Tuesday, June 26, 2012

KBWT - Publishers - Summer Reading

Publishers are working hard to create characters that children will want to read about over and over again.  To that end, publishers' websites offer, games, contests and videos for children and the people who buy books for children.  Today I will lead you to three publishers' sites where you can explore series through videos, win prizes, or just fool around.

HarperCollins Children's Books (games and contests).  Go right to the fun stuff here.  HarperCollins is the home of Fancy Nancy, The Magnificent 12, The Series of Unfortunate Events, and other blockbuster series.  This link will also let you download printables and read reviews of new series.  Enjoy!

Random House sets up mini-sites for all its most popular titles including Junie B. Jones, the Berenstain Bears, The Dragon Keeper, Sammy Keyes and many more.  Check your favorite characters' sites for news on upcoming books, games and more.

Scholastic.com offers individual sites for many of its series as well.  The Stacks is for older children.  Create your own comic; watch videos; join Scholastic's summer reading club and more.

And talking about Summer Reading Club, if you haven't joined your public library's Summer Reading Club, what are you waiting for?   The theme this year, in many states, is "Dream Big - Read".  So much fun!!!

Barnes and Noble runs a summer reading club as well.  So do many businesses.  Check local movie theaters, craft stores, book stores, and toy stores and ask if they offer a summer reading program.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shadows on the Moon

Cinderella is the new heroine of choice.  In Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott, the Cinderella character is consumed with anger and grief.   She plots her revenge. She does the unthinkable.

Set in a magical medieval Japan, Marriott's fantasy begins on the day that Suzume's family is murdered for being traitors to the Moon Prince, ruler of the kingdom.  Somehow, Suzume escapes.  The soldiers can not find her.  An old cinderman shows her how to cast an illusion over herself.  He tells her that she is a shadow weaver.

When her mother returns accompanied by the man who was Suzume's father's best friend, Suzume suspects a clandestine alliance between her mother and Terayama-san.  Soon, her mother is married to Terayama and Suzume finds herself in grave danger.

Terayama-san is an excellent villain, smooth, calculating and cold.  Suzume's mother is spineless and gullible. Suzume is confused, angry and very powerful. Magic, heartache, hardship all combine to make a satisfying adventure with just enough romance.  The details of Japanese culture, whether factual or fictionalized, make the setting a fully realized mythical kingdom. 

The story wraps up nicely with no hint of a sequel.  And that is a shame.  Suzume and Otieno, her friend and romantic partner, and Akira, the courtesan who trains Suzume, are well-realized characters and I'd like to read more about them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Old time storytelling

When you make a story - any story - personal, you invite your listeners to share their stories, too.  On Friday night, at Godfrey Daniels, I told a tall tale but I prefaced it with the beginning of a personal story and ended the tale with the ending of my own story. At intermission, people offered me their own encounters of the bear kind - for my tall tale was about the biggest bear in Arkansas and my personal story was about my own brush with a bear.

Robin Reichert told stories about family recipes and people had to tell her about their family recipes.  And Larry Sceurman told a story about growing up in Bethlehem and that invited the audience to offer their growing up reminiscences. 

Even an old folktale - one that the teller announces is an old folk tale - can be made personal.  The teller just has to find a personal event or quandary that relates to a theme or event in the folktale. 

For instance, in one of my personal favorite stories, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", the heroine has to wash candle wax out of her lover's shirt in order to save him.  A story about a laundry mishap - the day the teller put too much soap in - or staining a new garment within minutes of putting it on - or a memory of hanging wash with a grandmother or mother - or helpful laundry hints of the old and clever sort delivered tongue-in-cheek - sets the audience up to appreciate the dire straits of our poor nameless heroine.  And a reminder when that part of the story comes around - an aside pointing out to the audience that Auntie Sharon would have used a paper bag and a hot iron to get that wax out - pulls the personal back in.

I suspect that some storytellers are making sour faces if they are reading this.  That a fairy tale should not be tampered with is a strong credo for some tellers.  But every time a story is told it is modified.  The teller's voice, mannerisms and choice of words are all individual.  So be it.  Change is the most certain thing in life outside of death. 

Most people - if asked point blank to tell a story from their own lives - will say that nothing interesting ever happened to them.  When I hear someone else's personal stories my own memories percolate.  That's the way it is.  Our listeners have great stories to tell and as storytellers we should find ways to get those stories out.

You should have been at the show on Friday night.  You might have found some stories lurking in your memory.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Storytelling Thursday

Storytelling is everywhere.  Ev-er-y-where.  I picked up a book at BEA - Cinderella's Housework: Families in Crisis, Households at the Edge of Chaos by Paul Meinhardt.  It is a book that addresses socio-economic crises and offers solutions.  The first chapter is an analysis of Cinderella from the social scientist's perspective.

Stories - the ones that persist - speak truth to us all.  We can not escape stories.  And we can not relegate them to the province of childhood.

That said, come out to listen to stories tomorrow night (June 22nd, 2012) at Godfrey Daniels.  The show is a fundraiser for StoryFUSION and for the Maidencreek Old Time Music Festival.  I'm telling.  So is Chaz and Robin and Larry.  It starts at 7:30 pm.  Definitely NOT for kids - although teens will enjoy it. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

KBWT - Catherynne Valente and Tumblebooks

Today, on SLJ's Extra Helping, Catherynne Valente's speech to a group of librarians (she wonders if a group of librarians is called a "kindness") was posted in full.  Valente wrote the book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making.  I love the title of that book and the cover art but I have not read it.

The speech is lovely and makes me want to read the book even more.  There is a character in the book whose parentage includes a library!  I want to adopt Ms. Valente.  I bet she has a perfectly good mother already so I am too late.  Click and read and then run out and get the book.

KBWT - Kids Book Website Tuesday - TUMBLEBOOKS

Kids' books online - all the time - actual books published by actual publishers in the real paper and ink world - THAT's what Tumblebooks is all about.

Parents can subscribe to Tumblebooks, if they want.  BUT, before you rush off to do that, check your public library's website.  A lot of public libraries offer Tumblebooks as a free service to their patrons.  It's not cheap but to a public library with hundred of kid customers, it's very affordable.  In the Lehigh Valley both the Allentown Public Library and the Parkland Community Library subscribe to this delightful database.

Some of the books are partnered with games to test comprehension and to foster literacy skills.  Most of the books can be read alone, or with an audio track.   So check out Tumblebooks today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Kneebone Boy

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter tells the story of the Hardscrabble children, Otto, Lucia and Max, whose mother disappeared several years before the book begins.

The book is narrated by one of the Hardscrabbles but the narrator refuses to tell us which one. The oldest brother, Otto, has not spoken in years and wears a scarf all the time, winter, summer, day and night.  He looks different from his siblings, too, having blond hair while their hair is dark.  Perhaps, he is the narrator? 
Their father is an artist, painting the portraits of lesser aristocracy and fallen royalty.  He travels quite a bit but brings home the best sketches and wild stories of the people he meets.

One of the children intercepts a letter from an aunt they barely know threatening to do something if the father doesn't tell them the truth about their mother.  Then their father is called away to do another portrait and he sends the three children to spend time with this aunt.  But she is not expecting them and they are on their own.

Which turns out to be fine, actually.  These books are always far more satisfying if the children have to find their own way.  The aunt lets them stay in the "folly" or playhouse right outside Kneebone castle and it is here that they learn about the mythical Kneebone Boy. 

Every generation, the Kneebone family produces a child who is horribly deformed - or so it is told.  The castle is supposed to be abandoned but the Hardscrabbles know it is not and they are determined to save the Kneebone boy from isolation and deprivation.

The playhouse is huge - as big as a regular house - with gadgets and trickery galore.  And there is an ominous local who spends far too much time in the surrounding woods - as do Otto, Lucia and Max.

The ending ties everything up very neatly, and if I was ten or eleven or twelve, I'd accept it without question.  After all, parents do things for unfathomable reasons, right?  So, read The Kneebone Boy.  When you do, I'd like to know.  Did you even for one second, expect it to end the way it does?

BEA revisited - The Zentangle

I discovered Zentangles at BEA a few years ago.  Now, Design Originals has put out several books featuring this unique "doodle" technique.  Zentangles are hugely interesting to look at and they appear to be easy to create.

Zentangle Basics describes the process of dividing your design space and adding elements; curves, contrasts, lines, swirls, etc.  Design Originals also offers books using Zentangles in fabric arts, fashion design and as a de-stresser.

Check out this creative sketching technique.  And check out Design Originals.  Zentangles are just one of their many clever how-to guides.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

free books and KBWT

Today, I got an offer from Flamingnet to download a free copy of Sprite by Leigh Michael.  It's a Kindle book, of course, and I don't own a Kindle.  I guess I could just download it to my computer.  And I might! Go ahead and take advantage of this offer.  It's FREE!

Do you know about Flamingnet?  It's a book review site for teens.  A lot of the reviewers are teens, themselves.  It's fun to know what teens really think about the books they read.  And what they really think is usually, "Give us more books!"  So Flamingnet is my KBW for this Tuesday.

But back to Sprite - The book that inspired this post.  She's human.  She's sprite. And she has to save the world for humans and sprites.  It is a very popular formula.  Pick a magical creature.  Create a character who has mixed parentage - one human, one magical creature.  Now, put that character in a life or world threatening situation.  Voila!  A best seller.

Here is a partial catalog of magical creatures who have - according to current YA fiction - coupled with humans: gods, goddesses, fairies, naiads, demons, angels, vampires, werewolves, merpeople, sprites, zombies - well maybe not zombies.  And here are some of the paranormal creatures with whom teens have fallen in love: vampires, ghosts - lots of ghosts of many different types - werewolves, fairies, demons, angels, zombies - yes, zombies, my personal un-favorite - merpeople, wereowls, were-anything, gods, goddesses, demigods and demigoddesses.

I have not read anything about the sidhe.  But I am sure that somewhere there is a book in which a teen falls in love with - or discovers that one of his or her parents is - a member of the sidhe.  And let's not forget fauns, centaurs and other chimera; dragons, gryphons, and other mythical beasts.

The late, great Diana Wynne-Jones went a little further in this mixture of species.  Her Dark Lord of Derkholm dabbled in magical gene modification.  His children included griffins, winged humans (angels?) and humans.  Each child was a combination of his genes, his wife's genes and magical genes.  The children are all splendid characters, as evidenced in the follow up novel, The Year of the Griffin.  Man, I miss Diann Wynne-Jones.  Sigh.

YA authors around the globe raise silent prayers of thanks for the centuries of folklore they can mine for ideas.  Now, which magical creature can I research?  Where's my Bulfinch's Mythology?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday sadness and peapods

I don't really know why I haven't blogged lately.  The garden, housework, writing, all of that has suffered, too.  It's as if anything I wasn't being "paid" to do just wasn't important enough.  Doldrums?

Today, I stayed home from Meeting.  Allergies gave me a headache and I had a restless night coughing and blowing my nose.  I wanted to go to Barnes and Noble with Hub and look at books. 

I should have gone to Meeting.  On Friday, a family there suffered an enormous tragedy - something so sad, I don't want to share it here.  An email went out last night to ask us all to come to Meeting to hold that family in the Light.  I didn't open my email until after Meeting.

Not my peas, but pretty darn close!
The tragedy has put my "doldrums" and my aches and pains in perspective.  What right have I to put off chores that must be done?  How did I become so "special"?  So I cleaned today and dug in my weed and rabbit infested garden.  Miracles of miracles!  I even have peas.  Rabbits and too much rain cannot keep seeds from sprouting.

And I hold all those who grieve in the Light.   I wish them peace and hope. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Expo - TOMORROW

Oh my,  I have just gone through 112 pages of ads and articles on all the great stuff I missed at Book Expo America today.  Luckily, the articles did mention what will happen in Children's Books and Books for Teens for tomorrow.  Plus, I found some extra raffles to enter.  I love those raffles.  I never win but I know someone who does and SHE is going to BEA tomorrow, too.  So is the Hub.

We've got our backpacks and tote bags and our wheely suitcases and we expect to bring back loot and lots of great ideas about what to read - and buy - next.  So many great authors will be there signing books and just sharing the authorly love.  Mo Willems!  He has a NEW Pigeon book out.  I so hope I get to meet him because he is awesome.

As is John Green.  DFTBA, John!  I doubt that I will get within a city block of either John Green OR Libba Bray.  Sigh.  But just being under the same enormous roof is cool.  Maggie Stiefvater is rumored to be close by as well.  And Julie Kagawa and ...be still, my heart...EOIN COLFER!!!  I can't stand it.  And, there are more authors and books.  So many, many beautiful books.

Oh, look at the time!  I have to go over my "assignments".  The bus leaves at the very crack of dawn tomorrow. 

Before I go, let's revisit the Pigeon's very own webpage for KBWT.   Go to Boring Grown-Up stuff for videos that are totally NOT! (Boring OR just for Grown-Ups.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Curse you, Sudoku!

I want to tell you about the marvelous things I have been doing and reading..... but all I seem to do is Sudoku puzzles.  And I'm a mathphobe, too.  Hmmmmmm.

I have made a resolution.  I will do NO Sudoku puzzles before bedtime.  I will do no puzzles AT ALL before bedtime.  If I find myself watching television and I need something to do with my hands, I will make paper beads, exercise during the commercials, crochet, take notes for story ideas, fold wash - ANYTHING BUT PUZZLES.

A puzzle or two when I am tucked up in bed - ok.  That's acceptable.  But NO going to bed early just to do puzzles.  And I would.  If I could.  Anyway, that's one reason this blog has been skimpy lately.  Sudoku.