29 December 2004

Disaster Aid

Amazon will allow customers to give directly to the Red Cross via their web site. Money seems like such a teeny, insubstanstial thing to do in the face of so much suffering, but I guess all our pennies add up.

I have no other words to say about the tsunami. I feel so overwhelmed with the images and news coming our way that I cannot articulate my sorrow. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be to have been there or to have family and friends there.

After a child asked for a book on tsunamis yesterday, I put up a display of news photos and headlines (nothing too graphic -- it is a children's department after all) with all of our books on tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, and natural disaster, along with books about the countries so devastated by this horror. I saw some girls looking at the display and leafing through a book on Malaysia a little while ago. If this helps us to realize that we are all part of the same human family, maybe at least some sliver of good can come from it?

28 December 2004

What Would Steinbeck Say...

... about the closing of the Salinas libraries?

"He'd obviously be upset. He knew that literature can lift and elevate the spirit and enable humans to rise above any situation... He probably even read some of the great literature at the Salinas library."

Read the rest.

27 December 2004

Coming soon: Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka

Click here to reach a link to a teaser trailer for the forthcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film.

Yeah, it's a stereotype, but it's still funny...

Check out today's Fox Trot.

22 December 2004

I feel ill...

From The Guardian: What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke.

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."

Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

Read the rest.

Thanks to JudithR for the link.

Happy Birthday!

Birthday wishes to Jerry Pinkney, who turns 65 today.

Mr. Pinkney has been beautifully illustrating children's books for more than 35 years. He has the rare distinction of being the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals -- for Mirandy and Brother Wind by Patricia McKissack in 1989, The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci in 1990, John Henry by Julius Lester in 1995, The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen in 2000, and Noah's Ark (which he also wrote) in 2003.

In addition, he has received the Coretta Scott King Award five times and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award twice. Many of his books have been cited as notable books by the American Library Association and the National Council of Social Studies/Children's Book Council.

I love that Mr. Pinkney has said, "Books give me a great feeling of personal and artistic satisfaction. When I'm working on a book, I wish the phone would never ring. I love doing it. My satisfaction comes from the actual marks on the paper… when it sings, it's magic."

His books are magic. Many thanks and best wishes for the year ahead!

No free books

From the State Journal-Register Online: "Santa Claus may bring books to your kids this holiday season, but Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't. His administration quietly dropped plans to partner with a Tennessee foundation to offer free, age-appropriate books to Illinois children younger than 5."

I know a lot of librarians who were upset with the plan or thought it threatened libraries, but I think anything that brings books into a child's home is positive (although I did think some of the proposed book titles weren't "age-appropriate" and suggested some alternatives).

Read the rest.

21 December 2004


Playing now, It's a Wonderful Life in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.


Tastylicious potatoes

So, I don't usually post recipes, *but*... I love, love, love this Potato and Onion Tart and had, sadly, lost the recipe. After searching through a stack of old newspapers, I finally re-found the recipe and do not want to lose it again. If I put it here, I should be able to keep track of it and (bonus!) some of you may get to experience its yumminess. I like to serve this dish with a green salad and a little wine. Enjoy!

Yummy Potato and Onion Tart

1 large (about 9 oz) Idaho potato, peeled and thinly sliced
6 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 c shredded Swiss cheese
½ c dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375° F.

  • In small bowl, toss potato slices with 1 Tbsp melted butter and salt.
  • Arrange slices in 10-inch pie pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  • In medium skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onion in 3 Tbsp melted butter until soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to low, sprinkle the onion with sugar, and continue (stirring occasionally) to cook until onions are deep brown, but not burned or crispy, about 10 minutes.
  • When potatoes are done, remove from oven and spread onion mixture over them.
  • Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.
  • In small bowl, combine bread crumbs with remaining two Tbsp of melted butter and sprinkle the mixture over the cheese.
  • Return the tart to the oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and crumb topping is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let tart cool 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: about 255 cal., 8 g. pro., 19 g. carbo., 17 g. fat, 28 mg. chol., 470 mg. sodium.

Note: substituting reduced-fat Swiss cheese will reduce calories and fat.

July 16, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released at 12:01am that day. I, having pre-ordered the British edition, plan to be at Borders nonetheless to revel in the sight of hundreds of children lined up excitedly waiting for a BOOK!

20 December 2004

Didja miss me?

Assuming I haven't *completely* lost my couple of readers, I guess I should apologize for being so remiss in posting over the past few weeks. I went out of town with Science Boy, to visit my brother and sister in Phoenix. We had a lovely time -- thanks for asking -- despite the fact that we were both sick for much of the trip. One of the highlights was having the chance to see the Geminid Meteor Shower in a significantly darker setting than we are used to. Bee-you-tee-ful! We followed NASA's advice and packed some cocoa, borrowed my brother's Jeep, and headed for a desert-y setting near Lake Pleasant. It was amazing. We counted 131 meteors in just about one hour.

Anyway, now I have mountains of work to catch up on. Sigh. Why can't work temporarily pause while we're away? It almost makes vacations more trouble than they're worth. (ALMOST.)

There were a number of things I thought about blogging over the past few weeks, but I suspect most of them are old news now, so I'll probably just start anew today. We'll see how the day goes....

30 November 2004

Say it ain't so, Tavis!

Talk-show host Tavis Smiley said Monday he will be leaving National Public Radio, which he said has tried hard but fallen short of reaching "a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio."

Smiley, 40, said Monday that Dec. 16 will be his last day as host of "The Tavis Smiley Show."

Read the rest.

This sucks. I love his show. He said, "NPR's own research has confirmed that NPR has simply failed to meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply don't know it exists or what it offers." Well, then, STAY! You have only been on-air for 3 years! Give it a few more!


29 November 2004

Really, Dearlings, some books will suffice

"Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank PNC Financial Services Group Inc. does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much all the the drummers drumming, pipers piping, turtle doves and golden rings would set you back if you bought them for your true love at today's prices....

So what are all the gifts going for this year? If they were bought repeatedly on each day as the song suggests, they'd hit $66,334, up from $65,264 last year."

Learn more.

I guess library patrons aren't always the sharpest tools in the shed...

"LIBRARIANS in West Berkshire were troubled recently by a glut of requests from customers greedy for diet books that don’t exist.

Slimmers in the area were asking for books such as Now You Can Eat All The Pies and Lose Your Bum while Sitting On It...."

For the rest of the story, click here.

Thanks to lalcorn for the link.

in memoriam

A colleague just informed me that Francess Lanz, author of a number of children's books, died last week. She was 52 years old. I'll post an obit as soon as one is available on-line.

Plath's Daughter Pleads: Let Her Rest in Peace

Sylvia Plath's daughter pleaded from the heart -- enough is enough.

Forty years after her mother committed suicide, one of the most famous poets of the 20th century still exerts an enduring, almost morbid fascination. Unrelenting analysis of her short, but tragic life shows no signs of fading.

"Leave them in peace," Frieda Hughes said of her mother, who killed herself in 1963 at the age of 30 and of her father, Ted Hughes, vilified by critics as a philanderer who drove the clinically depressed poet to suicidal despair.

Read the rest.

in memoriam

Best-selling author, Arthur Hailey, has died at his home in the Bahamas. He was 84 years old. His best known books include Airplane and Hotel. His wife said, "Arthur was a very humble man but was delighted with the letters he used to get from readers praising his books. He was incredibly proud of them."
Read more here.

Chicago artist, Ed Paschke, has also died. The Tribune says, "Ed Paschke, 65, one of the most celebrated Chicago-born painters for three decades and an artist known as much for his generosity as for his work, died in his sleep at his North Side home, apparently on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 25." Read the rest. Read more here. (The awesome photo of Paschke is by John Reilly, a Chicago photographer.)

27 November 2004

Happy Birthday!

Kevin Henkes, author and illustrator extraordinaire, celebrates a birthday today. Over the years, he has created some of the most memorable picture books of our time. The perennial favorite is, of course, Lilly's Plastic Purple Purse. I am very hopeful that Kitten's First Full Moon will be the winner of next year's Caldecott medal. It is one of the most simplistically beautiful picture books I have seen in a long while.

Happy Birthday, Kevin!

24 November 2004

Happy Birthday, dearest Jonathon!

Happy, happy birthday to my amazing Pirate nephew, Jonathon, who turns four years old today! In just under 2 weeks, I will be in Phoenix to give you a huge birthday hug. I love you!

22 November 2004

shout out

Check out my amazing and talented friend, Ayanna! I'm adding her to the list o' blogs to the right there, but she deserved a special mention all her own, so here it is -- Go read her!

and the winners are...

I know this is a bit late, but here are the winners of the National Book Awards (announced last week):

Non-Fiction: Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Young People's Literature: Godless by Pete Hautman

Poetry: Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003 by Jean Valentine

Fiction: The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck

21 November 2004

so sad...

Trina Schart Hyman died Saturday night following a battle with cancer. She was just 65 years old. I was able to correspond with her briefly while working on a card catalog auction (she sent us signed proofs from The Serpent Slayer) and I found her to be lovely and generous. My heart is heavy...

I am afraid to comment...

... but I am seriously giggling at the Jesus of the Week site. I especially like this little guy.

(I hope I'm not going to Hell for this! ;-)

how come no one writes books like *this* for children anymore?

When I was a little girl, one of my absolute favorite books was Der Stuwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann. My Grandpa Baumle gave me a German language version of the book and would translate it for me when he visited from Florida. When I was a little older, my grade-school librarian gave me the school's English language blue paperback (published by Grolier, I think?) when she noticed that I was the only one who checked it out -- and I checked it out a lot.

My brothers and I *adored* these scary rhymes! One brother liked to play with fire, so we read "The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches", with the kittens' pitiful cries: "Make haste, make haste! me-ow! me-o! / She'll burn to death,- we told her so." The other brother was forever sucking his fingers, which called for "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb". From what I gather, these lines caused my brother terror for years (and never did "cure" him):

"The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he's about
He takes his great sharp scissors
And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then
You know, they never grow again."

When Pyromaniac brother's son was born, we sent him an English language version of the book. I don't know if my nephew's mama will let him read the book -- many people seem appalled that we had this as children! -- but I hope one day he knows the rhymes and passes them down, too.

All this to say that I found a rockin' cool Struwwelpeter site today, enabling you to check out different translations and to read the entire book on-line.

(I dunno. Maybe we were just less sensitive in general back in the day? I mean, the Grimm tales I read with greedy gusto from the age of four or so on would cause more than a few raised eyeborws were I to bring them out in Story time...)

Give the gift of free books

Visiting the Literacy Site and clicking on the "Give Free Books" button there "generates books for children in need, funded by site sponsors and provided through our award winning charity partner, First Book. In the last three years, First Book has distributed over 20 million books to children in hundreds of communities."

So, go! Now! Every day! I will try to add a picture link up there in the sidebar to help you remember...

As a librarian, this makes absolute and perfect sense to me

"The tall shelves in Abobe Bookshop display such standard headers as Fiction, History and Gardening. But these labels mean nothing -- at least for the next few weeks.

The only organizing principle currently at work in the Mission District store is visible as soon as one walks past the metal grate and into the cozy, creaky confines: The more than 20,000 used books that line the shop's walls have been grouped according to their place in the color spectrum. Red books are by the entrance, followed, in order, by orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet ones. The remaining space is left for white and black books."

Of course! Patrons are *always* looking for books based on color and size (although, sadly, often the book is a different color than the one they remembered). Read more about this ground-breaking display...

20 November 2004

seen soaped on a van window in the library parking lot when I came back from lunch...

"Bass Clarinets rock!!!!"

Well, duh.

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

The theme for the Marshall Field's Christmas windows this year will be Snow White. Yay. Hopefully, we'll make it down on Thanksgiving night to see. Should be loverly.

Did they move to the City? Well, prices *are* awfully high in the north 'burbs...

Leaving for work this morning, Science Boy and I saw two black squirrels down the street from his new apartment. I have never seen anything like that and wasn't even 100% sure what I was looking at initially. It was pretty amazing. I am gonna try to remember to take my camera *out* of my purse to take a snapshot next time! Way cool.

There's some info about the squirrels, specific to the Chicago area, here. While looking for stuff on black squirrels in general, I found this informative site about the SIB (Squirrels in Black). Also, the Cult of the Black Squirrel.

Scary stuff

From the website for the Libraries of Buffalo & Erie County:

The proposed $19 million cut represents an 80% reduction from the $24 million in library property tax received from Erie County in 2004. The loss of these local funds triggers a reduction of an additional $2.8 million in State Library Aid as well as the loss of other library operating revenue. All 52 libraries across Erie County WILL CLOSE!

Holy crap.

I don't know how serious library officials there are about actually closing all the libraries or how long they think they'll remain closed for. I do know that I think this is a brilliant (though terrifying) idea (If, indeed, it will be done as a temporary measure). So many times, we don't realize what we have until it is gone. I can think of no more powerful way to hammer home the importance of public libraries than to make patrons imagine a day (or week) without them.

It will be interesting to see if this plea for appropriate Library funding will be heeded or if the Erie County legislature will call the bluff and libraries will close. Stayed tuned...


Chris Van Allsburg seems to feel the same way about The Polar Express that I do:

"Did I feel the film was respectful and faithful to the book? Yes. Was it thrilling to behold? Yes. Would I change some things? Yes."

Like what?

He grins. "That's too long a list," he says.

I think I agree. There were lots of things I wasn't wild about, a few that downright bug the heck out of me. Overall, though, I *did* like the film. When I saw it with my best friend and her kids last week, I thought that visually, it is beautiful. I saw it in 3-D with Science Boy last night and it was even more amazing. Also, when we saw it with the kids last week, it held 2-1/2 year old Miss Belle's attention pretty well. When Santa came on screen, she actually gasped in wonder. Pretty good stuff.

Still, the book is ever so much more magical...

Read the rest of the Van Allsburg article.

15 November 2004

Change the world, one soda at a time

So, I love Leona's. I love Leona's mostly because it offers me yummy vegetarian options and my meat-eating friends are happy, too. This past Saturday, we went to the Leona's in Calumet City. When my friend asked for a second soda, the waiter told her that there are no free refills on soda -- each drink is $1.75! (He also told us that "Yeah, they're pretty cheap here.")

She did not get another soda. We tried and tried to think of another restaurant that charges her for soda refills, to no avail. We were honestly shocked. Since she regularly drinks 4 or 5 sodas during one meal, this is a real deal-breaker for us.

Our total bill -- dinner, dessert, wine for me, pop for her -- was $43; we left a $8 tip. So, for $51, it doesn't seem unreasonable that she could get a few sodas -- which are, after all, essentially (inexpensive) carbonated water and flavor syrup.

So, today, I e-mailed Leona's customer service and told them essentially what I just wrote above. (In fact, I cut and pasted some of my e-mail to tell y'all the story...) I also asked them to consider changing this policy and told them I was very sad that I would no longer be frequenting Leona's with this particular friend.

I didn't think this was unreasonable. I didn't complain about spending $5.00 on my glass of Merlot (or expect free refills of that). I didn't whine that adding broccoli to my pasta added $2.00 to my bill. Just free refills on soda pop. Every other restaurant in the same general price range of Leona's (and some of the more expensive ones, too) offer this. Why not them?

After a few hours, I got an e-mail back from Laura Linder, Leona’s Customer Service. She wrote:

"A lot of restaurants do offer soda refills but most of them serve their beverages in 12oz to 16oz size glasses, our sodas are served in 32oz glasses. Due to the size of the beverage we do not offer refills. We feel that a 32oz soda for $1.75 is a really good deal. Unfortunately we will not be changing our policy to include free refills."

I e-mailed the friend with whom this all started. She said, "They could use smaller glasses... 32 oz is a lot. i bet a lot of people don't even drink it all. then one person could have 1 16oz and someone else could have 3 and it would all be the same."

Yup. But, even if they continued to use large glasses...

It's not like everything on their menu is ultra cheap. We dropped over $25 each Saturday. Plus, soda is *cheap*. In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser reports that "The fast food chains purchase Coca-Cola for about $4.25 a gallon. A medium Coke that sells for $1.29 contains roughly 9 cents' worth of syrup." (Fast Food Nation, p. 54, 286)

So what's the problem? The profit margin on soda is HUGE. How many ounces are in a gallon? Let me check... 128 fluid ounces.

I decided to find out big this medium McDonald's soft drink that Schlosser references in Fast Food Nation actually is. The answer? 21 ounces. The large soda is 32 ounces, which is equal to what Leona's serves, according to the e-mail I received.

So, Schlosser reports that syrup for a medium (21 oz.) Coke is 9 cents. He says ordering the large (32 oz.) drink increases the price of the syrup used by just 3 cents. (Fast Food Nation, p. 54) So, we have 12 cents worth of syrup for a soda that costs $1.75. (I believe that Leona's serves Pepsi products, but for the sake of the point I am trying to make here, we will assume the cost is comparable.)

Of course, larger drinks means less drinks gotten out of each gallon. If each ounce costs roughly 3.3 cents (Fast Food Nation, p. 286), then 12 cents worth of syrup (for a 32 ounce drink) would be 3.6 ounces of syrup? Is that right? I think so.

So. 128 ounces of syrup per gallon divided by 3.6 ounces of syrup per large soft drink equals... 35.5 drinks per gallon.

35.5 drinks at $1.75 each equals $62.12 made on each gallon of syrup. Subtract the cost of the syrup ($4.25) and the profit per gallon is $57.87.

That's a profit of 1361.65% per gallon of syrup.

Holy crap. Let me say that just once more:

That's a profit of 1361.65% per gallon of syrup.

Y'know, this really shouldn't be a big deal. It's just soda, pop, soft drinks, whatever you call 'em. But it kinda is a big deal. Why? Well, for one it just seems stoopid and unfair. For another, I guess I got snookered by the warm, fuzzy, non-just-concerned-about-profit vibe that Leona's gives off. Damn.

So. If you agree that this no-refills on soda policy is unjust, let the good people at Leona's know.

E-mail Laura Linder, Leona’s Customer Service.

Send a paper letter to Leona's Restaurants Headquarters, 3931 S. Leavitt, Chicago, IL 60609.

Call the headquarters at 1-773-523-7676.

Let them know if this is a deal-breaker for you and if you will be taking your business elsewhere. Tell your friends. Change this small corner of the world.

14 November 2004

What's the gift for one year? Paper?

It is a year ago today that Book Kitten began. I didn't expect to stick with it, let alone to find some readers (thanks, you!).

It's been, and continues to be fun. Would that everything in life were so simple!

12 November 2004

I'm sorry, too

Check this out.

cheaper than cable...

Yeah, so technically you can listen to Chicago Public Radio for free. Still, if you do listen -- and can afford to -- consider pledging a few bucks now. Seriously. When I was in library school, I used to pledge a measly $5 during each pledge drive. What a bargain!

I want Aretha to come to *my* library!


"From the queen of soul to a king of comedy, celebrities are set to fete the opening of the Clinton Library. The week's excitement will come to a peak Thursday when former President Bill Clinton's library is dedicated."

Read the rest.

Seriously, Aretha, you are welcome at my library anytime. Just e-mail me and we'll set it up.


no argument from me...

"For children's fantasy writer Philip Pullman, George W. Bush would make a perfect villain in his epic sagas of good and evil." Read the rest.

Speaking of Pullman, I came across a wonderful site dedicated to the His Dark Materials series. Check it out.

more wonder from Pullman

Here's a review of Philip Pullman's latest offering, The Scarecrow and His Servant. The reviewer says, "Ultimately, this book works because, like all the best stories, it somehow reconnects the reader with a sense of humanity." Alas! the book is not yet available in the US; guess I'll be placing an Amazon UK order someday soon...

Kids' Books on NPR

NPR's Morning Edition featured a segment on children's books this Tuesday past, focusing on books that can help kids and teens deal with Life. One of my favorite books, It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr, was mentioned. Lots of other good stuff, too. Listen to it here.

11 November 2004

Nice. Well, no big shock, I guess ;-)

Thanks to jalcorn for helping me learn "How F**king American" I am:

She also directed me toward the site that revealed my Super Hero Name: Miss Blazin' Pants! Woo-hoo, me!

Sad news

The beautiful and talented Iris Chang is dead. The author of The Rape of Nanking apparently committed suicide.

She was just 36 years old.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Vonnegut

Today is the 82nd birthday of one of my all-time favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut.

One of my very favorite Vonnegut quotes, from God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater:

Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies: Goddammit, you've got to be kind.

Here's wishing Mr. Vonnegut love and kindness and happy days ahead.

03 November 2004

You lost, now go away

WBBM News reports: "Republican Alan Keyes says he'll keep fighting against abortion and corrupt politicians in Illinois.

The Republican gave a combative speech in Chicago tonight that stopped short of conceding the race to Democrat Barack Obama, who scored an overwhelming victory in the U.S. Senate race."

The Chicago Tribune confirms, "His [Keyes] supporters cheered when he vowed to remain in Illinois and continue to fight to rebuild the Republican Party along conservative ideals."

You lost. Shut up and go away.

Do you feel sick?

I do. Of course, I have been valiantly fighting the flu or some other kind of illness the past day or so, but I suspect that is not what ails me today...

So, Science Boy and I were up until 4:30 this morning, watching election returns, hoping against hope for the best. Clearly, all our hopes were not enough. Four more years of our very own evil-doer in the White House is a terrifying prospect for me, to say nothing of what this means for the people of America overall. On the radio this morning, they said that it shows that the country is more conservative than it was four years ago. I think that it also shows that people are more disenfranchised -- for all the hoopla about young voters, they didn't go vote in any larger numbers than usual. What can be done to get people to the polls, to inspire us to vote, to make us think of more than just our own interests? Rhetorical questions, all.


I am very glad that I cannot see into the future, because I think whatever the world looks like four years from now may be more scary than I am willing to contemplate right now.

On the plus side, Barack Obama won. I am so convinced that he will be our President one day, and that gives me some measure of hope. Science Boy doubts that the country will be ready to elect an African-American in our lifetimes but I think that he is wrong. I hope that he is wrong. Looking forward to positive, more energizing candidates in the next election (Hillary is another possibility) is all that's gonna work as a salve on this day.

Damn. Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn.

02 November 2004

Helpful hints

Check out Bookslut's Election Month Survival Guide and have a bottle of some libation handy to help you through the long night ahead.

28 October 2004

quotes o' the moment

Two quotes I came across while cleaning out old computer files today, both from Pete Seeger:

"Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't."

"'Do-so' is more important than 'say-so.'"

27 October 2004

Last chance 'til 2007...

... for you to see a total lunar eclipse! Mr. Eclipse has a nice primer on lunar eclipses (along with some pretty pictures).

Go outside tonight around 8:14 (Central Time) to see the moon start to disappear. By 9:23 p.m., the eclipse should be total.

IF there aren't a gazillion clouds, that is.

Lots more Chicago specific info on the eclipse here.

(p.s. For the record, for those of my friends who live to mock me at the slightest provocation, I have loved lunar eclipses since my father woke us up in the middle of the night back in 1982 and told us a story about a dragon eating the moon. The fact that I love Science Boy is just coincidental. :-)

26 October 2004

Happy Birthday, Steven Kellogg!

Today is the birthday of the wonderful Steven Kellogg.

Not only has Mr. Kellogg created some of the most recognizable -- and well-loved -- art in picture books since 1967 but, maybe more importantly, he seems a genuinely Good Man with a big heart.

I was lucky enough to hear him speak a few years ago and I will never forget how passionately he spoke about children's picture books and the need to read with children. I *have*, apparently, forgotten the exact quote, but I remember him speaking about how a picture book forms a bridge between adult and child. Not just a figurative bridge, he said, but an actual, physical bridge -- as half the book rests on the adult lap, half on the child's -- that serves to strengthen the relationship. I thought that was one of the most true and lovely things I had ever heard. I still do.

One more anecdote. A few years back, I was lucky enough to work on an auction of old card catalogs. I contaced a number of children's authors, asking them to sign cards for their books. Steven Kellogg was one of the most gracious, illustrating all of the cards he signed. I wrote him a thank you note following the auction. Some time later, I was touched to receive a letter back from him, thanking me for all the work I do on behalf of children who visit libraries. That letter meant the world to me and remains one of my prize possessions.

So, God bless Steven Kellogg on his birthday and for many years to come!

25 October 2004

Damn! *That's* gotta hurt! (I hope)

Dunno why this surprised me so much, but my beloved New Yorker has broken tradition: "For the first time in its 80-year history, the venerable New Yorker magazine endorsed a presidential candidate, urging readers Monday to vote for Democrat John Kerry in next week's election.... "

About the current administration, it says: "Its record has been one of failure, arrogance, and -- strikingly for a team that prided itself on crisp professionalism -- incompetence...." The commentary portrayed a president living within "a self-created bubble of faith-based affirmation" -- unable to brook dissent and isolated from genuine debate.

Well, duh.

Read the rest of the Yahoo! article or the entire article at the New Yorker.


from CNN: In what the New York Post billed this week as "Sick kids vs. Disney in Peter Pan dust up," Great Ormond Street hospital for children in London is consulting lawyers over a book published by a Disney subsidiary in the United States.

Read the rest.

20 October 2004

Wish upon a shooting star

Okay, so I am not entirely sure that a meteor shower constitutes as shooting stars, but that's what they look like to me... (And checking the web, I find that that's pretty much *exactly* what they are... Woo-hoo!)

Tomorrow morning will be the best time to view the Orionids. According to About.com: "The best time to view the Orionid meteors is after midnight when Earth's rotation aligns our line of sight with the direction of Earth's motion around the Sun. Then we're heading directly into the stream of meteors. To find the Orionids, go outside and face South-southeast. The radiant, indicated by a red dot on the sky map, is near two of the sky's most familiar landmarks: the constellation Orion and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. At midnight the radiant will be rising in the southeast, and by a.m. Orion will be high in the sky when you face due south."

Another site recommends: "Go outside before sunrise, around 5:30 a.m. is best, and look east. The brightest object in that direction is the planet Venus. It looks like a star going supernova. Above Venus lies Saturn, and below, near the horizon, is Jupiter. Every 10 minutes or so you'll see a meteor streak among these planets. The meteors are pieces of Halley's Comet."

Sadly, it has been pretty cloudy here lately, so I am not sure we will be able to see much, but I'd like to try. Science Boy and I had our first date meeting to see a meteor shower and, all romance aside, it was spectacular. If you've never seen one yet, it's well worth setting your alarm, packing a thermos of coffee, and trying to get out.

98th Birthday of Crockett Johnson

Today is the 98th anniversary of the birth of Crockett Johnson.

Johnson, who was born David Johnson Leisk, was the author and illustrator of many memorable books for children, most notably Harold and the Purple Crayon (and follow-up Harold sagas) and The Carrot Seed, his collaboration with wife Ruth Krauss.

Of The Carrot Seed, Maurice Sendak said: "that perfect picture book, The Carrot Seed (Harper), the granddaddy of all picture books in America, a small revolution of a book that permanently transformed the face of children's book publishing. The Carrot Seed, with not a word or a picture out of place, is dramatic, vivid, precise, concise in every detail. It springs fresh from the real world of children."

Children continue to love The Carrot Seed, Harold, and Crockett Johnson's other works, 59 years after his name first appeared on the cover of a children's book. What a wonderful legacy!

19 October 2004

quote o' the moment

I am looking through a gorgeous new book we just got, The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World and I am blown away by the glorious photography, as well as by the quotes from children. My favorite thus far?

"I don't have a best friend, all my friends are good."
-- Yoni, age 10, Guatemala

Word, Yoni!

The Milestones Project is pretty cool. They aim to create "a photographic tribute to our shared humanity. A million people dimishing hatred, one by one. Check out their website.

"Requiem for a Dreamer"

Editor’s note: What follows is a conversation between Kurt Vonnegut and out-of-print science fiction writer Kilgore Trout. It was to be their last. Trout committed suicide by drinking Drano at midnight on October 15 in Cohoes, New York, after a female psychic using tarot cards predicted that the environmental calamity George W. Bush would once again be elected president of the most powerful nation on the planet by a five-to-four decision of the Supreme Court, which included “100 per-cent of the black vote.”

Read the interview here.

"Writer's young heroes buck the system"

from USA Today (via Yahoo!): "A teen rebelling against his parents is as common in young adult literature as in real life. But critics predict readers will enthusiastically rally behind Luther T. Farrell, Newbery Award winner Christopher Paul Curtis' latest hero, in Bucking the Sarge."

I hope they do! I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book at BookExpo this year (and to have Mr. Curtis sign it at Printer's Row) and I loved it! It is written for an older audience than his earlier works, but has the same power and charm.

Read the rest.

Happy Birthday, Philip!

"We have to be all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in our different worlds, and then we'll build... The Republic of Heaven."
-- from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Birthday wishes to Philip Pullman, author of the unbelievably amazing His Dark Materials books.

If you haven't yet read these books about Lyra and Will and the battle between Heaven and Hell, I recommend you get to a library post haste and check them out. Or, if you'd prefer, check out the wonderful (unabridged) audiobook versions. A full cast, including Pullman, do a perfect job of presenting the world(s) of the series. I have listened to them a few times now and the end of the last book never fails to find me sitting in the driveway weeping.

Thank you for these books, Mr. Pullman! I'm looking forward to seeing what else you have in store for your readers.

14 October 2004

So, what kind of gal *am* I?


Thanks to CatalogueAnnie for the link.

Need a reminder?

from McSweeney's:

"Want to get a phone call from one of your favorite writers? Vote.

If you attend college in a swing state, you are eligible to receive a phone call from an author on November 2 reminding you to vote."

For more info, read the rest.

Where are Joe and Frank when we need them most?

From McSweeney's comes a list of "Titles Of Hardy Boys Books In Which the Villian Could Have Turned Out To Be George W. Bush."

It's that time again

The National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the National Book Awards. I haven't actually read any of the nominees for the Young People's Literature, but my library owns them all (woo-hoo! for us!) so I can start reading them soon...

The right hand knoweth not...

from an article on Ex Libris: Have you noticed an interesting dichotomy between our profession's theory and practice regarding recruitment? While our professional organizations and journals are working hard to recruit the next generation of librarians before we all retire en masse in the next ten years, library administrators and coworkers are treating newly minted young librarians badly -- as Rachel Singer Gordon says, "some of us might cynically think ALA's true campaign recruitment motto is "Recruit, Refuse, Ridicule."

I couldn't agree more. And it isn't just the brand spankin' new librarians who get shafted. In terms of pay, benefits, and general respect given, librarians have, in my experience anyway, often been given the short end of the stick. I know many directors who will fight like mad for a few extra dollars to buy more materials but will not fight to pay their staff fair wages. Of course, I believe that it is good to be committed to your community and to want to afford more materials. However, it is also important for us to demand the respect -- which can often be measured by pay -- that our professionalism and education deserves.

Okay, off the soapbox. Read the rest of the article.

13 October 2004

Woefully remiss

Wow. I have really been slacking off in the blogging department lately! Not even any October birthdays!


It's not that I'm not thinkin' of y'all; it's just been uber-busy. Almost every day, I have a point where I think, "I should blog that!"

But I don't.

In my defense, I've been working lots of hours and spending as many off hours as possible with Science Boy.

And, right now, even as I try to catch up with you, a salesman is here. I promise to try to get back on track.

In the meantime, wishing you all love and peace always...

22 September 2004

Good to know my government is looking out for me

I dunno about y'all, but I know I feel so much safer knowing that our government, in their infinite wisdom, is deporting Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens). According to the Yahoo! story, he "will be deported to Britain after being denied entry to the United States because his activities could be 'linked to terrorism,' a U.S. official said on Wednesday."

Well, of course! A man who famously sang these lyrics must be feared:

"Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun

Oh I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again...

...Now I've been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can't we live in bliss"

(Damn! I have used that song in story hour! Hope my name doesn't end up on a list!)

Plus, of course, he founded the charity Small Kindness, which "works to alleviate the suffering of families and children in the Balkans as well as the Middle East, promoting community development and prosperity by providing relief and educational programs to needy peoples ravaged and made homeless by war and conflict." That's gotta be suspect.

C'mon! I would like to say that this is un-freakin'-believable but, sadly, in W's Amerika, it isn't hard to believe at all.


Read the whole story.

16 September 2004

Hey, Ho!

What's going on?!? The Ramones are dropping like flies!

If I were Tommy Ramone, I think I might be a tad nervous right about now...

15 September 2004

Happy 70th Birthday, Tomie dePaola!

Warmest birthday wishes to Children's Book Giant, Tomie dePaola as he celebrates his 70th birthday!

I just finished our book display of Tomie's books and we will be having a birthday party for him next Tuesday night as the theme of this month's Slumberland Express Pajama Storytime program. We have also been allowing kids to write Tomie special birthday notes, which we will send on to him later.

A man who creates such beautiful -- and accessible -- art deserves a beautiful year ahead!

Judy Blume to receive honorary award

"Judy Blume, a beloved children’s book writer known for such candid tales as Deenie and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, has been named this year’s winner of an honorary National Book Award for contributions to American letters." Read the rest.

13 September 2004

Well, shiver me timbers!

Don't forget to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day this coming Saturday with some well placed "Arrrrr's" and the like. Check out the Talk Like a Pirate Day site for all manner of pirate-y fun.

09 September 2004

Sometimes I love Mayor Daley

In response to Alan Keyes assertion That Jesus would not vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming election, "Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said he's pretty sure Jesus Christ hasn't endorsed anyone in Illinois' U.S. Senate race.... 'I don't think Jesus Christ has endorsed anyone yet,' Mayor Richard M. Daley said. 'I don't know -- we have pastors here. He's not made any official endorsement. If you know that, tell everyone in the world what it is.'" Read the rest.

07 September 2004

Saying I'm "cool..." Isn't that cancelled out by me posting this at all?

I am a fridge!
You are a fridge! You can keep your cool, even when faced with a heated situation. You enjoy being the center of attention, and people come to you for advice or when they want something. People also like to stick things to the front of your body.
What kitchen utensil are YOU?

I dunno if I always keep my cool, although I can certainly pretend to. Don;t like the attention so much, although people do come to me for advice (or at least 'cause I'll listen). As far as that last sentence goes... Well... (blush)

Thanks to Clare at Semi-Evil Squirrel for the link.

01 September 2004

Ex*cuse* me?

I got an e-mail from my friend, Pam, last night alerting me to a letter in this month's issue of Esquire. Apparently, "Answer Fella stood up for men everywhere in July (Man at His Best) when he counseled a reader to ignore his wife's sartorial harping." In September's issue (page 50),a reader wrote in to say, "Hey, AF. I like your advice generally, but don't you think you might be awfully misogynistic, referring to a guy's wife as a shrew and ball breaker merely for saying 'you're not fifty yet'?"

The Answer Fella's response?

"The 'guy' who asked for help was a) a librarian and b) twenty-nine years old. Fact A suggests that he's not quite a man in full to begin with...."


In my experience, guybrarians are brilliant and we all know that smart = sexy as hell. (Not to mention that I've known a fair number of male librarians who are pretty damned hot -- and would be no matter *what* their profession!) Maybe if they grabbed their crotches, spit, and hollered at female patrons from across the room ("Hey, Bay-bee! I got your Chaucer right here!") they'd be somehow more "manly?" Ridiculous!

I plan to write to this "Answer Fella" (maybe he is just feeling threatened because librarians -- guys and chicks alike -- are the *real* Answer Folk?) and tell him how wrong he is. I suggest that all of you out there in blogland might consider dropping him a note, too. You can contact him by going here.

Librarians of the world, unite!

31 August 2004

August birthdays

Here we are, the last day of August, and I have a note on my desk reminding me to blog author birthdays, yet I kept not having time... So, without further ado, who did I miss?

August 28th was the birthday of illustrator/author Kevin Hawkes, whose new work, Sidewalk Circus (written by the amazing Paul Fleischman) has been a huge hit around here. (Their collaboration on Weslandia is one of my favorite picture books.)

August 28 was also the birthday of Tasha Tudor who celebrated her 89th birthday! Ms. Tudor has written or illustrated over 100 books, all with art that is iinstantly familiar. Her website is full of charming photos, examples of her timeless artwork, and fun facts, like this one: "She never allowed running water into her home until she turned fifty, never had central heating until she needed it for her greenhouse which was built when Tasha Tudor was in her 70's."

Last for August 28 (although not least by a long stretch!) is Brian Pinkney, son of Jerry and Gloria Pinkney. He was probably destined to be a shining star in field of children's literature, and he has obliged most impressively. His bold, powerful illustrations have guaranteed that his new books are always snatched off the shelf as soon as we put them out. The cover of Duke Ellington is one of my favorite paintings; I'd love to have a full-sized poster of it!

August 30th would have been the 95th birthday of Virginia Lee Burton. Her best known book, loved by children everywhere since it's publication in 1939, is surely Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. (In an unforgettable passage of Ramona the Pest, Ramona asks her teacher what we all wondered: "Miss Binney, I want to know -- how did Mike Mulligan go to the bathroom when he was digging the basement of the town hall?") Honestly, though, my favorite of her books was always The Little House. Wasn't there a cartoon made of this book? Maybe that influenced my preference...

Donald Crews, author of another perrenial favorite, Freight Train, also celebrated a birthday on August 30th. His bio at the Harper Collins' site reports that "When Donald Crews is asked why he focuses on picture books, he frequently answers, 'Why not?'" I know about a gazillion little boys (and girls, too) who would sound out a hearty "woo-hoo!" that he has chosen to create picture books.

The final August 30 birthday belongs to Laurent de Brunhoff, keeper of the Babar flame. I am a bit embarrassed to confess that, although I sent Babar Christmas cards one year, I have never actually read the books. (Wait! That's not entirely true. I love Yoga for Elephants. In fact, I even conduct a yoga class for kids at the library that bears that name!) I really have to check out that book some day!

Whew! Next month, I will stay more on task!

30 August 2004

Who *hasn't* wanted to do this some days?

From Yahoo!: "'Elderly retired school teacher seeks family willing to adopt grandfather. Will pay.'Lonely Giorgio Angelozzi, 79, published his appeal in the classified pages of daily Corriere della Sera over the weekend, tugging on heart strings across family-loving Italy." Read the rest.

Of course, in my case, it's less about loneliness and more about wanting to be left alone more... (To be fair, I guess I'm lucky none of them have tried to sell me yet, either!)

An Unfortunate Film

There is a trailer for the forthcoming film, A Series of Unfortunate Events available on-line, based on the best-selling series by Lemony Snicket. I love the books and am pretty much looking forward to this, although I do worry that they will give it a happier ending than it should have... Check out the trailer and see what you think.

26 August 2004


RefGrunt is back! (At least for today...)

Still rallying after all of these years...

I love this quote from the Stamford [CT] Advocate: "Folk legend and peace advocate Pete Seeger joined his voice last night with those of a new generation of anti-war activists forged after Sept. 11, 2001.

'This is what life's all about,' Seeger, 85, said in a hallway of the First Congregational Church on the Green a few minutes before the September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows rally. 'Retiring and watching the world go to hell is no way to stay optimistic. Every time I get a crowd singing with me, I get a surge of optimism.'"

Read the rest.

Sometimes, I could just cry...

Tonight, this little boy -- maybe 7 or 8? -- was in here with his older brother. While wandering, he found Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy -- Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets by Dav Pilkey.

He was *so* excited! He came to show me the book and we discussed Captain Underpants a little bit. He told me that he was gonna read the whole book -- all by himself! It was pretty fun to see how happy he was.

So, after a while, it was time for them to go. He showed his mother the book and told her he was gonna read it.


She told him he's "too dumb" to read a chapter book like that. She had chosen a few picture book and cassette kits for him and that's what he would practice on. He begged her, but she stood firm.

He stood here and just breathed, hot and loud and angry. She completely disregarded him, put the Captain Underpants book back on the cart, and made him leave.

I wanted to SCREAM! So what if he has trouble with his reading? It is my firm belief that many children *will* struggle to read a book they really want to read -- and *that* helps them improve! Giving him books he has no interest in (and is angry that he was forced to get) is not going to be helpful. I just pray that his love for books isn't dealt a death blow by the attitudes he's facing!

Swim, bunnies, swim!

Now playing, Jaws in 30 Seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies).

25 August 2004

Which Dylan song are you?

And speaking of The Man, I am one of my favorite tunes!

Which Bob Dylan song are you?

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

In Memoriam

"Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who revolutionized the way the world looks at terminally ill patients with her book On Death and Dying and later as a pioneer for hospice care, has died. She was 78." Read the rest.

"Makes You Wanna Stop and Read a Book"

Bob Dylan "will shed light on his life and four-decade career as a singer-songwriter in a memoir to be published this autumn." Read the rest.

By the way, I saw Dylan perform with Willie Nelson in South Bend Sunday past. Amazing show. First of all, I was able to get super close to the stage. Secondly... Well, Dylan, man! I was struck, though, by the contrast between him amd Willie. Willie was all casual -- sleeveless t-shirt, jeans, long, loose hair, waving to the crowd, tossing out bandanas... Bob was customarily formal -- a suit, recorded introduction, played a helluva show, but no real interaction with the crowd. One gets the sense that he is just a more private, even shyer person that many musicians... If you have a chance to catch the one of the minor league ballpark shows these gents are playing, go!

I feel like a superhero!

As of this afternoon, I can register people to vote.


Bring 'em on!

Birthday Wishes

Two of my favorite people in the world of Children's Literature share a birthday today.

First up, happy birthday to Lane Smith who, until recently, illustrated the Time Warp Trio books. (By the way? What's up with that? Did he and Jon break up? Huh.) He also created several books on his own. I am partial to The Happy Hocky Family. "I have a balloon! Do you have a balloon? I have a balloon!"

Today is also the birthday of Olivia's daddy, Ian Falconer. I have to admit that, when Olivia appeared, I wasn't the biggest fan. In my mind, she was a pale porcine imitation of Eloise. My best friend heard such an opinion as blasphemy, however, so I gave the pig another chance.

And loved her.

Here's wishing both of these gentlemen a most productive year ahead!

19 August 2004

At last! A new novel!

S.E. Hinton has finally, after 16 years, written a new novel. (Alack! and Alas! for all her teen fans, this novel is aimed at adults.)

"A stark race gap - in kids' books"

From the Christian Science Monitor: "It's only been in the last decade or so that African-American children and teenagers have been able to see their experiences carefully rendered in books by African-American authors.

Before the explosion of multicultural children's literature in the early '90s, books by black authors with black protagonists were largely missing from the canon - absent from bookstores and school reading curricula."

Read the rest.

18 August 2004

Birthday memories

Today would have been the birthday of the magical and spendiferous Paula Danziger, who left us far too soon. I am so happy that she will live on forever throughout her books...

Still relevant after 150 years

Walden was published 150 years ago this week.

17 August 2004

New Poet Laureate

Ted Kooser has been appointed the new Poet Laureate of the US.

I particularly like "Flying at Night:"

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Now, if only having lots of good poet laureates lately would help our nation to love poetry again... (To be fair, though, Billy Collins did his damnedest.)

(I realize that LOC will not consult me, but don'tcha think Nikki Giovanni would be a good next choice?)

16 August 2004

Fare thee well, Ranger. Hello, Joe Bloggs.

I always enjoyed The Lost Blogs' Home but, like all good things, it has come to an end. Happily, its creator will still be on-line. Woo-hoo!

The Boy Who Lived

At a reading in Scotland yesterday, J.K. Rowling told a group of young Harry potter fans: "He will survive to book seven, mainly because I don't want to be strangled by you lot, but I don't want to say whether he grows any older than that." The whole story is here.

"Mooses come walking over the hill..."

Saturday, Arlo Guthrie's charming children's book, Mooses Come Walking, was featured on Weekend Edition. I've heard Arlo recite this in concert and am delighted by both the somewhat surreal story and the artwork. You can hear the broadcast here. In my opinion, a definite step above most of the other children's books written by celebrities. (But, of course, since Arlo is a storyteller, that may have something to do with it!)

Politically conscious authors

Well-known authors and illustrators of books for children are being sought to add their names to a new ad for John Kerry under the umbrella name of Authors and Illustrators for Children.

Nobel Prize Winning Author dies

Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish émigré writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980 died Saturday at his home in Krakow. He was 93.

excerpt from "A Poem for the End of the Century"

When everything was fine
And the notion of sin had vanished
And the earth was ready
In universal peace
To consume and rejoice
Without creeds and utopias,

I, for unknown reasons,
Surrounded by the books
Of prophets and theologians,
Of philosophers, poets,
Searched for an answer,
Scowling, grimacing,
Waking up at night, muttering at dawn.

What oppressed me so much
Was a bit shameful.
Talking of it aloud
Would show neither tact nor prudence.
It might even seem an outrage
Against the health of mankind...

...Totally enigmatic.
Impossibly intricate.
Better to stop speech here.
This language is not for people.
Blessed be jubilation.
Vintages and harvests.
Even if not everyone
Is granted serenity.

12 August 2004

sad news

Bill Martin, Jr. died yesterday at the age of 88.

Mr. Martin, of course, was the author of some of the best-loved picture books to come out of the past 50 years. Chicka Chicka ABC was the first book I bought my nephew when I met him (at 7 weeks of age) and we read it so often that I can still recite the book in its entirety quite easily. Another of Jonathon's favorites (and a favorite of children all over the planet, I'm sure) is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? One of my absolute favorite picture books is The Happy Hippopotami: "Happy Hippopotami / On the sunny beach do lie / Like a row of granite boulders / Except, of course, for sunburned shoulders."

Bill Martin, Jr. was one of the brightest stars in the firmament of children's literature. We are all richer for having had him among us and his light will doubtless shine in the smiles of children (and their adults) for generations to come.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Walter Dean Myers, one of the best authors around! I was lucky enough to meet him briefly a few years ago and was thrilled to find that he is also a charming and captivating speaker. His books always make me stop and think; I *still* can't *quite* figure out if I know, in my heart, how Monster ends.

11 August 2004

Which cartoon character are you?

Apparently, I'm a French skunk:

You are Pepe le Pew (without the smell).

You are a lover. Romance, flowers, and wine are all you need to enjoy yourself. You are serious about all commitments. A family person. You call your Mom every Sunday, and never forget a Birthday. Don't let your passion for romance get confused with the real thing.

Hmm... Kinda true, which is scary. Then again, Pepe always entertained me (not that that's too tough), so at least that's cool.

Find out who you are. Thanks to lalcorn for the link.

Happy Birthday, Don Freeman!

"Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store. Day after day he waited with all the other animals and dolls for somebody to come along and take him home..." (from Corduroy by Don Freeman)

When I was in junior high, my English teacher, Mr. Wisowaty, read this book to our class, believing (as I do) that you are never too old for picture books. I remember being captivated.

Later, when I was in high school and my cousin Paul was a baby, I must have read this book about a thousand times. I think it is the only children's book I know straight through by heart.

Today would have been the 96th birthday of Don Freeman, the creator of this magical book. He also played jazz trumpet. I seem to remember reading that he wasn't sure which path to pursue, jazz or art, until he left his trumpet on the subway and the decision was made. I don;t know if that story is true, but I am grateful he chose to create so many beautiful picture books all the same.

10 August 2004

Lawsuit may erupt over 'The Village'

from CNNMoney: "Simon & Schuster Inc. is reviewing its legal options against The Walt Disney Co. and writer-director M. Night Shyamalan over what the author of a children's book says are similarities between its plot and the film 'The Village,' said a spokeswoman for the publisher." Read the rest.

09 August 2004

Mad Charity Rackham

This is, apparently, my Pirate name: "Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!"

Who are you?

I love you, too, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut loves librarians: "So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries."

Grab your towel

Don't panic. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is coming to theaters soon, according to the Toronto Star, which guided me to the official film site.


Went to see M. Night Shyamalan's The Village last night. The film was okay, except...

It seems to be largely lifted from Margaret Peterson Haddix's 1995 award-winning juvie novel, Running Out of Time! We watched through all the credits, waiting to see if Ms. Haddix would be credited somewhere, but to no avail. M. Night Shyamalan claims to have written the story.

Others have noticed the similarities, too, though, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. From the Times: "The author, Margaret Peterson Haddix, said she saw 'The Village' on Tuesday after receiving several telephone calls and e-mail messages from friends and from fans noting the parallels between the film and her book, 'Running Out of Time,' published in 1995 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 'The spoiler ending is the thing that is the biggest similarity,' Ms. Haddix said."

Of course, "Dennis Rice, senior vice president for publicity at Buena Vista Pictures, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, said yesterday, 'Whatever claims are being made of similarities between the book and the movie have no merit.'"

I'll be interested to see where this goes, or if, indeed, it goes anywhere. I hope Ms. Haddix chooses to fight this battle.

06 August 2004

If you ever get the chance...

... to see Mark Dvorak in concert, do so. We just (about an hour ago) had him at our library and, as ever, he enthralled young and old alike with his masterful renditions of traditional folk songs by Pete, Woody, Leadbelly, and others. Best of all, everyone sang along joyfully.

Happy Birthday, Barbara Cooney!

Today would have been the 87th birthday of the beautiful and gracious award-winning children's book author and illustrator, Barbara Cooney.


True Chicagoan

Are You a True Chicagoan?
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So, a study was done of the most literate cities in the US and Chicago didn't make the top ten. In fact, overall, we rank a shameful number 58. In libraries, Chicago ranked even lower.

I have to confess that I am shocked. While I didn't neccessarily expect us to make the top ten, I didn't think we'd rank so low! What about the Chicago Public Library? One book, one Chicago? Printer's Row? Oprah's book club? What about Daley's commitment to the public libraries? He has said, "By investing in libraries, we invest in the most important mission we have today--the education of our children."

I am shocked and saddened and, honestly, I feel personally offended by the results of this study. Now, what part will I play in turning things around? Something for me to think about.

02 August 2004

excuses, excuses

The last few weeks have been some kind of hectic!

Summer reading club to do, library concerts to organize, grants to finish... Actually, this last one was the main portion on my plate, as I completed a pretty major grant (with some help, of course) last week. I don't want to say too much until I have heard one way or another, but it was a lot of work. Lots of extra hours spent at work (and working at home) contributed to the lack o' bloggy goodness here.

Prob'ly won't get much better in the next week or so, neither. Tomorrow, I leave for the second part of Synergy, come home late Thursday, Friday night we have the last of our summer concerts, and Saturday night, I have volunteered to work overnight (7p to 7a) at a teen lock-in at a neighboring library.

On the plus side, I actually took the time to go out last Thursday. (What a sad commentary on my lack o' social life as of late that one night out is such a boon!) My friend, Frank, and his cool girlfriend, had a chance to dj at Club Foot, so my cousin and I headed there. I'm not usually big on the party, but I'm glad we went. When we got there, Beth tried to convince me that the bouncer was flirting with me but -- even though I can be slightly, um... stoopid about boys -- she was just being kind. (Or not. He wasn't all that. Bitch.)

While I'm pretty convinced I was, by far, the biggest geek there, it was a good time. We just hung out, had a few beers, chatted with some pals. (Pals who kindly refrained from mocking me when I realized that I was ranting on Ray Bradbury.)

After Club Foot closed, a friend joined us as we attempted to go fountaining in Millennium Park.

Apparently, Millennium Park closes at 11pm. We didn't know, cranky security guard! I swear! We were very polite to her, but she called back-up anyway, even though we watched quietly from the sidewalk of Michigan Ave...

Watching the fountain, though, however lovely, made me need to find a restroom (and why does Chicago not have public restrooms available in the middle of the night?), so we headed to Greektown. Fairly tastylicious (and clean bathrooms, natch). We took our friend back to his car, and then back to Beth's apartment to get mine own car.

On the way home, though, I was totally freaked out. I kept hearing a loud Thump! coming from my trunk area. Eek! I had accidentally left the back door unlocked, so I was trying not to have seriously ridiculous thoughts of bad things in my trunk. When I got home, I was too jumpy to check, so I just left it and went in.

The next morning, I made The Boy look with me. Nothing. Thank the gods. I swear that I heard the noise, though, the whole way home. Maybe it was a friendly beastie guiding me home...

ANYway, ended up getting home around 5am, straight to bed, back at work by 11am the next day, worked 'til 9p, then grocery shopping. I think I am too old.


I'll be away for a few days, but I'll try to get some sleep and get back to more regular blogging upon mine return. (Good stuff, not this boring personal life crap.)

27 July 2004

At first I thought it *must* be a joke...

... but, no. Conservatives seem to be so intent on a "divided America" that they even have their own ketchup.

Curiouser and curiouser!

You are The Cheshire Cat
You are The Cheshire Cat

A huge grin constantly plastered upon your face, you never cease to amuse. You are completely confusing and contradictory to most everyone.

What Alice in Wonderland Character Are You?
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Thanks to CatalogueAnnie for the link.