It’s Friday afternoon. You’re just watching the clock tick, waiting to go home for the weekend. Sounds like it’s time for another Library YouTube Break. And a funny one, too!
The Colbert Report on Comedy Central never pulls any punches in the search for laughs and satirical commentary. Stephen Colbert and his writers are masters of political and cultural lampoonery. Earlier this week, the host interviewed Maurice Sendak, world-famous author and illustrator of such children’s books as Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup With Rice.
It’s obvious Sendak’s in on the game, and he answers questions with a biting honesty that’s only accepted from people who have lived long enough on Planet Earth.
After you watch Part 1 below, be sure and check out part 2 on Hulu, where you’ll get Sendak’s unedited opinions on children’s book illustrators and e-books. Too, too hilarious.
Brian Selznick’s new children’s book, Wonderstruck, is out now, and it’s a wonder to read. I’m halfway through it and will do a review later. Please don’t think this book is just for kids. It’s great for adults, and would make an absolutely wonderful shared reading experience with the young people in your life.
Wonderstruck tells two intertwining stories. One story stars young Ben in 1977, and is told in prose. The other story is about a girl named Rose in 1927, and is told completely through Selznick’s amazing illustrations. To find out more, watch this tantalizing trailer from Scholastic Press.
Selznick is also the author behind the award-wining The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Like Wonderstruck, it is told with both words and pictures. The book has been made into a movie by Martin Scorsese and will debut on the big screen this Thanksgiving. But you can watch the trailer now!
Much has been written, and there’s been much discussion, about the gender gap in reading between boys and girls. A recent study points out that girls are closing their gap with boys when it comes to math, but boys still lag behind girls when it comes to reading.
Depending on the research or analysis of the research, we often hear that boys read less, or that they read simpler books. And, of course, there are folks out there who have ideas about how to get boys reading more.
There also seems to be a lack of respect about the books boys read: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, graphic novels all have their detractors.
Enter author and reading advocate Jon Scieszka, who was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress in 2008. Schieszka is interested in getting all young people to read, but he has a particular interest in getting boys to read. He started Guys Read, a non-profit literacy organization, and his Guys Read web page is Literary Kitty’s site of the week. Cause, Literary Kitty is a guy, don’t you know! (OK, Kitty P., don’t get started!)
We have literacy programs for adults and families. GUYS READ is our chance to call attention to boys’ literacy.”
The raison d’etre and mission of Guys Reads is explained beautifully here. Visitors to the site can get books suggestions for reluctant readers, submit their own suggestions, and find out how to start a local Guys Read chapter.
Note that the site often focuses on boys in elementary and middle school grades, not older teens. But, the best way to get guys reading, is to catch ‘em and inspire ‘em while they’re young.
Watch Jon Scieszka’s interview with the folks at Reading Rockets.
Check out Szieszka’s book page on Amazon.
Boys like real life stories. Szieszka’s Guys Write for Guys Read is an anthology of authors writing about their experiences as boys.
Why are things the way they are? Why are there stars? Why do alligators have scaly skin? Why do rabbits have those cute powder puff tails? Why do buzzards have bald heads? Native American mythology often employs the character of the trickster to explain the state of the world and its creatures.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trickster as: a cunning or deceptive character appearing in various forms in the folklore of many cultures.
A trickster can be a god or spiritual being, or simply another human being or animal. The stories of the Native American tricksters (which are typically in animal form) have been oral tales told through the centuries, passed down from one generation to the next. The tales often incorporate a moral, imparting a lesson for young listeners.
These stories are being retold more and more in book form, and now comic book creator Matt Dembicki has brought together more than 40 storytellers and illustrators for TRICKSTER Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection.
This collection of 21 tales marks the first time such stories have been told in a graphic or cartoon format. Editor Dembicki explains how the book came about:
“As a comic book creator and someone who appreciates nature, I mulled over the appeal of producing Native American trickster stories in a sequential format. A little research revealed that such a book didn’t exist. For this book, I wanted to be authentic, meaning they would have to be written by Native American storytellers… The storytellers each selected an artist from a pool of contributing talents to render their stories. Additionally, the storytellers approved the storyboards. In terms of editing, text was changed only when panel space was an issue and only with the approval of the storyteller. The point wasn’t to westernize the stories for general consumption, but rather to provide an opportunity to experience authentic Native American stories…”
Four storytellers with Oklahoma roots have contributed their stories to the collection: Joyce Bear, Greg Rodgers, Michael Thompson and Tim Tingle; and Oklahoma artist Roy Boney Jr. illustrated one of the tales.
The book is a delight for readers of all ages, but it would be especially perfect for reading to children. I remember my mom reading Aesop’s Fables to me, and I can see young people experiencing that same kind of wonder by hearing and, in this case, seeing, the tales of the Trickster.
Young Bill Young is really behind the times. And really unhip. My sister and brother-in-law bought my grandnephew,Tyler, a four-volume set of the first four books in The Magic Tree House series. Tyler says other kids in his class are reading the book. And I’m, like, “so this is the hot, new series for kids just getting into chapter books.”
Not so. Turns out, Mary Pope Osborne wrote the first Magic Tree House book way back in 1992, which, of course, is ancient history to today’s seven-year-olds. The series has been delighting young readers for almost two decades.
The great thing about the books, is that they promote the adventure of reading. The magic tree house is filled with books that take Jack and Annie on adventures around the world and across time. Crack open one of the books and you’re off to wondrous new places.
Tyler definitely gives them a thumbs up. A couple of weekends ago, the family was trying to get out the door to dinner. Tyler said, “Just let me finish this page!” This was agravating, because we were cutting it close to make our 6:30 p.m. reservation. And it was priceless, because he was so into the story, he didn’t want to stop reading. Looks like The Magic Tree House‘s mission has been accomplished with the young boy in our family.
Have the young people in your family discovered The Magic Tree House? If so, let me know what they thought about the books, and tell me if they made a difference in the child’s enthusiasm for reading.
By the way, The Magic Tree House website looks almost as fun as the books!
The American Library Association has just held its annual Mid-Winter meeting. The big news out of this yearly gathering is the announcement of the Newberry and Caldecott medalists, recognizing the outstanding works for children. So, without further ado, here we go…
John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
• Moon over Manifest, written by Clare Vanderpool, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Four Newbery Honor Books also were named:
• Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
• Heart of a Samurai, written by Margi Preus and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.
• Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Harcour.
• One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
• A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. The book was written by Philip C. Stead, and is a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.
Two Caldecott Honor Books also were named:
• Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
• Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein and published by Candlewick Press.
A number of interesting literary items to report as we enter the homestretch to the weekend.
First up: A podcast from three Oklahoma young adult librarians that’s just perfect for Halloween. Adrienne, Emily and Karl review the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalesiter. We like the quote from the Booklist review on the Amazon.com site:
Can the chatter of the YA nerdosphere launch a successful book? This imaginative collection answers with a resounding yes. Beginning in February 2007, editors Black and Larbalestier debated zombies’ and unicorns’ strengths and weaknesses on Larbalestier’s blog, and the resulting interest roped in stories from a number of impressive authors…”
Only young adult authors and librarians could come up with this kind of stuff, and you have to admit that it’s pretty much beyond kewl!
Speaking of Zombies, AMC launches it’s new series The Walking Dead this Sunday. It’s based on Robert Kirkman‘s monthly comic book series, which is also beyond kewl! Go here for an Interview with Kirkman on the adaptation of his work to the small screen.
The Oklahoma Library Association held their biennial Mildred Laughlin Festival of Books for Young People yesterday in Midwest City. More than 100 Oklahoma youth librarians attended the event at the Tom Steed Center at Rose State College. Special guests were children’s author and illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger, chilidren’s author Stephen Krensky, and Tamora Pierce, author of fantasy literature for young adults. I have to tell you, I was completely blown away by Seeger’s talent, and I’m going to be getting her Lemons are not Red and One Boy books for my grandniece, Brooklyn. Also loved Krensky’s What Do You See? and I picked up a copy of that. Pierce is a big, popular talent with young people, and two of her teenage fans trekked from southeastern Oklahoma to meet their favorite author. ‘Twas a good day!
…we leave you with a slide show from The Huffington Post Blog on Nine Non-Writers Who Influenced Literary History. Who knew? You do now.
Halloween is just around the corner, so it’s time to recommend an appropriate holiday book for the youngsters in your life. How about Mostly Monsterly by Oklahoma’s own Tammi Sauer? Yes! Definitely Mostly Monsterly! Personally, I can’t wait to get a signed copy for my grand niece, Brooklyn.
Then I went here…
Many children’s books are about kids accepting themselves just as they are—a so very important lesson for young people since they will meet a diversity of human beings as they grow up and move through life. If they can accept their own quirks and idiosyncrasies, isn’t it easier for them to accept the oddness of others? It’s a great lesson for our young ones, and Sauer does it so well.
And since I’m a Tammi Sauer fan, and I’m obviously indoctrinating the kids in my family, I told you this:
Just last weekend, my sister read Sauer’s Cowboy Camp to my grandnephew, Tyler. It’s all about Cowboy Avery, the most unlikely cowboy in the world, who saves his fellow campers from the meanest cowboy in the world; and he does it just by being himself. Brooklyn is already a fan of Sauer’s award-winning Chicken Dance, which is about hens Lola and Marge, and how they reach their dream, just by being themselves.
And then I had a Eureka! moment:
But where Cowboy Avery inadvertently succeeds by being himself, and Lola and Marge must make a conscience decision to be themselves (because they have no other choice), the protagonist of Mostly Monsterly has to work to fit in with her monster friends without compromising her personality and unique self.
Mostly Monsterly is the story of Bernadette, a little monster who has the unfortunate quality of being… sweet. She likes kittens and flowers and loves to bake. Her monster friends are appalled by Bernadette’s goodness, and our little monster must find a way to fit in with her antagonistic buddies, and still be true to herself. The solution Bernadette comes up with is the punch line, the guffaw, the laugh-out-loud part of the book. But beyond the entertainment lies a theme that author Sauer has been playing with and expanding upon during the course of her career. What we have here, folks, is the third book in a great little trilogy about acceptance and self worth.
And then I added these distracting bold lead-ins and changed the post title before closing:
Get a behind-the-scenes look at creating Mostly Monsterly on the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog. And then go immediately to your bookstore or library and get you and your young one some Tammi Sauer reading!
Carolyn Leonard has sent out a Writers reminder for May 2010. Have a peek to see all the writing news, events and workshops going on. Thanks Carolyn for keeping us updated.
I talked to Una Belle Townsend at the Oklahoma Library Association meeting . If you haven’t met Una Belle, then you missed meeting a fantastic person as well as a great children’s book author. She gave me a business card with a new Oklahoma authors website for Childrens Authors and Illustrators.
First entry are great pictures from the Oklahoma Center for the Book Awards, I hope they don’t mind my sharing these here. There’s biographical information, upcoming events, works by the different authors, a one stop shopping for Oklahoma Children’s Authors.
Young Bill Young here. Sadie posted an interesting opinion on her Extremely Graphic blog about how you really shouldn’t buy books as gifts, because you really can’t make that pick for another person. Aside from pretty coffee table books and gift cards from bookstores (which I truly love), I completely agree with her when it comes to adults. But not when it comes to children.
I have a nephew and niece and I always give them books for their birthdays and for Christmas. I think children should be surrounded by books. Beyond the initial reading to the youngster, many of these books may never be picked up again. Many of these books may be re-discovered later in the child’s life. And, of course, many of the books may be discovered by visiting friends or by younger brothers and sisters. (I read my sister’s books all the time. She’s a decade older, so I was exposed to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, Bullfinch’s Mythology, and Little Women at an early age. Heck, I even read her Archie and romance comic books, which explains why I am totally warped!)
Since I promised another book gift idea for children, here you have it: If My Dad Were a Dog by Annabel Tellis. It features great photo illustrations of a big, lovable Lab and sing-song text that will appeal to ears of all ages: “If my dad were a dog, just for a day,/I’d tell him to sit and I’d tell him to stay….I’d buy him a basket and small scoop to use/when we’ve been on our walks and he’s done daddy-doos.” No, this book will never become a children’s classic, but I’m looking forward to some laughs and camaraderie when I share it this season with my nephew.
So, what books are you getting for the young people in your life?