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April 2006
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June 2006

"Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia"

At La Bloga, I read of a new anthology, Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama. Among those interviewed are several folks who have written not only for adults but for children, too. The list includes Denise Chávez (The Woman Who Knew the Lanuage of the Animals), Lucha Corpi (Where Fireflies Dance), Juan Felipe Herrera (The Upside Down Boy)Pat Mora (Doña Flor), Daniel Olivas (Benjamin and the Word), Luis J. Rodriguez (America Is Her Name), and Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Grandma Fina and Her Wonderful Umbrellas).  Jaime Hernandez, a well-known comic book creator (Love and Rockets), is there, too.

The anthology's emphasis is not on children's books, but the array of voices sounds fascinating. I hope to find this one at the library.

Another Giveaway!

Today's picture-book giveaway is Apollo, by Caroline Grégoire. Originally published in Belgium, this paperback picture book features a long-nosed hot dog of a dog who's irresistibly cute as he demonstrates various words like "back," "front," "above," "below," "left," "right," and even "diagonally" and "horizontally." A fun read-aloud for preschoolers, Apollo has witty full-page illustrations.

I'm celebrating this blog's one-year anniversary by giving away a few books; yesterday's was Celebrate! by Jan Reynolds. If you would like to own Apollo, be the first person to say so in the Comments section, which is open right now. (Don't leave your address. I'll get that later.)

Wednesday Reading: Opal Parody, Moms & Me, Alloy, Polacco, and More

  • "How Fred Flintstone Got Home, Got Wild, and Got a Stone Age Life," by Larry Doyle, in The New Yorker.
  • In time for Mother's Day, Karen MacPherson rounds up picture books about mothers and children, at Scripps-Howard News Service.
  • The Boston Globe explains how the marketing firm/book packager Alloy works. (via Original Content) Aside: product placement in novels? Ew.
  • Charles Isherwood reviews Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak''s "Brundibar,"  an opera for children, in the New York Times.
  • Author Patricia Polacco, un-invited from a reading conference because of her views on No Child Left Behind, fires back. (via GottaBook)
  • highlights Catherine Gilbert Murdock's young adult novel Dairy Queen, picked by independent bookstores as one of the summer's hot reads.
  • A Tennessee library system received a big award when it upped its outreach to children, in School Library Journal. Yay for bookmobiles, and congratulations to the Linebaugh Library System!

Celebrate! Anniversary Week at Chicken Spaghetti

Friday, May 12th, marks the one-year anniverary of Chicken Spaghetti. Yahoo! What a fun ride blogging has been so far.

In honor of the anniversary, I am giving away a copy of Celebrate! Connections Between Cultures, by Jan Reynolds. A photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Reynolds takes a look at eight groups of people from around the world and finds  ways that we are alike. Along with Americans, all of the following are represented: Tibetans & Sherpas, the Taureg, the Aborigines, the Sami, the Yanomami, the Inuit, and the Balinese.

My first-grader enjoyed the photographs, particularly the one of some Vermont actors dressed as frogs. He also had fun guessing what people were celebrating in some of the pictures. Because of some unfamiliar foreign words and writing that employs a higher-level vocabulary, I modified the text as I read the book out loud, which was no problem.

The first person to email me gets a free copy of this book. Send a message to


Update: Louise, way up yonder in Ontario, is the winner. Congratulations, Louise, and thanks, all of  you, for reading Chicken Spaghetti!

Sorority Hazing Novel Critiqued

For an interesting reviewer-author exchange, I'm sending you over to Tiny Little Librarian. She recently read and wrote about M. Apostolina's young-adult/chick-lit novel, Hazing Meri Sugarman, which takes place in a sorority house.  Booklist said, "...The almost gleefully depicted extremes of misery, torture, and retribution are reminiscent of teen movies such as Heathers, and readers who like ink-black satire might enjoy this." A sequel, Meri Strikes Back, hits the shelves in June. I don't think that the novels are autobiographical; the "M." of M. Apostolina refers to Michael.

Tiny Little Librarian review here
Author's response here

Poetry Friday: A Poem

Author's note: In honor of Poetry Friday, here is a prose poem I wrote some years back.


Take trip to Ireland. Read Edna O'Brien. Drink lots of tea. Return home. Think of nothing but tea. Make tea with tea bags. Terrible. Not it. Unable to read Edna O'Brien. Lunch with friend who spent year in Australia drinking tea. Friend says bought teapot after similar tea experience. Friend also recommends English Breakfast. Resolve to purchase teapot. Find two-cup teapot for eight dollars. Bargain. Realize loose tea is key. Milk and sugar cubes, too. Buy loose tea in tin at fancy deli. Have never in life made tea without tea bags. Have never made much tea, period. Cast yearning glance at unresponsive Mr. Coffee. Panic. Australian adventurer unavailable for counsel. Remember not knowing how to bake potatoes. Who knew? Fannie knew. Consult Fannie Farmer Cookbook on tea. Fannie knows. Fannie tells. Love Fannie. Boil fresh water. Warm teapot with boiling water. Pour out. Add big spoon of tea, more water. Strategy involved but do okay. Let pot, tea leaves, water sit. Five minutes later—tea. Breathe sigh of relief. Read Edna O'Brien.

by Susan Thomsen
published in Tea: A Magazine (the only poem I've ever had published!)

Poetry Friday carries on; the posting-poem idea was started (and is continued) by Big A little a. For more peoms and peotry, see also Blog from the WindowsillA Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy;  Farm School; A Fuse #8 Production; Here in the Bonny GlenScholar's Blog; and The Simple and the Ordinary.

Say That Again

I just love Justine Larbalestier's accent. No, I've never heard her speak in person, but her Australian turn of phrase is such fun to read on her blog. Yesterday she mentioned that something "gobsmackingly amazing" happened to her husband, the  author Scott Westerfeld, which she hopes to announce soon.

Justine's new young-adult  novel is Magic Lessons, the second in the "Magic or Madness" trilogy. I see on her site that she will be at the American Library Association's meeting in New Orleans (June 22-28).

Three Cheers for History

And three cheers for Chris Barton, too, who has posted lists of  American history picture books for numerous eras, starting with pre-Colonial days and going through the present. The Bartography blogger is always looking for additions to the lists, too. Don't miss 'em.

A picture book that we've recently enjoyed is the brand-new George Crum and the Saratoga Chip, written by Gaylia Taylor and illustrated by Frank Morrison. It's about the inventor of the potato chip, and definitely fits into the American  history category. Now that is an invention for which I am most grateful. I do wonder who invented barbecue potato chips, but that's another picture book, I suppose.  More on George Crum soon.

Tuesday Reading

Censorship in Oz

The Age says that censorship of kids' book  is on the rise in Australia.  The paper quotes an Australian professor of librarianship who has been following the issue.

"The most covert form of censorship is non-selection (by librarians)," Associate Professor [Ken]Dillon said.

It's a little hard to tell from the article, but I think that Prof. Dillon is referring to school libraries. Still, is  it censorship when a library chooses not to buy a book? More context for Dillon's remarks would have been appreciated.