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May 2005
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July 2005

Expecting Potter, Need Book

For the kiddos  waiting for Harry Potter, this week the American Library Association released a  list of alternatives to tide them over. The Wizard of Oz, Artemis Fowl, and The Hobbit all turn up. Ho hum.  The Hobbit's author is printed as J.R.R. "Tolkein," with a publication date of 2001. Oh, dear. That's Tolkien. 1937.

Hey, ALA! Maybe somebody needs to get up a little earlier to make the coffee. NPR beat you to this by more than a month, boosting Whales on Stilts, by M.T. Anderson, onto the bestseller list. The NPR site offers audio and print excerpts of the recommended titles, too.

Book Biz Up North

If you're a Canadian in the book business, you're in Toronto this weekend, eh? The city hosts BookExpo Canada June 24-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. One of the featured speakers at the Children's Author Lunch is Jacqueline Wilson, the U.K.'s new children's laureate.

The U.S.  lit bloggers blogged BookExpo America, which took place in New York a few weeks ago, like crazy. If you know anyone who's blogging BEC, do list 'em in the Comment section or send me an e-mail at c_spaghetti[at]yahoo[dot]com. (Replace the bracketed information with the real thing.)

Cam Jansen's Portraitist

David A. Adler and Susanna Natti know Cam Jansen well. Really well. Adler writes the books about the freckle-faced sleuth, and Natti illustrates them. But the two have never met. The Boston Globe's profile of Natti sheds some light on author-illustrator collaboration. (Registration required.) Adler tells a reporter,

''I wonder how Cam Jansen feels having 'parents' who didn't even speak to each other for the first 15 years or so of their working relationship," Adler said in a telephone interview from his home in New York. ''Nonetheless, I have real respect and admiration for Susanna's work and talent and hope we continue to work together for a long time."

Cam Jansen mysteries (24 and counting)  are for the reader who is making the transition from easy books to chapter books. David A. Adler's  Young Cam books, which Susanna Natti also illustrates, are for younger readers (K-2).

Erdrich (again) and Mason

To continue with baseball metaphors...Batting third and fourth for the 92nd Street Y's 2005-2006 reading series are Louise Erdrich and Bobbie Ann Mason. While it's more than likely that Erdrich will read from her works for adults (versus her Birchbark House books), she and Ms. Mason ought to be a team worth hearing on September 26th.  We're assuming Bobbie Ann Mason will read from An Atomic Romance, her latest. You know Bobbie Ann Mason. She's the Kentuckian, published in The New Yorker, who gets the  "K-Mart fiction" epithet  hurled at her on occasion. But not by me. I like her short stories especially.

Billy Collins and Garrison Keillor lead off  with readings from their poetry anthologies on September 19th . Take the #4, #5, or #6 train to Manhattan's Upper East Side for the series at the 92nd Street Y.

Batter Up

If you have an under-10  sports fan in your house, chances are that you know the work of Dan Gutman. His novels take up a whole shelf and more in many school libraries, and the Baseball Card Adventure series, in particular,  comes recommended by Guys Read. One of the books in that series, Honus and Me, takes to the stage next summer (that's 2006) in an adaptation by the playwright Steven Dietz.

So your Little Leaguer can read the book now and be ready for next year's  play—and a trip to Chelsea, Michigan, home of Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theatre Company and the scene of Honus and Me's summer run. (Honus and Me premieres at the Seattle Children's Theatre at spring training time,  next March.) Keep an eye on your local theater's schedule; Dietz's play looks to be quite popular for the 2005-2006 season.

Writers seeking inspiration will do well to check out  Dan Gutman's entertaining rejection letters for Honus and Me on his web site.

King of the Audio Book

The realm  of books on tape has its royalty, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

If Jim Dale would just keep quiet, maybe he could get through a crowd more easily without being stopped.

But as soon as he speaks, some little kid invariably turns, eyes wide and mouth agape, begging, "Do Dobby for me!" Or, "Say it like Dumbledore!"

After years on Broadway and four Drama Desk awards, after a career as a pop singer and Shakespearean actor, it is audio books that have made Jim Dale a household word.

Go, Big Blue

The University of Michigan sounds like my kind of place. Never mind that I"m a wee bit too old to live in the freshman dorms. A program at the school recruits students to write and illustrate children's books. Read more at The Ann Arbor News; the end of the article includes new titles by or about Michiganders.

The Sunday Papers, June 19

Highlighted Reviews

The Game of Silence,  by Louise Erdrich. The  latest in a series that began with The Birchbark House tells the Native American side of The Little House on the Prairie era. The New York Times Book Review takes a look at Game this morning.  F.Y.I., Erdrich (perhaps most famous for her novel The Beet Queen) and her sister founded a bookstore in Minneapolis called Birchbark House, which celebrated its fifth anniversary yesterday. (Registration required for both the New York Times  and the St. Paul Pioneer-Press links.)

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. This week I got all misty-eyed over the story of two male penguins who hatch and raise a penguin chick together; it's essentially a  lovely adoption tale. The New York Times Book Review says, "And Tango Makes Three is bound to raise eyebrows, but for those of us eager to encourage our children to include, rather than exclude, it's a welcome addition to the library of families." (Is there a whiff of moral superiority in that Times quote, or do I have peanut butter on my upper lip?)

I looked for other good reviews for y'all, but this week everyone is carried away with Michael Cunningham, 1776, and Melissa Bank's sophomore effort, The Wonder Spot, i.e, books for adults. It happens.