Chat Online with an Author

ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) now has an online book club!  It looks like it started back in February, and is going strong.  You don’t have to be an ALAN member to participate in the online discussions.  They do a book discussion and then the following week have the author available to chat with. 

Gail Giles is the next featured author and will be chatting tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern. 

She is followed by Carl Hiaasen, on June 27th. 


Louisa May Alcott

Check out this great site on Louisa May Alcott which was created to accompany a PBS documentary on her life.  The site offers information on her life, times and works as well as two image galleries filled with historical photographs.  My favorite is in the second gallery and features the sistes of Little Women as manga superheroes.  Go Jo!

Fairy Tale Site is a site that offers biographical information on the authors of fairy tales as well as featured stories from their writing.  I adored fairy tales as a child, which a strong preference for the Grimm brothers rather than Hans Christian Andersen.  Unfortunately, the Grimm section is still under construction, but hopefully the gore of the Grimm stories will soon fill the pages.  And why is Mark Twain listed?  I never considered him an author of fairy tales.  Is my Twain reading too limited?

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis.

This is one of those great books that you just want to last forever and not leave the characters behind.  Reynie Muldoon is a gifted child who lives in an orphanage.  He is not neglected, just lonely with only his wonderful tutor offering him conversation.  When the two of them discover an ad in a newspaper looking for gifted children, Reynie jumps at the chance to be tested.  This decision takes him away from the orphanage and into a world of spies, espionage, international danger and intrigue.  But this book is not your normal spy novel.  Take four gifted children, give them a vague mission, and turn them loose and you get this wonderful book where mysteries must be unraveled, brains must be used and there is no talk of sports or “normal” society.  It’s perfectly wonderful.

The novel combines fast action with thought-provoking puzzles and enough twists and turns to give you whiplash.  The storyline is compellingly parallel to today’s society with enough nuance to keep it fresh and fascinating.  The writing is friendly, warm and also fresh.  The author has taken traditional story features like orphanages, espionage and danger and whipped them together with modern touches to create quite a unique and interesting package.

Share this with children who enjoy mental puzzles and may even be gifted themselves.  But also give it to adults who are willing to try a children’s book once in awhile.   Recommended for grades 4-8.  Enjoy! 

Abundance of Unshelved

I always love it when a Sunday Unshelved focuses on a teen novel.  This week’s Unshelved Book Club features An Abundance of Katherines

(If you don’t read this comic and you’re a librarian, it is a must read! If you’re not a librarian, you may find yourself wondering exactly what’s so very funny.) 

Lloyd Alexander Dies

Lloyd Alexander died yesterday at age 83.  His Chronicles of Prydain were some of the first fantasy books I read.  I devoured the entire series.  Then Disney came along and messed with it.  I was always thrilled that that did not become one of the Disney classics like Little Mermaid where my skin would have to crawl each time it was re-released on DVD. 

Alexander will be remembered fondly by many readers.  You can head to his amazing website about Prydain, the books and himself.

Ezra Jack Keats Awards

The winners of the 2007 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award have been announced.  The awards are for the best new writer and best new illustrator in children’s literature.

Best New Illustrator: Kristen Balouch for Mystery Bottle.

And one of my favorites of last year:

Best New Author: Kelly Cunnane for For You Are a Kenyan Child.

Gossip Girl "Most Promising Pilot"

Looks like the CW has officially picked up Gossip Girl for the 2007-2008 season.  The article is filled with praise: 

With its teen-angst theme, easy promotability and strong pedigree,
“Gossip Girl” had emerged early on as the most promising pilot at the
CW this year. Based on the popular “Gossip Girl” series of books, it
was penned by “The O.C.” creator Josh Schwartz and the show’s Stephanie

From all of the positive comments I got on this blog from teen girls who love the series, it looks like it should be VERY successful.

Online Diary

I missed the fact that Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney was published first online!  Very cool!  You can read this Yahoo! article about its success when it launched on  The article says that it may be one of the most widely read new children’s books with 40 million reading it on Funbrain!  It is now available in print, and when I took a copy home for my 10-year-old son, he finished it in one sitting.  This is one that definitely belong on a list of books to hand to boys.