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February 2007
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April 2007

Welcome, "Festival of Words" Readers

Greetings and welcome to Chicken Spaghetti to those who have reached the site through the Festival of Words.

If you are looking for good children's books, you'll find a great selection right here in town at

The Norwalk Public Library!

And nearby at

The Darien Public Library and the Bridgeport Public Library!

One of my favorite lists of children's books is the New York Public Library's 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know. Which one is tops on your list?

Poetry Friday: New Books

If it's the end of the week, it must be time...for....Poetry Friday!

Here are some new poetry books for children, courtesy of Publisher Weekly's "Children's Bookshelf." (I added the links to Powell's so you could see them.)

PW points out that the Children's Book Council has a huge list of children's poetry books published in 2006-7 (available in a PDF file).

I will round up the other Poetry Friday posts on Friday evening, perhaps sooner. Poetry Friday participants can leave links in the comment section of this post.

Everyone who is posting a contemporary poem is 1. going by copyright fair-use considerations; or 2. has permission from the author or publisher, right? Okay, then.

The Poetry Friday Roundup for March 31, 2007

The night owl Book Buds contributes a " boombox of a poem about two young sisters in South Philly's summer heat" in the form of a picture-book review. At Check It Out, students have gone wild for poetry, including some Whitman. A poem a day? Free, from Knopf? See Liz in Ink for details.

Journey Woman features Keats today, and I spied Emily Dickinson's "There Is No Frigate Like a Book" and some favorite quotations at the Miss Rumphius Effect. A sojourn to California brings to mind Allen Ginsberg over at Big A little a. Here's a grand mash-up, at Scholar's Blog: Eliot's "Burnt Norton," Milton's Lycidas, and the "Doctor Who" TV show.

Elaine at Blue Rose Girls has a big announcement—yay, Elaine!—and some excellent National Poetry month resources for children, parents, homeschoolers, and teachers. Speaking of teachers, Lisa and her second-graders have great ideas for creating a Living Anthology of poetry on the school walls; see Passionately Curious for details.

Author! Author! YA novelist Alma Fullerton chats with  Liz B. at a Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy. Running short of poetry-book ideas for the younger crowd? Seven Impossible Things offers all kinds of recommendations. Readathon is in the house, with William Stafford's"Afternoon in the Stacks."

Have you read Susan Taylor Brown's novel-in-verse, Hugging the Rock? If not, you should! The poet herself offers a work by John Farrar, at Once Upon a Time... Then, hop over to Wordy Girls for Wislawa Szymborska's "Four in the Morning" and  short poems by the Wordy Girls. S-s-s-s-s-ssnake poems come out of hiberation at Charlotte's Library, while Bri Meets Books shares a poem by Adrienne Rich.

Hey, You!, a new anthology, receives a Kelly Fineman review. (Another book for the ever-growing library list.) HipWriterMama even found a poem by her role model, Elizabeth I. Get out your pencils; it's a Frost pop quiz, at A Year of Reading. Mr. Eliot pops up again at Slayground, with "The Naming of Cats," then at What Adrienne Thinks About That, who gives a shout-out to the poet and talks a little Prufrock.

Blog from the Windowsill sings along with They Might Be Giants, and kudzu, of all things, crops up at MotherReader's place as she writes about Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's YA novel Reaching for Sun. Melissa Wiley's baby daughter is a darn good poet; just look at her poem at Here in the Bonny Glen. It's a fun mother-daughter collaboration when A Fuse # Production turns to Susan Ramsey for "Consider  Hairs." The first spring flower and a poem have arrived at By Sun and Candlelight.

A Wrung Sponge says that Alice Walker's picture book There Is a Flower at the End of My Nose Smelling Me is a "beautiful little book" that "reads just like a song." Pixiepalace celebrates a favorite nonsense poet, posting Lear's "New Vestments." Farm School hosts William Wordsworth and tells what's been keeping 'em busy at the farm.

A big hearty welcome goes out to Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, who reveals her favorite poem ever. (MotherReader reviews Tracie's book today, too.) More Emily Dickinson is in store for us at Lectitans, who showcases "I'm Nobody." Mombrarian (isn't that a good name for a blog?) considers Caroline Kennedy's anthology A Family of Poems; it's Mombrarian's very first Poetry Friday entry. Bienvenido!

Educating Alice slips in a science poetry recommendation, along with many good suggestions for nonfiction. GottaBook found a Fibonacci bookcase and tells us where to find one.

"You better think (think)..."

"I ain't no psychiatrist, I ain't no doctor with degree
It don't take too much high IQ's to see what you're doing to me."

Inspired by those words from Aretha Franklin in the song "Think," I'm posting another meme. The waning days of March have let meme fever loose, and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast tagged me with a Thinking Blogger meme. Well, I'm flattered that 7 Imp thinks Chicken Spaghetti is more than just a casserole with cream of mushroom soup and cheese. Cool. Here are some blogs that make me think, to name only a few:

1. What Adrienne Thinks About That (see, she even has "think" in her blog's name)Thinkingblogger2ql6thumbnail
2. Passionately Curious
3. Rockslinga
4. Tingle Alley
5. Book Book Book

Bonus: Jenny Davidson's Light Reading

If you're reading along, I imagine your blog is a thinking blog, so I tag everyone else, too.

For an explanation of memes, contact this Chicken Spaghetti post of last week.

Books in the Works

Nosing around the Internet, I heard some children's book news that caught my attention. First up is author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, in his interview at 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I have to get this book when it comes out:

7-Imp: Are you working on any other projects (post-Punk Farm on Tour) that you can tell us about?

JJK: I’m working on a graphic novel project called Lunch Lady. I can’t tell you too much, but it’s a whole new ball game for me (sort of). I’ve been working on it off and on since ‘01. It’s about a lunch lady who fights crime . . . It will be out by Knopf BFYR in spring ‘09.

7-Imp: Any plans or desire to do anything for an older audience — perhaps in one of your first loves, comics or animation?

JJK: Lunch Lady is geared towards a slightly older audience than my picture books. When I created a piece for Guys Write for Guys Read, I realized that nearly everything I created as a kid was in that comic book format, so I’m eager to get back into that medium. Aside from my upcoming GN project, I would love to create stories for older kids and teens. I have a bunch of ideas brewing, but it’s all about being patient with them and waiting for them to develop. I like to draw and write stories — so the formats will be endless!

Then on the Child_Lit Listserv, I read  that Deborah Wiles's new novel (for readers 10 and older), The Aurora County All-Stars, sees print in August of this year.  It's an expanded version of the short serial novel that ran in the Boston Globe and featured a dog named Eudora Welty ("Eudora Welty trotted to the doorway and blinked at them.") and a main character named House Jackson. You can read parts of the story at the Globe; chapters are still available online. Whether or not the book contains a cat named William Faulkner and a fish named Richard Wright, I don't know.

Children's Books About Passover

The Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 2nd. If I lived in New York, I would corral Junior and skedaddle over to the Jewish Museum to make "playful Passover puppets" on April 5th.  On the 8th, a professional puppeteer performs a story about a family's Passover preparations.

All of which has me thinking about children's books about the holiday. I went straight to the Association of Jewish Libraries for some recommendations. I  found excellent annotated bibliographies (in PDF files) of "New and Recent Resources About Passover," as well as an update.

Now I'm well set with a list for the next trip to the library, where I'll also find the April issue of Cricket. Bruce Black, who blogs at Wordswimmer, has a Passover story in the magazine for 9 to 14 year olds. Congratulations, Bruce!

Chicken Spaghetti Live! at the Festival of Words

If you're in Fairfield County,  Connecticut, on Saturday, March 31st, stop by and say howdy! I am lucky to be part of the Festival of Words, an all-day multicultural shindig celebrating books, storytelling, and music. Featuring plenty of children's programming and hosted by Norwalk Community College, the event kicks off with a keynote speech by Charles Shields, the author of Mockingbird: A Biography of Harper Lee. Norwalkers are reading To Kill a Mockingbird as part of the NEA's Big Read initiative.

At noon, the author and illustrator Lizzy Rockwell moderates a panel discussion (for grown-ups) with Alan Katz, Sari Bodi, and myself. We'll be talking about children's books, and I will sneak in a word or two about blogging. Alan Katz wrote the funny picture books Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs and Are You  Quite Polite?, among many others. Sari's time-travelling YA novel, The Ghost in Allie's Pool, hits the bookstores in May.

Also on the bill that day are storytelling, a kids' open-mike reading, more authors (Neela Vaswani and Chandra Prasad), a graphics novel presentation (Alisa Kwitney and Jodi Novins), children's workshops, and a bodacious exhibition area of community organizations and a few publishers' representatives.

For a complete schedule, visit the Festival of Words web site. I hope to see you in Norwalk on Saturday!

Grand Central: Train Terminal, Metaphor, Publishing House. (And More News.)

As of its Fall 2007 list, Warner Books is changing its name to Grand Central Publishing. Julie Bosman reports the story in the New York Times. (via the early-rising GalleyCat)

In "Smart Cookies," a Talk of the Town piece, New Yorker reporter Rebecca Mead goes food shopping with some kids in Brooklyn's Park Slope.

Amanda Craig looks at "What makes a [children's] classic?" in Saturday's Times, of London.

Find poetry books for children at the San Francisco Chronicle. Susan Faust says, "It's nearly PR time for poetry again. Thirty days of fame come every April, which is designated National Poetry Month."

What is #1 on Amazon's bestseller list and #2 on Powell's, as of this writing? Clue: it hasn't even been published yet. Answer: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Author and blogger Laila Lalami's short-story collection, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, gets a critique in the New York Review of Books. (via Laila Lalami)

This is not news, but if you're not a teacher or librarian, you may not know that School Library Journal reviews reference books. The latest online to-buy-or not-to-buys are from February. National Geographic's 2006 edition of the Encyclopedia of Animals scores high: "...animal enthusiasts will go wild for this fascinating, colorful edition, most suitable for browsing."

The Millions blog keeps an eye on book-industry trends by eavesdropping on B & N's chairman.

Speaking of Blogs

Which blogs do you like that are not about children's literature? Liz. B. at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy sent a meme my way with that question in mind. Name five, she said.

Okay! Here are some blogs that I enjoy.

Maud Newton: books, literature
Chekhov's Mistress: books, literature
About Last Night (Terry Teachout): theater, culture, classical music, art, music, movies, books, Manhattan
Quiet Bubble: books, movies, comics, jazz
Filmi Geek: Bollywood reviews
The various blogs at the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press, an alternative weekly newspaper

Yes, that's six+ blogs. Why stop at five!

So, what's a meme? If you are new to blogging, you may not be aware of this term, which sounds like the name of a poodle or something lifted from the collected works of a literary theorist. A meme is a set of questions that gets passed around blogs, the equivalent of a chain letter—but more fun! Why more fun? Because you're not in for years of bad luck if you ignore it. I also like the occasional meme because I get to find out about new (to me) blogs by reading everyone's lists.

So, what non-children's-book blogs do you read? I am tagging the following blogs and everyone else who wants to answer: This Just In, Kelly Fineman, A Fondness for Reading, Readathon, Whimsy Books, and Educating Alice. If you don't want to post a meme, don't worry about it. If you do, consider yourself tagged.

Happy Saturday to one and all.

Poetry Friday: Macbeth

In front of me I have a copy of Bruce Coville's retelling of "Macbeth." Illustrated by Gary Kelley in gloomy-toned pastels, the picture book seems to fit the gray afternoon, and after I finish typing this, I am going to sit down and read it by myself. A treat!

For my Poetry Friday selection, I'll hand it over to the witches:

Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

You'll find a roundup of all of today's Poetry Friday posts at the Blue Rose Girls' blog. If you're intrigued and want to join in (please do!), I wrote a little Poetry Friday primer last week.

Reference: William Shakespeare's Macbeth, retold by Bruce Coville, Dial Books, 1997

Velveteen Books?

Remember the Velveteen Rabbit, so loved that his "beautiful velveteen fur was getting shabbier and shabbier, and his tail becoming unsewn, and all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him"?  Which children's books do you have that are absolutely worn out? The blogger at A Wrung Sponge was asking that question the other day.

My son started loving Alphabet Band when he was a baby. It was a talking book, a hand-me-down from a friend. I can still remember the first line, "Alligator number one/squeezes the accordion." As long as he had his alphabet book and his favorite people in the room, our baby was happy. And if Grandma just happened to be reading the book with him while he pushed the different buttons, well, that was Nirvana.

I have no picture of Alphabet Band because not only is it out of print but our own copy was so well-loved that it gradually fell apart. I wonder if our son would recognize it if he saw the book again. I bet he would.

Today at the school library where I volunteer, I kept an eye out for the most-appreciated (i.e., worn out) books on the shelving cart. The tattered paperback copy of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain, makes sense. Twain lived fairly close to here at different times. To judge a book by its cover, the Illustrated Junior Library's edition of Tom Sawyer had seen many a reader, too,  as had the anthologies A Hatful of Seuss and Beware!: R.L. Stine Picks His Favorite Scary Stories.

What are the worn-out books in your house or library? You can answer at your own blog or right here in the comments.