Saturday, October 29, 2011

Books into Films

Yesterday, I shared that Andrew Henry's Meadow has been turned into a screenplay by none other than Zach Braff.  Today, I learned that The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - and it JUST came out - has already been optioned by Warner Brothers.  Oh my! 

I grew up reading all of Walter Farley's wonderful horse books. - Well, I thought they were wonderful.  I have revisited The Black Stallion since then and it is still wonderful.  Some of the later titles turned into formula books - scrappy jockey and/or trainer takes underrated loser horse and turns her or him into a WINNER!!!  YAY!!

Reading The Scorpio Races brought all that excitement back.  HOWEVER, the Scorpio Races don't end in just a win or losses.  They always end in death for one or more jockeys.  And their mounts are the predators!  So take Farley and add Bram Stoker and throw in a signature Stiefvater strong female character, some struggling siblings and a lad enslaved to his magical mount and its owner and you have...breathlessness. Intense page-turning breathlessness. 

I hope they do justice to this book.  This is a film I want to see.

BTW, The Lorax is being turned into a new animated feature - very colorful and 3-D-ish - due out in March, 2012. What would Hollywood do without books?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In praise of black and white

In  The Martian Chronicles (I think), Ray Bradbury wrote a story of human space explorers on a planet where it rained endlessly.  I think they turned into mushrooms.  Well, I am turning into a mushroom.

Because of the mushroom nature of my inner being, I don't want to write a single book review tonight.  Instead, I will tell you a little bit about my visit with the Northeast Allentown Kiwanis yesterday.  Some of the Northeast members read to preschoolers at various Lehigh Valley Childcare sites.

Imagine my delight in meeting Beth Krommes' dad, Fred!  Beth won the 2009 Caldecott award for her illustrations for Susan Marie Swanson's The House in the Night.  Her name came up as I encouraged the volunteers to use black and white books as well as colorful books when reading to children.  I don't own Beth's book, so I used another Caldecott winner, Kevin Henkes' Kitten's First Full Moon, as an illustration.

I brought out my worn out copy of Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn and told the story of a first grade teacher who had her class vote on two books, Andrew Henry's Meadow and a bright and colorful book.  The class wanted the bright, colorful book.  Then the teacher read the books and asked the children to pick the one they liked best.  Burns' detailed black and white drawings and clever story won hands down.  

OH MY HEAVENS!!!!  Zach Braff is turning this book into a MOVIE!!!! I am totally thrilled about that!

So, Hugo, (see the trailer below) based on the wonderful grayscale novel  The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, is now a movie.  And, soon, I hope, the black and white picture book about Andrew Henry and his inventions will become a movie.  See?  Color in children's books is GREAT!  I love it!  But black and white can be truly inspirational.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


If you haven't read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, stop reading now.  Tomorrow, first thing, take yourself to your nearest book provider (store, preferably local, or public or school library) and get Leviathan and  Behemoth.  Both are precursors to Goliath.  Then, you can come back and read this review.  However, after reaidng the first two books you won't need any urging to read the third.

Alek and Dylan are still on the airship/beast Leviathan in this final - sigh - installment of Westerfeld's steampunk trilogy.  Alek blames his family for the escalating War in Europe.  Worse than that, he is a Clanker on a Darwinist airbeast and he has too little to do.  Dylan, on the other hand, has way too much to do but, as a decorated Midshipman in the British airfleet, that is to be expected.

In Goliath, the Leviathan travels two thirds around the world, meeting up with such notables as the mad scientist, Tesla, the newspaper man, Randolph Hearst, and the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa.  In New York, the world may very well come to an end if no one can stop Tesla from using his secret invention.

In the meantime, a whole slew of secrets are shared.  Alek must appear in public and pose for photographers to his distaste.  Dylan is plagued by a lady journalist and old friends from the Ottoman Empire show up just in the nick of time.

About a third of the way through the book, one of the many secrets in this book was uncovered and I worried that the action would bog down in interpersonal distrust and disappointment.  No worries!  There is so much action, especially of the "wing" walking far above the earth sort, that all that "Why didn't you tell me?" stuff gets washed right out of everyone's system.  (The airbeast has no wings to speak of, but the Darwinist airmen spend a whole lot of time outside the beast on its surface.)  And then there is the whole "world getting destroyed" thing to deal with.

My one disappointment in this book is that the true nature of the perspicacious lorises is never revealed.  OK, never fully revealed because the reader knows what these furry mind readers are up to, most of the time.  Could we have another book about perspicacious lorises, please?

Friday, October 21, 2011

All right, then

So, Craft Fair over - check.  Baby Shower done - check.  Cancer treatments started for the Dad - check.  Meeting with oldest two siblings - check.  Sleep?  Um, never enough.
Adorable baby pumpkin painted by Christine Garvey, my sister, for the baby shower.

Back to books.  In the past week or two-ish, I have read  Goliath by Scott Westerfield,  Big Nate on a Roll by Lincoln Pierce, Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen,  Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, ...and there were more, oh come on, Brain. ...Lucky for Good  by Susan Patron, The Man in the Moon by William Joyce, Stupid Fast by Geoff Harbach,  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Wonderstruck  by Brian Selznick.  I think that's it.  Oh I can't forget Press Here by Herve Tullet.  I think there was a book written for adult in there. 

My eyes are tired.

Let's start with Press Here by Herve Tullet.  Look at the cover.  Simple.  Maybe, even a little bland?  Oh, but the book is the best kind of interactive book there is.  No moving parts.  No pop-ups.  Just directions on each page and on the next page, there is a reaction to the directions.  And it's all done with dots.  I can NOT wait until Little On-The-Way Grandbaby is old enough to go through this book with me.  I call this book Barking Brilliant- as Dylan/Deryn Sharp (Goliath) might say.

Tomorrow, I will review Goliath and I will not tell you what happens to either Dylan or Alek, just hint at it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

I started Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place last Spring.  I didn't finish it because I was afraid it would be sad.  I do not want to imagine a world without my Dad.  I didn't want to read about Kelly's bout with cancer and her father's illness.  I wanted to pretend these things could never happen.  Now, I hope I can find the book, because, now, my Dad has cancer, too, and once upon a time, so did I.   It might be helpful to read about how someone else navigated different doctors and different schedules and long stretches in the chemo "infusion suite" and long distance calls with brothers and sisters.

My Dad's always told us that life is an adventure.  This is an new adventure, a new challenge, and God willing, we will all get to the other side, wave cheerily to those earnest oncologists and march, hand in hand in hand in hand...(it's a big family) off into the sunset.  We might be singing, too, Tell Me Why in harmony.  It's what we do.

My Mom and Dad, at least 10 years ago.

I have a stack of books to share with you!  HUGE! But this weekend is the Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting (Quakers) Craft Fair, of which I am the coordinator-ish person AND my daughter-in-law's baby shower, of which I am the hostess.  So I am busy, busy, busy so so so so busy.  (Oh and my husband's birthday.  Poor guy doesn't get much of one this year.)

And Peter, your prize may have to wait a day or two because I have misplaced Darth Paper. If I had a name that told people what I did, it would be Loses Books.  Sigh.  It was promised.  It will be delivered.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The winner of the amazing Tom Angleberger package of Star Wars Origami Awesomeness is.....Peter Best of Butler PA!!!  And Peter does not even have to email me because he sent me his whole address last month.  Unless there has been a change!

Once again the Chobani Oracle Cup has given me the winner.  My winner choice system is very similar to HGTV's big home giveaway system - except for the warehouse full of entries part.  Oh and the several servers worth of online entries.  Nope, except for those two very small differences, HGTV and I pick winners of our giveaways in exactly the same way.  HGTV randomly chooses one of their huge bins of entries and then reaches in and selects just one.

I write all entries out on identically sized paper and stick them into the Chobani Oracle Cup and close my eyes and pick!  Someday, I may have to contend with online entries and a large bin of paper slips.  I may even have to move up to a quart size Stonyfield container.  For now, my Chobani Oracel Cup will do.

The USPS is closed on Monday.  Peter, your prize will be on its way to you on Tuesday.  May the Force be with you and all my readers.  Dum dum dum dumdedum dumdedum dum!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Julian Beeber

I borrowed this chalk drawing from Julian Beeber's site.
Thanks to Unshelved, I learned about the amazing chalk artist Julian Beeber who lives in Belgium.  Chalk drawing - as in ephemeral - as in "Please don't rain - yet!"  WOW!

I love Unshelved!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Reviews

I have been soooo busy reading that I haven't had time to review the books!  Since Friday I have read WonderstruckStupid Fast, AND  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.   O, I forgot!  I also read Trapped by Marc Aronson.  So let's start with that one.

I remember watching the plight of 33 Chilean copper miners in late summer/ early fall of 2010.  It was a harrowing story with a jubilant, triumphant ending.  The whole world joined together to provide experts and technology to bring those miners safely to the surface.  Aronson does an excellent job of conveying the tension of the situation.  He describes how the miners played a huge role in their own rescue by remaining calm and engaged during their captivity.  I cried as I watched the miners come out of the earth on TV last year.  I cried again as I read about their rescue.

Here's a local note.  The drill that created the column for the rescue capsule was designed and built in Pennsylvania!  Go PA!

Click here to view video of the miners, still inside the mines, from a report originally run on CNN.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Must Read this Book

Book trailers are great marketing tools.  This trailer for Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver has me jumping up and down in anticipation.  The book arrives on Oct. 4th and I have it On HOLD!
I HEART book trailers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wangari Maathai

The world lost Wangari Maathai this past week.  She was a woman who planted trees.  That is not all she did.  But the simple act of planting trees is a symbol of her crusade to protect the environment and champion women's rights in her homeland of Kenya and across the world.

In 2008, Jeanette Winter wrote Wangari's Trees of Peace, a picture book about Wangari's signature work.  Earlier that year, Claire Nivoli wrote Planting the Trees of Kenya.  Both books target preschoolers and their parents.

In 2010, Jen Cullerton Johnson wrote Seeds of Change : Wangari's Gift to the World , a book that gives a more comprehensive look at Maathai's life.

As the leaves change in my hometown, a place lush with greenery, I will remember a woman who worked to better the lives of her neighbors - all her neighbors - throughout the world.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Red Blazer Girls

For a fun mystery centered in Manhattan, The Red Blazer Girls get my vote.  The author, Michael D. Beil, tries to sound like a 12-year-old girl and succeeds fairly well, although having the girls be detectives, go to a private school AND play in a band seems to over do it.  But I am not a 12-year-old girl, the demographic he writes for, so the average reader will probably lap this stuff up.

I like the mix of ethnic and economic backgrounds that the four original Blazers come from and in the latest addition to the series  The Mistaken Masterpiece, Michael D. Beil throws in a very satisfying subplot about middle school enemies who might someday not hate each other anymore. 

The mystery centers around a painting that needs a provenance.  The girls investigate with the help of the older friends they made in their first mystery and find out that the painting is a forgery.  Then there is another forgery, an odd artist who locks himself in his studio, a bigoted old woman, a mysterious wheelchair and a couple of movie stars, oh, and dogs.  Yeah, there is something here for everyone and the whole package is enjoyable and light.

Still time to win!

Six days - approximately - until the end of the "September" giveaway.  Comment on this blog with your first name and your town to enter to win (fanfare plaease!)A signed copy of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, a hard back copy of Darth Paper Strikes Again AND....AND....YES! an actual origami Darth Paper finger puppet that I received directly from Tom Angleberger himself.  I have every reason to believe that he actually made that finger puppet (sigh).

No comments will be accepted after 11:59 pm on October 6th.  The winner will be selected from the Chobani Cup of Oracleness on Oct. 8th.  So tell all your friends to visit this blog and enter to win.  I will announce the winner on Oct. 8th and give that winner a chance to contact me with snail mail information.

May the force be with you!