"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Monday, February 26, 2007

Jane & the Dragon

Jane & the Dragon
Author: Martin Baynton
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN-10: 0763635707
ISBN-13: 978-0763635701

Jane and the Dragon is a charming and heartwarming tale about a little girl in medieval times who dreams of becoming a knight. It’s a pretty unusual, if not downright strange dream for a young girl in Jane’s time.

Nobody gets it. Her mother just wants her to be a lady in waiting, and practice her embroidery stitches.

Her father just laughs at her.

The King doesn’t listen.

The prince pushes her into the mud.

The knights make fun of her.

What’s a girl to do? Give up on her dreams? Change her ways? Not Jane. After the court jester who is the only one to believe in her gives her a shiny suit of armor in just her size, she practices on her own, determined to become a true knight. One day, while all the knights are away, a dragon kidnaps the prince and only Jane is left to save him.

I loved this book and was so happy with Jane’s character. She’s strong-willed, determined and smart – a perfect role model for little girls. I loved that she doesn’t accept her fate but sets out to change it. Jane also happens to be kind and in her interaction with the dragon, really teaches children about turning a bad situation around and making it good.

I think that this book is not only fun and witty, it’s an important book. The book really celebrates cleverness, kindness and following your dreams. I’m so glad that this has now been made into an animated series. I know I’ll encourage any children of my acquaintence to watch it.

About the Author
Martin Baynton has written and illustrated several books for children. His Jane and the Dragon books inspired an animated TV series first developed in Canada and now airing in the U.S. on ABC, iNetwork, and Telemundo. Martin Baynton also writes for the stage, television, film, and radio. Born in the U.K., he lives in New Zealand.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Professor's Daughter

The Professor’s Daughter
Authors: Joann Sfar & Emmanuel Guibert
Publisher: First Second
ISBN 13: 978-1-59643-130-0ISBN 10: 1-59643-130-X

Book Description from the publisher:

A 3,000-year-old romance.
Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert bring the true spirit of Victorian London to life in this witty, engaging, sepia-colored tale of a proper but mischievous young girl and the mummy who opens his eyes for the first time in 3,000 years and instantly falls in love with her. Will the love between Lillian and Imhotep IV survive when their fathers, the London police, and even the Royal Archeological Society are all determined to keep them apart?

Written by the hilarious and insightful
Joann Sfar and painted in watercolors by the contemplative and beguiling Emmanuel Guibert, The Professor's Daughter tells an engaging, heart-warming love story through affecting, delightful art.

Two of France’s famous graphic novelists have teamed up to create an astonishing, beautiful and bizarre tale. Lillian, the daughter of a British professor who is taking home a mummy to put on display takes the mummy out of the sarcophagus and takes it on a stroll through Victorian London.

The mummy is Imhotep IV and he and Lillian fall deeply in love. They can’t seem to get past a myriad of obstacles though, things just keep getting in the way. His dead spirit children come looking for him and wonder where their mother is, his father seems bent on destroying him, the Professor wants his mummy back, the London police want Imhotep for murder and oh by the way, did I mention he’s a 1000 year old mummy? Yeah.

The Professor's Daughter is bizarre, well told and completely wonderful. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. The sepia tones depict Victorian London in a way that makes the pages look like an old book from that era. Lillian is charming, elegant and such a lady. Imhotep IV is elegant, gentlemanly and tends to be a dysfunctional. His relationship with his father, for instance is just too funny. It’s like any normal father and son’s misunderstanding and angst with the added quirk of being dead mummies wandering around London.

This graphic novel was highly acclaimed in France and deserves equal recognition here. It’s highly recommended.

About the Authors:

Joann Sfar is the son of Jewish parents and is one of the most important artists of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics. Many of his comics were published by L’Association, which was founded in 1990 by Jean-Christophe Menu and six other artists. He also worked together with many of the new movement's main artists.

Emmanuel Guibert made his comics debut in 1992 with 'Brune', a painted comic story about the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1930s. He then did several comics for Lapin, the magazine of the renewing publishing house L'Association. One of Guibert's most impressive comics works of this period, 'La Guerre d'Alan', recounted the war experiences of Guibert's friend Alan Ingram Cope, who served as an American soldier in World War II, and later retreated to France.

FIRST SECOND is an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, which owns some of America's most prestigious publishers, known for great integrity and literary quality. These include Henry Holt, FSG, St Martin's Press, Tor and Picador, all of which have garnered the most coveted prizes in publishing.All images are © copyright by their respective owners.mail@firstsecondbooks.com

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling

Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling
Author: Dan Madigan
Publisher: HarperRayo
ISBN-10: 0060855835
ISBN-13: 978-0060855833

In 1968, I was 7 years old and one of my uncles came to visit. His first concern was his Lucha Libre. He couldn’t relax till we had rigged old black and white, needs a coat hanger for an antenna TV with the cracked dial from our Thanksgiving Day car accident. After much adjusting of the coat hanger, he sighed with happiness and sat down with me on his lap to watch his favorite Mil Mascaras. For the next hour, my uncle explained to me who was who in Mexican wrestling, the moves, the rules and why it was so great. I was hooked.

Every week thereafter, we rigged the coat hanger and settled back to watch Lucha Libre, he with his cerveza fria and me with my Dad’s root beer. We stained our fingers red eating the spicy peanuts covered in red chile powder and lemon while we shouted and rooted for our favorites. I still remember the excitement that coursed through my veins when the announcer would say, “MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL MASCARAS”!

I grew up watching Lucha Libre, talking about it, fighting my mom over it since nice little girls weren’t supposed to be watching anything resembling fighting or violence, especially not so gleefully. The highlight of my young life was going to the Olympic Auditorium in downtown L.A. to watch it with my uncle. I’d have heated discussions in the playground with my neighbors and classmates over the Mexican wrestling over American wrestling, Mil Masacaras over Freddie Blasie and then I grew up and married, divorced, raised four children, three of them boys while holding down sometimes three jobs at a time. No time for Lucha Libre. I had almost forgotten it. Almost…

One night, my son Bobby, his wife and I were driving down a street in Tijuana and we passed the stadium where the line snaked around for two blocks. Bobby asked, “What’s all that about Mom.” That’s all he needed to say. I was shocked that I hadn’t taught my boys about Lucha Libre and had to rectify it immediately. We bought tickets and get in the long line comprised of men, woman and children. My son is now and forever a fan of Lucha Libre because of that night and I was once again reminded at just how great it is.

Four days ago, I got this amazing looking book in the mail, Mondo Lucha A Go Go: The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling. Wow! I couldn’t wait. I dropped whatever I was doing and eagerly opened the book. There in living color was El Santo! Mil Masacaras! I had to read more and I couldn’t put it down.

The book is an amazing look into the world of Mexican Wrestling. Dan Madigan traces the birth of the sport, news items, bios of wrestlers, impressions of American wrestlers, an unbelievable array of treasures from a world a lot of people know nothing about. This book is fantastic for both the fan as well as for anyone new to the Lucha Libre experience. It’s a fascinating look into an astounding world. It’s also a feast for the eyes as it has photos, images of handbills, wrestling cards, mementos and film posters. I never knew that my favorite wrestlers were also famous Mexican movie stars!

I loved the stories by Luchadores as well as the profiles of big celebrity wrestlers. I loved learning about how the special masks were made and of the experts that hand sew and customize them for the Luchadores. I’m a big fan of history and this book is full of it. It’s as wild a ride as the title implies and is one book to keep out on the coffee table for guest to flip through. I’d nail it down though because it’s one of those books that everyone is going to want for themselves. This book was so great I had to run out and get peanuts with chile y limon. Highly recommended!!!

*images courtesy of HarperCollins

Emlyn's Moon

Emlyn’s Moon
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN-10: 0439846765
ISBN-13: 978-0439846769

Emlyn’s Moon is the sequel to The Snow Spider which I haven’t read but that was no problem as Emlyn’s Moon is a stand alone story. It gives just enough background to let you know what was going on in The Snow Spider and then moves quickly into this magical and kind of dark story.

Young magician Gywn and his friend Nia have been warned to stay away from Emlyn Llewelyn, the strange boy who claims his mother lives on the moon. Nia’s curiousity gets the better of her and she wanders into his home and becomes enchanted by the fantastic paintings his father has done. Emlyn and Nia become fast friends and learn that a deep mystery and a mysterious magic have something to do with his mother who disappeared many years ago.

I loved this book! It’s not your typical fantasy, but rather a dark scary one set in modern day Wales. Magic runs in family lines and mystical and alien frost children come visiting the earth. There’s mystery, magic, art and nature in abundance. The book is also very realistic in the way the children interact and the emotions that they have. Nia is stressed out about moving into their new home and leaving the farm that she loves, she doesn’t understand the secrets of the grown ups and why she isn’t supposed to visit Emlyn and his father who she thinks are wonderful. There’s a lot going on in a short book and it begs re-reading. I think this is a book for anyone who loves children’s literature and highly recommend it. I can’t wait to read the first book in the series now!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Spirit of Cuauhtemoc

I'm doing a lot of thinking this week as we get closer to the anniversary of the death of Cuauhtemoc. On Saturday, February 24th Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc and other groups of danzantes around the world will honor our Gran Tata with cermonies of danza, musica, flores y prayers. My grandchildren and I will be dancing and bringing flowers to the altar. I always get reflective at this time of year. I think about what our people endured during the conquista, how we have survived genocide and walked through the fires of hate over 500 years. We've overcome so much and have so many hurdles yet to climb. We're a strong people, strong like the nopales that grow on the hillsides.

I started this blog two years ago in the spirit of Cuauhtemoc, to answer his call that we educate our children, that we teach and learn and grow. I don't have much to give, but I love books and literature and hope to share that, to inspire our people, all people to learn to love learning, to read, to search, to ask questions, to remember history, to educate and so much more. This blog is a labor of love for me and I'm grateful to do it. Like danza, where each danza is a prayer, an offering to God, our ancestors and our future, each post I add is a small prayer of hope for the future. Each post is an answer to Cuauhtemoc's call. I encourage those of you in the Los Angeles area to attend the Cuauhtemoc ceremony. You'll find the address and directions listed on the Baldwin Park circle's website. For those not in the L.A. area, we have danza circles in Arizona and Minnesota to name a couple. I'm sure you can find something in your area. It's a beautiful and moving ceremony that you will never forget. I leave you with some wise words from both Cuauhtemoc and my La Bloga compadre, Michael Sedano.

Mexica Tiahui,


AUGUST 13, 1521

" Our Sun has gone down Our Sun has been lost from view and has left us in complete darkness But we know it will return again that it will rise again to light us anew But while it is there in the Mansion of Silence Let's join together, let's embrace each other and in the very center of our being hide all that our hearts love and we know is the Great Treasure. Let us hide our Temples our schools, our sacred soccer game our youth centers our houses of flowery song so that only our streets remain. Our homes will enclose us until our New Sun rises. Most honorable fathers and most honorable mothers, may you never forget to guide your young ones teach your children, while you live how good it has been and will be. Until now our beloved Anahuac sheltered and protected our destinies that our ancestors and our parents enthusiastically received and seeded in our being. Now we will instruct our children how to be good. They will raise themselves up and gain strength and as goodness make real their great destiny in this, our beloved mother Anahuac."

To learn more about Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, please go to this link. There you will find lists of practices or ensaysos, articles about what we are about and photos of past ceremonies.

In the grand spirit of Cuauhtemoc, today on La Bloga, Michael Sedano has an amazingly powerful post entitled Because I do hope to turn Aged Eagles honor. It's an important piece of writing and one I hope will bring a slew of letters to PBS's door. Latinos have made so many unrecognized and unappreciated contributions to this country and it's past time that those contributions are recognized.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Beowulf - The Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds

Author/Illustrator: Gareth Hinds
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN 10: 0763630225
ISBN 13: 9780763630225

It wasn’t till my late 20’s that I discovered Beowulf and instantly fell in love with the saga. How could I not? Beowulf’s hand to hand combat battle with the monster Grendel is absolutely fascinating and bloody. I could well imagine storytellers of old singing out this tale over tankards of ale and the excited faces of the audiences. Grendel’s horrible mother scared the heck out of me and the final and fatal battle with the dragon, wow. To think that this story is over 1000 years old and possibly even from 750-800 AD is simply astounding. I love epic poetry and think everyone should read it. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my love of ancient sagas.

A few years ago, I read Seamus Heany’s Beowulf, A New Translation and fell in love all over again. I adore Heany and his translation of this classic tale really resonated with me and brought Beowulf to the forefront of my mind once again. When I heard that Gareth Hinds had done a graphic adaptation, I simply had to read it.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gareth Hinds, he is an astounding artist and illustrator. He is also quite a talented animator with work on some absolutely amazing video games like Neverwinter Nights, Tak and the Power of JuJu, Ratatouille, Star Wars New Droid Army to mention a few. Gareth Hinds’ website http://www.thecomic.com/ has quite a bit of the Beowulf story and artwork as well as other illustrated stories like Deus Ex Machina and Bearskin.

I received the Candlewick Press hardcover edition of Gareth Hinds’ Beowulf two days ago and just went crazy. It’s a total feast for the senses and beautifully done. The artwork is just amazing. Everything about it is gorgeous, the colors, the art, the movement and fluidity of the hero’s body as it battles with Grendel who is marvelously hideous. The text is based upon the translation by A.J. Church, published by Seely & Co in 1904 and is beautifully typeset.

I admire both Gareth Hinds and Candlewick’s effort to make Beowulf accessible and appealing to a modern audience. I know that Beowulf will find a whole new audience, a huge fan following of this astounding book and that’s just amazing. This book is an amazing work and should be in every school library as well as a required schoolbook in high school English classrooms.

Book Description (from the publisher):
The epic tale of the great warrior Beowulf has thrilled readers through the ages -- and now it is reinvented for a new generation with Gareth Hind’s masterful illustrations. Grendel’s black blood runs thick as Beowulf defeats the monster and his hideous mother, while somber hues overcast the hero’s final, fatal battle against a raging dragon. Speeches filled with courage and sadness, lightning-paced contests of muscle and will, and funeral boats burning on the fjords are all rendered in glorious and gruesome detail. Told for more than a thousand years, Beowulf’s heroic saga finds a true home in this graphic-novel edition.

This exhilarating graphic-novel edition of an ancient classic honors the spirit of the original as it attracts modern readers.

Author’s comments:

Gareth Hinds says, "BEOWULF gave me the chance to explore the superhero story in a more timeless way, without the skintight suits and other wacky conventions of that genre. I wanted to show people how cool a story this really is." He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep
Author: Liz Kessler
Illustrator: Sarah Gibb
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Emily Windsnap is just like any ordinary teen-aged girl with all the problems that girls that age have. She’s just a bit more unusual than most girls. Emily is half mermaid. In this charming sequel to The Tail of Emily Windsnap (Candlewick, 2004) she is ecstatic that her parents are back together after years apart, they’re moving to the Bermuda Triangle to Allpoints Island a safe haven where merfolk and humans coexist in peace, her best friend Shona the mermaid is moving there as well, and she is leaving behind her school bully Mandy Rushton. Life should be wonderful indeed and it seems that way at first. Of course, that’s before she and Shona accidentally awaken the Kracken and plunge Allpoints Island into incredible danger.

Like most of us, Emily has a hard time owning up to what she did and taking responsibility for it. Her parents are fighting more and more and she doesn’t seem to fit in with the other mermaids. Worst of all, she runs right smack into her old nemesis Mandy.

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep is an interesting story and Emily herself is quite the heroine. It's not every girl that can take on both Neptune and the Kracken! She battles the same issues most girls these days do and then some. She’s very plucky, curious and wants to do the right thing. She’s even willing to fight for what she thinks is right. She’s also human enough to be scared, to not want to face up to her own actions, to leave things till the last possible minute. I think there’s a part in all of us that will identify with her. What makes her unique and even more interesting is the fact that she just happens to have a tail.

Another thing that I love about Emily is that she’s a mixture - half human, half mermaid. Emily’s story shows her wanting to be the best of both and fit in with the humans and the mermaids. Her parents trying to adjust themselves to each other’s world and feeling like they don’t fit in strikes a very real note and ties in nicely. I think that girls will identify and love Emily Windsnap. Highly recommended.

About the Author:
Liz Kessler lives on a canal boat in rural Cheshire, England. She knew that her first book, The Tail of Emily Windsnap, wasn’t the end of the Emily’s story. She got the idea for the kraken from the name of an amusement park ride, then went on a snorkeling trip to Bermuda to fill in more details. Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep will be published in 15 countries.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

All the Stars in the Sky: Native Stories of the Heavens

All the Stars in the Sky: Native Stories from the Heavens
Author: C.J. Taylor
Publisher: Tundra Books
ISBN-10: 0887767591
ISBN-13: 978-0887767593

All the Stars in the Sky
is a beautiful book. I’m always a big fan of collections of old folktales, myths and legends, especially when they come from the Americas because there was so much that was lost. Anything reclaimed or re-told is good in my mind. We need our culture and our history. I believe it’s vital. In this book, the author draws on many traditions and their legends inspired by the skies. Each is beautifully told as well as gorgeously illustrated.

I loved the legend of the Old Man and the Sun’s magical leggings. It was witty and funny. The sweeping illustrations in bright sun-colored tones really added depth to both the story and the humor. The illustration of Old Man sitting in the lake to cool himself off after misfiring the leggings arrows of flames was just too great. I laughed and laughed at that one.

Every time we save a legend from our indigenous past, we honor our ancestors. Every time we tell a story from our ancestors, we teach a history lesson to our children. Each story is a pearl of culture, of tradition and fosters both understanding and pride. Our children need these foundations to stand upon. This book is a prayer, an offering to the ancestors. I encourage everyone to buy it, not just those of us who are indigenous. Children will love the stories as will adults. Highly recommended!

About the Author:
C.J. Taylor is an internationally acclaimed artist and children’s author of Mohawk heritage. She has traveled extensively throughout North America helping make the rich cultural history of native people accessible to the young. Her paintings are in many private collections across Canada and the US. She is a self-taught artist and storyteller who has organized exhibitions of Native art across North America. All the Stars in the Sky is C.J. Taylor’s eleventh book. She lives in B.C.

ABOUT THIS BOOK (from the publishe
The heavens — the sun, the stars, and the moon — have inspired, intrigued, and mystified us from the beginning of time. We’ve always searched for ways to comprehend their beauty and their meaning. Mohawk artist and author C. J. Taylor has drawn from First Nations legends from across North America to present a fascinating collection of stories inspired by the night skies.

The legends — Salish, Onondaga, Blackfoot, Netsilik (Inuit), Wasco, Ojibwa, and Cherokee — are by turns funny, beautiful, tragic, and frightening, but each one is infused with a sense of awe.

From the Ojibwa legend of the great hunter, White Hawk, and his love for an unattainable maiden, or the Salish legend of a magical lake that is threatened when human beings turn greedy and lose their respect for its gifts and for the sun’s power, to the delightful Cherokee legend of Grandmother Spider who brought light to the world, this is an important collection that is enhanced by Taylor’s glorious paintings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 2006 Cybils Are Announced!!!

It was an honor and a pleasure to be on the Cybil's nominating panel for graphic novels. I met great people, learned a lot and read great and fascinating books.

I was excited to see that my favorite for the 13-up Graphic Novel, American Born Chinese was a winner!

Check out the rest of the winners here.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Help Dreamhaven Books!

Neil Gaiman has an alarming announcement on his journal this morning. Dreamhaven Books was broken into and their business is hurt as a result of the break in. Neil is calling for everyone to buy something from them to help them along in this time of trouble.

See the full post here: Dreamhaven Books post

If you don't know about Dreamhaven, they have a marvelous selection of signed Neil Gaiman books along with Charles Vess or Dave McKean. They have great things. Go see them! Go read Neil's post and then go buy something!

One More Day......

Only one more day people to the first annual Cybil awards. I'm dying to see what books in each category win. I am particularly interested in the category that I was a panelist on...the Graphic Novel category. I have a favorite, my fingers are crossed, breath held in anticipation...BE TOMORROW ALREADY!

Watch for the announcements tomorrow here: The Cybils

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Mermaid's Bracelet

The Mermaid’s Bracelet
Author: Beth Harwood
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-10: 0439850940
ISBN-13: 978-0439850940

Book Description from the publisher:
Hannah loves her vacation by the seashore, but she wishes she had somebody to play with. When she finds a message in a bottle from a mermaid, Hannah writes back--and soon she and Shelly become friends. Shelly has lost a favorite bracelet, but soon discovers a map that leads Hannah to a special treasure box--and another new friend! This charming book with a padded glittery cover includes 7 envelopes and 8 notes, a map, and a 3-D treasure box, plus a sea star charm bracelet!

The Mermaid’s Bracelet is an adorable little book. It’s very pink, very girly and very fun. I loved it because the little notes back and forth that were included in envelopes stuck to the pages really encourage interaction and a healthy sense of fun.

Writing letters is becoming a lost art in this age of emails, instant messaging and texting on cell phones. I loved that this book shows little girls just how much fun letter writing can be, how sending and receiving notes from a friend is a lovely thing.

The story itself is a fun and warm little treasure hunt. The illustrations are pastel and flowery, just what little girls love. The charm bracelet at the end of the story gives them a real treasure after the hunt and a sense of magic.

Priscilla and the Splish-Splash Surprise

Priscilla and the Splish-Splash Surprise
Author: Nathaniel Hobbie
Illustrator: Jocelyn Hobbie
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316010464
ISBN-13: 978-0316010467

Book Description
Here is a second clever read-aloud starring Priscilla, who is upset as rain comes down in buckets for days on end! When our intrepid heroine ventures outdoors to perform a rain-stopping dance, she meets Posy the Pixie, who shows her around the magical land of Primrose and teaches her to appreciate both rain and sunshine. Priscilla’s story is told in lyrical verse and young girls will enjoy reading her pixie land adventure aloud.

“On Priscilla's planet, which is not so far away, the sky is a purple, green-brownish gray hue today. The sky had not been blue for days. Then the raindrops began to fall and rain became the word of the day.”

Priscilla is back in another rhyming adventure! In Priscilla and the Splish-Splash Surprise, Priscilla is not having a good day. She hates the rain and wishes it would just go away. At the edge of the forest near her home, she meets Posy the Pixie and other characters in the forest. Posy teaches Priscilla about the wonders of rain. The illustrations are colorful and bright.

School Library Journal didn’t like this book for some strange reason but I loved it. My three year old granddaughter, who is very critical about what books she likes, loves the Priscilla books and especially this one. She too was not loving the rain since she couldn’t go to the park and after reading Priscilla and the Splish-Splash Surprise, she immediately wanted rain boots and to go out and hop through the puddles.

I always think it’s great when a book makes a child laugh out loud, when it captures them and makes them think. That to me is the gauge for a good children’s book. I loved the magical pixie world beyond the trees and the bugs and characters that live there. This is a perfect rainy day book for little girls.

About the author and illustrator:

Jocelyn and Nathaniel Hobbie are the talented son and daughter of New York Times bestselling author Holly Hobbie. Jocelyn is a painter and lives in New York City. Nathaniel works with glass and steel at his workshop in Massachusetts.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

X-Rated Bloodsucker in L.A.

Just got word that Mario Acevedo, the author of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats and X-Rated Bloodsuckers will be in California for a few book signings at some of our fun independant bookstores. The schedule is listed below. Please support our local independent bookstores and say hi to Mario! His books are great and will be reviewed and highly recommended on AmoxCalli soon.

Mario's website: http://www.marioacevedo.com/

Friday, March 9, 2007:
7PM Mysterious Galaxy, 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

Saturday, March 10, 2007:
1PM Dark Delicacies, 4213 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
5PM Mystery Bookstore, 1036-C Broxton Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Sunday, March 11, 2007
2PM, M is for Mystery, 74 East Third Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

Twice Upon a Time #1: Rapunzel, The One with All the Hair

Twice Upon A Time #1
Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair
Author: Wendy Mass
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN-10: 0439796563
ISBN-13: 978-0439796569

Book DescriptionRapunzel is having the ultimate bad day. She's been stolen from home by an evil witch, locked in an incredibly high tower, and doesn't even have a decent brush for her hair. Prince Benjamin is in a pretty uncomfortable situation himself. His father wants him to be more kingly, his mother wants him to never leave her sight, and his cousin wants to get him into as much trouble as possible. Plus, there's the little matter of prearranged marriages. . . . Both Rapunzel and Prince Benjamin are trapped . . . in very different ways. It's only when their paths cross that things change.

Rapunzel, The One with All the Hair is a fun take on an old fairy tale. Told in alternating chapters by both Rapunzel and Prince Benjamin, it is funny, witty and intelligent. I loved that it gave a refreshing modern view on this classic tale. I loved that it showed how much Rapunzel loved and missed her parents while being locked away in that tower. She really cares about her parents and is willing to battle her way out of that tower to get back to them. This Rapunzel is feisty!

The other thing I loved about the story is having the Prince’s side in all this. In fairy tales you never get the Prince’s side. He just shows up gives the obligatory kiss, hacks through brambles or climbs a tower and boom – happily ever after. That’s always bothered me. The story is all about the princess, then here comes Prince Charming, whom we know nothing about, has no personality, he saves her and suddenly, she’s complete. ARGH! It drives me crazy and I love fairy tales! This story gives Prince Charming not only a name, but a personality. We get to know Benjamin and we actually care about him, root for him. Prince Charming has become a person.

This book is highly recommended. I think girls, especially in the 9-13 age range are going to love it because it’s modern, funny and light hearted. It gives a strong message that girls are just as intelligent and strong as boys, sometimes more so in different ways. It tells girls not to just wait around for Prince Charming to save you, save yourself. It really packs a punch in a backpacked sized paperback.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Neil Gaiman's Magical Oracle

Neil Gaiman has a simply wondrous oracle of divination on his site: Head on over and shake it! You'll be amazed!


Congratulations on turning 6 Neil!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Best Chronicle Children's Books of the Year Contest

Chronicle Children's Books has just announced a fun contest with lots of wonderful prizes, like autographed copies of An Egg is Quiet, Ivy & Bean and other amazing books. In fact, they say they try and do contests at this address every six weeks or two months. The contests are thematic and there are always great goodies to win.

Click here to enter the contest!

Candlewick to Launch Beginning Reader Series

Publisher's Weekly reports that Candlewick Press, that marvelous publishing house with the beautiful, arty books are launching a beginning reader series. I can't wait!

Read the article here:


Tapada of the Day Award Goes To....

Otra! This one is even worse!


Flight, Volume 3

Flight, Volume 3


Chris Appelhans• Matthew Armstrong • Neil Babra • Bannister • Chuck BB • Catia Chien • Tony Cliff • Becky Cloonan • Phil Craven • Matthew Forsythe • Alex Fuentes • Michel Gagne • Rodolphe Guenoden • Steve Hamaker • Paul Harmon • Ben Hatke • Azad Injejikian• Kazu Kibuishi • Khang Le • Reagan Lodge • Johane Matte • Bill Plympton • Dave Roman • Israel Sanchez • Rad Sechrist • Kean Soo • Yoko Tanaka • Joey Weiser

Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN-10: 0345490398
ISBN-13: 978-0345490391

Flight, Volume 3 is one of the most visually arresting, sumptuous books I’ve ever seen. The art is simply glorious. Every page is a step into a dream of illustration by various illustrators, artists, and animators. As if this feast for the eyes in is this third volume in an astounding series weren’t enough, the writing and storytelling is this book are simply phenomenal.

Underworld, animator Michael Gagne's tale of a heroic young fox who battles a serpentine beast underground is undeniably eloquent and touching. It is told visually and amazed me to no end at just how much could be said without words.

In The Cloud, longtime animation veteran Bill Plympton tells the story of a little cloud who just wants to float along into different shapes who’s elders try and get him to conform to their rules. Plympton makes a great statement in this story about standing out and marching to your own drum. I loved it and wanted more.

One of my favorites was Kean Soo’s Jellaby a heart wrenching story of a little girl having a tea party with a monster. Simply beautiful.

Kazu Kibushi is the editor and driving force behind the book and deserves to be commended for this sublime volume. This book is highly recommended and should be on every library’s shelf.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Children of the Lamp: The Blue Djinn of Babylon

Children of the Lamp: The Blue Djinn of Babylon
Author: P.B. Kerr
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN-10: 0439670217
ISBN-13: 978-0439670210

This is the second installment in the Children of the Lamp series and it’s wonderful. The book stands alone even if you haven’t read the first book about these great kids who just happen to descend from an ancient line of Djinn or genie and have recently come into their powers. It is truly a treat.

Twelve year old twins John and Philippa Gaunt are savvy and well behaved New Yorkers whose mother is a genie but gave up using her powers when she married their human father. One of the things I loved about this series is how well parented these children are. These kids are polite, considerate and just happen to be able to grant your wishes. They are living their lives quietly and suffering in the cold weather (djinn need hot desert air to be at their best) when they get drawn into another amazing adventure.

Philippa gets accused of cheating at a Djinnverso (djinn poker, but with seven eight-sided dice) tournament by the Blue Djinn. The twins and their uncle Nimrod find out that the Book of Solomon has been stolen and horrible consequences will befall the Djinn world if it isn’t recovered. Philippa and John aided by the Irish accented Mr. Rakshasas who lives in a lamp, Uncle Nimrod and their uncles, the family dogs who just happen to be their uncles set off for Istanbul then Iraq to recover the missing grimoire. Philippa is kidnapped and John sets off on his own to save the grimoire, his sister and the world. How amazing is that?

The Blue Djinn of Babylon is a well written and wonderful adventure. The characters are well developed, interesting and fun.

Tapada of the Day Award Goes To....

Drumroll please.....


*note: for non-Chicano's, a tapada is not a nice word! It's the equivalent of Miss Snark's nitwit of the day

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why Reading Matters

Head on down to The Chronicle for Lindsay Water's very excellent and important article on reading, teaching reading and why it is so gosh darn important.


Monday, February 05, 2007

ALA 2007 notable book list

The ALA has posted their list of notable books for 2007.

Click here to view: 2007 ALA Notable Books

You can also view their lists for previous years here: ALA Notables, Previous Years

There's great books in these lists and many that I've recommended and reviewed here on AmoxCalli.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Foretelling

The Foretelling
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316154091
ISBN-13: 978-0316154093

From the first chapter:
“Ours was a time of blood, when the sky reached on forever, when one horse became a hundred and then a thousand, when we wore our hair in long black braids and rode as warriors. Everything we had was given to us by the goddess, and everything we lost was taken away by her.”

The Foretelling
is Alice Hoffman’s fourth book for young readers and what a great tale it is. Rain, the heroine is a young Amazon princess who was born to Alina, Queen of the legendary Amazon warriors. She is destined to become the Queen of the Amazons herself as told in the prophecies of her people. Told in spare, gorgeous prose we learn that Rain is raised by the other women of the tribe, her mother is unable to be close to her as she is the product of a violent rape. Rain, like all girls of her tribe is raised on mare’s milk and nutured with the strength of the warriors. She is a girl given to dark dreams and strange longings.

Rain is determined to win her mother’s love and become the best Amazon warrior there is. She practices constantly on her horse, learning tricks and becoming so one with it that she exceeds even Amazonian expectations. None of what she does wins her the love she craves though and Rain grows up always feeling a bit different and alone. She must find her place within the tribe and become a Queen in her own right and bringing about a very different future for her people.

This story is remarkable in its ability to bring a legendary culture about which very little is known about to life. Alice Hoffman’s Amazons are larger than life, but very real and multi-dimensional. Rain’s quest to find herself and her place in the midst of war, turmoil and treachery is astounding and quite wonderful. It’s such an eloquent, believable and poetic story. Highly recommended!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Time Magazine Top Ten Lists

Time Magazine has listed there top ten comics and books here:


I was happy to see that some of my favorites like La Perdida, American Born Chinese, Fun Home, The What is What, Absurdistan and Absolute Sandman made the list.

The Dragon's Eye: The Dragonology Chronicles, Volume 1

The Dragon's Eye: The Dragonology Chronicles, Volume 1
Author: Dugald A. Steer
Illustrator: Douglas Carrel
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN-10: 0763628107
ISBN-13: 978-0763628109

The real author of
Dr. Drake's comprehensive Dragonology: The Complete Book Of Dragons and The Dragonology Handbook: A Practical Course In Dragons, Dugald A. Steer has begun a series of books detailing the life of the imaginary Dr. Ernest Drake. The Dragon’s Eye is the first volume in what looks to be a wonderfully engaging and adventurous series.

In 1882, twelve year old Daniel Cook and his sister Beatrice are sent to stay with their parent’s friend, Dr. Ernest Drake. They are unaware that their parent’s prolonged stay in India is because they are dragonologists from an old and very secret society who work to protect both society and dragons. They are at first reluctant to stay with Dr. Drake but soon find out that he runs a school for budding dragonologists and quickly become fascinated in the secret study of dragons. They also quickly become involved in an adventure as the sinister Ignatius Crook plots to steal the Dragon’s Eye, a gem purported to give him powers to control all the dragons.

The illustrations give depth to the story and fans of the Dragonology books will become fast fans of this new series. There are dragons, dragons and more dragons as well as insight into the fascinating Dr. Ernest Drake who compiled those mysterious and highly detailed first books. Great background and a fun addition to the series.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Harry Potter 7 Release Date Announced

The release date for the much anticipated final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been announced. The book will hit U.S. and UK bookstores at midnight on July 21st.