Here There Be Wild Things

USA Today has a great article on the Where the Wild Things Are film that is accompanied by breathtaking photographs from the production.  Lovely stuff.

And to make us all feel better, the following is in the article:

Jonze and his co-screenwriter, novelist Dave Eggers, regularly turned to Sendak for advice as they expanded upon his Wild Things universe.

"He was adamant that I make my own thing," Jonze says. "He had strong opinions, but he would ultimately defer to us. He said, ‘Make something personal to you.’ "

Jonze won’t reveal much, but script additions include details about Max’s home life that shed light on why he felt the need to run off to a magical place.

2009 Hugo Nominees

The 2009 Hugo Award Nominees have been announced.  The nominees for Best Novel include some familiar titles for teen and children’s book readers:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow


And the more adult nominees:

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

The Lion's Share

The Lion’s Share: a Tale of Halving Cake and Eating It, Too by Matthew McElligott.

The author of the charming Bean Thirteen returns with this book that features multiplication and division with such style that readers will have no idea they are enjoying a math book.  Every year, the lion invites a group of animals to share dinner with him.  This year, the ant has been invited.  She arrives just on time and is alone for awhile until the others arrive: the beetle, frog, macaw, warthog, tortoise, gorilla, hippo and the elephant.  At the table, all of the others showed horrible manners.  Then a cake is given to the elephant and he is told to help himself.  The elephant, not wanting to be too greedy, slices the cake in half and takes half for himself.  After that, each animal does the same, until it reaches the ant and the piece is too small to cut in half again.  So nothing is left for the lion.  Trying to fix things, the ant offers to bake the lion a cake for the next day.  Each animal doubles her offer, until the elephant is left at the end offering to bake 256 cakes by the next day.  Things work out with mathematical precision and logically fall into place as the ant finishes the book victorious.

McElligott has created a book with a great tone and easy style.  It has the feel of a folktale but many modern touches.  His art is equally appropriate for a folktale but also for a modern story for children.  It is a great look and feel for a picture book.  McElligott has managed to make math fun, silly and delectable.

McElligott’s text is ideal for reading aloud.  The animals are great fun to do with voices and the tiny ant makes a perfect protagonist, one easily related to by children.  The illustrations will also work well for use with a group.  Preschoolers may be young for the math, so save this one for first and second graders who will snap it up in one bite.  Or maybe they will share half with a friend…

North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Terra plans to leave her controlling father and weak mother behind when she heads to college a year early across the country.  But it will not be so easy to leave her history behind her, she carries it with her every day.  Just like the large port wine stain on half of her face, her ego and every thought are marked by her family life.  And just like that birthmark, she tries to cover over and mask the truth.  When she literally bumps into Jacob, an intriguing Goth boy who immediately understands her like no one else has, her life begins to change.   She starts to face the truth of what her family is and what her own role is in the dysfunction.  But will she ever be able to face the world without her mask?

Beautifully written, this book is like gazing into someone’s soul put to paper.  At times it is filled with such raw honesty that it is painful to read.  Each reader will bring their own stain to the book, see themselves reflected within, and take heart away from it.  Headley writes with a confidence and gentle natural rhythm that carries one through the novel.  It is as impossible to put down as any book I have read recently. 

Headley’s touch with the love story in the novel is deft and brilliant.  From the tiny touches that mean so much, to the electricity in eye contact, it brings all of those feelings vividly to life.  She also weaves cartography into the text with a beautiful touch that allows it to have symbolic meaning to the reader but not over take the book by being heavy handed. 

This book will speak to any reader who picks it up.  It is for those who fit in and those who don’t, those who are in love and those who think they never will be.  Simply brilliant, this is definitely one of the top teen novels of the year.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.