Friday, February 27, 2009

Too busy to blog?

Life goes on and we have read so many great books.
Henry is in love with Madlenka by Peter Sis and we
picked up Ellie McDoodle last night which is a graphic
novel not unlike Diary of Wimpy Kid but from a girl's
p.o.v. We still have not gone back to How to Steal a Dog.
It creates an unmentioned mystery between the three of
us, but I like that so much. For her birthday, I gave a
copy of Fashion Kitty to Henry's friend Chloe, and I
want ten copies for myself. This is the perfect girl book gift.
You have to see this book!

Tuesday night we went to see a memorial for Odetta
at Riverside Church. Now I am fascinated by Maya Angelou.
She may actually be GOD. I am not joking. The things she says,
the way she sounds. If she started a church, I would go.
Speaking of GOD--Pete Seeger was there and I stalked him
taking lousy pictures with an i phone. Someone laughed at the
idea of stalking Pete Seeger, but it seemed very natural to me.
He is turning 90, or already has, and when he goes, I think
my childhood will officially be over. I took him for granted when
I was little. He came to Unitarian coffee houses
in churches in Massachusetts.I thought he was sort of
old fashioned--and yet I think I knew that
he was also someone very very important and true.
Now I am riveted and want to sing with him day and night.
Has any singer ever been able to compel the other
people in the room to join in? So effortlessly?
Asking others to sing becomes a part of his lyrics.
My kids don't listen to him, but your kids should.
But they are going to have to now and then.
Pete! Stay with us!

I just had a snack with a sculpter who is putting
together a bookof photographs of the middle of
Australia, and these photos... jeesh!
They are truly other worldy. I thought:
It's like MARS or someplace far a way.

Sorry to be so fast but life is steamrolling
me and I will add pictures of the books and
Pete Seeger later on!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Special, Special Husband

My husband is something. He moved all of the books out of the left-hand column where they would have stayed for eternity and matched them with the blog entry where they were discussed. Thanks, honey. You are a true Valentine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am appearing in Larchmont tomorrow!

Come join me when I appear in Larchmont
on Valentine's Day (Saturday)
at The Voracious Reader at 10:30 am.
which supports children's books and
independent book stores.
Final count is 44 bookstores and 172 authors
and illustrators!

I will be signing my book!

1997 Palmer Avenue
Larchmont, NY

Guest blogger

I "guest blogged" for a blog called
I.N.K. (Interesting Non-Fiction for Kids).
I was asked to do this by a wonderful writer
named Susan E. Goodman. I worked with her
on a terrific book about the elections
that came out in 2008 and was a smash!
That books was called See How They Run.
All of her books are great, especially
The Truth About Poop and Gee Whiz! It's All
About Pee.

Visit her at

Here is the link to the blog--this post
is more for writers, but feel free:

If you want to learn about good nonfiction
for kids, this is a great place to start.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Under Pressure

I visited a school in the East Village where my friend's
son goes every day. I don't know about you, but my kids
are under plenty of pressure. This is a school for special
kids. I can't say why any of them were there, and when you
go there to observe or visit, you certainly don't ask . . .
but you can imagine--autism, learning disabilities, all the labels.

Without going on I will just report that at Manhattan
Free School, I got to see what it would be like if kids were
allowed to just BE. Not pushed, not ordered around,
certainly not yelled at. And I tell you--it was like being
at the zoo and seeing a rare beautiful animal in its natural
habitat. It gave me a lot to think about. One thing we forget to
do is check out how others live each day. If we did, maybe
we would realize there are other ways.
Too much preaching.

Henry continues to read Ivy and Bean, but he is now switching off with
Captain Underpants. (Tra La La!)
He is thrilled with being an independent reader.
Keeping up with his big brother remains his full-time job. Sometimes
he actually deserves to get paid.

On Monday we are starting a little first grade book group,
so I will report back after that. I have been too busy to read
anything worthwhile, so for anyone who reads this blog
for book suggestions, here are a few picture books:

The Journey That Saved Curious George by
Louise Borden (a ture story about the creators)

And To Name But Just a Few: Red, Yellow,
Green, Blue
by Laurie Rosenwald

Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews

I wonder if anyone ever wrote a picture book
about the childhood of a chess prodigy. Maybe I will...

Good Night.

Monday, February 2, 2009

So Sleepy Story . . .

When you push a child to read (or hear)
books beyond what they are used to, you
can get some wonderful results. As we come
closer to the end of How to Steal a Dog by
Barbara O'Connor, my younger son has decided he
needs a break. I don't think he's ever heard or read
a story with quite so much tension. He babbles:
"Let's take a break. There's just so much going on
in that story! I mean, let's just take a break
for tonight!" I dare not mention that I, me, moi,
am dying to find out what happens in this book
that tells the story of two kids who steal a
dog, hoping to get the reward for returning it.
Then, being almost seven, he spouts off lots
of irrelevent details as a form of rationale.

So I say fine and grab Ivy and Bean by Annie
Barrrows and offer to read a few chapters.
I also grab a picture book by Uri Shulevitz that
I got before I left FSG, where it was published.
(Uri just won a big award for his newest book
called How I Learned Geography.)

I have never read Ivy and Bean, so I have no idea
what to expect. Also, I am trying to write a book
for this exact audience, so I am paying very close
attention. After four chapters, we were ready to move
on to the picture book. I liked Ivy and Bean.
It's heavily illustrated, making it great for kids who
are more comfortable with pictures. The two girls
in the book are just getting to meet by the time we
finish a few chapters and there seems to be lots of
potential for mayhem. That's what kids love.
They love crazy schemes!

I pulled out So Sleepy Story. My older son had his
head in a book of tricky tricks or something or other. He reads
things like the Monopoly Player's Handbook for fun.
I am not kidding at all. He would read an entire book
on card tricks. He has!

We opened up So Sleepy Story, and I will tell you
exactly what this kind of book is--it's a poem.
And it's beautiful, and if you couldn't see the
illustrations, but only heard the text, you would
never imagine the story being told in pictures:

Sleepy chairs
by sleepy table
sleepy pictures
on sleepy wall

Henry really liked it and felt music in the words.
He is a little bit of a rock star, I might add.
And next thing I know, he's twisting like Elvis
and making up a jazzy old tune for the
lines in the book, and he makes it sound
like that's how it the book should always be
be read. I know--he's my own kid, yes, I know--
but I have watched him go from having absolutely no
connection to reading on his own--to this--in about
one year. It's startling.

When we finished he told me he was bringing
Ivy and Bean up to bed to read more.
And he did. Reading gives him a kind of
confidence that kids can only get by
really truly accomplishing something.