Sep 18, 2007

Lucky Me

While driving to Annapolis on the weekend my mind wandered to The Higher Power of Lucky or more accurately to the book’s author, Susan Patron. Many, many years ago I worked in sales and marketing for the Children’s Book Division of an academic wholesaler, and got to meet lots of great children’s librarians and talk with them about books. (I was supposed to discuss how they bought books and suggest they buy books from my company but often found myself talking about what books we liked and why – that was way more interesting!) One of those librarians was Susan Patron. I met her only a couple of times, but because I found her dedicated and serious about her work with children and books, and also engaging, funny and smart, her name stuck with me. When she began getting published I naturally wanted to read her books because I thought she would be a good writer and I had a mad passion for Susan’s first publisher, Orchard Books. I continued reading and enjoying her books, right up through the one chosen as the year’s “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Lucky readers.

Sep 17, 2007

Support SKILLS

Last week there were some posts on the ALSC list serv urging support of the SKILLS Act as part of the reauthorization of NCLB. The acronym SKILLS stands for Strengthening Kids Interest in Learning and Libraries, an effort certainly worthy of support. Today, I finally made time to write my state representative and senators. The Teacher-Librarian Division of the Arizona Library Association made this easy for someone like me by providing sample letters and simple language to understand the meaning and benefit of the act. Reach this useful link by clicking here.. It’s one way of celebrating September 2007 as “Adopt a School Library Month.” lc

The First of Many Posts

Here's something that makes me worry that I'm not the writer that my 10-year-old self imagined me to be: I never take the time to actually write!

When faced with the urge to make a post here (and also, urged by Laurina to do so), I can think of about a thousand other things I should be doing instead - like working on one of our clients' websites, packing for our upcoming RV adventure or going to get a Rita's water ice (something from Philadelphia that I'm really going to miss, BTW.)

But I do have things to say about children's books! Seems when you're in this universe, you just hear and see things all the time that are pertinent. Saturday I went with my sister Jean and her kids, my beloved Kyra and Keane, to an Autism Walk at the school where she teaches. While we took turns chasing Mr. Speed Keane around, we talked...she always gives me the update on the kids because she knows I want to hear EVERYTHING.

Anyway, she told me about something she'd done to get Kyra to finish her dinner and it made me laugh so much I wanted to share it. She put Kyra's little pile of corn in the bottom of a large mixing bowl and said "Look! You can eat your corn out of Papa Bear's bowl!"

It worked, and it worked because Kyra L-O-V-E-S books and sure knows her fairy tales. Next time Jean thinks she'll try using Little Red Riding Hood's basket...

And, just to prove that it's all connected, we just received a copy of Jan Brett's newest: The Three Snow Bears. It's an Inuit version from the good people at Putnam.

Sep 12, 2007

Parades and the Zoo

Picture books featuring a spontaneous parade are not a new idea but The Great Doughnut Parade written and illustrated by Rebecca Bond (Houghton Mifflin) seems wholly original. Billy and his doughnut collect all manner of people and animals, rendered in watercolors with an old-fashioned senisibility, the white space becoming more and more crowded as the story builds. It's a delighted and delightful bunch, "all jumbled and tumbled with snortles of laughter,"and you can see how the language captures the pure joy of the assembly. Billy happily slips away for his original purpose; a quiet fit ending. Why do I like this picture book so much? The simplicity of the story, its spirit aand joy, and language that begs to be read aloud.

Adam Rex made me laugh out loud with Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (Harcourt) and my 9 year old nephew thought it was one of the best books I've given him. His new title, Pssst! (Harcourt) is funny in the same dry humor kind of way. A young girl visits the zoo and as she walks through various animals request different things -- odd things -- from her, bats want flashlights, penguins ask for brightly colored paint, and sloths need bicycle helmuts. "Lucklily there was a store across the street that sold everything." What all this is actually used for is a surprise (believe me!) The conversation with each animal always begins with "Pssst!" and a page of dialogue panels follows. Alternating are two-page spreads of line drawings and limited spot color, showing the girl meandering through the zoo. The signage is hilarious, though some of the references may be lost on kids. Look for "Camel-lot" and "I am the Walrus (koo-koo-kachoo)" What an inventive lark!