Riddle Me This

Riddle Me This!: Riddles and Stories to Challenge Your Mind
by Hugh Lupton, illustrated by Sophie Fatus.

Recently released in paperback, I never saw the hardcover version so this is a new book to me.  This book is filled with great riddles from the classic ones to more modern versions.  The illustrations make it child-friendly, but this book is perfect for riddle lovers of all ages.  In fact, we spent the evening last night reading the riddles out loud and trying to figure them out as a family.  I can’t think of a nicer way to spend an evening. 

I love riddle books rather than joke books.  They really make you think and the groan when you are completely baffled and the answer is discovered is very satisfying.  This book is a winner for kids who enjoy a good riddle and love to think.

Wizarding World

Orlando will be home to a new theme park based on the Harry Potter books!  Universal Studios expects to open the park in 2009.  There is just something magical about being able to experience Hogwarts and Rowling’s world.  I probably should feel more cynical about this.  I know it is sure to be expensive and  filled with cheap but expensive toys that no child can live without. But still, I would love to see Hogwarts…

Off Season – The Waiting Game

Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is on my list of must read titles.  I have a hold on it at the library and am waiting rather impatiently.  It certainly doesn’t help when newspapers run glowing reviews

If you haven’t read Murdock’s first book, Dairy Queen, start there.  It is a winning read for teen girls who are not the prom queen type. 

8 Things Meme

I got tagged for the 8 Things Meme by Mentor Texts & More. So here are 8 of my facts/habits.

1.  I am a glutton for information, reading far too many email lists and RSS feeds.  I try to cut back, but find myself adding new items to my Google Reader almost every day, even though I don’t manage to even read the RSS feeds I have every day.

2.  I am a Web 2.0 junkie and love exploring 2.0 features on sites and in libraries.  Library 2.0 has rocked my world and I go around speaking about it whenever I am asked.  Go ahead, ask me!

3.  I am very pushy when I get riled, which can be often.  A colleague once told me that my passion for libraries is never in doubt.  Wasn’t sure that was a compliment, but I decided to take it as one.  I have a meeting this afternoon where I plan to be pushy as all get out.

4.  I recently discovered Mika’s new CD and absolutely love it.  It pairs well with my soundtrack from Seussical the Musical which is my other current fave.

5.  I am married to my high school sweetheart.  We met in third grade where I absolutely hated him.  He grew on me after awhile and we started dating in our junior year.  We’ve been together ever since.  Laughter is the secret to our marriage.  That and the fact that he doesn’t mind being married to such a pushy woman.

6.  I live in a house with a ravine out back which has a small creek in the spring.  I often go outside just to breathe and talk to the trees.  We are allowing the ravine to return to wildness with fallen trees, weeds galore, and lots of animals.

7.  My office is neater than my house, perhaps because children don’t share it with me.  Or maybe because at home there is so much more to do than tidy up.  After all, I have to have time to read!

8.  I struggle with a TV addiction that I don’t want to share with my children.  I’m afraid I could watch Top Chef, America’s Next Top Model, and Studio 60 on a continuous basis.  Shameful, isn’t it?

The Looking Glass Wars

The Looking Glass Wars
by Frank Beddor.

Sometimes fate (or School Library Journal) sends you just the right book to review.  I got the ARC for Seeing Redd, the second book in the Looking Glass Wars series and reluctantly picked up the first one.  Why reluctant?  Well, I love Alice in Wonderland, fondly remembered from having it read aloud to me as a child.  I just didn’t want to see it redone and perhaps diminished. 

My fears were set aside almost immediately upon opening this book.  It is a triumph of retelling where the original story still stands proudly, while this novel turns so far away from the original that it can be read entirely on its own.  This world is a very brutal Wonderland, still filled with large caterpillars, sentient cards, jabberwockies, and a Queen of Hearts, it really bears little resemblance to the world Lewis Carroll created. 

The story is that of Alyss, future queen of Wonderland who witnesses the murder of her mother at the hands of her Aunt Redd.  Redd takes over Wonderland while Alyss flees to safety through a pool that leads her to England.  There she becomes Alice and meets Lewis Carroll who writes a book about her “fantasies.”  Alyss is eventually rescued and returned to Wonderland to battle Redd for the throne.

There are so many wonderful characters here:  the rotund and double-crossing Jack of Diamonds, Bibwit the albino tutor with large ears, and Hatter Madigan who is a member of an elite fighting force.  They are the ones that carry the story and the book.  It is a delight to find characters loosely based on Carroll’s who are vividly drawn and alive. 

I had thought I could only recommend this to children who had read the original books (and how many children would that be?) But this book can be enjoyed by children who have no knowledge of Alice beyond the Disney film.  And that is a compliment.  Share with children ages 9-12 who enjoy fantasy with a little gore.

Clyde Robert Bulla Obit

Clyde Robert Bulla, author of The Chalk Box Kid and many other novels for children, died on May 23rd at age 93

I think this quote from his obituary article sums up his approach to writing for children:

“I’m reaching children at very impressionable age levels — third to
sixth grade, 8 to 11 years old,” Bulla told The Times’ Charles
Hillinger in 1973. “I have to be very careful what I write about.”

Gossip Girl Again

For all you folks who keep commenting on your love of the Gossip Girl book series and the upcoming TV show, here are a couple of links for you!

The photo above is from the Wikipedia entry for the show.  Gorgeous, ain’t it?  I like it a lot better than the photo on their official site, but intriguingly the cast doesn’t look the same!  The official site has a preview video you can watch as well featuring Blake Lively from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as Serena.

Children's Programming Blogs

Publib recently had a thread on children’s programming blogs for libraries.  Two have been mentioned so far that focus on programs:

Around the Corner from the Olathe Public Library

Youth Services Librarians Unite! from Orange City, Iowa.

Does your youth services department blog about programming?  If so, leave a comment and a link!  I’m very interested in any children’s services blog that blogs about programming theory in general rather than the specific programs their library is offering that month.

The End

The End by David LaRochelle and Richard Egielski. 

How did I miss this one?  What a delightful book! 

This fairy tale starts with The End and works its way to the beginning.  First they all lived happily ever after.  “They lived happily ever after because…” and readers turn the page to find out what had happened to get the story to this point.  It is a backwards story with lots of repetition that small children will enjoy, but the twist of the picture book being backwards will also appeal to older elementary age children.  And how does the book end?  You wouldn’t want me to reveal the beginning would you?

The illustrations are charmingly irreverent takes on classic fairy tale and nursery rhyme pictures.  There are many very silly moments that will have kids asking to see what happens previously.  A wide range of ages will be entertained and intrigued by the story.

Share this with a class of older elementary children, use it to spark imaginative writing assignments, or share it with a class of kindergarteners or first graders for an enjoyable read aloud.