Posted in Kids books-general, tagged inklings, news on April 20, 2013 |
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“Before you can be anything, you have to be yourself. That’s the hardest thing to find.” -E.L. Konigsburg
E.L. Konigsburg passed away April 20, 2013. She was remarkable. The first person in her family to go to college, she studied chemistry and went on to pursue a masters degree, then realized she had “the mind for chemistry but not the temperament.” So she went on to teach science at a girl’s school in Florida, take art classes while her children were in school, and write stories that reflect their experiences growing up.
I have never run away from home to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but as a young reader, I felt that Konigsburg was writing to me and for me. She understood the excitement and distinction of having a secret of your very own, and the charm of swimming after-hours in a fountain for coins. She captured that conflicting sense of wanting to belong and longing to be accepted as an individual. And she offered us reassurance that outsiders like Noah, Ethan, Fiona, and Julian can find friendship without relinquishing their sense of self. It’s been a privilege to have Konigsburg’s voice influence my childhood. Her sage words still resonate today.
“The adventure is over. Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. Except the part you carry with you. It’s the same as going on a vacation. Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don’t pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home.”
― E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
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When confronted with an unmanageable TBR pile, my first instinct is to start in on multiple books. It somehow makes me feel better to see bookmarks in 3 or 4 books, as long as they’re sufficiently different to avoid confusion. Most of the time, my reading breaks down like this:
1 middle grade book (currently The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech)
1 YA (just finished Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox. Must find the sequel Dreamquake)
1 adult book, usually nonfiction (Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson)
1 French book to keep up my language skills (Le Miroir D’Ambre, literally “The Amber Mirror”–French translation of Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass)
I like alternating between the books, though the really good ones I read much more quickly (Le Miroir D’Ambre has been languishing for months, but it’s my fault for reading slowly in French, not the book’s content!)
What about you? Are you a fan of reading one book at a time, or starting simultaneously on multiple books?
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Posted in Kids books-general, tagged fun on March 18, 2013 |
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1. So far I’m 5/5 in the Battle of the Kids’ Books Round 1 predictions…I’m flabbergasted. I should celebrate, before tomorrow’s match (the hardest one, I think) throws everyone’s predictions out the window.
2. The SLJ artwork keeps getting better. I’m enjoying the creative backgrounds for each match–especially the Endangered bonobo peering out from behind a tree. If the artwork gets any more elaborate, next year we’ll have videos of fighting books instead of still images.
3. Roger Sutton’s judging of the judges adds a nice touch–I wouldn’t mind less hand-wringing either (unless it’s justified, for something like Liar & Spy v. Splendors and Glooms)
4. Probably everyone has noticed the “star” theme of this year’s book titles…
5. …but there’s also a serious trend of water playing a huge role in the plot. The Titanic sinking, the drowning in Splendors and Glooms, the Resistance canoeing down a river in CNV, the river in Three Times Lucky, the Moonbird coastlines…I could go on. Am I missing something? Are books usually so water-heavy, or is there something special about this year’s lot?
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Posted in Kids books-general, tagged inklings on February 25, 2013 |
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I know I’m not the only one with an unmanageable TBR (to-be-read) list. Sondy at Sonderbooks regularly terrifies me with her elaborate battle plans, and Melissa at Book Nut creates gravity-defying towers. My own list is a badly organized and ever-growing, and if I were to graph my current progress, it would look something like this:
Clearly this is not sustainable. When I first started blogging (and reading other blogs/The Horn Book Magazine etc.), I quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer number of book recommendations. Every time I finished a book, I’d find another 3 or 4 to add to the list.
But it no longer bothers me, because as soon as I start to worry, reading becomes a chore, and getting through the pile starts to feel like a to-do list instead of something to look forward to. Then I start doing stupid things like not making time to re-read my favorites. (I’m currently in the middle of my second Liar and Spy read, and it’s much more satisfying than some of the new books I’ve picked up). Which brings me to my next point: with so many enticing books on my TBR list, I no longer feel guilty about abandoning a book mid-read. If something fails to capture my attention after the first 20 pages, I stop and move onto the next one (unless there’s a very good reason to soldier on–as I’ve done once or twice to get through something for SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books. Luckily, most BoB selections are outstanding).
What about you? All quirks and coping mechanisms for TBR books are welcome in the comments below.
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I was 0 for 4 in terms of my Monday Medals dark horse predictions, but congrats to all the 2013 ALA/YALSA winners! Luckily, School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books is just around the corner, and it’s another chance to sharpen my spidey-sense…but first, I must get through the first wave of BotB books that have come from the library!
So many notable titles. Shall I start with the 2013 Newbery Award winner? Or the Silbert Honors? Then again, there’s the William C. Morris award winner with the tantalizing (and genetically perplexing) tagline: Seraphina conceals a dangerous secret of her own—her half-human, half-dragon heritage.
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With less than two days to go until the Newbery/Caldecott announcements, I feel woefully unprepared to guess which book might win what. There are too many 2012 titles still on my TBR list. So I’m going ignore the popular frontrunners (e.g. Bomb, Splendors and Glooms, The One and Only Ivan) and focus on some dark horse entries that might surprise us all:
Bink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile: a marvelous story on the edge of easy reader/early chapter book/graphic novel. Seems like a long shot for Newbery glory, but I’d love to see some Geisel recognition.
In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz: because we need more funny award-winning books, and it has plenty of heart as well.
The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi: I haven’t heard much buzz about this, but I found it tighter and better written than Ship Breaker
, which won the Printz in 2011. In fact, this book was so good, I found it impossible
to write a review.
Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan: again, not much buzz, but it’s a book where every word felt right.
Son by Lois Lowry: simply put, let’s not underestimate Lois Lowry. One of those rare MG/YA books told from what’s essentially a grown-up’s perspective, and it works.
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As promised, here’s part 2 of our pet peeves survey, starting with Charlotte Taylor at Charlotte’s Library
1. Series titles that overshadow the title of the actual book you are reading. Egregious example from 2012--WINGS OF FIRE The Dragonet Prophecy. I hate not being certain which is the title of the book and which is the title of the series!
2. Prologues that aren’t necessary. Which I think is most of them. It is hard to try to care about a prologue, knowing that in just a few pages you’ll be thrust into the actual story, and even though you may be confused (this is particularly true of action-packed prologues) you have to concentrate because there are probably Valuable Clues. I don’t mind mythological prologues about the world being created, though–they tend to be rather soothing and don’t come back to bite you.
3. Authors using words that have no place in the English language because we don’t actually need any more nouns becoming verbs thank you very much. Egregious example of 2012–a dragon “gifting” the kingdom with magic in Iron Hearted Violet, by Kelly Barnhill. The word is GAVE. Especially if you are quasi-medieval. (Please, anyone who might have a present for me, just give it to me as a gift. Don’t gift it).
Ack, but now I remember that [as you yourselves point out] I detest intrusive narrators of a particular stripe with a passionate intensity–the ones who pretend to be my friends even though I Have Never Met Them! I am no one’s dear reader, not even Megan Whalen Turner’s (not that she would). And then, after presuming on an acquaintance of just a few pages, they act like they know what I’m thinking! They don’t. My heart isn’t racing, breaking, trembling, or any of the other things they say it is. It is becoming increasingly hostile. A narrator who knows her place, however, can be tolerable. (Question: are extroverts more tolerant of intrusive narrators?)
We’re not exactly extroverts, but some intrusive narrators are okay (ie the Dear Reader in The Tale of Despereaux). And ditto on the “gifting,” though we’re sometimes guilty of being lazy like that.
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After last month’s post about our personal pet peeves, we reached out to various bloggers for their input, and they responded with thoughtful lists of their own of what sets them off. The responses are quite original–no repeats yet!
Monica Edinger at Educating Alice wrote
I saw your post and have been trying to think of pet peeves. I guess the one that tops it for me isn’t really about what is in a book, but the way people keep using the term “young adult” for children’s books. There is an attitude from certain adult readers who clearly read children’s books that it “doesn’t matter” and “why make age matter” and so forth. But in my opinion it DOES matter because it is eliminating a whole group of people who are not speaking for themselves as they are not aware of the issue and won’t be until they are older. I feel so strongly that there are a particular group of books that are written for children and not teens and not older folks. That they want to read them is great, but calling them young adult to differentiate them from adult titles, but otherwise figure it doesn’t matter is wrong in my book.
Sorry to go on, but I saw a variation of this attitude in the comments to my HuffPo post about The Hobbit. So it is my top of the top pet peeve. A commenter on my earlier screed wrote perceptively that adults do this because saying they are reading a YA book is acceptable, but a children’s book would be embarrassing.
Otherwise, I’m never a fan of copycat material from something unique. For instance, I’m seeing some buzz for books using old photos as did the guy for Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The books sound so copycattish and that bugs me.
Lastly, I’m not a fan of books that are overly earnestly didactic, well-intentioned, but too clearly trying to point a moral or make a lesson.
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