25 December 2006

Sad news: RIP James Brown

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, died this morning at the age of 73. There is a nice obituary here.

I was a little surprised at how sad this made me this morning. Science Boy and I saw a screening of The TAMI Show a few months back. When James Brown came on, he electrified his audience and that little theater we were in. At the end of his performance, everyone in the theater burst into applause and James Brown got a standing ovation, some 41 years and many miles from that original performance.

Our local R&B station has been playing interviews, old and new, and lots of music. I will listen to his music and I think I will read Mr. Chickee's Funny Money by Christopher Paul Curtis and imagine that James Brown *is* the face on the extremely rare, government-denied quadrillion dollar bill...

23 December 2006

In Memoriam: Philippa Pearce

Philippa Pearce, author of the perrenial favorite children's novel, Tom's Midnight Garden, has died at the age of 86.

From the obituary at the Independent Online:

Preferring to talk to children because, unlike adults when struggling to be polite, they "always yawn when they are bored", she combined a quizzical humour with a gentle but insistent honesty that won her many devoted friends at home and abroad.Preferring to talk to children because, unlike adults when struggling to be polite, they "always yawn when they are bored", she combined a quizzical humour with a gentle but insistent honesty that won her many devoted friends at home and abroad.

Tom's Midnight Garden was one of the books that has appealed to children everywhere I have worked. In one community -- a city with high crime and poverty rates -- 10-year-old Penny told me the book helped her feel better about all the "bad things" in her life. After that ringing endorsement, I read it, too. That magic that resides in very special books is there and so, as long as children love that story (which I predict will be for a very long time, indeed), a piece of Ms. Pearce shall remain with us, making lives the richer for it.

28 November 2006

Shameless shilling

It's the holiday season -- don't you still have gifts to buy for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc.? Consider a super cool shirt / tote bag / mug from Book-Kitten's Treasure Chest. (There's a slide show in the right margin of this very page for a preview.) I have mentioned the store before, but want to highlight it again, because a bunch o' new designs have been added, especially for kids. Much of the artwork is papercuts made by yours truly... Please, at least take a look and let me know what you think!

In Memoriam: Bebe Moore Campbell

The talented and lovely Bebe Moore Campbell has died at the way-too-early age of 56 from complications related to brain cancer.

The New York Times has a nice article remembering Campbell:

"Along with writers like Terry McMillan, Ms. Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile black people a routine subject for popular fiction. Straddling the divide between literary and mass-market novels, Ms. Campbell’s work explored not only the turbulent dance between blacks and whites but also the equally fraught relationship between men and women."

Honor her memory by reading one of her wonderful books.

05 November 2006

And you are...?

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?

You're Brigitte Bardot!
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12 October 2006

Drum Roll, Please

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2006 has been awarded to a Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures." You can see video of the announcement at the Nobel site.

Time Magazine named Orhan Pamuk one of the "Time 100: People Who Sahpe Our World" in May and their article about him remains on-line.

11 October 2006

National Book Award Finalists Announced

The nominees for Young People's Literature are:

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick Press)
  • Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt (Front Street Books/Boyds Mills Press)
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick (Hyperion Books for Children)
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (Dial/Penguin)
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (First Second/Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck)

I have only read the spectacular Sold thus far, but Octavian Nothing is sitting on my desk...

Winners of Quill Awards announced

The winners of the 2006 Quill Awards have been announced. I didn't vote for too many of the winners, but I did correctly chose the winner in the "Best General Fiction" category -- Congratulations to Chris Moore on his novel, A Dirty Job winning.

The awards show will be broadcast on October 28. I will watch, hoping the show isn't as dreadful as it was last year.

09 October 2006

*HOW* many??

So, here I am, trying to decide if 3 jalapenos are too many for the delicious Mexican-Style Chicken Lime Soup I am making for dinner or if two will do and this fool's gulping down 247 jalapenos. 247!!! It's madness, I tell you!

Set your alarm...

... So you do not miss the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Thursday at 1:00 p.m. CET. So far, Americans have swept the Nobels, which makes me suspect that the Lit and Peace prizes will go elsewhere. Still exciting!

29 September 2006

You know you want it!

I am finally getting some stuff together at the Book-Kitten Cafepress store. The main goal is to make some cool shirts for kids. I like the idea of making empowering shirts that the shorties can wear without being walking billboards for corporate America. I've already created a special shirt for some peace-loving twins I know and a shirt for Miss Lily-Belle as well as a few others. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, here's a teensy preview:

If you'd like to buy something, I'd love to sell to you!

25 September 2006

Be ye a-feared of me!

Okay, so don't ask, but I just found out my secret Pirate Identity. Arrrgh!

My pirate name is:

Dirty Charity Rackham

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. 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!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

22 September 2006

Not sure what to be for Halloween?

(This is killin' me!) Buycostumes.com has a "Naughty Librarian" costume for sale.


21 September 2006

Baby Got Book tees

I have finally gotten a (very) few things up in a Book-Kitten store, including Baby Got Book shirts. I'll add more eventually, but it took almost all night to edit the mudflap girl for the graphic. I really wanted to get the tees done, though, so we could wear them on our Asthma Walk in a few weeks...

08 September 2006

This is one of the saddest things I have ever heard...

From MSNBC: Staff at a zoo in southwest China are in mourning after a sleep-deprived panda dropped her two-day-old baby and crushed it to death, local media reported on Friday.

Poor Ya Ya!

Read the whole sad story here.

06 September 2006

Is braiding someone's hair dangerous?

From The Reader: Black women have been braiding hair for generations, and until recently they didn’t need a license to do it for a living. Now the state requires braiders to spend thousands of dollars on beauty school, where they must learn to cut, dye, and perm--services they never wanted to provide. Instead they’re going underground.

Apparently, the cosmetology industry thinks it's not safe for an unlicensed woman to braid another's hair. How utterly ridiculous! This fascinating article in The Reader explores the issues of licensing for braiders and lockticians and examines the rifts between the communities of African-American and African natural hair-care practioners.

Read the whole article here.

04 September 2006


I *love* Mold-a-Rama. I love the way it smells, the way it is hot when it comes out of the machine, the way you can dent Lincoln's head if you push the hot figure ever so gently when it is freshly made. (NOT that I do that anymore...) On one of our first dates, Science Boy bought me a Mold-a-Rama space shuttle which now lives on our bookshelves.

Today's Chicago Tribune features an article on Mold-a-Rama and the guys who keep it running.

03 September 2006

Comfort Reading

Science Boy and I are watching a heartbreaking documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Even among all the tragedy, my favorite Camus passage (from The Plague)comes to mind. pehaps I have blogged it before, but I feel a need to repeat it again, like a mantra:

Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people. . . and to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

01 September 2006

31 August 2006

Congratulations, Kate!

Kate DiCamillo has won the 2006 Chicago Tribune Prize for Young Adult Fiction. There's a press release here. I *love* Desperaux.

(There's an article in the Chicago Tribune, too, but it focuses on Joyce Cariol Oates, winner of this year's Chicago Tribune Literary Prize.)

30 August 2006

I do love Body Shop, *but*...

They apparently have a new line of makeup, so the website asks, What's your fabulous new look? Time to revamp. Find a collection of gorgeous day and night looks: For a Hot Date, For 9 to 5, and For a Party. Experiment, be bold, and best of all, feel fabulous. Then they give suggestions for how to achieve each of these looks.

Problem is, I think all their suggestions look hideous. Like a little girl playing in her mother's make-up. Or Baby Jane.


Or maybe it's just me...

Worth checking out...

Seems my neighborhood has yet another new library! From the Reader: Last year Logan Square got a new neighborhood library. Last month it unexpectedly got another one, on the sidewalk around the corner from Lula Cafe. It’s small, unfunded, and self-maintaining--in fact, it doesn’t have any employees at all. It’s easy to miss it altogether, but if you look again at what appears to be an old newspaper honor box, you’ll see the words on its side, painted in bright green over white puffy clouds: FREE BOOKS! Below, in smaller letters, is written: COMMUNITY BOOK EXCHANGE. LOGAN SQUARE BRANCH.

This sounds rockin' cool -- and gives me a good place to ditch some books. (I can't bear to throw them out, but I have decided I can't keep EVERYthing and my shelves are full again!) Definitely gonna be checking that out soon.

Read all about it.

Don't forget to vote!

Now's the time to vote for the 2006 Quill Awards. The website says "The Quill Awards pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz and have become the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of the group that matters most in publishing-readers."


Actually, I quite like the idea of the Awards -- a Rebecca Caudill Award for grown-ups. Maybe it just needs time to catch on. I did watch the ceremony last year and thought it was kinda lame. The focus seemed to be more on the commentators and celebrity authors instead of the "real" authors. (Don't they realize that those of us who would tune in to an awards show for BOOKS in the first place would rather see authors than anyone else?")

Well, however it all plays out this year, I did vote and encourage everyone out there who loves books to vote as well. Maybe the Quills just needs to have some time to become what it can be. I mean, it's only been one year. I guess some slack should be cut.


Anyway, go vote.

One Book, One Chicago

The Chicago Public Library has announced the latest book in the One Book, One Chicago series: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This is one of the few One Book selections I actually read before it was chosen, but I started rereading it this morning. Absolutely lovely! I recommend that, whether you're in Chicago or not, you go to your local library and check out this collection of short stories.

Naguib Mahfouz has died

From Yahoo!: Naguib Mahfouz, who became the first Arab writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels depicting modern Egyptian life in his beloved, millennium-old corner of Islamic Cairo, died Wednesday, his doctor said. He was 94.

Read the rest of the story.

09 August 2006

Deep Breathing: Why should obscene phone callers have all the fun?

Okay, so we got our acts together, thought of a team name, and registered for the October 1st "Blow the Whistle on Asthma" Walk. (Well, *I* registered anyway. Anita and Erin were right there when I did and said they were gonna sign up, too... Hmm...) This is a cause that means a lot to me. As some of you know, Science Boy lives with asthma and we've had a few sleepless nights -- him struggling to breathe, me lying awake in terror that he's not gonna make that next breath. His asthma is under control 99.9% of the time, but that 0.1% is scary.

PLEASE take a look at our team page and pledge a few bucks. We're trying to raise $500 as a team, so anything you can do will help and be appreciated. (It's worth a click just to see what dorky name we finally decided on!)

Peace and love to all,

05 August 2006

01 August 2006

Nicole Kidman is Mrs. Coulter

According to Yahoo!, Nicole Kidman is set to play Mrs. Coulter in the film adaptation of Philip Pullman's book, The Golden Compass. Read the whole story here. I think she'll do pretty well.

31 July 2006

Congratulations, Studs!

This isn't exactly *new* news, but I've been meaning to blog it, so here goes... From the Chicago Tribune: Chicago-based writer and oral historian Studs Terkel has been awarded the first Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an outgrowth of the Dayton Peace Prize that commemorates the 1995 agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. Congratulations to one of Chicago's brightest literary lights!

29 July 2006


One of our friends has an opportunity to play at Lollapalooza. He's a very talented hip-hop artist who has already made it through several rounds of competition. This next round of voting is happening on-line and, so far, he's not doing so well. He really needs votes.

Consider taking a minute to cast a vote his way. If you want to hear what you're voting for, there are samples of his music at his webpage.

Then, please go to Q101's site and cast a vote for Jeff Baraka (O-Type Star). The link to the voting is at http://www.q101.com/lastbandstanding/vote.aspx.

You'll have to register with Q101 (sponsoring the contest). It's like registering for a message board (but at least they have prizes & giveaways, etc.). The purpose is to discourage cheating & of course promote the station. If you don't wanna continue w/Q101, you can always unsubscribe after voting.

Voting ends at 12 noon on Monday (7/31).

PLEASE vote! How cool would it be to have a young Chicago artist playing one of the biggest concerts of the year?


UPDATE: Sadly, Jeff did not win the on-line voting. :-( I think that, in general, a rock band (which his three competitors were) probably had a slightly better chance with Q101's target audience than a hip-hop act, no matter how brilliant. Thanks for voting and, seriously, consider checking out some of Jeff's music at his website.

Bad Blogger!

Okay, first of all, I just spent a while typing in a long explanation about why I have neglected this blog and when I tried to publish, it was *lost*! UGH.

ANYway, the short short story is that I broke my right pinkie finger the Friday before Memorial Day. I finally took a vacation day and Science Boy took me to Hyde Park to see where he grew up. We went to breakfast at Valois and then walked around for a bit. As we were returning to the car, we noticed a police car parked in front of Santiago. I was worried that maybe our meter was expired and we'd get a ticket, so I ran to check.

And tripped over my own sandals.

And fell.


When I raised my head, i noticed that my right knee was all ripped up and that my right pinkie finger was at a very bad angle. Without thinking, I yanked it straight. Science Boy helped me up and suggested we go to the hospital. i did NOT want to, but he never listens to me, so instead of spending the afternoon at MSI, we spent it at the hospital.

I got a cast and, later, a brace. Typing (and many other things) were a serious pain in the ass with my hand wrapped up, which is the my official excuse for not keeping up here. Now it is 8 weeks later and it still isn't quite right, but I can type easier again, so I will try to be better about keeping up.

(Actually, my day off was still lovely. Despite the afternoon in the hospital, we had fun. I have a friend who works there and came to hang out with us. And after we left the hospital, Science Boy took me to the gorgeous Japanese gardens, and then for a walk around the Point.)

Thanks to my friends and readers who have written to ask if I was okay and ask about the blog. I will try not to leave for so long again. At least not without explanation.

Be well, all.

23 May 2006

Stay indoors!

Daniel Handler has a message from Lemony Snicket:

"Mr. Snicket believes that summertime is such a dangerous season, what with sunburn and melted ice cream and the possibility of summer camp, that it's best to stay indoors and read."

Read the whole story.

12 May 2006

Mo's dream...

From USA Today:

When Mo Willems, an author and illustrator of children's books, was 6, he loved the comic strip Peanuts "more than anything," so he wrote to its creator:

"Dear Mr. Schulz: Can I have yur job when you die? Yur fan, Maurice Charels Willems."

Read the whole article.

01 May 2006

On my mind...

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

-- words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, written by Emma Lazarus

How Kaavya Viswanathan Got a Book Deal, Got Good Reviews, and Got in Trouble

First off, let me say that I loved How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan. I didn't view it as Great Literature, but found it entertaining and worth my time. Our library system bought it as an adult title, but we talked about how it might be a great book for teen groups.

Then the Harvard Crimson reported that Viswamanathan had apparently plagarized parts of her novel from two Megan McCafferty novels, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. The media pounced on the story. Many outlets, including the Boston Globe, ran passages from the works of both authors next to one another, showing that there are, indeed, striking similarities between the two works and the question of plagarism is valid.

Kaavya Viswanathan responded to the accusations with apologies. She said she had read McCafferty's books and had internalized them, that any plagarism was "unintentional and unconscious.".

The New York Times ran a story on book packaging, whereby editors "craft proposals for publishers and create plotlines and characters before handing them over to a writer (or a string of writers)." In fact, in this particular case, "the same editor, Claudia Gabel, is thanked on the acknowledgments pages of both Ms. McCafferty's books and Ms. Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Ms. Gabel had been an editorial assistant at Crown Publishing Group, then moved to Alloy, where she helped develop the idea for Ms. Viswanathan's book."

So, the same woman who helped along on McCafferty's books also worked on Viswanathan's book? And didn't notice any similarities?

I am not defending intentional plagarism, but I am also not shocked that a 17-year-old girl (which is what Viswanathan was when she got her publishing deal) might use words from other books she had loved, without really realizing it. As an adult writer, I have caught myself once or twice thinking, "Wow, that sounds great! Hey... Isn't that awfully close to something I read a few weeks ago...?" Then I try to ascertain if it *is* similar to something else I read or if I'm just being paranoid. So far, I've kept myself out of trouble.

My point is... Where the hell were Viswanathan's editors during all of this? Doesn't it make sense that an editor -- especially one who seems to have worked on the book Viswanathan is accused of copying from -- would, um, I don't know, maybe notice the similarities? Doesn't some of the responsibility lie with them?

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point and Blink, has an good post on the whole affair on his blog. His stance is that in teen fiction, certain themes and plots are staples. He says, "It is worth reading, I think, the actual passages that Viswanathan is supposed to have taken from McCafferty. Let's just say this isn't the first twenty lines of Paradise Lost. My question is whether it is possible to write a teen-lit novel without these sentences... Calling this plagiarism is the equivalent of crying 'copy' in a crowded Kinkos."

There's another defense, from a more legal standpoint, at Language Log.

I don't know. Maybe I am wrong. But, for the record, I really think Viswanathan is the better writer... I hope this doesn't destroy her writing career, because I was really looking forward to what happened to Opal Mehta next...

18 April 2006

Congratulations, Ref Grunt!

Ref Grunt has co-authored a new book, Reference Librarianship: Notes from the Trenches. If it's even a teensy bit as funny and fascinating as his blog, it'll be well worth the cover price!


First of all, it is the funnest store name. EVAH. I *love* to say it. go ahead, try it yourself. First slowly: "Be-Bo-Ba." Now quickly, all one word: "BeBoBa."

Okay, now that that's out of the way. let me tell you why you should go to BeBoBa if you are anywhere near Chicago.

First off, what is BeBoBa? It's an independent Bubble Tea house on Western, just south of Addison. Okay, so what the heck is bubble tea? It's a sweet tea drink, which originated in Taiwan in 1983. It gets its name from the soft tapioca pearls -- or bubbles -- in it.

Bubble tea is YUMMY and BeBoBa is the place to go. The owners are friendly and wonderful. The prices are reasonable -- no more than your daily Starbucks fix. They have a gazillion flavors to choose from, so you can have a different tasty treat each time you go.

Science Boy is really good at picking delicious combinations of flavors. I've found a few I love -- and I *always* love whatever they recommend when I ask for help! Some of our favorite combinations have been: Pineapple Cranberry, Matcha Lavender Orange, and Avocado Honeydew.

Science Boy and I have gotten into the habit of timing our visits to the video store around BeBoBa's hours.

Go to BeBoBa! Heck, if any of my readers are in the Chicago area and want to try it, I'll even treat. (Okay, I will treat the first person who responds to this.)

And if -- no when -- you go, tell 'em Miss Katharine sent ya.

15 April 2006

In Memoriam

From Yahoo: "Dame Muriel Spark, whose spare and humorous novels made her one of the most admired British writers of the post World War II years, has died in Tuscany, Italian officials said Saturday. She was 88." Read the whole story here.

14 April 2006

Fighting the Good Fight

Mary Schmich's column in todays' Chicago Tribune talks about moms who are working to keep small children out of R-rated movies. Two such moms have banded together to raise awareness of this issue, even creating a website, Box Office Offenders.

In my mind, this is *so* not an issue of censorship, but rather of appropriateness. It seems so common sense. As one of the moms writes, "Doesn’t forcing a 4 year old to be subjected to images of molestation, brains being blown onto walls, and cannibalism of the dead constitute as SOME form of child abuse? "

Um... YEAH.

And, if you want to look at it from a different, more self-centered point of view, should adults have the right to enjoy an evening out at a film made for adults without worrying about the 4-year-old screaming in terror next to them. Science Boy and I went to the Symphony last night and even the CSO has a policy that prohibits children under 8 years of age from attending concerts, unless it is a show planned and appropriate for children.

IT'S JUST GOOD SENSE. Just because something is appropriate for an adult does not make it appropriate for a child. I understand that adults want to see grown-up movies and I guess that's what leads to taking the kids along. But DON'T. Drop the kids off with your mom or a neighbor. Arrange a playdate with a friend (you can watch the friend's kid when he/she wants to go to an adult-appropriate film/concery). Hire the teen down the street to babysit for a few hours.

As if the world isn't hard enough... Please don't force your children to watch films that are inappropriate for them.

A letter in the Trib; that's kinda cool...

The Chicago Tribune graciously printed a letter I sent them about Beverly Cleary in yesterday's paper. I don't know how long it will remain on-line, but it's there now. Some of it I cribbed from my blog entry on her birthday... I'm kinda proud that I got this paper to print an appreciation of one of the brightest stars in the Children's Lit sky.

12 April 2006


Okay. So I am caving in. I want an iPod. I have so many books on cd. I just want an efficient way to carry them around with me so I can listen on the daily commute.

But, no extra money for an iPod.


(Geez. Why is this embarrassing?)

Okay. So by looking at internet ads, signing up for an offer from an advertiser, and then begging my friends to do the same thing, I can win a free iPod.

And the thing is, I have seen these offers before and have always TOTALLY assumed they were a scam.


But NPR ran a story about this. Not a tabloid or some anonymous person on-line, but NPR, Man! AND The Boston Globe, in an article written by someone who begins believing it's all a scam, too, is convinced. Actually, this company freepay.com, has received such good press that they provide a handy index for you.

It's not only iPods, either. Freepay.com offers members choices: flatscreen tvs, laptops, designer handbags, and more.


I am caving in to Wall Street for however long it takes me to earn the iPod. Please consider clicking this link -- http://premiumipods.freepay.com/?r=29357159 -- and at least considering the offers. Some are completely free, some cost a few bucks. I chose a free offer and hope to figure out a way to get enough others to look so I will soon be listening to Thoreau on the subway.


Drop Everything and READ!

Today is National D.E.A.R. day -- Drop Everything and Read. D.E.A.R. time was first enjoyed by Ramona in Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

It is also, not coincidentally, the 90th birthday of the amazing Beverly Cleary. Newsweek recently ran a profile of Ms. Cleary and today's Arizona Republic also features an article.

It's so nice, in an age of tabloids and starlets behaving badly, to see such a wonderful author still so beloved. And who HASN'T read the Ramona books? Even Science Boy confesses to having read them as a child.

So many images come to mind as I write this -- Ramona wearing pajamas to portray a sheep at the Nativity; Ramona cracking a raw egg on her head; writing her Qs as little cats; trying to write her name for a library card; envying Willa Jean's ability to pull all the Kleenex out of a box and still be thought of as cute; Beezus and Ramona being horrified when their parents cook tongue...

I LOVE Ramona. And Ellen Tebbits. And Henry Huggins. And Mitch and Amy. And Ralph. And EVERYONE who inhabits the pages of Beverly Cleary's books.

Thank you, Ms. Cleary, for writing so many books for children -- and their adults to read and cherish and read again. Happiest of birthdays to you. I love you.

NOTE: There are more tributes to Cleary at The Yakima-Herald (where she once worked), Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Washington Post, NPR, The Oregonian, and The Boston Globe. I'm sure there are more that I have missed, but I think I am gonna go read Beezus and Ramona instead of surfing the 'net anymore.

21 March 2006


If you live in a place where there is an election today, please take a minute to go to your polling place and vote.

Science Boy and I went this morning. We walked in the freezing cold to the local grade school, cast our votes and trudged back home.

I am a woman. Science Boy is African-American. Even 100 years ago, we would have been denied any voice in an election. Women in this country didn't get the vote until 1920. African-Americans technically got the vote in 1870, but everyone knows that's not really what happened. It took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to make the right of African-Americans to cast votes (in a country they helped build) a reality.

So, it's been only 86 years that women in the US have been allowed to vote. African-Americans have been allowed to cast a vote only in the past 41 years. Knowing how hard our forebears fought for this right, knowing that people spoke out and rallied and sometimes died for our right to vote... How can we dishonor their sacrifices by not voting? And how can this country claim to fight for democracy overseas when we do not honor the rights we have here?

Please, if you have an election in your city today, VOTE!

13 March 2006

Jealous much?

According to his blog, Scott Adams is not happy that Aaron McGruder is taking vacation.

According to one news story I read: Aaron McGruder, the cartoonist behind the strip syndicated in about 350 American newspapers, said Tuesday he would take about six months off beginning in March.

"‘Every well needs occasional refreshing," he wrote in a letter to be sent to editors of newspapers carrying the strip. "I hope that this fall you will agree that the time away from the demands of deadlines has served the strip, your readers and me."

Apparently Adams thinks that taking a vacation after doing the Boondocks strip for 6-7 years is not warranted. On his blog, he writes:

The creator, Aaron McGruder apparently doesn’t have enough time because he’s working on his animated TV show.

The interesting part is that he hasn’t drawn the strip himself for years. According to an interview I read, he considers himself more of a writer than an artist anyway.

I imagine Stephen King rolling over in his grave when he hears that McGruder doesn’t have time to write his four sentences per day for the strip. I realize Stephen King is still alive, but I assume he sleeps in a grave anyway.

Now, I don't know how y'all feel, but that just seems a little bitchy. From what i have read, McGruder didn't say he didn't have time to do both, but that he needs a vacation. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me. McGruder says he hopes the strip will be stronger when he comes back from vacation. Why doesn't he deserve a break if he wants one?

Why Scott Adams even cares whether or not Aaron McGruder takes vacation is another question entirely.

Look. I know Scott Adams has had a strip *and* a tv show at the same time in the past, but... I dunno. Yay for him. Hooray for Scott Adam's intricate, painstaking, finely nuanced drawings each day. He's a harder worker than Aaron McGruder. He is superior because being snarky about his fellow comic strip creator makes him so.


I have never heard Aaron McGruder being anything but honest about having an artist draw the strips. If he has gotten to the point in his career where he can afford to hire someone to do the drawing while he outlines storylines (because many of his strips are part of a larger arch, not just one-offs) and writes for the show, good for him. Nothing wrong with considering yourself a writer when what you actually do is, um, WRITE.

For a writer, four sentences could take *way* longer than four pages might because you must distill the language and have every word just so. Unless, of course, you are so amazingly, unrelentingly talented that you scribble your strip in seconds each morning, effortlessly, as Mr. Adams would appear to.

I actually feel kinda sad now because I used to like Scott Adams. I still like his work and find his blog entertaining from time to time. But somehow, seeing that he needs to be nasty about his fellow comic strip creators just because they take vacation in order to feel better about himself has made me lose any respect I had for the man.

Librarians Defeat Nuns!

Who would have thought that people as far away as Toronto would be interested in a spelling bee in Northern Kentucky?

That's what happens when three undefeated nuns takes on a trio of unbeaten librarians.

So begins the story in the Cincinnati Post last Friday.

A tough match-up, but the librarians prevailed:

The sisters bowed out when they couldn't spell "chimopelagic," a word that describes organisms that live deep in the sea and come up once in a while for light.

The Boone County librarians spelled that word correctly, then spelled one more word correctly for the win - "trinitrotoluene" - otherwise known as TNT.

Read the whole story.

03 March 2006

Springsteen does Seeger

Bruce Springsteen will release an album of cover songs for the first time in his career. The artist he is covering? PETE SEEGER.

Yup, you read that right> The Boss will cover songs by Pete Seeger, who I believe is one of our great national treasures. I hope the album does well, and maybe brings more people to Pete's music.

Thanks, Amy, for the heads-up! ;-)

09 February 2006

Librarians are so fair

The headline in the Baltimore Sun reads,

Library patron 'borrows' way into prison
Record of 402 overdue items leads to Randallstown man's theft conviction, 3-year term

The article begins, If you're two weeks late in returning a book to the Baltimore County library, you're likely to get a phone call. If your book is four weeks overdue, you'll receive a notice in the mail.

And if you're Philip Akbar Shabazz, you're sent a letter that begins: "You currently have 402 items overdue from the Baltimore County Public Library. Fees and charges for these items amount to over $8,400."

Despite this guy using multiple (stolen?) cards to get hundreds of books (which it is believed he sold), the article ends in the best way possible:

Still, library officials said that if Shabazz were to square his account, he would no longer be barred from library branches.

"He would be welcomed back," Wheeler said.

I *love* librarians!

Read the whole article here.

Libraries ROCK!

"Imagine a collection of music, movies, and books you can access for free with the help of the Internet. What if you could share it all with your friends and neighbors? No, I’m not referring to BitTorrent or Napster; I’m talking about your local library."

Thus begins a fabulous new article on Lifehacker. It mentions many of my favorite things about libraries including, "Chances are that your library doesn’t stock every book you might ever want to read. Just because they don’t own it, doesn’t mean they can’t get it." Yeah! I *love* that part!

Be sure to read the whole article here.

08 February 2006


The headline in the Miami Herald reads:

Collaborator on 'Curious George' books, films found dead, covered with garbage bags, in Boynton driveway

From the article, it seems this man co-edited, rather than wrote, some of the George books. However he was involved with the naughty little monkey, this is a ghastly story...

Read the whole story here.

03 February 2006

A good little monkey

Curious George opens next weekend and reuters has an article about the corporate adventures of this mischievous little monkey. Read it here.

Not to ruin it for anyone, but I love the last line: "Having escaped corporate duties, Curious George is once again free to play with the kids."

Thank goodness!

02 February 2006

In Memoriam

According to Publisher's Weekly, two of Children's Lit's mainstays have died.

Tana Hoban
Photographer, designer and author Tana Hoban died on January 27 in Paris, at the age of 88. Hoban began her artistic career as a photographer of children, with exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art as well as shows in Philadelphia, Paris and Berlin. She turned her eye to making photography for children in 1970 with the publication of the concept book Shapes and Things (Macmillan). Hoban published more than 50 books for children and won numerous awards, including a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor and the George C. Stone Recognition of Merit Award for her entire body of work.

Martha Alexander
Author and illustrator Martha Alexander died on January 31 from complications from a stroke. She was 85. Alexander illustrated her first book, Come and See Me by Mary Kennedy (Harper & Row) in 1966 and went on to publish nearly 50 children's books, many of which she was both the author and illustrator. Charlesbridge is reissuing three of Alexander's picture books this year, When the New Baby Comes, I'm Moving Out and Nobody Asked ME if I Wanted a Baby Sister, in February, and I'll Protect You from the Jungle Beasts, in July.

Hey. You. GUYS!!!

Woo-hoo! I cannot wait for next Tuesday!

Why, you ask?

Because -- FINALLY -- The Electric Company will be available on dvd.

I don't know whether to be at the store when it opens or to pre-order now...


From Yahoo:

Shock-rocker Marilyn Manson will play Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll in a movie that also marks his writing and directing debut.

This frightens me. I mean, I will absolutely rent it on dvd, but it frightens me all the same.

Read the whole story here.

23 January 2006

The Newbery Medal

Criss Cross by Lynn Rae Perkins

Whittington by Alan Armstrong
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

Caldecott Medal

The Hello Goodbye Window illustrated by Chris Raschka and written by Norton Juster
(I *knew* it! I *love* this book and have had an argument or two with colleagues about it's gloriousness. I feel happy and somewhat vindicated! If I had a webcam, you'd all get to see me doing a somewhat mortifying Happy Dance. Woo-hoo!)

Rosa illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Nikki Giovanni
Zen Shorts written and illistrated by Jon J. Muth
Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems illustrated by Beckie Prange and written by Joyce Sidman

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant

Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold
A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen

Andrew Carnegie Medal

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (Weston Wood Studios)

Pura Belpre Author Awards

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

Cesar: Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
Dona Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart illustrated by Raul Colon, written by Pat Mora
Becoming Naomi Leon by Pat Munoz Ryan

Pura Belpre Illustrator Award

Dona Flor: A Tall Tale about a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart illustrated by Raul Colon, written by Pat Mora

Arrorro, Mi Nino: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games selected and illustrated by Lulu Delacre
Cesar: Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/ Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz illustrated by Rafael Lopez, written by Monica Brown

Siebert Informational Book Medal

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Secrets of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Batchelder Award

An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub

Honor books
Nicholas by Rene Goscinnyand Jean-Jacques Sempe
When I Was a Soldier by Valerie Zenatti

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture

The 2007 lecture will be delivered by...
Kevin Henkes

Coretta Scott King Author Award

Day of Tears by Julius Lester (YAY!!! Hopefully this is the first of several awards for this powerful book!)

Honor Books
Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden
Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

Rosa illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Nikki Giovanni

Brothers in Hope: the Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and written by Mary Williams

Coretta Scott King New Talent Award

Jimi and Me by Jaime Adoff

Michael L. Printz Award

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Honor books
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth by Elizabeth Partridge
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

Margaret A. Edwards award

The winner is...
Jacqueline Woodson

(woo-hoo! I *love* her books!)

Schneider Award

Best Children's Book
Dad, Jackie, and Me written by Myron Uhlberg and illustrated by Colin Bootman

Best Middle School Book
Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Best Teen Book
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog by Adam Rapp

I'll announce as they do. The first award was the Alex Awards

And the winners are...

I'm in!

Woo-hoo! *Just* got into the webcast. I'll post winners as soon as I can, adding links later...

Just to refresh the memory...

Awards to be announced January 23 are:

  • Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to teen audience
  • Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video
  • Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children
  • Coretta Scott King Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults that demonstrate sensitivity to "the true worth and value of all beings"
  • Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults
  • May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States
  • Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature
  • Pura Belpré Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children
  • Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the outstanding book for beginning reader


As y'all know, I get really geeked out over the announcement of the winners of the children's book awards from ALA each year. This year, ALA promised a webcast of the press conference. I got up extra early, on the train almost an hour earlier than usual and now... can't get into the site! ARRRGH!

Deep breath.

Maybe it just isn't ready quite yet? After all, there are 15 minutes to go...


11 January 2006

I'll say it again: Librarians ROCK!

U.S. News & World Report has named "librarian" as one of the best jobs to have in 2006, according to Yahoo. The magazine says:

This is an underrated career. Most librarians enjoy helping patrons dig up information. They learn in the process and keep up to date on the latest books and online resources. The need for librarians, unfortunately, may decline because search engines make it easy for patrons to find information without a librarian's help. The job growth for librarians will be in nontraditional settings: corporations, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms.

I completely disagree that the need for librarians will decline, although I do see the profession embracing more "nontraditional" settings and resources. It's interesting that the article (or the portion reprinted here, anyway) doesn't talk about salary or working conditions, since many public librarians are not paid as much as other professionals with Masters degrees. Still, good to have our profession recognized as a worthy one in a national publication!

See the whole list here.

Update on audible.com's "Don't Read" campaign

According to Library Journal, ALA doesn't love Audible.com's new ad campaign, either:

Last week, ALA executive director Keith Fiels announced on the mailing list, "We are in the process of sending them a polite but firm cease and desist letter. This use clearly violates our trademark and is not consistent with our message as an Association, which is to promote reading."

Read the whole article.

06 January 2006

Lots of new Alien Bunnies!

Well, I don't know if the bunnies are alien, but I realized today that it's been a while since I visited Angry Alien Productions, home of the brilliant 30-Second Bunnies Theatre. Sure enough, there are lots of new films there. You can even get some cool bunny swag. Definitely worth a look.

In Memoriam

Lou Rawls, singer extraordinaire, has died at the age of 72. (Or 70. There seems to be some confusion about this.)

You can read the Yahoo! story here.

04 January 2006

Their Eyes Were Reading Smut

Nick Chiles has an interesting op-ed piece (with a great title) in today's New York Times:

"LAST month I happened to go into the Borders Books store at the Stonecrest mall in Lithonia, Ga., about a half-hour from my house here. To my surprise, it had one of the largest collections of books by black authors that I've ever seen outside an independent black bookstore, rows and rows of bookcases. This is the sort of discovery that makes the pulse quicken, evidence of a population I've spent most of my professional life seeking: African-American readers. What a thrill to have so much space in a major chain store devoted to this country's black writers.

"With an extra spring in my step, I walked into the 'African-American Literature' section - and what I saw there thoroughly embarrassed and disgusted me..."

Read the whole column here.

I've never really been able to warm up to Elmo...

... and now I know why.

In a new book, he asks toddlers, "Who wants to die?"

Of course, it is a potty-training book. Elmo probably got just sick of asking the kid over and over if she needed to potty, so he decided to mix it up a little.

But still...

Read the whole story here.

Whitbread Category Winners Announced

The 2005 Whitbread Award Category Winners have been announced.

Kate Thompson received the Whitbread Children’s Book Award for her book The New Policeman.

The Whitbread Novel Award went to Ali Smith for The Accidental.

Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling won the Whitbread Biography Award.

The Whitbread First Novel Award went to Tash Aw for The Harmony Silk Factory.

The Whitbread Poetry Award was won by Cold Calls by Christopher Logue.

These five winning books are the finalists for the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year Award, which wil be announced 24 January 2006.

More info on the Whitbread Book Awards site.

03 January 2006

Start writing letters...

...so you can use the gorgeous new "Favorite Children's Book Animals" stamps! Characters from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlotte's Web, Fox in Socks, Maisy, Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George, Olivia, and Frederick will all adorn postage stamps beginning January 9.

You can pre-order them here.

(Thanks, Amy, for the scoop!)

Top Ten of 2005

LISnews.org has posted their "Ten Stories that Shaped 2005," covering "Google, a good looking librarian, a curmudgeonly president, Wikis, Rootkits and more."

Read the whole article here.