Friday, March 30, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are video with Christopher Walken

Look, I didn't think much of this video at first. I figured it was simply Christopher Walken, reading the book. It's more than that. Hang in there a minute or two, and wait until he starts describing the pictures. Hilarious!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Storybound

This sounds really funny. I'm looking forward to it.

by Marissa Burt
Harper Collins
April 2012

In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain. They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible. But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale. Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity. The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move. And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Classic Board Books

So. This exists.

Wow! I need them! Like, right now. It's all your favorite classic literature - in simple board book form.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lemony Snicket... what's he up to these days?

Are you asking the right questions? Or all the wrong ones? Go to Lemony Snicket's website to find out.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Alchemy and Meggy Swann review

Alchemy and Meggy Swann
by Karen Cushman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
January 2010

First line: "Ye toads and vipers," the girl said, as her granny often had, ‘ye toads and vipers,’ and she snuffled a great snuffle that echoed in the empty room.”

The bustling, filthy London of the 1570's is expertly described with just enough pre-Shakespearean language to give readers a sense of being truly immersed in ancient history. Ill-fortuned Meggy Swann suffers from a debilitating deformity of her legs but manages to limp about with help of crutches. In non-politically correct times, no one is hesitant to let her know they believe her ailment to be a sign of the Devil's influence. Her absent father mistakenly believing her to be an able-bodied boy, calls her to London, intending to put her to work as an apprentice and is grievously disappointed when she arrives. Left to fend for herself, curious, determined, intelligent Meggy manages to befriend a theatre troupe, makes some spare coin writing poems and short songs for a printer, and in the end, saves the king from an evil plot. She stays loyal to her best friend, Louise, a goose who is nearly as moody as she is. Throughout the book, readers are treated to poetic descriptions of food from the nearly-always hungry Meggy. Fans of Karen Cushman's other medieval historical fiction novels, The Midwife's Apprentice, Catherine Called Birdy, and Matilda Bone will greatly enjoy this sassy, challenging middle-grade novel.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Black Heart

So excited for the finale to this trilogy! I can't wait to see what happens to all my favorite characters. I'm not going to even touch the cover re-design. Boo! I hate it when my covers don't match. Still, I hope this book will be as fantastic as I'm hoping.

Black Heart
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry
April 2012

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fiction > Reality Book Covers

Wow! I'll credit this brilliant idea for changing the way I think about book covers, forever. New cover that I don't like??? I'll design my own!

These are so brilliant and funny!

Started as an in-joke on Twitter, a graphic designer came up with this set of simple, colorful designs, along with instructions for how you can print this up at your local FedEx or Kinko's. They all carry some variation of, "Go Away, I'm Reading." What a great way to finally achieve uniform looking bookshelves. I think set 3 is my favorite, which offers, "At Hogwarts, BRB," "In Narnia, BRB," and "In Forks, Send Help," among others.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Firelight review

by Sophie Jordan
Harper Teen
September 2010

I love shapechanging dragons, and was pleased to find that this book had them in scores. Sixteen year-old Jacinda Jones is all but promised to Cassian, the alpha male heir-apparent to their isolated mountain community of dragonkin. The draki society contains several different subtypes of draki with different powers. They live mostly as humans, only occasionally taking dragon form. Jacinda is a super-rare fire-breather, and the other draki in their village can't wait for her to start having children, hopefully repopulating their kind with fire-breathers again. Jacinda's a bit of a rebel and a risk-taker and the last thing she wants is to mate with pushy, demanding Cassian. After a forbidden sunrise flight, and a close call with draki hunters, their tribe wants to clip her wings - all but tying her up to force her to breed. Her hard-edged mother decides the only way to save her is to relocate to the desert - hoping the hot dry weather will kill off Jacinda's draki half and shapechanging abilities altogether.

Once they've made their escape from the cool, foggy mountain home, Jacinda's younger twin sister Tamra is delighted to finally not have to play second-fiddle to her superstar older sister. Tamra loves the opportunity to finally be able to go to a normal high school and quickly makes new friends. While Jacinda has never been attracted to Cassian, and is glad to be free of the pressures and politics of the draki society, she loves flying and doesn't want to give up her dragon form. She's desperately holding on, by sneaking out for a few nighttime practice flights, and winds up meeting sensitive, handsome Will, who, it turns out, is the youngest son in a family of murderous draki hunters. There's a real forbidden Romeo and Juliet aspect to their romance. I can't wait to dig into the sequel, Vanish.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Grave Mercy

I love the cover, and the premise for this book.

Grave Mercy
by R.L. LaFevers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
April 2012

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In My Mailbox 21

New books at the library are in! This is a nice selection of middle-grade fiction, I think.
  • Ghost Buddy #1: From Zero to Hero - Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver
  • Secrets at Sea - Richard Peck
  • Cold Cereal - Adam Rex
  • Maggie & Oliver - Valerie Hobbs
  • Popular Clone - M.E. Castle
  • The Whisper - Emma Clayton

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stephenie Meyer portrait

What celebrity would you like to meet? Quick! Draw them using a simple Paint program - no erasing allowed. This was a tough one for me... I feel so lucky to have met a lot of famous people. Who to pick?

I racked my brain, and finally thought of someone.

I had a hard time thinking of how to make Stephenie Meyer look like Stephenie Meyer, and finally decided I'd have to show her thinking about one of her books. Okay, so how do I make Edward look like Edward? He's got to be lily-white, with fangs and crazy hair, looking sad, and sparkling. I think I pretty much nailed it.

Friday, March 9, 2012


It seems to be ubiquitous. Everywhere you go, bloggers have their captcha spam-fighting options turned on, forcing you to re-type strange, wiggly, blurry nonsense words in order to prove you're not a robot. Now that the default for Blogger includes, not one, but two very hard to read words (I find myself nearly always having to give at least two or three tries before I get it right) I found this video particularly apropos.

Captcha from Gabrielle de Vietri on Vimeo.

The sad thing is: I don't think most people don't need this much protection. I turned off my word verification and have only gotten a teeny-tiny amount of spam that I need to moderate. More, and more, I find myself not leaving comments at all, especially when faced with a byzantine number of hoops to jump before my comments will even be accepted for blogger approval.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed this video - a very creative and funny use of nonsense words, consistently conjugated - great job!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

Here's a sweet little video about the history of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster. I am in love with this bookshop! Wouldn't you love to visit?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: favorite bookcovers. I kind of feel like we're living in a golden age for book covers - there are just so many beautiful ones to choose from. Here are some of my favorites.

Top Ten Favorite Covers

1 Across the Universe
by Beth Revis
January 2011

This reversible cover is so neat! So original. I love it.

2 Matched
by Ally Condie
November 2010

This green globe, and subtly shiny cover caught my eye right away. I like that the rest of the series matches, even though they don't bowl me over as much as this first one.

3 Forever
 by Maggie Steifvater
 July 2011

The whole series together make such a nice matching set. I love these covers.

4 Twilight Graphic Novel, parts 1 and 2
by Stephenie Meyer, illustrated by Young Kim
Yen Press
March 2010/October 2011
Aside from the fact that these were a terrific adaptation, with a good breaking-point between parts 1 and 2, I like how the covers go together to make one picture.

5 The Thirteenth Princess
by Diane Zahler
Harper Collins
February 2010

A great retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses - okay, okay, I don't 100% buy the cover - the main character is supposed to be a lowly servant, so why is she wearing that fabulous cape and gown? Whatever! It looks good! I'm sold!

6 Harry Potter Signature Edition
by J.K. Rowling
November 2010

There have been a lot of Harry Potter covers out there, but these are my favorites. So clean, so elegant!

7 Wither
by Lauren de Stefano
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
March 2011

There have been hordes of great looking dresses on covers, but this one seems especially lovely to me.

8 Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
Dutton Juvenile
June 2011

Wow! Eye-catching, right? Truly a stunning photo.

9 Pink
by Lili Wilkinson
February 2011

Another really eye-catching cover.

10 Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown Books
December 2009

Another set of amazing book covers.

Overall... the major trend in YA tends to be girls in pretty dresses, or cropped models' faces, but books that have covers which are illustrated really grab my attention, simply because they are so different.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lucky review

by Rachel Vail
May 2008

Although marketed as YA, this book has the tone and cadence of a middle-grade novel. The main character is in eighth-grade. Phoebe Avery has led a charmed life: good looks, good grades, she's friends with the popular set, and her parents make a "comfortable" living that includes designer clothes, their own maid and trips to Europe. She's in the midst of planning a major bash to celebrate her eighth-grade graduation when everything starts crashing down around her ears. Her mother loses her high-powered job, and suddenly, the whole family must economize.

I found Phoebe bratty and difficult to like. What sort of eighth-grader demands to purchase a Vera Wang dress? The first clue that all is not right occurs when Phoebe dramatically throws away the family's broken toaster. Her mother angrily fishes it out of the trash, very out of character. Phoebe, of course, has only been imitating her mother who had recently thrown away a slightly imperfect tea kettle.

What is strikingly real about the book is Phoebe's excruciating self-conciousness. It's painful to read, because it takes you right back to that feeling of being in middle-school, and terrified of not fitting in. As the youngest of three sisters, Phoebe always feels like she's trying to prove herself. Phoebe feels like she's barely holding onto her spot in her social circle, as her best friend Kirstyn insists on taking their big graduation party to greater and greater excess. Poor Phoebe is so distracted with her family's money worries, she can hardly spare a thought for Lucas, a boy at school that she's been interested in.

There's something very, very intense about going through tight times at this age - Phoebe is old enough to understand very clearly exactly what is going on, but young enough to be completely unable to help out, or support herself at all. She's utterly humiliated at the idea of having to shop at thrift stores and can't bear to tell her friends the truth about her reduced circumstances. Many tween readers may get a vicarious thrill out of reading this, knowing that if their own situation mirrors Phoebe's, at least there's a very good chance that they'll handle it with better grace than she does. This is the first in a trilogy.

Compare to:
Everything I Was by Corinne Demas

The Not-So-Great Depression by Amy Koss

I borrowed this book from the library.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Father's Dragon Book Club

Normally, I like to recount my successes here on the blog, but sometimes, honesty is best, too. I've been running a book club for 8-12 year olds at my library and attendance has been low(ish) but not abysmal. It's definitely not an easy sell, not like adding another baby or toddler storytime, which would fill up in no time, that's for sure. I have about a half-dozen kids who've been showing up on a somewhat regular basis. Generally, we read a book, and do a craft while we have a light-hearted, informal, no-quizzes-later, kind of chat about the book. Our Diary of a Wimpy Kid book club meeting last month probably drew the largest crowd yet. I've been hosting them on the first Friday of the month in the late afternoons - mainly because there's been a lot of requests for activities that aren't in the middle of the week. It's the beginning of the weekend, and "First Friday" is alliterative, and relatively easy to remember. A lot of the kids are pretty engaged, but with their busy schedules, they are a bit burnt-out on anything too "schoolish" so I really make an effort to keep things fun and low-pressure.

When I was planning our line-up of book club meetings, like, 6 months ago, I completely forgot that the first Friday in March would be Dr. Seuss's birthday. I planned for us to read My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and make a dragon paper bag puppet. Voila!

Gorgeous, right? I got the pattern from They have a number of resources for free, or for $39.99 (less with a group membership!) you get access to all of their crafts and activities - well worth it, in my opinion. Their cute craft ideas are such a timesaver.

The original pattern has a strange-looking belly for the dragon, but I nixed that in favor of the striped construction-paper belly I gave him.

Sadly, my book club were no-shows! Why? Well, I think they simply had too many other competing activities yesterday, probably mostly having to do with the Seuss-sanity that's been brewing all this week. (Seuss-sanity, is that a word? It is now.) I did manage to press a few dragon-templates into the hands of kids at the branch who hadn't read the book, but might enjoy the craft anyway. Honestly, I think the low-attendance for this program had more to do with timing, than anything else. I'll definitely have to try to resurrect this program at some future (more auspicious) date.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dr. Seuss Taxidermy

Good morning! Happy Dr. Seuss Day! I found these here items for sale... they could be yours for a cool million. 

Dr. Seuss created these whimsical sculptures of "unknown beasts" in the 1930's. The winning bid also includes a vacation to France to personally oversee their packing and shipping, of course.

In other Seuss news: I put up a display honoring Dr. Seuss at my library, and it's already been completely picked over! Between picture books, beginning readers, some shelved under "Seuss," some under "LeSeig," and a few under "Geisel," as well as the Cat in the Hat science spin-offs by Bonnie Worth and Tish Rabe, we really have a lot more Seuss than what most would think. It's kind of gratifying to think of folks all over town reading his works for his birthday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Read in February

This month I read the following books:

1 May B. -  Caroline Rose Starr

2 Nice Shot, Cupid! - Kate McMullan
3 The Everneath - Brodi Ashton
4 Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
5 The Pregnancy Project - Gaby Rodriguez & Jenna Glatzer
6 The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls - Julie Schumacher

Picture credit: Reading Book by Eva D. Cowdery


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