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September 2006
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November 2006

Book Giveaways, Kids' Writing Contest

1. If your house is like mine, Halloween ranks right up there in terms of favorite holidays. The blog A Readable Feast is giving away four copies of Usborne Books' Halloween Activities, so go take a look at the contest rules. (And look! Ghost Eats It All!, Janee Trasler's new book, is reviewed in another Readable Feast post. Janee's blog is Art & Soul; here's her web site. Congrats on publication, Janee.)

2. Kahani magazine, "dedicated to empowering, educating and entertaining children of South Asian descent living in North America,"  is sponsoring a writing competition:

Kahani’s 2nd Annual Young Writers Contest is open to all children between the ages of  6-8 and 9-11. Stories can be up to 500 words, but must use the words cousin, river, and turmeric.  The  deadline for all entries, which must be e-mailed to the magazine, is Sunday, December 17, 2006. For complete rules and an entry form, log onto

Thank you to writer and editor Pooja Makhijani for the Kahani link.

3. Mitali Perkins's publisher is giving away 200 copies of her forthcoming novel Rickshaw Girl to libraries. Entry rules here. ["Winners must be librarians (school or public), working staff of a library (school or public) or seeking employment at a library (school or public)."] I guess hangers-out are not eligible. That's okay. I can read an excerpt from the book at Charlesbridge's web site.

Banned Books Week: Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher

Last week, in addition to Captain Underpants, I read another book on the American Library Association's most-challenged list: Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher. "Racism" is given as one reason for the challenge, but the young-adult novel is about racism.

T.J. Jones, an adopted mixed-race teenager, forms a swim team of misfits to challenge the dominant jock culture at Cutter High School. The story moves quickly, and the psychological motivations of the characters ring true. (Crutcher has been a child and family therapist.) Whale Talk is written for mature readers; abuse—physical, emotional, sexual—fuels much of the story line. Some of the characters use profanity; one abuser uses the N word,  too.

Despite some hard-to-believe plot twists and a hero that's almost too good to be true, Whale Talk would probably provide fodder for a classroom discussion. If I were a teacher, though, I'd look for something else, most likely a book written more subtly.

Link: Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview with author Chris Crutcher

Did You Know?

Philip Reeve won the Guardian children's fiction prize for his novel Darkling Plain.

The exhibit "Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic" is on display at the New Britain (CT) Museum of American Art through November 26th. (Walter Wick is the I Spy photographer.)

Also in Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum presents an educator's workshop on new approaches to Thanksgiving & Native people of New England; one of the speakers is Doris Seale, an editor of the book Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. October 14th, from 10 to 4.

Anne Boles Levy launched an informative conversation about Jewish books when she reviewed Laurie Jacobs's A Box of Candles at Book Buds.

Child_Lit-ster Monica Edinger started a blog, Educating Alice. (The listserv Child_lit is a lively email discussion group that centers on books for children and tilts toward the academic. Michael Joseph runs it out of Rutgers University.)

The picture book A House for Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle, is now also a ballet. You can see it at the Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, Mass., starting October 7th.

The wonderful actress Kathleen Chalfant stars in TheatreWorks USA's production of  "Great Expectations," beginning November 8th at New York's Lucille Lortel Theater. This is a new adaptation, written by Bathsheba Doran, and Chalfant's presence in the play should make it worth seeking out for all theater buffs, even the grown-ups. Chalfant was in "Wit" and "Angels in America," among other dramas.

There's one more week to catch "The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963" at the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis. Kevin Willmott adapted the play from Christopher Paul Curtis's young-adult novel; it's scheduled to close on October 7th. The Saint Paul Pioneer-Press said, " 'Watsons' never preaches at us, and while it consistently entertains, it never fails to educate. To challenge. Or to inspire."