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March 2006
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May 2006

Miyazaki Blog-a-Thon

My pal Quiet Bubble has a cool idea—a Hayao Miyazaki blog-a-thon on the weekend of May 12-14. Prior to this year's  Academy Awards, there was an Altman blog-a-thon in which all kinds of blogs posted entries about film director Robert Altman's work, and Quiet Bubble has in mind something like that. He says that "neophytes and dissenters" are welcome. For details, go check QB's blog, and while you're there, read around. He's a smart and informed guy, and he writes well.

Miyazaki is a renowned anime (Japanese animation) creator and  director. Children's literature folks may know him best for the movie  "Howl's Moving Castle," which was adapted from the fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones.

From Quiet Bubble:

Over the past thirty years, there hasn’t been a more nimble, more socially conscious, more graceful, or more humane animator than Miyazaki. His oeuvre is one of the most wide-ranging and dynamic of any filmmaker—Japanese or otherwise, animator or otherwise—and yet his work is immediately recognizable. He’s written and directed slapstick comedies, social realist parables, mythological fantasies, and surreal dreamscapes.

Spread the word.

Neil Gaiman Onstage

Time Europe checks in on Neil Gaiman and the new musical version of his children's book The Wolves in the Walls. Michael Brunton writes,

As the famed creator of entire comic-book universes, Gaiman knows the importance of detail — and it is his ability to commute between them and the real world that has expanded his fan base far beyond the fantasy-fiction clichés of teen goths and pimply geeks. Whether through film adaptations of his best-selling fiction, graphic novels, children's books or screenplays, Gaiman is a hot commodity these days.

OK in Oklahoma?

Here's an update on a recent children's book skirmish in Oklahoma.  Last week Library Journal reported,

While the Oklahoma House of Representatives  voted 60 to 33 to deny state funding to libraries that don't confine gay-themed books and other age-inappropriate material to areas exclusively for adults," the bill Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) sponsored was not considered by the Democrat-dominated Senate.

An earlier Chicken Spaghetti mention of this bill and other similar controversies can be found here.

Miss Welty's Place to Receive Visitors

Switching tracks and talking about adult lit for a minute, I have to tell y'all about a big event in Jackson, Miss. Are you headed that way any time soon?  If so, then you need to know that the Eudora Welty House/ Museum officially opens next weekend, April 29-30. The previews are free on those days, and afterward one can tour for a small fee, by reservation only. For more information, I send you over to the lovely Eudora Welty Foundation. Jackson's Clarion-Ledger newspaper showcases the house and its gardens in some photographs and articles.

If you've never read a book or a short story by the renowned author, then change that, darlin'. My three recommended starting places for her work are 1. the short story "Why I Live at the P.O."; 2. the memoir One Writer's Beginnings; and 3. the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist's Daughter.

Weekend Reading 4/21

Children's book controversy (King & King, again) in Massachusetts, in the Boston Globe. See also Read Roger's take on the brouhaha. (Blogger Roger Sutton is also the editor of The Horn Book.)

"This Is My Last Entry: Why I Shut Down My Blog," by Sarah Hepola, at Slate (muchas gracias to Gail Gauthier's Original Content)

The Bangor Daily News profiles first-time author Gail Page, who wrote How to Be a Good Dog.  Daniel Pinkwater praised the picture book on NPR back in February.

A childhood love of Little Women led to a Pulitzer for Australian writer Geraldine Brooks. Story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Mystery Writers of America hand out the Edgar Awards on April 27th. Click over to the association's web site for the list of nominees, including those in the young adult and juvenile categories. (Thank you to Kids Lit for the heads up.)

Publishers Weekly gives tips on "hot" kids' books at the upcoming BookExpo America, which takes place in D.C. May 19th-21st.

"The Edge of the Forest" on Virtual Newsstands Now!

A brand new edition of The Edge of the Forest is available, and it's free! The April issue of the online magazine devoted to children's literature features a lot of good reading and some new contributors.

My pieces include a review of Sosu's Call, a report on my trip to the Weston Woods studios, and a tribute to Minerva Louise, the star of Janet Morgan Stoeke's books.  Both the Sosu's Call and the Minerva Louise articles appeared here in earlier drafts.

Go, read, enjoy.

Meme a Little Meme

Mother Reader has thrown down the gauntlet meme, and I shall pick it up.

Six Strange Things/Facts/ Habits About Me

(I wish I had a habit about me. Maybe I'd be more organized. Ahem.)

1. Before I went to college I had planned to major in International Relations. When I got there, though, I discovered that the university did not offer such a major. And never had. To think some people check these things out beforehand...

2. Right around the time of "Great Balls of Fire,"  I saw Jerry Lee Lewis at the bar in the Peabody Hotel, in Memphis.

3. The Commodores threw me their guitar pick at a concert. I still have it. Yes, they threw it to me, not at me.

4. I was a religious "All My Children" watcher for many years. I'm sure it had something to do with not being able to major in International Relations.

5. I lived in Madrid for a summer. I'd love to go back.

6. One of my childhood pets was a tomcat named Katherine.

So, if you would like to join the meme party, do pick up this one and run with it. Everyone is welcome. My meme is your meme.

Today's Picks

Since I was out of town last week and couldn't compile the Weekend Reading, here are two recommendations for today. Do read the post "Where's the Manual?" about a mom and her energetic, good-hearted boy. It's fine work from Kim at the blog Relaxed Homeskool.

Parents of children with extra energy should check out Dav Pilkey's autobiography at his web site; once an super-energetic little fellow himself,  the Captain Underpants author spent much of elementary school in the hallway and was told by a teacher that he couldn't spend his life drawing comic books.  A lot of kids will like reading his story, too. Pilkey's loopy picture books Dogzilla and Kat Kong are some of my son's favorites. Pilkey's real-life pets play the monsters.

Book Ban, Miami Style

1575723840Uh oh. Another potential book banning is in the works, this time in Miami. An elementary school parent is said to be upset about Vamos a Cuba, by Alta Schreier; the book contains the allegedly controversial sentence, "The people of Cuba eat, work and study like you.''

There is a movement afoot at the Miami-Dade School Board to remove the book from school libraries. Needless to say, Cuban exile politics are at the heart of the matter.

I perused the publisher's web site and found other scintillating material in Schreier's geography title for five to seven year olds, including these sorts of questions: "What kinds of fruits grow in Cuba?  Which spiky plant do some Cubans eat as a vegetable?" The next thing you know, someone is going to say something crazy like Cuba is an island.

Read the whole newspaper article at the Miami Herald.

Update 4/19: There is no immediate ban of the book, but the matter is not over. The Herald is reporting,

The Miami-Dade School Board today rejected a move to immediately remove a controversial children's book on Cuba from all school libraries, clearing the way for an appeals process to continue.

The bill failed in a 6-3 vote...   Read more of Matthew I. Pinzur's article here.