31 January 2004


I finally got around to subscribing to Found Magazine. The first two issues came in the mail the other day and I am hooked. Can wait for issue 3 (only a few more weeks). Working in a public library, I find all kinds of goofy/weird/creepy stuff. Collecting it like this yields an amazingly compelling result. The website is good (and has cool links), but the magazine is even better.

30 January 2004

Non-resident library cards

Results of a survey about non-resident cards in Illinois are now available.

29 January 2004

Tiddley pom, indeed!

Who knew Pooh was a transcendentalist?

Getting to know me...

Thanks to the Tiny Little Librarian, from whom I stole this list (and the clever headline I used, that's hers, too).

1. Last song you sang: “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key”

2. Last person you hugged: The Boy

3. Last thing you laughed at: A Right to be Hostile

4. Last time you said I love you: On the phone last night

5. What's in your CD player? I am very embarrassed to admit it, but The Booty Don’t Stop

6. What color socks are you wearing? black

7. What's under your bed? dust bunnies

8. What time did you wake up today? 6 a.m. for good, but really, I was up half the night coughing

9. Current clothing: red ribbed sweaters, black pinstriped slacks, Doc Marten wedges

10. Current worry: staff issues

11. Current desktop picture: work – my nephew and me; home - a picture of Lily, Queen of All Wild Things

12. Story behind your user name: one of my nicknames is Kat, a friend’s sister started calling me “kitten” since she said I wasn’t tall enough to be a full-grown cat, I love books, voila!

13. Last CD bought: Number Ones by Michael Jackson

14. If you could play an instrument, what would it be? acoustic guitar

15. Favorite colors: I can’t choose; I truly love them all!

16. How tall are you? 5-4

17. Favorite book: way too many to list, but two up at the top of my list are The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the version translated by Katherine Woods, not the new, crappy one!) and The Portable Thoreau

18. Favorite season: autumn

19. One person from your past you wish you could go back and talk to: no one, really

20. Favorite day of the week: depends on the week

21. Where would you like to go? Lots of places! I’d like to get back to Concord, MA soon. I want to go to Ireland, Italy, Wyoming… I’m looking forward to Okemah, OK in five months. Basically, I’ll go anywhere!

22. Type a line you remember from any book: "Where’s Papa going with that axe?”

23. A random lyric: "Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we’re together, love you when we’re apart." Always reminds me of my nephew. (Lennon/McCartney, “I Will”)

24. Identify some things surrounding your computer: at work, not much. But I do have original artwork by William Steig hanging just behind where I sit. Does that count?

25. What do you want to be doing right now? Sleeping!

26. Favorite movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (I think)

27. Last movie seen: at show, Mystic River; on DVD, Freaky Friday

28. Who is your hero? A few: Thoreau, Dr. King, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, my sister

29: What are you reading? Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

30. Favorite board game: Trivial Pursuit

31. Chocolate or vanilla? Usually vanilla, but Breyer’s natural, not french

32. Zodiac sign: Cancer

33. If you could dye your hair any color? Cotton Candy Pink – it’s the one color I’d like that I haven’t yet done… (And probably won't do, since I do not think I could pull it off!)

34. If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be: Mom. (Although, in the meantime, I love my current job.)

Woodystock 2004

Woo-hoo! The list of confirmed performers at the 7th Woody Guthrie Free Folk Music Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma is growing and it's a good one! Arlo will be there, as will Karen Mal, Don Conoscenti, Rob McNurlin. Most of you are probably saying "who?" but trust me, these folks will have you out of your seats clamoring for more!

Thanks a lot, Sulky...

I followed a link on the Sulkbrarian's page and was dismayed to find out how I will die:

Being sucked dry by leeches isn't so bad.

You will be sucked dry by a leech. I'd stay away from swimming holes, and stick to good old cement. Even if it does hurt like hell when your toe scrapes the bottom.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla


This is especially sad since I am allergic to chlorine and rely on lakes and the like to fulfill my aquatic yearnings. Sigh. Well, at least it's good to know that my cold/bronchial thing won't kill me; just make me stronger for my eventual end...

p.s. Dearest readers, if you haven't already, read the Gashlycrumb Tinies in it's entirety sometime. Edward Gorey was a genius!

I got nothin'

I haven't been posting much the last few days but, frankly, I don't have the energy. I'm doing battle with a wicked cold that wants to be bronchitis. I think I'm winning, but in the meantime, I'm just whining a lot. I took off from work a few hours early yesterday and came in about an hour late today, but...

But I've got nothin'.

Oh. Except I did finish reading A Right to Be Hostile by Aaron McGruder. If you don't know Huey, Riley, Granddad, and the rest of the Boondocks crew, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Peter Pan again

Even CNN is reporting on the 100th anniversary of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan (although, honestly, the official anniversary isn't until December...).

27 January 2004

Happy 171st Birthday, Lewis Carroll!

Alice considered a little. "I like birthday presents best," she said at last.

"You don't know what you're talking about!" cried Humpty Dumpty. "How many days are there in a year?"

"Three hundred and sixty-five," said Alice.

"And how many birthdays have you?"


"And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?"

"Three hundred and sixty-four, of course."

Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. "I'd rather see that done on paper," he said.

-- from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

25 January 2004

I think I just don't get it

I think I am an idiot, because I cannot wrap my brain around this whole RSS deal. Blogger recently made Atom available to its users, but I think I'm still not getting it... Grr...

Everybody dance now!

If you haven't already heard this, check out the new dance mix of Howard Dean's now infamous scream. Links to lots of other mixes at Dean Goes Nuts.

23 January 2004

Come through the Wardrobe, my child

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis will begin filming in New Zealand next year.

I'm actually a little surprised by how sad this news makes me

Bob Keeshan, better known to generations of children as Captain Kangaroo, died today. He was 76.

Too busy reading to commit any crimes

In Mexico City, they hope that providing books on the subway system will cut down on crime. "We are convinced that when people read, people change," said Javier Gonzalez Garza, the director of the Metro.

21 January 2004

There's never enough Alice!

Clearly I'm a bit late on this one, but a new graphic novel based on Alice in Wonderland should be available any second now. (Heck, maybe it already is!)

Day 21

Not smoking has actually been going surprisingly well for me. According to Quitnet, since I quit, I have NOT smoked 406 cigarettes, have saved about $70 and have added 3 days and 2 hours to my life. Wow. Kinda scary. (Even scarier when I consider that it might not take a bucketful of temptation to lure me back again.)

(I wonder if I can use that time to fit in a nap?)

And God said, "Let there be Lego. And there was Lego. And it was Good."

Bible stories as Lego art.

Sounds like a great trip!

Writer Jon Christensen and some scientists plan to recreate John Steinbeck's 4,000 mile voyage to the Sea of Cortez and back again.

19 January 2004

Quote o' the moment

"Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound..."

(from "Shed a Little Light" by James Taylor)

Recognizing Studs

Terkel, that it. The National Book Critics Circle will present the remarkable author, oral historian, radio personality, and all around Chicago legend Studs Terkel with its Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award at their 30th annual awards ceremony in March. The nominees in several other categories (though, sadly, not young people's literature) have also been announced.

Living the Dream

Some people marked Dr. King's birthday with Peace rallies.


This year, Poe's birthday cognac and roses were accompanied by a note which read, "The sacred memory of Poe and his final resting place is no place for French cognac. With great reluctance but for respect for family tradition the cognac is place. The memory of Poe shall live evermore!"

Happy (195th) Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

Wonder if his mystery visitor will be by this year? My guess is yes.

18 January 2004

God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule

It just seemed like a good time to re-read my all-time favorite article from The Onion.

Shakespeare to keep me warm

I want want want a nifty author blanket, but since my beloved Henry is not offered, I don't know if I want Poe or Bill...

More Wise Words

"Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. And it is the youth who must inherit the tribulations, the sorrow, and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war." (Herbert Clark Hoover)

Words o' Wisdom

"I criticize America because I love her and because I want to see her to stand as the moral example of the world. War anywhere intensifies the possibility of war everywhere. When major world powers flaunt the authority of the United Nations and embark on unilateral courses of action they open the door to similar actions on the part of other nations." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Keep the Dream Alive

Every year, on Martin Luther King Day, The Boy and I read his words aloud. Every year, I weep as I read these words:

"In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred....

...No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

God bless Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and help us all to keep his dream alive.

Injustice Alert!

My beautiful, charming friend, Miss Shannon, alerted me to the case of Marcus Dixon. I don't neccessarily agree with kids having sex, but I think it's pretty obvious that this case is at least partially racially motivated, else I suspect many more kids in Rome, Georgia would be imprisioned.

Library Quotes

Marylaine Block has a great library quote site.

(Thanks to librarian.net for the link.)


The Boy has a 'blog of his own now! I don't know how often he will be able to add to it, but I will definitely be reading it (and sometimes contributing).

I *love* the Nac Mac Feegle!

Oh happy day! Terry Pratchett will be releasing a sequel to The Wee Free Men. The new book will be called Hat Full of Sky and is scheduled for release in June 2004. Huzzah!

Quote o' the moment

From today's Star:

"You learn two things when you are in grade school: Never split an infinitive and never mess with the librarian." (Ed Yohnka, ACLU)

Privacy vs. Security

Good article in our local Star about the US PATRIOT Act as it pertains to libraries. (Nice quote from Barbara Osuch, too!)

17 January 2004

I am very excited...

...that I have finally realized that I can put pictures right on my page. Yay!

AND... thanks to Comment This! I now seem to have comment capabilities! (Although I will have to figure out how to add a wee bit o' spcae between 'blog entries, since I don'y particularly care for how cramped it looks now.)

(Also, that my ten-year-old friend, Valerie, is sitting here with me as I update my 'blog.)

Happy (298th) Birthday, Dr. Franklin!

Whine, whine, whine. Will I ever be happy?

Governor Blagojevich's wife, Patti, was on WBEZ this morning, talking about the plan to hand out books to all Illinois children under the age of five. The program will likely get started before the end of 2004. Okay. Fine. I am resigned to the the fact that this program will happen. (If libraries weren't in such dire straits and professional librarians weren't so desperately underpaid, I would even be doing the happy dance and celebrating such a positive program.)


According to Mrs. Blagojevich, the first book given to newborn babies in the hospital will be The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

I have nothing against this book. It is a fine book. It is a classic. Kids love it. Fine. Another book to be given during that first year is The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I love that book even more. It is amazing and wonderful and fires the imagination.



But these are not appropriate reading for an infant! Give these books to the children when they are three or four. But when they are brand new people, how about giving them some of the truly amazing board books being produced for babies? I'm not just talking about Pat the Bunny, either.

Here are a few of the books (in no particular order) that I think would be best during the first year of life:
* Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
* Where's Spot by Eric Hill
* Black and White or Big and Little by Todd Parr
* Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
* Big Book of Beautiful Babies by David Ellwand
* My Very First Mother Goose: Humpty Dumpty and Other Rhymes illustrated by Rosemary Wells (seems the board books of these books are out-of-print -- the full size book will be good, too, but not so baby-friendly in terms of chewability)
* Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
* Jamberry by Bruce Degan
* Wow! Babies! or Grow! Babies! by Penny Gentieu
*My Colors / Mis Colores by Rebecca Emberley

There are a gazillion fun books out there for kids of all ages. As adults, sometimes we are so anxious for children to love the books that we loved that we forget about age appropriateness -- in terms of language, length, plot, art... If we are to truly create a state full of greedy, voracious readers, we will need to consider giving children the books that are right for them.

A cautionary tale?

Author Olivia Goldsmith (The First Wives Club, etc.), age 54, has died following a coma brought on by complications from anaesthesia during plastic surgery.

15 January 2004


I will readily admit that, in my greed for Story, I do not always read critically. Rather, I read passionately and with great prejudice. I often "love" or (more rarely) "hate" a book and happily share my opinions with whomever will listen.

Last night, I finished a book that filled me up utterly. The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, is one of those books that fills up every corner inside of me with joy and reminds me of how magical and amazing and crucial Story can be. It was a book that I just wanted to hug to my heart -- physically hug -- because it filled me and warmed me throughout like the kindest sun.

It contained wisdom on the nature of Story and love and forgiveness and the healing of broken hearts. I lent the library copy of this book to The Boy to read and have convinced many of my "grown up" friends to read it, too. And then I wanted to read it all over and so went to Borders today to purchase it. (I am on page 107 again. It's still magic.)

I am left lighter and better and deeply contented by this remarkable book.

And Dante says...

Apparently, if things keep on as they are, I am destined for Purgatory: "You have escaped damnation and made it to Purgatory, a place where the dew of repentance washes off the stain of sin and girds the spirit with humility. Through contrition, confession, and satisfaction by works of righteousness, you must make your way up the mountain. As the sins are cleansed from your soul, you will be illuminated by the Sun of Divine Grace, and you will join other souls, smiling and happy, upon the summit of this mountain. Before long you will know the joys of Paradise as you ascend to the ethereal realm of Heaven."

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent me to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Extreme
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Thanks to Arcade Attendant for the link.

Happy (75th) Birthday, Dr. King!

14 January 2004

Yay, Philip!

Philip Pullman made this list -- "Sage Britons: after the richest, the sexiest and the greatest, the search is launched for the country's wisest person." (The sagest are listed in alphabetical order, but Mr. Pullman is definitely, rightly, listed!)

Finally a chance to see what all the fuss is about

Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ will open on at least 2000 screens on Ash Wednesday (25 February 2004).

I am utterly charmed

To be entirely honest, I wasn't super excited when I heard the winners of all the awards on Monday (although I was delighted Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was recognized).

But, since I am a super swell librarian, I decided to read the winners and see what I thought. I read The First Part Last first, since it was short. It was a pretty darned good book. My only complaint would be that I didn't like that the baby's mother suffered a debilitating illness. That seemed to push the book over into melodrama, and the story of a teenage boy raising a baby alone is dramatic enough.

This morning, then, I started The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I have read, and enjoyed, her other books, but somehow had neglected to pick this one up.

Reader, I am utterly, absolutely, irrevocably charmed.

I am not even halfway through it yet, but I am in love with this book and will likely purchase it for my personal collection. I already have favorite lines:

"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."


"Suffering is not the answer. Light is the answer."


Spanking the Monkey

The strangest children's books of the 19th century, according to The Village Voice.

What rhymes with genius?

Why, Dr. Seuss, of course!

13 January 2004

I hate to argue with giving books to kids...

... but apparently I am not the only one a little bit worried about Governor Blagojevich's plan to give every kid in Illinois under the age of five a book every month.

I'm all about giving kids books. I agree that it is important for kids to have books in their homes. Jim Trelease cites research that supports the importance of a print-rich climate.

In a perfect world, I'd be planning the parade in The Governor's honor. In this time of budget deficits, though, doesn't it make more sense to fund and promote library services so that every child in Illinois could have potentially unlimited access to books in the home? Doesn't it? Well, I think so, anyway...

12 January 2004

More positive press for libraries

From Jacqueline Woodson's website:

"One cool thing about books is that you can borrow them from libraries. If your library doesn't have one of my books, ask the librarian to order it from another library thru their inter-library loan system. It usually takes a day or two but they will get it to you.

"If there's a book of mine you want to own go to www.booksense.com and order it. The cool thing about ordering a book from Booksense is you'll be supporting independent bookstores. Independent bookstores are as awesome as libraries. It's up to each of us to keep libraries and independent bookstores going.

"Keep reading!!"

Thanks, Jacqueline!

Silly Kitten!

Apparently, it is still entirely possible that Gary Paulsen will win the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. It's just that it won't be awarded until next year. Next time I shall read more carefully.

While I am waiting...

...to hear the rest of the winners, I found a nifty illustrator site (part of the larger RIF site).

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for...

The winners have been announced!

The winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal is Mordicai Gerstein, author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between The Towers.

The Caldecott Honor winners are Margaret Chodos-Irvine who wrote and illustrated Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, Mo Willems who wrote and illustrated Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (yay!), and Robin Page, the illustrator of What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? (written by her husband Steve Jenkins).

The winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal is Kate DiCamillo for The Tale of Despereaux.

The Newbery Honor winners are Kevin Henkes for Olive's Ocean and Jim Murphy for An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793.

The winner of the 2004 Printz Medal is Angela Johnson for The First Part Last.

The Printz Honor winners are Jennifer Donnelly for A Northern Light, K. L. Going for Fat Kid Rules the World, Helen Frost for Keesha's House, and Carolyn Mackler for The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

The winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Author Award is Hope Anita Smith.

The winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award is Angela Johnson for The First Part Last.

The Coretta Scott King Author Honor books are Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States by Patricia C. and Frederick L. McKissack, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson, and The Battle of Jericho by Sharon M. Draper.

The winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award is Elbrite Brown for My Family Plays Music (written by Judy Cox).

The winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award is Ashley Bryan who wrote and illustrated Beautiful Blackbird.

The Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor winners are Colin Bootman for illustrating Almost to Freedom (written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson) and Kadir Nelson for illustrating Thunder Rose (written by Jerdine Nolen).

The winner of the Pura Belpre Author Award is Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez.

The Pura Belpre Author Honor winners are Nancy Osa for Cuba 15 and Amanda Irma Perez for My Diary from Here to There: mi diario deaqui hasta ala.

The winner of the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award is Yuyi Morales, author and illustrator of Just a Minute.

The Pura Belpre Illustrator Honor winners are Robert Casilla for First Day in Grapes (written by L. King Perez), David Diaz for The Pot That Juan Built (written by Nancy Andrews-Goebel), and Yuyi Morales for Harvesting Hope: the Story of Caesar Chavez (written by Kathleen Krull) (yay!).

The Siebert Medal went to Jim Murphy for An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793.

The Siebert Honor award went to Vicki Cobb for I Face the Wind.

The recipient of the Mildred Batchelder Award is Uri Orlev for Run, Boy, Run (translated to English by Hillel Halkin).

The Margaret Batchelder Honor winner is Bea Uusama Schyffert for The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo VI Astonaut Michael Collins (translated by Emi Buner).

The recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award is Ursula K. LeGuin.

The Andrew Carnegie Award was won by Weston Woods for Giggle, Giggle Quack.

Richard Jackson will deliver the 2005 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture.

*Blast* that ALA website!

Right now, people in San Diego are doing the happy dance or second-guessing the winners. But I can't get the stupid ALA website to open! Arrgh!

More NPR

Today's Morning Edition also featured a fascinating segment on a new bookbinding technique that might make the concept of forever out-of-print books obselete. (One can only hope.)

Everyone's talkin' 'bout the awards

Marah Gubar had an interesting commentary on children's book awards this morning on Morning Edition. (Only 7 more minutes!)

Stupid Keanu

I was (shockingly) off this weekend, so I did a lot of reading and watched 4 or 5 films. The one I wanted to comment on, though, was Hardball with Keanu Reeves.

We watched it midday on Saturday. I figured it'd be a good day off movie -- sassy inner-city kids, baseball, valuable lessons learned by the guy who reluctantly helps them. I figured it would be formulaic, but fun.

No one told me it was a crying movie!

Yeah, fine, it probably isn't the best movie ever made. Yeah, it simplifies the complexities of inner-city childhood (or lack thereof) and almost deifies the white guy who learns to care for the kids. Yeah it got kind of crappy reviews.

All that aside, I way sucked into the film and sobbed right on cue. I'm not ashamed. It made me think, especially about the kids from my last job; it made me worry; it made me sad; it made me want to recommit to making a difference in the world.

So, while I was looking for a comedy on my day off, I guess I should ultimately thank Keanu and company.

It's almost time, Kids

In less than two hours, the winners of all the Children's Lit awards will be announced. I have no predictions for the Newbery and Printz awards. I would love to see Gary Paulsen win the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

Basically, though, I am resigned to being surprised. I'll post the winners as soon as they are announced.

09 January 2004

Better late than never...

I know I said I'd post this days ago, but I didn't. So, finally, from page 22 of the December 2003/January 2004 issue of Real Simple magazine:

"Free Service: When your local library's stacks don't have the book you want, ask the librarian to borrow it from another library, a common practice. You may have to wait a few weeks, but it's still cheaper than buying the title."

If you appreciate the press for one of the best (in my opinion, anyway) services public libraries offer, I'm sure the good folk at Real Simple could use an e-mail from you.

Genuis often shines, even through difficulty

Yeats may have had Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

08 January 2004

Okay, my fingers are crossed

Apparently, my dear Mr. Steig can be awarded the Caldecott posthumously for When Everybody Wore a Hat.

Thursday's Quote:

Thank you, Miss Barbara, for this:

"Our whole American way of life is a great war of ideas, and librarians are the arms dealers selling weapons to both sides." (James Quinn)

Award Anticipation

Let me preface this by saying that I have NEVER been right about what books might win one of these prestigious awards, except for the year that Christopher Paul Curtis won the Newbery Medal for Bud, Not Buddy. At that point, though, it was a small hope, held close, not an official prediction. Over the years, I have become a little teeny bit bitter that my literary hero, Gary Paulsen has not received the critical awards I believe he deserves (though, to be fair, I don't think this lack of award truly bothers Mr. Paulsen). That's a different entry, though. In short, I am never right and have almost given up even venturing a guess. I don't like being wrong.

But, somehow, the opportunity to be wrong so publically!

I very rarely have an opinion about who should win the Caldecott Medal. I am not sure why this is. I love children's picture books. I certainly buy too many for my home collection each year! Yet, somehow, I tend not to have a strong opinion on who should (or should not) win. (That said, I was thrilled that Eric Rohmann -- Chicago Boy! -- won last year for My Friend Rabbit.)

This year, I actually have a picture book opinion. I think that 2004 may be a year when an illustrator is given the second award of his or her career. Peggy Rathman (The Day the Babies Crawled Away), Gerald McDermott (Creation), and Maurice Sendak (Brundibar) all have an excellent chance of winning, in my opinion, either the big prize or an honor.

I also like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. At first, I was just tickled by this tory -- it's fun and a great read-aloud. Over many readings, though, I began to believe that the art is exceptional in its simplicity that still conveys emotion (particularly the poor pigeon's frustration and dejection!). I also like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in its Robert Sabuda incarnation, Harvesting Hope illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Action Jackson illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, and Blues Journey illustrated by Christopher Myers. I think my favorite is When Everybody Wore a Hat by William Steig, but I don't trust myself much on that, because there may be some measure of sentimentality mixed in to that. (Can the award be given posthumously? I should look that up...)

I will have to think about the Newbery Medal a bit more before making my wrong predictions for that. Stay tuned!

Scott O'Dell Award

Roger Sutton just sent a press release through the Child_Lit listserv announcing that The River Between Us by Richard Peck is this year's winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. This book was also nominated for a National Book Award for Young People's Literature. (The Canning Season by Polly Horvath won.)

Mr. Peck grew up in Decatur, IL which, in my mind, automatically makes him a "Chicago Boy" and worthy of special recognition just by virtue of the fact that he had the good taste to be born in the Land of Lincoln. (Anyone from the state of Illinois automatically gets that designation in my mind. Unless, of course, it's a woman of whom I speak. In that case, the pronouncement is, "Chicago Girl." Even if you move away, we -- or at least I -- will forever lay claim to you.)

The happy accident of his birth aside, though, I -- and thousands of others -- have long loved his strong, compassionate writing. And, he made one of my favorite statements of all time at the NIU Children's Lit conference a few years ago:

"I wanted to be a hyperactive child, too, but mother wouldn't let me."

I liked that so much, I printed it on a tee shirt.

Congratulations, Richard Peck!


Havana (IL) Public Library has a great resource page about weeding your library's collection. (Thanks to Lori from the Itasca Public Library for alerting me to this site during the excellent Weeder's Advisory program she helped present this morning!)


Thanks so much to the fabulous Sulkbrarian for linking to my page.

In Memoriam

Joan Aiken, the author of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and other fantastic books, passed away this past Sunday.

It is a comfort, however meager, that when an author dies, to know that they will live forever, so long as their books are read...

07 January 2004

Encouraging Quote o' the Day:

"Never give up - no matter what is going on; develop the heart. Be compassionate; work for peace in your heart and in the world. And I say again: never give up, no matter what is happening, no matter what is going on around you. Never give up." (the Dalai Lama)

Let him be a kid!

A mom just told me that she wants her two-year-old to start reading because he is "very advanced" and already knows all his letters. That may well be. (God knows I started reading when I was right around 3, so it is possible.)

BUT. I think if a child starts to read that early, it should be out of a personal love or drive or ineffable something that makes the child long for words and stories. In this case, when I suggested that she just continue to read with her child and encourage him when he recognized letters or words, she insisted that he is bright and "should" be reading now, since he is "almost three."

I know she wants what is best for her child, but I hope this isn't another child forever scared away from reading by an overzealous parent.

Get your name in a novel

You might get your name in a Janet Evanovich novel by donating a few bucks to the Crime Stoppers of Greater Trenton (NJ).

Librarian pay equity

The new newsletter from the ALA Allied Professional Association has some interesting articles about advocacy and pay equity.

06 January 2004

Am I just getting old?

Sometimes I hate the uncertainty of not knowing how involved I should get with certain patron situations.

Last night, I was at job #2. A young (13 years old) woman was using the kids' computers to type out an assignment. She seemed pleasant enough. Polite, etc. Her mother went home and told the girl she'd be back about half-an-hour before closing. Okay. So far, so good.

About twenty minutes after her mother left, the girl was on her cell phone. I asked her to please put it away. She did. Again, all good. About ten minutes after that, a young man came in and joined her at a table. They were sitting very close, but I told myself I am just getting old and cranky and let it be. Then they started getting loud. Lots o' loud talking and giggling. Several times, I went over and asked them to keep it down. They responded respectfully and I just let it go.

After a while, they came over wanting to use the kids' computers. Usually these are reserved for those under 14 years of age (because there is no payment or "offical" sign-up required) and are to be used only for homework during the school week. I asked if they had homework to complete. They said, yes. So, I took down their information (we collect names, ages, and phone numbers when they sign up for the free computers -- collecting their numbers usually helps head off most of the trouble since we then threaten to call their moms when they starty acting up). The boy is 16, but since we sometimes make exceptions for high school kids doing homework and no one else is waiting to use the homework computers, I let it slide and tell him that next time he'll have to have a parent come in to sign him up for the other computers. I remind them that they need to be doing homework. No problem, they assure me and I get them set up.

A few minutes later, I look up and they are watching videos. The boy has some rap artist I don't recognize on his screen while the girl is watching Lil' Bow Wow. I go over and tell them that they are done with the computers for the night since they are clearly not doing homework. The guy just smirks, but the girl insists that this is homework. I swear, I must look stupid if she thinks I'm buying this. I ask her what the homework is. Her teacher wants her to look up information about her favorite singer, she claims. Which class? She doesn't remember. I ask to see an assignment sheet and she doesn't know what that is. Off they go.

They adjourn to their table and proceed to be loud. Then they disappear into the stacks. They come out, flushed and giggling when the girls' phone rings again and she runs to get it. I remind her about the no cell phones in the library policy. She apologizes, grabs the boy by the hand, and drags him back into the stacks.

Now. I hate following the kids, especially the teens, assuming they're up to no good and trying to catch them. On the other hand, sometimes kids (and adults, for that matter) do behave inappropriately in the library. (At my last job, the guard found a woman, uh, "servicing" a man in the stacks. When she told them they had to leave, the guy said, "Why? We ain't bothering anyone.") How responsible am I for making sure the children (because I don't care if she is 13, she's still a child) are safe?

I was unable to make a solid decision on this because I had an busy night at the reference desk and, as I was the only librarian there, was unable to get away long enough to check up on things.

Just as it started to quiet down, though, and I was about to go look for them (while pretending to look for a book, of course), I saw a woman looking around, so I went over and asked her if she was B's mother. Yes, she was. I explained my concerns about her daughter and this older boy having been in the stacks all night, feeling like the oldest, most unhip narc ever as I did so. I apologized if I was overstepping my bounds and said I was not trying to mind her business, I just wanted to be sure she was aware.

The mother was actually very nice and thanked me before going off with a look in her eye that told me that B was gonn have some 'splaining to do. (Apparently, they are trying to keep B and the boy apart, which made me feel like even more of a tattletale.) I was relieved with how the mother reacted -- a few times I have been told to mind my own business or accused of only saying something because the child was of a different race than I am.

I am still not 100% convinced that I did the right thing, though. When parents leave their teenagers with us and we notice them behaving in ways that are inappropriate or unsafe, how much of it is our business? What if telling on a child leads to more trouble at home? Am I just old and forgetting what it was like to be a kid? I dunno.

If I could only bring myself to look for the pictures...

... I am sure I would have a few to contribute to this site.

03 January 2004

Thanks, New Zealand!

Apparently, the Childrens' Lit Quiz hails from New Zealand.

No one *needs* this...

... but Octodogs are pretty darned cool!

The critical year in review

Slate runs down some of the more memorable reviews (and responses to criticism) of 2003.

What was I thinking?

So, over the kids' Christmas vacation, we planned several fun activities for them at the library. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Winter craft was a huge success. We ended up having 83 people attend our all-day film festival, which seemed pretty good to me. (Lots o' positive comments from parents, too.)

The one that wore me out, though, was our New Years' Party. Yikes! We were limiting registration to the first thirty kids, which was a pain when the fortieth person called, but... The local newspaper showed up and was impressed by the setup (we had New Years' hats and tiaras, lots o' books set up, and cheap plastic tablecloths on the tables -- not for ambiance, but because they make cleaning up glitter much easier). We watched a film, talked about the New Year, read about a goose and her resolutions, and then adjourned to the tables for the craft. We were going to decorate clear plastic wine glasses with glittler and sequins and shiny pipe cleaners. All of that was noisy and messy and fun and manageable.

Where it started to edge over into chaos is during the next bit. I handed out the snacks (2 cookies and a chocolate in ziploc bags) and we poured the "wine" (grape Hi-C). Then, I handed out noisemakers and we counted down to midnight.

Need I even continue? A room full of excited children with noisemakers? Oy vey!

By the time we were done, I had taken noisemakers away from a few of the more lively boys and I was exhausted. I told another department head that if she heard me talking about such a party again, she should assume I had been smoking crack and hit me on the ehad with a large hammer until I passed out.


But, I know I'll do it again. As wore out as I felt when it was over, the kids loved it. One girl (she was about 11 years old) came back to hug me and thank me for the "best party [she] ever went to!" So...


I won't do it often, though.

Not as easy as it looks

The Times Educational Supplement has a harder-than-it-initially-appears Kids' Lit Quiz. There were three I didn't know -- thank goodness the answers will be up soon!

02 January 2004

Art and cheeseburgers to start the new year

Happy, happy New Year to one and all!

I had a marvelous New Year's Day. Usually, I spend some time at the Art Institute of Chicago. Usually, I go alone. This year, The Boy came along. We were excited about the Lewis Carroll exhibit. I was a little bit afraid of how the photographs would be presented. Would Carroll be exposed as the brilliant amateur photographic artist he was or would the photos be sensationalized and used to further what (in my mind, at least) amount to slanderous, unfounded accusations as to his interest in his child friends?

Happily, the photographs chosen were presented without editorial comment and represented a range of subjects -- children, adults, and even skeletons! They were clear and gorgeous and often moving. Many of the children appeared quite solemn (no doubt due to the need to remain still for periods of time with early photography), making the few where the children smile especially wondrous. I was most intrigued by the photograph of Tennyson and by the self-portraits. I was also entranced by Carroll's own writing in the corners of some of the photos. It seemed to be numbers written backwards and, while the exact significance was lost to me, I thrilled to see Carroll's actual mirror-writing first hand!(Yes, I am a geek.)

While at the AIC anyway (and, actually, before we visited the Carroll exhibit), we decided to pick up my free (member) tickets to the Manet exhibit. We made it through that display in eight minutes flat! It just didn't speak to us. I mean, I can see that the work was art, that it is well done, but it didn't move me or excite my imagination. In fact, my favorite picture in the exhibit was not even by Manet, it was a Renoir! There were two Manet paintings the Boy and I both liked a lot. His favorite was Venice -- The Grand Canal, which was vivid and alive. I was drawn to The Escape of Rochefort -- The Large Study primarily, I am a bit sheepish to admit, because the man in right-hand side the boat looks remarkably like Charlie Chaplin. (Go ahead, take a look and see if you don't agree!)

The rest of the visit to the AIC was a little sad. The Boy's favorite painting is The Golden Wall by Hans Hofmann. That was in storage (again). I was desperate to see Greyed Rainbow by Jackson Pollock, but that was in storage. Van Gogh's Self-Portrait is still out on loan and the Rembrandt is in Boston. The William Blakes can be viewed by appointment only.

We did manage to visit our favorite works by Paul Klee and Magritte. We also got the number to call so we can set up an appointment to see the Blakes.

The gift store yielded happy purchases -- next years' Christmas cards at 75% off, a print of the Hofmann for The Boy, a Seurat print for my friend, Matt...

By this time, I was getting a wee bit whiny because my new shoes were not making my feet happy. (They will, though, once they are properly broken in.) The Boy persuaded me to walk down Michigan Ave for a spell, though, to one of our favorite places, The Billy Goat Tavern.

(A brief aside. When The Boy was ever so much smaller -- maybe first grade? -- he had to make a list of his favorite places for school. He listed home, the AIC, and the Billy Goat. His teacher called home to find out what AIC stood for and to inform The Boy's mother that he had listed a tavern as one of his favorite places. To her everlasting credit, she sighed and said, "I know. He goes there all the time with his cousin.)

We had Chicago's yummiest cheeseburgers (it must be the bread!) along with chips and Coke. We were unable to sit at our "usual" table since a group was already there. However, the table we sat at was right next to a wall dedicated to Royko, so that was fun.

All in all, it was a wonderful start to 2004. I wish all of us a year filled with peace and love, laughter and joy.

Roald Dahl said no...

Apparently, the late, great Roald Dahl was one of the celebraties who declined to accept British honors.

Huzzah and Congratulations to Philip Pullman!

The brilliant Philip Pullman has been made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire).

Maybe I'm the only one?

The few reviews trickling through Child_Lit right now point to my colleagues mostly liking the new Pan movie.

Andrew Hartman of Peter Pan Fan didn't love the film, either, though he did like it okay (and is ever so much kinder than I), saying: "I recommend the film, despite all that I do not approve of. It should be seen by any PETER PAN fan. Although it is not what I had expected, for what it was, I am pleased."


Eye of the beholder

I was so looking forward to the new Peter Pan film. I had heard it was closer to the book than any other films had been, that it was somewhat dark...

First off, let me just say that if you have never read the book, the film was spectacular. The costuming and sets were beautiful. The casting was perfect (although I have ever pictured Peter as having darker, almost reddish hair, not blonde). The story was action-packed. I loved that they used exact text from the book. I went with a friend who had not read the book and she enjoyed it immensely.

However, I have read the book, and my overwhelming reaction was this: Peter Pan was a stupid movie. I didn't like the contrivance of Wendy getting in trouble at school in the beginning. I didn't like the added character of Aunt Millicent. I didn't like the lack of "good form" and fairness that is so important in the book. I didn't like the overt love story between Pan and Wendy. I didn't like that Hook flew. I didn't like the aggressive malevolence of the mermaids. I didn't like that Tink betrayed Peter. I didn't like that sometimes the text they quoted was changed a bit or used somewhat out of context. I didn't like Wendy seriously thinking about joining the pirate gang. I didn't like Wendy saying she never saw Pan again.

I was bored. I kept looking around, waiting for the film to be over. The filmmakers seemed in love with their special effects to the detriment of the story. I wanted to leave, but I kept hoping they would get it right.

My favorite part of the film was the kid sitting behind me. He was about the same age as The Boy (13-ish) and had clearly read the book, because throughout the movie, I could hear him make sounds of displeasure -- groans, "oh no!"s and the like. When Hook flew, he said, "oh, I can't watch this!" and got up to go. His father tried to get him to stay, but he said, "this sucks!" and left. Hee.

I re-read Peter Pan when I got home from the film and was charmed anew by J.M. Barrie's tale. I love the snarkiness of the text and the narrative asides. I love the depiction of the Neverlands as being universal, something ever child knows. I love the image of mothers tidying up their children's minds each night.

Go see the movie, if you must. You may well be more forgiving than I and will find it a marvelous family film. It is.

But do yourself a favor and read the book, too. If you read it once before, it will be a treat to revisit. If your only experience with Peter thus far has been Disney and various other film renditions, you're in for a fabulous surprise!