Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of my wonderful readers! Thank you for tuning in to my ramblings and sharing my love of books and children. It is a treat to read your comments, receive your emails, and get to know you.
I will be taking a break for the holidays through January 1st. Though I will be checking frequently on New Year’s Day to see what the finalists for the Cybils is. I look forward to working with the other judges for YA fiction! I look forward to the discussions and debates.
May you have holidays filled with candlelight, tradition, and love.

Kiddie Lit

Kiddie Lit is a children’s and teen literature site written by a librarian who enjoys graphic novels! Snow is serving on the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee, reading her way through over a thousand award-winning books, and much more. I appreciate her expert reviews of graphic novels. Look for her as a judge on the Cybils as well!

Adele Geras

Blogcritics Magazine has a really nice interview with author, Adele Geras: ‘Write the Best Book You Can’: An Interview with Poet, Novelist and Children’s Author Adele Geras. She is amazingly prolific, having written 90 books for children, as well as novels for teens and adults!
You can also visit her website, which has incredible images from some of her picture books. The Sleeping Beauty ones by Christian Birmingham are particularly stunning.

Rowling's Christmas Present to Fans

The Guardian has announced the final Harry Potter title! Click on the title: href=”http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1977216,00.html”>Final Harry Potter title revealed to find out what it is.
But if you want a little more atmosphere and fun, visit Rowling’s website and follow these instructions:
1. Go to http://www.jkrowling.com and choose the graphic interface (not text-only).
2. On the main page, click on the eraser. This will take you to a room with a door.
3. Click on the door in the mirror: It will open, revealing a Christmas tree.
4. Click on the top of the main door: A wreath will appear.
5. Click on the mirror above the Christmas-tree door: Garlands will appear.
6. Click on the cobwebs: They will disappear.
7. Click on the second chime from the right: It will turn gold.
8. Drag the golden chime and it will become a key. Insert it into the lock, and the door will open.
9. Click on the present, and it will unwrap.
10. Click on the page you can see sitting inside the present. A game of “Hangman” will open.
Have fun! Then you can head over to the Leaky Cauldron and start debating the meaning of the new title. Remember all the speculation about the last one?

Little One, We Knew You'd Come

Little One, We Knew You’d Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jackie Morris.

This incredibly lush and lovely picture book tells two stories, one of the miracle of everyone’s birth and the other the miraculous arrival of Jesus.  The words echo the feelings of longing of all parents while the illustrations show Mary and Joseph on their way to the stable.  The poetic language of the text rocks with a quiet rhythm of cradle, rocking chair, and arms.  The illustrations are deeply colored, filled with butterflies, fruits, animals, angels, and touches of gold.  This is a beautiful book for the Christmas Season.

And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole.

With all of the hub-bub about And Tango Makes Three, I thought I should actually take it home and read it.  I shared it with my five-year-old son at bedtime with his nine-year-old brother listening avidly in the background.  This is a sweet book about two male penguins hatching an egg.  One of the most touching parts was when the two penguins are trying to hatch an egg-shaped rock.  The story focuses on the love that the two penguins share and bring to their hatchling.  It is a beautiful book.

Why are people attacking this book?  It is about the true story of these real-life birds, so there’s not much to dispute there.  Additionally, it is a great picture book on its own, whether the two penguins are male or are a male-female couple who failed to hatch an egg of their own.  The illustrations are child-friendly, the language is accessible, and the story is universal.  (Much of which could not be said about the earliest picture books to feature gay families!) 

I do know that some families will have problems with this book.  They can choose not to share it with their children.  But public libraries and school libraries should certainly have it.  Both to serve the children in gay families and to share with children in more traditional families that there are different sorts of families in our communities.  Heck, Sesame Street has said this since I was a small child!  Why can’t our picture books! 

A Meme for Today

Confessions of a Bibliovore has started a meme for YA and kidlit bloggers.  Here are my answers to her questions:

How many other kidlit blogs do you read?

Many and the number is constantly changing.  I drop and add them constantly in an often circular pattern as I get overwhelmed by the number of blogs I am following and then realize that I am not reading what I want to read. 

What’s the most recent add?

pixie stix kids pix a great blog full of book reviews

How often do you post a book review to your blog?

Whenever I finish a book I want to share.  Some weeks it is almost every day and other weeks (like this one) I am in the middle of a teen novel and not finding picture books that are amazing.

Do you post about anything else?

I rant about books being banned, find little pieces of news, just try to stop me!

Do you only blog books you like, or the stinkers too?

Almost 100% books I like, but if there is a big name book (perhaps one that features a stuffed rabbit) that I don’t appreciate as much as others seem to, then I post my own perspective. 

How do you keep track of what you want to read?

I use a Word document that I add to whenever I find a book that sounds good.  It is divided into picture books and novels and I highlight the books that everyone else is raving about so that they don’t get lost in the huge list.  I never worry about running out of books to read!   I have a couple of publishers who share their free galleys with me and those aren’t on the list but instead sit near my computer and glare at me for not reading them faster.  I also keep track of what the libraries in my library system are purchasing and put myself on the holds lists.  When I visit neighboring libraries they always recognize my name in the children’s departments because of the number of holds I place.  It is a dark day when I don’t receive a hold at the library.  Shocks my staff too!

How do you keep track of what you’ve read?

This blog helps a lot.  Almost all of the teen novels I have read fully, I include here.  Picture books are harder, but they are easier to read a second time by mistake.  I do try to use LibraryThing, but never remember to. 

Do you work with kids?

Well, I used to up until 6 months ago.  Now I am a library director who is occasionally allowed to fill in at the children’s services desk.  I also make sure I wander through the children’s department on a daily basis to see the children and parents and feel the vibe.

Do you read grown-up books?

Not much at all.  I do have a love of cookbooks, so I read those often, but mostly it is teen and children’s fiction for me.

Penguins Left Out in the Cold

Incredibly frustrating news from Charlotte, NC: School district bans book about gay penguins. And Tango Makes Three is the new favorite book to protest about. Let’s not notice the fact that it is based on a real story about real birds and of course let’s dismiss the fact that a school of any size, much less the size of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, has children with gay parents, gay relatives, gay friends, or may be gay themselves.
The worst part is that the school has in place a material reconsideration policy that was not followed at all. Yes it may have been oversight, but I have seen library directors panic in the past and just pull books from shelves because they believe that it is easier to get rid of the offending material than have to defend it publicly. Defend it people! This is what democracy is all about. Let us demonstrate to the children in our communities that books are worth fighting for, that books are the basis of ideas and learning, that books are valuable even if one parent is concerned. Let’s have a conversation, hear each other out, and let the process decide the result. Fear of controversy is the worst reason to take this type of action. I can’t think of any good reason myself, but fear has to be the lowest of the low. Grow a spine! Defend the book!

YALSA Online

ALA has announced that the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) will be offering four online courses in February and March of 2007. They are:
Making the Match: Finding the Right Book for the Right Teen at the Right Time
New Technologies & New Literacies for Teens
Reaching Teens Virtually
YALSA Competencies Live
What a great way to provide top-notch programming nationwide. You can get more information on each session on the site as well as finding out how much participating will cost you.