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Monday, March 25, 2013

Giveaway! and thoughts on eyeglasses, by Hilary McKay

One of my favorite authors these days is Hilary McKay. I simply adore the Casson family and all the books that Ms. McKay has written about them. Also, her sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess did not disappoint. That one is titled Wishing for Tomorrow.

So. You can imagine I was thrilled to hear that she has a new series (coming to the US from across the pond) about a girl named Lulu. I put Lulu and the Duck in the Park on hold at my local library, but didn't get over there in time to pick it up! Alas. Thankfully, there is a review at Madigan Reads, if you're interested. Madigan says, "The reading level is just a skoche easier than Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House, but a nice step up from Amelia Bedelia or Jean Van Leeuwen's Amanda Pig series."

Book 2 in the Lulu series
available in print and ebook
Book 3, available Fall 2013.
While arranging to participate in the Lulu Blog tour, I got thinking: what would I like to hear Ms. McKay's thoughts about? And the answer was definitely eyeglasses. Both Ashley and I have worn glasses since childhood, and Ashley's adorable kids are already getting glasses of their own. I just loved in Wishing for Tomorrow and in the Casson Series when some of my favorite characters got glasses. Ms. McKay's descriptions of the event were right on. I said to myself, "this is a woman who knows about getting glasses!" and I wondered what her story was. In Hilary McKay's own words:

Eyeglasses! 
I must say, I was a bit surprised to be given that as a blog post, but then when I thought about it, I realised that I had used eyeglasses twice in books that matter very much to me. 
So, eyeglasses and my little sister. 
When my little sister was eight years old it finally dawned on her friends and relations that the reason she never seemed to know quite where she was, was simple. She was living her life in a lovely blur. 
I seem to remember that my sister liked her lovely blur. She was content with her impressionist painting of a world and was quite happy to keep it that way. She did not take kindly to the idea of glasses, and when she finally got them she saw no advantage at all in all the sudden edges and outlines and corners that appeared. She didn’t like the world in focus.
And then it became night. Dark. And why was she out in the garden? I can’t remember. All I can remember is her outraged indignation when she looked up. 
And saw stars. 
All her life she had known about stars. She had seen pointy shapes drawn on Christmas cards. She had been given gold and silver sticky backed ones for extra good work at school.  But she had never seen stars in the sky. 
The stars in the sky that night nearly blew my little sister  away. She stared and stared, and nearly fell over backwards staring, and as she stared and saw more and more she got crosser and crosser. She yelled at all us star-familiar people  standing around her, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you tell me? WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THEY WERE THERE?’ 
So that, I suppose, is why eyeglasses appear in my books. That night of revelation when several thousand new suns shone down on my sister all at once, and made her so astonished and indignant, and we all laughed... 
But at the same time were not too far from tears.

Mystery solved! I, too remember seeing the stars through my new lenses. I would have been about nine years old. Seeing stars, the real stars, was an awe-inspiring experience.

And speaking of awesome things, I have a giveaway for you! One of you lucky people (in the US or Canada) can win a signed copy of Lulu and the Duck in the Park, which is the first in the Lulu series.

Doesn't it look great? More info on the publisher's website.
To enter, please leave a comment on this post before midnight on April 1, 2013. What is your experience with glasses? Do you have them? Do you wish you did? My little sister wanted glasses so bad that she fibbed like a fisherman to get them and ended up with bifocals. I'm curious to hear your story.

The winner of the book will be announced right here! For more details, check out Everead's full giveaway policy.

The **NEW** Winner is KATE! Congratulations! Send your contact info to everead@gmail.com within the next two days to claim your prize.

For more from Hilary McKay, and more chances to win the book, visit the next stop on her blog tour, http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com tomorrow.
______
Everead reviews of Hilary McKay books:
Saffy's Angel
Indigo's Star
Permanent Rose
Caddy Ever After
Caddy's World
Wishing for Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Recent reads! Several mini-reviews.

Year of the Dog grace lin
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
I read this lovely little book on the plane back from New York City and KidLitCon 2012. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Pacy is a grade-school girl from a Chinese American family. In The Year of the Dog we are introduced to her and her family, and see her "find herself" and find a friend. I understand from the talk I attended by Grace Lin that the book is largely autobiographical, but of course fictionalized. It is the first in a series marketed to 8-12 year olds, and I'd love to read more of them. My favorite parts were the stories that others (her mom, her grandpa) would tell her about things her relatives had done.


Vampirina Ballerina


Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This is one of my favorite recent picture books. It is a how-to guide for aspiring ballerinas, but it follows a little vampire girl to ballet class and through minor monsterly mishaps to her performance as a cygnet in Swan Lake. My little boys adored it for the details in the illustrations -- her black cat always underfoot, the "healthy food" (blood!) she eats to keep her body strong. Overall, I'd say this is a charming pick for boys and girls ages 3 and up.

Penny and Her Song Kevin Henkes
Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
You know Kevin Henkes already from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse or from Chrysanthemum, or from one of scores of other delicious picture books he has written and/or illustrated. When I saw an early reader with his name and one of his cute mice on the front, I just snatched it right off the library shelf. Benjamin helped me read a few words, but really this one is still above his level (sight-word recognition only at this point). Anyway, in this volume, Penny makes up a clever song. She tries to sing it for her mother, but is put off until later. She tries to sing it for her Dad, but is told to wait. She almost forgets the song (!) but gets to sing it at last after dinner. I just love how the stakes get higher and higher throughout the book, and I love that the payoff is big. We also read Penny and Her Doll together, and I recently spotted and read Penny and Her Marble.

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