Paper Towns

Like Melissa, I got sad Margo from the library. Schucks. The book was released with two different covers -- according to author John Green they are both mis-imaginings of Margo.

I couldn't put this book down. Once I started reading it I had to keep going. See, I didn't realize it was a mystery novel, and I am such a sucker for those. So. It was suspenseful. It was also quite funny -- Jacob commented about my explosive laughter (Radar had just gotten a new t-shirt, okay?!). And it made me think.

That said, John Green is about the limit for me. I couldn't handle much more swearing (there was a moderate amount) or crudity (several jokes, a situation) in a book before I would get fed up. Reader discretion advised -- if it were a movie it would be PG-13.

I've been listening to John and other Nerdfighters talk about the book for a while, so I was glad I enjoyed it. To John, it's all about the way we imagine others and trying to imagine others with complexity rather than as the two-dimensional (paper!) people we create in our minds. I like that. For me, it was also about goodbyes. Goodbyes to old places, friends, parts of our lives.

So it was kind of a nail-biter that made me wistful and thoughtful and caused me to cringe occasionally and laugh out loud. A complex book.

Elephant and Piggie

I have just read six of the Elephant and Piggie books. They are awesome.

Mo Willems (of Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Knuffle Bunny fame) writes for young ones. His easy reader books starring Gerald and Piggie are probably my favorites. These books are on the reading level of Dr. Seuss or Berenstain Bears books, but lend themselves to much more dramatic readings. I captivated Benjamin (now 7 months old) and Spencer (13 months) with my reading of I Am Invited To A Party! Seriously, these books are so funny. Just imagine. . . no. No. Don't imagine. Just go read them. Sweet, cute, spunky, hilarious. Excellent for anyone, perfect for kids in Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Oh, and two Elephant and Piggie books were recently shortlisted at the Cybils, and Mo Willems just won the 2009 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award for Are You Ready to Play Outside? Rock on.

Award Winners!

Post by Alysa

Newbery Award Winner (Children's Lit):
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Just got this one from the library, woot!)

Newbery Honor books:
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Good, but scary! Amazing writing. Would be great to read aloud.)
Savvy by Ingrid Law (Loved! See my review here)
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle

Printz Award Winner (YA lit):
Jellicoe Road by Marlene Marchetta

Printz Honor Books:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Have heard many many good things about this one, and read the first chapter online a while ago. Definitely planning on reading it.)
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson (Who will be featured on Shannon Hale's blog soon!)
Nation by Terry Pratchett(Love Pratchett, so will have to find this one, STAT.)
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Caldecott Award Winner (Illustrated):
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes

Caldecott Honor Books:
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (This one is SO cute! I pretty much love all of Marla Frazee's work.)
River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet
How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

Congratulations to the winners! Anybody read any of them yet?

I got a good laugh

from this video. Thanks to Robin for posting it. And for reminding us that it isn't true, at least mostly.

Free books at UIUC

I found this in my inbox:

Join us now at the Center for Children's Books

FREE pre-publication copies of children’s and young adult BOOKS!


* Wed, Jan 21 3pm-7 pm (we will not be open until 3pm)
* Thurs, Jan 22 10am-7pm
* Fri, Jan 23 10am-4pm

***Come early for best selection. Limited number available.***
Please note: This is not the same as the CCB annual Booksale. For
information on the booksale please see our website http://ccb.lis.uiuc.edu.

For more information, feel free to email ccb@uiuc.edu or call 217-244-9331.

Center for Children’s Books
501 E. Daniel St.
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 244-9331
I acted accordingly. Stop by and pick up a few. I'm currently trying to decide what to do with unbound picture book galleys. Art? Get them bound? We shall see.

Letter to the Editor

I received this most lovely email from Lindi the other day, it made me very happy! It is sort of like a letter to the editor:

So, back at the beginning of November when I was composing my Christmas list, I checked out the blog for some suggestions and found the review of Cybele's Secret. The review first mentioned Wildwood Dancing, which Cybele's Secret is a sequel to. I thought they sounded good so I put them both on my wish list and I am so glad! I just finished Wildwood Dancing today and LOVED it. The Twelve Dancing Princesses is one of my favorite fairy tales ever and I definitely saw the parallels. I loved the relationship between the five sisters and think anyone who has sisters should read it. Also, their names with the Transylvanian flare were beautiful. I really just could not put it down. I laughed, I cried, and it had enough romance to keep even my 16-years-old-and-able-to-date-in-only-3-months-and-14-days heart satisfied. I cannot wait to read Cybele's Secret! Thanks everead for leading me to this incredible novel!

The review she mentions can be found here. Thanks to Ashley for the review, and to Lindi for putting in her two cents!

Rick Riordan Coming to Champaign Public Library!

You guys. Rick Riordan is coming to Champaign Public Library! I'm so excited!

His Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is nearly complete (the 5th and final book comes out in May). And the whole series is great! They are so funny and fast paced and engrossing and . . . awesome! We've reviewed them here and here and here. Also my crazy dream about book 5 was mentioned here.

So, if you haven't read them yet, you totally have time to read them before he comes. He's coming Monday, March 9th, 7 p.m. And you have to get (free) tickets -- cuz it's gonna be packed, cuz these books are awesome.

Also, just so we all don't embarrass ourselves, I've looked up how to pronounce his last name. It's RYErdn. Like, the first syllable sounds like Fire.

One more thing: I think events like this (i.e. author events) are grossly under publicized. I mean, I talked with the teen librarian who booked this event (and put in a plug for having Shannon come), and she started organizing this event by calling Rick Riordan's people over a year ago! And it's made possible by a grant from some (most likely very awesome) people in the community. (Gosh, if I'm rich someday, that is totally what I'm going to do with my wealth. Give it to libraries to have authors come!) I mean, him coming is a BIG DEAL. So how come there aren't, like, posters everywhere and stuff? And announcements being made over library loudspeakers? Nope. Just a tiny mention on the flier for the teen reading program. Anyway, I thought I'd add to the publicity.

Happy New Reads!

Since the New Year, or, at least since the official Cybils reading ended, I've been reading some good books:

Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay gets two thumbs up. It's the first book about the Casson family, those crazy Brits! I love the characters in this one (and Forever Rose, which I read for the Cybils), but the awesomest part of the books is not them. The part that had me laughing and shaking my head and muttering "genius" was McKay's description of the house. As I can attest, the whole clutter is divided into geological ages metaphor is very apt. And you know if McKay can make the boring parts awesome and funny then the rest of it is great too.

[There are, like, 5 different covers for Saffy's Angel. The above is my personal fave, but it's probably only available in the UK.]

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde. Reading it was a good break from all of the middle grade fiction I've been absorbing. I love everything that I've ever read/seen from Wilde, and this one is no exception. However the story is about the corruption of vanity -- so know it won't make you smile as much as The Importance of Being Earnest. Anyway, Wilde is great at evoking emotion. My jaw literally dropped open at one point in this book. It's a classic (no, really, it is). I think I might rent the movie version now. . .

Meet the Author

If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet?

I've been thinking about this recently because Shannon Hale (one of my most favorite authors) has a couple of books coming out this year. And since she does, I'm going to do my darnedest to bring her to a bookstore or library near me. I think it's one of my new year's resolutions.

If you didn't know, the way to bring an author near you is to talk to your local venue (library, bookstore, etc.) and get them to talk to the author's publisher. Writing the author him- or herself is probably not going to do much. Anyway, I'm pretty much planning a blitzkrieg. I'm thinking of asking about it at every one of my library trips (which happen more than weekly) and bookstore visits and maybe I could even get a petition going. . . . Yes, I can see it now. . . muahahaha!

Anyway, what author would you want to meet? Let's make a list!

  • Isaac Asimov
  • Niel Gaiman
  • Shannon Hale
  • Jane Austen
  • J.K Rowling
  • Edward Eager
  • Eleanor Estes
  • Tomie dePaola
  • Harper Lee
  • Nancy Farmer
  • Sherwood Smith
  • Garth Nix
  • Joss Whedon
  • C. S. Lewis
  • Melody Carlson
  • JRR Tolkien
  • Stephenie Meyer
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Diana Wynne Jones

Cybils Shortlists

Happy New Year! And what better way to start it off than with lists of fabulous books? For all of the Cybils shortlists, go here.

I can't just leave it at that, though. As one of the Middle Grade Fiction panelists, I've got to give you more of the inside scoop. It was such fun to be a panelist. Recieving books, reading books by the dozens (quite literally -- I think my final count is 55, but I got more than 70 review copies, so you know I'll keep reading nominees), talking about books with such intelligent and insightful fellow panelists -- it was all a joy! I feel like the lucky duck that got picked to swim with the swans, or something.

We talked (and talked, and chatted, and messaged) and decided on 5 fantastic finalists. For plot summaries and general commentary from the panel go here; I'll just post a few thoughts of my own about each title right now.

2008 Middle Grade Fiction Finalists

Alvin Ho written by Lenore Look. This one was so fun! I couldn't help checking it out from the library when I got to my parents' place and reading it to all my younger siblings (and my mom and dad too). We read the whole thing aloud in two sittings (one was a long car ride, though) and everyone was smiling. This is the book you've been looking for: the one that will appeal to 8 year old boys. You know, besides all those Pokemon books. (previous review here)
Diamond Willow written by Helen Frost. I quite enjoyed this title. I felt like I connected better with Alaskans after reading it. It is one of those books that accidentally makes you smarter -- when you're done you know stuff you didn't realize you were learning. It's a very cultural book, I think.

Every Soul a Star written by Wendy Mass. This one . . . is awesome. I had to pack it back to my parents' place with me just to make sure everyone got a chance to read it. It completely makes me want to see the next total solar eclipse -- and I plan on it, too. Only 8 years, baby! Ally made me smile (she was my fave narrator) Jack made me laugh, and Bree made me think. Another one of those books that accidentally teaches you tons of cool stuff! (previous review here)

Shooting the Moon written by Frances O'Roark Dowell. This is the war book we picked. But don't worry, it's not gruesome. It's a thinker though. It made me think about my dad (Jamie's dad is an Army Colonel), my brothers, and my friends. I really felt like I knew tha main characters from the get-go. It was kind of amazing how quickly I slipped into the world this book creates. My only beef is that it ended so abruptly! I wasn't quite ready for it to be done.

The London Eye Mystery written by Siobhan Dowd. I thought I had this one pegged from the beginning. I groaned to Jacob that we had hardly begun and I already had the mystery figured out. As I read on, I didn't mind -- I liked Ted. Then! Shocker! Twist! And I finished it quite happy. But the real kicker for me on this one was that I kept thinking about it for a long time afterward. It just got stuck in my head. (previous review here)

And since there were so many good books and each panelist had a few favorites that simply couldn't be included (if only we could have had a few more spots on the list!), here are my personal honorable mentions, with links to their reviews:

My Dad's a Birdman -- reminds me of Roald Dahl, except I like it better. :)
The Willoughbys -- makes me laugh out loud.
The Diamond of Drury Lane -- kept me reading non-stop, very atmospheric.
Savvy -- Just loved the family. And the premise.
Forever Rose -- (I've linked to Melissa's review, but she can speak for me on this one!) I loved this book, but felt like I was missing out because it's the last one in the series! I just finished the first, Saffy's Angel, and highly recommend the series (in order).

And here are links to the favorites of the rest of the panel:
Kim: Yes, we can!
Melissa: Book Nut
Matt: Book Club Shelf
Sherry: Semicolon
Mary: ACPL Mock Newbery
Sarah: The Reading Zone
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