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August 2006
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October 2006

7th Carnival of Children's Literature

Celebrating the harvest, Wands and Worlds has published a big and fun seventh edition of the Carnival of Children's Literature. Grab a candy apple and stroll through. Lots of interesting reading, including entries by several children's book authors.

Meanwhile, start gearing up for the Halloween edition of the Carnival. We get to cross the Atlantic for this one. Yippee! Michele of Scholar's Blog will host. Submissions are due October 15th.  Click here for additional information.

Poetry Friday: News, Paley, Roethke

If it's Friday, it must be time for poetry. There's actually some poetry news this week. The Poetry Foundation announced that it will name a Children's Poet Laureate next week. Over at Big A little a , several of the kid lit bloggers are speculating on who it will be: names tossed about include Douglas Florian, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Jack Prelutsky, and Mary Ann Hoberman. (Thanks for the tips, A Year of Reading and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast! And GottaBook, Mr. Fibonacci poetry himself!)

The Poetry Foundation maintains a searchable database of poems, so I've picked two from there for today's Poetry Friday selections. The first is "Autumn," by Grace Paley, and the other is "Child on top of a Greenhouse," by Theodore Roethke.

Another neat thing at the Foundation's site: you can also find a chart of the current children's poetry bestsellers. Leading the list is Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. The picture-book version of Robert Service's Cremation of Sam McGee, which Kelly at Big A little a  recommends, is on there, too.

Banned Books, and a Cool Conference

Which book are you reading for Banned Books Week (September 23-30)? At the blog Outside of a Cat, Kurtis issues an invitation,

I am going to celebrate Banned Books Week by reading and commenting on a few of the books that were met with banning threats last year. I'm making this announcement now in the hopes that all of you will join in the celebration.

So, today I'm headed to the library to pick up Chris Crutcher's  Whale Talk, a young adult novel that cropped up on last year's most-challenged list.  All I know, other than the reasons for the attempts to challenge the book, is that it's about a high-school swim team. Jump into the pool, and read a banned book, too, okay?

Speaking of Chris Crutcher, I see that he will take part in the conference "Fear and Fiction: The Power of Children's Books and the Inner Life of the Child." Sponsored by the Yale Child Study Center and London's Anna Freud Centre, the gathering is set for October 21st at Bank Street College, in New York. Other participating writers include Robie H. Harris (whose It's Perfectly Normal was #1 on 2005's most-challenged list, coincidentally), David Almond, Lois Lowry, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Martin Waddell, Mo Willems, and Jacqueline Woodson. A number of big-name child analysts are slated to speak, too, along with Gregory Maguire (Wicked) and Steve Marans, of the Yale Child Study Center.

If you are going to this conference, let me know. I am hoping to attend, too. We'll have cwoffee, we'll twalk.

A Few Favorites from 2006

MotherReader is encouraging everyone to post his or her favorites of the year so far. Here are a few of my personal favorite picture books, all of which have been kid-tested and kid-approved by my son. I'm sure that others will come to mind once I hit the "publish" button.

  • Bats at the Beach, written and illustrated by Brian Lies (my Poetry Friday selection last week)
  • I'm a Pill Bug, written by Yukihisa Tokuda and illustrated by Kiyoshi Takahashi (reviewed in The Edge of the Forest)
  • Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story, written and illustrated by S.D. Nelson. A biography of a Native American WWII hero.
  • Nutmeg, written and illustrated by David Lucas, about a girl living with eccentric relatives. She meets a genie, and things get rawther stirred up. Some wacky goings-on here. My son loved it.

I haven't read that many early chapter books from 2006, but one that both Junior and I enjoyed is Barbara Park's Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha!. I'm also liking Jennifer Armstrong's American Story; we're reading the 100 true tales slowly over time. Armstrong's book is geared toward the elementary-school-crowd (ages 7 and older).

Macaulay Lands "Genius" Grant

What will David Macaulay build with $500,000? The author and illustrator of The Way Things Work was one of 25 winners of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. (Here is the whole list of 2006 fellows.) Adrian LeBlanc, whose book (nonfiction, for adults) I mentioned last week, is also in the money.

From the MacArthur web site: The  Fellows Program "awards five-year, unrestricted fellowships to individuals across all ages and fields who show exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work. It is limited to U.S. citizens and other residents of the United States."

Update: Interviewed yesterday evening on NPR, Macaulay said that he is in the middle of a big project on the human body and how it works; he'll use some of the money to finish this. Also, when the mortgage and the oil truck arrive at the same time, he won't have to worry, the Vermont resident jokingly told Robert Siegel.

Props to GalleyCat for the MacArthur news, and to Theresa for the NPR info

Shiny New Blog, Beloved Old Books

Over at The Brookeshelf, a new children's literature blog, children's librarian Brooke reviews Eleanor Farjeon's Little Book Room ; it's part of "Forgotten Bookshelf," a regular feature  about older books.  Brooke writes of the collection of stories, "The Little Book Room is a perfect introduction to Farjeon's work." Go visit and read the whole piece. Welcome to the kidlitosphere, Brooke!

The Little Book Room, first published in 1955, was re-issued by the New York Review Children's Collection in 2003. The illustrator, Edward Ardizzone, also wrote books himself, including Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain. That picture book (another re-issued classic) relates the fun, old-fashioned adventures of a little boy who runs away to sea. Look for other titles in the Little Tim series, too.

Fly Guy Fan Club

I have to jump on the bandwagon with Book Moot's and A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy's assessments of the early reader/beginning chapter book Hi! Fly Guy, by Tedd Arnold. Camille at Book Moot calls it "terrific," adding "Arnold's comic illustrations punctuate the story and provide plenty of laughs."  Liz at A Chair... says, "Cool cover, cute story..." Yep, and yep!

The plot: A boy wants to keep a fly as a pet; adults are dubious. You see the built-in conflict. Beginning readers will enjoy the silliness. I did, too. Winner of a Geisel (Dr. Seuss) honor from the American Library Association. Good news for us Fly Guy fans: I just read on Arnold's web site that Super Fly Guy, the second in the series, was published several months ago.

Recipe for Chicken Spaghetti

Yesterday I promised my favorite recipe for chicken spaghetti (the casserole kind, not the blog kind), but I have to talk a little books first. 

I think Linda Sue Park's picture book Bee-bim Bop (reviewed here) would be a wonderful read-aloud for a group. Have any of you librarians or teachers tried it? The kids would love chiming in on the "bee-bim bop!" refrain. The book contains a recipe for the popular Korean rice-and-vegetable dish of the title, so someday I will have to figure out how to work a chicken spaghetti recipe into a children's book of my own. I'll keep you posted. Children (except mine) love chicken spaghetti, and adults tend to eat three helpings.

This is Mrs. Seymour (Puddin') Birdsong's recipe from a Southern City Symphony League cookbook, but that Southern City Symphony refuses to return my calls and requests to reprint the recipe, so I have paraphrased and, yes, made up Mrs. Birdsong's name, above.

Chicken Spaghetti
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 chicken, cooked, deboned, and diced (grocery store deli chickens work great)
1 can (10 3/4-oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 can (10 3/4-oz.) cream of celery soup
1 jar (2 oz.) pimiento, drained
1 jar (2 1/2-oz.) sliced mushrooms, drained (I saute fresh ones)
1/2 can (6 oz.) black pitted olives, drained and chopped
1 package (16 oz.) long spaghetti, cooked
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375. Saute onion and bell pepper in butter. Then pour in the  soups, pimientos, mushrooms, chicken, olives, and spaghetti. Season with the seasonings. Put the whole gloppy thing  melange into a large casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until cheese is nice and melted.

Book people, thank you for your indulgence. For some time, I have needed to make amends with the Googlers and Yahooers who come here for dinner ideas and leave crying because a blog with a casserole name had no recipes.

Poetry Friday's Picture Book

On Poetry Friday a bunch of the children's literature bloggers post favorite poems or links to poetry-related subjects. Sometimes the works are for adults and sometimes for children. This week I chose  a rhyming picture book, Brian Lies's Bats at the Beach.

The rising moon can grow no fatter
as sky lights up with gleeful chatter:
Quick, call out! Tell all you can reach—
the moon is just perfect for bats at the beach!

Gentle and funny, painted in dark but not scary hues, this one goes on my Top 5 Picture Books of the Year So Far list. Like Dav Pilkey's Moonglow Roll-O-Rama, Lies's work imagines what animals do while the rest of us are sleeping. Friendly bats on a seaside romp: who'd a thunk it? The bats carry umbrellas and beach blankets to the shore, they toast bug-mallows, slather on moon-tan lotion, and so on. Creative and lots of fun.