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?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to CatalogueAnnie for the link.

why I am not surprised this is coming from Texas?

from the Houston Chronicle: "A new group has formed to address the selection and placement of books at the Montgomery County Memorial Library System, and it is targeting 120 works aimed at children and young adults. Called Library Patrons of Texas Inc., the group wants an age-appropriate policy at the system and targeting books with sexual and gay themes, as well as those with what the group says is offensive language." Read the rest.

"What the group says is offensive language?" What if I find their small-mindedness offensive? Can I remove them from the library?

If you don't want your kids to read certain books, go to the library with them and maybe PAY ATTENTION to their lives. Do not make choice for other people's children and DO NOT expect librarians to do your parenting for you!


26 July 2004

in memoriam

Children's writer, Lilian Moore, died last week at the age of 95. From the Seattle Post-Intelligence: "Few rules governed Lilian Moore's reading when she was growing up in the Bronx. But there was one that sometimes got her in trouble: Her mother wouldn't let her read while crossing the street. Moore, who died this week at age 95 in Seattle, was a passionate reader for nine decades and, in her career as a children's book author and editor, launched generations more kids on what she called the 'life of the mind.'"

Read the rest.

22 July 2004

this just made me sad...

from Yahoo!: "They may not look cool, but knife-resistant kid's sweatshirts and coats are the latest products aimed at providing parental peace of mind in a Japan horrified by a series of gruesome attacks on children." Read the rest.

Sometimes it feels like the world just kinda sucks...

(Not always, though, and then I just have to keep remember ing all of the good stuff.)

21 July 2004

Happy Birthday, Papa!

105 years ago, in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ernest Miller Hemingway was born.

It took me a long time to develop an appreciation for Hemingway. As a high school student, The Old Man and the Sea seemed pretty irrelevant to me. Just catch the damn fish already! I thought. Then, there was my indignation (perhaps misguided?) over his treatment of his "friend," Scott Fizgerald.

Finally, though, while in college, I had a professor who made me look at Papa again. This time, I discovered that I loved his short stories. I also developed a deep sympathy for the man. In some ways he makes me very sad, forever trapped in a prison of his own design, forever determined to live the life he *thought* he should. He seemed to be concerned with the image he portrayed so much that he lost himself in it...

Whatever lies beyond this world, I wish peace for Papa Hemingway.

19 July 2004

"Kiddie book biz catty about celebs"

from Variety: "Getting in touch with your own inner child isn't enough in Hollywood anymore. Nowadays, performers vie to get in touch with everyone's inner child... The celeb influx has stirred up resentment in the once-cozy world of children's publishing, where book bizzers rail against interlopers eager to make a quick book. Equally irritating: well-intentioned stars who think they know best -- or better -- when it comes to kiddie lit."

Read the rest.

should race always be the focus?

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, David E. Goldweber thinks not. "Please don't misunderstand me. I rejoice at these honest and exciting essays, and I teach some of them in my classes every semester. But it seems that writers who happen to be members of minority groups are getting pigeonholed. I think it has become understood and expected, at least by book editors and English teachers and perhaps by society as a whole, that minorities write about minorities and that white people write about everything else"

Read the rest.

my favorite was On the Banks of Plum Creek

The Washington Post has an article about the yearning for those "good old" Little House days: "It's this deep yearning: Women tear up talking about it, while absent-mindedly stroking their daughters' hair, which they've done up in braids." Read the rest.

Ron Milner dies

From the New York Times: "Ron Milner, a playwright who translated the workaday rhythms and jazz riffs of his native Detroit into portraits of the struggles and triumphs of urban African-Americans, died on Friday at a hospital near his home. He was 66." Read the rest.

17 July 2004

More July birthdays

Tomorrow is the birthday of children's book illustrator Felicia Bond. Ms. Bond is probably best known for the impossibly adorable mice, pigs, and moose (mooses? meese?) that inhabit Laura Numeroff's books.

Yesterday was the birthday of Caldecott-Award winning illustrator Richard Egielski.

Happy birthday to you both!

16 July 2004

Time to start finger-pointing?

Ann Hulbert asks, "Has Dr. Seuss' legacy hobbled America's literacy crusade?" Read the rest.

Bookworm shortage

More on the alarming study showing the demise of reading as a leisure activity:
"First, there's e-mail to check. Then instant messages to send and a conference call before you go. Your older son has soccer practice, but he needs new cleats on the way. The twins are coming home from dance camp and you promised they could watch a DVD tonight - but only after dinner, and only after you help them with their two reports on endangered species. It's your uncle's birthday, too - but you can call him in the car. And if you're hoping for a raise, be back at work by 8 p.m.

Maybe it's not surprising that Americans have lost touch with their inner bookworms, or that reading has become more luxury than habit. There are simply too many other outlets - chirping, blinking, buzzing - that promise to simplify your life or fill your spare moments, assuming you still have any."
Read the rest.

Coming soon, to a theater near you...

"'Beowulf,' the epic tale of man vs. monster, is set up at Warner Bros., and will be written by rookie scribe Matthew Sand, a former SoHo art dealer with a background in art history." Read the rest.
I'd go see that.
My favorite re-telling of Beowulf is from Maurice Sagoff's Shrinklits and begins:

Monster Grendel's tastes are plainish.
Breakfast? Just a couple Danish.


15 July 2004

Steinbeck Lawsuit

"John Steinbeck's surviving blood heirs are suing the estate of his third wife, Elaine Steinbeck, alleging a '30-year hidden conspiracy' to cheat them of royalties and copyright control and detailing a bitter family feud worthy of a Steinbeck novel." Read the rest.

Whose land is it?

Thanks to lalcorn for directing me to this parody of Woody's "This Land is Your Land."

Oh, for cryin' out loud!

CNN reports: "A church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes. Preachers and congregations throughout American history have built bonfires and tossed in books and other materials they believed offended God." Read the rest.
God bless firefighters.

14 July 2004

Get well quick, Studs

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to one of my favorite people.

Award-winning Chicago writer (and icon) Studs Terkel "is hospitalized and recuperating from a fall earlier this week, according to his son. Dan Terkel did not provide details about his 92-year-old father's injuries except to say he took 'a little spill,' CLTV reported. He did not say where his father was hospitalized."

Read the rest.

Help the Red Dirt Rangers

While purusing the Woody Guthrie Festival message board (and wishing I was was going), I learned that the Red Dirt Rangers were seriously injured in a helicopter crash a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, none of these talented musicians have medical insurance, so donations are being accepted on their behalf. There's info at their website.

Happy Birthday, Woody!

Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the birth of America's greatest troubadour, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie.

I should be leaving for Oklahoma for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival today, but unforseen scheduling challenges at work have made it necessary for me to stay home this year.

Sigh. No use weeping about what can't be changed.

Anyway, back to Woody.

Hmm. Are there even words? I love, love, love his music, and have made it a personal mission to share it with the kids I work with. Every library I have worked in thus far owns the picture books based on Woody's songs. We always begin storytimes with "Howdi Do" and end with "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya," so the kids get to know Woody's music and books are almost always checked out.

Her's hoping his music lives for many years more!

"This world is your world. Take it easy, but take it."

13 July 2004

So take that! wicked stepsisters!

According to the BBC, "Cinderella has been voted the most popular fairytale in a children's poll, more than 300 years after the story was written." Read the rest.

Centenary Celebration

Apparently, while I was re-reading bits of Walden yesterday, I missed the centenary of the birth of Pablo Neruda.

My favorite Neruda book may be The Book of Questions An excerpt:

"Tell me, is the rose naked
or is that her only dress?

Why do trees conceal
the splendor of their roots?

Who hears the regrets
of the thieving automobile?

Is there anything in the world sadder
than a train standing in the rain?"


The New York Times plans to serialize Gatsby and others. Read the rest.

12 July 2004

Worthy petition

Daniel Mauser was one of the children murdered at Columbine. His father, Tom, has worked toward new gun laws since that time. According to his site, "The national Assault Weapons Ban automatically expires at the end of the summer. Congress must renew this ban or military-style assault weapons will be back on the street and available for sale in our neighborhoods. We cannot let this happen. We have to put pressure on Congress to ACT NOW."

Signing his petiton will presumably help apply that pressure. Calling your local elected officials should help, too. (Not sure who they are? If you know your zip code, Project Vote Smart will help you find 'em.)

Thespian Bunnies

Now playing, Alien in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies.

Happy Birthday, dearest Henry!

Today is the 187th anniversary of the birth of my beloved Henry David Thoreau.

And so, my favorite quote from Walden:

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring."

11 July 2004

Happy Birthday, Patricia Polacco

Today is the 60th birthday of artist and children's book author Patricia Polacco.

Ms. Polacco's amazing book Pink and Say remains one of the most moving things I have ever read. Ever. I don't think I have ever read this book without crying. On one of our first trips to Oklahoma, I read it aloud to my sister and we were both in tears by the end.

Today, I will wish Ms. Polacco a blessed birthday and will think of Pinkus Aylee and be grateful she shared his story.

09 July 2004


Librarians Against Bush is a great new site.


John Green writes, "It is not enough to give kids books. We must give them ones that don't suck ass." Read his article in its entirety.

obituary & tribute

There's an obit for Paula Danziger at Newsday now.

There's also a lovely tribute page at Smartwriters.

08 July 2004

Sad, sad day :'-(

A colleague on a listserv I read just alerted us to this announcement from SCWBI:

"Our beloved SCBWI Board Member, great friend and writer Paula Danziger passed away today from complications after a heart attack suffered a month ago. Paula had so many fans and friends among our SCBWI family, and we know you all join us in mourning her death and celebrating her life and work."

This news has made me unbelievably sad. Earlier today, we had received news that she was doing better and would be transferred to a rehabilitation center...

Luckily, we have all of her books at my library, so I have pulled together a book display and am working on a memorial booklist for my kids.

A little bit of the sparkle has left us, I fear.

07 July 2004

Sadly, no shocker here...

From the New York Times: "Oprah's Book Club may help sell millions of books to Americans, and slam poetry may have engendered a youthful new breed of wordsmith, but the nation is still caught in a tide of indifference when it comes to literature." Read the rest.

06 July 2004

Arrgh! (Leave poor Alice alone!)

From an article in the Independent:

"The original Alice was a flaxen-haired innocent in a whimsical world of Mad Hatters, mock turtles and Cheshire Cats. But in a move that has upset traditionalists, Frank Beddor, the American producer of the gross-out movie There's Something About Mary, has transformed Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into a dark and violent tale of murder and war.

"Beddor said his novel, The Looking Glass Wars, was prompted by his hatred of the 'terrible girls' book' he was forced to read by his mother and grandmother as a child."

Read the rest.

(For the record, I don't think the Alice books are primarily "girls' books." I know a number of boys -- and men -- who are quite taken with the books. Grr.)

05 July 2004

a happy birthday

Yesterday was my 31st birthday. It turned in to one of the nicest birthdays I have had in recent memory, even though it was pretty low-key.

Gram and I had a yummy Greek honey cheese pie I made for breakfast (if anyone wants the recipe, I would be happy to share), then I headed for the airport. I met Jim, Jenny and the kids there. Their plane was leaving at 1:11pm, so we got tasty beverages at Starbucks and just hung out for a while. I gave Edward and the Pirates to Jonathon and he had me read it to him about six times in a row. (Have I mentioned that Jonathon is a pirate?) Then, Michelle and I sang "Clap Your Hands," about seven thousand times in a row. With Jonathon's help we made up new verses ("Drool, drool, drool and spit, drool and spit together...") and laughed a lot.

Finally, too soon, it was time for them to go. I gave Jonathon the rest of the gum I had with me, hugged everyone, and waved good-bye.

I missed them immediately.


Next, I went to my best friend Barbara's house and we packed the kids in the car and headed for the train. I had come up with the brilliant idea that we should go to the Taste of Chicago -- on the fourth of July -- so we could see They Might be Giants play. Her six-year-old, Ethan, loves them, as do I.

If I didn't know better, I would swear I had been doing some serious drugs to come up with such a marvelous plan. I have lived near Chicago my entire life. I know better than to hit the Taste on the fourth. But the promise of TMBG erased all doubt from my mind.

Good Lord! I go to a fair number of Chicago festivals, etc. but I have never seen this many people in Grant Park at one time!

I am just gonna skim over that whole part. We did hear a stellar TMBG concert, then headed to the Pier. I rode the carousel with 2-year-old Lily while Ethan's parents took him on the Ferris Wheel. Got the kids their first ever cotton candy. We were able to let them run around a bit in the Crystal Gardens. We figured we would watch the fireworks and then head home.

Taste ended at 9pm. Every single person who was there picked up two friends and brought them to the Pier. We could hardly get Lily's stroller down the ramp; every inch was full of people. It was insane. Seriously.

We ended up in a park across the street from the Pier where Lily, Barbara, and I laid on a sheet and Ethan climbed on a piece of the public sculpture. Lily was thrilled with the glowsticks we got and seemed more interested in those than in the fireworks.

By the time we got back to my car at the train station, it was after midnight. I returned a call from my brother Wilhelm (in Las Vegas), got home, checked my e-mail, and collapsed in bed.

Nothing earth-shatteringly exciting, but a wonderful day!

02 July 2004

My Pet Goat

The story President Bush kept listening to in a Florida classroom during 9-11 is shrouded in mystery no more. Read all about it (including links to the story and a video) here.

Ruth Heller

According to a colleague on one of the listservs I frequent, Ruth Heller, children's author and illustrator, died yesterday of cancer at the age of 81. I will add a link to an obituary as soon as one appears.

(There is an obit here.)

Brando dies

Screen legend (and former hottie) Marlon Brando has died at the age of 80. Cause of death is "being withheld."

I think the first movie I actually saw him in was Streetcar Named Desire, the summer I was on a Tennessee Williams kick. I had certainly heard of Brando (and heard the many jokes about his troubled life, eccentricity, and weight), but had never seen one of his films. I was shocked at how beautiful he once was.

Wherever he is now, I hope he has peace.

01 July 2004

Not just for rock stars anymore...

Junie B. Jones is on tour.

Just bein' an auntie

A lot of my scarce free time this past week has been spent with my brother and his family. Every time I see the kids, I remind myself that they are still very little (Michelle is 14 months and Jonathon is 3-1/2) and I cannot take it personally if they don't remember me very well.

So, last Friday, I went to see them at my father's house. When I walked in, they were watching Ice Age. Swell. Of course tv trumps real live people 9 times out of 10.

Well, I walk in and said, "hi, Michelle. Hey, Jonathon." Michelle was just waking from her nap and didn't care, but Jonathon sat up speedy quick and said, "Aunt Katharine! Did you bring that book with you?"

I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally, we ascertained that he meant Tacky the Penguin, which I had brought to him when we were all in Vegas for my mother's 50th birthday in March. That made me happy. It was cool that he remembered me reading that book to him so many months ago. Yay.

(Plus, I love that he loves books so much and that he automatically associates me with books.)

So, I have been busy hanging with Jim, Jenny and the kids. Today, we went to the Taste of Chicago and the Chicago Children's Museum. (I hope I can stay awake throughout my evening of work!)

A few memories I will keep:

Sunday, we were at a picnic in Union Grove, Wisconsin. There was a rodeo at the fairgrounds, too. Jonathon spent most of the day running around, playing with new friends he was making. After a while, he came to where The Boy and I were playing Trivial Pursuit. He played with us for a while. (My Ma walked by and said, "Oh no! Are you training another one?" Yup. That's how it starts!) The game was going slowly, though, so we went to the rodeo. He loved watching the cowboys ride the bulls. After that, we walked around and found him some cotton candy. On our way back to the picnic, we spied a mechanical bull. Of course, Jonathon wanted to try. So, after some coaxing from both Jonathon and the cowboy in charge there, I let him do it. SO cute! The cowboy gave J a cowboy hat to wear and made the bull go super slow. I got some great pictures.

Michelle has been hilarious and charming, by turns. She got me to dance for her in Old Navy (dance! me! I *never* dance in public!). She charms me by loving Pete Seeger's song "Clap Your Hands." I taught her that in March and she seems to have remembered. She holds my hands in hers and claps them together when she wants me to sing it. In the bath the other night, she starting stamping her foot in the water so I knew it was time to move to verse two. Her tantrums are hilarious: she plops down on her butt and pouts. If she is really mad, she might even lay all the way back on the floor. No kicking or screaming. Just immobility.

I have so much more, but this is already longer than I usually write and I do have to get some more work done. Hope you all are having happy days, too!