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Tuesday Clicks, February 13th

1. The first anniversary edition of The Edge of the Forest is up. Many happy returns of the day to the online children's literature magazine. Go now and read.

2. How to help New Orleans? Colleen at Chasing Ray proposes a small way to get involved—by donating books to children in detention centers. That's something we all can do. Colleen writes,

So, this is the part where I tell you that books matter (but you already know that) and ask you please to do something with the many free books you have that might just make the world a better place. I'm not naive—I know that a book can not cure poverty, or broken homes or a crappy education or gang violence. But I'm also not a fool and I do know that without some movement towards positive change, nothing will happen at all. It's easy to shake your head and turn off the news and go back to your middle class lifestyle with all of its clean countertops, minivans and trips to the Gap. This is the harder part, and believe me, I'm no easier to motivate than anyone else, but I feel like with the world going to hell in a handbasket, I have to do something—we all have to do something.

3. Sarah Beth Durst gives a splendid account of Fuse # 8's party at  Bar 9 and the winter conference of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Both events took place in NYC last weekend. Sarah is the author of Into the Wild, a middle grade fantasy adventure novel that sees print this summer. (Thank you to Fuse #8's Betsy Bird for the link.)

4. Blogger Jen Robinson puts forth a great idea for supporting the Cybil Awards, which will be announced Wednesday afternoon.

5. MotherReader hosts the next Carnival of Children's Literature, a roundup of links to blog posts about children's books and reading. The deadline for February submissions is Thursday, February 15th. Details here.

6. In other carnival news, By Sun and Candlelight is organizing a Late Winter Nature Carnival; you've got until February 15th to submit something. Head thisaway for more information.

Tick, Tick, Tick...The Cybils Poetry Award TBA

Which books will win the inaugural Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, a.k.a. the Cybils? The clock ticks as judges finalize decisions.

In the poetry category, will it be

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow,

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich,




Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art?

Stay tuned. On Valentine's Day look for the announcement at 4 p.m. EST at the Cybils' headquarters.

Chronicle Books sponsors a contest in which you could win a basket of its children's books, including Cybils poetry finalist Tour America and nonfiction picture book finalist An Egg Is Quiet. For details, check the publisher's web site.

The Hallowed Heights of Chicken Spaghetti

Poetry Friday is here again. The most poetic thing I've done lately is to buy Robert Fagles' translation of The Odyssey. I knew a guy who used to keep this book in the car and read it when he was stuck in traffic or waiting for his kids. I like that idea, ambitious as it is for me, given that my only intellectual endeavor lately has been to read the picture book 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore. Which is hilarious, by the way. Junie B. Jones meets Eloise, with a little Knuffle Bunny photo/illustration style thrown in. (It does not rhyme, but neither does The Odyssey...)

From The Odyssey

"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy."

From 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore, by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter

"I had an idea to staple my brother's hair to his pilllow.
I am not allowed to use the stapler anymore."

And as long as we're talking about The Odyssey, I will add a link to C.P. Cavafy's "Ithaka" at the Cavafy Archive. Below is the third stanza of the poem, which was translated from the Greek by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.

You can find many other Poetry Friday posts at the Blue Rose Girls' blog today.

"Little House" on Stage

Today is Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday. She was born 140 years ago, and died in 1957.

There is a new musical in development called "Prairie," which Beth Henley and others adapted from Wilder's Little House books. Along with the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of "Crimes of the Heart," the "Prairie" team includes Rachel Portman (score) and Donna DiNovelli (lyrics). A staged reading of the musical takes place in NYC April 16th-18th; the director is Francesca Zambello, the director of Disney's "Little Mermaid," which is due to open on Broadway next December.

Stay tuned to Playbill for all the details. The magazine will no doubt list the staged reading's exact location when it's announced.

Coming-of-Age Titles, "Kimchi & Calamari," New Authors, Adult Beverages

You'll see her bylines from Booklist to Bookslut, where she reviews young adult titles. Colleen Mondor's most recent column at the latter considers "Boys and Comics."

At her own blog, Chasing Ray, Colleen is gathering recommendations for coming-of-age novels. Scoot on over and see the list so far, and make a suggestion. It doesn't matter what year the book was published.

I added to the roster Kimchi & Calamari, which comes out in April. Keep your eyes out for this wonderful book by Rose Kent, who very kindly sent me an advance copy. Here's what I told Colleen:

The novel, for 9 to 12 year olds, tells the story of 14-year-old Joseph, who was born in Korea and adopted as a baby by an Italian American family. Using a lot of humor and compassion, Rose Kent relates Joseph's struggles with identity (and his growing relationship with his adoptive father) with the ease of an old pro. An impressive first novel—and lots of fun.

Rose Kent belongs to the Class of 2k7 posse of children's and YA authors with first books coming out in 2007. Hats off to the Class and their smart idea to band together and utilize the marketing power of the Internet. Many of the group will join Newbery judge Betsy Bird and others at Kidlit Drink Night in NYC this Friday. For details, see  A Fuse #8 Production.

A big Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators confab takes place in NYC this coming weekend. I know we'll get some updates from the many bloggers in attendance.

Paging Dr. Emily Jenkins

Emily Jenkins has a doctorate in English lit? I didn't know that. Find out more about the author of Toys Go Out and That New Animal in an interview at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

The dynamic 7-Imp duo has been chatting it up with lots of people lately, including  the bloggers behind Tea Cozy, Fuse #8, Read Roger, and MotherReader, plus author Alan Gratz. For a list of all the conversations, click the "interviews" link under "categories" on the right-hand sidebar at Seven Impossible Things.

Poet Deborah Garrison's Second Book

A while back I talked about  Deborah Garrison's first collection of poems,  A Working Girl Can't Win, which came out in 1998. Today Random House publishes a followup, The Second Child. (These are books for grown-ups, not children.) I enjoy Garrison's accessible work and look forward to seeing what she's up to.

Random House says,

In The Second Child, Garrison explores every facet of motherhood–the ambivalence, the trepidation, and the joy (“Sharp bliss in proximity to the roundness, / The globe already set aspin, particular / Of a whole new life”)– and comes to terms with the seismic shift in her outlook and in the world around her.

Garrison's poems "Into the Lincoln Tunnel" and "Goodbye, New York" are getting some airplay on the blogs after they were included on Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" segment on public radio. You can read and listen to them at the Almanac's web site. (Check the Jan. 24 archives for the Lincoln Tunnel poem.) Deborah Garrison is the poetry editor at Knopf, and both she and Keillor were on staff at The New Yorker some years back.

Click here for a review, at Bookslut.

Practicing History

History is a hot topic right now on several of the children's book blogs. A recent newspaper article and then an op-ed essay, both in the New York Times, have prompted some fascinating discussions. The Times pieces point out that many historians debunk the popular notion that quilts provided a secret code of geographical clues for escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad.

A number of children's books feature the use of quilts on the Underground Railroad as a central motif. The following blogs have some good posts on the current controversy:  Boston 1775, Farm School, Educating Alice, and MetaFilter. Author Chris Barton also considers "fictionalizing" in nonfiction books for children, at Bartography.

Fergus M. Bordewich wrote in his Times op-ed piece,

... faked history serves no one, especially when it buries important truths that have been hidden far too long. The “freedom quilt” myth is just the newest acquisition in a congeries of bogus, often bizarre, legends attached to the Underground Railroad.

In another excellent post at Boston 1775, J.L. Bell questions the  historical documentation of an award-winning book, Hanukkah at Valley Forge.

I encountered some history weirdness with the lauded picture book The World's Greatest Elephant, presented as the true dramatic adventures of a circus trainer and his elephant. Wonderful illustrations by Ted Lewin, but... the picture book provides no historical documentation. The copyright page does state that it was adapted from an adult "novel" by the same author. Internet searches for terms, names, and geographical locations in the book only led back to the book itself.  I can't help coming back to Bordewich's statement that "fake history helps no one," children included.

P.S., I stole the title of this post from a book by the historian Barbara Tuchman: Practicing History.