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August 2005
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October 2005

Jakers, It's Jacques!

The Oregonian chats with Redwall author Brian Jacques, who is currently book-touring the Beaver state. The journalist Jeff Baker writes,

Jacques wrote all kinds of stories, poems and plays and wrote the first "Redwall" book for the children of the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind. He made sure his writing was descriptive so the children could picture it and was surprised when his old English teacher sent the book to a publisher without telling him. Two dozen books later, Jacques is still having the time of his life.

Fall Book Weeks

Here is some hoopla I need to get out of the way.

U.K. National Children's Book Week, October 3-7 . You remember Britain's Children's Laureate, right?

TD Canada Children's Book Week, October 29-November 5. Theme:  "Read Canada's Best." Every Grade 1 kid in Canada receives Dennis Lee's Alligator Stew. Also, a children's book award will be announced. TD is a bank, in case you were wondering; I don't believe that Canada has changed its name. If TD would like to sponsor my blog, however, I will rename it "TD Chicken Spaghetti," and I, too, will host a children's book week.

U.S.A. Children's Book Week, November 14-20. Theme: "Imagine." Don't look at me. I'm not making fun of themes.

Banned Books Webcast

I was hoping to make the arduous trek into big beautiful Manhattan tonight for the Banned Books reading, but that is not to be. Given that  my son, Junior,  prefers hanging upside down on the swing set over attending far-flung literary gatherings,  I  hope to watch at least a little of Judy Blume and company on the webcast.

Muchas gracias to Media Bistro's GalleyCat for the techie alert.

Bios to Look For

The author and illustrator Don Tate II comments on picture-book biographies on his blog, Devas T Rants and Raves!; you'll pick up some good ideas from his list.

Wilma Unlimited
, a biography of the great track star Wilma Rudolph, is the first one that  I want to read with my son. I still remember the song from "Wilma," a TV movie directed by Bud Greenspan: "I just want to be a Tigerbelle." Rudolph, an Olympic gold-medalist, ran for the Tennessee State Tigerbelle team in college.

Mindy at The Proper Noun bkjrnl, a new blog, reviewed Wilma Unlimited recently, too. Don't you love it when the Web works like that!

Elsewhere on his site, Don Tate posts a tribute to the late Toni Trent Parker.

Thanks to Chris at  Bartography for the link to Don Tate's blog. (Is everybody in Austin writing books for children?)

Live from Botswana: Wild Animals!

The National Geographic WildCam is rocking my world this week, broadcasting live digital video from the Pete's Pond watering hole, at the Mashatu Reserve, in Botswana. It's a kids' book come to life, with elephants, giraffes, monkeys, zebras, and so on. Right now it's night time in Botswana, so you're not going to see much; check the peak animal-viewing times on the WildCam site. (I did see elephants once in the evening.) And, of course, you won't see catch them there all at once; you must have patience. I recommend running RealPlayer  in theater mode, so that the picture takes up the whole computer screen.

To supplement the WildCam viewing by younger kids, I'd choose Verna Aardema's Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, and I'll also look for  Rachel Isadora's South African Night at the library. In contrast, Somewhere in Africa, about a boy in busy Cape Town, shows city life. I've read only Aardema's picture book, but the other two have nice reviews.

Mexican-American Literature for Children

Pam Muñoz Ryan's Becoming Naomi León, a novel for intermediate readers, won the 2004 Tomás Rivera Award.  A group of professors at Texas State created  the annual  Rivera prizes ten years ago to honor children's books that accurately portray the lives of Mexican-Americans, with the thought that the group was under-represented in literature for kids.

The San Marcos Daily Record reports,

"The first year of the award, out of approximately 5,000 new children's books published, only eight or so qualified," [Judy] Leavell [Texas State professor] said. "Now in its tenth year, the numbers have increased to (just under) 50, but there's still a need for publishers to do more to see that more examples of this literature are produced."

To celebrate ten years of the Rivera awards, Texas State hosts a weekend of festivities, including a showing of art work by previous winners, October 28-29. The exhibit will continue through December 11.

A list of previous winners, including Gary Soto's picture book Chato's Kitchen, can be found on the Austin Public Library's site.

Banned Books Event. You're invited.

Another invitation for all of us. Yippee! This free New York event, below, is part of  Banned Books Week.

Who: Judy Blume, Deborah Hautzig, Robert Lipsyte, Walter Dean Myers, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Peter Sís, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

What: Reading from banned and challenged works for children.

When: Thursday, Sept. 29,  at 6 p.m.

Where: Donnell Library Center Auditorium, 20 W. 53rd St., NYC., 212.621.0619.

The artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese  created a site-specific installation, "Free Speech Zone," at Donnell (running through Oct. 3), and they will be talking prior to the authors' presentations.

Always call ahead to make sure any event is proceeding as planned.

Thank you to Fran Manushkin & Susan Kuklin (Co-chairs,  PEN Children’s/Young Adult Committee) for sending along the reminder.

"Bookish Assistance" for Children, no. 2

Here's a concrete way to help some folks who had to leave their homes and re-locate because of Katrina and now, possibly, Rita. (I rounded up a bunch of brand-newish books at the local Goodwill, where such treasures turn up frequently.)  Colleen Mondor, a contributor to the literary blog & magazine Bookslut, sent us the following:

As you may have read in Bookslut a couple of weeks ago, (where I am a regular contributor) I am trying to build support for donations down South. I am currently working with a group in Baton Rouge to help some children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Josh Causey and his group at Parkview Baptist Church are spending their time with children sheltered with their families at Southern University. They are doing arts and crafts, playing games and reading books. The program is expanding to other shelters and includes after school tutoring.  I have set up wishlists for the kids at Amazon, but I'm hoping that authors, illustrators, reviewers and comic creators and publishers will also consider donating a few titles.  The children cover all ages and all interests - at this point, I think they would be thrilled with any gift.

The Amazon wish lists are here. Books and games should be sent to

Josh Causey
Parkview Baptist Church
11795 Jefferson Highway Baton Rouge, LA 70816

Colleen Mondor has reviewed young adult titles for Bookslut.