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


Friday, October 26, 2007

Day of the Dead / Dia De Los Muertos

Seguida por Versión en Español
Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc
Invites everyone

To its celebration of
“The Day of the Dead”

On Thursday November 1st

6:00 PM to 10:00PM
El Parque de México
(North Main & North Mission, Lincoln Heights, LA)
Info: (213) 481- 82 65
Aztec dance! Music by “Tolteca!” and food!

Oher Cuauhtemoc Ceremonies:
Saturday Oct 27 –Baldwin Park- 5:00 PM contact: Christ at cuauhtemocbp@ aol.com
Friday Nov. 2nd San Fernando at Sepulveda Park contact: boch@hotmail.com
Saturday Nov 3rd - Ventura at Mission Park- 100E Main St, Ventura CA 93001 cont: Theo at cenyeliztli22@yahoo.com

Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc
Le invita

A su celebración de
“Día de Muertos”

Jueves 1o de Noviembre, 2007

6:00 a 10:00 PM
El Parque de México
(North Main & North Mission, Lincoln Heights, LA)
Info: (213) 481- 82 65
Danza Azteca, Música x “Tolteca” y comida

¡Los esperamos!

Otras ceremonias de Cuauhtemoc:
Sábado 27 de Oct –Baldwin Park- 5:00 PM contact: Christ at cuauhtemocbp@ aol.com
Viernes Nov. 2 San Fernando at Sepulveda Park contact: boch@hotmail.com
Sábado Nov 3 Ventura at Mission Park- 100E Main St, Ventura CA 93001 cont: Theo at cenyeliztli22@yahoo.com

Friday, October 19, 2007

Robert's Snow: Jeff Mack and the Pensive Pig - Poetry Friday

Robert's Snow was founded by children's book illustrator Grace Lin and her husband Robert as a fundraiser to benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The story is a touching one and you can read all about it here.

I first heard of Robert’s Snow while doing my daily reading at 7-Imp, one of the blogs I read religiously. Eisha and Jules had a fantastic idea, get the kidlit bloggers to pitch in and feature an illustrator or two or five to drive traffic to the Robert’s Snow Snowflake auctions. The response was terrific (who wouldn’t want to pitch in?) and I eagerly threw my hat in the ring.

My first illustrator/snowflake feature landed on a Friday and I was torn. I couldn’t miss Poetry Friday! I love Poetry Friday and I loved the idea of featuring an illustrator. I was committed to the feature and determined to have my Poetry Friday cake too. But how? At 7:15 a.m. just before running out the door to work, an answer landed right into my laptop with the name Roald Dahl. I know! You’re mystified. Well, stay with me and you’ll see what I mean.

My illustrator today is Jeff Mack. Born in Syracuse, New York, Jeff Mack spent most of his childhood drawing monsters, writing horror stories, and building haunted houses in his basement.

Having spent five years as a full-time muralist, he began illustrating children's books in 2001, starting with Linda Ashman's Rub-a-Dub Sub, a Junior Library Guild selection and Bill Martin Jr. Award nominee. Since then he has illustrated thirteen picture books, including James Howe's Ready-to-Read Bunnicula series and Eve Bunting's Hurry! Hurry ! He has also written and illustrated Hush Baby Polar Bear to be published by Roaring Brook in 2008.

Now at home in the high peaks of Western Massachusetts, he continues to write and illustrate books, paint murals, and talk with school groups about his work.

Jeff is currently in Buffalo, NY visiting elementary schools but he still managed to take time from his busy schedule to write me a nice email about Robert’s Snow and a bit about his snowflake.

I chose Jeff’s snowflake for the title alone – Pensive Pig. Anyone who reads me here at AmoXcalli knows my granddaughter Jasmine has a thing for pigs. Together, we occasionally review books about pigs so when I saw a snowflake with a pig in the title, well I just had to choose it. When I saw it, I wanted it for Jasmine. I’ll be bidding but I hope I have lots of competition. Here are Jeff’s own words about his snowflake and Robert’s Snow below his very Piggerific snowflake.

About a year ago I heard someone on the radio talking about the structural similarities between pig and human brains. I starting imagining pigs using their brains to have some of the same moments of epiphany that humans sometimes have (like the ones pictured in old Renaissance paintings). I made a few portraits of pigs involved in deep concentration. When the snowflake project came along, I thought that the snowflake may someday be used as a Christmas gift. So I decided to put one of the thinking pigs on the snowflake to remind the receiver that "it's the thought that counts".

What brought me to Robert's Snow was meeting Grace Lin at the Smith College Campus School Book fair in Northampton, MA. We talked about illustrating books, and she asked me if I'd like to be involved in the snowflake project.

You can find out more about Jeff Mack’s work on his website. I’m especially fond of his murals.

When I read this email from Jeff this morning and his words about the thinking pig, I remembered that Roald Dahl wrote a very dark little poem about a thinking pig and that’s when I knew I had not only a post about Robert’s Snow, but my Poetry Friday post as well.

The Pig

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn't read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn't puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, "By gum, I've got the answer!"

Read the rest of the poem here.

The round up is over at Kelly Fineman’s today. Thanks for hosting Kelly! This post will also post on Cuentecitos.

Monday, October 15, 2007

DarkHorse Announcement

Presenting Doctor Grordbort’s
Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory!!!

Weta Publishing is pleased to announce its upcoming Weta Originals/Dark Horse Comics publication: Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory.
Doctor Grordbort: inventor extraordinaire! He’s got a gadget for everything! He’s also the creator of a meticulous catalogue of weaponry. Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory is a thirty-two-page catalogue that chronicles a world where chivalry is not dead, advertising is beautiful, and ray guns look too pretty to be lethal.

The stars of the show are, of course, Doctor Grordbort’s Infallible Aether Oscillators, but you will also find the shiniest new bifurnilizers, metal manservants, and automated travel loungers. Also included for entertainment and scientific education is a compartmentalised picture story (some call them comics) of the world-famous naturalist, Lord Cockswain. He was the hit of this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, as convention-goers stopped agape at Weta’s hauntingly realistic, life-size memorial statue, celebrating Lord Cockswain and the Moon Mistress’ heroic endeavors on Venus.

Written and illustrated by Weta Workshop conceptual designer Greg Broadmore, Doctor Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory showcases dozens of arcane inventions, contraptions, and weaponry. “As a kid I was massively inspired and awed by the black-and-white serials on Sunday afternoon TV, in particular the 1930s Flash Gordon and the many sci-fi movies of that era,” says Greg. “This book allowed me to pay homage to that world of science fiction and create something new at the same time. And it’s full of guns, did I mention guns? Rayguns actually, the best type.”
This hardcover book will be available from Dark Horse Books in January 2008.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Me Llamo Gabriela/My Name Is Gabriela

Me Llamo Gabriela/My Name Is Gabriela
Author: Monica Brown
Illustrator: John Parra
Publisher: Luna Rising
ISBN-10: 0873588592
ISBN-13: 978-0873588591

This wonderful little tribute to Gabriela Mistral, the Chilean Nobel Prize winner for Literature and the first Latina to receive the award works on so many levels.

As a picture book, the illustrations by John Parra are simply beautiful. His almost etched looking feel to the pages give that unique Latino flair and flavor while his color palette brings a happy and joyful feel to the book.

As a history, the book is a wonderful way to introduce young children to important historical figures in a completely relatable way. The book opens telling about Gabriela and how she picked her own name because she liked the sound of it. Writen in the first person, Me Llamo Gabriela/My Name Is Gabriela draws in the young reader with its imaginative, day dreamy feel and a sense of play. My little granddaughter was captivated by the story of young Gabriela Mistral and how she realized her dreams and beyond. I could see that she was drinking in the story, seeing herself in Gabriela and imagining herself doing the same. Isn’t that what we want for our children? That they see themselves as strong and successful so that they can go out into that wide world with a strong sense of self and the belief that their dreams are possible? Monica Brown’s book does just that – it gives them a concrete example of someone who followed their dreams and made them happen.

On another very important level this book teaches the importance of literacy. It gives little Latinas a good look at an intelligent role model. People like Gabriela Mistral are people Latinas or Chicanas don’t always learn about till college. To have a young child’s picture book teaching about a Nobel Prize-winning author gives them a view that they as Latinas have value and much to contribute. That’s an extremely important view to have when you’re growing up. My Name is Gabriela is highly recommended.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poetry Friday

Once again it is Poetry Friday and this week the round up is over at Two Writing Teachers. Thanks for hosting!

My contribution this week is a bit of one of my favorites, Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua.

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua was an amazing woman and my copy of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color is almost worn thing from so much reading. Anzaldua remains one of my heroes. She fought racism, sexism and oppression and paved roads for Chicanas and women in general. She died in May of 2004 and the world is a lesser place without her.


To live in the borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negra española
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata
, half-breed
caught in the crossfire between camps while carrying all five races
on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the indian in you, betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

To read the rest of Borderlands click here. To see the web altar and learn more about Gloria, click here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

National Book Award Nominees

Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown)
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Jim Shepard, Like You'd Understand, Anyway (Knopf)

Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying (Knopf)
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve/HBG USA)
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (Hill and Wang/FSG)
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Knopf)
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Doubleday)

Linda Gregerson, Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin Company)
Robert Hass, Time and Materials (Ecco/HarperCollins)
David Kirby, The House on Boulevard St. (Louisiana State University Press)
Stanley Plumly, Old Heart (W.W. Norton)
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 (Norton)

Young People's Literature:
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown)
Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic Press)
Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown)F

Friday, October 05, 2007

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is here! I feel like that needs to be shouted off rooftops this week for some reason. Could it be that I've been completely swept away by poetry all this week? I'm currently reading Marjorie Agosín's phenomenal Among the Angels of Memory and I can't think of anything else but the beautiful and powerfully evocative language. My review of it will be up this weekend, hopefully with some snippets of it). Head for the roundup over at Whimsy to see what other poetry you find.

I've also been reading two other powerful poets, Drive: The First Quartet by Lorna Dee Cervantes and Bent to the Earth, a favorite of mine by Blas Manuel de Luna (reviewed here). I've been assaulted by poetry, embraced by it, am breathing it this week.

Here's a little portion of de Luna from The S
ky Above Your Grave, his poem in honor of his brother.

“If you could see through satin and wood and earth
and bits of grass,
if you could see through the trees in winter
when their leaves are gone.
if, little brother, there were a way for the dead to see,
you would see all the ways the sky has to be beautiful.

Another portion of his poem

Today, where my mother works,
a young man,
no older than myself,
lost his hand
in a machine.
He screamed when his hand came off.
My mother told me
she could not get the scream
out of her head. All around them,
the pistachios, on the conveyor belt,
and on the ground, reddened.

Or perhaps a bit of his title poem for the collection Bent to the Earth

spun the five-year-old me awake
to immigration officers,
their batons already out,
already looking for the soft spots of the body,
to my mother being handcuffed
and dragged to a van, to my father
trying to show them our green cards.

They let us go. But Alvaro
was going back.
So was his brother Fernando.
So was his sister Sonia. Their mother
did not escape,
and so was going back. Their father
was somewhere in the field,
and was free. There were no great truths

revealed to me then. No wisdom
given to me by anyone. I was a child
who had seen what a piece of polished wood
could do to a face, who had seen his father
about to lose the one he loved, who had lost
some friends who would never return,
who, later that morning, bent
to the earth and went to work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The 2007 Cybil Awards - Nominations are Open!

Okay I'm a day late. The Cybils officially opened up nominations in all categories yesterday. I'm just way behind schedule on lots of things. The good news is that I have the great honor to be returning as a panelist in the graphic novel category!

Check out the cool group I landed in this year, some are seasoned Cybilers and old pals from last year and some are new and very welcome names. Talk about traveling in fine company! I expect applause. I'm listening for it. Yay!!


Category Organizer: Sarah Stevenson (Reading YA: Readers' Rants)

Nominating Panel:

Mary Lee Hahn (A Year of Reading)
Alyssa Feller (The Shady Glade)
Katie Zenke (Pixie Palace)
Elizabeth Jones
Gina Ruiz (AmoXcalli) - that's me

Judging Panel:

David Elzey (The Excelsior File)
J.L. Bell (Oz and Ends)
Anna (TangognaT)
Snow Wildsmith (My Reading Project)
Angie Thompson (Angieville)

Don't know what the Cybils are? Well then, head on over here to the Cybil's official website to find out more.

Want to know more about the other categories besides Graphic Novels and who the people are for a particular genre? There are eight (8) genres covered. Head on over here.

Who won in 2006 you say? Well the nifty elves over the Cybils website have that too! See, it's like magic.

Now for the juicy stuff - you can nominate any 2007 title in whatever genre you like here. Only one book per person in each category so be choosy. We're really looking forward to reading and voting on your favorites!

Don't forget to nominate your favorite books of 2007!

A Book About Book Bloggers? Really?

Check out the cool article on The Guardian and then use their link to hop over and see the book.

Wonder who's in it...