Monday, December 31, 2007

Kimchi and Calamari



Joseph Calderaro is turning 14. What can possibly happen on his birthday to bum him out? Well...starting the day off with burnt PopTarts is a sign. Then with 10 minutes left in social studies, Mrs. Peroutka drops the bomb in the form of the assignment "Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay". The essay is to be 1500 words long, and here it is May already. But the word count is not Joseph's biggest problem. He's adopted. What the heck does he know about his heritage.

Joseph thinks that maybe his mother's famous birthday dinner will save his spirits a bit. The eggplant Parmesan does go down nicely, but once the presents come out there is more trouble. Joseph's dad gives him a corno. You know...the Italian gold horn that keeps away the malocchio? Aside from the fact that no self respecting 14-year-old is going to walk around with that kind of gold chain, Joseph just doesn't know how to break it to his parents that he's not Italian...he's Korean. At least that is how he feels at that moment.

Joseph goes on to explore his past without the knowledge of his parents. Along the way, a new Korean family moves into town, and Joseph's parents nudge him over to try and help him out with his identity. But when Joseph is with Yongsu and his family, he doesn't even feel Korean.

So where does this leave Joseph? If he's not really Korean, and not really Italian, what is he?

Rose Kent does a bang-up job of finding the voice of a 14-year-old boy. Joseph's struggles with his parents and his identity are equal measure growing pains and adoption pains. Books about adopted kids are always tricky, because the fact of the matter is, every adoptee feels a bit different. In my own family, my father and his brother and sister were all adopted, and they all had very different reactions to finding out and toward the idea of a search for birth parents. Kent lets readers in on not only the world of adoption, but quite a bit of information about Italian and Korean culture. Joseph is such a great character and is so easy to relate to that readers will cheer for him as he finds his way.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Getting Air



I first grabbed this book off the pile at work because of the cover. Being married to a skater means that our family life is surrounded by things skateboarding related. Also, a good skateboarding story by Gutman would serve well at my school. Is this book about skating? Not-so-much.

Jimmy and his buddies (and little sister) are all on a plane, heading for California and the X-Games. Jimmy, David, and Henry (a.k.a. the woodpushers) are going to skate around and try to find sponsorship....or at least some free gear. Jimmy can't wait to get there. Not that he's scared to fly, but he just feels better on the ground.

Before they can get too far, the unthinkable happens. Terrorists are on the plane, hijacking it with plans on crashing. They quickly kill a stewardess and breech the cockpit. Jimmy can't believe it. His worst nightmare is happening, and the only other people on the plane are a bunch of old ladies heading to a knitting convention. They boys, with the help of hot stewardess Arcadia, put a plan in action to take down the terrorists.

The plane does end up crashing, and the boys, Jimmy's little sis Julia, Arcadia and one of the old women (Mildred) survive. But how will they end up surviving in the woods of the Canadian wilderness?

Now, I have never been a tween boy, but if this is what tween boy fantasies are like, then wow! This is a fast-paced adventure story that necessitates suspension of belief. Quite a bit happens in the week time period, but I won't pretend that I wasn't entertained. I just think that it's important to know that despite the cover (with a big gaff concerning the placement of the trucks on the skateboard pointed out by aforementioned husband) this is a survival story...not a skate story.

Peiling and the Chicken-Fried Christmas



Peiling is dreading the Christmas break. She hates hearing all of the other kids talk about Christmas, when her family does not celebrate the holiday. She always wanted to celebrate Christmas, but was afraid that her stodgy dad would say "no". With a little pushing from her Uncle Samson, Peiling approaches her parents who to her surprise say "yes" to Christmas this year.

Peiling has the perfect Christmas in mind...one that she imagines would be happening over at Laura Hamilton's house. It has Christmas cookies, carols, a perfect tree and a turkey for dinner. When Peiling's mother invites Peiling's teacher Mrs. Rosenweig for dinner, Peiling is suddenly embarrassed by her family. The mahjong and karaoke are bad enough, but when she realizes that mother has added Chinese elements to all of the dishes, she is put over the edge. It's hard enough being the only Chinese girl in her class...why does it have to be so hard at home too?

Pauline Chen has written a quintessential culture clash story with Christmas as a catalyst. Readers get to see well-meaning Mrs. Rosenweis use Peiling as an example of multiculturalism, as well as the everyday under the radar racism that kids face. We get a real sense of Peiling's family and culture effortlessly, and the story is sweet and readers can easily relate to Peiling's sense of embarrassment, no matter what culture their families are from.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady



Enola is back right where she left off!

She has set up shop in January 1889 as London's only Scientific Perditorian. Of course, she is in disguise as Miss Meshle, a secretary. She is shocked when her first client is none other than Dr. John Watson, friend of her famous brother, Sherlock Holmes. It seems that Sherlock is beside himself that he cannot locate his younger sister Enola.

Enola, of course, is quite pleased that she is hiding right underneath her brother's nose, and feels that she can use Miss Meshle's new relationship with Dr. Watson to her advantage.

Enola is not just using her time to hide from her brothers and boarding school. She is continuing the search for her mother, using the magazines and cipher codes that she knows her mother will read and recognize. Soon enough, she is in communication with her mother. While she is partly happy, Enola is still angry with her mother for leaving her on her own, and at the mercy of her older brothers.

She is also on the hunt for the missing daughter of Lady Theodora Alistaire. The disappearance has been hushed up due to it's discrete nature...it seems that she has run away with a love interest. Upon examination of Lady Cecily's room, however, Enola fears that the young lady did not leave of her own volition.

Chock full of Victorian age details, Nancy Springer has a hit series on her hands. From the stench of poverty, to the pervasive flim-flam artists of the day, the setting and characters seem real. Readers will fear for Enola and Cecily, and be caught up turning pages to find out what happens next.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy


When Zoe Sharp gets recruited for the swanky Allbright Academy by none other than Secretary of State Martha Evergood, she says that she will not attend without her twin brother J.D. and her older sister Franny. All of them are relatively freaked out by the 2 days of testing, but thanks to Zoe's moxie, they all end up on the picturesque campus, and are thinking that this opportunity is too good to be true.

Franny is bothered at first by the perfection of the place. Everyone seems flawless in appearance and in habits. Who has every heard of a perfectly clean dorm that houses 6th-12th graders? But eventually she gets over it. She is realizing her potential and changing her ways with the help of her PD (personal development) counselor. Her grades are climbing, her room is neat, and she wants her friends to do as well as she is doing. Cal looks amazing, compared to when Franny first met her, and she's much more positive, and Brooklyn is changing his name to Brook and cutting off his dreads so that people will take him seriously.

Franny, Cal and Brooklyn are a threesome whenever it's possible. They sign up for the same field trips and the same PE option. One day while they are on their PE hike, Cal doubles over in pain. Franny, Brooklyn and Cal try to carry her back to the dorms for help. It turns out Cal's appendix has burst and she needs emergency surgery. Cal is out of the picture for weeks.

When Cal comes back, she is different. Very different. And she has a theory about why this is. Is Allbright Academy exerting control over it's students? How is this being accomplished?

Franny, Cal and Brooklyn are soon knee deep in a mystery that has enormous repercussions. Can a school drug its students and get away with it?

Diane Stanley has written and fun, intriguing and fast paced mystery with a hook every kid who has ever gone to school will love. The cover is spot on, and I've had many middle schoolers reach for my arc over the last week. Mystery lovers, and fans of boarding school fiction will approve!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf



Ginny is just going into 7th grade, and she has a plan. From getting a new dad to looking good in her school photo, her list runs the gambit.

Through a series of lists, letters, IMs, report cards, post-its, detention slips, brother-drawn comics, and overdue slips, readers get a real sense of what's going on in Ginny's life.

While the format is super-cute, Jennifer Holm (yes of Babymouse and others) tackles some meaty issues. Ginny's dad was killed by a drunk-driver, and now her older somewhat delinquent brother seems to be on the same path as the teen who killed their father. Ginny is also dealing with more typical middle school issues. Mary Catherine Kelly still has Ginny's sweater, and she stillhasn't spoken to Ginny since she got the prime part at their ballet school. Ginny is also on a quest to make her nose seems smaller, and is wondering what to do about the fact that Brian Bukvic keeps bugging her.

Ginny's got a great relationship with her mom and her Fairy Grandfather, which is evident through artifacts like long-distance phone bills (Grandpa is in Florida), and the notes that her mother leaves for her. Even though readers get a sense of family distance from the sheer volume of notes to each other, the author has managed to develop the character of the family itself so that the reader really can feel the love they all have for each other.

I am going to be recommending this to reluctant readers, and also to the students looking for a super fast, yet thoughtful read.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Vampire Island



The Lyvingstone's are relatively new to New York City. At least by Old World standards. Their family traded in immortality a while ago, and now are existing as former fruit bat, hybrid vamps with band member parents. They are now vegans, living above a fruit shop, and trying to survive middle school.

The thing is, how do you fit in when you used to be undead?

Lexi is pining away for veritable cutie Dylan Easterby. Even his less-than-skilled performance in karate class cannot sway her need to quote dead poets (ranging from Shelley to Shakur) around him. If only Lexi were less pointy, less pale and, well, less bat-like, maybe Dylan would do more than just send her a text. Lexi's best friend Pete simply does not understand Lexi's need for Dylan, and wishes that Lexi could open her eyes and see that they are meant to be together!

Hudson, is the only child that has retained the ability to transform. After sleeping the night upside-down in his closet, he goes to the window, drops, and becomes a bat once more. His parents made him promise to only fly a certain circle and then return home. Hudson's good looks worked for him once more when his parents believe him! They don't know about his flying adventures with other hybrids in the area. And they don't know about the source behind his current quest to save the environment, either.

Maddy, the middle child, is still hungry. She prefers protein to fruit, if you will. There is something slightly scary about her and her quest to rid her neighbourhood of the pure-blood vamps that she is sure moved in across the way. Maddy loves to feel that she is powerful, and anyway that enhances her abilities is OK with her. No need to tell her folks!

This is a smart and fun read. Adele Griffin sinks her teeth into readers, and keeps them reading until the end. I am assuming (and hoping) that this is going to be a series. There are lots of unfinished story lines, and lots more opportunities for action. This is a great book for the kids who are not quite ready for the scary vampire stories, but want something cooler and more sophisticated than Bailey School Monsters and Bunnicula (and I cannot believe that these are the only vampire titles that come to mind when thinking of younger readers!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Robert's Snow - Let's Get Bidding!

It's time for auction one! Can you stand it? Check out the links to the previews of the snowflakes, and start the bidding, folks!

Auction 1 will begin accepting bids on Monday, Nov. 19 at 9:00 a.m. with a starting bid of $50 for each snowflake. All bids must be placed before the close of Auction 1 on Friday, Nov. 23 at 5:00 pm. Don't forget that 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and that all but $25 of the winning bid is tax deductible.

Read about all the illustrators who contributed to this auction at the sites linked below. (The order presented is the same as on the auction page.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Guest Blogger - Mouse Guard


Jesse Karp is back with a review of Mouse Guard, by David Petersen!

You could hardly ask for a faster-paced and exciting adventure featuring mice with swords than you will find in Mouse Guard. Channeling Brian Jacques' Redwall stories, author/illustrator David Petersen has crafted a small world of populated mice and deadly foes for them to battle (snakes and crabs, naturally). Between narrow escapes, epic battles and furious duels, he has packed in secret plots, mysterious hooded conspirators, stolen maps and the exceedingly clever device of the Mouse Guard itself. Selected from the mouse population to guard secret mice towns and patrol the perilous lands between, they are sort of a medieval special forces group of rodents who fight with all the courage and gusto of Errol Flynn.

What Mouse Guard lacks as a novel (strongly defined characters, for instance), it more than makes up for with its' graphics. Painstakingly detailed, every color selected for its atmospheric tone, with rough-hewn figures that suggest the toughness of these scrappy critters, the sense of reality sells this work of high fantasy.

Low on the serious quotient, but very, very high on the fun, mark my words: this is going to be the next big thing for 8 - 14 year olds (especially boys).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dussie

Quite a cover, yes? I picked this up since I have some mythology obsessed 4th graders in my hands this year.

Dussie, named after her aunt Medusa, awakes in the middle of the night to her first period. She is not pleased. But she manages to sort everything out and get back to sleep. Then when she wakes up in the morning, there is a new problem. Snakes. On her head. And yes, they're alive and no it's not a dream.

Now a few things make sense. She has always thought that her sculptor mom just dressed the part. Turbans and long flowy gowns are de rigeur. Now Dussie knows what lays beneath her mom's garb. Dussie cannot believe that her mother never prepared her for any of this! But her mom was hoping that since dad was mortal, Dussie would be different.

So how does a girl who is already worried about being pretty enough, figure out how to exist at school with a head full of snakes? What will Troy think when he sees her snakes? And even more, how can Dussie get these snakes off of her head?

A few life lessons are served up by Nancy Springer in Dussie regarding fitting in, family, and loyalty. Filled with a NYC cast of characters, reader's will delight in getting to know Dussie's snakes, and feeling her growing pains along with her.




Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear


Have you ever made one of those lists? You know, the ones that will get you kicked out of school these days?

Sprig is working on one about her sister Dakota. Sprig and Dakota used to get along, but now Dakota thinks that since she is older, she has all of the answers. Just because Sprig is quick to tears, and misses her dad more than anything when he goes away on business, doesn't mean that she is the baby in the family.

Now dad is talking about going to Afghanistan! Sprig knows that he is going for a very good reason (to build schools for girls) but she has looked online, and it's dangerous over there!

And school is getting confusing too. Sprig's best friend Bliss keeps siding with big old Russell, who Sprig thinks is nothing more than a bully. Are Bliss and Russell becoming more than friends? To top it all off, Sprig's teacher is off on maternity leave and Mr. Julius is subbing. Nothing is like it was!

Norma Fox Mazer has written a story about growing pains, and change. Kids with family in the military will appreciate her references to those in service, without making the whole book about the war. Sprig is learning that wishing Dakota away may not be the answers to her problems. After all, during rough times, sisters end up needing each other.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

And the winner is...

...Kristi!
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read about the fabulous Adam Rex!!!

Please head on over to the Robert's Snow auction site and decide what you want to bid on!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Robert's Snow - Adam Rex!

Behold J.Lo, in all his snowflakey glory!

Adam Rex is one of the illustrators who has donated a snowflake to the wonderful Robert's Snow auction to benefit the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute. He happens to be one of my favourite illustrators, and I was very happy that I snagged him when the ladies over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (also big fans...see here and here) were organizing this whole affair!




I think I first came to Adam Rex's work through Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. The second I spied the cover, I knew I had to have it. As a collector of Halloween picture books, I was so pleased not only with the art, but with the smart and funny poetry within. It's a killer for my Halloween read alouds with all kids loving the illustrations, and the kids with that sense of humour (you know the ones) splitting their sides over the content.

My next encounter (after searching for more) was with the Lucy Rose series. An early chapter book, featuring a feisty protagonist (what's not to love?). After that, I just wanted to read, and own everything. Fandom? Maybe...but I have yet to be disappointed.

Adam graciously agreed to answer some of my questions, as well as some questions from The True Meaning of Smekday loving kids at my school. So here we go.

Stacy: How did you get involved with Robert's Snow?

Adam: They tracked my email address down and got in touch in 2005–I think Grace Lin had seen my first book, The Dirty Cowboy (written by Amy Timberlake), and thought my work would compliment the collection.

Stacy: Did you always know that you wanted to be an illustrator? How did you figure out that writing and illustrating for children was for you?

Adam: I always knew I wanted to be an artist of some kind. I didn't think about writing and illustrating kids' books until I was in my teens, and working in a bookstore. When I became familiar with some of the titles coming out in the late eighties like The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! and A Day With Wilbur Robinson, I realized there was a place for my sense of humor, and for the sort of art I wanted to make.

Stacy: How long were you cooking up The True Meaning of Smekday?

Adam: Oh, off and on for four or five years. At first it was just the fun project I worked on when I wanted to avoid my real work. So I started slowly. Then my agent sold it based on maybe the first third, and I worked more in earnest then. But I think some of the ideas go back further than that–I've long thought an alien invasion would be a good way to address our own history.

Stacy: How did you come up with the Boov Speak? I found that when I was reading Smekday, Boov speak stayed in my brain quite easily. Did you find yourself rearranging your words while you were writing?

Adam: Boovspeak comes kind of naturally to me–it's kind of an exaggeration of how I talk when I'm being lazy and there isn't anyone but my wife and me around. As I was working on Smekday I reached a point at which J.Lo's (my Boov's) speech came as quickly for me as did any other character's. I have not had for writing this way recentlies, so I am possibly notso much a Boovspeak Superstar as to before now. Hm.

Stacy: My students were asking about the "secret cover" on Smekday. The dust jacket image is different than the image that is physically on the book. What's the story?

Adam: No big story, really - I just came up with a number of images that I thought would make different covers for the book, and wanted to use as many of them as possible. People can peruse my July postings on my blog to see a little of how the cover evolved. I don't like to waste ideas, so I stuck runner-up covers beneath the dust jacket and on the title page. My books Tree Ring Circus and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich have "secret covers" as well, for various reasons.

Stacy: I have read that there is a sequel to Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich in the works. How is that going? Is the writing process for a collection of poetry vastly different than for a picture book?

Adam: It's written! Now I'm just figuring out the art. It will be called Frankenstein Takes the Cake. I've reported in other places that I thought it was going to be called Frankenstein Makes a Sequel, but I was eventually talked out of that.
Writing in rhyme is different from writing prose, of course, for obvious reasons. Otherwise, writing something like one of my Frankenstein books is, in a way, like writing a number of rhyming picture books at once. Many of the poems in FMaS could have been expanded into full-length books if I'd thought that was the best way to present them.

Stacy: And here are some questions from my students who have been reading and loving The True Meaning of Smekday...

From an 8th grade reader: When you wrote the book, and didn't tell the readers some of the horrors of the aliens, did you know yourself? Or was it a mystery to you as well as the reader?

Adam: I don't know what details you're thinking about specifically, but I can definitely say that some things in Smekday were as much a mystery to me as I wrote as they will be to my readers. I wrote a lot without knowing exactly where the story was going, or how it would end, and trusted that I would figure it out eventually. That meant I had to go back from time to time and change some passages I'd written earlier so they'd fall in line with some plot detail I'd only just discovered. I didn't know at first, for example, that Gorg is not the name of the alien race, but rather that every member of the race is named Gorg. But it struck me at some point that having your planet invaded by, say, the Todd (a huge group of people who are all named Todd) or whatever would be funny.

From a 7th grade reader: How did you think of the characters and planets in The True Meaning of Smekday?

Adam: I thought a lot and drew a lot. When I felt like I had a good idea what the aliens were going to look like, their appearance helped me figure out what kind of people they were.

From another 7th grade reader: This book has so many characters and contraptions...it had a crazy plot. What or where did all of those ideas come from?

Adam: I was inspired by a lot of other books and movies and so forth, particularly the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams. But my ideas come from the same kind of places everyone's ideas come from -- you all the stories you've read, the movies and TV shows you've seen, things other people have old you, then maybe you mix it up with some other stories and ideas that don't seem to have anything to do with the first stories and ideas, then you run it all through the dirty coffee filter of your brain and, if you're lucky, it comes out looking and smelling like something brand new.

Stacy: Since it's Halloween and all, could you let us in on your favourite candy? Is it the same as when you were young or has your palate evolved?

Adam: I like gummi a lot these days, and it didn't really exist in America, as far as I knew, when I was a little kid. My earliest memories of Gummi Bears are from 6th or 7th grade. And yet Wikipedia tells me they've been around since the twenties. I don't know. I also love good dark chocolate, which as a kid I lumped in the same category as wine or coffee or kissing in movies -- things that only the mental illness of adulthood could cause you to like. When I was a kid I liked Butterfingers.


If you just can't stand it and you need some more, Adam Rex can be found all over the web. Here's a list of a few of the places that I found!

Adam Rex

Smekday

Ironic Sans

Nerds with Kids

The ARTDEPARTMENT

Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty

And for the CONTEST! Just use the comments to tell me what YOUR favourite Adam Rex title is, and you will be in the running for a brand new shiny hardcover copy of The True Meaning of Smekday! Woot!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Robert's Snow


As many of you know, bloggers all over the kidlitosphere have been posting about the upcoming Robert's Snow auction. Amazingly talented illustrators have painted snowflakes, which will be auctioned off during 3 consecutive weeks, and all of the proceeds will go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Booktopia and Tweendom will proudly show-case Adam Rex! Adam has graciously agreed to answer some burning questions, and I will be giving away a brand spanking new hardcover copy of The True Meaning of Smekday to a lucky reader!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

NYPL's Bookfest 2007



Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending New York Public Library's Bookfest 2007. The keynote speaker was Lois Lowry. She spoke eloquently on writing, censorship, and family, and she gave attendees a sneak peek into her soon-to-be-released title, The Willoughbys. What a great way to start the morning!


Following Lowry's address, I was a group leader for a book discussion called "How Mysterious!". Earlier in the summer, I chose 5 titles to bring to the group. Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, The Case of the Flying Zalindas, Gilda Joyce Psychic Detective, and The House Where Nobody Lived. I had a lively group of folks with librarians and educators from New Jersey, New York, Long Island, and Pennsylvania. We had a great discussion about the nature of mysteries, boy vs. girl readers, and coincidences! It was quite fun.

There were many other groups going on at the same time. The leaders and topics were as follows:

Jen Hubert - YA Dystopian novels
David Mowery - YA Comedy (What's So Funny?)
Kimberly Paone - YA Dark and Creepy
Rachel Payne - A Caldecott Retrospective
Karen Smith - Picture This (Imagination and Reality in Illustrated Picture
Books)
Rosanne Cerny - Urban Places, Urban Spaces (Picture Books)
Lisa Von Drasek - No Drama Here (Middle Grade Fantasy)
Susan Pine - Wind Beneath My Wings (Middle Grade)
Rita Auerbach - Illustration Innovation (Middle Grade)
Randall Enos - Difficult Times (Cross Over fiction)

After a yummy boxed lunch and some chat time, attendees were treated to a panel on technology and art. The speakers for this session were William Low, J. Otto Seibold, and John Grandits.

A great time was had by all!


Monday, October 08, 2007

The Wednesday Wars



Holling Hoodhood lives in a perfect house, with a perfect lawn, smack-dab in the middle of a town that is either Jewish or Catholic. Holling's family is Presbyterian, which has never been a problem until this year. You see, Wednesdays are religious instruction day. This means that the Jewish kids head off to Hebrew School, and the Catholic kids head off to catechism. Holling has nowhere to be except school, and his teacher Mrs. Baker is now teaching a class of one. She is not pleased.

Holling is soon completing tasks like cleaning the chalkboard erasers, and dusting the classroom. And then it gets worse. Mrs. Baker brings in the Shakespeare!

Gary D. Schmidt has written an incredible story that is meaty, articulate, and important. Set in the Vietnam era United States, the Hoodhood family is staring change in the face. The perfect house and the perfect lawn isn't so perfect inside. As Holling tries to manage Wednesdays of 7th grade, his teenage sister Heather is becoming politically minded and estranged from her dad. Holling is seeing blatant racism directed at his Vietnamese classmate as local soldiers lose their lives.

Woven into the story is an innocent humor that brings the reader effortlessly along. From the escapee class pets, to Holling's stage debut, The Wednesday Wars is a pleasure to read. It's a solid dose of good old fashioned storytelling.

Imagine that!

Planet Esme - Bliss!

As you know from my last post, I was recently in Chicago attending the kidlit blogger's con. Swing on over to Booktopia to get my first impressions. That Saturday was great, but lots of meetings were involved! On Sunday, Esme invited us over to her Planet for brunch and a look around.

O. M. G.





This is what we saw when we entered.












And this.









And this.







And this.









Wow.

Esme was so generous with her space. (This is an apartment for her books, you know). We were all in awe. And we enjoyed a delicious brunch, and each other's company. It was time to leave too soon. I shared a cab with fellow Canadians Andrea and Mark, and was back in stinky NYC before I knew it.

But I think that Planet Esme will be somewhere I go in my head when crowded on a train, or herding onto the ferry.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cybils!

It's that time again!

I am proud to be serving on the Middle Grade Fiction judging panel. The nominations are pouring in, and I can't wait to dive into the reading!

Woot!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Case of the Missing Marquess


I was never an avid reader of mysteries when I was younger, but now I find myself drawn to them time and time again. The Case of the Missing Marquess is one of the best I have come across in a while!
Imagine your mother leaving you. On your birthday. With not so much as a goodbye. This is the situation that Enola is facing.
Enola's mother is not the typical Victorian mummy. She does not see why Enola should be corseted up, and thinks that she can do perfectly well without male companionship. She even named Enola because of this (Enola is alone backwards).
Once it is clear that Enola's mother is not to return, the girl summons her much older brothers for advice. Mycroft and Sherlock. Perhaps you have heard of one of them?
That's right. Enola's brother is none other than Sherlock Holmes. If he can't find Enola's mother, who can?
There are more mysteries within the story than just the missing Mrs. Holmes, but this is the story that crosses the entire book. (And into the next, I am sure). The beauty in this title is in the details. Chock full of feminist thought, class issues, as well as adventure, The Case of the Missing Marquess is an easy sell to mystery aficionados, but a likely crossover to those kids who like adventure as well. And maybe a small sized step to take before some Sherlock Holmes!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret



Hugo lives in the train station in Paris, and is the time-keeper. The only thing is, nobody knows. After his own clockmaker father died in a tragic fire, Hugo's gruff Uncle pulled him out of school, and made Hugo his own time-keeper apprentice. Hugo's uncle starts disappearing for longer and longer stretches of time, until one day, he doesn't come home at all.

What can Hugo do, but continue setting the clocks, and living in Uncle's tiny apartment in the station? He collects Uncle's paycheques so that the Station Inspector is none-the-wiser to the situation.

Everything changes for Hugo when one day, while stealing a wind-up mouse from the toy booth, he is caught. The man who runs the toy booth threatens to call the Station Inspector and takes from Hugo the one thing that he has left from his father - his notebook with the illustrations of the automaton that his father found in the museum attic. The man who runs the toy booth, and Hugo, are connected in a way that neither could fathom. With twists and turns too intricate to describe, Selznik takes readers on a journey about history, cinema, and the meaning of family.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret looks like a daunting book. It is as thick as J.K Rowling's works. The pages of Hugo, however, are filled with Selznick's amazing illustrations that call to mind the work of Chris Van Allsburg. Part of the story is actually told through the illustrations, quickening the pace of reading considerably. A beautiful and enchanting story that is destined to become a classic.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Aurora County All-Stars



I love Deborah Wiles' stories. The Aurora County All-Stars is no exception! She has this incredible way of making me feel the small town in such a way that makes me yearn for a sleeping porch, and want to start canning some fruit!

This is a story about baseball, poetry and family. House Jackson is sitting in the room with 88 year old Mr. Norwood Rhinehart Beauregard Boyd when he takes his last breath. House calls the town doctor, and then high tails it out of there. Why did he leave so quickly, and what was he doing there in the first place?

House's first love is the baseball team that he and best friend Cleebo Wilson head up. Every year they have one official game against the team from the neighbouring county. Last year House had to miss the game. His arm was broken, you see. Broken because of none other than Frances (call me Finesse) Schotz and her modern dancing. This year, House is ready and he can't wait for the game.

But the town Mamas have another plan. They want all of their sons and daughters to be in a pageant celebrating the town's history, because golden son and soap opera actor Dr. Dan is coming back into town. And who is going to direct this play that just happens to fall on the same day as the annual baseball game? Miss Finesse Schotz, that's who!

What follows is a beautifully layered story about family history, death, memories, poetry and baseball. And all of the characters cast : House, Cleebo, Honey, Frances, Ruby Lavendar (!), Leonard, and all of the townsfolk, have a magic to them. This is a quiet sort of story that will stay with the reader for a long time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Question



I have posted a question over at Booktopia.

I would love the take of any reader's over here as well!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake



Thanks to Brad, her mother's new boyfriend, Gilda is now all set to attend the swanky Our Lady of Sorrows private school. Gilda had wanted to apply on a whim. Now that the pink uniformed experience is right in front of her, she isn't sure she really wants to go!

After a tour of the school, she changes her mind. From creepy Velma Underhill, to the fact that the school looks like an old castle...there are things about this place that give Gilda that hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling that can only mean this is the perfect place for a psychic investigator such as herself.

Turns out, one of the students drowned in the lake on campus 3 years earlier. Gilda knows that she is the one to solve this mystery. But what if there are girls around who do not want the mystery solved? Girls that may have had something to do with poor Delores' demise?

Add to the mystery Gilda's unwanted, school chosen big sister Marcie, her mom's loser boyfriend, and an English teacher with the amusing name of Mr. Pante (pantay....not panty!), and readers are in for another Gilda adventure that is sure to please. There is just something about Gilda that I love. She is her own girl, wonky yet somehow sophisticated.

I am definitely looking forward to more in this series.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Diary of a Fairy Godmother



Who can resist a cover like this?

Hunky Dory is, according to her mother, going to be the "wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow" . She is at the top of her class at Harbringer's Charm School for Young Witches. Not for long if Frantic Search has anything to do with it. That witch wants to take Hunky Dory down, and will stop at nothing to do so.

When Frantic gets wind of Hunky's soft spot for undoing spells, she exploits it by penning a wish fulfilling chain letter. Before Hunky knows what's what, she is out of her mom's home and on her own. And she is only one hundred years old!

So, Hunky is off on a search to find herself. Is she truly a witch at heart, or is she a bit more of a fairy godmother after all?

Esme Raji Codell has written a fun little romp of a fairytale send up. Any book that sites Hogwarts is okay with me. I wasn't sure if the witches name's would get to me (Hunky Dory, Frantic Search, Velvet Underground, Acid Reflux, Belladonna, Sinus Infection, Twisted Ankle), but after a bit of reading they didn't stand out as I had worried. Readers will recognize enough of the fairy tales to feel a connection, but will delight in Codell's departure from tradition.

Drazen Kozjan's illustrations are spot on, and if I were a tween, these girls would be doodles in the margins of most of my schoolbooks!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies


Whitney is trading in buildings for trees. She is headed from the city to Northern California, and foster home #12. #12 because of the top five complaints about Whitney from foster parents...


1. Big, sassy mouth

2. Too hyper

3. Doesn't always stick to the truth

4. Thinks she knows everything

5. Climbs everything (p.19)

A funny thing happens when she gets to her new school. There are 7 other foster kids in 6th grade alone. There is something about Forest Glen...the "downtown" is pretty much boarded up, and when Whitney hides in the closet listen to the social worker and her new foster mom talking, she gets the feeling that maybe she is just a paycheque after all. The logging industry that allowed Forest Glen to survive has been on the decline, in a large part due to environmentalist pressures.

Striker, her new foster brother, is very much an outdoorsy kid, and even though he threatens her, Whitney follows him into the woods. She has never felt so at home anywhere before. There's just something about the woods and the trees. Even the yellow banana slugs are kind of interesting if you pay attention to them! And there is one huge tree, Big Momma, that speaks to Whitney in a way that a city kid never imagined...scary but homey at the same time.

Soon Whitney is back in full foster mode. She has discovered over time that standing out is much better than blending in. Adopting her foster mom's nickname for her, Termite quickly tracks down the other fosters, and convinces them to take part in an after school science club. They explore the woods, and adopt a piece of highway to care for themselves.

All of a sudden, the down trodden parents of Forest Glen seem to be getting happy again. The kids soon learn that the logging is to start again. Looking at the maps, Big Momma is on the chopping block. Can a bunch of outsiders save a tree? Will the residents want to keep trouble making foster kids around once that $700 and change per month doesn't make such a difference?

I love Termite. She's an ADHD bundle of energy. She's annoying, loud-mouthed, and brash, but there is something endearing about her. She is a survivor, and really, she's got nothing to lose. She landed in the right family this time. Sometimes folks need a bit of shaking up.

I found this title by Jill Wolfson on the shelves of my local library, and will definitely be purchasing it for my school library. What a great companion to Joey Pigza, and a great read for girls or boys.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Plain Janes

badgeWhich PLAIN Jane Are You?
Brain Jayne
You're the brain of your BFF operation, but don't feel cornered into being just a smarty pants -- you've got way more to offer the world (and your crush!).
Take This Quiz More Quizzes


Thanks, Liz!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Garden of Eve


Evie is so angry with her father. They are in their truck, freezing cold, moving to a place that she has never seen, and her father is lost.
Her mother would know exactly where to go. She seemed to have a sense about her.
But she's not here. She's buried back home. And Evie cannot believe that her father wants to leave to move to a dead apple orchard.
When they finally get to Beaumont, they drive past a funeral. Evie is forced to remember the day of her mother's funeral. It was dark and gray, just like today. Evie notices someone who steps away from the crowd.
"The figure was a boy who looked to be about her own age, and he was
the palest boy Evie had ever seen. His skin was ghostly white against
the black of his coat and his pale hands were ungloved, making him
appear as if hands and face were all there was to him." pp. 16-17
Who is this boy, and why does Evie keep seeing him in the cemetery behind her house?
What follows is a heartbreaking story filled with magical realism and poignancy. Evie is on a quest of sorts to work through her own grief and salvage a relationship with her father. The town of Beaumont itself is broken as well. Can Evie's belief in magic help the people she hasn't yet met?
This is a very special book for deep and thoughtful readers. You have to be willing to delve into a fairytale of sorts, or it most likely will not work for you. Personally, I found this title staggering in many ways.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Babysitting Wars



Kaitlyn, Maggie and Liesel are best friends. They have lived in Marshfield Lake forever, and each are known for something special. Maggie is a super athlete, Liesel is a great artist, and Kaitlyn is a fantastic babysitter, who just happens to have a bit of a competitive streak.

One day at lunch, Maggie invites new girl Nola over to their lunch table. Nola's from L.A. and you can definitely tell. Her clothes are always perfect and there is something competitive about her that Kaitlyn doesn't like.

Kaitlyn definitely decides that Nola is not to be liked when she not only starts taking over Kaitlyn's babysitting gigs, but is also seen nose to nose with resident hottie Topher Walker.

How far will Kaitlyn go to one-up Nola? How long can her friends stand her blowing them off in the name of competition?

This is a super cutie patootie title that is a breeze to read. It's chock full of tween girl issues like crushes, being grounded, and friendship. Candy Apple seems to be Scholastic's latest tween series. And with a cover like this, how can it miss? Each title is written by a different author. This one is by Mimi McCoy, and there are others by Laura Dower, Francesco Sedita, Lisa Papdemetriou, and Lara Bergen. Perhaps you've heard of a couple of them?

I know come the fall, these will be in the hands for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at my school.

Yay.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Summerhouse Time



Do you remember what it was like to be eleven? Truly in the middle.

Sophie is so excited that it is almost Summerhouse time again. That is when Sophie and her extended family make the trip to the Jersey Shore. She gets to be with her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, and just "be". Last year Sophie's older cousin Colleen gave her pedicures, and they spent so much time together...it was great!

This, however, is a very different year. Colleen doesn't want to share a room, paint her nails, or anything. She wants to be alone. Sophie's little cousin Tammy is delighted to be sharing with "Soapy". Sophie is not so sure about all of this change.

Nor is she sure about the changes she is noticing in her dad. Or the changes between her aunt and uncle. Nothing is the same.

Summerhouse Time is a dreamy little story about change and family. Told in free verse, Spinelli must be calling to her own childhood. Sophie's voice is so authentic, and her feelings are right there on her sleeve. From her first real crush to her lingering resentment of her family's less-is-more philosophy, Sophie is a character that stays with the reader, and we are priviledged to share her eleventh summer with her!

A great choice for the thoughtful reader.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star


So, it's been a year since Kendra and Seth have lived at Fablehaven with their grandparents and discovered that their home is really a preserve for all types of magical creatures. School will be out in a week, and Kendra is looking forward to a bit of time off. Everything seems fine until a new boy named Case shows up. All of Kendra's friends think Case is hot, but the kiss of the fairies has left Kendra with the ability to see Case for what he really is...a hideous, deformed magical creature of some kind.
Kendra has to tell Seth. Who else would believe her? Before the two of them can decide what to do, Errol shows up. Errol claims to be a friend of their grandfather, and possesses enough information to make Kendra and Seth believe he is just that. But after Seth and Kendra help Errol provide the means to send Case packing, grandpa calls up and lets them know they've been fooled. And that it's time for them to come back to Fablehaven.
While the first installment of the series was dark, Rise of the Evening Star seems almost more so. When the kids arrive, grandma and grandpa are living with 3 specialist who are supposedly helping to bring down the society. Coulter, who has been grandpa's friend for years, specializes in magical relics. The massive Tanu is a potions specialist. And Vanessa is learned in weapons and magical creatures. Dale and Warren are still on the compound. And soon, it is clear, that there is a traitor among them.
Who can Kendra and Seth trust? Who really wants the best for Fablehaven. Why are the fairies so mean to Kendra? And what new horrors lurk in the woods?
Brandon Mull can write one heck of a scary story. The plot flies along as the kids get into adventure after adventure. These books are truly exciting, and I found myself seeking out quiet spots whenever I could get in a few chapters. It's going to be so hard to wait for the third installment, but in the meantime, I will pick up Mull's stand alone The Candy Shop War to tide me over.
Fans of Horowitz's Alex Rider should love Fablehaven. Fast paced with enough gore to satisfy any reader!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb



Woot!

I have to thank Karyn for picking this up for me at BEA. I couldn't believe it when I realized that not only had I missed seeing Kirsten Miller in person, but I totally missed picking up the ARC as well. Ugh.

So. Kiki is back. All of the Irregulars are now 14 years old (except for Iris, of course, who is 11). We start the story with a bunch of animal releases in NYC and giant squirrel murals painted around town. The press immediately blames Kiki, but Annanka knows better...Kiki can't even draw!

The main meat of the story is Oona's this time. Oona has been keeping a secret from the other Irregulars. She's not an orphan like they all had thought. Oona knows her dad. He's none other than Lester Liu - crime boss and smuggler. Lester was never interested in having a daughter so he left Oona with some women from one of his sweatshops. All of a sudden, Lester is taking an interest in Oona...and her band of friends. He says he's gone legit. He says that he wants to be a philanthropist. He says he wants Oona in his life. And Daddy's also sending gifts...in the form of diamonds and designer clothes. It seems that he might just know his daughter afterall.

What do the other girls think of Oona's budding relationship with her dad? Can you say "traitor"?

Another adventure filled with twists and turns, NYC geography and history, wonky families, and girl power! The Irregulars are older now, and the problems get more sophisticated as well. To be honest, this was a bit of a slow starter for me. I was tripping over some language at the beginning. But once the story got into full swing, I was hooked once more! (Stayed up til 3:00 a.m. just to finish!)

I'm looking forward to the next installment! And I think these books would make an EXCELLENT movie. Can you imagine?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Candyfloss


I picked up this gem of a book at BEA this spring.

Floss, a.k.a. Flora, is having a birthday. When she wakes up, her mum, step-dad Steve, and half-brother Tiger (a.k.a. Tim) are in her room, giving her gifts. She gets five gifts, all wrapped in lovely pink and silver paper. Her mum always makes things look so nice. "Hurry up", she is told. Floss receives an outfit (a pair of jeans and a pink top with a koala on it), blue trainers with pink laces, gel pens and stationery, a pink trolley style suitcase, and a cuddly animal (kangaroo with a joey). Sense a theme?

Then Floss' mum drops the bombshell. They are moving to Sydney, Australia for Steve's new job.

The full impact takes a moment to hit Floss. What about her dad? She sees him on weekends and helps out at his greasy spoon cafe. He may not be as successful as Steve, but in Floss' eyes, he can do no wrong. But mum insists that Floss come to Australia, and she even makes Floss do the deed of telling dad about the move.

At the same time, she can feel her best friend Rhiannon pulling away. Rhiannon's not very nice, but Floss desperately wants to remain best friends. Even when Rhiannon is so mean to Susan Potts who seems pretty interesting to Floss.

What follows is a story of parents who don't always do the best thing, friends who aren't so friendly, chip butties, and believing in oneself.

Jacqueline Wilson is such a great writer for tweens. She really gets that stuck feeling that so many kids have. Her characters are authentic, and the story flows along effortlessly.

A fun summer read!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The True Meaning of Smekday

I picked up this gem at BEA this year, and I was excited and nervous at the same time. I LOVE, love, love Adam Rex's illustrations and his picture books, and I was wondering how he would translate over to novels.

Well, what a bunch of wasted nervousness!

Gratuity Tucci lives with her wacky mom. She tries to keep her mom on track, and like many only children, she seems older than her years. Then one day her mom starts acting really weird. More so than usual. Gratuity notices a mole on the back of her mom's neck, that has turned purple and is now glowing. Her mom keeps saying random words. She heads out the door into the snow, and is quickly sucked up by a spaceship. Yes, a spaceship.

So, now it's just Gratuity and her cat "Pig". They need to travel South. It seems that the aliens (called the Boov) have left humans the state of Florida. Instead of taking a rocketpod, Gratuity decides that she will drive down to Florida. Her car breaks down along the way, and she and Pig run into a Boov named J.Lo at a convenience store. He's not like the other Boov, however, and he offers to fix up Gratuity's car in exchange for a ride down to Florida. Can Gratuity trust a Boov? Especially one named J.Lo?

What follows is a rip-roaring tale that is part science fiction, and part scathing social commentary. Rex peppers the text with his signature illustration and uses the evolution of the Boov to parody our own existence on Earth.

This book is next to impossible to blurb because there is SO much going on. Themes of friendship, racism, celebrity worship, and power are woven in seamlessly. This is a very different book, but different in a good way.

One of our students read it before school ended and she said, "Stacy, you HAVE to read Smekday! It's a little hard to get into at first, cuz it's so weird. But stay with it because it is AWESOME!" I think she had the right idea!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fablehaven


I admit it. I saw the title of this book and just wanted to read it. I am a wordy girl, and I love the way "Fablehaven" looks and rolls off my tongue. Then, when I was at Book Expo, and Brandon Mull handed over a signed copy of the second installment, I was off to B&N for a copy of the first.

Wow!

I cannot believe this is a first novel.

Kendra and Seth's maternal grandparents just suffered an untimely death and their wish was that Kendra's parents and all of the adult siblings go on a Scandanavian cruise! Kendra and Seth are to go to Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson's place for a two week stay. The kids have hardly ever seen the Sorenson side of the family, and when they do, Grandpa and Grandma are rarely together. Kendra thinks they may be secretly divorced!

When the kids arrive, Grandpa and his help are the only ones there. Grandma is apparently off visiting a sick relative. Grandpa leads the children to the attic where they will be staying. It's bright and sunny and is filled with toys for the children to play with, art projects to begin and puzzles to solve. There is even a pet chicken to take care of!

Then Grandpa lays down the rules. No going in the barn. Ever. No going into the woods. Lots of ticks, he says. There is a lovely pool, and a gorgeous garden with loads of butterflies and dragonflies. Kendra is appeased by the pursuits provided, but not Seth! He takes his emergency kit, and heads for the woods. He figures he can pull off any ticks he sees. The path in the woods leads him to something he doesn't expect. A cabin of ivy. Inside is an old woman, with matted hair. She smells foul and is chewing on a rope. After being invited in repeatedly, Seth gets spooked and begins to run home. He can hear something pursuing him, but he sees nothing.

Kendra, meanwhile, is figuring out the puzzles left in the attic. At the end of the puzzle is the command "Drink the milk". She knows that this must refer to the milk that Grandpa's helper Dale was leaving at the edge of the forest for the butterflies. Kendra, ever timid, gets Seth to do the deed.

Their lives are about to change.

These are not butterflies in the garden, but fairies! And there are not ticks in the forest, but magical creatures of all sorts. Good and evil. That is why Grandpa Sorenson, who is the caretaker of this preserve, has so many rules.

Midsummer's Night is just around the corner, and Grandpa says that anything can happen on that magical night. Seth, per usual, doesn't take the warning seriously, and soon there are serious consequences.

This is a heart-thumping page turner! I loved it from the get-go. The descriptions are lush without being too wordy, and the plot plays like a movie in the reader's mind. Kendra is a remarkable character, and seeing her grow is a pleasure.

I cannot wait to dive into the second installment!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period


"This is lame but I'm actually looking forward to school this year, because every day this summer was like crap: dog crap, cat crap -- I even had a few elephant crap days. Trust me, it was bad."
Kirsten's had a rough summer. Best friend Rory is away in Maui, and Kirsten's parents have been fighting, fighting, fighting. In the midst of all of this, Kirsten has managed to put on 30 pounds. She can't wait to get back to Mountain and get back to normal.

But what is normal, anyway?

For Walk, this is his first year at Mountain. Before that, he went to City. When he took his test at Mountain School, they paired him up with Matteo. They ended up being friends, but sometimes Walk wishes Matteo was black instead of Mexican. Walk doesn't like being the only black kid in his grade. Walk is amazed when he notices that Matteo shuts down every time that uber rich Brianna has anything to say to him.

What can Walk and Kirsten possibly have in common? More than you think.

Told in alternating chapters, the stories of these two kids weaves about and intersects. Interestingly, Choldenko has Kirsten's story in first person, and Walk's in third. This is a powerful tool, and I can only speculate on what she was trying to do with this. To me, it speaks to privledge. Of course, rich, white Kirsten gets to tell her own story, where African American Walk who has just entered to tony world of private school has his story told. Maybe I am way off base, but everytime I started one of Walk's chapters I had to pause and get my bearings. Hmm.

I was lucky enough to attend a luncheon with Gennifer Choldenko during Book Expo, and she let us know where this story came from. The frightening amount of racism that gets couched in class priviledge is astounding.

This is a quick read that would make for some amazing classroom discussions about social justice, racism, and classism.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Mother-Daughter Book Club


Emma, Jess, Megan and Cassidy are all in the 6th grade. Bookish Emma, and farmgirl Jess are friends. Emma and Megan used to be friends until Megan's dad struck it rich and she and her fam moved out to Strawberry Ridge. That's when Megan started hanging out with Becca and her girls. They are truly mean. And poor old Cassidy. What do you do when your mother's a retired supermodel, and your favourite thing is hockey?

Enter the mothers.

During yoga class one day, three of the moms decide that what they need to stay close to their tweenifying daughters is a book club. A Mother Daughter book club. The first title that they will take a year to discuss is Little Women, and they will surprise the girls with the whole thing.

But, these girls wouldn't hang out if you paid them, so how can this possibly work?

What follows is a deliciously clean (as they say these days) story about girl's friendship, family and life in a small town. The four families vary in income and structure, so most readers will find someone to identify with. Told in alternating voiced chapters, Heather Vogel Frederick has written the classic growing pains story that has wide appeal. Heck, even the moms will want to read it!

Monday, June 04, 2007

8 things meme

I've been tagged, by Midwestern Lodestar!

Each participant lists eight facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning of the post, before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags eight people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1) I am Canadian...I'm sure you can tell by my spelling!

2) I am a huge fangirl when it comes to authors...one of the best things about living in NYC is the author quotient.

3) I am a fan of cheesey '80s music. I can now admit it, since I was too "alternative" to like the likes of Depeche Mode back in the day!

4) My curry rocks!

5) I am a master procrastinator.

6) My daughter is obsessed with Cinderella...my feminist sensibilities are distressed by this.

7) I have too many shoes.

8) I have too many books. (Is this possible? According to my husband it is!)

Everyone I know has been tagged? Instead of retagging, I will tag a couple. Joey! Deb.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy.


Amelia is back, with her gang of superheroes and ninjas. This time she is working on figuring out why everyone is being so nice to her. Even the obnoxious triplets! Then she realizes that her Aunt Tanner's old music career is suddenly getting lots and lots of attention. The thing is, Tanner never talks about her life as a musician. Amelia does some investigating and snoops through her mother's things to try and figure out why Tanner is so quiet about the whole thing.

While this is happening, of course, there is superheroe / ninja drama. Kisses are had, Mary Violet becomes Ultra Violet, and Reggie is drunk with power!

Can I tell you, how much I LOVE these books? Jimmy Gownley does a superb job of writing and drawing such a smart comic. There is adult appeal, but not in an uncomfortable way. (The drawing of Courtney Love is priceless!) The history of the characters is found in comic strips mirroring Peanuts, Doonsbury, and Dilbert. And real things are happening. Kids pick things up...they exist in this world with us, and Gownley just gets it. This is hands down my favourite comic for kids.

And he's a heck of a nice guy to boot. I had a bit of an embarrassing meeting with him at BEA, and he was gracious and lovely, and gave me and Jen signed copies to boot!