Book of the Week - The Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

There are dozens of ways in which an author can introduce information into a story. Alexander chooses to come right out with it. He uses a “remember when” method. This is when two characters are speaking with one another and one character says to the other, “Remember when—” The character then proceeds to inform the other character and also the reader about back story that they do now know. Almost the entire history of the land of Prydain is giving in the first chapter of the book in just this manner.  The reader learns of all the bad guys, magic, history, and some of the characters we will meet throughout the book. This can feel heavy handed at times, but it is a quick and efficient way to give information and not worry about inserting bits and pieces slowly throughout the story. 

Forgotten Author of the Week and Books of the Week - Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I'm combining two posts this week as it is my blog and that's what I feel like doing this week. Stella Gibbons is by no means considered a children's author, however her books hold a certain amount of childlike fun.

Stella was born in 1902 in London, the daughter of a doctor who she said was a "bad man", but a good doctor. Stella was taught from home before attending North London Collegiate School for Girls. In 1921 she received her 2-year degree in Journalism and received a position working with the British Union Press in 1924. Her job at the Union Press quickly led to a decent career as a journalist where we also work for Evening Standard and Lady. While working for the Standard, Mary Webb's (author of Gone to Earth) books made a resurgence and Stella was forced to write reviews. She disliked Mary Webb's books, which became the catalyst for her book Cold Comfort Farm.

Many are not familiar with Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm being the only book still in print, Stella was actually the author of 25 books. A mixture of fiction, poetry, and one children's book, The Untidy Gnome. Many of those books received very positive reviews at their releases. Although Gibbons is not considered a children's author her books are all appropriate for teenage readers, especially Cold Comfort Farm. If you loved Jane Austen or any other classical romantic writer then this is the perfect book to bring a smile to the face. 

Illustrator of the Week - Ard Hoyt

Ard Hoyt was born in Temple, Texas and some of his very first memories are of being lost in the illustrations and the stories in children's books. He says his "very favorite" is The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf , drawings by Robert Lawson. "These books took me places I had never imagined I could go," says Ard, "and I have been traveling ever since in stories and in pictures of my own."
Ard is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He's illustrated several books including One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova and I'm a Manatee by John Lithgow. Other books include Utterly Otterly Day, The Impossible Patriotism Project, and the brand new The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacker Goes to School. Ard lives in Arkansas with his wife and three daughters, and a lovable mutt named Lickerish.

Coming Soon: June 23

Septimus Heap: The Magykal Papers by Angie Sage

Enter the world of Septimus Heap with this collection of previously unpublished papers. This rich compendium includes:


·      The private journals of Septimus, Jenna, and Marcia Overstrand.

·      The best—and worst—places to eat as described in The Egg-on-Toast Restaurant Guide.

·      Sirius Weazal's Speedy Guides to the Palace, the Wizard Tower, and Wizard Way.

·      Excerpts from the Pigeon Post Biography series and the Heaps of History series.

·      Alther Mella's Guide to Being Dead: Ten Handy Rules for New Ghosts.

·      Beautiful maps, quirky flyers, funny letters, and much more!


Have you Seen My Cat?  By Eric Carle

A little boy's cat is missing and he is worried. Beautiful illustrations and a brief, easy-to-read text lead small readers on a round-the-world quest for the lost cat, and to an ending that is a wonderful surprise. Along the way, the little boy meets a wide variety of people, all trying to be helpful, and sees many beautiful members of the cat family strikingly pictured in Eric Carle's distinctive collage technique.

This popular book, first published more than a decade ago, has now been completely re-illustrated by Eric Carle and is more appealing than ever. We are proud to re-introduce it now for the delight of a new generation of readers.


A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris

A sixth-grade Goth girl who thinks she’s a vampire encounters her greatest nemesis when she enrolls at Sunny Hill Middle School in this hilarious and entirely original take on the vampire genre for middle graders. 

Svetlana Grimm has recently discovered she’s a vampire. The clues are all there: she can eat only red foods, has to sleep under the bed because of her heightened sensitivity to light and noise, and can read others’ thoughts. But this new discovery is making her transition from home-schooling to attending sixth grade at Sunny Hill Middle School that much more difficult. After all, what can she possibly have in common with those jellybean-eaters in her class? She prefers to watch them from afar in her hidden lair atop the Oak of Doom in her backyard. 

But things get more interesting when Svetlana’s cruel yet beautiful science teacher, Ms. Larch, reads her thoughts. Svetlana is excited to have found another of her kind—until her new neighbor, The Bone Lady, fills her in on Ms. Larch's true identity and her own. What happens when your sixth-grade science teacher might also be your immortal enemy?


The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School by Laurie Halse Anderson

Mom and Dad Fleefenbacher think their daughter Zoe's hair is wild and beautiful. And for her kindergarten teacher, Zoe's vivacious tresses were a comfort. But Zoe's about to start first grade, and her new teacher doesn't fool around....

"School has rules," she says. "No wild hair in my class!"

So what are Zoe and her free-spirited hair going to do now?


Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

Thirteen-year-old Cody Saron has never lived in one place longer than a few weeks, and has never attended a regular school. Growing up on the run with his father, an undercover agent for the CIA, Cody has traveled the entire globe; he speaks five languages, and he has two black belts. What Cody isn't prepared for is...junior high.

When the danger surrounding Cody's dad heats up, Cody is sent to stay with the aunt he's never known, Jenny, in her small Connecticut suburb. Cody has no idea how to fit in with other kids, how to handle his first crush, or how to make it through a day of classes.As Cody struggles to adapt to the one thing he's never experienced -- a normal life -- he starts to fear that his father's world has followed him and no one he loves is safe. Greg Logsted weaves together action, humor, and heart, building to a surprising revelation about what Cody has always believed to be true. 


Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young Shakespeare by Bailey McDonald

Thirteen-year-old Viola, disguised as a boy, joins her uncle’s troupe of traveling players and arrives in Stratford, where she meets a lively 12-year-old named Will Shakespeare. When a local man is murdered and her uncle is imprisoned as a suspect, Viola and Will join forces. Hoping to startle a confession from the supposed murderer, Will hatches a dramatic trap in which Viola, disguised as a “ghastly ghost,” delivers lines written by Will in iambic pentameter.


Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin

At long last, the first serious biography of entertainment legend Lena Horne -- the celebrated star of film, stage, and music who became one of the first African-American icons.At the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, Halle Berry thanked Lena Horne for paving the way for her to become the first black recipient of a Best Actress Oscar. Though limited, mostly to guest singing appearances in splashy Hollywood musicals, "the beautiful Lena Horne," as she was often called, became a pioneering star for African Americans in the 1940s and fifties.


Extra Credit by Andrew Clements

It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back -- for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simple enough (even for a girl who hates homework). Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal.... Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know. As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple 

Book of the Week - Book Lists

For grad school I have to read a 120 count reading list. Not only do I have to read these books in a little over a year, but I there are also the books I want to read for fun, for papers, for my thesis, as well as the occasional adult book. I have read a lot of great books in the past 5 months and here is a list of all of them in alphabetical order by author. Some of these I had read before, but there is a large difference reading a book for fun and reading it for the analysis. I have starred the books that I really enjoyed though.

*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexia
The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen
Handel: Who Knew What He Liked by M.T. Anderson
No Castles Here by A.C.E. Bauer
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
Bronzeville Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks
Snow White by The Brothers Grimm
Mr. Grumpy's Outing by John Burningham
The Earthborn by Paul Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Door in the Wall by Margeurite deAngeli
The Eye, the Ear, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
*House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
The Voice That Challenge A Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman
Nicholas by Rene Goscinny
Gone by Michael Grant
The Friends by Rosa Guy
*Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Bluish by Virginia Hamilton
The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton
It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health by Robie E. Harris
So Many Circles, So many Squares by Tana Hoban
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes
Brave New World by Alduous Huxley
The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell
...If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights by Anne Jamma
*Darkness Under the Water by Beth Kannell
Steering the Craft by Ursula LeGuin
John Henry by Julius Lester
*Rules by Cynthia Lord
George and Martha by James Marshall
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
When She Was Good by Norma Mazer
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh
The Kiss That Missed by David Melling
The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson
*Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie by Elizabeth Partridge
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
*The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
*Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge
*Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
Guys Write for Guys Read by jon Scieszka
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Reality Leak by Joni Sensel
What Have You Lost? by Naomi Shihab
In Real Life: Six Women Photographers by Leslie Sills
The Fools of Chelm and Their History by Isaac Singer
*Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Tru Confessions by Janet Tashjian
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
Poetry Speaks to Children by Various Authors
Father Fox's Pennyrhymes by Clyde Watson
Max Cleans Up by Rosemary Wells
I Love My New Toy by Mo Willems
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems
*Take Joy by Jane Yolen

Forgotten Author of the Week - Doris Herold Lund

My mother read books to me all the time when I was little. Library books, books from the bookstore, hand-me-downs, but none were as special as my mother's books. The books that had been hers when she was little. Her bookshelf was lined with these "ancient" tomes and are the direct reason for these forgotten author of the week. These were books that I love and remember fondly. I want you to fall in love with them as well. Perhaps you will see these books at a garage sale or at your library, slightly beat up and forgotten. If you are inspired enough, perhaps you will order them.

Doris Herold Lund wrote many children's book, but the one I remember the most was The Attic of the Wind. A sweet little tale about what happens to your 
lost things. 

What happens to things that blow away,
Like bubbles you blew one sunny day?
Where did they all go anyway?
To the Attic of the Wind.
It's not an Attic you reach by stair--
It's past the clouds and the stars somewhere!
And what will we find if we play up there
In the Attic of the Wind?

Lund started her writing career as a freelancer, contributing articles and stories to Reader's Digest, Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. She published eight popular children's books, including "Attic in the Wind," which sold over 1 million copies.

When her son Eric died of leukemia, Lund wrote a nonfiction book about his battle with the disease. "Eric" was published in 1974, and was eventually printed in 20 languages. Two years later, CBS aired a Hallmark TV movie based on her book, starring Patricia Neil, Claude Akins and Mark Hamill.

"I knew I was watching something unusually courageous. Being a writer, you take things in and regurgitate them automatically. I knew I was privileged," Lund once said.

Book of the Week - Guys Write for Guys Read

Guys Write for Guys Read by Jon Scieszka

Sometimes I want to shout from the rooftops, "It's true! Guys really are from Mars!" 

Except that it's not true. Guys aren't from another planet any more than girls are. Guys are complex, funny, thoughtful, and sometimes downright hysterical. And no matter what kind of guy you are, there's a story in
Guys Write For Guys Read that you will like and a guy writer who probably, in one way or another, felt a lot of the things you feel right now. 

Jon Scieszka's anthology brings together the best male writers and artists around to write (or draw, or paint) about everything from dangerous books (Neil Gaiman) to the inability to resist danger in the form of the neighbor's homemade electric chair (Jack Gantos), to a very secret Lettermens' club initiation that involved raw oysters, olives, and shoes (Chris Crutcher). Every piece in this book, whether humorous or heartbreaking, conveys the spirit of what it means to be a son, a father, a friend, a hiker on the trail of self-discovery, and most importantly, a guy. 

Even if you're a guy who normally hates to read, check out this book (you can read it one essay at a time if you're busy with sports, girls, or raiding the fridge), and take a look at Jon Scieszka's website,

Coming Soon: June 16

L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad

Los Angeles is all about the sweet life: hot clubs, cute guys, designer . . . everything. Nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts can't wait to start living it up. She may be in L.A. for an internship, but Jane plans to play as hard as she works, and has enlisted her BFF Scarlett to join in the fun. When Jane and Scarlett are approached by a producer who wants them to be on his new series, a "reality version of Sex and the City," they can hardly believe their luck. Their own show? Yes, please! Soon Jane is TV's hottest star. Fame brings more than she ever imagined possible for a girl from Santa Barbara—free designer clothes, the choicest tables at the most exclusive clubs, invites to Hollywood premieres—and she's lapping up the VIP treatment with her eclectic entourage of new pals. But those same friends who are always up for a wild night are also out for a piece of Jane's spotlight.In a city filled with people chasing after their dreams, it's not long before Jane wakes up to the reality that everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be. L.A. Candy is a deliciously entertaining novel about what it's like to come of age in Hollywood while starring in a reality TV show, written by a girl who has experienced it all firsthand: Lauren Conrad.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Dessen has built a well-deserved reputation for delicately depicting teen girls in turmoil. Her latest title showcases a socially awkward young woman who seeks solace in the comforting rigidity of academic success. Auden is about to start college in the fall, and decides to escape her control-freak professor mom to spend the summer with her novelist father, his new young wife, and their brand-new baby daughter, Thisbe. Over the course of the summer, Auden tackles many new projects: learning to ride a bike, making real connections with peers, facing the emotional fallout of her parents’ divorce, distancing herself from her mother, and falling in love with Eli, a fellow insomniac bicyclist recovering from his own traumas. The cover may mislead readers, as despite the body language of the girl in pink and the hunky blue-jeaned boy balanced on a bike, this is no slight romance: there’s real substance here. Dessen’s many fans will not be deterred by the length or that cover; they expect nuanced, subtle writing, and they won’t be disappointed. Grades 9-12.

Illustrator of the Week - Brinton Turkle

Brinton Turkle was born on August 15, in Alliance, Ohio. He drew constantly in school. "Unfortunately, none of my school teachers appreciated it. If only one elementary school teacher had egged me on, I think I would have acquired art skills much earlier than I did." Turkle had an immense interest in the theatre, but the uncertainty of that life wasn't appealing. After a job in advertising in Chicago, he married and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was able to indulge his theatrical interests. He had an ambition to write and illustrate three children's books so he could dedicate them to each of his three children. He was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 1970 for Thy Friend, Obadiah.

Turkle writes, "In writing, I use all sorts of tricks to capture the attention of my young audience: suspense, humor and even charm, when I can muster it. But no matter how successfully I may entertain, I am really up to something else: subversion. My abilities are implacably lined up against the hypocrisy, materialism and brutality that so pervade our society. As my readers leave childhood behind, I hope that they will carry with them an appreciation for such alternatives as integrity, mutual respect, kindness and reverence for life. These alternatives are in my books and I pray that exposure to them will play a part in the construction of a better tomorrow."

Forgotten Author of the Week

Felice Holman is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, including the highly praised Slake's Limbo. She is a past winner of the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and the Bank Street College Award. Her books have been included in the ALA Notables and the New York Times Best Books of the Year. Felice lives in California.

Her books include, Slake's Limbo, The Wild 
Children, Cricket Winter, The Song in M
y Head, Terrible Jane, and Real.

Book of the Week - House of the Scorpion

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Fields of white opium poppies stretch away over the hills, and uniformed workers bend over the rows, harvesting the juice. This is the empire of Matteo Alacran, a feudal drug lord in the country of Opium, which lies between the United States and Aztlan, formerly Mexico. Field work, or any menial tasks, are done by "eejits," humans in whose brains computer chips have been installed to insure docility. Alacran, or El Patron, has lived 140 years with the help of transplants from a series of clones, a common practice among rich men in this world. The intelligence of clones is usually destroyed at birth, but Matt, the latest of Alacran's doubles, has been spared because he belongs to El Patron. He grows up in the family's mansion, alternately caged and despised as an animal and pampered and educated as El Patron's favorite. Gradually he realizes the fate that is in store for him, and with the help of Tam Lin, his bluff and kind Scottish bodyguard, he escapes to Aztlan. There he and other "lost children" are trapped in a more subtle kind of slavery before Matt can return to Opium to take his rightful place and transform his country.

House of the Scorpion has the pacing of a war drum, a slow and steady throb that builds in intensity and noise as the story progresses. In the beginning there is the feeling of loneliness, the thing that captured the reader, but underneath there is something more sinister. With each passing chapter there are large amounts of dramatic irony. The reader becomes painfully aware of the misfortune that will befall young Matteo, and this continues to build the anticipation as they wait for him to also realize this. Halfway through the book is Matteo’s escape. This begins a new and different kind of drum. It too is quick and scary, but the stakes are very different. It is no longer Matteo’s immediate life that is at stake, but rather his freedom and that is just as menacing. The second half of the book is quick, hitting every proper plot point without letting up. Farmer goes from one chase to the next, one bad guy to the next, and she doesn’t let up until the very end.   

Coming Soon: June 9

Warriors: Code of the Clans by Erin Hunter (HarperCollins)
The secrets behind the warrior code will finally be revealed.

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter (Hyperion)
When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them. As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe? Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth..

The Dunderheads by Paul Flesichman (Candlewick Press)
Miss Breakbone hates kids. Especially the time-squandering, mindwandering, doodling, dozing dunderheads in her class. But when she confiscates Junkyard’s crucial fi nd, she fi nally goes too far. Enter Wheels (and his souped-up bike with forty-eight extra gears), Pencil (who can draw anything from memory), Spider (look up and you’ll fi nd him), and their fellow misfi ts in a spectacular display of teamwork aimed at teaching Miss Breakbone a lesson she won’t soon forget. From the incomparable Paul Fleischman comes a winning cast of underdogs — and one of the most terrifying teachers you’ll ever meet — brought to vivid life in David Roberts’s quirky, hilarious illustrations.

Illustrator of the Week - Jon Foster

In the about section on Jon Foster's website all he says about himself is, "Providence, what a wonderful name for a city.  I’ve lived here for nearly two decades now and find it hard to imagine living anywhere else." That is rather telling for an artist who is so prolific, for he is allowing his art to speak for itself, free of the artist and yet because of him.

Foster is a freelance illustrator, penciler, and sculptor. He is best known for his comic book covers in Batman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Star Wars. Foster studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 1989. His paintings are oils on canvas and are known to have a dark or muted color pallet. Typically, they oncorporate subject matter like good vs. evil, anger, and adventure. Before a project is complete, Foster scans his paintings into a computer to add digital effects. Some of his achievements include multiple awards from the prestigious Spectrum sci-fi and fantasy art publications.

He is featured on this web-site for his cover art on the Timothy Zahn Dragonback SeriesOrvis by H.M. Hoover, Conrad's Fate by Diane Wynn Jones, and The Earthborn by Phil Collins. Foster's artwork is easily recognizable and beautifully achieved.

Starting Over

Apparently, blogger lost a lot of my entries. Some kind of shut down that only affected a few websites. They were able to retrieve my older stuff, but nothing from the past few months. I know it looks like I didn't write anything for awhile, but I did, I swear. This is very frustrating for me, as all that hard work, all those hours seem wasted now. However, I will try not to repeat any previous posts, as much as I want to. If I do re-write a post, please forgive me. It is hard after an entire year to remember what you did and did not write about when you have no reference points. This is like someone ripping pages out of my diary. Terrible. Simply terrible.