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Make Way for "Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"

Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy

Review by Pooja Makhijani

Out of the Way - Cover Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, written by Uma Krishnaswami and illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy, is a delightful tale about a sapling that grows into a tree, a village that grows into a big city, and a little boy who grows into a man.

(Yes, there are two Uma Ks! Uma Krishnaswami (with an "i") is a New Mexico-based author of a number of picture books and novels for children and a writing teacher. She can also be found meditating on the craft for writing for young readers at her blog, Writing with a Broken Tusk. Uma Krishnaswamy (with a "y") is a Chennai-based illustrator who draws inspiration from folk and other forms of art from India. Of course, Krishnaswami and Krishnaswamy read the same in Hindi, one of the eight Indian languages that Out of the Way! Out of the Way! has been translated into. Hindi is written phonetically and doesn't have the spelling "quirks" of English. But more on all that in a moment.)

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! is a simple story about a little boy who makes space for a tree on a dusty path in a village somewhere in India, even while mango sellers and bullock-cart men tell the little boy to move "out of the way." Over time the path becomes a road and the tree becomes home to a pair of crows, food for squirrels and parakeets, and a meeting-place for children and grownups. The tree is now big enough to make people move out of its way!

Krishnaswami has created an entertaining story for children, who will love to shout the refrain, "out of the way! out of the way!," and adults, who will appreciate the conservationist message. Krishnaswamy's color-drenched illustrations are eye-catching and detailed. Young readers will enjoy spotting human footprints and animal tracks along the ever-winding village road or identifying the taxis and trucks and tractors that make their way through the city.

Out of the Way! Out of the Way! is published by Tulika Books, an Indian independent publishing house committed to multilingual publishing. This book is available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, and Bengali through Tulika's website. The various versions are perfect for young "heritage language learners" in the United States and elsewhere. I know I would've loved the Hindi version of Out of the Way! Out of the Way! when I was learning the language as a child. The jaunty refrain in Hindi is "raastaa choro," literally "let go of the road," and evokes the journey of the boy, the tree, and the village. You can hear the opening of Out of the Way! Out of the Way! in Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil, read by Uma Krishnaswami's 81-year-old mother here.

Pooja Makhijani is a New York City-based writer, editor, and educator. She learned the word for "squirrel" from the Hindi version of Out of the Way! Out of the Way!

Continue reading "Make Way for "Out of the Way! Out of the Way!"" »

10 New Children's Books Recommended by Independent Booksellers

9780547215679 1. The Prince of Mist, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

2. City Dog, Country Frog, by written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon J Muth

3. The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1: The Shadows, by Jacqueline West

4. Dark Life, by Kat Falls

5. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

6. The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green & David Levithan

8. How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog), by Art Corriveau

9. Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

10. The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska

This list for summer 2010 comes from IndieBound, a project of the American Booksellers Association. I picked up a flyer with these recommendations and more at Posman Books, in New York's Grand Central Terminal. The longer roster includes books by writer pals Elisha Cooper (Beaver Is Lost), Chris Barton (Shark vs. Train), and Mitali Perkins (Bamboo People).

I was in Posman to shop for a couple of editions of grown-up books I couldn't find at the local Barnes & Noble, which seems to be selling only classics published by, yep, Barnes and Noble. That means an older translation of Chekhov's stories instead of the acclaimed Pevear and Volokhonsky translation. I know that's so nerdy, but, still, I don't want the B & N versions. Posman had the P & V Chekhov and three different Middlemarches to choose from. That's what I want.


IndieBound lists (and capsule descriptions) of recommended children's books, summer 2010

Posman Books

Bonus track: NPR's Summer Reading 2010 (for grown-ups)

Summer Reading for Kids with ADD

Kay Marner, a librarian and a mother of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), writes about summer reading in a good article at ADDitude Magazine's online edition. Although her tips are geared toward children with ADD and/or learning disabilities, they make a lot of sense for everyone else, too.

Marner says,"Reading quantity counts. There’s a strong relationship between the number of books read and a child’s improvement in reading ability. Reading at least four or five books each summer produces big skill-saving. Let your child choose books that fit his interests. Garfield—or, in [her daughter] Natalie’s case, Captain Underpants—is as effective in sharpening reading skills as are more serious books. Popular series—Harry Potter and others—are especially good at keeping children reading."

Check out the entire article here.

As far as our summer reading schedule goes, I plan to set aside one day a week as Library Day. For an hour or so on Thursday afternoons, say, we can stop by and return books, look for more, have a snack at the small cafe, and use the computer if we want.

What are you going to do for summer reading?

What We're Listening to, 6.15.10

What is is about the last month of school and driving around? Rehearsal here, gift pickups there, and a detour for returning the rented clarinet. It all adds up to a lot of car time.

Thank goodness for the audio version of Flush, a book for kids (10 and older) by Carl Hiaasen. We're onto disc 2 of 5, which ought to last until the last day of classes, at least.

Publishers Weekly described the novel this way,  "Hiaasen's [...] action-packed mystery set in the Florida Keys offers a colorful cast of dastardly villains and eccentric heroes, along with his signature environmental themes."

If you spot us driving by and we don't see you, we're listening to the latest chapter of Flush. Just honk and we'll wave!

Grisham for Kids, and More

Bruce Handy reviews John Grisham's new book, a legal thriller for children, in this morning's New York Times Book Review. Clearly familiar with the territory, Handy writes, "... you have to give Grisham credit for stepping into an arena where being the author of 'The Firm' counts for less than being the author of 'Junie B. Jones Is a Beauty Shop Guy'.” (In the same piece, Handy also considers the new, Egyptian-set novel The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan.)

Handy is a funny man; I like his reviews. The one-line bio notes that the critic is "writing a book about reading children’s literature as an adult and liking it." I look forward to reading that.

Other books considered in the NYTBR today are The Popularity Papers, by Amy Ignatow; The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger (can't wait to read it); and Lynne Rae Perkins' As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth (reviewed by Monica Edinger, of the Educating Alice blog).

Poetry Friday: Gulf Coast

Now, beside the racing, incomprehensible racket

Of the sea stretching its great girth forever

Back and forth between this direction and another,

Please let the words of this proper praise I speak

Become the identical and proper sound

Of my mourning.

from "Eulogy for a Hermit Crab," by Pattiann Rogers. Anthologized in Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast, edited by Sara St. Antoine (Milkweed Editions, 2002).

Hermit_crab_on_sea_cucumber The phrase "incomprehensible racket," which Pattiann Rogers uses here to describe the sea, now reminds me of what it must sound like in the Gulf of Mexico as BP and everyone else attempt to fix our country's biggest oil spill ever. "Incomprehensible" also reminds me of the mess that has already reached Louisiana and is headed for the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida shorelines, all places I have spent many happy hours. Let's hope last night's giant funnel solution might actually pan out. Nothing, of course, will bring back the eleven rig workers who died.

Stories from Where We Live: Gulf Coast, from a Milkweed series for children, is an excellent collection of short poems, essays, and fiction, all focusing on nature and people's' relationship to place. This morning, as Junior crackled with excitement for his final elementary-school field day, I tied him to a chair suggested he sit down and listen as I read "The Singing River," about Mississippi's Pascagoula River, which is said to, yes, sing. Sylvia B. Williams' story describes the waterway, offers a few theories about the sound, and includes a Native American legend about the place.

This is a good book to read right now, and a fine starting point for conversations about the disaster that started some forty miles off the coast of Louisiana.

I'm not able to find a copyright-adhering online link to "Eulogy for a Hermit Crab," but in addition to Stories from Where We Live: Gulf Coast, you can find the poem in Rogers' Dream of the Marsh Wren (Milkweed, 1999) and Song of the World Becoming: New and Collected Poems 1981-2001 (Milkweed, 2001).

Additional link: Pascagoula River Audubon Center

Photo credit: [Live] Hermit crab on sea cucumber, Monterey, California. Image taken by Clark Anderson/Aquaimages. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

This Morning's Laugh

...comes from the blog of Editorial Anonymous, a children's book editor. This morning E.A. answers a question about an author queries:

If you're writing nonfiction, then yes, we really do want some reason to think that the nonfiction is not full of mistakes copied from Wikipedia, or "facts" revealed to you on a piece of toast by Jesus.

Read the whole post.