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June 2005
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August 2005

Kid Lit Masala

Here's a cool bibliography  I've been meaning to link  for a long time: South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora in Children's Literature. The extensive work-in-progress is compiled by Pooja Makhijani, an editor at Weekly Reader and the author of the picture book Mama's Saris, due out next spring. She also edited the anthology Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race in America,  and blogs  at DesiLit Daily.

The bibliography is quite a resource; each book Makhijani lists comes with a description, too. The following comes from the picture book category:

Elephant Dance: Remembering India
Theresa Heine, Illustrated by Sheila Moxley
Grandfather tells many stories about his native India in answer to Ravi and Anjali's questions, such as the tale of a procession of elephants on the feast of Divaali when he was a boy.

Original link via Moorishgirl.

Middle School Advice

All the middle-schoolers around here seem to be spending their summer flirting or waiting to flirt.  And why not? They swing on the swings at the playground in a desultory fashion, scuffing their feet and casing out who's at the concession stand. The arcs between studied nonchalance and  madcap giggling must be exhausting. Maybe they'll want a good book at the end of the day; maybe they'll want to instant-message everyone they know about what happened or didn't happen at the park. If it's the first case scenario, the Detroit Free Press can help. See its list of post-Potter recs here.

Troll World

The Times (of London)  critic Amanda Craig finds much to like in  the work of Katherine Langrish, the author of Troll Fell. Craig's reviews are brimming with intelligence. Here's a bit from her look at Langrish's latestTroll Mill:

All children between the ages of 7 and 9 have to study the Vikings in history lessons, and few fail to become fascinated by their melancholy mixture of violence and culture, which form part of our deepest literary roots. Too many children get a whiff of this world only through the secondary world created by Tolkien, who used many of its myths and customs to create the world of The Lord of the Rings. Yet until very recently, the beliefs and customs of this infinitely intriguing society were ignored by children’s writers. Of all of them, Langrish comes closest in describing what it must have been like to farm and fish and grow up in those times, and her work is rooted in a natural landscape no less convincing because it contains the supernatural.

Note: Langrish's books are  available in the United States. Troll Fell was included in the New York Public Library's Children's Books, 2004: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, which you can order from the NYPL for three dollars or so. I can't tell from the description if it's just a list or a pamphlet.

This Land Is Your Land

Summer is library book sale season in New England,  and today I went fishing for treasures and got completely carried away.  Again. Under my too-large stack of children's titles, I weaved down the sidewalk to the car, stopping along the way for a cold Coca-Cola because I needed some quick energy.  I'm coming awfully close to literary stage mother. Again. Wheeeeeee, look at all these great books for me, myself, moi my son, wheeeeeee!

That said, my best find was the anthology From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs. The illustrations are by Caldecott winners and honorees. So now not only can I treat my family to my reading "Paul Revere's Ride" and "Brer Rabbit in Mr. Man's Garden,"  I can also bewitch them by pounding out  "The Rock Island Line" on the piano. And please don't tell me anyone would rather hear Dan Zanes' version of "Rock Island Line." I won't believe it. What happened? Why is everyone running from the room with his hands over his ears?

At the sale I also couldn't resist the paperback The Dumb Bunnies' Easter, written by Sue Denim and illustrated by Dav Pilkey, because it had a medallion on the front cover that said, "This book is TOO DUMB to win an award." One of the endorsements on the back quoted Kirkus Reviews, "Let's not elevate this by calling it wit." Both of those quotations tickled me. My son was happy to get a copy of Max and Ruby's First Greek Myth: Pandora's Box. Since he's already read all the Edith Hamilton, we might as well move on to Max and Ruby. Ha. He's  new to mythology, and I think  some beloved characters can introduce him to it.

I vow not to get carried away at book sales any more. I'm going to buy only wonderful  things in pristine condition  if I buy anything at all. Really.

They Like to Move It Move It

Are you the aunt or uncle of  a little mover and shaker? Then check out a thorough writeup of Wiggle, by Doreen Cronin (of Click, Clack, Moo fame), at  The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

Other fun things to look for in the Bulletin's online July issue are a list of books about quackers  (to which I'd add Jez Alborough's Duck in the Truck series and, of course, McCloskey's  Make Way for Ducklings) and a profile of the writer Claire B. Dunkle (The Hollow Kingdom) . The Bulletin's duck collector  no doubt omitted Make Way because it's so well-known.

Hangin' Ten with Sci Fi

Dude, how did I miss the review of The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens, over at the LA Times? How random of me. Lo siento. The anthology was edited by Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. You know Jane Yolen. If you don't know Jane Yolen, make her acquaintance. The person who wrote the review is a blogger by the name of Anne Boles Levy. Duuuuuuuude, whoa, a blogger.

Warning: do not follow the link for Ms. Levy's blog  published by the LA Times; it won't, like,  take you anywhere.

In the Meme Time

QB at Quiet Bubble tagged me with this meme.  I enjoy his take on Jackson, Miss., and all things literary. Here goes.

1. What are three of the stupidest things you’ve done in your life?
a. During my second week at college, I said, “Yes,” when a young man from the Southwest asked me if I knew how to shoot tequila.
b. I turned down an invitation to membership in my high school’s math honorary club.
c. I shot the bird at a rednecky car passing me on I-40 East.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life? My family.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?
a. My great aunt Mary Frank:
Because I miss her so much and because she would make everyone feel at home. Plus, she would probably bring something delicious that she cooked. I could listen to her stories about College Grove all night.
b. Anne Moody: To say that her book, Coming of Age in Mississippi, opened my eyes is an understatement. I still have my tattered copy that I bought at the Jackson Mall.
c. Harper Lee: I’m not sure how well literary recluses do at dinner parties, but I think my aunt would get her to talking.
d. J.D. Salinger: What the heck.
e. Alvin Ailey: He founded my favorite dance company ever. Plus, I'd have to sneak in James Marshall, the wonderful children's book author. Like Alvin Ailey, he grew up in the Lone Star State, so they could talk Texas.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
To play bass in a funk band. To spend  summers in Madrid with my family. To be able to draw really well.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.
a. I regret that my town doesn’t have more affordable restaurants that actually serve good food. More ethnic eateries would be especially appreciated. I also wish it had more sidewalks so that you could get all over town just by walking.
b. Avoid I-95. Ugh. Also, avoid thinking that everyone here is like the Type A commuter on the 6:35 a.m. train.

6. Name one event that has changed your life. I wrote to a magazine I always wanted to work for, and someone from there called me and asked me to come interview.

7. Tag five other people. Bartography, Book MootOriginal Content, Big A little a, and Poppins Classical Academy.


Amazin' Radio Find

Hiking around  the Internet this morning, I made the most awesome discovery: a radio program called "Recess!," which is rife with children's book recommendations. It's produced by the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM. Go, Gators.

I admire the program's mission statement. The site says,

"It is impossible at present for interested adults to find this extraordinary range of material in a place that is readily available to them. But if we wish to improve the quality of what we produce as a society for our children, we must construct places where adults can find material about children's culture, that formative  confluence of the arts and literature, of folklore and the oral tradition, of historical and biographical, social and imaginative forces -- that  are so significant to all of us in our lives."

Amen to that.

I listened to a segment on Ted Lewin's book about Macchu Picchu, which I'll look for on my next visit to the library. I can't wait to hear more.

Yahoo "Chicken Spaghetti" Recipe Seekers

Greetings, cooks! This post is not at all about books, my usual subject. I want to say "Welcome" to those folks who are looking for chicken spaghetti recipes. I don't have any.  I want to post one, but my source is "travelling" or "has no comment" or something equally evasive.

My blog covers books for children, and I use the kid-friendly name Chicken Spaghetti. But it  isn't about food, although I love chicken spaghetti casserole.  I know that Yahoo turns up this site when you do a search, so I'm posting a link to RecipeSource, a vast and fabulous online collection. Please click here. And do stay and read awhile, too; I'm happy that you stopped by.