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.

America, Flag, Diversity, History

Blue sky
White stars

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.

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 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

Misfortune, Misery, Despair, Orphans

"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."

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!)

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
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.