Friday, September 24, 2004

We All Need A Break From One Another

No, no, no, I'm not giving up the blog for a while. I love the sound of my own thoughts way too much. I'm just going on vacation for a couple of weeks, which is why my recent postings have been a little sporadic. I can only concentrate on a few things at a time, and getting ready for a two-week vacation is kind of time consuming for me.

Oh, no, you're thinking. She's going to start talking about her vacation and this is a children's literature blog. Stay on task, Gail! Well, I am, because one of the places I'm going is Prince Edward Island, home to Lucy Maude Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables. I've never read the book, but it sounds like just the thing I would have sucked up with a straw when I was young. I kid you not. I loved all that old stuff back in the day.

I was planning to buy a copy of the book while visiting a Lucy Maude Montgomery site. Evidently she is a tourist industry in P.E.I.. But one day I was leaving my library and there was what looked like a brand new paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables on the sale cart. For 50 cents. Seriously, who could pass that up?

I already have a little stack of stuff I've collected to write about, and when I get back I should have much more. And think of all the things I'll have to catch up on with at Readerville, Child_Lit, and, of course, Jane Yolen's on-line journal.

I can't wait to get back!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Why Little Women Is Still Popular

Yesterday I went to hear Katharine Weber speak. Katharine has written a book called The Little Women, which I actually liked and you all know how cranky and hypercritical I am. The Little Women is a modern day story with characters who are sort of familiar to anyone who has read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. But you shouldn't think of it as a modern day version. Think of it as a modern day...variation.

Anyway, Katharine said something interesting. She said many interesting things, actually, but I'm only going to tell you about one of them. She said that perhaps Alcott's Little Women is still beloved because it is rarely taught. Very few people are forced to read it. Very few people have a teacher's analysis forced upon them. People read Little Women for pleasure.

Well, I thought it was an interesting suggestion, anyway.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I Know Exactly What He Meant

Saturday morning I was doing a little channel surfing while waiting for my pilates tape to rewind when I stumbled upon one of those Book TV that I always only find by accident. This one involved Walter Dean Myers who wrote a marvelous book called Monster so I decided to kick back and watch for a while.

Myers was talking with his son, Christopher an author and illustrator who has done the artwork for a couple of Caldecott Honor Books, which is not too shabby. The two of them had this...this...joking, not take each other too seriously thing going that I don't think the audience totally got. Sometimes you click with an audience, sometimes you don't.

But young Myers said something that totally clicked with me. He said that growing up the child of an author, as he did, writing was something he just believed was open to him. He did not have to convince himself that writing was something he could do.

Having grown up, myself, the child of a farmer and a housewife who later became a cafeteria cook, I knew immediately what he was talking about. Writing was so far away from the experience of my family and the people we knew that I might as well have been thinking of becoming an astronaut. Definitely it was a struggle to convince myself that writing was something I could do.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Look Who Has Written A Kids' Book! arrived today so I took a look hoping I would be inspired to write something about new books I haven't read. What should I see there under Cool New Books for September but Peter Pan and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Hmmm, I thought. Could this be the Dave Barry? The one whose column I occasionally read and whose books my twenty-one-year-old nameless relative can't get enough of?

Well, it is. Barry and Pearson (who I've never heard of but, hey, he's got a really top-notch website) have written a prequel to Peter Pan. My faithful readers (that would be me) are aware that as a young, young child I had an obsession with Peter. I may have to check this book out.

Dave Barry has a blog, by the way. Yeah, I know. Who doesn't?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Big News Day for Kidlit

Judy Blume is this year's winner of an honorary National Book Award. I believe this is the award that Stephen King won last year. There was all kinds of sniping and hissyfitting about it. Will anyone have complaints because a children's author was given the award? Let's stay tuned!

Friday, September 10, 2004

More on The Places You Will Go

Daphne Lin, who maintains The Places You Will Go weblog, e-mailed me to let me know how I can find some information on her. Well, to tell the truth, I can find information about her by going to the "About" link on her weblog. (Go ahead. Laugh.) She does book reviews for The Star, a publication in Maylaysia. (Someone from Malaysia e-mailed me. That is so-o-o far away.)

Right now Daphne is reading The Artemis Fowl Files. The book doesn't come out until next month, but she received a copy for review. Lucky, lucky woman.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Some Net News

Okay, I'm Looking For It

ACHOKABLOG's Sept. 7 post says that The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor "should appeal to the type of reader who likes Artemis Fowl." Me! He's talking about me!

Why Isn't This Happening On A National Level?

Read on Wisconsin! is a statewide book club in...well, Wisconsin, obviously. It appears to be promoted by the state's First Lady. (Wish I knew her name.) It only covers books for infants through high schoolers, and I, personally, think that it should include adult books, too, if it's really going to call itself "Read on Wisconsin!" but that is just a minor, minor quibble. I am all for this book club.

Given that we have a national First Lady who is a former librarian and was supposed to be promoting books, I think it would be terrific if she did something like this. Or she could start some kind of movement to have each state do a "Read on Wisconsin!" type book club. If her husband is still employed after January, maybe I should write her a letter.

Another Book List

USA Today has a list of YA books. They are a little on the downer side. Thanks to h20boro lib blog for the link.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Really, There is a Kidlit Connection Here

My many, many, many fans know that I am somewhat obsessed with Jane Yolen's On-line Journal, mainly because Jane is a maniac for work and I, well, I'm not. I hoped that reading Jane's journal of her work life would inspire me to make a greater effort. If anything, it's made things worse. The time I should be spending working, I'm spending reading about Jane work.

Now, if I were keeping an on-line journal of my working life instead of a weblog on the subject of children's literature, I would tell you all about how today I went biking at Quabbin Reservoir, which was formed in the 1930s by flooding four towns in Massachusetts. We found the wreckage of a plane that crashed in the 1950s, as well as the abandoned town of Dana.

You are probably thinking, "But you don't keep an on-line journal, Gail, so this is all a pointless waste of my valuable time." No it is not! Because Jane Yolen, my writing master, wrote a picture book about Quabbin Reservoir and the flooding of one of the towns it now covers. How cool is that?

On top of that, my husband's family owned a couple of stores in the area that was flooded. So a couple of years ago when Jane and I were both somewhere for an event (I think it was a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference--Jane was a presenter, I was a nobody) I bought two copies of Letting Swift River Go and had her sign them for my mother-in-law and niece.

The connections just go on and on. And guess what? I have pictures of today's excursion. If my computer guy ever figures out how to insert them into my blog, I'll add them here.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Oh, No! I Found Another One!

Another children's literature blog! Last spring I could only find a few. Now they're multiplying. I keep adding them to my list of daily web reading. Soon that's all I'll be doing--reading weblogs.

Anyway, this weekend I found The Places You Will Go. It appears to have only been around since May, which explains why I didn't find it this past spring when I was looking for kidlit blogs. (Though other such blogs--including this one--just didn't show up when I searched.) I couldn't find any info about the author at The Places You Will Go, though I am, as usual, rushed and may have missed it. There are a number of Favorite Book and Author links for me to check out at some point, which will probably mean I'll find even more sites I'll want to go to regularly.

Once a week this blogger publishes a Poem of the Week, which is an interesting and unique twist. Also, a quick scan of earlier entries suggests that this blogger, like me, is always cleaning her desk.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Have I Mentioned I'm Not Crazy About Fantasy?

I love the Artemis Fowlbooks because they are really cop thrillers. As a general rule, though, I really don't care for real fantasy. Which is why I enjoyed How To Write a Best Selling Fantasy Novel. I read about it in another blog which will remain nameless because the title includes a word I probably shouldn't use in a weblog written for young folk as well as old ones. I'll just call it The Bookblog That Shall Not Be Named.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Well, I'm Embarrassed Now

I've written about live journals here before. They are traditional journals as far as content, but they're kept on-line and the journals can open them to readers. Being on-line they have various bells and whistles--you can use little icons to indicate your mood and make it possible for others to comment on your posts.

Well, someone has started a live journal called Middle Grades Book Club
all about books for students. And what's more, more then one person can post to this journal. I think you have to have your own live journal and somehow or another you post in your live journal and this one, too. But I don't know for sure. I thought I was quite sophisticated because I blog, but live journals are a bit beyond me.

From the Middle Grades Book Club I was able to go to other live journals and have found that there is Live Journal for Young Adult Literature Lovers. There are probably many, many more.

And the NEA says no one is reading?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I So Want to be Holly Short

That's Captain Holly Short, folks. And that's in spite of the fact that I've always found leprechauns boring. That's because I didn't know the word should actually be spelled LEPrecon for Lower Elements Police reconnaisance.

Have you guessed that I've been reading Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl again? Yep, I whipped through Artemis Fowl The Arctic Incident and then sat right down to read Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code. I love these things.

Now, in The Eternity Code Artemis doesn't dominate the action quite as much as he does in the other books, and I think some kidlit folks might complain about that, seeing how he's the only kid in the book and all. And I'm sure the Point of View Nazis are probably nashing their teeth because the action switches scenes quite frequently, though the author practically gives you a road map so you can follow where's going. My attitude is these books prove that authors can do whatever they want to--so long as the story works. And Artemis Fowl works.

Eoin Colfer is supposed to have described these books as "Die Hard with fairies." (For the record, I was very fond of the first two Die Hard movies, too.) But these books aren't totally escapist thrill rides. The fairy folk think we humans are pigs and constantly complaining that we are wrecking our environment. While I was reading the third book in the series I was washing my hands in a ladies room at a mall. Instead of using the hand dryer, I pulled out a paper towel, a totally unnecessary use of an object. As I dried my hands, I thought, "Filthy mud person," which just happens to be what the fairies in Artemis Fowl call us humans. I'm getting the message.

A new book is coming in October.
Thank goodness that's only a month away.