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October 2005
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December 2005

A Whit About the Whitbread

The Guardian graciously links its reviews of the Whitbread prize nominees here.

Thanks to the kid-lit blogger Big A little A, I discovered that only one of titles in the children's category—Hilary McKay's Permanent Rose—is available in the States. I've not read any of the Whitbread books, but  Big A little a took a look at McKay's novel earlier this year.

Mo Willems Wants Your Bid

The children's literature blogger Book Moot reminds us  about Mo (Knuffle Bunny) Willems's online auction, which is raising funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Pop over and take a look. Speaking of Knuffle Bunny, we read it here at the Chicken Coop this summer and enjoyed it thoroughly. Willems's picture book combines cartoons and photography to tell the story of a tiny girl and her beloved stuffed animal. The joke is on the tiny girl's daddy in this tale set in Brooklyn.

National Book Awards 2005

Here are the winners of the 2005 National Book Awards, which were announced last night:

Young People's Literature
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Europe Central by William T. Vollmann (Viking)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf)

Migration: New and Selected Poems by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)

A tip of the hat goes to the American Booksellers Association, who posted the winners online  before the National Book Foundation (the sponsor of the awards) drank its coffee this morning. (Late night, folks?)  For a story, and a photo of Jeanne Birdsall and Joan Didion, see CBS News. 

High Grades in Science

Joy Hakim, well-known for her history series, is now writing middle-school science text books and getting high marks for them. USA Today's Greg Toppo reports,

Hakim (pronounced HAKE-im) already has legions of admirers for her best-selling American history series, A History of US. Now she is making fans of science teachers, who praise both her scholarship and her ability to make difficult subjects comprehensible.

"The science is impeccable," says Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association. Wheeler, who has written a college physics textbook, says Hakim's writing "takes advantage of the power of story, but it's also quite sophisticated. She has refused to lower the bar."

Whitbread Shortlist

The shortlist for the U.K.'s 2005 Whitbread book awards has been announced. The Financial Times runs a story, and you can access the whole list of nominees at the Whitbread web site, which gives nice summaries of the books as well.  Expect to hear who wins on January 4, 2006.

2005 Whitbread Children’s Book Award shortlist

  • Frank Cottrell Boyce, Framed (Macmillan)
  • Geraldine McCaughrean, The White Darkness (Oxford University Press)
  • Hilary McKay, Permanent Rose (Hodder Headline)
  • Kate Thompson, The New Policeman (The Bodley Head)

Et Alia

The author Chris Van Allsburg expounds on the movie version of his picture book  Zathura. Link:  North

Jared Lee, You're Different and That's Super's illustrator, talks about collaborating with the author, Carson Kressley of TV's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Link: Cincinnati Enquirer

"The Art of Dr. Seuss" exhibit at the Austin Museum of Art runs through January 15th. Link: AMOA

Lit blogger MoorishGirl is exasperated, to say the least. (She has good reviews of her short story collection, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, to console her.)

Sunday Reviews...on Tuesday

The children's book of the week at the Sunday TimesThe Wizard, the Ugly and the Book of Shame, by Pablo Bernasconi, an Argentinian artist. 'Tis fantasy, my dears, for the fives to eights. In her review, Nicolette Jones also mentions an interesting-sounding guide to recent kids' books in translation; the title is Outside In.

Newsday considers Adam Gopnik's novel The King in the Window and finds that the New Yorker writer " is no J.K. Rowling." The San Francisco Chronicle ran a profile of Gopnik last week. He's a fan of Lemony Snicket, it turns out. Last but not least on the Gopnik front, the author writes about C.S. Lewis and Narnia in the current issue of The New Yorker. Well, almost last but not least. See below.

Cornelia Funke's Inkspell leads off at the Washington Post, and  a re-issue of Lois Lenski's 1948 picture book Now It's Fall "harks back to a time when picture books reflected a simpler life," according to Elizabeth Ward.

A pre-holiday kid-book hullabaloo at The New York Times Book Review wraps up the editorship of  Eden Ross Lipson, who recently retired. (Sam Tanenhaus is still the overall editor of the Book Review.) Do read this online if you don't have a copy. A number of talented writers  examine many of the year's notable children's books; reviewers include Daniel Handler (a.k.a., Lemony Snicket), Sam Swope, Karla Kuskin, Eric Foner, Paul O. Zelinsky, David Leavitt, Polly Shulman, Meg Wolitzer, and Leonard Marcus. I've picked on the NYTBR once or twice (how bloggerish of me), but, really, this is an awesome group.

The titles reviewed concern the Holocaust, the Revolutionary War, the Gold Rush, women's suffrage, apple pie, quilts, John Lennon, and, yes, chickens. Plus, there's a lovely spread of the Book Review's "10 best illustrated children's books of 2005." The illustrator David Small explains Istvan Banyai's picture book The Other Side: "Flip a page and the macrocosm became the microcosm again and again, as if reality had sprung a series of leaks." Small recommends the book to older children. Older than yours truly, I presume, because the book confused me. At least there's still hope.

In this issue, the NYTBR talks about books by, among others,  Wynton Marsalis, Jon Agee, Carl Hiaasen, Betsy Maestro, Jacqueline Woodson, Rick Riordan, Cynthia Rylant, and  again with the Gopnik.

Advice for the Chicago Tribune (Not That It Asked for Any)

Hello, operator? Get me the art department. Last week, when I was all over the map for various and sundry reasons, I had a longish layover in Chicago, which gave me the chance to read the Trib's "Children's Corner" book reviews in the paper instead of online. How cheerful and inviting they look in print! Covering about a third of a page on the second page of the Sunday book section, the writeups feature corresponding illustrations from the reviewed books.  Perhaps something can be done to make Mary Harris Russell's nicely succinct blurbs look as attractive online as they do in the newspaper.