Friday, September 22, 2017

PPBF: I Like Old Clothes

Happy Hobbit Day!
Tune in tomorrow for the gastronomical triumphs from our Middle Earthly feast.

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

newly illustrated I Like Old Clothes,
by Mary Ann Hoberman and Patrice Barton
I Like Old Clothes

Written Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Patrice Barton

Alfred A. Knopf
originally published 1976, New illustrations 2012
Ages 5-8, 32 pp


Themes:
Childhood, Differences, Individuality


Opening:
I like old clothes,
Hand-me-down clothes,
Worn-outgrown clothes,
Not-my-own clothes.


This book was originally published with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast

Synopsis:
The main character tells how she loves receiving used clothes even though other people might not like old clothes. This is more of a concept book. The MC likes to imagine where the clothes have come from and in the beautifully circular ending, where they are going to next. She likes hand-me-downs because she can play without messing them up, or dress up, or remake them into something new.


What I Love:
This sweet circular "story" by Mary Ann Hoberman has been reissued with new illustrations. I love how Patrice Barton introduces a gentle, vintage vibe into her illustrations without being sentimental.
I love the creative ways the MC uses her clothes. I appreciate the book's ability to deflect embarassment over consignments shopping and an upcycled life-style. The book is perfectly suited to today's environmentally-conscious parents who take advantage of the used clothing that comes their way. The illustrator uses a nice variety of collage-style back grounds and vignettes with plenty of character appeal.

I generally flinch when a past illustrator's work is cast aside, but this new edition is worthy of the timeless text. It's so cute!


Bonus: 
Ingenious cookie packages from Cake Central
1. Reading Rockets never fails to disappoint with their author interviews in text or video format.

2. View a delightful sketch interview with illustrator Patrice Barton on the Texas: Austin SCBWI blog, or the traditional kind with Kathy Temean's indepth Q&A with lots of pictures!

3. Take kids on a shopping spree to the local consignment shop for school clothes, play clothes, dress up costumes, and clothes for crafting. Use the time to review making change and budgeting.

4. Blogger Marilyn Rodrigues posts about the ups and downs of the hand-me-down lifestyle while Recycle Now has suggestions for less-than-quality donations.

5. Teach kids about charity by donating to actual charities like Salvation Army and World Wear Project. Note that Goodwill is a for-profit business and Boxes like Planet Aid can be highly suspect. Do your research.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Jennifer
Reviewed by Erik




Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Rhythm

Reviewed by Maria
Reviewed by Julie

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, September 22, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hobbit Day 2017

Wouldn't it be fun to do this 3D Middle Earth Map puzzle together?





Celebrate Bilbo's 174th birthday (and Frodo's 96th). Give gifts. Have a party. Eat a lot. Enjoy life because September 22 is officially Hobbit Day.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt compiled a Merry list of ideas for the occasion including a Dwarvish rune alphabet and an event hashtag.

Hobbits traditionally give gifts to others on their birthdays. Stock up on the One Ring from ThinkGeek, that is, if you have the willpower to give them away freely.

Kick back and reread your favorite Tolkien passages. Set the mood with soy candles from Frostbeard Studio in The Shire or Oxford Library scents. After all, Tolkien spent a lot of time in both places.

Check back Saturday for photos of our Tolkien marathon for which I've planned hobbit-themed food and games.

Tenna' san'
Aa' menealle nauva calen ar' malta*


*Thanks to the Grey Company

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Messy Writers

 "I am quite convinced you only started writing books as an explanation for your ‘creative environment.'"*

Bookplate by Josef Sattler
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

*Via Juliet Clare Bell on Writing For Kids While Raising Them

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Be Talk Like A Pirate Day, Matey!

Here be some picture books fer pirates. They be especially good fer those of us what can't read.

Are Pirates Polite? by Corinne Demas,
Artemis Roehrig, and David Catrow
Pirates at the Plate, by Aaron Frisch and Mark Summers
The Pirates Next Door, by Jonny Duddle
That scalawag Jonny Duddle has books fer cabin boys, too.

Jolley-Rogers #1 the Monsters Gold, by Jonny Duddle
And fer all you dandy land lubbers who can make out more of those infernal scribbles, ye might be liking the books below.
The Jupiter Pirates #1, Hunt for the Hydra,
by Jason Fry and Jeff Nentrup
The Dagger Quick #1,
 by Brian Eames and Amy June Bates
Airborn #1, by Kenneth Oppel and Larry Rostant

If ye be ready for stronger meat, waylay some litrate teen to read you these beauties.

The Pirate's Son, by Geraldine McCaughrean
Mad Kestrel #1,
by Misty Massey and Shelly Wan
Lady of Devices #3, Magnificent Devices,
by Shelley Adina

Friday, September 15, 2017

PPBF: Blue Sky White Stars

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Blue Sky White Stars, by Sarvinder Naberhaus and Kadir Nelson
Blue Sky White Stars

Written by Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017, Ages 4-8
68 words, 40 pp.


Themes:
America, Flag, Diversity, History


Opening:
Blue sky
White stars

Synopsis:
In spare, poetic language, author Sarvinder Naberhaus compares the colors of the American flag to the history of the nation, highlighting the similarities and differences of the land, its people, its past, and its future.

What I Love:
This beautiful depiction of our diverse heritage is an open door for adults to discuss a multitude of issues with the kids in their lives. Facing pages use the same text, or occasionally a play on words, to equate the symbols of the flag with touchpoints in our history. These key moments define us as Americans and give readers a big-picture of the diversity which binds us together. At times as stirring as the National Anthem, this book weaves a word picture. It hints at struggle through images of  covered wagons, veterans, protesters, graduates. It spotlights our blessings with pictures of fireworks, natural wonders, past times, and space exploration. Both author and illustrator have included back matter and poured their patriotism into every page. This is a book which needs to be experienced to be understood. Breathtaking.


Bonus: 
1. I love the website Sarvinder set up which is specifically dedicated to Blue Sky White Stars. It has additional behind-the-scenes  information and plenty of resources for teachers and students.

J. Dowling submitted red, white, and blue cookies to Better Recipies
2. Uma Krishnaswami (one of my FAVORITE authors!) posted an interview with the author in which she asks questions picture book authors want to know.

3. Sarvinder's newest book, Lines, came out August 22!

4. Fellow PPBF blogger Maria Marshall previously reviewed this book, complete with multiple interior images and an author interview. Patricia Tilton reviewed it for Independence Day, but Blue Sky White Stars is so moving, I thought it deserved a spotlight for Patriot Day. If you haven't read it yet...run to the book store today!

5. There are hundred of resources you could use with this book. It can open discussions about history, citizenship, civil rights, heritage, or even poetry. Here are a few links to get you started.
  • PBS consolidated key points in the history of the American flag. Military1 lists 11 protocols to respecting your nation's flag. Why don't they teach these in school anymore?
  • History Bits compiled a guide to the western migration in America.
  • Today's Christian Woman has an article on teaching kids to be good citizens and Bible in A Year studies three Biblical passages which deal with citizenship.*
  • The Library of Congress has posted a teachers' guide to challenges immigrant Americans face.
  • Explore America's national parks on the National Geographic site.
  • History for Kids focuses on civil rights and provides links to many leaders in the search for equality.
  • Learn more about the exploration of the moon on NASA's educator's page.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Leslie

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Pat
Reviewed by Julie


Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, September 15, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministry listed, but recommend the content of the link provided.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

MMGM: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Books 1-13, A Series of Unfortunate Events
These covers are out of order!?!
A Series of 
Unfortunate Events

Written by Lemony Snicket
Cover by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins, 1999
Ages 8-12, Lexile 1010L
Avg 263 pages, Avg 41000 words


Themes:
Misfortune, Misery, Despair, Orphans


Opening:
"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and they had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes."


Thoughts:
A Series of Unfortunate Events follow the misadventures of three orphans as they unravel their parents mysterious past and their uncertain future. All the while they are pursued by a villain-to-end-all-villains, count Olaf. Though the later books were a bit plotless, and the ending was somewhat unsatisfying, the grim humor, inventive storytelling, and iconic Snicket style from dedication to jacket blurb are worth turning every page.

And now random tips:
Definitely start with The Bad Beginning. Read them in order. Don't skip the front and back matter including the dedication, the jacket blurbs, and the author's note. Seriously.
The Wide Window remains my favorite. The Grim Grotto my least. Hang in there. I thought the books lost a little steam by book 8, but 9 is hilarious.
You may want to take breaks in between. I found some of the humor loses its charm if you do all 550K-odd pages in a row.
Don't miss out on all the companion artwork by Brett Helquist. Also stop at his Etsy shop for some Baudelaire prints (some never before published!)
The cds are no substitute for the paper versions because many of the jokes depend on visual cues, but I do recommend the cds once you've read books 1-13. The author narrates his own audiobooks. His creepy deadpan isn't for everyone though, so the publisher rerecorded the series read by the unparalleled Tim Curry. (Have a handkerchief handy for his interpretation of Mr. Poe!)


Bonus: 
1. Our illustrious host, Shannon Messenger reviewed this series on her blog.

2. Want more Lemony Snicket madness? He has written plenty of other amazing books. I reviewed his fabulous picture book, The Composer is Deadillustrated by Carson Ellis.
Kitty Cat at the Library reviewed All the Wrong Questions, the first book in a different series. All the Wrong Questions has a different voice, but the same quirky bent, this time with a noir twist.

3. Other MMGM bloggers recommend
Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey, cover by Iacopo Bruno
Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Terry Fan
The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield, by John Bemelmans Marciano, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, illustrated by Jeffrey Timmins.

Deadweather and Sunrise,
The Chronicles of Egg #1
Reviewed by the Hopeful Heroine
Rooftoppers
Reviewed by Jenni Enzor

The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield
Reviewed by Always in the Middle
A Whole Nother Story,
Reviewed by Shannon Messenger




Visit the Friday Drive-In review of  A Series of Unfortunate Events.
View all the Summer Drive-In reviews for 2017.

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for September 11, 2017 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Have you reviewed any Lemony Snicket books? Please leave your link in the comments below. Feel free to leave your other MG recommendations, too. Thanks!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Attention CYBILS Judges!

Warm up your library card and polish your reading glasses, it's time for the 2017 CYBILS Awards.

Call for judges!
Book bloggers, there is a need for competent, devoted judges for both first and second round judging in every category. Check out the requirements and apply before Monday to secure your spot.

I was privileged to be a first round judge in the non-fiction picture book category in 2016. It was one of the most taxing yet rewarding experiences of my literary career. If you can dedicate your time, attention, and expertise to this award, I highly recommend the experience. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Now Playing: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Perfect Picture Book Friday returns today, so this is the last book/movie review for the year. Join me next week for my picture book review of Blue Sky White Stars.

Welcome to the Bookish Ambition 
Summer Drive-In  

The Circle Drive-In from my childhood. Still open and now with double features on two screens!

Now Playing: 
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Written by Lemony Snicket
Cover by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins, 1999
Ages 8-12, Lexile 1010L

A Series of Unfortunate Events,
Netflix, 2017
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Complete Wreck (#1-13)
HarperCollins, 1999

Themes:
Misfortune, Misery, Despair, Orphans


Highlights from the book? 
  • The tongue-in-cheek cover copy, backmatter, dedication, etc.
  • Brett Helquist's illustrations
  • Grammar jokes
  • Bizarre humor

Highlights from the series?
  • Count Olaf
  • Music written by Nick Urata
  • Attention to detail
  • Addition of clues and hints to the larger plot

Opening:
"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and they had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes."


Movie Trailer:



Thoughts: 
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a horrible book series about three orphans who suffer terribly at the hands of a heinous villain and who, though they are exceptionally bright and talented, are surrounded by people who are not, which leads to even more misfortune.

Actually, this is a great book series. The macabre humor is adored by both kids and adults. I absolutely recommend the book series over the Netflix series because much of the humor is dependent on the printed page. However, for fans of the books, I do recommend this well-produced-if-somewhat-unusual TV series. The shows have been re-scripted to include foreshadowing of many of the twists which affect the series arc. The show has an increased cohesiveness, but lacks the more subtle revelations I enjoyed as I read each book sequel. As of yet, there is no scheduled second season. This puts the series at another disadvantage...it only goes up top book four!

While the first episode is excruciatingly drawn out, it also adds delightfully ghoulish touches of it's own like a bizarre musical number. The kids are adorable if not perfectly cast, and a few characters throughout the series just aren't as caricatured as in the books, but those are nitpicks. I think audiences of all ages can enjoy the Netflix Original. Watch it and tell us your opinion.


Reminisce with intermission commercials
from Captain Bijou on You Tube.

Visit Our Snackbar!

Instead of the traditional Drive-In fare, I've included a recipe for Puttanesca sauce and 10 ways to prepare roast beef, just in case you are forced to watch this series with an estranged,distant, and demanding relative.

Nostalgic for a drive-in movie?
There are over 5,000 drive-in theaters across the U.S. mapped for you on Cinema Treasures.

Create your own snack trays with dollar store caddies
 thanks to Penny Pincher Jenny


Have you seen any screen adaptations about the Baudelaire's? What's your opinion?
Have you reviewed any Lemony Snicket books? Please leave your link in the comments below. Thanks!

View all the Summer Drive-In reviews for 2017.
Check out the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday review of  A Series of Unfortunate Events, coming September 11, 2017.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Writing Villains

"Some of the scariest antagonists are ones who think they are actually doing good in some way.”
Jan Blazanin*

Bookplate by Antonio Vasconcelos via Pinterest



*Via Iowa SCBWI conference, 2012

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ChaBooChaLite 2017

Just a reminder to write along with me during the Chapter Book Challenge Lite.

Grab a notebook and start writing!

Find details on the blog. Join us all this month, and cross that first draft off your 2017 to-do list.

Remember:
"The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written."
John Dufresne

John has also written Is Life Like This? Buy it now, finish ChaBooChaLite, work through John's book from October to February, and you'll be ready for ChaBooCha, regularly scheduled in March...that's three drafts in eight months. Are you up for the challenge?


Friday, September 1, 2017

Library Card Sign Up Month

Sign-up for a library card 
during the month of September!

Grab some Titans swag for your library!
The American Library Association sponsors events all year long. This is the month to raise awareness for the power of libraries. This year's super poster bears the Teen Titans (not MY Titans of course, but respectable and well-loved heroes for today's kids.)

The ALA has listed creative ways to showcase the comics theme and bring patrons into the library. If you're not ready to hold a cosplay event or don't know a local comics artist, try something more straightforward. Take the neighborhood kids on a field trip to the local library. Get them their own library cards, and watch magic happen.

The ALA store has plenty more magical media, from Newt Scamander to Batgirl. Buy. Keep. Trade. Donate. There are no losers when we increase circulation for our community library systems.

How will you celebrate this month?