Monday, April 28, 2003

Friday Night at the Movies

I saw a really good movie this weekend, Holes. I actually liked it better than the book by Louis Sachar . Sachar also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Personally, I think he did a better job of integrating the historical material with the present-day story in the movie then in the book. You absolutely do not need to be a child to enjoy this movie. I brought an adult with me who had never read the book. He loved the movie.

Friday, April 25, 2003

The History of YA Literature

I have actually read the latest issue of The Horn Book. It includes an interesting article entitled The Outsiders, Fat Freddy, and Me by Patty Campbell, a former YA librarian who speaks on YA literature. Her article describes how the YA field took off in the 1970s and the sense people working in YA lit at that time felt of being on the cutting edge, of doing something subversive and dangerous. At that time YA lit was not kids' stuff. They were definitely talking about readers in their later teens.

I found this fascinating because so many adults--at least the ones I know--feel just the opposite about YA fiction. They view it as a lame genre, written by second-rate people who aren't capable of writing for adults. In my experience the people who feel this way haven't actually read much YA lit, if they've read any at all. In fact, I feel pretty safe saying that most adults don't have a clue about YA maturity of content or sophistication of writing styles.

Campbell's article is worth looking up if you want to know more about the YA field.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Time Stops for No One

I just finished a clever book entitled (ta-da!) Time Stops for No Mouse. The book has so much to recommend it--a clever and satirical plot dealing with the beauty industry, something I don't usually associate with YA books, great names for characters, and lots of colorful clothes. Michael Hoeye, the author, has created a detailed and believable world filled with unusual yet believable characters. And an ending that surprised me, yet seemed to fall into place perfectly. Everything about it was wonderful, except...

...the characters were all some kind of rodent! It's not that I dislike rodents, because I don't. I've just never been able to get into the whole animals as people thing. I could easily forget these characters were animals, but then I couldn't.

Nonetheless, this book will delight those who like animals who talk like humans and take tea and at least be of interest to the rest of us. Particularly since it has a unique publishing history. Time Stops for No Mouse was originally published in 2000 by the author himself through his own publishing company. Through his own clever marketing (speaking as one who is not a clever marketer) he brought the book to the attention of many independent books sellers in the northwest. It was eventually picked up by Putnam, which published a second book The Sands of Time.

In order to understand the clever titles, you'll have to read the books.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

More on Pages

I wrote the equivalent of four or five sentences, thus finishing a chapter in the new book so I'm feeling all smug and writery. I'm also feeling in the mood to blog.

I'm also going to wring another post out of the March/April issue of Pages. (See April 2 post.) Catherine Seipp writes a column called My View for Pages. (I believe she used to write for, my favorite Internet site before I became addicted to Readerville). Anyway, Seipp's My View column this issue was all about...weblogs and all the information they generate. She listed a number of weblogs. I, of course, have to visit websites when I see them in hardcopy articles so I went to a bunch of these. Most of them seemed to be political in nature, and definitely of a ranting sort. If I didn't promise I would never write about politics when I started this blog, I should have. (Oops. Is being anti-politics in a column dedicated to kidlit a political stand?)

Anyway, Seipp, who does not even have a weblog, gets invited to weblog parties. Do I, a webloggerista, ever get invited to such gatherings? No. Never. Perhaps that's because here in the Land of the Bland I am the only person I know who has one. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a weblog party. In addition, Seipp says that many of the blogs she mentioned get thousands of hits. A day or a week, I can't remember. I can't tell you how many I get since I've always been afraid to attach a counter to my website. I'm guessing maybe I'll get a thousand hits in a lifetime. We're talking vanity press here, folks.

Well, the article didn't do a lot for my self-esteem, but what does?

Saturday, April 05, 2003

I'm Going Out!

I have been invited somewhere, which happens seldom enough to rate as news. I've been invited to take part in Boats, Books, and Brushes in September. Evidently there will be children's lit tents, and it's rumored that Avi will be there that weekend, too.

I'll have a half hour of time to fill, and I'll be expected to do something besides stand there and chew gum. I was watching Comedy Central the other night, and I came up with a great idea. I thought, "Hey, I could do standup at a book event! Literary standup for kids! It would be totally unique and cutting edge!"

But I changed my mind and decided to do readings.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Something New

The folks at Readervilleexposed me to a new magazine (new for me at least) called Pages, which describes itself as "The Magazine for People who Love Books." The March/April issue included an article by Carl Lennertz called "Don't Let the Kids Have All the Fun" that dealt with a parent-and-student book group run by the author's daughter's sixth grade teacher.

A school run parent-child book group. What a great idea!! I would have loved doing that when my kids were in grade school. I would love doing it with my kids at any age, in fact, but we're talking about gradeschoolers here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Why I'm Doing a Lousy Job at Updates

I haven't been keeping up on this weblog as well as I'd like (and I should) because I've been hanging out at a message board. Readerville has dozens of forums devoted to reading and writing, including some on Young Adult books. The Young Adult Reading Group is discussing Jane Eyre this month. I'm only half finished, but it is far, far better than I remember it from my teenage reading.

I tried an on-line reading group last year, but found the people there cliquey and mostly writers only interested in discussing their own books. At Readerville you find forums for writers but also plenty just on reading. People are much more willing to accept newcomers.

My son, who belongs to a couple of these things, says I fell hard for forums. I've been going back and forth to Readerville so often during the day that it definitely has been diverting me from working. I'm trying to exert more discipline and only visit in the afternoon. One of the positive things about this place is that I'm being referred to magazines--both hard copy and on-line--that I'd never heard of. Some of them I'll be talking about here.

That's assuming I can stay away from Readerville long enough to do so.