Sunday, October 28, 2007

Books for the Beast

Yesterday I attended Books for the Beast in Baltimore with the Youth Services team. The first speaker was author Gail Giles who gave a fabulous talk. Knowing that she would be there, I read What happened to Cass McBride? last week. I haven't read that sort of suspense/horror in a while (though once upon a time I was a devout follower of Christopher Pike) but I actually really liked it. I liked that the ending was realistic, that there were psychological consequences for both the victim and the bad guy. So I was happy when Gail talked about the open endedness of her books. She compared an open ending to an untied shoe; it's going to bother you all day and change your behavior. A tied shoe, however, doesn't get a second thought. I thought it was a good analogy, one that both the adults and the teens in the audience could understand.

After the first speaker we had breakout groups to discuss the books we read with the teens. My first group was Fantasy/Science Fiction. It was a pretty good discussion but there weren't any actual teens in the group. In my afternoon group we discussed "Real Life" fiction and there was only one teen in that group. I wish there had been more kids so that the conversation wasn't so dominated by adult opinion. I'm pretty sure I came off as the class curmudgeon in both of my groups since I was the only one who seemed to strongly dislike some of the selections. Most people seemed enamoured with the writing in Black Juice by Margo Lanagan. While there I am going grumble grumble grumble. Then everyone is nodding along about liking Jason & Kyra and I am the obnoxious kid in the back going "If one of those characters called something 'tight' one more time I was going to scream."

After the groups we had Mark Siegel, the Editorial Director of Roaring Brook Press’s graphic novel imprint, First Second. He came off as incredibly intelligent, the kind of person you'd love to have a one on one conversation with. But his speech was rather dry for a crowd that had already been sitting around all day. After that it was time to grab dessert and head back to Arlington.

Did I mention I had to get up at 6 in the morning and slog through the pouring rain to my car so I could be at Central by 7:30. And that my socks were wet all day! I had a great time but, oh man, was I exhausted!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Picture Book of the Week

If Harold and the Purple Crayon and David Weisner's The Three Pigs had a baby the product would be Scribble by Deborah Freedman. The book begins with two sisters getting into a tiff over their drawings. But the drawings quickly take on a life of their own. It's a fun story with wonderful illustrations. Plus, there's a great bit about how kitties can't marry princesses (but they do anyway). So there! Hehe.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Outing Dumbledore

So apparently Rowling told an a group of fans at Carnegie Hall that Dumbledore is gay. First I thought, cool. Then I wondered, is it a cop out that Dumbledore is not out in the books, that only now after making her millions is Rowling saying Dumbledore is gay? Finally I decided the whole thing annoys me. I know there's tons of kids out there with all these questions about the tiniest details of the wizarding world, but I kind of hate hearing about what Harry's doing twenty years later and such. I'm the type of reader who likes to draw connections on my own. (I always did love English class a bit too much.) I want to be able to figure things out from my own reading. But I realize that the completeness of the world Rowling has created is part of the appeal of Harry Potter. So maybe I have no right to be annoyed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


After all the bad movie versions of children's books this gives me hope. I cannot wait!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What I'm reading now

I just finished reading Magic's Child by Justine Larbalestier. It's the last book in her Magic or Madness trilogy. In the first book 15 year old Reason is sent to live with the Grandmother she has been taught all her life to detests after her mother goes insane and attempts suicide. Once at her ancestral home Reason learns that she posses a magic that is real and powerful. So powerful, that to refuse to use it drives a magical person insane. In this last book Reason finds herself pregnant and irreversibly altered by the magic of a powerful ancestor. Larbalestier tries to explain magic in a way that makes it plausible. It's an interesting concept, one that has kept me reading the trilogy (well, that plus the adorable Aussie speak). However, I think my problem with the series is that so much writing is spend rooting magic in the real world and too little is spent on developing the plot. By this last book the plot felt remarkably thin. I would have to say the series gets a solid three stars from me. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either.

Next up I'm trying to finish Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson. I'm having trouble getting into it but that may just be the changing gears between fantasy and high school drama.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poetry Friday: Morning Song

It seems all of a sudden I know a bunch of people who are having babies. I admit that every once in while I think, oh a baby, I want one. And then I remember that that's the same kind of thoughts I had about Emerson and then we adopted him and now I'm stuck with a needy dog that sheds everywhere. Plus, all I need is a particularly crazy story-time with a bunch of cranky two year olds to remind me that I'd rather wait a bit for kids. So, this Poetry Friday I want to dedicate Sylvia Plath's Morning Song to the new mommies and new mommies-to-be I know.

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

For the rest go here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Picture Book of the Week: Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle by Pija Lindenbaum

Mini Mia (So called because of her love of soccer. Her real name is Ella) loves hanging out with her darling uncle Tommy. But when her uncle's new friend Fergus shows up Mia is not happy. Not wanting to share her uncle, Mia does her best to send Fergus packing back to Scotland. Without teaching a "very important lesson" the book explores Mia's feelings of anger and jealousy. I loved that Mini Mia's emotions rather than Tommy and Fergus' relationship is point of the story. This one is by far my favorite picture book of the week!

Friday, October 05, 2007

I'm almost glad they won't share the same title!

Interesting interview with Susan Cooper on NPR. I am pretty sure that I am not going to see The Seeker (the new title of The Dark is Rising movie). When I saw the movie commercial I didn't even recognize it as The Dark is Rising. I understand movies and books are two different mediums and things that work in books might not work on film. But still, sometimes I think movie studios set out to destroy beloved books!