Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book review written for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now moving in a different direction, though the columns that I write are still book-centric. Instead of writing reviews, I'm offering you columns on topics that have been inspired by wonderful books that I have read. I tell you about the books in question, and describe how they have have impacted me. This may sound peculiar to some of you, but the books that I tend to choose are ones that resonate with me on some level. Therefore, when I read the last page and close the covers, I am not quite the same person that I was when first I started reading the book. The shift in my perspective might be miniscule, but it is still there. The books I am looking are both about adult and children's titles. Some of the children's titles will appeal to adults, while others will not. Some of the adult titles will appeal to younger readers, particularly those who are eager to expand their horizons.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Young Adult Novel Contest - Write a pitch

ONLY the First 250 Words of Your YA Novel!

Have a young adult novel—or a YA novel idea—tucked away for a rainy day? Are you putting off pitching your idea simply because you’re not sure how to pitch an agent? No problem! All you have to do is submit the first 250 words of your novel and you can win both exposure to editors, and a one-on-one chat with one of New York’s TOP literary agents Regina Brooks.

Regina Brooks is the founder of Serendipity Literary Agency and the author of Writing Great Books for Young Adults. Brooks has been instrumental at establishing and building the careers of many YA writers, including three-time National Book Award Honoree and Michael Printz Honoree Marilyn Nelson, as well as Sundee Frazier—a Coretta Scott King Award winner, an Oprah Book Pick and an Al Roker book club selection. As an agent, she is known for her ability to turn raw talent into successful authors.

ADDITIONALLY: The top 20 submissions will all be read by a panel of five judges comprised of top YA editors at Random House, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Penguin. All 20 will receive free autographed copies of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. Of the 20, they will pick the top five submissions and provide each author with commentary. ONE Grand Prize Winner will win a free 10-week writing course courtesy of the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

Please submit all entries via the contest website at http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/YAPitch.php. One entry per person; anyone age 13+ can apply. Open to the U.S. & Canada (void where prohibited). Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1 until 11:59pm (ET),


In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org)—an international event where aspiring novelists are encouraged to write an entire novel in 30 days—this contest is meant to encourage the aspiring YA author to get started on that novel by offering an incentive for completing the first 250 words.

So apply now! http://bit.ly/1PYGaN


YA literary agent Regina Brooks, along with editors at Sourcebooks, will read all of the entries and determine the top 20 submissions. These submissions will then be read by Dan Ehrenhaft, head Acquisitions Editor at Soucebooks Fire; Alisha Niehaus, Editor at Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin); David Linker, Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books; Michele Burke, Editor at Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House); and Evette Porter, Editor at Harlequin. These judges will whittle the top 20 down to four winners and a grand prize winner—all five will be provided commentary on their submissions.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Essay contest for kids. Go to Florida to meet Winter the dolphin.



Winter the Dolphin has been an inspiration and hero for children and adults alike. When Winter was just three months old, she was rescued from a crap trap which had seriously damaged her tail. It wasn't clear that she would survive but she did. However, the damage to Winter's tail was so extensive that it fell off. To everyone's amazement, a prosthetic company stepped in an fitted Winter with a prosthetic tail. Now Winter is using her new tail and thriving.

Scholastic wants to hear about an animal that has most inspired your children by having them tell us about their favorite animal hero in 200 words or less.

One grand prize winner and his/her guardian will receive a trip to visit Winter at her home in Clearwater, Florida, one night's stay at a hotel, $500 travel voucher, a Winter prize pack and a Nintendo DS Game system! 10 runners up with receive a copy of Winter's Tail, a Winter's Tail Nintendo DS game and a Winter plush doll!

Send entries to:
Scholastic's Meet Winter the Dolphin Contest
557 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

Each entry must include student's name, age, and grade; teacher's name; and school name, address, and phone number.

All entries must be received by November 30, 2009. Winners will be announced on or around December 14th. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residences of 50 United States and D.C. ages 6-14 as of November 30th 2009. Void where prohibited. Click here for complete contest rules.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Monsterologist - A review.

With Halloween just around the corner, many young (and not so young) people are thinking about witches, spiders, carved pumpkins, ghosts, and ..... monsters. I just reviewed a book that will delight monster enthusiasts of all ages. It is called The Monsterologist: A memoir in rhyme.

Here is my review:

The Monsterologist: A memoir in rhyme
Bobbi Katz
Illustrated by Adam McCauley
Picture book
Ages 8 to 12
Sterling, 2009, 140274417X
The world is full of ologists of all kinds. There are biologists, zoologist, botanists, psychologists, and now there is a monsterologist. He is a very brilliant man who travels around the world looking for, and even getting to know, monsters of all kinds. For the first time ever, the monsterologist has brought together letters, interviews, and notes that he has in his collection so that you can read about some of the secrets of the world’s most famous monsters.
Enjoy reading a letter from Count Dracula, and shudder as you read a recipe that the monsterologist believes belonged to Grendel’s mother. Read the “Ghost Notes” that the monsterologist has selected, and find out how three famous dead musicians still walk the earth. Learn what it was like to seek a yeti in “the snowy Himalayas.” Don’t forget too to look at the email offer that the monsterologist received inviting him to co-direct a zombie survey.
This highly entertaining and deliciously inspired book is sure to delight any budding monsterologist. With clever rhymes, a varied selection of formats, and wonderful multi-media artwork, this is a book that readers will dip into again and again.

Do visit the Monsterologist website to play a game, to find out more about the monsterologist, and to listen to a reading of some of the poems in the book.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009

Don't forget that October 18th to 24th is Teen Read Week in the U.S. This year's theme is Read Beyond Reality, which encourages teen readers to read something fantastical or science fictional, and to explore worlds that have never been. You can find some excellent book and media suggestions here, and more ideas and information about this even here and on the ALA website.

If you have a teen in the house, you might be interested to know that teens can vote for the 2010 Teen Read Theme. Click here to vote.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The National Book Award Finalists for Young People's Literature

The finalists for the 2009 National Book Awards have been announced by the National Book Foundation. For the children's literature category the finalists are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)

Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar Straus and Giroux)

David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)

Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)

Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)

The winner will be announced at the 60th National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in New York City on Wednesday, November 18th.

You can find out more about the awards and the National Book Foundation on the NBF website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Man behind the Nobel Peace Prize

Just last week my daughter and I were making breakfast when we heard, on the radio, that President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. My daughter wanted to know what the prize is. Luckily I had just reviewed a splendid book about Alfred Nobel and I pulled it off my shelf for her to read. If you too have a child who wants to know about these prizes then take a look at the review I wrote about the book.

Alfred Nobel: The Man behind the peace prize

Kathy-Jo Wargin

Illustrated by Zachary Pullen

Non-Fiction Picture Book

Ages 6 to 10

Sleeping Bear Press, 2009, 1585362816

Years ago, when people wanted to build bridges or roads, they had to blast a path for their work using gunpowder - which wasn’t a safe material to work with. One day Alfred Nobel realized that a substance called nitroglycerin might be safer to use than gunpowder.

With the help of his brother and father, Alfred experimented with nitroglycerin until he came up with a solution that he was sure would work. Though his new invention did work well, it still wasn’t as safe as Alfred had hoped it would be. His brother Emil was killed went something went wrong in the lab. Surely there was something else that Alfred could do to make his invention safer still.

Eventually Alfred created something that was safe. It came to be called dynamite and Alfred became a rich and famous man because of his invention. Alfred had hoped that his invention would foster peace, and he was very distressed when he saw that it was being used to harm people. It saddened him to know that many people “saw him as the man who earned his wealth by inventing ways to injure and kill.” Thankfully, Alfred found a way to leave a legacy that would celebrate peace and reward those who gave the world new innovations in science, and who created memorable written works.

This thought provoking and memorable book celebrates the life and achievements of a truly great man.

Please visit this page to find an interesting and very useful teacher's guide for the book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Return to the hundred Acre Wood - Pooh is back

I am a huge fan of Winnie-the-Pooh. He is one of those characters I fell in love with when I was around four or five, and I have been in love with him ever since. I was a little unsure of what to think of the new Pooh book when I heard about it. Would this book be a tribute to A.A.Milne's creations, or would it be a black spot on the name of all things Pooh?
Well, I now have a copy of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, and I began to read it within fifteen minutes of recieving it. And within minutes I was chuckling, smiling and nodding my head. So far, the author, David Benedictus, has captured the essence of Poohness. I am only on page 25, but I plan on climbing into bed with the book shortly. Armed with a cup of tea and with my trusty sidekick sitting next to me - the Pooh my godmother made me when I was very little - I will read on. Watch this space for more.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Winter's Tail - An inspirational story - Prize Pack Giveaway!

Last week I read and reviewed a delightful book about a baby dolphin who has managed to overcome a severe physical handicap, the loss of her tail. The book is called Winter's Tail: How one little dolphin learned to swim again. This true story is not only inspirational, but it also shows young readers that even the worst of tragedies can have a happy ending.

Here is my review:

Winter’s Tail: How one little dolphin learned to swim again
Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff
Nonfiction picture book
Ages 6 to 9
Scholastic, 2009, 0545123356
One winter morning a baby dolphin got tangled in a crab trap. The ropes of the trap were wrapped around the baby dolphin’s tail and the tail was severely injured. A local fisherman freed the baby from the ropes, and then he called for help when it was clear that she was not doing well at all.
A few hours later, a rescue team arrived. The baby, who was named Winter, was taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. There she was fed with a milk mixture and her wounds were tended to. Unfortunately, Winter’s tail had been so badly damaged that it fell off. All Winter had to swim with was a stump. She did manage to learn how to swim with her stump, but she had to move her body from side to side like a fish, instead of up and down like a dolphin, and this movement started to affect her spine.
People all over th
e country heard about Winter and her accident, and the one person came forward with a solution for Winter’s problem.
Animal lovers of all ages will greatly enjoy this inspiring and moving story about a courageous dolphin who, with the help of human technology, has been able to overcome a severe physical handicap. Filled with wonderful photos, this is a story that is uplifting and full of hope.
The book's publisher, Scholastic, is offering one of my reader's a wonderful giveaway. Comment on this post and you will be entered in a drawing for the prize. Here is the information:

A Winter’s Tail prize pack!
  • Dolphin Plush
  • Dolphin Key Chain
  • Winter’s Tail game for Nintendo DS
  • Copy of Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again Book
Prizing value is $81.99
Shipping Guidelines:
The Winter’s Tail book promotion is open to participants with a United States mailing address only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail!)
Here are some links that you might like to explore:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't forget Jumpstart's Read for the Record.

RFTR 2009 Online Banner Ad

On October 8th people all over America will be reading Eric Carle's book
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Consider holding an event in a local school, business or library to raise awareness about literacy issues, and to raise money so that Jumpstart can put books into the hands of children.

Here is more information about the event.

October 8th, more than one million children and adults are expected to team up with a single “Hungry Caterpillar” to help break a world record and draw attention to the early education crisis affecting millions of at-risk young children here in the U.S. and across the globe. The non-profit group Jumpstart and the Pearson Foundation today
announced Jumpstart’s fourth annual Read for the Record Campaign today at the International Reading Association convention in Minneapolis. On this one day in October in thousands of settings across the world, readers of all ages will be joining together to break the record for the number of people reading the same book on the same day.

This year’s official Campaign book is a special, limited edition of the Philomel Books classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. The commemorative book includes a foreward with messages from Matt
Lauer and Meredith Vieira of NBC’s TODAY Show , award-winning actress Mary Louise Parker, and Grammy Award-winning recording artist/actor, LL Cool J. The special limited edition can be purchased online at www.readfortherecord.org/books, where people can also donate books to children in need.

The Pearson Foundation will donate more than 250,000 copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to children in need, and invites businesses and other institutions to sponsor additional book donations to children in low-income communities in the U.S. and abroad. Further information can be found at www.pearsonfoundation.org/rftr09. Schools, libraries, civic groups and organizations interested in securing their own commemorative copies can also visit this site to learn more. “The books we read as children provide us with treasured childhood memories,” said Jumpstart’s President James Cleveland. “Unfortunately, most children in low-income communities have few, if any, age-appropriate books in their homes. As a result, they miss out on the reading experiences that form the foundation for success in school and life. In fact, each year one third of America’s children arrive at their first day of school without the skills necessary to succeed. At Jumpstart, we’re remedying this problem by giving these young people important one-to-one attention, one child at a time.”

For the fourth consecutive year, the Pearson Foundation is underwriting the cost of the Campaign’s official book, ensuring that more than 100% of the proceeds from sales of this edition directly benefit Jumpstart’s work with at-risk children. From now through the fall, The Pearson Foundation and Jumpstart will be working with teachers,
district superintendents, government officials, libraries, businesses, parent groups, and educational organizations to organize reading events on October 8 and to donate copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Head Start and other early learning centers, elementary schools, and other places that serve low-income children. “Focusing everyone’s attention on one book for a single day is a great way to highlight the importance of reading as the foundation for all
other learning,” said Pearson Foundation President Mark Nieker. “Additionally, the Read for the Record Campaign shines the spotlight on the critical role Jumpstart is playing in closing the gap in school readiness between children from low-income communities and their middle income peers.” Over the past three years, more than one million people have taken part in this record-breaking Campaign. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record has raised more than $3 million to support Jumpstart’s mission and more than 500,000 books have been donated to children in need.

In addition, Jumpstart and Pearson’s innovative Read for the Record collaboration has been awarded a coveted Cause Marketing Halo Award. The campaign is further supported by national campaign sponsors American Eagle Outfitters and Sodexo. For more information, visit www.readfortherecord.org and www.pearsonfoundation.org. In addition to information on how to participate, the websites provide information about donating books to Jumpstart children, as well as hosting and joining shared reading events across the nation.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Waiting for winter - A Review

Here in Oregon we sweltered our way through most of September until this week. Now fall is here, all of a sudden. Indeed it landed on us with a thump! There even was frost on the hills above town yesterday, and some places at higher elevations got their first snow. Hearing about the snow I was reminded of a book that I reviewed a week or so ago. It is called Waiting for Winter. I know I am jumping ahead a little, season wise, but this book charmed me so much that I just have to tell you about it. Here is my review.

Waiting for Winter

Sebastian Meschenmoser

Picture Book

Ages 5 to 7

Kane Miller, 2009, 1935279041

Winter is on its way and Deer tells Squirrel that it will soon snow. Squirrel, who usually sleeps through winter, has no idea what snow is. This year he is determined that he will get to see snow. There is a problem though, the snow does not arrive straight away, and squirrel waits and waits. What if he falls asleep and misses the snow?

Squirrel decides that he should run around to get some fresh air and exercise. That should keep him awake. All the noise he makes running to and fro wakes up Hedgehog. Hedgehog decides that he too will stay awake to see the snow. To keep awake, Hedgehog and Squirrel sing sea shanties. There is nothing like a good song to keep one awake. Unfortunately, Bear is trying to have a nap nearby and he cannot possibly sleep when Squirrel and Hedgehog are singing. Bear decides that he might as well stay awake to see the snow too.

This hilarious picture book will have readers of all ages laughing out loud. The wonderful pencil illustrations are vibrant and beautifully expressive, and the mistakes the animals make as they try to find snow are deliciously silly and funny. This is a book that cannot fail to entertain and delight.

Be warned, this book will really make you laugh!!

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