Monday, June 29, 2009

How did July get here so quickly?

Life imitates art, especially for kids, right?
The other morning, my younger son was heading
to his friend's for a carpool (subway pool in our case).
"Does Henry like pancakes?" his friend's mom asked me on the phone.
"Because we're eating an awful lot of pancakes just like Nate the Great
does." That just made me giggle. Nate the Great really is great.

As first grade ended, many moms were realizing
their kids are really truly into reading--and they
are looking for great books to learn about.
We talked about Louis Sachar's Wayside
books, and of course the kids ignored us and played
sports in the yard, without the littlest
inkling that summer might include reading. But it will.

Off to camp for one week went my older son--with a nice
stack of books, as well. He took Schooled by Gordan Korman,
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, When Zachary Beaver
Came to Town,
Redwall by Brian Jacques, the complete Marlys comics by Lynda Barry (LYNDA BARRY!!! YUM!)

He told me that the one friend he met on a pre-camp weekend
also loved reading. I heard myself saying to a mom this morning,
"He likes to read when he's stressed." And it's true.
This past week he read The Neddiard by Daniel Pinkwater,
and loved it--but it was no good for night time--too scary.
He also read a Louis Sachar book--Sixth Grade Secrets.

I am still reading Circle of Friends on my Iphone, but I also began
reading Olive Kitteredge, a gift from my mom, which is very nice. Plus
I have begun my own personal study of how the heck to write for plot.
So the book is called How Fiction Works by James Wood--and though
I have only read ten pages, I have picked up a few good literary
nuggets already! The book starts by explaining a lot about
the narrator's role. It's a teeny bit dense for my simple brain,
but mostly written to be understood by average humans.

Last but not least, I heard the most beautiful MOTH podcast by an Australian journalist named Susan Duncan. It was about her realtionship with her elderly mother. I didn't want the story to end, and I then tried to find her memoir,
but it seems only to be available in Australia. Is anyone going to Australia?
If you go, can you please pick one up for me? I promise to post a photo of the book tomorrow. Good night!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June blog

As I visit lots of used book sales at school fairs, I find the most delightful surprises. I found an old James Marshall picture book called Yummers. (I love James Marshall, oh how I wish I could have met the man who uses words such as collosal in his Three Little Pigs book!) I found a Simms Taback picture book from 1967. I found a pop-up book of limericks by Bennett Cerf. TOO MUCH! Oh, it doesn't get any better! I have now purchased both Tomi Ungerer Phaidon reissues: Moon Man and Three Robbers and cannot wait to read them. At PS87 we had Everybody Reads Week, and four authors I invited were so nice to come. Ellen Levine, Megan Montague Cash, Pattly Lakin, and Jessie Hartland. The kids were awesome and fascinated and would have crawled into the writers' pockets if they could have! Meeting writers is the best way to get kids excited about books. Several of the authors mentioned having been poor students or poor spellers. The kids loved that. Ellen Levine mentioned having wanted to be a hobo. That got a roar!

Gus is plowing through books. He is in a David Lubar phase right now with Hidden Talents and True Talents. He read both books by Pseudonymous Bosch. (Who is he, anyway?) He came for a school visit. After that is the final Lightning Thief book. My job is being his book supplier. I do it pro bono.

Henry has discovered the Cam Jansen mysteries--and chapter books in general. This is huge!! For book club, we are reading Stuart Little and finding it very sweet and sometimes worrysome. I love how the illustrations hardly take Stuart into account at all. He is tiny in every one of them!! That would never happen today!

Today I spent the day combing Manhattan for a silversmith-esque costume for Gus's Colonial Day project in school. I wish I'd been twittering or tweeting--because I covered a lot of miles and couls have picked up lots of stuff for other Colonial parents! I went from the garment district (buttons and shoe buckles) to Halloween Adventure (tricorn hat) of 11th Street to Cheap Jack's on 32and and Fifth (leather vest). I even hit Daffy's for the under layer (Knickers and white shirt. He is to be a Colonial Silversmith!

I am finishing a picture book for Lee Wade to be pubished by Schwartz and Wade. It's a book of funky & gorgeous animal photographs by Steve Grubman. I wrote the accompanying text. Once a title is finalized, I will expound more. It was lots of fun to write--I learned heaps (LOVE ELEPHANTS!)--and it required a complete revision. And then another. That's okay, though. Now I got a taste of my own medicine.

As I ponder how to stay involved in kids books, I ask myself: Can you just sit down and write a chapter a day for one week for your OWN book? Just one week. I think I can do it, but when do I have to start? That's the question. Please let me know.