links like that in the comments, I’ll delete them because I don’t want to waste my readers’ time. For the sake of the substantive and relevant posts in the bunch, I’m allowing this means of making late entries.
May 19, 2008 @ 7:00 pm | Filed under: Links
If you follow my daily learning notes blog, you know that Jane and I have been reading and discussing a book called The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel Boorstin.
I picked it up about four years ago, when Jane was around eight years old. At the time, it didn’t really click with her and I laid it aside.
We picked it back up last year and this time, the fit was right. It’s a history text, but it isn’t like any other history book I’ve seen. Instead of following events strictly chronologically, Boorstin tracks trends and movements: how the general store gave way to the department store, for example, or how a snake oil salesman repurposed his product for lamp-lighting and greased the way, so to speak, for Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Empire.
Boorstin, who was appointed Librarian of Congress when President Ford was in the White House, is an engaging storyteller, and he ropes you in with descriptions of the charismatic personalities that have been American movers and shakers. Jane reads each chapter eagerly and then passes it to me, entertaining the babies so I can have my turn. I’m learning as much as she is.
There is much here to fire the imagination:
(Jane, reading over my shoulder: “Do the bit about the shot tower, Mom!”)
The second problem [with building tall buildings; the first problem, how to get people up to higher floors, was solved by the elevator]—how to hold up the building—began to be solved when James Bogardus and others had used cast iron for their Buyers’ Palaces. No longer was it necessary to build a tall building like a pyramid, with thick supporting walls on the lower floors. Cast-iron construction helped the department stores keep the lower floors wide open, with broad vistas and narrow pillars, allowing attractive show windows in between. But iron construction also made it possible to build higher and higher. Soon an eight-story building like Stewart’s Cast Iron Palace would seem small.
Bogardus himself constructed one of the first buildings of true skyscraper design. Its frame was a tall iron cage. If the cage was strong and rigid, and solidly anchored at the bottom, then the building could go up high without needing thick walls at the bottom. This was ‘skeleton’ construction. The building was held up, not by wide foundations at the bottom, but by its own rigid skeleton.
The first time Bogardus actually tried this, his structure did not have any rooms at all. It was a skeleton-framed tower for an ammunition factory. In those days lead shot was made by pouring molten lead through a sieve inside a high tower. The little liquid balls of lead dripped through, a few at a time. As these plummeted down through the air they became naturally rounded. And as they fell into the tank of water at the bottom they hardened into their rounded shape—ready for use in a rifle or a cannon.
In 1855, when the McCullough Shot and Lead Company needed a new shot tower in New York City, Bogardus gave them his radical new design. He built them an octagonal iron tower eight stories high. A tall iron cage, it needed no filled-in, weight-bearing walls to hold it up. Yet it was strong. When the openings in the iron frame were covered with brick, it served just as well as any heavy column of stone.
There is ample fodder here for the “ideas to ponder and discuss” part of our Rule of Six!
The edition I have contains both volumes of Boorstin’s text, with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution sandwiched between them. Several Amazon marketplace sellers have listed older editions of the book—most of them, I think, are offering the individual volumes. Volume 1 is “From Plymouth to Appomatox” and Volume 2 is “From Appomatox to the Moon.”
Another great history read is Jennifer Armstrong’s The American Story, but that’s a subject for another review!