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


Friday, August 31, 2007

Poetry Friday

Yay! It’s Poetry Friday and I get to share another one of my favorite poems. I’ve always loved anything by Edna St. Vincent Millay and today I’m sharing one of her poems. Eel Grass is short, simple and says so much. It’s just beautiful.

Today the Round-up is here.


NO matter what I say,
All that I really love
Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
And the eel-grass in the cove;
The jingle-shells that lie on the beach
At the tide-line, and the trace
Of higher tides along the beach:
Nothing in this place.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Author: Junot Diaz
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1594489580
ISBN-13: 978-1594489587

I was in New York this June for Book Expo America and was walking through a crowded aisle on my way to a meeting when something caught my eye and made me stop dead in my tracks. The name Junot Diaz on a simple white cover was enough to stop my fast moving walk to a meeting a had about a minute to get to clear on the other side of the Javits center. I not only stopped, I gasped and then I grabbed. I held that book like it was the Holy Grail and enraptured, carried it to my meeting which I couldn’t concentrate on because all I could think of was the book, the long awaited book burning a hole in my book bag.

That night on the balcony overlooking the Empire State building at my friend Joe’s place in Hell’s Kitchen I reverently opened the book by Junot Diaz. It was early morning with a muggy sun coming up before I put it down again. There were pages that I read once, twice, thrice just for the pleasure of them. The footnotes in particular were wonderful. I read them again and again out loud to myself just for the pleasure of saying them. I re-read the book on the plane home and found it to be equally entertaining and great. I got into the office and shared footnotes with people reading them out loud at random times.

I waited and waited to review it. Why? Because sometimes a book is so damned great that it defies reviewing. I mean what do you say? Everything will sound canned. It’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s fantastic. Whatever. It’s all that and more but how to say it? How do I describe what is essentially a masterpiece so eloquent that it almost defies description? Think Britney Spears following Janis Joplin at a concert. Yeah.

Well, I chickened out and put the book to sit on my shelf for a couple of months just to sit there and glare at me. Well it’s time now – the book, the glorious book is tired of waiting. I read it again last night and two months haven’t changed its beauty.

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao
begins with a history of fukú (a curse of both gargantuan and subtle proportions) outlined in its gorgeous footnotes that reveal a plethora of Dominican history and political information with a deft and almost musical talent. The footnoted description of fukú was hilarious and I read it again and again. You get the sense that this story about a sci-fi addicted, desperately lonely fat boy Oscar is doomed from the start but you can’t help hoping for him all the time knowing that the fukú is gonna get him.

The book flips back and forth with information about Oscar, pitiful Oscar, his sister, mother, grandparents and peripheral people in his life. The whole Dominican Republic past and present is also a character as is the evil Trujillo. The 30-year reign of terror of one President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo was particularly bloody. Shit, us Mexican girls grew up scared of Trujillo. That vato made the massacre at Tlateloco by the Mexican government look like a Sunday outing. (I’m NOT trivializing Tlateloco by any means – just showing how horrible Trujillo was. Sol ducks looks around hoping the fukú doesn’t get her).

Oscar’s life story is an amazing one – he is a hero just by virtue of being so pathetic and his first generation immigrant status. You feel his pain, his loneliness and want so badly to help him but you can’t. There are 500 years of pain and abuse stored up in that boy. The way I saw it Oscar became the colonized Latin America/indigenous peoples all rolled up into one fat nerd.

The book switches back and forth from English, to Spanish, to indigenous slang, to insults, to an almost hip hop feel, a sing-song rap about cultural genocide, abuse, pillage and politics all caught up in the life of one young man. It reads like a song and makes no italics or apologies for switching back and forth between languages and slang. It’s saying understand me or don’t – my prose is so gorgeous I don’t need to translate for you. Just deal. Just read. Just absorb. And you do. You breathe Junot Diaz’s words. You learn more about the DR and politics than you’d ever learn in a history class taught by the best teacher. You’re captured, captivated, you’re sucked in, your singing along with him and your singing in his style. At the end of the book you’re changed and you’ll never be the same.

Book Description from the publisher

This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time

About the Author

Junot Diaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His debut story collection, Drown, was a publishing sensation of unprecedented acclaim, became a national bestseller, won numerous awards, and is now a landmark of contemporary literature. He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and now lives in New York City and Boston, where he teaches at MIT

Friday, August 24, 2007

Poetry Friday

Today I awoke feeling wistful and when I feel wistful I always think of the Garcia Lorca poem Romance Sonambula. It's so evocative and the sense of longing is so strong that it just pulls at me. I find myself thinking the words, "Verde te quiero verde" often throughout my days.

The poem haunts me with it's sadness and longing. It makes me think of a man I used to know who exuded longing and sadness.

Federico Garcia Lorca was murdered by Frankist soldiers during the Civil War in Spain and his booked were banned and burned in the Plaza del Carmen in Granada. To this day, no one knows where his body is.

I'm adding his haunting poem here in the original Spanish with the translation below it. The Poetry Friday roundup is here.

Romance Sonambulo

by Federico Garcia Lorca

Verde que te quiero verde.

Verde viento. Verdes ramas.

El barco sobre la mar

y el caballo en la montaña.

Con la sombra en la cintura

ella sueña en su baranda,

verde carne, pelo verde,

con ojos de fría plata.

Verde que te quiero verde.

Bajo la luna gitana,

las cosas la están mirando

y ella no puede mirarlas.

Verde que te quiero verde.

Grandes estrellas de escarcha

vienen con el pez de sombra

que abre el camino del alba.

La higuera frota su viento

con la lija de sus ramas,

y el monte, gato garduño,

eriza sus pitas agrias.

¿Pero quién vendra? ¿Y por dónde...?

Ella sigue en su baranda,

Verde came, pelo verde,

soñando en la mar amarga.

--Compadre, quiero cambiar

mi caballo por su casa,

mi montura por su espejo,

mi cuchillo per su manta.

Compadre, vengo sangrando,

desde los puertos de Cabra.

--Si yo pudiera, mocito,

este trato se cerraba.

Pero yo ya no soy yo,

ni mi casa es ya mi casa.

--Compadre, quiero morir

decentemente en mi cama.

De acero, si puede ser,

con las sábanas de holanda.

¿No ves la herida que tengo

desde el pecho a la garganta?

--Trescientas rosas morenas

lleva tu pechera blanca.

Tu sangre rezuma y huele

alrededor de tu faja.

Pero yo ya no soy yo,

ni mi casa es ya mi casa.

--Dejadme subir al menos

hasta las altas barandas;

¡dejadme subir!, dejadme,

hasta las verdes barandas.

Barandales de la luna

por donde retumba el agua.

Ya suben los dos compadres

hacia las altas barandas.

Dejando un rastro de sangre.

Dejando un rastro de lágrimas.

Temblaban en los tejados

farolillos de hojalata.

Mil panderos de cristal

herían la madrugada.

Verde que te quiero verde,

verde viento, verdes ramas.

Los dos compadres subieron.

El largo viento dejaba

en la boca un raro gusto

de hiel, de menta y de albahaca.

¡Compadre! ¿Donde está, díme?

¿Donde está tu niña amarga?

¡Cuántas veces te esperó!

¡Cuántas veces te esperara,

cara fresca, negro pelo,

en esta verde baranda!

Sobre el rostro del aljibe

se mecía la gitana.

Verde carne, pelo verde,

con ojos de fría plata.

Un carámbano de luna

la sostiene sobre el agua.

La noche se puso íntima

como una pequeña plaza.

Guardias civiles borrachos

en la puerta golpeaban.

Verde que te qinero verde.

Verde viento. Verdes ramas.

El barco sobre la mar.

Y el caballo en la montaña.

Romance Sonambulo
by Federico García Lorca
Translated by William Logan

Green, how I want you green.

Green wind. Green branches.

The ship out on the sea

and the horse on the mountain.

With the shade around her waist

she dreams on her balcony,

green flesh, her hair green,

with eyes of cold silver.

Green, how I want you green.

Under the gypsy moon,

all things are watching her

and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green.

Big hoarfrost stars

come with the fish of shadow

that opens the road of dawn.

The fig tree rubs its wind

with the sandpaper of its branches,

and the forest, cunning cat,

bristles its brittle fibers.

But who will come? And from where?

She is still on her balcony

green flesh, her hair green,

dreaming in the bitter sea.

--My friend, I want to trade

my horse for her house,

my saddle for her mirror,

my knife for her blanket.

My friend, I come bleeding

from the gates of Cabra.

--If it were possible, my boy,

I'd help you fix that trade.

But now I am not I,

nor is my house now my house.

--My friend, I want to die

decently in my bed.

Of iron, if that's possible,

with blankets of fine chambray.

Don't you see the wound I have

from my chest up to my throat?

--Your white shirt has grown

thirsty dark brown roses.

Your blood oozes and flees a

round the corners of your sash.

But now I am not I,

nor is my house now my house.

--Let me climb up, at least,

up to the high balconies;

Let me climb up! Let me,

up to the green balconies.

Railings of the moon

through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up,

up to the high balconies.

Leaving a trail of blood.

Leaving a trail of teardrops.

Tin bell vines

were trembling on the roofs.

A thousand crystal tambourines

struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green,

green wind, green branches.

The two friends climbed up.

The stiff wind left

in their mouths, a strange taste

of bile, of mint, and of basil

My friend, where is she--tell me--

where is your bitter girl?

How many times she waited for you!

How many times would she wait for you,

cool face, black hair,

on this green balcony!

Over the mouth of the cistern

the gypsy girl was swinging,

green flesh, her hair green,

with eyes of cold silver.

An icicle of moon

holds her up above the water.

The night became intimate

like a little plaza.

Drunken "Guardias Civiles"

were pounding on the door.

Green, how I want you green.

Green wind. Green branches.

The ship out on the sea.

And the horse on the mountain.

From The Selected Poems of Federico García Lorca, translated by William Logan. Published by New Directions, 1955. Used with permission.

The round up is here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Siobahn Dowd Dead at 47

Publisher's Weekly reports that Siobahn Dowd, author of the wonderful first novel A Swift, Pure Cry has died in Oxford at age 47 of cancer. I'm saddened that this beautiful talent is gone.

For Jonathan Fryer's comments, click here.

For Siobahn Dowd's website click here.

Kelly over at Big A, little a sums it up succinctly and eloquently.

Read what Write Away has to say about the work of Siobahn Dowd.

Read the lovely obituarity that Jonathan Fryer wrote for the Guardian here.

Isn't Anyone Reading Anymore?

One of my colleagues over at Blogcritics.org has an interesting article up on reading. Take a gander here.

Shamelessly stolen from PNDirect

PN Direct reports that Chicken House is seeking talent. Click here for the full blurb and scroll down.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


As many of you may know, I used to write the Wednesday's Latino kidlit column over at La Bloga. As of this week, I am no longer writing that column which has been taken over by the wonderful author Rene Colato Lainez. Visit him, you'll love his posts.

I've decided to start another blog alongside AmoXcalli called Cuentesitos. For those of you who don't speak Spanish, Cuentestios means little stories. The Latino/Chicano kidlit reviews that I used to write for La Bloga will now be housed at Cuentesitos.

AmoXcalli will still have lots of kidlit and Latino/Chicano kidlit but it will also take those reviews and consolidate them at Cuentesitos in order to have all the Latino children's literature reviews in one dedicated place. It makes my sense of organization happy and gives people who are looking for only Latino children's literature to be able to find it easily.

I think it will take me about a week or so to duplicated all the old posts into Cuentesitos so swing by and visit in a week or so.

The Poison Diaries

The Poison Diaries
Author: Colin Stimpson, Duchess of Northumberland, Jane
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
ISBN-10: 0810993147
ISBN-13: 978-0810993143

The Poison Diaries is one of those books that you can’t help gazing at again and again. Story aside, the book is gorgeous. Rich, pastel like drawings that cover every inch of the page make it captivatingly sumptuous with all the style of an old-fashioned, Victorian herbal.

Each plant is lovingly drawn in great depth and detail and the book appears to be a kind of field guide to the plants in a garden as you first flip through it. Then you start to notice that the plants have almost human characteristics that they appear to be not only alive, but also malevolent. My first reaction was to stop flipping through it and start back at the beginning.

The story unfolds as darkly gothic as something from out of Lovecraft. The story is of an orphaned boy named Weed who works in his cruel master’s poison garden tending to the plants. He discovers that he can hear the plants talking and they him.

The plants are evil creatures who adore telling tales of the manner in which they kill. They goad Weed and try and encourage him to kill his master, glorifying murder and offering justification. He refuses to go along with them until one day he finds that his only friend and true love Marigold has experimented with one of the poisons and dies. With Marigold’s death, Weed unravels, sinking into a madness that the plants feast on and use to control him into doing what they want which is to kill.

I was completely caught up in the story even though I tend to shy away from very violent books and this is violent make no mistake about this. It is violent and graphically so. Still, the story is a good one, riveting though chilling. I have a feeling there will be more stories about Weed and his plants in the future or at least there should be given that the book left me wanting more.

I’m fascinated by the fact that the author was once a Disney animator. I could completely see this story animated although certainly not for children. It would make a very dark, very interesting film I think. The Poison Diaries comes highly recommended.

Book Description from the publisher:

This truly gothic tale—a “facsimile” of Weed’s journal found at Alnwick Castle, in England—is not only a story of the battle between good and evil, but an educational parable of the curative and lethal properties of plants.

Weed—an orphan boy who apprentices with an evil old apothecary—is both used and abused. His journal is part botanical workbook and part diary of his own relationship with poisonous plants.

Weed discovers that he is one of the few people whom the plants talk to, and they try to persuade him that, with their help, his master can easily be disposed of. Although he refuses at first, after Weed’s first love, Marigold, experiments with the poisons and dies, he is pushed over the edge and plots to kill his master with a taste of his own evil medicine.

Each chapter of the story begins with Weed’s botanical notes: a plant’s appearance and properties, where it is found, how it should be cared for, the most poisonous parts, and how poison is extracted and administered. Accompanied by Weed’s sketches of the plants in their natural form, his diary also reveals the “real” personalities of the plants.

About the Author
Jane, Duchess of Northumberland has long researched poison gardens. She is responsible for creating the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens in England, which opened in 2004 to worldwide acclaim. The Poison Garden is the culmination of her life’s goal to teach children and adults alike the curative and lethal properties of poisonous plants. Colin Stimpson worked as an animator at Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation studio in London and then at Disney Feature Animation in California.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reviewing the Classics of Children's Literature - The Missing Piece Meets the Big O

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O – 25th Anniversary Edition
Author: Shel Silverstein
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 0060256575
ISBN-13: 978-0060256579

There are several reasons this book has been around so long. It’s great. It’s simple. It’s charming. It’s powerful. It deals with a common issue for both children and adults, that of fitting in and of self-esteem. With simple line drawings and laconic but eloquently poetic text, it conveys a strong message with gentleness and humor.

I first bought this book years ago, in its first printing. I bought it for my then three-year old son Albert who saw it at a bookstore and wanted it. When I read it to him that night, I was so struck by the truth of the book that I cried. The book touched me deeply and made me see something about myself that I had never really looked at. You see, I was the painfully shy child, the quiet one who hid behind books, never raised her hand in class and rarely spoke. My friends now will laugh and think I’m telling a fib, but no, that was me. I entered into a marriage far too young and it ended early and badly. Shel Silverstein’s book helped me to heal and grow as a person and find myself, my self-esteem and become the woman I am today.

Over the years, I’ve bought this book more times than I can count. Each of my children owns a copy as do my grandchildren. I give it away to nieces and nephews, children of friends, strangers on buses, you name it. I always seem to find a person in need of this book and it finds its way off my shelf and into those eager and waiting hands. I just go out and buy another, and another, and another…

So enough about me and onto what makes this book a classic. The Missing Piece Meets the Big O tells the story of a little triangular piece sitting all alone.

"The missing piece sat alone
waiting for someone
to come along
and take it somewhere...."

The story goes on to tell about the pieces that didn’t fit, or fit but couldn’t roll, or grew annoyed when the piece started to grow. The piece meets the Big O who says he isn't missing a piece but the piece is welcome to roll with him if he likes. By the end of the book, the Missing Piece is rolling on his own and has become his own complete self.

Each page is a simple and compassionate lesson. The book tells you to be yourself, of how important it is to be who you are on your own power and that you don’t need someone to complete you. You can BE who you want to be all on your own initiative and determination. That’s a strong message and an important lesson. A lesson most of us have a hard time learning.

In these days of girls and boys feeling so compelled by plastic surgery, weight loss, fitting in, cutting, peer pressure and so many things to deal with, this book becomes all that much more important for children of all ages and adults to read.

This beautiful children’s book changed my life. It taught me that I was somebody. That just finding myself then being myself was enough. I wonder just how many people this book has changed just so. I’ll forever be grateful for it and the difference it made in my life and that of my children’s. Any book that can cause change for the good is a classic in my mind and this one especially deserves that honor and more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Aiden

Yesterday was my grandson Aiden’s 2nd birthday party. He actually turns two tomorrow but Saturday was his party. Aiden loves dogs. He loves my roommate’s dog Lollie in particular but mostly he loves everything dog or puppy related so the party was a puppy party and Lollie hosted it. There was chocolate cake in the shape of a doghouse with a thatched roof (did it with shredded coconut), hot dogs, chili, a giant chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a bone, puppy party bags filled with cat cookies and ice cream. We had a good time and Aiden received lots of dog books as presents. In honor of Aiden, today at AmoXcalli we’re reviewing dog books. Check them out below.

A Dog Needs a Bone

A Dog Needs A Bone
Author/Illustrator: Audrey Wood
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic
ISBN-10: 054500005X
ISBN-13: 978-0545000055

A Dog Needs a Bone follows a needy pooch on his long quest for a bone. Told entirely in rhyme, it’s a very fun book to read to little ones.

“Mistress, kind mistress, please give me a bone, and I’ll stay by your side, no more will I roam.”

The reader follows the dog on his quest, listing promise after promise if he’ll only get a bone. Anyone that has a dog will recognize the single-mindedness of a dog after food. I especially loved the picture of the dog digging into the trashcan. It made me laugh as much as the drawing of the dog gazing sadly out the window when his mistress leaves made me say awwwww.

The drawings by Audrey Wood are completely adorable and give such a sense of silliness to the dog’s quest for a bone. Each drawing looks like it’s been done in crayon and give the sense of a child’s drawings, which will further endear young ones. I’m finding through my grandchildren that the drawings that remind them of their own beginning attempts at it bring a special smile and closeness.

Book Description from the publisher
Follow the plight of this bone-obsessed, lovable mutt as she spends her day waiting, pleading, and plotting for a bone from her mistress. Readers will delight in the humor and irresistible charm of this incorrigible canine as she tries to stave off her desire until at last she gets her long-awaited bone. Young readers will be drawn to the simple rhyming text and playful crayon illustrations of this bestselling author.

Taking a Bath With the Dog

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy
Author/Illustrator: Scott Menchin
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN-10: 0763629197
ISBN-13: 978-0763629199

"I miss your smile today, Sweet Pea. What would make you happy?"

Sweet Pea decides to take a survey of what makes her happy and come up with a list on this day she’s feeling sad. She walks about her neighborhood gathering answers and half way through the book is smiling herself. She gets answers from a bat who loves sleeping upside down, a rabbit on a hamster wheel who loves running around, a man in park who loves counting, the moon who loves smiling and a centipede who loves shoes among others.

The illustrations are vivid and humorous with bright pastel colors that capture a sense of whimsy and fun. Each page conveys a small sense of joy and happiness and will show young children that happiness is to be found in the smallest of things.

At the end of the book when Sweet Pea’s mother asks if she found what made her happy there is a rebus like list of fun things with fun illustrations. There are answers like tickle my baby brother, cake cookies with faces, paint on eggs, sit in my dad’s chair, blow bubbles, drink tea with Grandma and many others including taking a bath with the dog.

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things that Make Me Happy
is a perfectly charming book and one that young children will love. Aiden loves it for the dog pictures and Jasmine loves it because it makes her smile. We think you’ll like it too.

About the author:

Scott Menchin is the illustrator of the picture book WIGGLE by Doreen Cronin as well as MAN GAVE NAMES TO ALL THE ANIMALS, an award-winning children’s book based on a hit song by Bob Dylan. He has created illustrations for TIME, NEWSWEEK, the NEW YORK TIMES, ROLLING STONE, and other publications, as well as for several major companies. Scott Menchin lives in New York City

Friday, August 17, 2007

Poetry Friday

Well it's late on a Friday night, but I'm doing it. Adding my two cents into the Poetry Friday ring. It's Aiden's 2nd birthday party tomorrow and I'm in a whimsical mood as I bake his cake and cook up a storm tonight. Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll seemed just the ticket.


by Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe!

The round-up is here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Having Our Say - Blogging About Kidlit at SCBWI

Having Their Say – Blogging About Children’s Literature

Several months ago I joined four amazing women and children’s literature bloggers in putting together a panel for the SCBWI Summer Conference. Over the course of the months I got to know these women that I knew peripherally from the kidlit blog world and my respect for them grew immensely. They are absolutely devoted and care deeply about children’s literature.

For each of them, blogging about children’s literature is a labor of love. I became ill right before the panel and had to sit it out from the sidelines at home but I felt completely part of it from beginning to end and I was there in spirit. I’ve been hearing great things about the panel and wanted to share what we put together for readers at both AmoXcalli and La Bloga. Before getting to the Quicktime video of our presentation, I’d like to take a little time to introduce my fellow panelists as well as the SCBWI.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, formed in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles based writers for children, is the only international organization to offer a variety of services to people who write, illustrate, or share a vital interest in children’s literature. The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. There are currently more than 19,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regions, making it the largest children's writing organization in the world.

Introducing The Panelists (and shamelessly stealing from their blogs)

Allie Costa (aka Little Willow) @ Bildungsroman slayground.livejournal.com
I strive to make my blog a valuable resource for readers of all ages. For kids, teens, parents, librarians, booksellers, librarians, teachers, and other adults. For published authors and hopeful authors alike, including kids who want to be writers. For anyone who notes the importance of literacy and communication. For everyone who loves a good story.

Here's the "definition" of my blog's name:

Bildungsroman: A novel which traces the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the main character from (usually) childhood to maturity. (Wikipedia)

Bildungsroman: A novel whose principal subject is the moral, psychological, and intellectual development of a usually youthful main character. (dictionary.com)

Bildungsroman: A novel idea; the story of a girl.

My blog features book reviews, exclusive author interviews, booklists, and more. Though Bildungsroman has an emphasis on teen fiction, I also feature plenty of juvenile fiction and classics. I'll discuss contemporary adult fiction and non-fiction on occasion.

Tanita Davis & Sarah Stevenson @ Finding Wonderland and Readers’ Rants: writingya.blogspot.com, readersrants.blogspot.com

Do you love young adult literature as much as we do? Then welcome to our humble treehouse: a sanctuary and not-so-secret hideout for fans and writers of YA lit. News, advice, links, and fun stuff, straight from the keyboards of our always-intrepid, sometimes-torpid reporting staff. Come on in!

Also, check out our companion blog, ReadingYA: Readers' Rants, for ongoing reviews of YA books - from graphics to romance to science fiction and fantasy; old favorites to brand-new bestsellers to hidden treasures.

Kelly Herold @ Big A, little a kidslitinformation.blogspot.com

I only post reviews of books I like. I do maintain a list of books that "did not click with me," but don't post it. If you're concerned with my objectivity, send me an e-mail.

If you want to see the presentation in full size click here. You'll have to sign up for a viewing account with SlideAware, the fantabulous plug in that made this presentation work in Blogger after me being up for two days straight trying to embed it - but hey, it's a great presentation and worth signing up.

The following is a list of links to the panelists news and views on what happened after the panel.






Gina Marysol Ruiz @ AmoxCalli ginasblogging.blogspot.com (kinda a panelist in spirit anyway) and you all know enough about me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

OJ Book Finds a Publisher

From Media Bistro's Galleycat, the infamous OJ book has found a publisher. Check out Galleycat for what news there is.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jasmine's Little Scholastic Round-up/The End of Our Day

My granddaughter Jasmine is starting to get more and more involved in my reviewing process. She loves books almost, if not more than I do and her first words to me any time she comes over are, “Hi Grammy – any new books?”. We usually spend a huge amount of our time together reading and finding new books.

Like every Saturday, today we went on our walk of the neighborhood. We love our walks together so much. Jasmine and I walk and Aiden rides in the jogging stroller that also acts as our mini-sherpa for all the things we carry. There's plenty of room for books in that thing.

As usual, we spent quite a bit of time in Read Books, Eagle Rock's charming used bookstore. The combination of a great children's section, knowledgeable and extremely nice proprietors, good atmosphere and the cushy, deep couch that begs you to sit under the window and read a book all make a super winning comibnation and I find myself there more often than not. Today Debbie surprised me with a book I have been wanting for years - a Noel Streatfeild classic, Dancing Shoes! Watch out for a review of that in AmoXcalli's Reviewing the Classics of Kidlit series very soon.

I believe I mentioned before that Jasmine is four years old and already starting to read small words and put short sentences together. I asked her if she'd like to pick some books to review and she quickly hopped up and over to her shelf to gather what she thinks would make a special post. I thought it would be pigs but she surprised me with a selection of Little Scholastic.

Little Scholastic books are great in that they cater to the littlest child. Their books are chunky enough for little hands to easily hold. They come in fancy shapes, textures and colors and they are simple enough for the toddlers and entertaining enough for the bigger children. They help to promote a lifelong love of reading and that makes them special to me. Good job Scholastic!

Five Shiny Stars is a lovely little rhyme that teaches counting. The sing song rhythm of the rhyme is just right for little ones who love a sense of music in their talk/play. Shiny stars grab attention and the sweet faced kitty on the cover captures their love of animals and makes them smile. The book has cut out stars and and at the end, the Twinkle, twinkle little star song that is one of the first songs little children in this country learn. The book is thick and gently rounded, giving little fingers ease of page turning and makes it easy for uncoordinated hands to carry. It’s probably even a little chewable for those teethers, although i wouldn't recommend chewing on a book.

Colors is another special little book that Jasmine and Aiden love to read and touch. Colors teaches colors with simple drawings all in the color of that think. Lion is yellow and so is duck. The duck has a soft belly you can touch and teach children the textures of things.

Kids love to touch things and the book gets them used to using their sense of sight and touch in a fun way. There’s a green frog with a bumpy body, a shimmery blue fish and an extra fluffy red bird. Aiden loves to touch that one. The book is small, a board book with rounded, safe corners for those little hands.

Circle is just what it seems. A book shaped in a perfect circle with a shiny mirror in the back that glitters enticingly. Babies love mirrors. The book is in bright yellow and black and each page has a different circle to look at till you get to the full mirror at the end. The book provides a lot of entertainment with no words. It’s something any small child can spend some time on their own just holding and looking at or having an adult teach them to say the shapes and colors and they help turn pages.

Star is a wonderful star-shaped book that always captures Jasmine’s attention. It’s in the same bright yellow and black as Circle and has a mirror as well as rattling little beads which is perfect for babies and small children who love noise and rattles. Jasmine loves stars and so do most children I know so they love the shape of the book and the designs inside.

Our last Little Scholastic Book in this round-up is Aiden’s favorite. The book is called Good Night, Sleep Tight. This adorable little book comes with it’s own little blanky. Each couple of pages are dedicated to putting a little animal to bed.

“Hop to your room,
Sweet little bunny.
Rest your sleepy head,
And I will tuck you into
Your favorite fluffy bed.”

This book is beautifully and almost dreamily illustrated in soft watercolors that just make you want to take a trip into dreamland yourself. The soft looking bunny, kitty, pup and other little animals charm little children into hopping into their own little beds. The handy blanky they can hold to their face further helps them find their own way into dreamland. The book is big and padded giving further illusion of sleep time with it’s pillowy feel. Goodnight, Sleep Tight is the perfect book for bedtime.

We do hope you enjoyed Jasmine's choices for you today.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jasmine Loves Pigs, Pigs in Kidlit, Two Pig Books and a New Theme

My four year old granddaughter Jasmine loves pigs. She loves pigs so much she's asked me to start a whole new theme on AmoXcalli - a reviewing the pigs of kidlit series. Being utterly helpless where Jasmine is concerned and being quite fond of pigs myself, I agreed.

I never knew much about pigs before Jasmine. Her obsession with them started with Pig, the very old and venerable Pig who was won by her Auntie Bernie (my daughter Bernadette) in the claw game at Carrows over a family out for dinner night when Jasmine was only six months old. Jasmine immediately fell in love with Pig and he has rarely Extreme Pig Makeover at Christmas and soon his shredding and threadbare material will be patched with my crochet hook and pink yarn because the material just can't survive being sewn yet again. I've bought replacement pigs and Jasmine loves them but Pig is Pig and nothing else will do. I've learned more techniques in stitches because of Pig and for that I am grateful. Pig must survive at all costs because the alternative is a broken hearted little girl and that I just can't handle.

As Jasmine has gotten older her love for all things pig has grown. I have watched Babe and Babe, Pig in the City more times than I can count. I wish I could find a copy of the wonderful Babe, The Gallant Pig on which these movies were based. We've watched Charlotte's Web - the animated older version with the wonderful Paul Lynde as the rat and the new Dakota Fanning Charlotte which was charming. Being book lovers (and oh boy does Jasmine love books!) first one pig book drifted into her shelves and now there are at least 40. I do believe she is amassing the largest Pig book collection in California. If you know of any Pig books, please do tell us and we will hunt them down for her library.

I think children's book authors and illustrators must love pigs as much as Jasmine does because we sure find many wonderful books about them! Pigs do seem to be quite well thought of. They even have a patron saint of swineherds - St. Anthony. They get their own literature category.

I asked Jasmine which books to start her Pig book series with and she chose the following two books. I do hope you enjoy them as much as we have! We're also coining a term which is kind of a pun. Piglit. Not piglet. Piglit.

Piglet and Papa
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 081091476X
ISBN-13: 978-0810914766

Piglet and Papa
is the charming and warm sequel to Piglet and Mama. It's a perfect book for the little ones with it's simple and beautifully told story. Piglet has hurt feelings after misunderstanding Papa's gruffness and distraction. She sets off believing he doesn't love her and encounters one animal after another and asks each if they love her. Each replies that they do love her but that there is someone who loves her even more. Tired, discouraged, hungry and in desperate need of a hug Piglet heads home to find not only Papa waiting for her but that he loves her best of anything in the world.

Stephen Michael King's simple yet evocative watercolors capture the farm animals and make the pigs something really special and fun. He manages to convey so much emotion in the faces of his pigs. Jasmine laughed with delight at Piglet who is sweet then forlorn. Her little face is unbelievably funny as she jumps on Papa's belly. Her joyous little smile will charm little children as will the story of the love between a Papa and his Piglet.

About the author

Margaret Wild is Australia's leading picture book writer, with wide acclaim in countries across the globe. She was born in Eschew, a small town in South Africa. Her brother's death at the age of seven inspired Jenny Angel, Margaret's picture book with illustrator Anne Spudvilas, which won the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award in 2000. Margaret has written over forty books.

About the Illustrator

Stephen Michael King's first picture book won the Family Award for Children's Books in Australia. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

The next book isn't about a pig - it's about a princess, another of Jasmine's favorite things. She does prefer pigs to princesses but this story has both and that makes it special to her. What makes it special to me is Cornelia Funke and darned goo storytelling.

Princess Pigsty
Author: Cornelia Funke
Illustrator: Kersten Meyer
Translated by Chantal Wright
Publisher: Chicken House (Scholastic)
ISBN-10: 1905294328
ISBN-13: 978-1905294329

Isabella is a real, honest-to-goodness princess as are her sisters. The thing is Isabella would much rather be doing something else besides wearing fancy dresses and having her ladies in waiting well waiting on her. In fact, Isabella is so sick of her life that she sits in front of the window looking at the moon and sighing. One day she gets so fed up that she hides under the bed and refuses to be a princess anymore. As a punishment for various things, her father sends her to work in the pigsty where she learns quite a bit about pigs and how things are done. She can even educate her father!

Princess Pigsty
is wonderful story about a strong willed heroine who teaches by example that doing is so much better than just sitting around having people do things for you. It shows little children that we can make our own path in life if we're just brave enough, determined enough to do it. Jasmine cheered Isabella on in her quest to work with the pigs. I loved that Isabella loved doing chores over being waited upon.

The illustrations are wonderful. Bold, deep colors and regal strokes of the brush covey the lush life of the palace with a comedic flair. The pigs are wonderfully illustrated as well with quizzical and sometimes surprised faces. Isabella's angry face as she screams that she is bored is classic.

I also loved the bold faced type with words like Yuckety Yuck. Jasmine loves this story told out loud over and over. There's something about the rhythm of it that she loves. It's very bouncy, happy and upbeat.

We hope you enjoy our piglit. Look for more soon!

What Book Got You Hooked?

This summer, First Book asked people from all walks of life to help them in celebrating their 50 a millionth book to children in need by answering the question: What book got YOU hooked?

The campaign invited readers nationwide to recall the books that sparked their love of reading and then share the magic with children in need by voting for the state to receive 50,000 brand new books.

How cool is that?

I filled out the form at their booth at BEA and am happy to see the book I chose (Little Women) on the final Top 50 list. Here's the link to the list.

The First Book site is filled with information and fun facts. There's a poll of all the voting, celebrities choices and lots of other fun stuff. I think I'm going to use the Top 50 List as part of the Reviewing the Classics of Kidlit series and try to get all those 50 reviewed in the next few months.