Illustrator of the Week

Nicolas Debon

Although freelance author and illustrator Nicolas Debon now makes his home in France, he began his career in children's books while living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Some of his first illustrations were for Virginia Walton Pilegard's "Warlord" series, which includes such tales as The Warlord's Puzzle, The Warlord's Beads, and The Warlord's Fish. In these books, Pilegard relates legends about the inventors of various ancient Chinese innovations, including the compass and the abacus. Debon's illustrations for The Warlord's Fish, explaining the invention of the compass, were particularly praised by reviewers. They "convincingly visualize the historical setting and display a fine sense of color and composition," commented Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, while School Library Journal contributor Laurie Edwards deemed the pictures "stunning" and commented favorably on their "subtle shading and engaging design."

Debon is also the author of two self-illustrated works, A Brave Soldier and Four Pictures by Emily Carr, both picture books dealing with Canadian history. The former, described as
 a "well told, powerfully illustrated, and timely" anti-war tale by School
 Library Journal contributor Louise L. Sherman, is about a Canadian soldier named Frank who enlists to fight in France during World War I. He and his friend arrive at the front in high spirits, but they quickly become disillusioned. Before long, Frank's friend is killed, and in the same attack, Frank is wounded so badly that he is sent home. "While Debon does not gloss over the brutal conditions experienced in World War I," Victoria Pennell wrote in Resource Links, "he does not dwell on the horror or glorify the fighting" either.

A finalist for the Governor G
eneral's Literary Award, Four Pictures by Emily Carr offers a unique biography of the pioneering Canadian painter.
 Showing talent as a child, Carr eventu
ally abandoned her art while still young, not returning to the canvas until the age of fiftysix, when some of her early work
s finally received much deserved critical attention. Debon drew on Carr's detailed journals in writing the book, and often the words which he places in Carr's mouth are drawn directly from her own writings.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This is a book that takes wordplay and turns it on its head. The only way to truly explain the brilliant writing of Juster is to go through the actual plot.

A bored little boy named Milo comes home one day to find an unusual gift waiting for him in his room: a miniature purple tollbooth. When he drives past it in a small car he is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom, where he chooses to visit Dictionopolis, one of two capitals. He pays insufficient attention and becomes lost in the Doldrums, where thinking is not allowed, but he is found and rescued by the steadfast watchdog Tock who actually ticks, who joins him on his journey.

They arrive in Dictionopolis,where wonderful things happen where all the world's letters are grown in orchards and sold in a vast marketplace. Milo meet a real Spelling Bee who spells e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and then talks to Faintly Macabre, the not-so-wicked Which (sic), who tells him about Wisdom's two rulers, King Azaz and the Mathemagician, and their adopted sisters, Rhyme and Reason. The two princesses were unable to settle the long-standing argument between their brothers over whether letters or numbers are more important and were banished to the Castle in the Air, high in the demon-infested Mountains of Ignorance. Milo then meets King Azaz the Unabridged, who agrees to allow the princesses to be rescued, providing his brother also agrees - a remote event, as they have not agreed on anything for years.

Milo and Tock leave Dictionopolis with the blustering Humbug, whom Azaz has sent along as a guide, heading towards the Mathemagician's capital of Digitopolis. Entering the Forest of Sight, they meet Alec Bings, a little boy who sees through things and grows until he reaches the ground; visit the twin cities of Reality and Illusions; and watch Chroma and his orchestra of color conduct the sunset. Moving on to the Valley of Sound, they meet Dr. Dischord, who dispenses unpleasant noises, and his smoky sidekick the Awful Dynne. In the valley proper, which is completely silent, Milo visits the fortress of the Soundkeeper, creator and cataloger of all sounds, who has withheld the valley's sounds because the inhabitants had stopped appreciating them. Milo steals a sound, which the people of the valley use to break open the palace's sound vault.

Milo and his friends continue on, taking a short detour to the Island of Conclusions, to which they jump after making unwarranted assumptions. Arriving in Digitopolis, they meet the Dodecahedron, a figure having twelve faces, each of which expresses a different emotion. He takes them to the Mathemagician, who shows them the Numbers Mine, where the world's digits are pulled from the earth like jewels. Milo tricks the Mathemagician into agreeing with his brother to release the princesses, whereupon the ruler takes them to the Mountains of Ignorance.
Milo, Tock, and the Humbug meet various demons. Milo uses gifts from all the people he has met in Wisdom to defeat the demons and the travellers climb to the Castle-in-the-Air, where the two princesses welcome Milo. The enraged demons chop off the base of the staircase, causing the Castle to begin to float away. Fortunately, time flies, with the result that Tock is able to carry the others back to earth. The combined armies of Wisdom drive back the demons. The two leaders welcome the princesses home and begin a celebration to mark their return.

Milo must also return home. The next day, he finds the tollbooth has vanished, leaving a note that he can now find his own way to Wisdom.

It is a wonderful little fantasy that was fabulous to read as a child and even better to read now that I am an adult.

Forgotten Author of the Week

Beatrice Schenk de Regniers was born in Lafayette, Indiana. She studied social work administration at the University of Chicago and earned her M.Ed. in 1941 from Winnetka Graduate Teachers' College. After doing social work for several years, she was sent to the Sinai Peninsula to a Yugoslav refugee camp, constructing a kindergarten and teaching American folk dances to the children. During the 1950s she began writing for children, and The Giant Story (illustrated by Maurice Sendak) appeared in 1953. In addition, she freelanced arti
cles and short humorous pieces for adults, and wrote a series of short stories and columns including some with Edna Mitchell Preston, which were published in McCall's Magazine. In 1961, she became the first editor of Scholastic Book's "Lucky Book Club," working four days a week, but "Mondays are reserved for my own writing. I've trained all my friends not to call me on Mondays." Twenty years later she retired to write for the theater. Her first production appeared in 1986, based on her book Everyone Is Good for Something. She has written more than 50 children's books, earning many awards and honors.

Keep a Poem In Your Pocket
By: Beatrice Schenk de 

Keep a poem in your pocket

and a picture in your head

and you'll never feel lonely

at night when you're in bed.

The little poem will sing to you

the little picture bring to you

a dozen dreams to dance to you

at night when you're in bed.

Keep a picture in your pocket

and poem in your head

and you'll never feel lonely

at night when you're in bed.

Miss Suzy by Miriam Young

Miss Suzy is a little gray squirrel who lives happily in her oak-tree home until she is chased away by some mean red squirrels. Poor Miss Suzy is very sad. But soon she finds a beautiful dollhouse and meets a band of brave toy soldiers. How Miss Suzy and the soldiers help each other makes a gentle, old-fashioned tale that has captured the imaginations of girls and boys alike for forty years. Arnold Lobel's enchanting pictures are sure to make the kind squirrel and the gallant soldiers the everlasting friends of all who turn these pages. This is the perfect read-aloud book. I remember it very fondly from my childhood. The plot of the story is excellent and exciting. Girls love it for MIss Suzy and the boys love it for the soldiers. This book created lasting memories in me of what a good picture book       looked like.

Coming Soon: 8/10 - 8/16

Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume
The Pain and the Great One are going places! In these new stories the kids are on the go—the Pain needs a trip to the emergency room; the family goes to the mall and not everyone stays together; the kids visit a county fair and want to ride the Super Slide; and a beach outing includes a boogie board. Lots more action and adventure for the dynamic duo who never stay still.

Let's Dance, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
Pookie's mom proposes a lively dance together. Pookie, being Pookie, is somewhat hesitant to try something new. But little by little, Pookie is drawn into the dance—hopping, marching, shimmying, singing. Presented in Boynton’s captivating style, this book will thoroughly delight toddlers and their caregivers alike.

Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Beasts by Dr. Ernest Drake
Do krakens really lurk below the ocean waves? Do griffins command the air above? In a fascinating new discovery sure to rival the ground-breaking DRAGONOLOGY, the intrepid Dr. Ernest Drake turns his inquisitive gaze from dragons to other so-called mythical creatures. Included are:

* a removable letter from Dr. Drake
* multiple foldouts, flaps, and pull-outs
* textured "samples," including sea serpent skin and a feather from a winged horse
* sundry booklets — including riddles to tell a sphinx
* a cabinet of curiosities containing yeti fur, a hippogriff feather, and more

For anyone who has ever wondered whether legendary beasts still wander among us, this lush look at an astounding array of creatures offers everything a true believer would want to know.

Duck and Goose, 1, 2, 3 by Tad Hills
Preschoolers will cheer the return of Duck and Goose in their second board book appearance! All the favorite characters, including Bluebird and Thistle, return—this time to introduce basic counting concepts. One goose. Two ducks. Three friends. As the characters illustrate from numbers 1 to 10, children will love to follow along with the simple text and all-new original art. A small trim size and Easter egg-colored art makes this the perfect Easter basket stuffer for young children everywhere!

Born to Read by Judy Sierra
Told in Judy Sierra’s inimitable read-aloud rhyme, the narrative chronicles the amazing successes of Sam—thanks to his early love of books. The story ranges from Sam’s infancy, when his mother reads him a picture book (“then another, then another, then another . . . such a perfect, patient mother”), to school age, when he cleverly uses some of his favorite books to rid his town of the rampaging baby giant, Grundaloon. “‘Here’s my secret,’ Sam decreed. ‘Readers win and winners read.’” Marc Brown’s playful pictures joyously complement this fun-to-read, upbeat story

The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
The covenant that was meant to keep the wizard wars at bay has been stolen, and Trinity must prepare for attack. Everyone is doing their part -- Seph is monitoring the Weirwalls; Jack and Ellen are training their ghostly army; even Anaweir Will and Fitch are setting booby traps around the town's perimeter. But to Jason Haley, it seems like everyone wants to keep him out of the action. He may not be the most powerful wizard in Trinity, but he's prepared to fight for his friends. When Jason finds a powerful talisman --a huge opal called the Dragonheart--buried in a cave, his role takes on new importance. The stone seems to sing to Jason's very soul -- showing him that he is meant for more than anyone guessed. Trinity's guardians take the stone away after they realize that it may be a weapon powerful enough to save them all. Without any significant power of his own, and now without the stone, what can Jason possibly do to help the people he cares about -- and to prove his mettle? Madison Moss can feel the beating heart of the opal, too. The desire for it surges through her, drawing her to it. But Maddie has other things besides the Dragonheart on her mind. She has a secret. Ever since absorbing the magical blow that was meant to kill Seph, she's been leaking dark powers. Although Maddie herself is immune to magic, what would her friends think if they knew what kind of evil lay within her? Trinity's enemies are as enthusiastic about her powers as she is frightened. They think they can use her to get to the Dragonheart -- and they'll use anyone Maddie cares about to make her steal the stone for them. Moral compasses spin out of control as a final battle storms through what was once a sanctuary for the gifted. With so much to lose, what will Jason and Maddie be willing to fight for -- and what will they sacrifice? Every man is for himself in this thrilling conclusion to the Heir trilogy.

Tinker Bell Read-Aloud Storybook
Tinker Bell is not like most fairies. She simply isn’t happy with her assigned talent. She doesn’t want to be a tinker fairy who fixes things. She would rather be a light talent fairy or a water talent fairy or even an animal talent fairy—anything other than what she is. What will happen when Tink decides to try something different? This beautifully illustrated hardcover storybook tells the whole wonderful story of Tinker Bell, the direct-to-DVD movie. Plus there’s a collector’s edition poster included with the book!

Disney Nursery Rhymes & Fairy Tales
Timeless favorites--with a Disney twist! The magical world of Mother Goose comes to life in the second edition of this popular storybook collection. Favorite fairy tales include "Little Red Riding Minnie," "Rapunzel," "Daisylocks," "The Ugly Duckling," and "The Gingerbread Man." With beautiful gilded pages, hundreds of illustrations, and 200 stickers, this storybook is the perfect introduction to the land of make-believe.

The Naming: The First Book of Pellinor by Allison Croggon

It is a tough call to review fantasy books. The first reason being that they all begin to blend into one another. The second is that some, not all, but some are blatant ripoffs of Tolkein. That is my problem with The Naming. The Ranger like character, the mythic quest, the evil that awaits, magic, music, and even wood elves make this into a female driven Lord of the Rings. What is wrong with that you might ask. Well, the first problem is that although the story is written well, it comes off as wholly unoriginal, without thought or design. The second is that the story itself is slow. Agonizingly slow. So much time is spent on the characters plodding through the wilderness. Tolkein did it well, Croggon not so much. Much time is spent building the character of Maerad but so much time is spent that I get bored by her. I feel like the book could have been cut in half and I would have gotten the same information. What irritated me mist if all was Croggon's handling of magic in this fantasy world - called "the Light," and manipulated by way of "the Speech." The Speech cannot be learned - it comes to you one day, resulting in instant fluency. Maread's use of magic is chaotic and uncontrolled at first, but after a certain point she starts performing complex spells without any instruction or preparation. It's all too easy - and that makes it harder to like Maread, who has such incredible gifts but never really seems special. The Naming has all the characteristics of a gripping adventure novel, but I was never sucked in, never desperate to turn the pages, never afraid that things would go badly for our heroine, never thrilled by acts of heroism. 

Illustrator of the Week

Animal magic
Continuing an occasional series on illustrators, Joanna Carey praises the grace and economy of Helen Ward's workby Joanna Carey
The Guardian, Saturday March 29 2008

After 22 years as an illustrator, Helen Ward admits that it's a lonely job. 
"Although I reckoned on the poverty, I didn't anticipate the isolation," she says with a rueful smile. But you can't help feeling that she thrives on that solitude.

"I'm not a joiner-in, never have been. I avoid book 'events', and talking about myself is an ordeal." But surely, as an award-winning illustrator with more than 20 books to her name, she has to do these things sometimes? "Yes of course. I'm not a mean-spirited curmudgeon. Just shy. And given the choice I'd much rather spend the day working, or walking the dog."
Ward lives in Gloucestershire, not far from where she grew up. Her parents, who live nearby, are artists, and she says she had a good old-fashioned "leftwing, atheist upbringing". She always drew and painted, and from an early age had the freedom of the library at the college where her father taught. "I grew up with a respect for books, and I knew that I would be an illustrator."
Hidden away up an alley, in the damp shadow of a nonconformist chapel, her tiny cottage is fortified and insulated with books, paintings and more books. A narrow staircase leads up to her attic studio, where she pulls illustrations from a plan chest, until we're almost knee-deep in them - early works, pictures from unpublished books such as a ravishing lemur from an abandoned ABC, a tenderly observed dormouse, leafy jungle scenes that recall Rousseau, and exquisite plant drawings that call to mind those intrepid lady explorers of the 19th century. There are birds of every description, from African bee-eaters to harlequin ducks and a fabulous cavalcade of animals, but although there are one or two centaurs and some elegant fashion drawings, human beings are largely absent.
Ward studied at Brighton Art School in the 1980s, but on graduating, although she had won the Walker prize for children's illustration, she didn't get the first-class degree she had hoped for, or a place at the Royal College. Luckily, someone from Templar Publishing had seen her degree show and snapped her up - and she's been with them ever since, developing and perfecting her distinctive style that combines a meticulous attention to detail with a gentle informality.
In The King of the Birds (1997) she used a traditional story to introduce more than 100 birds, in astonishing detail, with inventive compositions. She followed this in 1998 with The Hare and the Tortoise. Ten years on, these illustrations have a grace and economy that make this interpretation of the fable as fresh and vital as it is timeless. Ward approaches Aesop's anthropomorphism cautiously - she prefers not to compromise the animals' dignity by dressing them up or caricaturing them. Instead, with a rare ability to suggest the tactile qualities of fur, feather and bone, she celebrates the animals with a heightened realism and a dramatic use of scale. Almost all her books are about birds or animals.
Even as a child she was serious about illustration, drawing, reading, researching and making notes on how to draw animals. A significant influence on her work as a student was her encounter with the Impey collection - natural history paintings by 18th-century Indian artists, commissioned by the wife of the British chief justice in Bengal for European patrons. "I was struck by the crispness of the execution, and the fact that the drawing, though objective, is not entirely realistic. I loved the way those burnished images sat on the page, and that they weren't coldly illustrative, but had something more."
Ward works in watercolour with occasional use of gouache. She moves with ease from a vibrant tropical luminosity to the subtle, earthy tones that predominate in The Hare and the Tortoise. She achieves the gentle, mellow textures by applying colour, then "mopping it off", creating subtle gradations of tone. Using a fine Rapidograph pen to depict the fur, her drawing has the rhythmic finesse of a Bewick wood engraving. Bold areas of white space give the images, however detailed, an uncluttered clarity. She's proud that she has always managed to support herself with illustration: "Never even had to do a paper round! Yes, materials are expensive, but the real cost of illustration is in the time - a picture book usually takes me six months, so I work long hours, live on very little and never take holidays."
Five years ago, things were "ticking over" when she was invited to do some illustrations for Dragonology, the first in Templar's "Ology" series of lavishly produced compendium-style "fact-based" books with maps, flaps and special effects, archaic typefaces, bejewelled bindings and every kind of embellishment. Other titles include Egyptology, Wizardology and Pirateology, and each one brings together a team of artists. "The great thing," Ward says, "is that I don't have to worry about the layout - my own books take months, but here I'm just given printed pages, with the exact spaces ready for my artwork. I don't have to think!" Frustratingly the artists don't get individual credits, but it's easy to identify Ward's illustrations, and phenomenal sales worldwide now mean that she can easily live off her Ology royalties. She looks faintly astonished, almost ashamed of her good fortune.

So has it changed her life? Is she now tempted to take holidays? "No, I don't have an instinct for holidaymaking. I go up north each year, to stay on a farm and help with the sheep. What's different is that I can now afford a car. Poverty's no longer an issue." The success of the Ologies has given her a new freedom. She finds inspiration in the countryside, "walking the dog, herding ideas in my head; picking up pheasant feathers, seeing a raven perhaps, finding fossils or a larch twig covered with silvery lichen." The previous day she'd found a dead goldfinch, and done some watercolour studies of it. The small, delicate paintings show the little body just slightly arched, like a spent match, capturing the ephemeral nature of its existence. Alongside her picture books, these paintings offer their own kind of storytelling, and make you think about where illustration stops and fine art begins.
Nature study (of a different kind) is the subject of her recent, very beautiful picture book Wonderful Life. It's set in space and was inspired by looking at science fiction illustrations - she set out to see if she could emulate those airbrush effects with watercolour. It's an (unashamedly) anthropomorphic, ultimately romantic story about a lonely, artistic rodent, a keen naturalist who spends his days examining the surreal, psychedelic delights of the wildlife on a far-distant planet.

Varmints, by contrast, is closer to home, a strange, dark tale - soon to be an animated film - that speaks out against noise pollution and the way the cities are obliterating our countryside. "No, I'm not really an 'environmentalist' - I prefer not to ally myself to causes - but I like to be able to say what I feel, and I feel strongly that books can help children make educated choices about things that affect their lives."

The Ranger's Apprentice Series by John Flanagan

This is a series that I have really been enjoying. When I saw it was about Rangers, I assumed it would probably be a complete ripoff from Lord of the Rings (and even though it sort of was, it was pulled off all right) and the reference to "the protectors of the kingdom" on the back cover gave me a somewhat prejudiced notion that it was an idealist's story about the heroic saviors of what in the author's mind was some sort of medieval kingdom, but ended up as nothing of the sort. This very solid, well-written book displayed remarkable accuracy with respect to its portrayal of what I'll call "medieval life". Such accuracy is usually reserved for older readers.

The main character was immensely likable, not to mention well portrayed and tangible. Halt - who seems to be a fan favorite if reviews are any indication - is a bit too archetypal and at one point displays a remarkable departure from his "core identity". I'm referencing the scene where Horace faces his three tormentors. Halt actively encourages re
venge, and this - while certainly enjoyable - was shocking. Vigilante jus
tice doesn't fit his core identity.

Still, this book held its audience captive without the use of magic wands and incantations. That is perfect the best aspect. The author makes you feel magic where non can be found. It is grounded with a dash of history (for Skandia could easily be Skandinavia), some fantastical characters, and I have enjoyed all four books.

Forgotten Author of the Week

Emma Bull

Two of Emma’s favorite childhood memories are of typing out nonsense words on her parents’ black Royal manual typewriter, and watching the neighbor mow the lawn. She went to Beloit College, where she majored in English, then moved to Minneapolis, where there are two seasons: Snow removal and road repair. (Or, as it sometimes seems, snow repair and road removal.)

After that, she moved back to her native southern California, where she would’ve driven with the top down if she’d had a convertible. She was a resident of the Republic of Bisbee (AZ) and loved it (except on the few days of the year when there was snow). And now she’s living in Tucson, Arizona, where she would ride the range if she had a pony. But she does have a great cowboy hat.

Although she is mostly an adult fiction writer, Emma has written one picture book The Princess and the Lord of Night and a young adult book, Finder. Her book Bone Dance was nominated for Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards and won the Philip K. Dick Award second honors. She has done many short stories and also works on screenplays and essays.

She and her husband, Will Shetterly, are members of the Interstate Writers’ Workshop, aka The Scribblies. Emma and Will conduct writing workshops now and then; they’ve taught in Los Angeles, at Clarion West, the Pima Writers Workshop, and elsewhere.

Emma played guitar and sang in the Flash Girls, a goth-folk duo. She was a member of Cats Laughing, a psychedelic improv folk-jazz band that included Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Lojo Russo, and Bill Colsher.

Goops and How to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues, etc. by Gelett Burgess

My mother used to read this to me when I was small. Still in print from 1928 I can't help but sing its virtues. Quite literally. 

As Gelett states in the Introduction:

Let me introduce a Race
Void of Beauty and Grace,
Extraordinary Creatures
With a Paucity of Features.

The cover of the new printing shows Goops in color but still with those round, empty-ish heads that can become quite expressive in the hands of the proper illustrator.

Yet you'll learn, if you are Bright,
Politeness from the Impolite.
When you've finished with the Book,...Ask yourself, upon the Spot,Are you Goop, or are you Not?
For, although it's Fun to See them
It is Terrible to Be them!

There you have it: a book of manners reverse style. Such topics as Table Manners, Cleanliness, Courtesy, Generosity, Borrowing, Tidiness, Patience, Pets, Clothes, and Quietness are demonstrated, not by what the Goops do, but by what they should do.

Hint about the candy, say you're fond of peppermint;That's the way to be a Goop--hint, hint, hint!

Or this little poem about Caution in the streets (Reader, be forewarned of danger!)

When you travel in the street,Are you cautious and discreet?
Do you look about for horses
When your brother crosses?

Try explaining that one to your little ones!

My personal fave:
The Goops are very hard to kill,
So they hang out the Window-sill;
Down the Banisters they slide--I could do it if I tried;
but when Mother tells me "Don't,"
then, of course I really won't!

Or this one last elegant piece of instruction--

One more rule won't hurt you:When you practise Virtue,
Do it with a laugh!

America's new children's bestsellers: Obama and McCain

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent

It seems that even toddlers are unable to escape the pervasive U.S. elections. Three children's books about the presidential race are expected to be published soon, and tell the stories of the leading candidates. They are written in an endearing style, free of the sarcasm so typical of the grown-up politics.

Later this month the book "Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope" will be published by Simon & Schuster. Nikki Grimes, a children's author and poet, wrote enthusiastically on her website that a book usually takes her 3-6 months to write, but in this case she "miraculously" finished it in just two weeks. It is full of rhyming verses (a bit artificial at times, to be honest), descriptions of the exotic countries that little Obama visited, and conversation "Barry" the kid holds with hope.

Even God himself talks to Barry while he's in church on Sunday, telling him: "Look around you. Now look to me. There is hope enough here to last a lifetime." The heartbreaking ending reads as follows: "Barack smiled, tears rolling down his cheeks. Suddenly he knew for certain hope would last long enough for him to make a difference."
"I know one thing," concludes Grimes on her website. "Come November, Barack Obama has got my vote! And no matter what happens in the election, he is a man who has made history: the first man of color to win a major party nomination for President of the United States."

A short while later the children's book "My Father, John McCain", written by the candidate's 23-year-old daughter Meghan, will be published.

If it's broken

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain is trying to distinguish himself from the legacy of the highly unpopular President George Bush. To this end, his team has decided to capitalize on his unconventional image.
His new television advert starts with a black-and-white shot of the Capitol building. "Washington?s broken," it says. "John McCain knows it. We?re worse off than we were four years ago. Only McCain has taken on big tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties. He?ll reform Wall Street, battle Big Oil, make America prosper again."

One of McCain's potential running mates, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, put the Republican Party in an awkward position on Tuesday when she complimented Democratic candidate Barack Obama's newly unveiled energy policy.

"I am pleased to see Senator Obama acknowledge the huge potential Alaska?s natural gas reserves represent in terms of clean energy and sound jobs," she said in a press release.

She also spoke in favor of Obama's proposal to offer $1,000 rebates to those struggling with the high cost of energy.

"This is a tool that must be on the table to buy us time until our long-term energy plans can be put into place," she said. "It is gratifying to see Senator Obama get on board."

Coming Soon: 8/3 - 8/9

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Myer
Twilight temped the imaginiation. New Moon made readers thirst for more. Eclipse turned the saga into a world wide phenomenon. And now, the book that everyone has been waiting for...Breaking Dawn, the final book in the Twilight Saga, will take your breath away.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
A magical tribute to classic children's literature from a bat's per
spective awaits for you inside.

Clique Summer Collection #5: Claire by Lisi Harrison
Will Claire's Florida BFFs become former BFFs? Back in Orlando for the summer, Claire is reunited with her Florida best friends, Sarah, Sari, and Mandy, after a long year apart. Will Claire finally kiss-immee her past goodbye-once and for all?

Hannah Montana: Rock the Waves by Suzanne Harper
Another Hanah Montana story, this one featuring one bodacious surfing contest.  Someone discovers Hannah's secret identity, surf lessons, and rocky grades could make this the most exciting Hannah Montana book yet.

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl by Meg Cabot
When nine-year-old Allie Finkle's parents announce that they are moving her and her brothers from their suburban split-level into an ancient Victorian in town, Allie's sure her life is over. She's not at all happy about having to give up her pretty pink wall-to-wall capeting for c
reaky floorboards and creepy secret passageways-not to mention leaving her modern, state-of-the-art suburban school for a rundown, old-fashioned school just two blocks from her new house. With a room she's half-scared to go into, the burden of being "the new girl", and her old friends all a half-hour car ride away, how will Allie ever learn to fit in?

The Scrambled States of America Talent Show by Laurie Keller
Those wacky scarmbled states are back. This time they've come together for a spectacular show featuring their many goofball talents. But just when INdians (the director) is about to call SHOWTIME!, Georgia gets a bad case of stage fright and can't perform in her juggling a
ct. Will the show go on, or will it be curtains?

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi
What do you do when your new best buddy has been designated a scourge by the community and marked for imminent extermination? Just ask Kenny Rabbit. When the simple folks in the sleepy little village of Round brook catch wind that there's a dragon running loose in the countryside, they got the wrong idea and the stage is set for a fight to the death. So it's up to Kenny to give his neighbors front-row seats to one of the best-known battles in history -- the legendary showdown between St. George and the dragon -- without losing a friend in the fray.

The Ashley's: Birthday Vicious by Melissa de la Cruz
Ashley Spencer considers her birthday to be the most important event next to...well, okay, it's just the most important period. Hello. So when the invite list is cast and the custom embossed invitations are sent, it's a who's-who list of San Francisco's best tweens. If people don't yet know whether there are in or out, this party is sure to draw the lines of coolness in the most permanent of inks. Ashley intends to prove that there's a reason she's been at the top of the social food chain her entire life, and she's not about to be unseated by some lame website ranking. She'd also like to solve the problem of losing her boyfriend. Will all her birthday wishes come true? Or is it more like it's her part and she'll freak if she wants to?

Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson
In the deep, dark woods
by the Strawberry Vale,
a big bear lumbers
down a small, crooked trail...

The Book Thief by Marcus Zukar

I'm in love with words. The way they come together to create beautiful sentences. The way they can be manipulated. Simple little marks on a page that can make us laugh or cry. They can evoke anger. Nikki Grimes once said, "Are you the master of words, or are they the master of you?" As an author I hope to say it is the first but more often than not it is the second. Yet I just finished  The Book Thief by Marcus Zukar and he is definitely the master of his words. Examples:

"She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friends, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like the regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers. Her hands were trembling, her lipes were fleshy, and she leaned in once more, this time losing
 control and misjudging it. Their teeth collided on the demolished world of Himmel Street."

" was raining on Himmel Street when the world ended for Liesel Meminger. The sky was dripping. Like a tap that a child has tried its hardest to turn off but hasn't quite managed."
"Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile."

"He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world. She was the book thief without words. Trust me, thought, the words were on their way, and when they arri
ved, Liesel would hole them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.:

How beautiful is that? This is an unconventional book written from the perspecctive of death and covers so many issues that were dealt with during World War II. See what a master of words can really do with the language.

Illustrator of the Week

Tony DiTerlizzi

Dragons, space monsters, goblins and insects: the characters that inhabit storyteller Tony DiTerlizzi’s world haven’t changed since he was a kid growing up in South Florida.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1969, DiTerlizzi is the oldest of three siblings raised in an artistically rich household. He started drawing at a very young age including a crayon mural of Winnie-the-Pooh on his freshly painted bedroom walls.

One of his first hand-made books was on his favorite subject; dinosaurs, and was done for a Boy Scout merit badge. Fascinated by nature’s endless designs, Tony made another book, this time on insects, carefully drawn from his own collection.

In 1981, after seeing Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal and playing Dungeons & Dragons, the 12 year-old Tony spent the summer writing and illustrating an entire field guide on fantastic creatures. He would return to this premise many years later as the genesis for The Spiderwick Chronicles.

By the time he graduated high school, DiTerlizzi had dreams of becoming a children’s book creator. He attended several art schools including, Florida School of the Arts and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, receiving his degree in graphic design in 1992.

After graduating, the 23 year-old DiTerlizzi began working freelance for TSR, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons - the game that had inspired him so much as a child. He illustrated many fantastical images of warriors, wizards and monsters over the next 6 years, and also contributed to the collectible card game Magic the Gathering.

A move to New York City in 1996 brought Tony to the center of the publishing world. At last, his dream of writing and illustrating outstanding imaginative books for children could be realized. And he did it at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

In 2000, his first picture book, Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure debuted. Inspired by Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland and Norman Rockwell, the story of a young space adventurer in search of his favorite snack garnered positive reviews. Kirkus compared Tony’s work to that of David Wiesner and William Joyce. More importantly, children loved the book.

The next year, he followed up with Ted, the story of a workaholic single parent trying to find time for his son and his mischievous imaginary friend. Once again, the book was well received, and it won several state awards including the University of Chicago’s Zena Sutherland Book Award.

His third picture book, The Spider and The Fly, was based on Mary Howitt’s famous 1829 poem. Here, DiTerlizzi exhibited his love of insects and arachnids as he rendered Chaz Addams-esque paintings of the intrepid spider and the guileless fly. The result was a critically acclaimed, New York Times bestseller. It won a Caldecott Honor, an award for high artistic achievement in children’s publishing, in 2003. Tony’s career as a creator of children’s books was on its way.
During a magazine interview on his work for Dungeons & Dragons, DiTerlizzi met up-and-coming writer Holly Black. A fellow fantasy and folklore lover, the two became fast friends and Tony showed her sketches he was working on for a field guide to fantastic creatures. Black began helping him, and the two created the chapter book series The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Spiderwick followed the adventures of three New England children who unearth an old John James Audubon-styled field guide to fairies, trolls and goblins. No sooner do they find the tome, they then discover that all of its subjects are real and want the book. The Spiderwick Chronicles are loved by children and adults alike, and was published in over 30 countries, selling over 6 million copies in the US alone.

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies released a live action adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles in 2008 starring Freddie Highmore, Mary Louise-Parker and Nick Nolte. The film was well received by critics and the public alike, remaining in the top 3 at the box office for a number of weeks.

In 2006, Tony took a break from Spiderwick, returning to the picture book format with his nonsense alphabet book, G is For One Gzonk! Next, he and Holly continued the Spiderwick saga in the new series, Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles. The latest Spiderwick story arc follows a new set of kids dealing with giants, mermaids and nixies in the hot, humid tropics of South Florida.

DiTerlizzi’s latest project, Kenny and The Dragon, exhibits the creator’s debut as a chapter book writer. Inspired by The Reluctant Dragon, it tells the story of a young, bookish rabbit who becomes friends with a happy-go-lucky drake. As the two become best friends, the king orders the town dragon-slayer to execute the beast – and it is up to the rabbit, Kenny, to stop him.
“I think a story like this still has significance today as it did when Kenneth Grahame first told it over a century ago,” Tony says, “As a society we still judge and act first, then think about the consequences afterwards.”

Tony continues to work on new stories for children with his wife and daughter in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Natalie Babbitt is a champion at descriptions, bringing in seemingly inoccuos information into the story that has such deep significance as the story progresses. The constant repetition of the toad in the story, plays well in the end, being the thread that loosely keeps the story going from beginning to end. The whole story rolls in a sing song fashion, ambling away on three hot summer days. The beautiful descriptions of objects such as blank white dawns, smeared sunsets, peculiar house, gurgling water, crumpled dress, mindlessly hot, catholic mixture of houses, and even the rattling pick-up truck in the end. Each detail paints such a vivid picture of the small town, Winnie’s life, and the Tucks, that if the reader stumbled across such a town or such people, we would be able to recognize them in an instant.

Forgotten Author of the Week

Felice Holman

Felice Holman was born October 24, 1919 in New York City. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1941 and later worked as an advertising copywriter. Felice Holman married Herbert Valen in 1941 and some of the experiences of their daughter Nanine Elisabeth Valen would serve as the model for her first book Elisabeth, The Bird Watcher published in 1963. During the 1960s, she published two more "Elisabeth" stories and wrote some humorous books for children. In 1970, she published her first book for poetry for children At the Top of My Voice. Critics praised the poems for their "originality, humor and point." She continued to write humorous stories for young readers including The Escape of the Giant Hogstalk (1974) that critics called filled "with giggles interspersed with horse laughs all the way." In the 1970s, she also began writing realistic fiction for young adults. Her book Slake's Limbo (1974), the story of a boy who lives in a cave below Grand Central Station was lauded for its "authenticity of detail" and as "remarkably taut" and "convincing." In 1975, she co-wrote The Drac: French Tales of Dragons and Demons, a collection of French legends with her daughter Nanine Valen. My favorite book that I thoroughly enjoyed was The Wild Children, written in 1983. Throughout her long and prolific career, Felice Holman has received several honors including a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award best book for young adult's citation and an American Library Association notable book citation for Slake's Limbo in 1978.
Who Am I?
The trees ask me,
And the sky,
And the sea asks me
Who am I?
The grass asks me,
And the sand,
And the rocks ask me
Who am I?
The wind tells me
At nightfall,
And the rain tells me
Someone small.
Someone small
Someone small
But a piece