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July Carnival Over Yonder; Blog Carnivals Explained

The blog "Read. Imagine. Talk." is hosting the July Carnival of Children's Literature. Head thataway for all kinds of reading suggestions.

The August kid-lit carnival takes place right here at Chicken Spaghetti on Monday, August 18th, with a deadline of Saturday, August 16th. Send submissions on the form at the Blog Carnival web site, or via an email to c_spaghettiATyahooDOTcom. One post per blog, please.

Here is an explanation of blog carnivals, which I lifted from a 2007 Chicken Spaghetti post.

A little more than a year ago, the author Melissa Wiley started the Carnival of Children's Literature.  Blog carnivals have been around the Internet for some time. A "carnival" takes place at one blog; it is a conglomeration of links (from many different blogs) to posts on a certain theme. Children's books and reading are the focus of the Carnival of Children's Literature. Carnivals generally include one post from each blog who wants to join in.

Do you have a post on children's books or reading that you want everyone to see? Your blog does not have to focus solely on kid lit/children's books for you to participate. The theme of the post is what's important—children's books and reading. You can submit an entry (the URL for one post on your blog) to carnival host of the month, and in fact, Melissa set up a super easy device at the mega-blog-carnival site called Blog Carnival (catchy!) to simplify submissions. You can access that by clicking here.

Many bloggers have participated in past kid-lit carnivals, including but not limited to parents, teachers, librarians, scholars, homeschoolers,  illustrators, authors, editors, and various combinations thereof. So far no school principals that I know of, but we would certainly welcome Lamar J. Spurgle (of The Cut-Ups) and his ilk.

Some carnivals are put together by the same person each month (or week) and many are constructed by a rotating group of volunteers. The latter is the case for the Carnival of Children's Literature, which takes place monthly. Since she is the founder, Melissa coordinates the carnival hosting. I put together the  March 2006 carnival, and had a blast.

If you have any questions, please ask away. The comments are open and waiting. When I first started blogging, I was confused by any number of things, and asking questions is a good way to gain knowledge.  If you want to spread the word about the Carnival of Children's Literature, feel free to copy this post; please credit Chicken Spaghetti (no need to link back here, though).

"Growing Good Kids" Awards 2008

9780763634612 (2) On July 26th the Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society handed out their annual "Growing Good Kids" book awards for "engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden, and ecology-themed children's literature." The honored books are

The Old Tree, by Ruth Brown

image courtesy of Candlewick Press

Around Town, 7.29

1. A big shout-out goes to the podcasters at Just One More Book!! for giving Chicken Spaghetti a "premio" award. Since I can't decide on only seven blogs for additional honors, I nominate the whole Chicken Spaghetti blog roll in return!

2. The July Carnival of Children's Literature takes place on Thursday, the 31st at the blog "Read. Imagine. Talk." Consider submitting something, if you haven't already; use the handy form at the Blog Carnival site. What's a blog carnival? It's just a roundup of links to blog posts on a particular subject; in this case the topic is children's books.

3. Reading for a summer afternoon

  • Sonja Bolle's "Wordplay" column on The Thirteeen Clocks, which was written by James Thurber and recently re-issued by the New York Review Children's Collection. At the online edition of the LA Times.

4. This just in: the longlist for the UK's Booker Prize was announced. (via Paper Cuts)

"On the Books," with Marc Tyler Nobleman

Welcome to a new series at Chicken Spaghetti in which people talk about what they're reading: books for children, books for adults, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, magazine articles—anything they'd like to recommend.

Today's guest is Marc Tyler Nobleman, the author of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, an acclaimed new picture-book biography illustrated by Ross MacDonald. Wired's GeekDad wrote in his review, "The book, published in honor of the 70th anniversary of Action Comics #1, is an excellent read, for kids and adults alike. My seven-year-old son read the whole thing in about fifteen minutes, pronounced it 'great,' and then read it again the next day (entirely voluntarily)."

Also a cartoonist, Nobleman blogs at Noblemania, and says, "My current writing interest is picture books on people whose achievement is well-known but whose name and back story are not (i.e. who created Superman?)."

ST: So, whatcha reading these days, Marc?

MTN: What I'm reading right now...truth be told, mostly research for other projects! But I've always got a recommendation. For adults, a favorite of a few years ago is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The ending was so compelling I had to stand in the middle of Grand Central to finish it. For younger readers, a picture book I really liked was Mack Made Movies by Don Brown. Just the kind of quirky subject we need more of in picture books!

Chicken Spaghetti Book Giveaway: Ralph's World Rocks!

Do you like Ralph? We do—he's funny. Who am I talking about? Ralph Covert, the musician behind the Ralph's World CDs for children. Ralph, who also has a rock band (the Bad Seeds), leaped into the kids' music biz in 2001. The picture book I'm giving away contains the lyrics to 12 rockin' Ralph's World songs and includes a CD. The lyrics of each song get a sweetly goofy full-page illustration (by Charise Mericle Harper), too.

Since it's also Poetry Friday, I'm going to post an excerpt from the lyrics to "We Are Ants," so that readers who don't know Ralph can get a little taste:

from "We Are Ants," by Ralph Covert

We are ants, ants in your pants,
Ants in the kitchen, ants who love to dance,
Ants who sing and go to the moon,
Why are we marching? We are ants!

If you're interested in the book/CD drawing, leave a comment. We'll put the names in a hat later this evening, and come up with a winner. The deadline is 8 p.m., tonight—Friday, July 25th. Once the winner's name is picked, I'll email him, her, or them, and get the mailing address. (Don't leave it in the comments, for your protection.)

To read about more poetry on the children's book blogs today, see the roundup at A Year of Reading.

Update: We have a winner! Gresham gets the book and CD. Congratulations.

A Fine Evening for Moths

800px-An_Arkansas_Luna_Moth When I was in my 20s, I never dreamed that Moth Night would be the highlight of my week, but there you go. The event took place at the local nature center, and while we waited for the sun to set (and for the moths to come out), everyone roasted marshmallows at a bonfire and made s'mores. Aided by a few of the dozen or so kids there, a guest zoologist rigged up some bright lights and a white sheet between two trees and painted moth elixir (a mix of honey, beer, and mashed bananas) on some other trees along the nearest trail. I was hoping for big green luna moths, the kind featured in John Himmelman's picture book A Luna Moth's Life. They were no-shows, but we did observe a few of their smaller brethren on the sheet. Walking the trail, we noticed that ants and beetles enjoyed the moth brew, too. A Luna Moth's Life, by the way, is a nice introduction to moths for children aged three and older; there's only one sentence per page and Himmelman's illustrations are close-up and visually interesting.

When we came home, we sat outside in the dark and watched the moths on our front window. Junior and I made plans to set up our own moth sheet; the blog La Paz Home Learning has some good instructions here. Full on s'mores and newly endowed with moth lore, we lingered in the yard for a while, reluctant for a fun evening to end.

The nature center staff had brought out several books, which they recommended for moth- and butterfly-gazing. Some children will need some help using these guides, which are written for adults.

Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard, also by John Himmelman

Butterflies through Binoculars, by Jeffrey Glassberg (There are eastern and western guides for North America.)

A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America, by Charles V. Covell, Jr.

And for my fellow Nutmeggers, The Connecticut Butterfly Atlas, edited by Jane O'Donnell, David Wagner, and Lawrence Gall

Here's an informative web site, too: Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Image: An Arkansas Luna Moth, from Wikimedia Commons

Book Sale Finds

This morning I went to the second day of my library's enormous summer book sale. Seasoned book-sale-goers know that second days are tough; the good stuff flies off the tables on the morning of the first day. Actually, seasoned attendees know to volunteer setting up at the book sale, so that they get first dibs on the books before the official sale begins. I've gone that route before.

Anyway, on the second day you have to recalibrate your thinking, and look for hidden gems, namely older books. Okay, old books. In the YA section, I found a misfiled copy of Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book, illustrated by Ben Kutcher (Longmans, Green, 1954). Picking through some 1961 Childcrafts yielded Volume 2: "Storytelling and Other Poems," which features Golden Book-style illustrations on every page by artists like the D'Aulaires, Virginia Lee Burton, Robert McCloskey, and Walt Disney. Then, for only a dollar, I snagged Volume 5: Best Loved Poems from The Children's Hour, a multi-volume literature collection. Not as many illustrations, but still charming, with many classics.* In 1973, Philomena (whoever she is) was given this book as a gift, and it's inscribed with her name. One tip: open up the old books and take a whiff; you'll avoid that cabin-at-the-lake mildew smell that way.

Junior helped his dad, NT, at the cashiers' table (an excellent way to practice math, by the way), and NT reported that on their shift The Lovely Bones and Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (a Calvin & Hobbes book) were big sellers. A third-grade teacher recommended Sharon Creech's Love That Dog to the father-son team, saying it was a classroom favorite, and one of Junior's library pals slipped him The Eleventh Hour, a picture-book mystery by Graeme Base. Needless to say, we all had a good time.

Another doozy of a sale—the summer extravaganza at the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut—begins on Friday, July 25th.

* Update 7.22. After looking at the Children's Hour book more closely, I came across a poem about a "lovely maid" and a "savage chief" and a corresponding illustration that will absolutely need some explaining to a child. Both the poem and the image are stereotypical and racist. That one page is in no way "charming."

Poetry Friday: Kay Ryan

The big news in poetry is that Californian Kay Ryan was named the next U.S. poet laureate. See this article at the San Francisco Chronicle for details; Ryan's poem "Home to Roost" is included. (A poet laureate who knows her chickens. Yeah!) Among the bloggers talking about Ryan are the folks at Finding Wonderland, Seven Impossible Things, The Book Bench, and Paper Cuts, and today's Poetry Friday host, Kelly Fineman.

The Christian Science Monitor profiled Ryan in 2004, not long after she won the Ruth Lilly prize. (Thanks to The Book Bench for the CSM link.)

William Maxwell Tribute

A Celebration of the Work and Life of William Maxwell—"A lively evening of discussion and reminiscence" of the author and longtime New Yorker editor, with Daniel Menaker, Benjamin Cheever, Edward Hirsch, Stewart O'Nan, and Christopher Carduff. (In between discussing and reminiscing, I assume they're going to read from Maxwell's fiction, too.) Maxwell, who died in 2000, would have turned 100 in August. Presented by the National Book Foundation and the Madison Square Park Conservancy. (Madison Square Park, mid-Park at 25th St., New York. Thursday, July 31st, at 6:30. No tickets necessary.)


Now, this sounds like my kind of event. Literary and free! When I heard Eudora Welty read in New York many years ago, she was introduced by Maxwell, who was her editor at the New Yorker. During a question-and-answer session after the reading, one enthusiastic audience member kept pressing Welty to name her favorite author.You could tell that she didn't really want to answer the question, but finally she conceded that she liked William Maxwell's and Chekhov's work very much. Nice company, eh?