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March 2006

2nd Carnival of Children's Literature Announcement. NEW DATE.

On Monday, March 6th, Chicken Spaghetti hosts the second Carnival of Children's Literature. (Please note the new date. The later March date  was just too long to wait for. St. Patrick's Day will still be celebrated here on the 17th. Don't worry. I've been practicing the bagpipes.) Please send your Carnival submissions by Friday, March 3rd. Spread the word!

Chicken Spaghetti seeks links: blog entries from readers, writers, artists, illustrators, teachers, playwrights, academics, poets, home-schoolers, book reviewers, school-schoolers, editors, moms, dads, agents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, librarians, scientists, all  fans and/or critics of kids' books. One submission per person is grand.

All posts pertaining to children's books, poems, and plays will be considered. Because the staff and I tend to get carried away at carnivals, state fairs, and hoopla-filled events—we eat too much cotton candy and waste our money on silly games—this carnival will be an editors' choice carnival. (Otherwise, we'll ride every ride in town over and over, and throw a major tantrum when it's time to go home.)  Posts about non-fiction for children are particularly appreciated because, well, non-fiction needs its day at the fair, too. Poetry is another good subject. And information on children's reference guides (what's your favorite?)  would be stupendous.

Information to include:

Your name
The title of the post
The name of your blog
The post's URL
Your blog's URL

Send your submissions to


The first person to submit a post wins a prize.

"All-of-a-Kind" Essay

The author Melanie Rehak, whose recent subjects include Nancy Drew, revisits another childhood favorite, Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind-Family. Rehak's  wonderful essay runs in the latest edition of the online magazine Nextbook: A Gateway to Jewish Literature, Culture & Ideas. She writes,

In the same way that Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books have enraptured generations of young readers with their descriptions of the sacrifices the Ingalls family makes in order to forge a better life for themselves in a strange new part of their country, Taylor's books bring their readers along on another odyssey, one of assimilation in the promised land that America represented to European immigrants at the turn of the century.

All-of-a-Kind Family is still in print.  (See Powell's bookstore.) Another piece and a podcast at Nextbook consider Allan Sherman, of "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" fame.

Carnival of Children's Literature (Head Thataway)

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Here in the Bonny Glen for the first Carnival of Children's Literature. A carnival is a roundup of blog posts, and I can't wait to read the whole shebang over at Melissa Wiley's site.

UPDATE. New date for the Second Carnival Carnival of Children's Lit: March 6th. Submissions due March 3rd. (There will still be a party at Chicken Spaghetti on St. Patrick's Day.) On Friday, March 17th, Chicken Spaghetti will host the 2nd Carnival of Children's Literature right here. The theme is blarney. No, not really. There's no theme, just fun and green beer. And green lemonade for the wee ones.  Come one, come all, send me your links. Entries are due by Saturday, March 11th.  One post per person, unless you're Kevin Henkes. Then I'll take two. Items to leave in the car for this go-round include the dog (we'll crack the windows), tributes to Celine Dion, and overly political and religious posts. Cats are welcome because everyone knows how well cats do at fairs. On second thought, leave the cat in the car, too. More details to come.


Let It Snow

Blizzard! Here in New England we have some snow. Earlier this morning my son Junior measured 9 inches of it. A great day to sled, drink hot chocolate, and finish making the Valentines. I only wish we still had the library copy of Snowflake Bentley, written by Jacqueline B. Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian.  Perfect reading for a day like today, Snowflake Bentley is a picture-book biography of Wilson Bentley, who was fascinated by snow as a child growing up in Vermont. He  went on to invent a method for photographing individual snowflakes.

The librarian at one local elementary school uses this book to introduce first-graders to biographies, and I can see why. It's written right at their level, and the pictures, woodcut prints, won Snowflake Bentley a Caldecott Medal back in 1998. Highly recommended.

Weather update: Looks like we got 18-20 inches of the fluffy white stuff.

Camille, who blogs about children's literature at Book Moot, wrote in with recommendation:  "A great book to pair with Snowflake Bentley is Walter Wick's Drop of Water.  His color photographs of snowflakes are astounding." Another one for the ever-growing list! Gracias.

Second Graders=Good Readers!

I have some second-grade friends who work hard at school. They know so many things, and they like to read! My pals enjoy books like the Magic Tree House series and A to Z Mysteries, and they want to read even more. Isn't that awesome! Here are some more recommendations; I asked two librarians to help me out, too. (Thank you, Ms. K. and Ms. E.)

One book I love

  • Mercy Watson to the Rescue, by Kate DiCamillo. Since you guys are reading Magic Tree House, you will find this chapter book easy. It's funny! Mercy Watson is a friendly pig who thinks about food 24/7. You could read it to first-grade and kindergarten friends or little brothers and sisters.

A series I think second-graders might like

  • The Magic School Bus Chapter Books. To me, these books look just a bit harder than Magic Tree House, but you can look at them and see for yourselves. All about science, the chapter book series is based on the original picture books by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen.

My library friends recommended the following series:

Book Sense Best Children's Books, edited by Mark Nicols, also mentions these series:  Hank the Cowdog, by Jon Erickson; Jenny Archer, by Ellen Conford; and Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's Spiderwick Chronicles.

Additional ideas, series or individual books, for this age group (7 to 9 years old) are welcome. (Please see the comments section.)

Hi to Ms. V's class!

"Curious George" Carries On

"Curious George" the movie opened today. For a list of reviews, see the Rotten Tomatoes compendium of criticism. Audrey Rock-Richardson, at the Tooele (Utah) Transcript Bulletin, writes, "It's the complete opposite of the pushy, loud-mouthed, smart-alecky stuff that dominates children's cinema."

Last year Louise Borden published her story of Curious George's creators'—Margret and H.A.  Rey's—harrowing escape from Europe during the Second World War. Titled The Journey That Saved Curious George, the book was a subject of a previous Chicken Spaghetti post.

Here's a neat article in the Concord Monitor about the Reys' life in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, where they had a summer home after coming to the U.S. (Their main home was in Cambridge, Mass.) The Reys were well-known to the children of the Waterville Valley area. When Hans was working in his studio, he would hang out a picture of a man at his desk if he was receiving small visitors. The town of Waterville Valley now owns the Reys' cottage, which is open to the public, and the cottage maintains its own blog!

Then there's a sad corollary to the current Curious George news. Allan J. Shalleck, who collaborated with Margaret Rey on film shorts and books based on them (like Curious George Goes to an Ice Cream Shop), was murdered this week in Florida. The Palm Beach Post covers the gruesome story. (Link via GalleyCat)

It's a Meme Thang

Here's a children's book meme that Big A little a started, which is making the rounds. I answered it with favorites from my own childhood, so I'm changing the tenses.  Grab it and meme away, if you would like.

What were your three favorite children's series?

1. The Hardy Boys
2. Encyclopedia Brown
3. Babar
Bonus: Curious George

What were your three favorite non-series children's books?

1. Misty of Chincoteague 
2. Heidi
3. Winnie-the-Pooh
Bonus: The Secret Garden, Little Women
What were your three favorite children's book characters?

1. Jo
2. Harriet the Spy
3. Misty, again. Neigh.

Bonus Round #1:

Q. Who wrote your least favorite childhood books?
A. Dr. Seuss

Bonus Round #2

Q. What was the saddest  moment in  your childhood reading?
A. When Beth dies in Little Women.

Bonus Round #3

Q. Which adult book scared the bejeezus out of you?
A. Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber. And what little the book didn't scare out of me, the TV movie polished off.

Carnival o' Blogs at the Bonny Glen Soon

Melissa Wiley, author and proprietor of the blog Here in the Bonny Glen, is going to host a children's literature blog carnival on February 13th. The deadline for submissions is this Saturday, February 11th.

Someone out there is saying, "A what?" Wikipedia defines blog carnival thusly, "A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area."

For the upcoming carnival, Melissa Wiley says,  "Any post related to children's books is a candidate for inclusion: book reviews, interviews, stories about reading to your kids, literary adventures in and out of the classroom, you name it. Authors and illustrators, we'd love to hear from you, too!"

More details here.