Sock Monkey Goes To Hollywood

Sock Monkey Goes To Hollywood: A Star Is Bathed by CeCe Bell (Candlewick, 2003). The good news: Sock Monkey, the famous actor, has been invited to the Oswald Awards; he was nominated for Best Supporting Toy. The bad news: He has to be clean at the event. Stinky soap, icy water, scratchy towels! Whatever will Sock Monkey do? This hilarious story is packed with emotion and drama, a must-read for reluctant bathers and those who love them. Ages 3-up. First time author/illustrator to watch!

Texas Book Festival 2004

“People say you should write what you know, and I don’t think that’s true. I think you should write what you can imagine. That ability, that’s what makes you an author.”

— Walter Dean Myers at the Texas Book Festival, Austin 2004

Had a delightful day at the Texas Book Festival with Greg.

We went to readings by Austinite Brian Yansky on My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital of the World and my friend, Alex Sanchez, on So Hard To Say.

I stayed on for a panel with Sherry Garland on Voices of the Alamo, Judy Alter on Sam Houston is my Hero, Mary Penson on Billy Bardin and the Witness Tree and Julie Lake on Galveston’s Summer of the Storm. Here’s sending up a special cheer for Julie, an oh-so articulate TBF first-timer. Julie also headed up Austin SCBWI‘s first ever exhibit booth at the festival, which looked spectacular!

Last, but by no means least, we stayed on to hear a discussion with Kimberly Willis Holt, Walter Dean Myers, and (again) Alex Sanchez on YA writing. It was my first time to ever hear Myers speak, and he was every bit the gracious gentleman, genius, and living legend I expected. Kimberly is a long-time friend, and I look forward to speaking with her myself in Houston in January.

Author sightings also included Dianna Hutts Aston, Frances Hill, Mary Lankford, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Jane Peddicord, D. Anne Love, and April Lurie.

Winter’s Gift

Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan (Sleeping Bear, 2004). In years past, the old man would celebrate Christmas with his wife, put a star on the top of the tree. But during this year’s holiday blizzard, he decides there is to be no tree, no star, because his wife has recently died. He’s surprised to find a mare that night though, fallen in the storm, and brings her into the barn for care and safekeeping. What surprise will she have for him come morning? Will there ever be another star? Ages 5-up; highly suitable for adults.

One Mitten

ONE MITTEN by Kristine O’Connell George, illustrated by Maggie Smith (Clarion, 2004). What can one mitten do? Or, even better, how about two? (Unlike me) George is a master at light, happy rhyme for Pre-K, making this friendly book ith its endearing illustrations a winner. Ages 3-up.

As it happens, I received an update yesterday from Kristine’s Web site; this (reproduced with permission) is what she says:


“Elves (well, at least one elf) have been hard at work updating my web site: Below are a few highlights.

“HUMMINGBIRD NEST: A JOURNAL OF POEMS (illustrated by Barry Moser; Harcourt Children’s Books) includes new links, resources, New York Times book review, and audio clips with a musical background. A free poster and other poetry goodies are available. (For details, click on Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems or For Teachers.)

ONE MITTEN (illustrated by Maggie Smith; Clarion Books) was just published! We’ve launched a fast and easy Internet project to celebrate the joy and power of creativity: The One Mitten Imagination Challenge in which students in K-3 are invited to submit their ideas and tell us what they’d do with just one mitten. Students’ ideas will be showcased on the site and there will be a drawing from among the entries for 25 autographed copies of the book. See the One Mitten Teacher’s Guide on the site as well as the downloadable teacher’s guide for ideas on using mittens across the curriculum. Feel free to forward this e-mail to elementary teachers, librarians, bookstore owners, and homeschoolers. The more the merrier!

SWIMMING UPSTREAM: MIDDLE SCHOOL POEMS (illustrated by Debbie Tilley; Clarion Books) was chosen as an IRA-CBC Children’s Choice. The downloadable teacher’s guide and the discussion guide are among the most popular features on my site and I’ve received wonderful feedback from teachers who have used the book and these guides in their classrooms. Curious as to what students think about middle school? Check out Middle School Musings.

“Other updates are scattered throughout the site. If you haven’t visited recently, there’s also a whole new look. As always, many thanks for your notes, encouragement, and suggestions. Knowing you are “out there” sharing poetry with young people keeps me going!”

Thank you, Kristine, and keep up the great work!

In other news, information for Kindling Words 2005 is available from the Web site. It appears that Susan Salzman Raab will be the keynote speaker, talking about establishing one’s own publishing identity.

Michelle Meadows

I received a letter today from Michelle Meadows, one year after the release of her debut picture book; this is what CLSCLR had to say about it:

THE WAY THE STORM STOPS by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Rosanne Litzinger (Henry Holt, 2003). In this every-beat-just-right debut picture book, Meadows crafts for young readers the beauty, excitement, awe, scariness, and comfort of a storm. Litzinger’s soft art is just right for a rainy day or night. Wonderful and rare multicultural pre-K book with a universal theme. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Meadows writes that the book also received raves from Ebony magazine, The Washington Post, Washington Parent, School Library Journal, and the Gazette newspaper (among others). It’s also been recommended by several respected sources (including the University of Michigan Health System) as a resource for helping children cope with fear of thunderstorms. Great news!

In other news, an exhibit of Paul O. Zelinsky‘s work, Angels to Ogres” will open November 4th ath the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.

Had the pleasure of lunching today at Katz’s with newly contracted author Chris Barton, who just sold his first (picture) book to Charlesbridge (editor is the sparkling Yolanda LeRoy). Nice guy! Look for great things from him.

What If You Met A Pirate?

What If You Met A Pirate? A historical voyage of seafaring speculation by Jan Adkins (Roaring Brook, 2004). The word “pirate” evokes parrots, peg legs, daggers and swords, but that image is mere fiction. In a color illustrated, question-and-answer format, Adkins gives young readers the real scoop on such matters as “who got to be a pirate?” “What did a pirate ship look like?” “How did pirates attack?” The illustrations are detailed and clearly labeled with interesting side bars (do you know a cutlass from a boarding ax?) in an informative conversational style. Complete with index and glossary; beautifully produced. Highly recommended.

More from Cyn

From the flap copy, I learned that one of Adkins previous books, The Art and Industry of Sandcastles, was nominated for a National Book Award. He also has another title with Roaring Brook, Bridges: From My Side To Yours.

What If You Met A Pirate? is a tremendous non-fiction book, as engaging to strong readers as reluctant ones. It makes me want to write a pirate novel.

Visit Jan Adkins online and meet the “Explainer General” for yourself!

Unexpected Development

“Bongos, boobs, cantaloupes, chi-chis, grapefruits, headlights, high beams, Himalayas, honkers, hooters, jugs, marangas, melons, mountains, ta-tas, taters, tits, tomatoes, watermelons, and yams.”

— Megan in Unexpected Development

Unexpected Development by Marlene Perez (Roaring Brook, 2004). What did Megan do over her summer vacation, Mrs. Westland? Sex. That’s what she relates in her answering essay. But that’s not all. Megan also works at a pancake house, fends off sexual harassment, contemplates breast reduction surgery, and finds herself overwhelmed when a crush turns into a real boyfriend with everything that implies. With its emphasis on body language and virginity lost, this debut novel has an engaging voice and an Are-You-There-God-It’s-Me-Margaret-meets-Forever quality sure to win readers. Highly recommended. Ages 12-up.

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Having been somewhat bountiful myself from fifth grade on, I appreciated that Perez didn’t boil the plot line into one neatly containable issue from mass digestion.

In youth lit, too often when we’re exploring a perspective not shared by all, the tendency is to exclusively zero in on one facet for reader translation.

The upside, I suppose, is that it’s easier to digest. The downside is that it’s so lacking in real-life complexity as to be misleading.

Sexuality, sexual harassment, and body image issues are inseparable, and Perez does a deft job of showing that sometimes uncomfortable relationship.

Other pluses: the cover (which the accompanying letter notes was “too bold” for the tastes of a major chain store); the Midwestern setting (can’t begin to say how many people ask me why all books are set on the coasts!); the likelihood to encourage conversation; a first-time author to cheer for!

From the author’s Web site, I see that the book (to be released in September) is already an ALA Quick Pick nominee and featured in:

Capital T Spells Trouble: Ten “Dangerous” Books and Why Teens Need Them by Cathy Belben from the Smart Writers Journal.