Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Desperate Housewives

Okay, so on the Desperate Housewives final episode last week, Susan states she "writes children's books". But, in fact, she is a children's book illustrator. I know this because I am a big Desperate Housewives fan. I guess the general public sees no difference in people who write books or the ones who illustrate books. They should know this--at least the writers should. UGH! And, since we are talking about desperate Housewives, I so hope that Mike didn't die --I hate having to wait until fall to see if he is okay:-)

Just finished DIGGING TO AMERICA by Anne Tyler. LOVED IT. It was exactly the book I needed. I love all of her books but I think this may be one of her best. As always the characters stay with you. I highly recommend this one.

On my next read list: WEEDFLOWER and maybe THE GIRLS.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My To-Read List

Elizabeth Berg's new one
the first in the GRIMM SISTERS series (that's what I'm reading currently)

...and a few others. It's an imposing pile.

And, yes, I'll probably read THE BOOK THIEF.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


So, are you going to read THE BOOK THIEF? I keep hearing that it is amazing. But, I can't decide. I have WEEDFLOWER and FLY BY NIGHT on my stack but FLY BY NIGHT cannot win the Newbery because it was published in England first. WEEDFLOWER is already on a few lists for the Newbery.

NY Times Book Reviews

In a special children's book section of the May 14 NY Times Book Review, these books (among other picture books and a few nonfiction) got reviewed: THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, 1st page of the section, glowing; GOSSAMER, positive; THE WRIGHT 3, two thumbs down; THE BOOK THIEF, "brilliant and hugely ambitious." More from the review of THE BOOK THIEF: "But it's the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, "The Book Thief" offers us a believable, hard-won hope. That hope is embodied in Liesel, who grows into a good and generous person despite the suffering all around her, and finally becomes a human even Death can love. The hope we see in Liesel is unassailable, the kind you can hang on to in the midst of poverty and war and violence. Young readers need such alternatives to ideological rigidity, and such explorations of how stories matter. And so, come to think of it, do adults."

Sounds like a must-read. And a good antidote for Yonwood.


Life is imitating DuPrau's art.

In the Sunday Dispatch: A Franklin County commissioner is frantic about stray cats in central Ohio because a few cats on an island somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic have been found carrying the bird flu virus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Me!

Happy Me! I found a link to the galleys that are being given away--upcoming children's books. I am so happy! So many of my favorite authors have new books coming out in the next several months--Gail Carson Levine, Kimberly Willis Holt, Katherine Paterson! Just had to share the fun:-)

I did pick up HOMEWORK MACHINE by Dan Gutman. Seems to be making lots of lists. I also picked up a very cute picture book called BIG SISTER, LITTLE SISTER LeUyen Pham. Love it! I also picked up ALIENS ARE COMING: THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE 1938 WAR OF THE WORLDS RADIO BROADCAST by Meghan Mccarthy. A great nonfiction picture book.

Maybe this blog should be about books we buy, not books we read:-)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Prophet of Yonwood

Well, I finished the book tonight. I liked it. It is pretty equal to her other 2 books. Some interesting issues to think about as always. A character I could like, not love. A nice message for kids. The interesting thing to me is how she took what is going on now in the world (terrorist, doing things in the name of God, war, good vs. evil) and put them into this plot. Pretty smart. This book is definitely worth a read, although it is not on my list of possible Newbery winners. So far, I don't think I have read anything up to Newberyness. If I had to pick out of the 6 I've read, it would have to be GOSSAMER by Lois Lowry.

Adoption book

An O Magazine mini-review. May issue. The girls are from Russia, I think.

I'm listening to AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS. Not at all what I expected. I am going to start the EMBER prequel next. It got mixed reviews, but I, too, will withhold judgment until I finish it.

My to-read pile is towering. Sixteen days of school left. We are on fingers and toes! Seventeen days until Big Chunks Of Time To Read. (aka -- summer)

Sunday, May 14, 2006


The adoption books sounds good--think I've heard of it. Did you read it? Tell more please.

Well, I took a little break from Anne Tyler's book (even though I love it) to read PROPHET OF YONWOOD by Jeanne DuPrau, the prequel to CITY OF EMBER. I am about halfway through. I am withholding judgment until I finish. Hopefully I'll finish something soon. But with the end of the year school stuff, who knows!

The Patricia Polacco thing seems to be getting more interesting. I heard that she posted an update on her website after SRA/MCGraw Hill posted her signed contract. Looks like a mess to me. I also heard that SRA/McGraw Hill responded on lots of blogs that discussed the Polacco cancellation. I guess we don't rate as a blog since they didn't respond to us. The Allen County people have posted their first list of books for their Mock Newbery Club. About 10-12 books that they feel could win the Newbery. A few that look interesting. I might start with Dan Gutman's THE HOMEWORK MACHINE. If I ever finish one of the ones I've started. I did pick up JUMPING THE SCRATCH by Sarah Weeks. It looks like a possibility for the Newbery. WRIGHT 3 is getting mixed reviews. Maybe if I spent as much time reading actual books as I do reading reviews, I'd get a few books finished!

Two More For Mothers' Day

From O Magazine: "You can do every possible thing to ensure your children a safe and gentle passage, but life is still coiled around them, full of terror and death and catastrophe. As much as I love my sons, as quickly as I would lay down my life for them, there is really only one thing I can protect them from: the bad behavior of their parents. Once you have children, you may be dealt a lifetime of sorrows or happiness, but which one you end up with is irrelevant. All that matters, once you have children, is that you behave. " --Caitlyn Flanagan

And, since you are loving Anne Tyler's new book, Franki, I think you'd like this one: TWO LITTLE GIRLS: A MEMOIR OF ADOPTION by Theresa Reid.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mothers' Day Thought

From 'TIS by Frank McCourt:

"You have to discover your mother through other people."


A message from Patricia Polacco's website

Urgent Notice....

To All Educators, Librarians, and Media Specialists

Regarding the cancellation of my appearance at the IRA in Chicago for May 2 and 3, 2006

A few months ago I was approached by The Buchanan Associates in Dublin, OH to appear at the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago on May 2 and 3, 2006. I was to be part of 5 events. Speeches, 'meet and greet' and book signings.

I was happy to accept the invitation which, I assumed, was coming from the I.R.A. and my publisher. It is always such an honor for me to speak and interact with teachers and librarians from around the country.

But, then, a very disturbing turn of events transpired. My staff started receiving phone calls and emails from this firm in Ohio requesting that I furnish them with a detailed written outline of what I intended to include in my speeches. I assumed, of course, that this was asked so that a synopsis of my content could be included in a printed brochure furnished to the conferees.

You can imagine my astonishment when I finally called this firm and learned that this was not the reason. They requested my written outline because their 'client' wanted to make sure that I would not discuss my deep concern about NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND MANDATE...as well as my concern that there is a link between this mandate and the SRA/McGraw Hill Company who manufactures, prints, and profits from the sale of these tests to school systems all over our country.

It was then that I closely reviewed all of the emails (I had not up until this time because I had been doing school visits and was not home until now) I then realized that the "client" that this firm referred to, but never names, was indeed, SRA/McGraw Hill! I also learned from the Officials of the IRA that SRA/McGraw Hill was indeed sponsoring the event that I had been invited to. I was shocked!
This "firm" insisted that my speech be "upbeat, non-controversial, and non-political"...I countered with the fact that the plight of the American teacher is far from "upbeat" and they are caught in the vice grip of the most controversial and political LIE that has ever been perpetrated on the American teacher.

I was also quite mystified as to why SRA/McGraw Hill would even select ME and invite me to be a part of their program knowing how strongly I feel about this entire situation.

My speeches certainly do inspire teachers...I truly believe they are among the last heros we have in our country...but I always mention the destructive path that is laying wasted to our schools and that is the No Child Left Behind Mandate!

I did mention to them that I considered this broaching "censorship" and a violation of my freedom of speech.

Finally, after receiving numerous emails from this 'firm' that got more and more 'insistences'...I finally sent them a written refusal to alter my speeches in any way. Certainly I can moderate their length, but I refused to alter the content. I made them aware if they truly had a problem with this, then they could "un-invite" me to be part of their event.

Needless to sat, SRA/McGraw Hill cancelled my programs within the hour!

My main concern here, is that I very much fear the conferees will be led to believe that it is I who cancelled this event. The cancellation was the choice of SRA/McGraw Hill and was generated by a blatant attempt to CENSOR my remarks and the content of what I say to teachers, which is a clear infringement of my constitutional right to freedom of speech. I pride myself on being an advocate for America's teachers as well as being one of the most reliable speakers at conferences in our country.

My lawyers and I have set a formal request to SRA/McGraw Hill through their representative, The Buchanan Associates in Dublin, Ohio, to post the following signs outside of each venue at the conference where I am schedules to speak.


Call anyone you know that was either going to attend my events, or that did and were disappointed and tell them why this happened.

I am very disturbed by this on many levels. It seems that we Americans are losing, by leaps and bounds, our constitution "guaranteed" rights.

I am insulted and very offended not only on my own behalf, but also because of these various organizations that seek to profit from the misery for our teachers and school children. Profits and money seem to matter much more than truly making changes to our educational systems that would truly help our children. I have to admit that I have a certain amount of pride in taking this stand on your behalf.

Yours faithfully,
Patricia Polacco

Saturday, May 06, 2006


My 5th grade Indian cultural informant and I agree, BINDI BABES was fun, but nearly as good as BLUE JASMINE (out in paperback, I saw, in a recent trip to Cover to Cover). I listened to BINDI BABES, which gave me the value-added experience of hearing it with the Indian accent of the actress who starred in "Bend it Like Beckham." But the story line was weak and the characters were annoying.

My 4th grade literature circle and I agree that THE WRIGHT 3 by Blue Balliett was good, but not as good as CHASING VERMEER. They all want to go to Chicago to check out the Robie House and the Hyde Park neighborhood. That'd be a heck of a good field trip, eh?!?! We're hoping Blue Balliett will write another mystery for Petra, Calder, and (although he's a fairly annoying character) Tommy to solve. We hope she picks another form of art, preferably sculpture.

My top pick so far for Best Book of 2006 is THE BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS by Kristin Kladstrup. Oscar starts some stories in a magical book, and he and his grand niece (in his future...in her present) along with her chemistry professor/magician father have to finish them, because stories must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This book is part INKHEART and part THE GREAT GOOD THING. Love it. Got sucked in. Wish I would have read it at 10, 11, or 12. My childhood me would have loved it.