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On My Nightstand: Fall Book Round-up for the Younger Set (“Ruffleclaw,” by Cornelia Funke; “ABC Dream,” by Kim Krans; “Space Dog,” by Mini Grey; “Toys Meet Snow,” by Emily Jenkins & Paul O. Zelinsky)

October 11th, 2015

Funke is a cool, talented illustrator and author — the kids really respond to her work. When it comes to certain authors, readers (of all ages) just grab them up and claim them as “theirs.” It’s kind of funny. Funke is one of those. Ah, that territorial feeling you get over a certain book or author. I get that. She’s the author of the “Inkheart” series, which are for more advanced readers, but her new book, “Ruffleclaw,” is a chapter book for kiddos who are transitioning to chapter books. (Random House, 2015, $9.99, 102 pages.) Ruffleclaw is a wicked smart, icky lil monster, who has a “scrumptiously smart plan” to live with some humans and sleep in their cozy beds and eat their yum-yum food. Will he succeed?

Here is a YouTube clip of an interview with Funke. I show it to my students when I booktalk her work, along with some of the J.K. Rowling interviews, and Lemony Snicket. He’s a lot of fun in video clips. Neil Gaiman is another one who is a great interview. I read the first few pages of “The Graveyard Book” to the 5th and 6th graders the other day and gave everyone the shivers. And “Coraline” is still never checked in. I tell the kids that she and Babymouse — the Jennifer & Matthew Holms’ series of graphic novels — just stop by the library to say hey and then leave again.

(Always a good sign for a book.)

By the way, the Goosebumps book are getting a new surge of interest, too, with the Jack Black movie coming out in time for Halloween.

Now, on to some beautiful art…

Galleys for a book by Kim Krans appeared on my doorstep. (love.) “ABC Dream” is one of the best picture books I’ve come across recently. (Random House, 2016, unpaged, $16.99.) (Yes, I’m reviewing it even though it might only be available for pre-order at the moment.) Wait, she’s a Portland, Ore. girl like moi? Fantastic.

The art is precious. Beautiful, thoughtful, bright, just lovely. No words, just letters. I like books that the littles can enjoy, savor, and not have to worry about “Wait, I can’t read yet!” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… I love picture books for the big kids and the grown-ups. Anything that inspires us to do art makes me happy. I am really happy about the new coloring craze that’s going on. Titles? OK, here, here and here. My favorite letters in the book: R & T (and the key in the back that tells me, “rain, red, reflection, ring, robin, rope, rose” and “tigers, tired, tree, trunk, two”).

Mini Grey’s new release, “Space Dog,” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015, $17.99, unpaged) is a wild ride through space, but of course. It’s always more interesting when a little conflict is introduced in a work of literature, and our conflict in this picture book is between Space Dog, Astrocat and the darling lil Moustronaut.

“It’s the year 3043 and for as long as anyone on Home Planet can remember, Space Dogs, Astrocats and Moustronauts have been sworn enemies.”

When the Queen of the Cheese Ants comes along, you know it’s going to get extra lively.

“Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-Loving Rubber Ball” is a new collaboration between author Emily Jenkins and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky. (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015, $17.99, unpaged.) Their previous series, “Toys Come Home,” has been a long-time favorite with young readers. This one is for the littler-littles — ages 3-7. The art is sweet, the story is good, and it’s nice Jenkins and Zelinsky paired up for the younger kids in the crowd.

Words of wisdom (they sent an interview along with press kit):

Zelinsky says: “I’m not an expert in this, but I say read to your children, and don’t stop. Nobody is ever too old to be read to. Picture books make good out-loud reading for any age.”

And from Jenkins: “Oh! Am I opinionated on this topic! Don’t shame their reading choices. Ever. I see this happen so often in bookstores and libraries, or at school book fairs. ‘You’re too old for that.’ ‘That’s too easy for you.’ ‘Why do you like that junk?’ ‘That’s a book for girls, not boys.’ Instead, I recommend parents try this approach: Don’t try to get your child to choose appropriate books. At all. Just bring them to the library, where they can choose inappropriate books at zero cost to you.”

Hear, hear!

Bon appetit, babies.

– wm

quotes from my student

March 3rd, 2011

She’s funny, this kid. Two weeks ago she snuggled up next to me, looked at me adoringly and asked me, “Ms. Nancy, why don’t you ever have any good books in your library?”

Ohhhhhhh, let me count how many books (new and new-to-us) I put on the shelves in the past six months: A ton. That’s right.

So she heard I was leaving, Due to Tendonitis and Exceeding Need to Publish My Own Writing (and perhaps start a new internet project, with Stevie. More on that later ;)

Today she gave me a really sweet goodbye card, another big hug, then shoved me away and had a lil fit.

I want to be a writer. I want to be WRITING!”

My response: “Do it.”

I (heart) kids. Writing. And books. Today? In that order.

love your local librarian

February 11th, 2011

“Libraries are far from the rarefied cathedrals of secular humanism they pretend to be, while librarians are the shadiest creatures this side of the Russian mob. Scratch the adamantly bland demeanor of any librarian and you’ll find trails of broken hearts, bathtubs full of meth fixings, and covert careers in porn.” — David Schmader, Last Days, 17 October 2002

same story, nationwide

December 19th, 2010

More on libraries.

hellooooooooooooooo, everyone

January 4th, 2009

Dear World (and by “world” I mean the 14 people out there who still read me),

So. So, so, so.

It is Sunday, January 4th, 2009.

We have a new president moving into the White House pretty soon.

Things are a mess in Gaza. Israel, I would like to ask you: While the rest of us are talking “hope” and “change” and “substance” in the new year, why do you feel the need to kill others? Please stop now. Obama seems to be pretty pro-Israel, pro-hawk, yes? Wanting to hunt down Bin-Laden and all. Maybe Israel is wanting to get in a few punches now, just in case they’re not allowed to later?

Unfortunately, as hopeful as I am about the new American administration, I think Israel is going to continue to be allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do. Israel = bully.

Why is it that while our nation’s schools are focused on policies of no-bullying, no physical violence, no verbal, sexual or mental abuse, no murder, certainly, the grown-ups can’t follow suit? Do as I say not as I do, aiiiiight?

The year my daughter started kindergarten, one of the first-graders wore a button everywhere that said

PUNCHING

with a black line drawn through it.

“Who gave you that, K?” I asked him.

He was all, aw shucks, smiley. “My teacher.”

Smart teacher.

No punching. Just love. And hope for a better world.

I have been meditating, writing in my journal and studying every day. It has helped with the chaos.

After a long, sometimes bumpy winter break (ice, snow, rain, snow, snow, sunshine, flooding, ice), we are heading back to school and work tomorrow. I’m thinking 6 a.m. should be pretty fun, especially since I’ve been sleeping until 9, 10, 10:30 a.m. every day for almost three weeks. Whatever it takes, that’s what I’m saying.

I saw on the news that the Estacada Library underwent a ton of damage (to books, computers, building) during the most recent bout of flooding. If you have a few dollars to spare, I know they would appreciate it.

Estacada Public Library
825 NW Wade
Estacada, OR 97023

peace,

wm

damn books that make me cry

August 21st, 2008

Just finished reading Sharon Creech’s “Love That Dog” aloud to the kids. Wacky Girl had to take over when I started crying.

Have added “Love That Dog” to list of books (“Charlotte’s Web,” “The Yearling,” uh, “Bambi”) that I will not be reading aloud to my students.

Also I think I will skip “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Then Again Maybe I Won’t.” My sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Bell, bravely read both to us. I am not the man he was. Also, no “Wifey.” You’ve got to have some boundaries when reading aloud to students. “The English Patient”? Nope. Anything by Anais Nin? Nopey-nope.

No to “A Day No Pigs Would Die.” Ditto, “The Pigman.” Basically, no pigs. Nothing with “pig” in the title, nothing with a pig theme. Because even though Wilbur lives in “Charlotte’s Web,” it is not exactly a happy ending now, is it? Contrary to what my daughter would tell you.

Today’s books:

And:

And even more…:

A big ol’ book round-up

August 19th, 2008

No time to review — reading.

(Almost everything I’m reading the next few weeks came from the School Corps trainings I went to recently. School Corps is part of the Multnomah County Library system and you will find some of their incredible book lists right here.)

Bon appetit!

wm

Today’s books:

And:

And even more…: