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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day Six

Happy almost Halloween everyone! The Through the Looking Glass Halloween Countdown is almost over, and it is ending with a phenomenal book that readers of all ages will enjoy. Jon J. Muth has written several books that share Zen stories and Zen philosophies with his readers. This newest book continues this theme.

Zen Ghosts
Zen GhostsJon J. Muth
Picture Book
Ages 6 and up
Scholastic, 2010, 978-0-439-63430-4
   Karl, Addy, and Michael are getting their Halloween costumes ready. Their friend Stillwater the panda bear comes over and he explains that he is going to be a ghost for Halloween. Karl is going to be a monster, and Michael is going to be either an owl or a pirate. He doesn’t know which he prefers. Stillwater suggests that Michael might like to be an “Owl-Pirate.” After all, on Halloween anything is possible. Stillwater then tells his young friends that this Halloween is special because there is going to be a full moon. He knows someone who can tell the children a ghost story.
   So, after treat-or-treating on Halloween night, the children meet Stillwater at the stone wall and he takes them to his house where they meet a panda bear who looks exactly like Stillwater. He tells them a story about a girl whose soul separated and went into two different directions. One soul stayed with her family, and one ran away with the boy she loved. Which soul was the real girl?
   In this beautiful and thought-provoking picture book, Jon Muth brings readers an old story that has timeless appeal. Yes, it is a ghost story of sorts, but it also a story about duality, which is something all people of all ages encounter. I am my mother’s child, but I am also someone’s best friend. Which self is the real me?
   With gorgeous paintings throughout and a story that will resonate with readers of all ages, this picture book is an enduring treasure. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Poetry Friday - A review of This is to say

This book of poetry delighted me. It is a story and a collection of poems rolled into one. It is an inspiration too. Imagine what life might be like if we all took the time to write a sorry poem to the people we upset.

Pamela Zagarenski
For ages 8 to 12
Houghton Mifflin, 2007, 0-618-61680-2
Anthony K is a six grader in Mrs. Merz’s class at Florence Scribner School. Inspired by a poem written by William Carlos Williams, Anthony and his classmates decided to write some “sorry” poems to people that they have wronged in some way. They then asked the recipients of the poems to write poems in response to the apologies. The children have complied the two sets of poems into this book and they hope that we - their readers - will enjoy the poems that they wrote and that they received.
   The collection opens with a poem from Thomas. The poem is for Mrs. Garcia, who works in the office. Thomas confesses that he stole “the jelly doughnuts / that were in / the teacher’s lounge.”
   Reuben and Kyle apologize to each other for hitting each other too hard with the dodge ball. Reuben knows that he got carried away, and Kyle even goes so far as to say that he will probably “do it again.”
   Carmen apologizes for making fun of Mrs. Merz’s dress. She admits that she “felt like a traitor,” and she wishes she could “rewind” her hurtful words and say something kind instead.
   Each of the poems in this book beautifully captures the personalities of the people who wrote them. As we read them, we can almost see Mrs. Merz, her students, their families and their friends. We can appreciate the sentiments of the writers, and understand their transgressions and their hurts, their apologies and their forgiveness. There is humor and pathos in the words, and the various poetical forms used are beautifully complimented by Pamela Zagarenski’s memorable multimedia art.

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day Five

So far in this countdown we have had a board book and several picture books, so today I have chosen to give you a chapter book.

Carol Wallace
Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Ages 5 to 7
Holiday House, 2010, 978-0-8234-2219-7
   Last year Aden and Leah’s family were able to host a wonderful pumpkin party for all of the children’s friends. The young guests were able to choose Halloween pumpkins from Aden and Leah’s family pumpkin patch. Leah and Aden are eager to plant pumpkins again this year so that they can have another pumpkin party in the fall.
   Carefully, under the watchful eyes of Mocha and Scruffy, the family dog and cat, Aden, Leah and their parents plant their pumpkin seeds. Carefully they tend the little vines. To their great distress, the vines don’t do well at all. How can they have a Halloween pumpkin party if they don’t have any pumpkins? Why have the plants done so poorly this year when they did so well last year?
   With an engaging story and amusing characters, this is an appealing chapter book for young readers. Children will enjoy the way the cat and dog in this story are the ones who save the day. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day Four

Five Little Pumpkins (Padded Board Books)Today's Halloween book is a board book that younger readers are sure to enjoy.

Illustrated by Ben Mantle
Board Book
Ages 2 to 4
Tiger Tales, 2010, 978-1589258563
Night is falling and five little pumpkins are sitting on a gate. Tonight is not just any night, it is Halloween night, so as the moon rises strange things start to happen. Witches swoop over the pumpkins, big black spiders drop down on them, and the pumpkins “run and run” as ghosts and other spooky things fill the night air. Then the pumpkins decide to “have some fun” and the evening becomes even more interesting.
   This amusing board book will perfectly suit little children who enjoy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day Three

For today's review I have a picture book that has been out of print for twenty five years. I am delighted that it is back so that today's young readers can enjoy it.

Emily Herman
Illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
Picture Book
Ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2010, 978-0-517-55646-7
   Every year on Halloween Hubknuckles some to visit Lee and her siblings. He stays outside of course, looking in, and the children stay in and look out “enjoying the small tickles of fear” from the safety of their warm house. Then one year, Lee tells her siblings that Hubknuckles isn’t real, and there is no reason why she cannot go outside on Halloween night.
   Of course, as the light fades, Lee begins to feel less confident. She has trouble eating her usual amount of dinner, and during the Halloween party, Lee is smiling on the outside, but she is nervous under her smiles.
   Then the time comes, and Lee slips out of the door. She is sure that Hubknuckles is her father wearing a white sheet…but then she might be wrong.
   Back in print for the first time in twenty-five years, this deliciously spooky story will leave readers wondering and guessing. Could it be that Hubknuckles is real after all, or was someone out outside playing the part? With wonderfully atmospheric pencil drawings and a beautifully paced text, this picture book is a must read for the days leading up to Halloween.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Recipes from Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books has a free download of some free recipes that I thought you might enjoy. The recipes are adaptations come from their cookbook Kids Kitchen: 40 fun and healthy recipes to make and share. The recipes include the following:

Slimey Green Gloop: A Halloweenish version of guacamole

Dracula's Gelatin: Jello with a few surprises in it.

Eyeballs: I am not going to give anything away here. Suffice it to say that this is a truly gruesome looking treat.

Ghoul's Smoothie: A delicious drink.

Icy hand snatchers: Popsicles that will give you the shivers!

Meringue Ghosts: Simple little desserts that will melt on your tongue. Ghosty!

Download the recipes here. Enjoy!

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day Two

For today's Halloween title I have a picture book that leaves the reader wondering if all is what it seems! It has a fabulous ending too.

Nancy Raines Day
Illustrated by George Bates
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Abrams, 2010, 978-0810939004
It is a windy Halloween night, and a little boy who is dressed up as a skeleton has a big haul of candy in his bag. Now it is time for him to go home, so he off he goes on a winding road under the light of the full moon. After a time, clouds hide the moon, and the dark woods around the little boy start to look more and more creepy. As he moves quickly through the trees, the boy hears a voice that says “Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours – if you look back.” The terrified boy rans on, through a field of dancing skeletons. Will this terrible ordeal ever end?
   With a bone chilling text and thoroughly spooky illustrations that contain all kinds of hidden creepy images, this is the perfect book to read out loud on the days leading up to Halloween.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Countdown to Halloween - Six days of holiday books: Day One

There are only six more days before it is Halloween, and since I have some Halloweenish books on hand that I think you will enjoy, I have decided to have a six-day count down bookish event.
   I will begin with a book that is not strictly a Halloween title, but it is pertinent nevertheless. It is a book about pumpkins, and since pumpkins are often associated with Halloween, I thought it would be a great way to start my countdown.

Gail Gibbons
Nonfiction picture book
Ages 4 to 6
Holiday House, 1999, 0-8234-1636-4
   For many of us pumpkins are large orange squashes that we carve into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. They are turned into pumpkin pies, and we use them to decorate our homes during the harvest season. Most of us don’t realize that these fruit (yes they are a fruit) come in all shapes and sizes. Some varieties are huge, while others are very small indeed.
   You can grow your own pumpkin by planting a pumpkin seed in a prepared patch of ground in the spring. By summer, you should have a large pumpkin vine growing in your garden, and in the fall, it will be time to harvest the pumpkins you have grown. Depending on what kind of pumpkin you have grown, you can cook them, turn them into jack-o-lanterns, or - if you grow a really big pumpkin - you can enter it into a big pumpkin contest.
   This informative nonfiction picture book will be an instant hit with children who look forward to harvesting or buying pumpkins in the fall. It is not only packed with information about pumpkins, but it also gives young readers detailed instructions on how to plant a pumpkin, how to carve one, and how to dry pumpkin seeds. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Poetry Friday - A review of Poetry Skywriting

For this Poetry Friday, I have a book that presents readers with the story of man and his efforts to fly. On these pages you will see hot air balloons, the first flying machines (some of which were very odd indeed), and powerful planes that look like something one might see in a superhero comic book.

J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi
Ages 6 to 10
The Creative Company, 2010, 978-1-56846-203-5
   For centuries, man has dreamed of flying. There is the story of Icarus who “rose on wings of wax” only to plunge to earth again when the heat of the sun melted his wings. For a while, man had a grand time floating across the sky in hot air balloons. The Montgolfier brothers made a famous twenty-five minute flight above Paris that was witnessed by none other than Benjamin Franklin himself, who was “without his kite!”
  Though the hot air balloons were quite successful, there were still those who wanted to create a flying machine that had wings. Some men created machines with wings that flapped, and they barely left the ground. Then two brothers developed a flying machine that did fly, and on a cold December day, “aviation’s door” was opened.
   For this very special collection of poems, J. Patrick Lewis has written thirteen very different poems about man’s passion for and fascination with flight. With humor and beautiful word imagery, the poet takes us on a journey from Icarus’ unfortunate flight, to the creation of the Nighthawk and the space shuttle. To accompany the poems, Laszlo Kubinyi has created beautiful illustrations that are rich with detail and that have a vintage postcard feel.
   Endnotes at the back of the book provide readers with further information about the thirteen topics covered in the poems. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Author Eva Ibbotson has died - An obituary

Eva Ibbotson was born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner in ViennaAustria, in 1925. Her father, Berthold Wiesner, was a physiologist and her mother, Anna Gmeyner, a writer. Her parents separated in 1928 and after remaining in Vienna in a church orphanage she joined her father, a Jew who had left Austria to work in Scotland just before Hitler and the Nazi party came into power.
She was educated at Dartington Hall School; attended Bedford College, London, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946–47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in education in 1965.
Ibbotson had intended to be a physiologist, but was put off by the amount of animal testing that she would have to do. Instead, she married and raised a family, returning to school to become a teacher in the 1960s.
            Ibbotson began writing with the television drama Linda Came Today, in 1965. Ten years later, in 1975, she published her first novel, The Great Ghost Rescue.
Ibbotson has written numerous books including The Secret of Platform 13The Star of KazanJourney to the River SeaWhich Witch?, Island of the Aunts, and Dial-a-Ghost. She won the NestlĂ© Smarties Book Prize for Journey to the River Sea, and has been a runner up for many of major awards for British children's literature. The books are imaginative and humorous, and most of them feature magical creatures and places, despite the fact that she disliked thinking about the supernatural, and created the characters because she wanted to decrease her readers' fear of such things. Some of the books, particularly Journey to the River Sea, also reflect Ibbotson's love of nature. Ibbotson wrote this book in honor of her husband (who had died just before she wrote it), a former naturalist. The book had been in her head for years before she actually wrote it. Ibbotson said she dislikes "financial greed and a lust for power" and often creates antagonists in her books who have these characteristics.
Her love of Austria is evident in works such as The Star of Kazan, A Song For Summer and Magic Flutes / The Reluctant Heiress. These books, set primarily in the Austrian countryside, display the author's love for nature and all things natural.
             Ibbotson's non-children's books have been classified both as Young Adult titles and as romances. In an interview, she referred to them as books for adults. Several of these books have been published in other languages with different titles.
            Eva Ibbotson died in her home in Newcastle, England on October 20th, 2010. Her last book, The Ogre Of Oglefort, was shortlisted for the 2010 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The National Book Award Finalists for Young People's Literature 2010

The National Book Award finalists for young people's literature for 2010 have been announced. They are:

Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker (Little, Brown & Co.)

Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird (Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group)

Laura McNeal, Dark Water (Alfred A. Knopf)

Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown (Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer (Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Young People's Literature Finalists Walter Dean Myers and Rita Williams-Garcia have both been Finalists in the category in previous years, the former in 1999 and 2005, and the latter just last year. The other three Finalists are Paolo Bacigalupi, a Nebula and Hugo Award nominee for his adult science-fiction writing (Ship Breaker is his first book for young readers); former attorney Kathryn Erskine for her second book for young adults; and Laura McNeal, a former teacher who co-authored her three previous books with her husband.

The winner of the award will be announced on November 17th at the National Book Awards ceremony in New York City. You can find more information about the finalists on the National Book Foundation website 

Monday, October 18, 2010

What it is like to start a new book - A letter from Roxie Munro

Last week I asked children's book author and illustrator, Roxie Munro, to tell me what it is like for her to start a new project. I know from personal experience that facing a blank page can be rather off-putting, to say the least. If the first sentence for a picture book is in my head already then I am alright, but if there is nothing there, then I stumble around trying to find a way to get that blank page to become less blank. I suddenly find a million and one little jobs that need to be done, and I start tidying things that really don't need tidying!

This is what Roxie had to say about her 'getting started' process:

Dear Through the Looking Glass:
I’ve been asked to write about how it feels to start a new project, in my case, a new nonfiction picture book about bugs, kind of a follow-up to “Hatch!” (out from Marshall Cavendish in Feb 2011). The new book is due in April 2011, and will be out spring 2012.

Well, as Hemingway once said, when asked how to write a novel, “First you clean the refrigerator.” In other words, even the most disciplined writer procrastinates. Maybe that’s why one is given deadlines and financial incentives.

But in my case, I kind of do first clean …that is, my studio. I really do a thorough job, because as my project - be it a series of oil paintings for a show or a book - progresses, my studio gets messier and messier, with uncleaned brushes and dirty palettes, stacks of notes and books and drawings, boxes from supplies shipped, etc.

I have already spent a couple of months this summer working on the proposal, sketches and dummy, so have done quite a bit of research, and bought books or checked them out (renewed several times) from the NYPL Science Library. But until I get the okay, and then the contract, it isn’t officially a project. So, got and signed contract, and spent a week wrapping up a couple other small jobs. Gave myself a starting date.  On that day, I actually did start - cleaning the studio that is.

Sports, or even military, metaphors occur to me - I’m “in the trenches”; “getting to first base”; even, “shifting into first gear.” Because it is a slow warming up. You feel guilty that you’re not plowing ahead full steam. But, knowing oneself, that accelerates toward the end of the book. And not necessarily because of deadline pressure, but because of momentum - you’re then in 3rd and 4th gear, warmed up, in the “flow.” I start dreaming about the subjects in the book - colors, images, patterns - about the dinosaurs, the birds, the bugs.

For me, images come first, the writing second.  So, although I do make notes about the text all along, only after the sketches are okayed, and the art well on its way, do I write, shape and refine the text.

The hardest part is now, beginning - creating the approach, solving visual problems, research.  I do rough, and then increasingly detailed, sketches. Each page may have 3 or four stages. Midway through I show them to the editor and art director, and make whatever changes we decide upon. Usually there are few, because I spend a lot of time on the final detailed pencil sketches.  The EASIEST (and most fun) part is actually executing the paintings in ink and colored inks. Although I often have to go through another round of more detailed research to find out everything about the subject (angle of hind toe on a particular bird, exactly where color may shift in the tail feathers), the major conceptual and artistic decisions have been made in the earlier sketches.  There’s still plenty of unknown left though - each painting must “sing” - be elegant, beautiful, informative, fun, and one hopes, a little surprising.

Then, I get serious about writing. Research mostly done, everything gets rewritten/edited by me, and my writer husband Bo, many times before I send the first draft to my editor.  She does her thing - queries, grammar, more explanation, info we can cut - and then I get it back. We usually go back and forth at least half a dozen times. Then the copy editor gets it and that too takes several passes between me, the editor and the copyeditor. Same with design - the art director sends a preliminary concept, which I weigh in on, and that continues for a month or two.  BTW, the cover comes last, although sometimes they need it halfway through for the catalog.

Then, as with most nonfiction, we send art and text to an expert, well known in the field, to vet it. I rarely have to make changes, but do them now, with the editor’s input.

So - all of this is ahead of you, when you sit down on designated day one, to start a book. No wonder we sometimes find many other things to do - answering e-mail, checking Facebook, paying bills, dash to the gym, writing this piece - before we actually sit down and attack it!

Thank you so much Roxie. It is always a pleasure to have you as a guest on Through the Looking Glass. To find out more about Roxie and her splendiferous books take a look at her website

Friday, October 15, 2010

Poetry Friday - A review of A Curious Collection of Cats

Suma checking her email

My office is in my home, which makes my commute very short, and which also makes it possible for me to bring my pets to work. In fact, they complain loudly if I try to lock them out. There are three dog beds on the floor, and and the dogs are quite happy to spend much of the day in here with me. The cats like to sit on my desk so that they can watch the birds through the window. They also like to steal my pens and pencils, swat at the cursor on my computer screens, climb into my book baskets, sleep on top of the printer, and try to bite the paper when the printer or scanner is doing its thing. They drive me crazy, and at the same time I love having them around. That's cats for you. For this poetry Friday I have a book of cat poems that I think cat lovers will greatly enjoy. 

Betsy Franco
Illustrations by Michael Wertz
For ages 9 to 12
Tricycle Press, 2009, 978-1-58246-248-6
   Unlike dogs, cats are “quirky.” You never quite know what a cat is going to do next. In this delightful book of concrete poems, Betsy Franco explores the ways of cats in verse, cleverly presenting each poem to create word pictures. In all we get to meet thirty-four cats who have all kinds of adventures.
   There is Scooter, who desperately wants to catch a squirrel. Carefully Scooter stalks his “prey,” but when he is just inches from the “bold and toothy” squirrel, Scooter considers what the animal with the big tail might do to him. Perhaps a little discretion is in order!
   Then there is Q-tip and Rosie. Rosie the dog likes to carry Q-tip around in her mouth. There is no “cause for alarm” though. Rosie is very gentle and Q-tip doesn’t mind. When the cat gets fed up, he “swats” Rosie on the nose and the dog lets him go.
  Don’t forget Dharma. She’s a cat who knows her yoga. Not only can she do a beautiful arching cat pose, but she also manages the “doggy tilt” to perfection.
   This unique title beautifully combines verse, word art, and illustrations to give young readers a singular journey into a world of feline-centric poetry. Cat lovers of all ages will cherish this delightful book. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A letter from Sneed Collard - An author who has created a publishing company

A few weeks ago I read an article about an author who decided to create his own publishing business. It is getting harder than ever to break into children's publishing, so Sneed Collard took the next step. I asked him to tell me a little about his journey. This is his story.

Dear Through the Looking Glass:

Seventeen months ago, I took my family to eastern Montana during a school visit trip to Miles City. Thanks to my sponsors there, I was able to time my visit for the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. The trip not only led to my newest book, but to my own publishing company, Bucking Horse Books.

As any writer knows these days, it’s gotten almost impossible to sell a book to an established publisher—especially for terms that are even remotely reasonable to the author. Even though I had published 55 books with more than a dozen different publishers, I was getting very discouraged by the shrinking opportunities to publish quality children’s books. Most publishers these days just aren’t interested in anything without crass commercial appeal. Witness the virus-like spread of celebrity children’s books and series about vampires.

Still, I couldn’t resist writing about the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. The Sale began in 1951 as a way for local ranchers to get rid of “spoiled” horses that wouldn’t do any work. A couple of enterprising cowboys thought “Hey, why don’t we invite rodeo producers up to Miles City and auction off our unruly stock for rodeos?” Sixty years later, the Sale has evolved into a four-day celebration of Western life, matched only by the Calgary Stampede and Cheyenne Roundup.

Even as I was writing the book, however, I thought “No other publisher is going to buy this. They just won’t understand how popular rodeo actually is and how many people cherish small-town existence.” I was right. After getting 15 rejections, I decided “Okay, this is a message.” Instead of continuing to butt my head against the eastern publishing wall, I hired a brilliant designer here in Missoula, Montana and struck a deal with a local publisher to distribute my new company. Six months later, we launched Bucking Horse Books with our first title, The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.

The book not only documents the Bucking Horse Sale, but traces the history of rodeo and of eastern Montana frontier life—all illustrated with more than sixty photos, most of which I took myself. You may be wondering, though, if my experiment as a publisher is working? Well, it’s still early, but already The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale has received more publicity than any of my 55 other books. Part of that, of course, has to do with the fact that an established author got fed up with big publishing and decided to break out on his own. I like to think, though, that readers are also fed up with the commercial books being forced down their throats. All across the country, writers are still writing books and stories that reflect the real values and experiences of real people. I like to think that the success of The World Famous Miles City Bucking Horse Sale will encourage even the big publishers to re-evaluate and improve the quality of what they offer today’s younger generation.

Sneed B. Collard III has written many popular fiction and nonfiction children’s books including Animal Dads, Pocket Babies and Other Amazing Marsupials, Teeth, and the YA thriller Double Eagle. In 2006, he received the prestigious Washington Post-Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award for his body of work. To learn more about him and Bucking Horse Books, check out www.buckinghorsebooks.com.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life Campaign

Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life. is a global literacy campaign launched as part of Scholastic's 90th anniversary celebration that underscores the importance of reading to better prepare children who will need strong literacy skills to survive and succeed in the 21st century. Scholastic is asking EVERYONE, our partners, publishers, educators, business leaders, nonprofits, parents, caregivers and students -- to work together to bring reading and deeper understanding to all children around the globe. The Reading Bill of Rights, the foundation of the campaign, includes eight "beliefs" that affirm every child's right to read and what that means in the 21st century... from access to books and great stories to the ability to analyze, interpret and understand information in the digital age.

Here is what we believe about reading in the second decade of the 21st century. 
We call this The Reading Bill of Rights:

WE BELIEVE that literacy – the ability to read, write and understand – is the birthright of every child in the world as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realize a complete life. Young people need to read nonfiction for information to understand their world, and literature for imagination to understand themselves.
WE BELIEVE that the massive amounts of digital information and images now transmitted daily make it even more important for a young person to know how to analyze, interpret and understand information, to separate fact from opinion, and to have deep respect for logical thinking.
WE BELIEVE that literature and drama, whether on printed pages, screens, on stage or film, help young people experience the great stories of emotion and action, leading to a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly human. Without this literacy heritage, life lacks meaning, coherence and soul.
WE BELIEVE every child has a right to a “textual lineage” – a reading and writing autobiography which shows that who you are is in part developed through the stories and information you’ve experienced. This textual lineage will enable all young people to have a reading and writing identity which helps them understand who they are and how they can make their lives better. In short, “You Are What You Read.”
WE BELIEVE every child should have access to books, magazines, newspapers, computers, e-readers, and text on phones. Whatever way you read, you will need to figure out what the facts are or what the story tells you. No matter how and where you get access to ideas, you will need the skills of reading to understand yourself and your world.
WE BELIEVE that reading widely and reading fluently will give children the reading stamina to deal with more challenging texts they will meet in college, at work and in everyday life. And every child should be able to choose and own the books they want to read, for that choice builds literacy confidence – the ability to read, write and speak about what they know, what they feel, and who they are.
WE BELIEVE that every child has the right to a great teacher who will help them learn to read and love to read. Children need teachers who provide intentional, focused instruction to give young people the skills to read and interpret information or understand great stories they will encounter throughout life.
WE BELIEVE that in the 21st century, the ability to read is necessary not only to succeed but to survive—for the ability to understand information and the power of stories is the key to a life of purpose and meaning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blog Book Tour - Thumb Love by Elise Primavera - Includes A BOOK GIVEAWAY!

When I was a little girl, I was a complete thumb addict. I sucked by thumb wherever I went. It made me feel safe to suck my thumb, and gave me comfort. Giving it up was very very hard. For this reason I was happy to join a blog book tour about Elise Primavera's new book, Thumb Love. This is what Elise Primavera has to say about this title:

      When I first came to my editor with the idea for THUMB LOVE she told me the story of how she made a device out of Play-Doh (the dreaded thumb guard) to put on her sister’s thumb to get her to quit.
     It got me to thinking that this business of quitting the thumb is something that everyone has either gone through or helped someone through. It’s a universal theme! It also got me to thinking about bad habits in general. I started wondering if I had replaced one bad habit as a kid only to pick up another as an adult. Is sucking you thumb at five or six any different from my little problem of eating an entire bag of Kettle Corn in one sitting? To this day I can’t bring a bag (chips), a box (cookies) or a carton (ice cream) into my house without eating the contents within 24 hours.
      If it’s that’s hard for me as an adult to lay off the Chex Mix it’s got to be murder for a five year old to quit their thumb. So I got the idea of my little girl character, Lulu, to come up with a twelve-step program to kick the habit. Being a former thumb sucker myself I had a lot of memories to draw from. I remember declaring that I had stopped only to hide behind the sofa a few hours later to be with my thumb. I remember being so glad that my cousin Judy still sucked her thumb—and then going over to her house for a sleepover and the horror of hearing her say, “Are you still doing that? I stopped doing that ages ago!”
     I’ve written many picture books over the years. Some are difficult to write and have to be put away and then looked at a few years later. THUMB LOVE was not one of those. It was tremendous fun to write and came straight from my own thumb loving younger self.
     As I write there’s not a chip or M&M anywhere in my house right now—you could say I’ve gone cold turkey. But I’m starting to feel anxious and, and, don’t tell anyone—but I might have to go back to loving my thumb.

Here is my review of this sweet picture book:

Elise Primavera
Picture Book
Ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2010, 978-0-375-84481-2
   Lulu is a little girl who has a close relationship with her thumb. Yes, I did say her thumb. You see, Lulu loves to suck her thumb. It is there for her wherever she is, and it is available whatever she is doing (if she does not need both hands that is.) Lulu even sucks her thumb at her birthday party, which is when her grandmother asks her a dreadful question: “Don’t you think you’re too old for that thumb?”
    It is around this time that the snickering begins. Other kids start to laugh at Lulu because she is still sucking her thumb. Even Lulu’s cousin Lili, who has always sucked her thumb, laughs at Lulu. Apparently, Lili stopped sucking her thumb “ages ago.” Will Lulu ever be able to end her relationship with her thumb?
   In this amusing picture book, Elise Primavera follows one little girl’s struggles as she comes to terms with the fact that she cannot suck her thumb for the rest of her life. In addition to Lulu’s story, there is also a section of the book that is all about Lulu’s difficult twelve-step journey to quit her thumb addiction. Lulu offers readers tips, tricks, and encouragement to other thumb suckers, and she reminds them “If you fail…try again!”

BOOK GIVEAWAY! If you would like a copy of this book please drop me a line. The publisher is giving me three copies to giveaway.

Please visit the other sites on this Blog Book Tour:

October 11th – Booking Mama                             http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
October 12th – Through the Looking Glass            http://lookingglassreview.blogspot.com/
October 13th – Random Acts of Reading               http://randomactsofreading.wordpress.com/
October 14th – Two Writing Teachers                    http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com
October 15th – Where the Best Books Are            http://wherethebestbooksare.blogspot.com
October 16th – The Book Faerie                           http://www.bkfaerie.blogspot.com
October 17th – Picture Book Review                     http://picturebookreview.com/
October 18th – Mundie Moms                              http://mundiekids.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Book Give Away from Tiger Tales

A Book Give-Away from Tiger Tales

Five Little Pumpkins (Padded Board Books)

Just in time for Halloween!  Three lucky winners will receive a copy of our “sold out” Halloween title:  Five Little Pumpkins. 
The response to this new book has been so great that we don’t have a single copy left in our warehouse, but a copy can be yours when you enter our give-away. There are three easy ways to win:
  • Comment on our blog at www.tigertalesbooks.com.
  • Comment on our facebook fanpage.
  • Re-tweet our giveaway announcement on twitter.
Three winners will be announced on Monday, October 18. Enter before October 17th to be eligible to win! Note:  The winners must reside in the US and have a US shipping address.

Poetry Friday - A review of Here's a Little Poem

I have to say that I honestly believe that a child is never really too young to listen to poetry. Even if they have no clue what you saying, little children enjoy the sound of your voice, the musical ups and downs that are inherent in so many poems. The book I reviewed here is perfect for young children. The poems were carefully chosen to suit little children, and the art work is quite delightful to look at.

Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar
For ages 3 to 6
Candlewick Press, 2007, 978-0-7636-3141-3
   When you are a young child, long poems, like long books or long dresses or long beds, are not a good fit. You need poems that are short, sweet, and written just for someone who is your age. For this memorable collection, Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek have brought together old poems and new ones that are especially suited to children who are exploring poetry for the first time.
   The book is divided into four sections, each one of which focuses on one aspect of a young child’s life. In “Me, Myself, and I” there are bright and warm poems that look at the world as seen through the eyes of a child. There are poems about “me” and “I” and “we.” There are poems about food and getting dressed, about falling down stairs and jumping. There are birthday poems, a piggy back poem, and even a tantrum poem.
   The section called “Who lives in my house?” explores the various people and animals that young children live with. There are cats, hamsters, puppies, siblings, parents, and grandparents. Sometimes the times shared are wonderful, like when a cat kisses its little child awake with “sandpaper kisses.” Sometimes they are confusing, like the time when a little boy wonders why his mother is having a baby. After all, “what’s the matter with me?” he asks.
   Next, we “Go Outside,” to eat ice cream, to plant a little seed, to go to the beach, and to walk in the rain. Oh, and don’t forget playing in the mud. There is nothing quite like wallowing in “glorious mud!”
   And then there are the “Time for bed poems,” the poems that are full of cozy moments, bedtime stories, hugs, cuddles, and sleepy dreams that curl around the bed and that float out of the window.
   Throughout this collection, the words of Hilaire Beloc, Nikki Grimes, Jane Yolen, A.A. Milne and many other poets are accompanied by the charming and whimsical multimedia illustrations created by Polly Dunbar. This is a stellar collection that will show little children how wonderful poems can be. 
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