Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from the Pigeon

Since Mo Willems' pigeon books are cherished by my one-year-old, of course we knew what he had to be for Halloween (I based it on a photo I saw on Mo's blog last Halloween) I hope you see some of your favorite characters around town!
Have a Spooky day!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

National Book Award Finalists and some interesting tidbits about the judges

The National Book Award Finalists were announced last week and I forgot to mention the finalist for "Young People's Literature" (Seriously, who calls it that?). And the finalists are:

Laurie Halse Anderson, CHAINS

See! I told you that you will LOVE Frankie Landau-Banks! Now you can bet I'll be reading the rest of the list.

Almost as interesting at the finalists, is the list of judges for this award: Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events, Holly Black of The Spiderwick Chronicles Fame, not to mention Angela Johnson and Cynthia Voight (ok, and Carolyn Mackler, but I can't say I've ever read any of her books). Wouldn't you love to meet with just one of them, if not all of them?

Did you know judges for the National Book Awards have to be published authors of literature in the category that they are judging? I find that interesting because that doesn't necessarily make you knowledgeable about that category. Judges are nominated by past winners, finalists and judges. Each judge is paid $2,500, which is especially odd considering that the award finalists only receive $1,000. At least the winner gets more, $10,000.

After judges select five finalists, their job is done and a jury selects the actual winner. The NBA site states, "Jury members are chosen for their literary sensibilities and their expertise in a particular genre". Each year the jury completely makes up their own criteria for the winners so there is no telling who will win. The most interesting part is that the jury meets on the day of the awards ceremony to pick the winner. Talk about pressure to come to a quick agreement! No one tells the National Book Foundation members until the ceremony to the award winner is a surprise to everyone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This month, we will be reading Young Adult action/adventure novels about some extremely talented high schoolers. Here's the reading list:
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - This is the most Young Adult of the three and does have some language and a sex scene (think the latest Twilight books, not graphic, but certainly there) it should make for an interesting discussion on what age you think the book is appropriate for and the direction YA books are heading these days.

As promised, here is the info on some local Utah author signings coming up:
Laurie Keller and The Scrambled States of America Talent Show at the Kings English on Tuesday, October 21st at 7:00..More info here

James Dashner signs the 13th Reality at The King's English on Monday, November 3rd at 7:00. Info here.

Megan MacDonald will be signing Judy Moody and Stink books at The Kings English Friday, November 7th at 4 p.m. Info here.

Also coming up is the Utah Humanities Book Fesitval at the City Library downtown, Saturday October 25th, A.E. Cannon will be speaking from 11 to noon in conference room A/B. From 12:30 to 1:30, Richard Peck will be speaking in the main auditorium. From 2 to 3 p.m. Sarah Zarr and Paul Fleischman will be speaking in Conference room C, discussing "Current Trends in Adolescent and Children's Literature." Pretty amazing lineup, eh? And it's all FREE! There are also all sorts of other things going on so get all the info here

Happy reading!

Come back for discussion questions later this month.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Witch of Blackbird Pond Discussion Questions

Our new Utah chapter of the book club met last night and it was so great to be together with a room of people who are excited about children's books. As previously mentioned, we read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg and we each shared some other books about witches. Most of the discussion focused on The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I found most of these discussion questions here.

  1. What do you think the main themes of this book are?
  2. What if people suddenly expected you to behave differently from what you are used to? What are some ways you, or others, might respond if the rules of acceptable behavior suddenly changed?
  3. It is obvious that men and women play different roles in The Witch of Blackbird Pond and, by implication, in colonial society. This is a basic historical fact. But what is striking about the novel is how Elizabeth George Speare reveals two truths: how men as well as women are trapped by their roles, and the emotional implications of these strict gender roles for all characters. Can you come up with some examples from the book?
  4. Who do you feel the most sorry for in this novel and why?
  5. In her attempt to help both Prudence and Hannah, Kit sometimes disobeys community and family rules. Was that the right thing to do and does that make her a good friend?
  6. When did you first suspect there might be something between Nat and Kit? How did Speare craft things so this relationship made sense?
  7. In the end, do you think Speare is saying Keeping secrets is a good thing or a bad thing?
  8. As Kit adjust to life in her new community, she must often ask herself whom must I be loyal to? How does that parallel our lives in this country today?
  9. In New England, witchcraft was a crime punishable by death.The first such trial and execution took place in Connecticut in 1647. Ten other similar trials and executions took place in Connecticut in the twenty years following. Three of those "witches" were from the real town of Wethersfield. Speare said, "I do not believe a historical novel should gloss over the pain and ugliness." Do you think the novel's conclusion was realistic for that time period?
  10. In the end, Matthew shows himself to be law-abiding, even though he is prejudiced against those with different ideas. Do you think it is possible for a good and decent person to have prejudices?
  11. This book was written a long time ago, do you think it would still interest kids today? What books of our time might interest kids just as much on 50 years?

You can also find some really interesting points about the themes and main conflicts of the novel here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Live, Laugh, Vote

Just a reminder that nominations started for the Cybils today. Head on over to nominate your favorites or get some great recommendations.

I'm struggling to to whittle my nominations down to just one book for each category!

October book list - Witches

The Utah Chapter of the Children's Literature Book Club is just getting started and Since it's the bewitching season, we're reading books about witches. We're starting things slowly so the list is short. We're reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare And The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
I've also asked each member to read at least one other book about witches and bring it to share. Here are a few titles that came to mind as possibilities:
Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson
Well Witched by Frances Hardinge
The Frog Princess Series by E.D. Baker
Witch Child by Celia Rees
The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow by Riford McKenzie
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Look for discussion questions later this month along with a list of the books members brought to share.

What's your favorite witch book?