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Carnegie & Greenaway Shortlists Announced

Shortlists have been announced for the UK's prestigious Carnegie and Greenaway awards for children's books. You can find the rosters at the following links: Carnegie Medal shortlist 2009, and Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist 2009.

The Carnegie honors writing and the Greenaway illustration, much like the Newbery and Caldecott awards here.

Last Friday the Guardian newspaper commented on the "boysy" aspect of the Carnegie shortlist.

First-Grade Boogie

Sometimes you just want to read a book that's fun. That was the case with two of my first-grade reading buddies this morning. After practicing words with long a's and short a's in a phonics book, Daniel and Lucie wanted something that would make them laugh. 

Daniel knew just the thing; he ran to his desk to retrieve The Animal Boogie, by Debbie Harter. Daniel said the book was too hard for him to read himself, but Lucie was game to try. With a little bit of help from me (with the big words) and from Daniel (with the page-turning), she rocked it.

The Animal Boogie is a repetitious (in a good way) guessing-game book that opens,

Down in the jungle, come if you dare!
What can you see shaking here and there?
With a shaky shake here and a shaky shake there,
What's that creature shaking here and there?

Daniel knew what the creature on the page was, of course, since the book is his. Smiling, he asked excitedly, "Do you know? Do you know? " He turned the page for Lucie, who read,

She goes shake, shake, boogie, woogie, oogie!
Shake, shake, boogie, woogie, oogie!
Shake, shake, boogie, woogie, oogie!
That's the way she's shaking here and there.

By the end the three of us were chanting along, and Daniel, too, was reading difficult words like "creature." I appreciated the fact that the illustrations included children of different races and a little girl in a wheelchair, and my two friends, born long after the disco years, thought the phrase "boogie, woogie, oogie" was hilarious. The Animal Boogie originally came with a musical CD, but that was long gone from Daniel's copy. No matter. Just reading was plenty of fun.

A Clue, a Clue for "The Potato Chip Puzzles"

The Potato Chip Puzzles Cover

Are you ready for today's clue? As part of the blog tour for Eric Berlin's new book, The Potato Chip Puzzles, Chicken Spaghetti is proud to point you in this direction:

Remember: Answers should be sent to [email protected]

One random correct solver will win a signed copy of The Potato Chip Puzzles.

 Hang on to your answers, because you'll need all of them to solve the final puzzle. One random solver of that last puzzle will win every children's and YA book in G.P. Putnam's Sons Spring 2009 lineup, and a few Fall 2009 advance reading copies, too.

More details can be found here:

Don't miss the final clue tomorrow, April 22nd, at Oz and Ends. Oh, and catch up with the previous five hints at these blogs so that you'll have a chance at the final prize.

V. Nabokov, on Beginning Reading

"I learned to read English before I could read Russian. My first English friends were four simple souls in my grammar—Ben, Dan, Sam and Ned. There used to be a great deal of fuss about their identities and whereabouts—"Who is Ben?" "He is Dan," "Sam is in bed," and so on. Although it all remained rather stiff and patchy (the compiler was handicapped by having to employ—for the initial lessons, at least—words of not more than three letters), my imagination somehow managed to obtain the necessary data. Wan-faced, big-limbed, silent nitwits, proud in the possession of certain tools ("Ben has an axe"), they drift now with a slow-motioned slouch across the remotest backdrop of memory; and, akin to the mad alphabet of an optician's chart, the grammar-book lettering looms again before me."

from Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited, by Vladimir Nabokov (Vintage International 1989 edition)

A Very Puzzling Blog Tour

Today marks the beginning of author Eric Berlin's blog tour for his new book, The Potato Chip Puzzles. Booklist said of Berlin's first novel, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen: "Readers . . . will surface from this unusual mystery with their hearts pounding and their brains limbered up for more." Crossword aficionados will recognize Eric Berlin as the author of last Sunday's puzzle in the New York Times Magazine.

Put on your detective hats to solve the clues at the following sites, and don't miss Tuesday's clue right here at Chicken Spaghetti. A big prize goes to the champion puzzle solver!

April 17th: Fuse #8
April 18th: Shelf Elf
April 19thBooks Together
April 20th: Bookshelves of Doom
April 21st: Chicken Spaghetti
April 22nd: Oz and Ends

2009 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's novel He Forgot to Say Goodbye and Carmen Tafolla's short-story collection The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans have tied for this year's Tomás Rivera prize for Mexican American children's literature. Both books are for young-adult readers.

As the San Marcos (Texas) Mercury reports,

The award, established at Texas State University in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States.

A Case for Memorizing Poetry

I don't even remember the last time I learned a poem by heart, but this piece in the New York Times Book Review caught my attention. Jim Holt has memorized a lot of poetry. "It’s all about pleasure. And it’s a cheap pleasure," he writes.

One should be skeptical, though, of some of the alleged advantages cited by champions of poetry memorization. “I wonder if anyone who has memorized a lot of poetry . . . can fail to write coherent sentences and paragraphs,” Robert Pinsky once said. Well, responded David Bromwich, just take a look at the autobiography of Marlon Brando, who memorized heaps of Shakespeare.