Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Jon Scieszka and Loren Long at Cover to Cover!

For anyone who lives local, Cover to Cover:

On January 17th, Jon Scieszka (recently named the First Ambassador for Young People's Literature!) and Loren Long will visit Cover to Cover to launch their new Trucktown series with the book SMASH! CRASH! They will speak at 4:30 and autograph until 6:00 that night.

Thank You, Tina Nichols Coury...

...for interviewing us at your wonderful blog, Tales from the Rushmore Kid!

We're in pretty amazing company at Tina's blog. She has interviewed Cynthia Lord, Ralph Nader, and Gennifer Choldenko recently, too!

Monday, January 07, 2008

HipWriterMama's 30 Day Challenge--I'm In!

So, I joined HipWriterMama's 30 Day Challenge. I figured since I already made my Boot Camp registration public, I would make an even stronger commitment by reporting to HipWriterMama. My goal--to go to all 20 sessions (4 weeks, 5 days a week) of Boot Camp.
I'll keep you posted!

I have to send a comment to HipWriterMama every Monday during the challenge so I figured I'd post it here too.

And I am trying to eat healthy. A friend told me about the EAT CLEAN diet by Tosca Reno so I picked up a copy of the cookbook. It is quite good. Today, we had the vegetable lasagna. Quite healthy, lots of protein and veggies. Very filling. I like the cookbook because there is a color photo of every recipe in the book so I know what I am working on. I need those photos. The woman who wrote it lost weight and got in shape AFTER she was 40. So that is one of the reasons I picked it up.

I also boiled a dozen eggs so that I can grab some protein when needed:-)

So I made it through the first day of Boot Camp. It was pretty good. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't pleasant but I think once I get into a routine, it could be fun. And it seems like a really good workout---he was able to meet everyone's levels which was pretty impressive.
So, one day down.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I just finished THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN. What an amazing book! Wow! So worthy of the National Book Award that it just won. I would highly recommend it to anyone who reads books.

But, I guess I am surprised to see it on so many Newbery Lists. It seems so young adult to me. I don't remember a book that is this YA ever winning the award. The Prinz Award seems like a better match. It is definitely written for high-school kids. And most Newbery winners are for a much younger audience. I assume that every elementary school in America has copies of most Newbery winners and this one doesn't seem like a good fit for older elementary kids. Don't get me wrong, I think it is worthy of any award it can get, I just think it is meant for much older readers than the Newbery Award has gone to in the past.

But, even if you only read children's/YA books that are appropriate for the students in your class, I would make an exception and read this one for yourself. It is amazing. One of those books you'll remember for a long time. One of the best I've ever read.

New Book by Annie Barrows

I was THRILLED to see a new book by Annie Barrows, author of the popular Ivy and Bean series, at one of my recent visits to Cover to Cover. I grabbed it without even previewing it. It was Annie Barrows so I had confidence that I would love it. And I did.

THE MAGIC HALF is a fantasy book--a great beginning Time Travel book. Miri and Molly are the two main characters. Miri is the middle child--between two sets of twins. A magical piece of glass transports Miri to Molly's world--nearly 70 years ago. The two become instant friends and the adventure begins.

I liked a lot about this books and I am pretty sure that my 3rd and 4th graders will love it too. It follows that same idea of two great friends just like Ivy and Bean. And it is a great first time-travel book for readers new to this genre. Simple enough to understand, yet with enough time travel questions--can you change history--to pull new readers into the genre of time travel books.

I am very excited to see that Annie Barrows will continue to write Ivy and Bean and ALSO write some other things. As a teacher, having favorite authors write a variety of books helps me to encourage kids to stretch their reading tastes a bit. I think this new book by Annie Barrows will encourage lots of kids who are already fans to read this genre that might be new for them.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Best Books of 2007 and A Newbery Roundup

Last year, we posted our Top 5 lists and did a Newbery Roundup--everyone's predictions for the Newbery. This year, the Newbery Award will be announced earlier than usual--on Monday, January 14. And our very own, Monica, has been busy serving on the committee!

There are many Mock Newbery Awards going on around the country. Many groups are getting ready to vote on their winners. In the meantime, you can see their final lists. Allen County, Anderson's Bookshop, Rhode Island Libraries, BCCLS, and Sharon's Newbery are some of the groups we follow.

Lots of people have been posting their own "Best of 2007" lists over the last few weeks including Miss Erin, Kids Reads, and Fuse #8 (who has some very fun categories!).

Franki's Top Books of 2007
I've read some GREAT children's books this year. I think that it was a great year for books and I couldn't seem to get my list down to my top five so I went with 10 that seem Newberyish to me! (There were lots more I loved too and it was so hard to decide!)

Castle Corona by Sharon Creech
Aurora County All Stars by Deborah Wiles
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell
Moxy Maxwell by Peggy Gifford
Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
Violet Bing and the Grand House by Jennifer Paros

By the way, I am currently about 1/2 way through Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and AM LOVING IT so it could change my list a bit before Newbery day.

Mary Lee's Lists
Like Franki, I'm not done reading 2007 books, so my thinking may change in the next two weeks. For now, here are my short lists of 5 favorite books in each of these categories:

Kids books (younger)
Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Moxy Maxwell by Peggy Gifford
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper
Simply Sarah: Patches and Scratches by P.R. Naylor

Kids' books (older)
Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Edward's Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes
Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Graphic Novels
(Stay tuned for the Cybils Graphic Novels short lists -- I'm on the nominating committee so it wouldn't be proper for me to list personal favorites here!)

Neither Fish nor Fowl
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
Faradawn (Fogmound II) by Susan Schade and Jon Buller
Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney

Adult books (read in 2007)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Why I'm Like This by Cynthia Kaplan
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
Snow by Orhan Pamuk
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

Audiobooks (listened to in 2007)
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Magyk by Angie Sage
Mayflower by Nathanial Philbrick
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini

Since we started our blog as a way to chat about our reading leading up to the Newbery Award, we thought we'd round up your Newbery picks. A few weeks ago, we had several kids' lit friends predict the Newbery on our blog. So many possibilities! So, if you post your picks on your blog, put the link in the comments and we'll add them to our list. We'll post the round up next Friday or Saturday so send us your posts before then.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Poetry Friday Roundup -- Happy New Year!

Ahhh...the party is over,
the guests have gone,
we've cleaned up (and found the party favor/bookmark we meant to include yesterday -- thank you to Franki's teen for creating it for us),
and it's quiet again.

We got a couple of inches of fluffy snow in the night, so even the natural world is looking like a blank slate, like a new year fresh with possibilities.

Please leave us a link and a little bit about about your Poetry Friday entry in the comments. We'll be rounding up throughout the day.

Hopes, Wishes, Prayers & Resolutions

Ruth, from There is no such thing as a god-forsaken town, gives us the Kenyan National Anthem as a prayer for the country of her childhood.

Liz, a Texan at Liz in Ink, shares an Irish poem that says much about Iowa.

Becky, at Farm School, gives us a companion poem to the one above, from Liz. (Be sure to check out the sidebar graphics!)

Laura, from laurasalas, has some poetry resolutions.

Sherry, at Semicolon, has a poem for the new year, and for every new day.

MotherReader gives us a New Year wish and a New Year blessing.

Karen, of Karen Edmiston, is Burning the Old Year with Naomi Shihab Nye.


Cloudscome, at a wrung sponge, shares with us an amazing first sonnet.

Elaine, Wild Rose Reader, wrote a poem about a pencil writing a poem! (You were too subtle about tooting your own horn, Elaine! Thank you for the correction, Tricia!)

Susan, from Wizards Wireless, writes about reading aloud to her son.

Stacey, one of Two Writing Teachers, wrote her poem the day after her wedding. (Be sure to enlarge it and check out the font on the title!)

Laura, at laurasalas, had a great picture this week for 15 Words or Less Poems. Go add one!

Jone, of MsMac and DeoWriter, has two frosty haiku for us today.

Children and Parents

Susan T., from Chicken Spaghetti, has a poem and a meditation on the swiftness of childhood.

Christine, at the simple and the ordinary, has another poem about childhood.

HipWriterMama is wondering how children turn out the way they do.

Sheila, at Greenridge Chronicles, shares a mother and child poem that's also about the river and the sea.

Jenny, from Little Acorns Treehouse, is *travelling* to Pennsylvania with her children this week.

Sarah, at The Reading Zone, used Dylan Thomas for her first Poetry Friday with her students.

Poets and Poetry

Jill, from The Well-Read Child, joins us for the first time for Poetry Friday! Welcome, Jill! We promise not to make any assumptions about you based on where you're from!

Sara, at Read, Write, Believe, savors poetry. How about you? Do you gobble, or savor?

Marci, at World of Words, features a Cybils Nominee.

Tricia, from The Miss Rumpius Effect, keeps us thinking about math with three poems from Sandburg.

Jules, at 7-Imp, shares a favorite from Deborah Keenan, and a bonus extra at the bottom of her post.

Mitali, at Mitali's Fire Escape, ponders her newfound Readergirlz Diva fame.

Little Willow shares some fragments of How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird, newly translated and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.

Gregory K., at GottaBook, offers us an invitation to fib!

Freed from the poetry nominations panel for the Cybils, Kelly Fineman lists her top ten poetry books for 2007.

Sylvia also has a list of her top poetry books of 2007.

Annamaria, at Books Together, shares lots of gargoyle-y goodness, along with a gargoyle poem.

The Cole Mine is in with a poem by Maya Angelou.


Ahoy, S/V Mari-Hal-O-Jen, and welcome to your first Poetry Friday! Hopefully, Key West will warm up very soon!

RM1(SS) (ret), The Old Coot, shares with us The Man from Snowy River by Banjo Paterson.

writer2b, at Findings, brings us Frost's The Road Not Taken, and some personal connections to that poem.

Elaine, at Blue Rose Girls, is relearning winter, like the poet in her poem.

TadMack, from Finding Wonderland, is enjoying the dark, the solitude, and her tea.

Passionately Curious, a second grade teacher, has a snow poem for today.

Suzanne, at Adventures in Daily Living, has a poem about a cat who tracks in snow.


Jama, from jama rattigan's alphabet soup, has quite a bubbly pot on the stove for us!

Here's a New Year wish for you and for our world, from The Dixie Chicks' song, "I Hope":

There must be a way to change what's going on
No, I don't have all the answers, but
I hope
For more love, more joy and laughter
I hope
you'll have more than you'll ever need
I hope
There'll be more happy ever afters
I hope
We can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
I hope, I hope

And a reminder to appreciate every moment of this beautiful life you've been given, from Kenny Chesney's song, "Don't Blink":

Best start putting first things first
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth

Don't Blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap
And you wake up and you're twenty-five
And your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads
Next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink

Some Poetry Friday Trivia from 2007:
In May this year, Poetry Friday got it's official button. Suzanne is kind enough to provide the code for using the button as a link to the week's roundup, Susan has a list of links to all the Poetry Fridays from 2006 and 2007, and Susan T. wrote an article about Poetry Friday for the Poetry Foundation.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Blog Birthday Gala, Day 4

The party seems to be winding down a bit today. Everyone is tired from all of the dancing on Monday, the snacks on Tuesday, and they are feeling the impact of those wild party games on Wednesday! Today, most people are just sitting around chatting! Dictionary.com defines gossip as "idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others" OR "light, familiar talk or writing".

Kim and Jason sent over these great birthday cake hats for today's party! And in the back of the room, Jason is running a special showing of Adultitis: Case Study #2: The Birthday for those of us who just can't get into the fun of partying!

You can join lots of interesting gossip today--people talking about things related and non-related to the children's book world. The crowd seems ready to kick back and just chat about life in general. Stacey is showing everyone pictures of the wedding tradition at the wedding she just celebrated. She also has some thoughts on the best way to write a toast for the occasion. And Ruth is sharing a poem that she thought of the day of the wedding.

Many bloggers had new babies born this year and Bud the Teacher and Shannon Hale are busy showing off their new adorable additions! And Mindy from Proper Noun is sharing some of the great new books she bought for her new addition!

A lot of people were sad to hear about the end of an era. Betsy at Fuse #8 decided to end her very popular "Hot Men in Children's Literature" series. She is explaining her decision to a crowd of her disappointed fans. Looks like standing room only.

Mo Willems brought some of his best mail to share with other partygoers. Barbara O'Conner also brought some pretty amusing letters from her readers. Definitely worth a trip to that side of the room.

Favorite holidays are a big topic of conversation. Mother Reader Week was quite a celebration last year. Not yet a Hallmark Holiday, but one that we all enjoyed! Franki is happy to share the news that today is the second day of National Hot Tea Month, a holiday that is equally as exciting as Christmas and her birthday!

There is a small group in the back of the room chatting about the big book events of the year. Franki and Mary Lee are still talking about the "scrotum" controversy surrounding last year's Newbery winner while Monica is sharing her impressions of the Golden Compass movie.
And you can join in on the discussion about the last Harry Potter book at the Scholar's
Blog Spoiler Zone

In April, lots of bloggers went to the Golden Compass movie site to take the quiz and learn what animal their daemon is. Wands and Worlds did a round up. Mary Lee's daemon was the creepiest of them all.

People are also busy chatting about this year's GOLDEN FUSE AWARDS--Betsy Bird's top books of 2007. Sam Riddleburger is listening in--thrilled to have his QWICKPICK ADVENTURE on her list!

Looks like there is also a typing competition going on started by Miss Erin. She says she can type 83 words a minute. Megan at Read, Read, Read is not so happy about her typing speed! Join in on the fun!

Oh, now this is exciting--it looks like Hank and John from Brotherhood 2.0 have stopped by the party to sing their "Goodbye Brotherhood 2.0 Song". If you haven't seen it yet, you don't want to miss it!

So glad that you could join us on Day 4 of our Birthday Gala! Please stay as long as you'd like! We are thrilled that so many of our friends could stop by.
The party will end tomorrow with a special New Year's edition of Poetry Friday!
See you then!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Blog Birthday Party Gala, Day 3

Woo-hoo! Day Three! The party's really hoppin' now! How about some fun and...

3 Silly Chicks, Lisa Yee, and HipWriter Mama are all busy sharing the fun contests they've run on their blogs. The contests have been quite creative and have given us lots to talk and laugh about. Anne at Book Buds is talking up her new CYBILS contest--you have to be quick to join--the deadline is January 5!

What would the Kidlitosphere be without the fun and games of memes? (Yes, I do know how some of you feel about this, but either play along politely, or take your snacks and move on to another part of the room! There's lots of fun for everyone!) Here's a Meme for teachers at My Breakfast Platter and 6 of our memes from 2007.

Sometimes it's fun to play around with the way we look at the world, or you can make a comic to show the world what you're thinking!

Writing Fibs is fun and games for Gregory K. at GottaBook. He even Fibbed about some games this year: golf, football, and hockey!

How about some word games? Try out Free Rice and Eight Letters in Search of a Word. But watch out, you might get addicted!

You might want to join the folks who are over by the fireplace. They are playing Name Your Favorite 2007 Carnival of Children's Literature. I'm hearing the10th, the State Fair, the Carnival carnival, the Fiesta, the Good News Carnival, The Play's The Thing Carnival, and the Tips Edition Carnival.

Are you working on your 2007 reading goals? There are some intriguing reading challenges at The Shady Glade. Maybe before you decide on your goals, you'd like to join in on a few (more)

Book Conversations
GoodReads took the Kidlitosphere by storm this summer and gave us yet another place to talk about what we're reading.

I know you've been admiring the table runners on our tables...we made them out of booklists! This one is our Master List of Books about Books and Reading, on that table over there is our 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature (we're up to 107), and over there on the longest table of all, you can see Mother Reader's Best Books of 2007 (so far) Megalist. After all the Best Books of 2007 posts are up this week, we'll probably be able to make wallpaper rather than just table runners!

Book conversation doesn't get much better than Kelly's Weekend Reviews at Big A little a. Lois Lowry recently highlighted a couple of great historical fiction titles for adults. Lots of book conversations get started by podcasts and other unique kinds of book marketing.

Hugo Cabret is a GREAT book for starting conversations. Children's Illustration gives us some new ways of thinking about the book and so does Planet Esme (along with a long ramble about other good books and trips and lives around books).

Stephanie invites us to join The Children's Literature Book Club, not just check out what they're reading.

The topic for discussion in this corner is, What's your Desert Island 10?

Over here, some teachers are comparing notes for the new year and asking, Have you found any good mentor texts recently?

This group is reminiscing about the Summer Blog Blast Tour -- One of our favorite author interviews Cecil Castellucci at Tea Cozy, what was yours?

Speaking of tours, lots of folks in the Kitlitosphere this year went to

Of course, the biggest conference news in the Kidlitosphere was the Kidlit Bloggers' Conference in Chicago, and Jen Robinson gave us a very thorough summary of the Conference, as well as the implications of that conference for further promotion/development of the Kidlitosphere. Kelly did a roundup of all the conference posts. There were lots of bloggers at National Council of Teachers of English Conference in NYC.
Chris Barton attended Texas Book Festival and gave us thoughts from an audience member's chair about being on the stage. Mother Reader shares great gossip from ALA. Mary Lee shares details from NEA, and Read Roger shares the news from the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.

Thanks for joining us again today! The fun's not over -- tomorrow is the last day of the party! Hope to see you again then!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Blog Birthday Gala, Day 2

HAPPY NEW YEAR and welcome to Day 2 of our Blog Birthday Gala! Yesterday, we got the party started with a look back at our second year of blogging, some dancing, and some Newbery conversations.

There's a buffet set up in the other room -- how about some snacks? You won't go hungry in the Kidlitosphere!

There are lots of cookies left over from jama's Christmas Cookie party. (I took a couple of plates of candy.) Watch out for the screaming latkes still running around here and there.
If you've got a cup of cocoa, Farm School has some homemade marshmallows to float in your mug.

In the mood for healthier fare? Lots of us spent the summer talking about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver. You can check out the roundup of posts at Adventures in Daily Living. There's always great food at A Wrung Sponge: figs, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and more!

Is this blog A Year of READING, or A Year of EATING? We talk about Philly food, NCTE food, Dots, and even bacon!

Fill up your plate and head on over to the fireplace, where conversation has turned to

Teacher Talk
The beginning of school seems so long ago now. Remember that feeling you get when summer is ending? Borderland calls it Ground Rush -- the perfect term with a great story behind it. Camille at BookMoot had two great back to school posts -- one on pencils and one featuring a column from The Dallas Morning News.

Everybody's oohing and ahhing at the Thematic book lists Tricia has in the sidebar at The Miss Rumphius Effect. What a great resource for teachers who use literature in the content areas!

Speaking of great lists, Franki's list of best professional books of 2007 has a lot of folks talking. We're all comparing notes with The Reading Zone's monthly feature called Hot Books -- a list of books her students are loving. And don't forget, the best lists in all of the Kidlitosphere start making their debut today -- the Cybils Short Lists have begun rolling out!

Oh, hey! Did you see that Mo's Elephant and Piggie will be featured on the NEA Read Across America poster? Better order yours now!

Great teaching doesn't always take place in a classroom. Liz thinks about the differences between distance learning/teaching and classroom learning/teaching, and MsMac, a school librarian, facilitates a poetry writing club.

Glad you could stop by again today! Come back tomorrow for some party games and some book conversations!