Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This is the third Calvin Coconut book. This is a great early chapter series that features a diverse cast of characters. Calvin lives in Hawaii with his mother and younger sister Darci. Stella, the teenage daughter of his mother's best friend is staying with them.
At school Calvin's class is given an assignment to write a persuasive letter. Calvin decides to write about wanting a dog. With the help of his mother's boyfriend, Ledward, Calvin eventually gets the dog he really wants.
This works well as stand alone. Though it's best read in order, since Salisbury does a great job of developing the characters and their relationships.
Jacqueline Rogers illustrations are great. I especially like the ones with Stella and Calvin. Rogers also show off Calvin's active imagination.
An excerpt from the first book. Just in case book four, Calvin Coconut: Zoo Breath is already out
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Grandma's Pear Tree/El Peral De Abuela by Suzanne Santillan
Three Little Kittens by Jerry Pinkey (new release)
Number One Kid by Patricia Reilly Giff
President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston (new release)
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey -This is one of my favorite YA novels of the year. The author embracing diversity made me love it that much more. My interview with Healey
Saltypie by Tim Tingle - I still plan on reading this one. It will be nice to read a story about an American Indian that is actually written by an American Indian. I loved Crossing Bok Chitto by Tingle.
This must be the time of year to look at statistics. Over at her blog American Indian's in Children's Literature, Debbie Reese shares the number of books about American Indians and by Americans Indians as complied by CCBC
Author Zetta Elliott list all the MG/YA books published by African American authors this year. Many people help put the list together, including me. In the end there were only 50 titles for the whole calender year. A few titles may have been missed but not enough to make this to make this list respectable.
Elliott goes a step farther and breaks down who published what.
In case you haven't since it, check out author Mayra Lazara Dole's - Authentic Latino Voices in Hunger Mountain.
How many Latino MG/YA authors do you think were published in 2010?
Monday, September 27, 2010
Doreen's family, (parents and Momo, younger sister) are moving from Los Angeles to San Francisco. On the drive there Doreen discovers that she loves to doodle, it also calm her down so she can focus. At her old school Doreen was diagnosed with ADD and put on Ritalin. Doreen got in trouble at her old school, she didn't like being on Ritalin. With her journal and pens Doreen doesn't need it any more.
Before the move Doreen went by Dodo. When they make it to their home she's Doodle. The author did a wonderful job with Doreen's voice. I loved it. Doreen is a smart girl, that worries a mistake she made will follow her to another city. The younger sister, Momo has a storyline of her own. The parents are actively involved, encouraging and supporting their daughters. I loved Doodlebug. Its entertaining, creative, serious and funny.
A few reviews (including a starred Kirkus review) via the author's site
Also like most graphic novels, Doodlebug is something you have to see for yourself to get the full effect. So do check out these samples pages from the author's site
Finally check out the author's youtube tutorial on doodling
Sunday, September 26, 2010
2010 Nonfiction Picture Book Panel
Panelist (Round I Judges)
Shirley Duke, Simply Science
Amanda Goldfuss, ACPL Mock Sibert
Abby Johnson, Abby (the) Librarian
Karen Terlecky, Literate Lives
Carol Wilcox - Carol's Corner
Judges (Round II):
Kara Dean, Not Just for Kids
Roberta Gibson, Wrapped in Foil
Deb Nance, Readerbuzz
Carol Rasco, Rasco from RIF
Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Justin Fisher is in the fifth grade at Spiro Agnew Elementary School. This has a great first chapter. Justin is remembering a lunch room incident from the third grade. Justin wonders if it never happened would he still be the class clown?
" So there he was, moving precariously forward with his tray, when things began sliding. The Jell-O shivered, slipping toward the edge. When Justin tipped the tray up, the three meatballs began to tumble, rumble, and roll in the other direction. To make things worse, Justin had a paperback book tucked under his arm and an apple wedged between his chin and neck. As he tried to stop the sliding, slipping meatballs with a minor tray adjustment, the daredevil Jell-O tried to make a leap for it. Look out below! It splattered on the floor, a splotch of green goo. As if that wasn't bad enough - Justin wondered what dessert could survive such a fall - a chunk of Jello-O slithered under his next footstep. And that was when the cardboard tray, complete with spaghetti worms and meatlike balls, flew toward the ceiling. Justin left knee buckled. His right foot slipped and kicked out making him look like a backward - falling punter on a football field. Shoulders tipped back, and back and back. At that moment, Justin Fisher had a pretty amazing view of the spaghetti as it soared up and up, like a flying snakes but without wings or feathers, magical airborne spaghetti right out of some crazy sci fi adventure movie"
I wish I could share the entire first chapter but I am pretty sure that's illegal. Preller writes Justin's "uh oh" moment so well. Readers will easily sympathize with Justin as his accidental fall plays out step by step. I am not one to make playlist for books. Though if I did "Tears of the Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Mircles would be track one.
After his public fall Justin decides to be in on the laugh, making himself the class clown. Fast forward to the fifth grade, Justin's still playing the same part, but his classmates are tired of it. His teacher Mr. Tripp has rules he expects to be followed. Justin doesn't like these rules. He decides to fight back, declaring war and acting out as much as he can.
Justin gets himself into more trouble. In class he interrupts. Outside Justin sometimes tells mean jokes about other kids. Justin isn't a bad kid, he simply doesn't know where to draw the line. Part of me thinks Justin believes peoples feelings can be hurt if it leads to laugh because of what happened in the third grade. The fifth grade is getting ready for a talent show. Justin wants to be the MC but the other students think he'll ruin it for the entire grade. After the tryouts, Tori, a quiet call with a great voice calls Justin out. She tells Justin everyone thinks he's a jerk.
When, I first read this scene, I wished it was longer. After, I looked back on it, I realized it was good as is. A shy girl confronting a boy who acted like a jerk is huge. As is the boys willingness to listen and not deny, laugh away or try to defend prior bad acts.
Slowy Justin learns when to stop trying to be funny all the time and to be careful of other peoples feelings. Somewhere along the way Mr. Tripp and Justin both give a little and meet in the middle. Justin calls a truce. I thought it is was very cool that Justin's was a reader. At one point teacher and student start talking about books. Justin lends Mr. Tripp his copy of Bone* by Smith. In turn the Mr. Tripp shares some of his favorites with Justin, including Dogs Don't Tell Jokes by Sachar
I really enjoyed Justin Fisher Declares War. Preller's has a created a character in Justin, that isn't all good or bad. The author previous novel Along Came Spider , is also set at Spiro Agew Elementary School. Anyone who has read it, will like being able to see how best friends Trey and Spider are doing. I don't know if the author plans to set anymore novels at this school. But I hope so. Justin Fisher Declares War is a great suggestion for fans of Andrew Clements or Dan Gutman.
This is legal- read the excerpt
*Smith's Bone series is very popular. Some young readers may like the fact that Justin is reading the same series as them.
Preller was kind enough to participate in my 9 authors 12 questions feature to kick off the baseball season this year. I suppose I should do one of those, oh by the way I kind of cyber know the author but this is my honest opinion declarations, since I slipped in that feature in. So here goes, Justin Fisher Declares War is a really good book. That statement was not given under duress and there is no check the mail. I borrowed Justin Fisher Declares War! from my local library.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Hello Jewell Parker Rhodes, Please tell us a little about Ninth Ward?
Ninth Ward is a coming of age story. Using perseverance and inner strength, my characters become heroic. In the face of tragedy, they are able to triumph through faith, friendship, and
This is your middle grade debut. When I heard about it I was so excited, it felt right. When I think of novel's set in New Orleans, you are one of the first authors that comes to mind.
How did this project come about?
All my life, I’ve wanted to write for young readers. I never doubted that it was going to be a challenge to write a good book for children. So, for decades, I’ve been practicing my craft and searching for the right story to tell. In 2008, when Hurricane Ike threatened New Orleans, I thought, “oh, no, not again,” and I went to sleep. I must’ve been dreaming, feeling anxious for Louisiana’s children, for when I woke, Lanesha’s voice was inside my head.
Ninth Ward was worth the wait. Lanesha’s voice was perfect. Many adult authors who crossover into children's literature, have a difficult time creating realistic children's voices. Smart, strong, level headed Lanesha, came across as the 12 yr old she was suppose to be.
How did you approach crafting Lanesha's voice?
Lanesha’s voice was a gift. When I woke, the first few lines were full-blown. It was if Lanesha was guiding me to tell her story. More than any character that I’ve ever written, Lanesha is her own unique self. I never had a problem with her voice, it was just there, inside my head. All I had to do was listen.
Lanesha picked the right person to tell her story. I loved the opening lines "They say I was born with a caul, a skin netting covering my face like a glove. My mother died birthing me. I would've died too, if Mama Ya-Ya hadn't sliced the bloody membrane from my face."
Since Lanesha can see ghost from birth and there's a reason for this ability, it doesn't seem so strange or improbable. The gift of sight is very fitting for a novel set in New Orleans.
Many of your novels feature a little magical element. What came first your love of New Orleans or magical realism?
Literary people love the term “magical realism.” My grandmother would’ve said, “It isn’t magic, it’s just real.” I think, particularly in the south, folklore is alive and deeply connected to our relationships and family history. So, there’s always an acceptance of the “magical” as a reality. So, as a little girl my grandmother raised me to believe that everything in the world has a spiritual essence to be respected and that the world is filled with symbols that can be interpreted. As a writer, I’m a magical realist; as, Jewell, I’m writing about life as grandmother taught me.
Lanesha and Mama Ya Ya relationship was simply wow. You really make the reader feel their connection. Can you tell us a little about it?
Mama Ya Ya is based upon my grandmother, Ernestine, who raised me. But Mama Ya Ya is older and has the opportunity to share all her love and knowledge with Lanesha. (My grand-mother died unexpectedly when I was in college.) Mama Ya Ya is representative of how elders (and I include teachers and librarians, too!) can be so important raising a child. Lanesha and Mama Ya Ya might not have much in terms of material wealth, but they are rich in love. They create a family even, though legally they aren’t recognized as relatives.
This is a very visual read, especially after the hurricane hits. I could clearly see Lanesha using an ax so they could escape onto the roof. While I was reading this scene, I pictured Strickland's illustrations for A Place Where Hurricanes Happen.
That visual was much easier on me then remembering the real thing. When you were writing Ninth Ward did you ever feel the need to disconnect yourself from memories of Hurricane Katrina? Was that even possible?
I do not think I could’ve written Ninth Ward immediately following Hurricane Katrina. It took three years for me to process the devastation, then another year of writing about Lanesha. But I always knew that Louisianans would endure with love, faith, and fortitude. It will be the Lanesha’s of the world—our young people—who will shape a better future.
The fifth year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has recently past. How do you think New Orleans is recovering? And what about the Ninth Ward?
New Orleans’s spirit is electric. But I am dismayed at how long it takes to demolish decrepit buildings and how long it takes to rebuild. When I last walked the Ninth Ward, I was thrilled to see the new energy efficient and flood-safe housing. “More, more, more, please” and “faster, faster, faster.”
I love Ninth Ward’s cover. Customers are responding very well to the cover art and the overall design of the book.
Who is the artist behind the cover? And who is responsible for the books design?
Shino Arihara, a Los Angeles based artist, created the cover art. She captured beautifully the spiritual peace and loveliness that can still exist in a world ravaged by storm. I love how Lanesha looks straight ahead, unafraid of the future, and using a magnolia, a flower symbolizing dignity and beauty, as her umbrella.
Alison Impey, Senior Designer at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, designed the jacket art and the visual look of the overall book and its' pages. It's Alison's vision and attention to aesthetic detail that makes Ninth Ward so stunning. I think Alison understood the book perfectly and she helped me, too, in her splendid visuals, to understand the calming power of the tale.
Please send along my thanks to Shino Arihara and Alison Impey for such beautiful work. The cover is the customer’s first impression of a book. As a bookseller it makes my job easier when it's not only good but memorable.
Do you plan on writing any more children's books?
I have written a draft of a YA book and I’m just starting a new middle grade book. If I could write just one book that touches a child’s heart and mind, just when they need it most, I would be ecstatic. Growing up, books were vital to my life. Though I didn’t experience a hurricane, I experienced other kinds of emotional storms. Reading always helped me believe in my own possibilities, other imaginative and concrete horizons, and that there were good people in the world ready to help a child grow.
I am so happy to hear the answer is yes. Ninth Ward was such a beautiful book. Though this is a story about a tragic event, Lanesha, Mama Ya Ya, and Ta Shon are at its core. That's one of the many reasons why I loved it. There's so much beauty, possibly, strength and love to take away from it.
Ninth Ward's only been out since August but is already 2010 Parents Choice Gold Medal Winner. Congratulations, I hope its the first of many wins.
Thank you so much for letting me do this interview. I feel very honored.
Thank you for sharing a little of your time with me, and for writing such a wonderful story. The honor is all mine.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I'm So Not Wearing a Dress by Mai S. Kemble - I really enjoyed this story about a tomboy who agrees to be a flower girl under a few conditions. The cover really pops in person.
Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson illus. by R.G. Roth - I know about this one thanks to Carol, a follow Round 1 Cybils judge for Non Fiction Picture books
Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin - Since no one called me out for missing this release last week, I am convinced no one actually reads this feature.
Wonder Women Classics by Erin K. Stein illus. by Rick Farley - This is the only book on here that doesn't feature any kids of color. As far as I know this is the first time Wonder Woman has a learning to read book all to herself. Female superheroes for young readers are underrepresented as well. So it made the list
The Memory Bank by Carolyn Coman illus. by Rob Shepperson - You can't tell from this picture but its a diverse cover.
Violet in Bloom by Lauren Myracle - I love this middle grade series. This was as good as the first one. Will review soon. My review of book one.
Along the River by Adeline Yen Mah - This is a Chinese Cinderella story
Monday, September 20, 2010
Last Night I Sang to The Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
I let out a little squeal of happiness with I discovered who won. Benjamin Alire Saenz is such a talented writer and deserves a lot more attention then he gets.
On Wednesday, I will be posting an interview with Jewell Parker Rhodes. I loved Ninth Ward. When I finished it my first thought was "I want to interview the author" But I was hesitant to ask. It was Jewell Parker Rhodes after all. Ninth Ward is her first children's novel but she has an extensive body of work. When, I finally did ask, Rhodes was kind enough to say yes.
If you missed it do check out my recent interview with Jen Cullerton Johnson the author of Seeds of Change. I had difficult time coming up with questions. I had some serious question block ( is that a real thing? If not it should be.) Finally it hit me, with the exception of a group G. Neri interview with Edi and Ari about Yummy , this would be the only other time I would be asking an author questions about a non fiction book. Once I knew what the problem was, it got easier.
This is the fifth year of the Cybils awards or Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award. I love this award, it gives some well deserved attention to some great books. Anyone is free to nominate a 2010 release. The Cybils site is very easy to browse and the organizer's make everyone feel welcome. I say the same thing about Cybils award every year. Though this the first year, I put my name in to be a judge. I will be on one of the panels but I won't say which one until the full panel is released on the site. I am very happy with my placement and to have the opportunity to participate in the Cybils awards.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
This is one of the funniest middle grade novels I've read all year. 12 yr old Griff Carver is no ordinary seventh grader. He has been a member of school saftey patrol since he was six years old. Griff Carver is the first saftey patrol officer ever to be kicked out of school, while on the job.
"It wasn't ugly. At first blush, all you'd see is squeaky clean kids playing and killing time till the bell rings. Big lawn. Nice clothes. First-hand bikes. Right out of the school brochure. Maybe that's all you'd ever see. 'Cause you never wore a badge. Me? I carried that piece of tin for six years. Almost half my life. Started in first grade. Typical wet-behind-the-ears rookie. Made all the rookie mistakes. Thought I was God's gift to Safety Patrol. In retrospect, maybe I came on a little too strong. Like I was trying too hard. Like I could do it all myself. Maybe I was asking for it. Maybe not.
Griff's mother wants him to start fresh at Rampart Middle School, no safety patrol. He tries but it's in his blood. Delane, Rampart's safety patrol captain assigns the reckless Griff a partner. Thomas, the new partner is a straight by the book patrol officer. He has won a merit badge for almost everything.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Soap Soap Soap/Jabon Jabon Jabon by Elizabeth O. Dulemba (new paperback release) click over and watch the trailer its very cute.
Doodlebug: A novel in doodles by Karen Romano Young
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Here's a list of football books, I did back in 2008. I can't believe I picked the Chargers to go to the Superbowl. They're awful in the playoffs.
I wanted to highlight a few titles, that I loved. Please don't sleep on any of them, they're all very good and go beyond the field.
Knights of Hill Country by Tim Tharp. my review
Jim Thorpe Original All - American by Joesph Bruchac - my review
Deadline by Chris Crutcher - Is isn't about football but it has some great football in it.
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte
And released this week
Payback Time by Carl Deuker my review
Daniel True is a senior at his Seattle H.S. He dreams of becoming a journalist. When Daniel isn't voted editor newspaper, he's very surprised and disappointed. To make it even worse the new editor is making him the sports reporter. Daniel likes watching sports but he wants to cover real news.