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January 2009
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March 2009

Wednesday Words, 2.24

An interview with children's book author/NPR commentator Daniel Pinkwater, at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Pinkwater's latest "Weekend Edition" recommendation? Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln, by Judith St. George, with illustrations by Matt Faulkner.

The School Library Journal blog Good Comics for Kids launches a new series, "Good Manga for Kids."

School district tries out desks at which kids can stand; the New York Times reports. “We’re talking about furniture here,” [a grant-maker] said, “plain old furniture. If it’s that simple, if it turns out to have the positive impacts everyone hopes for, wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?”

Keep an eye on this initiative:  Share a Story—Shape a Future. A group of bloggers is planning a series of interviews and articles focusing on literacy, with advice from keeping young readers engaged to using technology for read-alouds.

Scientists blog, too. (Doesn't everyone?) The first ever Diversity in Science blog carnival (or, wrap-up of links to blog posts) takes place at Urban Science Adventures! [via Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)]

Speaking of NPR, I am happy to hear that the NPR librarians have a blog— a matter of fact.

Free Poster for National Poetry Month 2009

The Academy of American Poets is once again offering a free poster to U.S. schools, libraries, community centers, and bookstores for National Poetry Month, which takes place in April. Details here. Among the Academy's other resources is a list of "30 Ways to Celebrate" the month. I liked this one:

Put a poem on the pavement
"Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk."

P.S. The Academy tweets under the name PoetryNYC. ("Tweet" is the verb form of Twitter. But you knew that, right?)

"The best reading teachers are teachers who read."

I appreciate Donalynn Miller's insights over at The Book Whisperer. She's a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, and blogs about reading. Recently she wrote about the connection with her students.

There are many days when I don’t get it right—my lesson falls flat, my temper is short, or I am too distracted to focus on the child standing in front of me. My students forgive me on those days because I am one of them—a reader. I rarely fail when talking to children about books and why they should read this one. It pleases me when my students consider me an expert whose opinions about books they value; I convince a lot of kids that they are experts because they read, too.

Read the whole post at Miller's Teacher Magazine blog, which is well worth subscribing to. Miller's book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child (Jossey-Bass) hits the shelves in March.

Coffee Talk, 2.17

On Sunday the New York Times ran a nice tribute to Kate McClelland and Kathy Krasniewicz in the paper's Connecticut section. The two well-known and well-loved Connecticut children's librarians were killed in a traffic accident on their way to the Denver airport after January's meeting of the American Library Association.

Also in the Sunday New York Times, Monica Edinger reviewed The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, which won the Newbery award. Monica blogs at Educating Alice.

Author and Nobel peace-prize winner Elie Wiesel's foundation was one of Madoff's clients. Full story at USA Today.

Tina Nichols Coury runs a short interview with moi at Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Thanks, Tina!

2009 Winners Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards

The Cybils winners are in! Congratulations to all the authors,  illustrators, and publishers.

Beginning Readers
    I Love My New Toy, by Mo Willems

Fantasy & Science Fiction
    Middle Grade
        The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
    Young Adult
        The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Fiction Picture Books
    How to Heal a Broken Wing, by Bob Graham

Graphic Novels
    Elementary/Middle Grade
        Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, art by Nathan Hale
    Young Adult
        Emiko Superstar, written by Mariko Tamaki, art by Steve Ralston

Middle-Grade Fiction
    The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd

Nonfiction Picture Book
    Nic Bishop Frogs, by Nic Bishop

Nonfiction Middle-Grade/Young Adult Book
    The Year We Disappeared:
    A Father-Daughter Memoir, by Cylin and John Busby

    Honeybee, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Young Adult Fiction
    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

More details are at the official announcement over at the awards' blog.

Poetry Friday: 10 Favorite Poetry Books for Children

February 13th brings another Poetry Friday, in which a number of the children's literature blogs wax poetic. Here are some of my favorite poetry books for children, with a link to the posts where I wrote about them. Some are rhyming picture books; the others are collections of poems. I recommend them all!

Knock on Wood, by Janet S. Wong

Secret Places, edited by Charlotte Huck

The Llama Who Had No Pajama, by Mary Ann Hoberman

Oh, Theodore! Guinea Pig Poems, by Susan Katz

Quilt Alphabet, by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Joyful Noise, by Paul Fleischman

The Place My Words Are Looking For, selected by Paul B. Janeczko

The Book of Pigericks, by Arnold Lobel

Never Tease a Weasel, by Jean Conder Soule

The Snowflake Sisters, by J. Patrick Lewis

The Poetry Friday roundup of other blog posts will take place at Big A, little a.

Kids Love Authors Day

Valentine's Day at a bunch of New England bookstores ought to be really fun. The Kids ♥ Authors Day site announces this:

Shower your pint-sized (or teen-sized) valentines with literary love. On Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14, 2009, from 10 a.m. to noon, independent booksellers throughout New England will host illustrators and authors of books for kids and teens, kicking off a new tradition of signed literary valentines for families.

In my corner of the Constitution State, the festivities take place at Books on the Common, in Ridgefield. A full list of participating bookstores, authors, and illustrators is at Kids ♥ Authors.

Scholastic Book Clubs Criticized for Marketing to Children

Yesterday Motoko Rich reported in the New York Times,

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that it had reviewed monthly fliers distributed by Scholastic last year and found that one-third of the items sold in these brochures were either not books or books packaged with other items.

If you have a kid in elementary school, this is not news—and I have just the Snow Kitten feather pen to prove it. In fact I'm writing with it now. Just kidding. I'm really writing with a Bratz eraser. Just kidding. It's an Emily the Emerald Fairy Pack fairy pen. Just kidding. It's not a pen, it's a Hannah Montana guitar pick necklace. Hard to do. Picks don't write. Just kidding. Picks do write. Just kidding. I can hear you now over my Spy Tunes Listening Device. Krrrrrrrr. Just kidding, j—......

With apologies to "Saturday Night Live"'s Kristen Wiig and a hat tip to the data list here.

Easy Reading: "Wonders of America: Yellowstone"

C_1416954058 "Yellowstone is a magical place," writes Marion Dane Bauer in the beginning reader Wonders of America: Yellowstone.

Having visited the park when I was a kid, I can say, "Yessss!" in complete agreement. I was happy to discover this series, "Wonders of America." Other titles include The Mighty Mississippi, Mount Rushmore, and Niagara Falls. Was someone following us on family vacations?

With only a few simple sentences at most per spread, Marion Dane Bauer hits many Yellowstone highlights: geysers, hot springs, wild animals, and forest fires—all of which will intrigue newly minted readers. Older children might be inspired to find more books on subjects such as  how wolves were introduced back into the park. Come to think of it, the Miss Rumphius Effect blog mentions two books on that subject today. I wish Yellowstone had included suggestions for further reading.

Beginners will need some help with the text, even though the book is rated a Level 1. Don't get me wrong; that's okay. How else are you going to get better? It's fun and impressive to use words like "fumarole" and "pronghorn antelope." John Wallace's cheerful watercolors clearly depict what the words convey.

These days, when I come across easy readers, I think of my first-grade reading buddies. Soon I'm going to throw an atlas and some cool Yellowstone photos into my backpack and share this book with them. I know they're going to want to see the geysers one day, too.

For additional recommendations for children's nonfiction, don't miss today's roster at Charlotte's Library.

Poetry Friday: Updike's "Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children"

John Updike died last week at the age of 76. All of the obituaries and tributes have mentioned that he was a true man of letters, writing novels, short stories, criticism, essays, and poetry. The New Yorker's February 9 & 16 issue features excerpts from his wide-ranging work. Plus the magazine has made his classic sports story "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" (about Ted Williams' retirement) available online.

In another instance of a farewell, Updike's short, wistful "Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children" is online at the Poetry Foundation. The poem begins, "They will not be the same next time. The sayings/ so cute, just slightly off, will be corrected." It ends with a reflection on "how this world brave with hellos turns all goodbye."

Go, read.

Wild Rose Reader rounds up all the Poetry Friday offerings today.