13 December 2007

sad news

This announcement was on Paul Kidby's website:


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet :o)

Terry Pratchett

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell. I know it's a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

10 December 2007

How does one type a squeal of anticipation?

Okay, so Science Boy and I went to see The Golden Compass on Friday night. More on that later, if I can wrangle the time.

BUT... They showed, like, 57 commercials and previews before the film. Finally I leaned over and whispered to SB, "Y'know, I want to see a preview of Inkheart so badly and this would be the perfect film to them to show it before!"

No sooner had the words left my mouth, then...

I must have given a little yelp of excitement, because SB told me to settle down and I noticed a glare or two from our neighbors. But I don't care! Finally, a peek!

It looks good. Dustfinger, in particular, looks perfect to me and it seems there may be just a touch of humor, which is often a good thing. No release date given, just "Coming Soon."

If you want to see a preview of Inkheart, click here.

And, even better: Inkdeath will be coming in the Spring. Calloo, Callay!

30 November 2007


I was just finishing The Aurora County All-Stars, Deborah Wiles excellent new book, and was struck by the beauty of this statement:

"It is hard to see inside someone's heart unless you have an invitation, and, even then, you must agree to come inside."

quotes o' the day

Wisdom from a couple of baseball legends:

"Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand, just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you're wasting your life." (Jackie Robinson)

"Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on earth." (Roberto Clemente)

10 November 2007

one more scan

This is the catalog card I have signed by Norman Mailer:

So Sad

Norman Mailer died today. He was 84 years old.

I am on my way out of the house and will re-write this post later, but just wanted to share the sad news that yet another literary light has dimmed. There's an article in the Chicago Tribune.

LATER: Okay, I am back and find I don't have much to add that hasn't been written, better than I could, by others. Among the many articles appearing online, The New York Times has a really good obit.

In 2000, we held an auction of card catalog cards at the library I worked for at the time. I wrote personal thank you notes after the auction to all of the children's authors who had contributed, as well as to my favorites among those who wrote primarily for adults. One of the people who wrote back was Norman Mailer, to whom I had written about my especial affection for The Gospel According to the Son. This morning, I dug through my "treasure chest" of letters and artwork from various authors and found his letter:

I feel very, very lucky to have this treasure.

One quote keeps running through my mind this day. It was not written about Mailer, but it may as well have been. It is from Shakespeare's Hamlet:

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.

26 October 2007

Help Kelvyn Park win BIG!

Hi! One Chicago Park District Park has the chance to win $25,000 for park improvements. There are 14 parks competing for this prize. To vote, please go to http://www.staplesdreampark.com/.

I have worked with several of the parks competing for this awesome opportunity and I would ask that, unless you already have a strong preference for a particular park, you consider voting for KELVYN PARK. The staff at Kelvyn is very responsible and dedicated and makes sure children and their parents are actively engaged in programs. They have been a joy to work with and would no doubt do great things for their community if awarded this prize .

23 October 2007

More Payton Raine

Science Boy and I went to meet Payton Raine last night. She is super tiny and *way* cute!

22 October 2007

In loving Memory: Susan K. Roberts

In 2003, I applied for a job as the Director of Youth Services at the Grande Prairie Public library. In many ways, it was a dream job. This was my library as a little girl! I remember when they were building it, how excited we were. I remember working on a giant latch hook rug in the children's room and looking for books with my friend, Sonal.

On October 6, 2003 Susan K. Roberts, the Library Director, called to offer me the job. I was thrilled and accepted immediately.

For the next two years, I was very happy there. (I left after Science Boy and I moved to the City and I found work closer to our new home.) The staff of that library was amazing. (And one of those staff members became my beloved Science Boy!) The camaraderie and love shared there was extended to patrons. The circulation department at the library remains the best I have encountered anywhere in the world. All of that was nutured under Susan's leadership.

Susan was a wonderful Director, especially in the way she was always looking forward to what possibilities might be explored. She always supported any new ideas I (or anyone else) wanted to try out, whether that meant remaining open for 24-hours on the first anniversary of 9-11, staying open to register voters until midnight on the last day to regster before the 2004 Presidential elections, or writing a huge, mulit-library grant for a Library-Palooza! celebration. (We didn't get that grant, but Susan still went ahead a few years later and put on her own Library-Palooza program.)

Susan was also a whiz at writing grants and seeking out new opportunities for library support and funding. She truly loved the communities we served and did her best to provide the very best for them.

Personally, Susan could be a lot of fun. She loved her staff, her family, her pets. She had a grea capacity for empathy and listened when you spoke. She had an opinion on everything. She told great stories and argued passionaltely against Bush and the war. (She may be the only person I knew who hated him more than I do and we spent a lot of time agreeing on why he sucks.)

Susan died this morning after a short battle with lung cancer. She was only 60 years old. She had only recently decided to leave Grande Prairie after many, many years as the Director after being offered a poition in a library that would offer new challenges.

Susan touched the lives of all who knew her. We shall all be a bit poorer for her passing.

Edited to add: The Library will be closed on Sunday in memory of Susan.

It's a girl!

It's a girl!

My brother, Will, and his wife, Darcie, welcomed Miss Payton Raine Kalweit to the family last night at 6:05 p.m. I told my brother, Jim, that the Bears would win and that Payton would be born during a spectacular, last-second, game-winning touchdown...

Did I call that or what?

Payton weighed in at 6 pounds, 15 ounces and is 19.75" long. Her big brother, Anthony, is enchanted by her. I am looking forward to heading to Munster Community Hospital tonight to meet the child and to assure her that I will *not* let her Uncle Jim call her Moose (after Muhsin Muhammad, who caught the TD). Yay!

Our beloved Grandpa Kalweit died 19 years ago yesterday. Having Payton join us on the same date gives us something to celebrate on October 21st! Huzzah!

(And, Bonus: Jim is probably coming to town next week. It's nice to have good stuff goin' on!)

This is Payton less than an hour after she arrived:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

12 October 2007

I need to vent

Tonight, on my way home from the train, I was mugged.

A guy ran up behind me, grabbed my collar, and stuck something in my neck and told me to give him my money. I told him to hold on and opened my tote bag to get my wallet. He told me to get it quick or "I'll blow your fucking head off, Bitch." I told him hold on and he told me just give him the purse, so I did.

He ran across the street and started to look through the purse. (It looked like he didn't have a gun at all and was using his fingers; not that it was worth taking a chance over.) THEN, like, 3 seconds later, another guy came and told me to give him my money. I said, "I just gave your friend all my money, dumbass!" (In retrospect, probably not the smartest thing to say.) He stuck his hand in my jeans pocket (ick!) and said "What do you got in here?" I grabbed my lighter out and said, "I Have a lighter. Do you want that?" Guess not.

He reached for the other pocket. I said, "Those are just my car keys and my boyfriend has the car at work, so it won't do you any good." He took off, joined his friend, and ran down the street. They turned down my street. Those punks probably live on my block! Luckily, my phone was in my back pocket, so I called 911.

A man and woman came from across another block and waited with me until the police came. I am just so angry! This is my neighborhood, too, and I don't want to be scared walking home!

They got my license, credit card (already cancelled), debit card, checkbook, a check my Ma gave me for my birthday, makeup bag, hand lotion, $16, some receipts, and a John Legend iTunes card from Starbucks. Our new address is on the checks, but we have ADT security, so I think we'll be fine. Science Boy works nights and isn't home until close to midnight most nights.I am still shaking. (This happened at 7:52pm CST.)

And, while a part of me is scared, the overwhelming emotion is anger. Our neighborhood is considered kind of "bad," but that is mostly because it is fairly poor and predominently Black. (Racism is alive and well in Chicago.) People have been friendly and kind. My experiences have been overwhelmingly good. (For example, the man and woman who came and waited with me until the police came were kind.)

I don't want to revise that opinion because of two teenage punks. And I am angry at them for perpetuating the stereotype of young Black men being thugs. I have met many, many young Black men in much poorer neighborhoods than this who have been decent. My hope is that they are caught (I was able to give the police a decent description of height and what they were wearing) and get in huge trouble and that it is worth the damned $16 to them. And, now... I don't get home until dark most nights. There is no other way to get home. I will have to continue to walk in the dark. I walk down a main, well-lit street, but clearly that didn't do me any good tonight. What do I do? How do I make myself safer?

DAMN IT! What is wrong with people?!? How do you rob your neighbors?

07 September 2007

In Memoriam: Madeleine L'Engle

Obituaries of the amazing Madeleine L'Engle, who died last night, are beginning to appear on-line. The Associated Press obituary reports:

Although L'Engle was often labeled a children's author, she disliked that classification. In a 1993 Associated Press interview, she said she did not write down to children.

"In my dreams, I never have an age," she said. "I never write for any age group in mind. When people do, they tend to be tolerant and condescending and they don't write as well as they can write.

"When you underestimate your audience, you're cutting yourself off from your best work."

I, like so many others, was riveted by A Wrinkle in Time as a child. When I re-read it to The Boy many years later, I found that it had held up well. I still rate it high on the list of books I love and that have stayed with me all my life. Thankfully, though she has left us, her wonderful works will remain to touch each new generation that encounters them.

One of my favorite L'Engle quotes:
"It is not clever to underestimate yourself."

edited to add: The New York Times now has an obituary on-line.

breaking (sad) news

Madeleine L’Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 88. Best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, L’Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers.

I will update this soon, just wanted to post this news. I am going to try to e-mail The Boy in Germany, as she is a special favorite of his...

23 August 2007

In Memoriam: Grace Paley

Grace Paley, amazing author and social activist died yesterday. She was 84 years old. There is a good obituary at The New York Times and a good piece at NPR, complete with links to audio files.

I especially like the end of the NPR piece: Grace Paley's voice was ardent, delicious, idealistic and funny... whenever people told Paley they loved one of her stories, she would say, "So, what's wrong with the rest?"

Nothing at all, Grace. Rest in Peace.

Congratulations, Gary Paulsen!

The Chicago Tribune reports: "The Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Prize -- to Gary Paulsen for a distinguished career during which he has authored more than 175 books for children and adults, including Hatchet, Dogsong and The Winter Room, all Newberry Honor Books."

Not only is the award well deserved, but -even better! - the article goes on to say: "Paulsen will be given his prize at the Harold Washington Library Center at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, during the Children's Humanities Festival."

Huzzah! Read the whole story here.

21 August 2007

Maybe this shouldn't surprise me...

... but this story from Yahoo made me very, very sad:

"One in four adults say they read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and seniors were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices."

I am going to try to take some small crumb of comfort from the fact that there are avid readers I know who read magazines and newspapers constantly, so their not reading books doesn't mean they aren't readers.

But, even so...


13 August 2007

A Time for Love

Huzzah! We got tickets to see Stevie on September 10th! The concert sold out pretty quick, so we're feeling pretty lucky. Yay, yay, YAY! I feel like we got the golden ticket!

03 August 2007

Richton Perk - coupon and official Grand Opening info

As many of you know, my parents' coffee shop, Richton Perk, opened quietly a few weeks ago. Now, they're getting ready to celebrate!

They'll have an official Grand Opening on Monday, August 6, beginning at 1pm. Richton Park Mayor, Richard Reinbold, will preside over the festivities. They'll be be offering specials and samples all afternoon, so if you're n the area, stop by and say hi!

Also, they will be open Saturdays, 7am to noon beginning on Saturday, August 11.

Below, please find a coupon good for $1 off any purchase, good for next week, 8/06 through 8/11. (The coupon is also at http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l95/book-kitten/Richton%20Perk/?action=view&current=coupon.jpg)

If you have a myspace page, you can add them as a friend -- or even just check out their page, at http://www.myspace.com/richtonperk.

Thanks to everyone who has already stopped by. I hope you've had good experiences and can honestly recommend them to friends.

Peace and love to all,

Suddenly, I long for cheddar...

I loved this so much I've been singing the song for 25+ years!

02 August 2007


Seriously excited to learn that the incomparable Stevie Wonder is coming to Chicago in September. He is one of my Favorite. Musicians. EVAH. I plan to be there!

10 July 2007

worth a look...

I'm not sure how I happened upon it, but I found I have bookmarked Trevor's Blog, which features absolutely lovely original artwork. If you have a chance, take a peek.

Get a cuppa Joe!

This morning, my parents opened a new coffee shop: Richton Perk. It is located right next to the Richton Park Metra stop. Woo-hoo!

I haven't been there since they first bought the building, but I can tell you that a lot of thought and planning and care and stress has gone into this. They have opened quietly, with no fanfare except a "now open" sign. They're planning to have a Grand Opening toward the end of the month, once they've had a chance to work any first-days bugs out.

Right now, they are offering coffee (iced and hot), tea (iced and hot), smoothies, frapuccino, as well as homemade sandwiches and salads. (I can tell you from past experience that Ma makes *great* sandwiches!)

The hours are limited to Monday-Friday, 5am - 3pm for now. They're looking to extend those hours in the future, but for now, I think Ma will have a nervous breakdown if she doesn't get some rest!

If you're in the area, please consider stopping by for a cuppa. And let me know how it is! (We're hoping to get down there soon.)

Richton Perk
3812 Sauk Trail
Richton Park, IL

update: Richton Perk now has a myspace page: www.myspace.com/richtonperk. Check it out!

22 June 2007

Quote o' the Day

"Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." (Leonard Cohen)

01 June 2007

I hope I don't die in a plane crash!

Thanks, Erinello!

Your Score: Carole Lombard

You scored 19% grit, 9% wit, 47% flair, and 40% class!

You're a little bit of a fruitcake, but you always act out in style. You have a good sense of humor, are game for almost anything, but you like to have nice things about you and are attracted to the high life. You're stylish and modern, but you've got a few rough edges that keep you from attaining true sophistication. Your leading men include William Powell, Fredric March, and Clark Gable. Watch out for small planes.

The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating

31 May 2007

Best. Graffiti. Ever.

Saw this on the northeast corner of State and Plymouth today:

30 May 2007

I seriously doubt anyone will be surprised by this...

You are a

Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(10% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Socialist (10e/70s)

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

28 May 2007

Clyde Robert Bulla

Prolific author Clyde Robert Bulla died last week at the age of 93. According to the obituary in the LA Times, Mr. Bulla "wrote more than 60 children's books, most fiction but some nonfiction, starting in 1946 with The Donkey Cart."

He once said, "I'm reaching children at very impressionable age levels — third to sixth grade, 8 to 11 years old. I have to be very careful what I write about."

I remember reading his book, The Ghost of Windy Hill when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. It was one of my favorite books at the time. I mean, I *really* loved that book! I read it several times, until it was tattered. Maybe I will try to find a copy at the library tomorrow...

There are not many obituaries online (yet), so the one at the LA Times is probably your best bet.

20 May 2007

Quote(s) of the Day

"I got a letter a while back from a sappy woman. She wrote me because she knew I was sappy too. She wanted help - if it was a terrible mistake bringing a baby into a world as awful as this one. I told her what made being alive almost worthwhile for me was meeting saints who were everywhere. By saints I mean ordinary people behaving decently in an indecent society. I hope all of you are or will become saints." (Kurt Vonnegut)

"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom." (Malcolm X)

18 May 2007

Belated Birthday Wishes

Two of my favorite people on this entire planet celebrated birthdays this moth and, while I thought of them and enjoyed their art on those days, I didn't have/take the time to blog it. So, happy birthday to:

Pete Seeger! On May 3, Pete Seeger celebrated his 88th birthday. Pete, to me, embodies all that is right with folk music. In the purest sense of the phrase, "folk music" is music for the people. It should be music that can be sung together, that can speak to many. A few years ago, when Pete was encouraging the crowd to sing along to "Turn, Turn, Turn" at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma, Arlo Guthrie turned to him and asked what key the song should be in. Without even pausing, Pete answered firmly, "G! The People's Key!"

Birthday Boy Quote: "Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple." (Pete Seeger)

Studs Terkel! Chicagoan Studs Terkel turned 95 years old this past Wednesday. The Chicago Tribune offers an account of his birthday party, ending with this charming bit: And, finally, the crowd of several hundred got to hear Terkel reveal his own epitaph, if ever needed: "Curiosity did not kill this cat." Studs is another person who celebrates and elevates the "Common Man" (and woman, of course). He truly sees real life -- with all its beauty and ugliness, dignity and shame -- and shows us. He encourages people to tell their stories and shares those stories with us, unearthing gems that so many of us would have walked right past or kicked aside.

Birthday Boy Quote: "I was born in the year the Titanic sank. The Titanic went down, and I came up. That tells you a little about the fairness of life." (Studs Terkel)

I truly love both of these men and hold them up, not as perfect men, but as men to be admired for their compassion for all humankind, their gifts, and their passion. Blessings be to both of them, in whatever they do.

In Memoriam: Lloyd Alexander

From USA Today:

Lloyd Alexander, a prolific writer of children's books including the five-book series The Chronicles of Prydain, died Thursday. He was 83.
Alexander died at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Drexel Hill, said Jennifer Abbots, spokeswoman for his publishing company, Henry Holt Books For Young Readers. He had cancer, she said.

The final book in his Prydain series, The High King, won the Newbery Medal from the American Library Association in 1969, being recognized as the best children's book of the year. Another book in the series, The Black Cauldron, was named a runner-up for the medal in 1966, a status now known as a Newbery Honor Book.

Read the whole article here.

update: A very nice article also appears in The Washington Post.

01 May 2007

Forget the Wii!

Okay, so Science Boy and I were excited to get the Wii, finally. I love that I can get a good workout and practice boxing while playing a video game. Way cool.


How can the Wii compare to the newest video game out there? Yahoo reports:

While zapping enemy spaceships players have to help recover the stolen text of Romeo and Juliet by memorizing lines from the famous play, learning facts about Shakespeare's life and devising synonyms and homonyms for parts of the text.

Read the whole story here.

ACTually, I know I sounded kinda smart-ass up above, but I really do think this is a rockin' cool idea. I would definitely like to try it. If they could just incorporate physical movement, this might well be the perfect video game!

30 April 2007

No one needs this!

Especially since it's so easy to separate an egg with no tools at all. Still, it is a pretty entertaining little kitchen gadget.

In fact, it's almost as much fun as my favorite unneccessary kitchen toy -- The Octodog! (Yes, I still love this. NO, I do not need it. Yes, I would likely be appalled to get one. Better in theory, I think. Then again...)

27 April 2007

Are libraries safe?

From today's LA Times:

Is the public library no longer a haven for children?

That's the message the director of a charter school in South Los Angeles sent the parents of her 340 students last week, warning them that Hyde Park--Miriam Matthews Public Library, a few yards from the school campus, was not safe for their children.

Read the whole story here.

I have just a few comments. First of all, the library is a public place. So, yes, we want it to be safe, but it is a public place and that should be considered when sending children there alone.

Having said that... Most libraries these days -- especially in large urban areas -- need security. It's just the way it is. However, when library budgets are being cut all over the country, it can be difficult to buy materials, hire staff, or even stay open. What good is a well patroled library if there is no substance to what it offers? On the other hand, librarians need to be more proactive in dealing with situations/ I know it is scary. I know it's not what we went to school for. However, if you're going to work in a PUBLIC library, it's just the way it is.

Some years ago, I worked in a very poor neighborhood, rife with gangs and drugs. The library was chaos. I was intimidated and nervous. After the first week, I decided I either had to do something about it or look for another job. I did something.

I drafted a long list of rules of behavior and handed it to everyone -- children and adults -- as they came in. (And, for the record, we had security, but the guard basically sat at her desk and read, ignoring all the trouble going on all around her.) I made it clear that they got a warning for violating a rule and the second time I said something, they had to leave for the day. If someone refused to leave when asked, I told them that it was now criminal trespassing and, if they didn't go, I would call the police. And I did.

The next day, if that same person came back to the library, I acted like the previous day's events had not happened and we had a fresh start. If they violated the rules again, same deal as before. Throughout, I was able to point to the rule sheet to back me up. I was also sure to treat the patrons respectfully, even as I asked them to go, even as I welcomed them back the next day (even when it made me nervous to see them again.)

It wasn't magic. Things didn't change overnight. But they did change. It was slow and difficult, but within 6 months or so, the library was back under control. There was a 12-year-old boy I kicked out every day for three weeks straight who eventually became one of our best-behaved, most wonderful patrons. Kids started monitoring each other -- not in a tattletale way, but in a "you better not do that or Miss Katharine's gonna ask you to leave" way.

I believe that respect and consistency, coupled with a demand for appropriate behavior are key. If you expect people to behave badly, they often do. If you expect a certain standard of good behavior, the most unmannerly person will often rise to the occasion and begin to behave. It's hard work. I don't *like* asking kids to leave the library. I don't *like* having to spend time on behavior and counseling and a hundred other things I never dreamed I would do when I fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming a librarian. But that's the way it is. And if we are going to do our jobs and serve our patrons well, we will have to be prepared to deal wioth a chaotic world in a proactive manner, even if it takes us outside our comfort zones.

(Phew! Let me climb down off this soapbox now before I fall...)

26 April 2007

The right Daemon?

As many of you know, I am an ardent admirer of Mr. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books. I especially love the idea of daemons, which embody one's soul. Now, thanks to New Line Cinema, which is releasing a film of The Golden Compass, I was able to find my daemon. Did the identify they right one for me? You can comment for 12 days before the daemon settles into its shape.

25 April 2007

Only 6? Hmm...

My friend, Clare, over at Semi-Evil Squirrel tagged me with a meme a while back, one that I am finally getting to. (Confession: I don't really get the whole meme thing. I don't know what it means, if anything.) So I guess the point is to post 6 "weird" random facts about yourself and then tag other people. So, without further ado:


  1. I talk to myself and, more alarmingly, to inanimate objects, quite often. It is not uncommon for SB to remark that I don't have to talk to the computer out loud. (But I do!)
  2. I used to have crushes on Roy Blount, Jr. and Randy Newman. I think it was their voices and wit and sarcasm that made them so appealing. But, crushing on middle-aged Southern White Boys? *SO* not me. That one even weirds me out a bit!
  3. One of my favorite German treats is Haakepeter: raw ground beef, raw eggs, raw onion, salt and pepper all combined and served on a good rye bread. Yum!
  4. At meetings, in classes, in church, etc.... Whenever possible, I sit by the door, especially if the door is in the back. If the door is in the front, I try to sit in the back seat closest to the door. My reasoning is that, should I need to leave the room during whatever activity is happening, I will be relatively unnoticeable.
  5. There is a photo of Kurt Vonnegut at work, hanging in a meeting room I pass through quite often. Whenever I walk by it, as long as no one is in the room, I kiss my finger and touch the frame lightly as I walk by. If there are people there, I just think, "God damn it. You've got to be kind," to remind myself.
  6. I love, love, love watermelon! Ice cold watermelon, any day of the year is one of my favorite things on the planet. However, I LOATHE anything that is watermelon-flavored. Has to be real watermelon or I cannot stand it.

So... there ya have it. I'm supposed to tag six more people... If you want to play, consider yourself tagged. (ACTually, I will offically tag one person: The Boy.)


It's not often I am intrigued by Science-centered news, but the story I read last night positively blew me away!

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

Wow! That seems so *huge* to me! I want to know more! It seems exciting and huge and full of possibility.

(And then the part of me that is cynical and curmudgeonly is happy it is so far as to make it difficult for us to get there so we can screw up that planet as soon as we finish trashing this one...)

The caption printed with the photo reads, "This artistic illustration released by the European Southern Observatory on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, shows planets orbiting the red dwarf star, Gliese 581. Astronomers believe that the newly discovered planet Gliese 581 c, left, is potentially habitable. "

Way cool.

Maybe it's just me...

...but this seems stupid! So, the news is reporting that scientists have found Kryptonite. So what are they naming it? Jadarite.

Really? They said it is Kryptonite. Why not name it Kryptonite? Makes no sense to me, not at all...

23 April 2007


So, the other day, Science Boy started to ask me why I am not promoting my cafepress store and, know what? I didn't have any answer for him. I mean, I have a few of the shirts I created art for / designed and I always get comments and compliments (especially on the penguin chillin' hoodie). I think they're cute. I worked hard on the art. I would buy them (and have sent a few as gifts to kids I know.) I have more ideas. I just... I dunno. Dropped the ball or something.

So, I guess what I need to do is figure out a way to market this. I think I am going to make flyers to have a friend hand out at her kids' pre-school to start. (This store actually started because she was wishing she could find cute tee shirts for her kids that didn't cost $40 -- and then, after making afew she requested, she keeps "forgetting" to buy them!)

What else? I don't want to spend lots of (or any, really) to promote this right now. So, what can I do? Ideas? ANYone?

20 April 2007

don't forget them...

Something a friend just wrote about police shooting at young African-American men struck a chord in me and made me want to remind everyone that Diamond and Tionda Bradley are still not home. It's been five-and-a-half years since these little girls disappeared from their home in Bronzeville. Five-and-a-half years with no word; and it seems no one is even looking anymore.

I know that there are many missing kids. I know that many of them will never be found, that many will be found hurt or dead, that only a small number come home again. I know that. But somehow these little girls have lodged in my heart. Maybe because they are from Chicago. Maybe because they are like so many other children I see in some of our poor neighborhoods, kids who are ignored by the population at large, kids who are born with a full plate of burdens -- of economics, social class, prejudice, and lesser opportunity for quality education.

I don't know why I have not forgotten them, but I ask you to take a moment to remember them, too.


Woo-hoo! Just got The Titan's Curse from the marvelous AM! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And *that's* why you have my undying love and devotion.

Great first sentence:
"The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school."

Guess what I'll be devouring later? Yay!

19 April 2007

Film watch: Olympians gone wild...

A film of The Lightening Thief is coming! Woo-hoo! I *love* this book! (Ooh. Hope the movie doesn't suck.) Fot those of you who haven't had the insane pleasure of reading this, Percy Jackson finds out that his father is Posieden. Yes, *that* Posieden. Wackiness and adventure ensues. I am eagerly awaiting book 3 in this series (due out May1) and crossing my fingers that the film version of this book does the books justice.

(Hmm... After my initial excitement, I find that all my glee is dying down with every word I type. Ack.)

update: Eeeeee! My dear friend, colleague, and master procurer of children's books has a review copy of the new book that I can borrow tomorrow! Huzzah!

Can someone do this for President Bush?


I hear you now: What the Hell are ya talkin' 'bout, BK? Well, let me 'splain. I just read a great story on Yahoo:

Best-selling Canadian author Yann Martel, worried about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apparent lack of interest in the arts, sent him a book on Monday and said he would continue doing so once a fortnight.

He's even keeping a list of the books he's sending.

So can someone do this for our own non-reading White House Occupant? Really. He should be reading something. Anything, really. They don't have to be books as difficult as those sent in Canada; there are many first-rate chapter books out there.

Thank you for your consideration.

17 April 2007

Well, that's *one* mess cleaned up...

I quite forgot I even had a guestbook in the margin to the right... but the spammers didn't! I finally got all the spam cleaned out; but I think I deleted a few genuine comments in my haste to "spring clean," as it were. I apologize if I deleted you! Feel free to re-post; I hope to check that a little more often...

16 April 2007

Janet McDonald

Janet McDonald, author of novels for young adults, died of cancer on April 11, 2007. She was just 53 years old. Her books include Project Girl, Spellbound, Twists and Turns, and Brother Hood, among others.

Shamefully, I have found no obituaries, tributes, or remembrances on-line as of yet. (A colleague posted the news on a list_serv to which I subscribe.) McDonald's books gave voice to the many children and teens growing up in the housing projects -- usually forgotten, dismissed, and ignored. She illumintaed thier existence, their hopes, their dreams, and showed the world they aren't really all that different from any other kids. I know that she touched many of the kids I have had the honor of working with over the years.

12 April 2007

Dickens World

They're building a Dickens theme park:

"...Hutchins insists the attraction -- a dark, dirty and dank London is populated by thieves, murderers and ghosts -- has the air of authenticity as it was built in consultation with experts from the Dickens Fellowship."

I once laid on the chaise lounge that Dickens died on (I'll have to find *that* picture!), so I guess I don't have much room to be disparaging about this... ACTually, it seems like the kind of place I'd like to go!

Read the whole story here.

Kurt's up in Heaven now

From Man Without a Country:

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

so sad

Kurt Vonnegut, novelist and humanist, has died at the age of 84.

That hurts, typing that.

While I suppose the headline should not have been wholly unexpected -- he *was* 84 and he *did* smoke unfiltered cigarrettes for years and years (though those did not, int the end, kill him; apparently, he fell some weeks ago and sustained injury at that time) -- it punched me in the gut. My first reaction (after crying) was to call The Boy. But, as it was 4am, I did not think his parents would be too pleased. My next reaction was to read one of my favorite passages:

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

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

There's a really spectacular Vonnegut website here. His official website is here. There are many, many obituaries on-line. Even Al Jazeera is reporting the news.

Honor him by reading his work and remembering:

God damn it. You've got to be kind.

06 April 2007

Early morning irritation...

Not serious, but just bugging me...

So, I've been doing really well with the new eating better and working out plan (55 pounds gone so far!) and thought maybe I'd treat myself to a donut from Dunkin' Donuts today. First, though, I figured I would go to work so I could look up the nutritional info so I could make an informed choice.

Well, would ya look at that? Dunkin Donuts offers a handy Printable Nutrition Guide! Swell! I printed that out and started doing some work before checking it out and planning my treat. When I finally got to it, I realized - THEY DON'T LIST CALORIES AT ALL! This "handy" chart includes serving size, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbs, dietary fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. But no calories!

To find the calories, you have to go to their nutrition page and then click on each item individually. Not impossible, but makes it a pain in the ass to see how a chocolate glazed compares to, say, a jelly.

Screw it. I don't need to work that hard to eat something unhealthy! If I need an illicit sweet, I'll grab a small piece of chocolate from the boss's office later!

05 April 2007

Isn't Britney Spears from Louisiana?

Seriously, though, this is disturbing to me. A group of 5th graders were arrested for having sex in school.

5th grade. That's usually, what? 10 years old? Okay, according to the article, these kids ranged in age from 11 to 13 years.

When I was 11 (lo, those many years ago)... Well, the world was different back then, I suppose (and, for the record, I am only 33, not *ancient*!). Still, this story disturbs me.

Creepy much?

What the Hell is Dick Cheney doing lurking in the bushes while W talks about why money for an illegal war is more important than money for, say, education or health care? Maybe he has to be within a certain distance of the moron at the podium to control him properly...


(Thanks to The Boy, who is on top of things and just e-mailed me about this. He sent me a link to a longer video, too, which includes commentary.)

Jesus wants to give me an iPod!

I just got an e-mail that reads:

"Jesus would like to be added to your MySpace friends list.By accepting Jesus as your friend, you will be able to send Jesus personal messages, view Jesus's photos and blog, and interact with each other's friends and network!"

Tempting, but Jesus' site looks like a pyramid scheme that tries to lure me with an iPod. I know this is a shocking accusation, but I think this is a fraudulent Jesus!

I dunno whether to be happy or worried...

From Yahoo! today:

The world of Edward Gorey is coming to the big screen for the first time with a live-action feature based on the illustrator-writer's classic tale "The Doubtful Guest."

The project is being developed by Walden Media, the firm behind the "Narnia" franchise, Fox 2000 and the Jim Henson Co. Brad Peyton ("Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl") will direct from a script written by Matthew Huffman.

There's a press release on the Henson Company page, too.

This could seriously suck. Or be okay. I would be shocked if it was fabulous.

Wouldn't The Hapless Child make the better film, though, in terms of plot?

03 April 2007

I have no words for this

Just read this on Yahoo!:

In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

UPDATE: And now he's denying the whole thing.

Where's your Caldecott now?

You know that, in your most secret heart you have always wondered who would win were Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola ever to fight.

Now you'll know!

Public libraries and the Homeless

There's a great, thought-provoking, and sometimes heartbreaking article about homelessness and the public library at TomDispatch.

As any of us who have worked in -- or even visited -- a public library knows, this is a chronic problem, especially in urban areas, and one with no easy solutions. This article should be required reading for all library staff and patrons. I was especially moved by the reminder that "Annoyance is the cousin of arrogance, not shame."

16 March 2007

Astrid Lindgren Award

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2007 goes to the Venezuelan institution Banco del Libro.

The jury’s motivation is as follows:

"In a true pioneering spirit, with ingenuity and a sheer determination, the Banco del Libro has constantly sought new ways of disseminating books and promoting reading among children in Venezuela. Enthusiasm, professionalism, closeness to the children and a refreshing lack of bureaucracy are the hallmarks of the Banco del Libro’s work, whether in shanty towns, mountain villages, universities or out in cyberspace."

I'm still alive

I have gotten e-mail from some of my few readers inquiring if the blog is still being updated. The answer is... Yes, but I don't know how often. I am a bit ashamed at how lax I have grown in posting as of late. There are many times throughout each week when I happen upon something I'd like to blog, but... Life is a bit crap right now and seems to keep getting in the way. It's nothing too serious (I hope). I am just exhausted and overworked and having some peronal issues that may come to a sad end eventually. So, I apologize to those of you who continue to visit the page, hoping to find something new only to be disappointed. I am going to try to get back on track, but can't make any promises right now.

01 March 2007

Some (potentially) great new movies coming...

(... or, with really bad luck, films that will make those of us who love books quite unhappy!)

I am eagerly awaiting The Golden Compass, based of the first book in Philip Pullman's incomparably amazing His Dark Materials series. It isn't due in theaters until December 2007, but that's okay. It gives me plenty of time to re-read the series before I go see the film. And, yes. Even though Science Boy and I have been too tired to go see any movies for a long while, I *will* be going to the show for this one! No trailer yet, but I have high hopes (although I fully expect the religious aspects of the story to be sanitized to make it more palatable to the mainstream audience the film hopes to attract.

Also coming soon... Inkheart, based on the eponymous novel by that brilliant German, Cornelia Funke! Can I just say on thing? I LOVE THAT BOOK!!! And, really - what book lover wouldn't love a book wherein characters can leave their books and live in our world? (Although, for those of you who have not read this yet, I should offer the caveat that this is not the wonderful thinkg it might seem to be.) I always give copies of the book as prizes in work programs. Usually the kids want nothing to do with it at first -- it's a long book! -- but by the time I finish giving them a summary, they're arguing over who gets to have it. (Oh! And surfing about a bit just told me that she has finished the manuscript of the third book, although it will likely be another year before it is available.)

I don't know if either of these films will be good. No doubt they will disappoint at least a smidge after living in my imagination for a while. However, i have high hopes. I hope they are FABULOUS and bring many more children (and adult) readers to the books which are, without a doubt, some of the best books around.

04 February 2007

Only 3 hours...

Until kick-off! Can't wait to see the Bears win a Super Bowl -- first time since I was 12 years old!

31 January 2007

Sidney Sheldon

Best-selling author Sidney Sheldon has died. He was 89. Read the full story here.

24 January 2007


That took a little bit o' time... If I have any extra time (or energy) left tonight, maybe I will give a reader's digest condensed version of what I think about these winners -- and who I am sad to see missing from the list!

Newbery Medal

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Honor Books
Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Rules by Cynthia Lord

Caldecott Medal

Flotsam illustrated by David Wiesner

Honor Books
Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet written and illustrated by David McLimans
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Theodor Seuss Giesel Award

Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Honor Books
Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Jane Dyer
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Andrew Carnegie Medal

Knuffle Bunny (Mo Willems and Weston Woods Studio)

Wilder Award

The Wilder Award winner is...
James Marshall

Siebert Informational Book Medal

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

Honor books
Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea written by Sy Montgomery, photos by Nic Bishop
To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel written by Siena Cherson Siegel, illustrated by Mark Siegel

Batchelder Award

Delacorte Press for The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat and translated by Y. Maudet

Honor books
Delacorte Press for The Killer's Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux
Hyperion/Miramax for The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture

The 2008 lecture will be delivered by...
David Macaulay

Coretta Scott King Author Award

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Honor book
The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Carole Boston Weatherford (Hooray, Kadir! He came to a program i held last year and is truly one of the nicest, and most talented, illustrators around!)

Honor books
Jazz illustrated by Christopher Myers and written by Walter Dean Myers
Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes illustrated by Benny Andrews, edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad

Coretta Scott King New Talent Award

Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones

Michael L. Printz Award

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Honor Books
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,Traitor to the Nation; v. 1: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (see John's reaction here)
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Margaret A. Edwards award

The winner is...
Lois Lowry

Schneider Award

Best Children's Book
The Deaf Musicians written by Pete Seeger (yay, Pete!) and Paul DuBois Jacobs, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Best Middle School Book
Rules by Cynthia Lord

Best Teen Book
Small Steps by Louis Sachar

The Alex Awards

ALA Book Awards

For the first time since I started this blog, I was unable to post the winners of the children's book awards as they happened. Unfortunatley, I was in jury duty for two days, so I missed it. Although it has already been posted numerous other places, let me catch up and list all the winners here, too. In this post, I will list the categories and then list the winners in a separate post.

Awards announced January 22 were:

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"

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children

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

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

21 January 2007

Super Bowl Reshuffle

Let me just say...

WOO-HOO! The Chicago Bears are going to the Super Bowl, Bay-bee!

My brother, Jim, was sad he lived in Phoenix now when the White Sox won the Series. Betcha wish ya still lived in Chicago now, don't ya, Jay?


15 January 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. King. And Thank You.

It's nice to have a day off work. However, before you take that nap or head to the mall, take just a moment to think about the amazing man whose birthday we are meant to be celebrating today. Take a moment to read his words, to hear his voice. Think about what he said, about how far we have come, and about how very far we still have to go. Consider his dream and ask yourself if it has been realized. Do you share this dream? What can you do to help it come to fruition? What can you do? Think and plan and set into action.

Thus do we honor a man who wanted the best for all people and who gave his life working toward that best.

03 January 2007

Oh! Maybe I can use alcohol to bribe people to play!

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A 21-year-old woman was hospitalized for intoxication over the weekend after continually providing wrong answers" during a game of Trivial Pursuit where participants drank alcohol and did drugs when they answered incorrectly.

I love that they also clarify that she was the yellow piece. 'Cause that's crucial, man!
You can read the whole story here.