I mean, this is cool - this Kickstarter campaign for The Very Hungry Cthulhupillar. It's already fully funded, but for $25 you'll get the hardcover when it comes out. I don't know Eric Carle personally, but I have it on good authority that he has an excellent sense of humor...
I actually took a whole lot of notes at the SLJ Leadership Summit in Alexandria this week. Do I sound surprised? I'm kind of surprised. I've been doing the same thing for kind of a long time now - 7 years at the public library, 5 years writing kidlit book reviews, and I guess I've gotten pretty complacent. Arrogant. Lazy. You pick. So these two back-to-back conferences I've been to, KidLitCon and the SLJ Summit, with their arrays of high-functioning, extra-smart, thoughtful and energetic speakers, kind of rocked my world.
Next, here are a couple of things I took away from the SLJ Leadership Summit, so ably and affably hosted by Brian Kenney and Rocco Staino. Rocco had to do some inspired vamping for time when presenters suffered the waking nightmare known as Why Won't The Tech Work I Tested it Just This Morning Dammit. The number and variety of devices the projector in that ballroom had to hook up with, I hope it took a Valium and a dose of Flagyl afterwards.
So, we're just back from beautiful Seattle, where the food is insane and the drinks are even better. Bob and I snuck off for an out-of-town anniversary weekend, using the excellent KidLitCon 2011 as an excuse.
Thanks to Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books, I was there helping her do a presentation about ebook apps for kids. We were joined via Skype by Betsy Bird of A Fuse #8 Production - and if you've never used videoconferencing as an essential part of your presentation, allow me to tell you, it's just as nerve-racking as you might expect. But all the tech worked, including a nifty document camera that allowed us to not only project what the iPad was doing, but what we were doing to the iPad.
It was truly a pleasure to stand up there alongside two such knowledgeable professionals.
Baltimore is still partly shut down after that rip-roaring nonevent that trickled through town on Saturday - how could a hurricane that barely bothered my willow tree have taken out power to so many people, including my place of work and half the schools in the city and county?
In other words, why are my children still in their pajamas and bothering me at 10:30 in the morning on what should have been the second day of school?
All this quietus has put a song in my head for days: The New Worldby X.
honest to goodness the bars weren't open this morning they must have been voting for a new president of something
Where was I? Oh. I was going to talk about news and events.
I was talking to Sam Musher (Parenthetical) one time about who reads our blogs (her: "oh, mostly my friends"; me: "not even my mother") and I came to the realization that unlike a lot of great kidlit blogs (see blogroll to the right), Pink Me is not very involved in the community conversation - I mostly only do book reviews, so I don't do a lot of linking. Ergo, I think that the people who read Pink Me are not the same people who read MotherReader or Chicken Spaghetti or even 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. So I'm probably not being reiterative when I post a couple announcements of upcoming events and other cool things from the kidlit world.
COOL THING #1: The Cybils are underway! The Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) are a uniquely democratic suite of awards. Nominations are open to anyone, and the judging proceeds in two phases: phase one judges read EVERYTHING THAT IS NOMINATED and, after heated discussion, agree on a set of finalists. The phase two judges read the finalists and decide on winners.
The call for judges has begun - if you write about children's or teen literature on a regular basis, you are qualified and you should throw your hat in the ring! I am especially excited that this year, there will be a Cybils Award for Best Book App. This new category is being headed up by Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books.
Speaking of Mary Ann, COOL THING #2! Mary Ann proposed a talk about book apps for the annual KidLitoSphere Conference, which is out in Seattle this year, and she asked me - along with Betsy Bird of Fuse #8, probably the closest thing to a celebrity in the children's book blogger world (except maybe Roger Sutton) - to get up and present with her!
We'll be talking about the book app features that we've come to expect, the features that we'd like to come to expect (more multilingual plz), and the sweet spot between interactive and distracting. Pretty sure we'll also come up with something that we can post to our blogs, if you're not planning to join us in the great PNW.
COOL THINGIO NUMERO THREE-O: Registration for the KidLitCon has just closed, so if you missed it, you missed it. But registration for Baltimore's own Books for the Beast teen literature conference is still going on, and it's open to all interested parties! It's not that expensive, it's on a Saturday, and you get:
a flash drive loaded with "If you liked..." booklists written by the event facilitators, and
I'm going to be a facilitator in the Suspense/Horror category. You end up in my group, I guarantee a spirited discussion.
Bonus random coolness:
Here's something that I get asked ALL THE TIME. So, apparently, does Leila Roy atbookshelves of doom, one of my favorite blogs, because Leila posts A LOT, and briefly, and with great wryness. When it came to the perennial "books for a precocious tween girl" question, she threw it open to the masses. Here's the compiled list. It's long, and really good. I'm thinking of printing it out for the children's department desk at work.
Let's wrap up the week with some people I want to give love to, a leap forward in comic book diversity, and a tribute to two women: one who really loves pulp fiction, and another who makes me really want to go to Sri Lanka.
And an appreciation of my younger son's artwork. As applied permanently to my arm.
I'm closing my eyes and taking a deep breath and letting all the new books I've seen in the past few days come flying past my head. Here (in addition to the titles I've already mentioned) are the books I am most looking forward to receiving in my library that I saw at BEA:
Have you ever really looked at an egg? It's oval and white with slimy stuff inside the shell. Have you ever really looked at an egg? If you keep it outside in the sun all day it will smell.
-- Peter Himmelman, Have you ever really looked at an egg?
In no particular order, some things that I think go together on this day that is struggling to be springtime.
First out of the gate, for today's Nonfiction Monday, Travis at 100 Scope Notes says "do you ever think about trees?" which is what put me in mind of this Peter Himmelman song in the first place. If you are a consumer of pop music written for kids, you really must get your hands onMy Green Kite. Sly, open-hearted songs about baseball, feet, parents, food, and the feel-good power-pop title track.
"Among the Redwoods" by A. E. Ericson.
Anyway, today Travis reviews Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World, which I did last week. Sometimes Travis gets to a book first, sometimes I do, but as sure as night follows day, Travis and I will review the same picture books! That boy has marvelous taste. In case you or Travis wanted, as I did, to see actual photos of the celebrated angiosperms and gymnosperms in Margie Preus's book, Neatorama featured many of them in this post from a few years ago.
Also for Nonfiction Monday, Shelf-Employed reviewed Roxie Munro's new book, Hatch!, which am looking to get my hands on due to the strength of this review. I am also going to find a copy for my son's 2nd grade teacher, who every year around this time sets up an incubator in the classroom to teach the OMG IT'S ALIVE lesson. Most ancient story in the world, but it never gets old.
I used to keep chickens (that's Barge, above), but those stories are too tragic to recount here. I don't mind swearing or getting off-track in my reviews of children's literature, but the fate of my beautiful birds, no, that's just too harsh.
Now I get my chicken kicks vicariously through friends and family. My cousin just got some chicks, and my friend Kate. Eventually, anyone who spends much time with chickies comes to the conclusion voiced in the second-to-last line of this post by SJ, in which she describes moving the chicks to the garage. It's funnier than that makes it sound. Plus there's video.
Looking forward to Katie Davis's new book Little Chicken's Big Day. There's a special secret book trailer that I got to see, featuring... mmm-hmmm MOAR CHICKS. Talking chicks! Cute!
I swear, I could watch chickens all day.
Bunnies, though, bunnies are boring to watch. I am thinking about them though, because the peas we planted in February are coming up, and I want the daggone bunnies to NOT EAT THEM. But I am glad that the bunnies that hop idiotically around my yard are not Giant Prehistoric Bunnies. Of all the things that used to come in the Giant Prehistoric Size - for example, rhinoceroses, deer, sloths, chickens - rabbits have to be among the stupidest.
But in honor of those Giant Prehistoric Bunnies,io9 did a list of the scariest freakin bunnies in The Genre Formerly Known as Sci-Fi. Hated that thing in Twilight Zone - The Movie. Brr. But the good folks at io9, who know an awful lot about movies and vinyl figurines and all that, know just about squat about kidlit - they forgot Andrea Beaty's Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies, reviewed on Pink Me a while ago and never seen on the library shelf since. Hand it to one kid, and that kid will hand it to another. But isn't that strange - I could have sworn I reviewed that book, I know we enjoyed it... weird.
Let's review. Chickens. Bunnies. Peas. Must mean only one thing: a major chocolate holiday approaches. Or... I don't myself believe that marzipan is fit to eat, but aren't these cute? Bunnies and chickies. Awww.
It doesn't happen often, but it happens. A mom, a little girl, a boy - most frequently a dad, and what does that say about men and reading and their interests? - approaches the librarian looking for a book that will assist a child in learning about something that he or she wants to know about... and the book does not exist.
Horrors! Gasp! But I'm not kidding here. As much as I complain and moan and groan about the formulaic nonfiction put out by so many publishing companies, I am also grateful that at least somebody has put out a kids' book on stem cell research, or Latvia, or Garrett Morgan.
Because nobody has published one (at least not recently) on radiology. Or star lacrosse players. Or Randy Rhoads (or any other rock drummer that I can think of).
My sons had their annual checkups the other day with our bustly little worrywart of a pediatrician. Love that woman.
Not only because she reminds me of Valerie from The Princess Bride, but also because somehow, for years, she was under the impression that my husband was a physician. I always kind of wondered why she discussed the boys' health with me in such good technical detail, until one day, as she was explaining an anomalous test result, she cautioned, "Now, your husband, as a professional, is going to suspect [something something]," and I was like, "Hold on. As a professional city planner you think... he might have some insight into Zhou's bloodwork?" Sure, he did two years of premed at Carnegie Mellon before transferring to Columbia and majoring in English and social injustice, but I know more about the implications of a low white blood cell count than he does, and all I did was date a med student for a couple of years.
Anyway, on our way in, I did a book check. "Everybody have something to read while we're waiting? I've got The Rise of Renegade X and no, you can't read it." (too much Frenching for a 9-year-old, he would think it was icky) Mao had The Smoky Corridor by Chris Grabenstein. Then Zhou showed me his book.
This is me cleaning off my desk prior to a TWO WEEK vacation in TROPICAL PARADISE.
Capital letters, yes! And not because I have been reading Kanye's Twitter feed, although I absolutely had to send Chris Barton (The Day-Glo Brothers) this picture of Kanye in his radioactive Pepto pink suit. I seriously doubt this is what the Switzer brothers had in mind when they invented those colors. Kanye is reputed to be friends with Aziz Ansari, can you figure it? I cannot. I reviewed a biography of Kanye for School Library Journal last year and I am still not quite over it. What is the what there? And Aziz Ansari is on Parks & Recreation, which my husband and I borrowed from the library because our friend TinkerCinderBelleAhontas recommended it, and she had previously recommended Firefly and Nurse Jackie, and so she is never wrong, but we sort of don't see the what in this either.
I have given up on reading kid books for vacation. (Oh you know that's not true) But. So. I bought GQ last night - Vanity Fair was not available - and it was there that I read that Aziz Ansari is friends with Kanye. And that Bill Murray respects Amy Poehler but cannot remember her name, nor the name of Jennifer Love Hewitt, about whose recent TV movie in which she plays I think an accidental prostitute Heather Cocks of Go Fug Yourself wrote THE most funniest thing I've read in a long time.
Also with the cleaning off of the desk: you may read Patrick Carman's Trackers if you wish. The Trackers are a group of four kids using technology to... well it's not too clear what they've been doing prior to the main conflict of the story. But that's not a big deal.
My son loved the banter between the four kids. Sat there cracking up while he read. The narrative unspools as the main character, Adam Henderson, is apparently interrogated by some kind of cop. That format is a natural for building and maintaining suspense, and it worked on my kid like a charm. Adam tells what happened, and shows the cop video and screen captures, all of which are available online using passwords from the book.
Me, I was a bit more meh than my kid. I thought some of the writing was sloppy. But I was truly charmed by the names of the gadgets Adam invents (one's called the Deckard, and anyone who tosses a Blade Runner reference into a kid book gets my respect) and the passwords he comes up with namecheck people like Babbage and Woz.
Good for kids who have gotten into the multiplatform, 39 Clues-type stories. Also for techie kids - as far as I can tell, the technology in this book all works. Likewise the Seattle landscape. Nothing worse than putting a kid on his bicycle in the U District and saying he makes it to Pike Market in 10 minutes. Carman dots those i's, and I appreciate the respect that signals.
Next! OMG did I mention I read GQ last night? Well listen if I hadn't already paid Todd a squinzillion dollars to draw my new banner up there, you know the one that makes me cry it's so beautiful? THIS would be my new banner image:
Tracy Morgan reading The Giving Tree crying til his balls shrivel up and retract into his body. (That's right, I said "balls". I'm going on vacation, ok?) Hey and you know what's really funny? For this photo shoot, GQ supplied classic clowny props like an exploding cigar, balloon animals, bubble shoes, wax lips... and The Giving Tree. Never not funny, The Giving Tree.
How many orange books do you own? I'll wager it's not enough. For Pride Month, our library did our aisle-cap slatwall displays by color rather than by subject. The orange books and the green books were picked up, the blue and purple not so much. Hmm.
Oh and here we come to the Mac Barnett portion of our clearing off of the desk. Or in this case, the nightstand (imagine a smarmy chuckle). Dan Santat, Mac's partner on Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World, reports that standing next to Mac makes any man 25% uglier. I will disagree - I think Dan is excellent looking, especially when you add the fake mustache. MmmmMMM! Nowadays all these kidlit guys look like hipster models, I swear. Whatever happened to guys that looked like Maurice Sendak? Or Shel Silverstein for that matter. Brr. Scaring kids for decades.
Ergo, you just know that this Oh No!-themed auction to benefit 826LA is going to be absolutely gurgling with delectability. Wish I could be there, but Dan's dramatic video will have to tide me over:
We bought The Clock Without a Face this week and my whole family fell deeply under its spell. I didn't introduce the kids to the web page - they had already spent half a day with the Trackers website. There had been a signing party at Atomic Books, our local superhip bookstore, but I missed it. SRSLY? I missed a chance to locally ogle Barnett and his penchant for linen? (I swear, this guy has his hand on the phone, looking up "restraining order" at this very moment. Dude, don't worry, I'm out of the country for the next two weeks. Plenty of time to get that thing lined up.)
Adam Rex gives up a Fat Vampire playlist on Largehearted Boy. Predictably heavy on the Beck, but also reveals Adam's love of Stephin Merritt. (Nods head in hipster appreciation.) If you ever listened to the audio versions of A Series of Unfortunate Events (and you SOOOO should, *cough*TimCurryIsStillEXTREMELYSexy*cough*), Stephin Merritt is The Gothic Archies, who did the romantically bleak original songs on those CDs. Verbs? Pronouns? I don't care about those things - I am going on VACATION!
In case you missed it, I liked Fat Vampire. Here's one of the promotional videos for it that I find particularly funny:
"Parents: learn to tell the difference between a hickey and a vampire wound." Please note MOAR MAC BARNETT. Guy is EVERYWHERE. It is not my fault.
Lastly but not leastly, I have been asked which books are on the table in the new banner... let's go to the original photo:
Oh my sweet Westley it's hot. North of a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, they say, too hot to turn pages, almost too hot to think.
Too hot to use a computer. I'm going to the pool. I'll finish this later.
Hi, it's tomorrow! Yep, I did that. Left the house at noon, got back from the pool EIGHT HOURS later, and then overnight the Magic Husband Fairy put in all of our window units, sealed up the house, and now it's cool! Ish. Cool-esque. Cool enough to do ONE load of laundry, vacuum the downstairs if I take it slow, and write this post about a couple of trends I've noticed lately in children's and YA books.
Strap in for another link round up - the kitty peed on the bed and I am stuck inside waiting for the laundry to cycle, so I have treats for everyone from the world wide web...
I have Courtney Love going all the way inFug Madnessthis year, but as it turns out there are many other March Madness tourneys going on. School Library Journal is hosting a Battle of the Kid's Books, Techland wants to know who's the baddest bad guy of all time (and boy I thought I was a geek but I done been served by some of the seeded contestants in those brackets), and over in the Whedonverse the question is not do you hate Gwendolyn Post but rather do you hate her worse than Rack? Dawn Summers has already been knocked out, and I cannot believe that.
Gratuitous Percy Jackson reference of the day: I finally have something in common with Cate Blanchett (besides porcelain skin and a longtime association with Hugo Weaving, except mine is less professional and more, um, theoretical). Here she is clutching her 8-year-old son, who is in turn clutching his copy of The Lightning Thief. If I'd had to drag my 8-year-old to whatever function this is, he'd have brought a Rick Riordan book too.
All this Michael Cera abuse started when, upon hearing that Cory Doctorow's teen civil cyberdisobedience thriller Little Brother is going to be a movie, my Psychic Friend Paula set her jaw and growled, "As long as they don't cast Michael Cera as Marcus."
Which prompted me to sojourn over to Tiger Beat looking for a teen actor who I thought had the right smart shifty look. Oh my word please don't follow my lead. I am still seizing slightly from all the pink and all the Justin Beiber. I don't know who Justin Beiber is and I think I can make it to my 45th birthday without finding out.
Oh and hey! Check out me and Psychic Friend Paula and our Young Friend Ryan in these little Reader Advisory videos! Paula does memoirs, Ryan does graphic novels (including Scott Pilgrim) and I do "If you like Percy Jackson" and "If you like Wimpy Kid".
And in today's "I thought I missed TV but it turns out I don't" news, I find that Buzz Aldrin is on Dancing With The Stars this round. That man was the second man on the moon. That man felled a heckler with one punch at the age of 79. We named our (incontinent) cat after that man! And now he has maneuvered himself into a position to be mentioned in the same sentence as a Pussycat Doll and a man who legally changed his surname without knowing that that's not how you say that in Spanish. Wonder if we changed the cat's name she'd stop peeing on our bed?
Pink Me has always been book reviews, nothing but book reviews, no contests, no industry gossip, no opinion pieces about the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar. There are SOOOO many people who do that better than I do (Betsy, Leila, Susan) and I read them, and you should too!
But I love links as much as the next Internet-addicted book-lovin' swine, and I kind of get exposed to a lot of them, so without any further apology, here are the cool book-adjacent things I've come across recently:
On sale in July: Calvin & Hobbes stamps! Although I think you have to buy them on a sheet with some other goof-offs from the comic section (Beetle Bailey, Garfield, etc.) Comics Curmudgeon finds the unintentional humor in the comics every day.
Bob Staake drew a bunch of covers for not-yet-existent picture book covers, and the readers of the Washington Post were challenged to come up with books to match 'em. Gems like Little Miss Masochist: 101 Tips and Tricks for Getting Spanked in a Timeout World. Who knew Washingtonians were so witty?
If you haven't yet read Seth Grahame-Smith's Galleycat interview, here's your chance to head on over. More mayhem please! And more YA/adult crossover titles that boys, girls and parents can enjoy, too.
Lastly, I have a complicated relationship with Dr. Seuss. My grandmother was a librarian at Ted Geisel's local branch, and was gifted with first editions of most of his work. She didn't like it, thought it was nonsense and a waste of time. I, of course, have never thought nonsense was a waste of time, but then I spent six months of my life that I don't get back reading If I Ran the Zoo to my son every night, and now I sometimes warn parents who are leaving the children's section with a whole armload - "Make sure you do your stretches before you try these." They're the most challenging books to read aloud, and some of them are LONG. Anyway, apparently Bennett Cerf found them a little wordy too - Green Eggs and Ham was apparentlywritten to settle a bet with Cerf, then Geisel's publisher at Random House.