Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2008 Newbery and Caldecott Awards

The 2008 ALA awards have been announced!

John Newbery Medal
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)

Newbery Honor Books
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam/GP Putnam's Sons)

Randolph Caldecott Medal
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

Caldecott Honor Books
Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ellen Levine (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter)
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtin by Peter Sís (Farrar/Frances Foster)
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems (Hyperion)

To see the full list, check here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kaza Kingsley is here today!

I’d like to thank Stephanie Ford and the Children’s Literature Book Club for hosting me today! The blog tour has been a fun adventure. I hope you enjoy this installment, and new questions, as well as the picture of me as a kid! As you may know, there are pictures of me on each post growing slowly older…!

What books or authors have inspired you or influenced you the most?

I have to say, the Wizard of Oz series, by L Frank Baum. I loved these books (fourteen in the series) so much when I was a young kid. I was a really slow reader then, too. I used to picture every sentence, vividly, and it took me a month of constant reading to finish a book!

Beyond the Oz books, I think I’ve been inspired at some level by most books I’ve read. I just finished “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell (read it in a day!) and I know it inspired me in some way, too.

How well do the illustrations in your books capture the imagery you visualized as you wrote?

The illustrations have been fantastic. Some of them, like the trolls guarding a cave in Otherness in Book Two, floor me.

People have pointed out that the illustrations remind them of Mary Grandpre’s (The Harry Potter series.) This I find to be a double-edged sword. If you hold the books together, you can see the artists have entirely different styles. But there is a feel there, and I’m not sure if it is a good thing or not. If it helps people know what kind of book it is, what general genre, I guess that’s good. If it makes people think “Harry Potter,” that’s not so good. I’d be curious to know what you and your readers think!

Is there anything you would change about either of your books now that they are out?

Yes … and no! In one sense, having edited them so many times before I sent them to the “real” editors, it’s hard to turn the editor in me off. When I pick up my work I’m always scanning it for word choice, sentence structure. I’ll always find wording I’d change.

As far as big changes – not specifically. I plotted enough of the series out that I was able to drop the hints I needed into Book One. That was one advantage of advance planning – I knew enough going into Book One that I could do that. But I suppose as I go, and more details get worked out, it would be cool to “step back in time” and drop in even more tidbits. But, at the same time, I’m happy with what is there. The story is on track, where it’s supposed to be. Now I just have to worry about editing Book Three like crazy before I hand it over!

In Book One, where did you come up with the Lia Fail idea – a stone that screams?

Actually the Lia Fail is a real peace of ancient Celtic mythology. They believed there was a stone that screamed to confirm that the king being crowned was a rightful ruler. I loved the concept, and the Lia Fail is going to be an important concept later in the series!

Is Erec going to be tempted by the scepters or influenced by them in future books?

Yes! He’s been infected with the feeling of power the scepters gave him, and that’s really hard to shake. Erec has quests to do, and evil to conquer, but will the scepters help him or get in the way? Something to think about!

Let me know what mythological references you’ve spotted in the Erec Rex books. I look forward to hearing from you!



Friday, January 11, 2008

Newbery Buzz

Did you know that this year the American Library Association is announcing its awards like the Newbery and Caldecott early? It's happening on January 14th! I can't wait. What are your predictions?

I know Hugo Cabret its quite a mix of illustrations and text so I hope that it won't be left out because it doesn't quite fit in any category. Wednesday Wars and Elijah of Buxton seem like shoe in to me to they do like to reward newcomers and I would love to see A Crooked Kind of Perfect Win (and who knows about Elijah of buxton because there are some historical inaccuracies there causing some controversy and then there's also the Coretta Scott King Award to condsider). I also wouldn't be surprised to see Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian or Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree make the list, but I haven't read those two so I can't add my two cents there.

So what do you think?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Aurora County All-Stars - by Deborah Wiles

Just as House Jackson has recovered from a broken elbow and begins to ready his team for their one and only game of the year, all the mamas in town sign their kids up to be in Finesse Shotz pageant to celebrate the town’s 200th anniversary, which just so happens to be the same time as the big game. Frances and House were already enemies after Frances caused the accident that broke House’s elbow, causing him to miss last year’s game. During his year without baseball, House has spent time reading to the recluse elderly man who lives next-door, and carefully keeping it a secret from the rest of the baseball team. His secret is almost spilled when House discovers the man has died and left him a copy of Walt Whitman poetry. As the publisher says, in the end, “Mysteries are revealed, friendships are healed, and everyone, from youngest to oldest, learns something about love, community . . . and baseball.”

Like Wiles other books, Love, Ruby Lavender and Each Bird Sings; this books is also set in fictional Aurora County and even has an appearance by Ruby, but this book is the first to take a boy’s point-of-view. It’s chock-full of small town stereo types like mamas who spend all of their time together at the Laundromat watch soap operas and a nosey town reporter who publishes articles on rumors she over-hears while buying produce at the Piggly Wiggly.

Kirkus reviews states that sections of this book originally appeared in serialized form in the Boston Globe, which may explain why there are some great scenes, but most of the book drags on and feels a bit pieced together. There were some parts of the plot that I really enjoyed like Ruby worming her way onto the all-boy baseball team because she’s such a good player, and a subplot involving the discrimination in early professional baseball, but the majority of the book I found humdrum as the major problem of the book (whether there will be a baseball game or a pageant) was easily solvable.

The part of the book that I found most odd was all of the literary references. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed picking them out, but this book is written for a child audience people!!!! The references are everywhere; there’s a dog name Eudora Welty and large part of the plot is based on the poetry of Walt Whitman so many chapter begin with a Whitman quote. Many comments like, “Don Quixote directed her Sancho Panza to take the vote.” and, “He’s as dead as beautiful, young Emily Webb in Our Town by Thornton Wilder!” will be lost on the intended audience. It makes me question why these references are there. Does Wiles think the average fifth grader who picks up this book is also reading “Death of a Traveling Salesman” in their free time or more likely is she trying to appeal to English teachers?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kaza Kingsley blog tour

Kaza Kingsley is doing a blog tour to promote her new book, The Monsters of Otherness, book two of the Eric Rex series.

Here's the schedule:
1/7 – A Fort Made of Books
1/8 – Books4Ever
1/9 – Baseballs and Bows
1/10 – Fanatic Space Blog
1/11 – Bibliophile's Retreat
1/12 – Children's Literature Book Club
1/13 – Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-A-Holic
1/14 – A Year of Books
1/15 – Author Chris Rettstatt's blog
1/16 – Deliciously Clean Reads
1/17 – Into the Wardrobe
1/18 – Real Gurlz Magazine
1/19 – Chauceriangirl

That's right folks, Kaza will be here on Saturday, January 12th! She's a fellow Ohioan and has decided to stop by our blog for a visit! She's closely following all of the blogs on her tour so if you have any questions you can post comments here for her. Click here for an excerpt of Book Two! I can't wait to see what Kaza has to say!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

January - Early/Middle Grade Fiction Series

This may look like a lot, but this month we are focusing on early/middle grade series, especially fairly new ones that are popular now, so they are all very very fast reads and it won't take you long to read your way through the list.

We'll be meeting at Amy's house on the SECOND WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH so everyone will have a chance to get back from vacation and spend some time reading. For the most part, we picked the first book in each series to give you a feel for it, but if you can't get your hands on the first book, pick any book in the series, in fact that might add to discussion.

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus - by Barbara Park

Frindle - by Andrew Clements (this is not quite a series, I'll explain later)

Judy Moody - by Megan McDonald

Knights of the Kitchen Table- Time Warp Trio Series – by Jon Scieszka

Dinosaurs Before Dark, Magic Treehouse Series - by Mary Pope Osborne

Ivy and Bean - By Annie Barrows

Elephant and Piggie - by Mo Willems (choose any, there is no specific order)

Clementine - By Sara Pennypacker

Hot Hand, Come Back Kids - by Mike Lupica

Mercy Watson To The Rescue, Mercy Watson Series- By Kate Dicamillo

Welcome to Camden Falls, Main Street Series - by Ann M. Martin

December Picture Books

In December we held a book exchange and we discussed some of our favorite Christmas picture books including:

Olivia Helps With Christmas - by Ian Falconer

Wombat Divine - by Mem Fox

Welcome Comfort - by Patricia Polocco

Auntie Claus - by Elise Primavera

The Trees of the Dancing Goats - by Patricia Polocco

Olive the Other Reindeer - by Vivian Walsh

The Amazing Christmas Extravaganza -by David Shannon
Too Many Tamales - by Gary Soto

Yoon and the Christmas Mitten - by Helen Recorvits

There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve - by Pam Munoz Ryan

Santa Claus, The World's Number One Toy Expert - by Marla Frazee