Sunday, September 30, 2007

Smart Bitches and Banned Books

This is kind of neat. The Smart Bitches over at Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books are posting reviews from readers of some of the 100 most banned books from the ALA. Some they love, some they hate, but in Smart Bitchery tradition, they're always honest. This is one of my favorite non-kidlit blogs. Go check it out, and maybe submit your own review!

Sunday Funny

This is the kind of thing that makes a librarian simultaneously laugh and cry.

ETA: Mildish spoiler for HP7, if you haven't read it yet.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Mo Willems posted a few recently taken author pics on his blog. How much do I love that first one?

The answer is, as the bastard love child of Georgia Nicolson and Cute Overload would say, vair vair moishe.

Best Books 2007: Ze Grande Liste!

So MotherReader posted her final list of Best Books of 2007, as nominated by bloggers all over the kidlitosphere. And it only took me, ummm, a week to post it? Go me. Clearly on top of things. In my own defense it took me that long to write down all those titles in my Blue Journal of Stuff I Gotta Read Before I Die.

The Arrival in New York Magazine

Shaun Tan's The Arrival is being excerpted in the New York Magazine this week. Go see! It looks so cool!

Monday, September 24, 2007


Book: Rash
Author: Pete Hautman
Published: 2006

Welcome to the United Safer States of America, where everyone wears helmets and road rage is punishable by prison time. Bo Marsten’s got a few strikes against him already--criminal behavior runs in his family. Both his dad and his brother are doing time for getting in fights. So it’s no real surprise when his temper gets the best of him after a classmate plays a nasty trick. He gets sent up the river . . . or in this case, up to the tundra.

Sentenced to hard time in a pizza factory that has only a wire fence between the prisoners and the hungry polar bears, Bo is suddenly hip-deep in an unsafe world that’s been outlawed for a hundred years, out in civilized America. He catches a break when he makes the prison football team (another outlawed sport). They get special privileges--among them, carte blanche to be as violent as possible in the name of football. It’s like some lawless mirror world that exists in the shadows of a country wrapped about with as many rules as possible.

Initially, Bo revels in it. But he begins to understand that somewhere in between utter safety and utter freedom lies an important question--who is responsible for his actions? Society, with all its rules and regulations? Or himself?

I really enjoy sci-fi, especially dystopic, society-questioning sci-fi. Especially especially dystopic, society-questioning sci-fi with the world all thought through and rendered in just enough detail to light up the story but not send everyone to sleep. (J.R.R. Tolkein, I am LOOKING AT YOU.) Little details really put Bo’s world into three dimensions, like Bo’s complaint that most normal mothers would call the ambulance for a bee sting, or the wild popularity of a “survivor chair” that can extend someone’s life up to seventeen months--if they stay in it 24/7.

But aside from this well-realized world, the story is one familiar to everyone who’s ever come to realize that blaming others can only take you so far, and at some point, the only person controlling your fate is going to be yourself.

Bragging Rights

So you know that Cybils thing? They've just posted the list of the nominating and judging committees. Check out the YA group . . . notice anybody familiar?

Yep! That's me!

Hysterical Laughter

For perhaps the first time in my life, I wish I lived in Wyoming.

Here's why.

Apparently Wyoming libraries have come up with this fun campaign, including the reading Mud Flap girl, who is apparently causing a bit of a flap all by her nekkid self. Check out the website for more.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go perform some Photoshop on that first bookmark.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Favorite Holiday!

No, it's not Christmas. It's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I'm all wenched out, or as wenched out as you can be in a government job, for the Talk Like a Pirate Day program at my library. The kids loved it. And why shouldn't they? How often does anyone get the excuse to yell "ARRRRRRR!!" and call someone a swabbie?

To celebrate, check out this video:

My favorite part is the facial expressions on the face of the regular Joe who accidentally gets on the bus. Thanks to Fuse #8 for the link.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Body of Christopher Creed

Book: The Body of Christopher Creed
Author: Carol Plum-Ucci
Published: 2000

On the day that town weirdo Christopher Creed disappeared, his high-school principal got an e-mail from him, with a strong implication that he plans to kill himself. His mother refuses to believe it, and his classmates treat it as a joke. One of the popular crew, however, is deeply disturbed by seeing his own name in the e-mail. As Torey Adams reflects on how he and his classmates treated Chris from kindergarten on, he begins to see that the other boy might have some reason for killing himself. But did he? Or did someone else help him shuffle off this mortal coil?

As Torey and two other town outcasts probe into Chris’s life and disappearance, two questions haunt them. One, to what extent are they, personally, responsible for Chris’s emotional turmoil? And two, could it be possible that he’s still alive?

Plum-Ucci won a 2001 Printz Honor for this book about perception, gossip, reputation, and collective guilt in the destruction of one person. We’ve all known somebody like Christopher Creed--a social cripple, someone who seems to get on everyone’s nerves just by existing. How many of us have stopped to consider what makes them that way, and how much of it is their fault and how much ours?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Support Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

I was very saddened to hear recently that Robert Mercer, husband of author Grace Lin, passed away from cancer late in August. My sincerest sympathies are with this family right now.

If you want to support cancer research, check out this auction or send donations directly to the address below:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund
Attn: Lauren Nash
10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor
Brookline, MA 02445-7226

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Playing Dad's Song

It seemed like an appropriate day for this one.

Book: Playing Dad’s Song
Author: D. Dina Friedman
Published: 2006

Ever since Gus’s dad died in the 9/11 attacks, there’s been a hole in him that nothing can fill up. He doesn’t have the constant pressure of work, like his mom, or the love of acting that sustains his sister Liza. He spends much of his time alone.

His mom, concerned by how much time he spends under his blanket, signs him up for oboe lessons. While initially apathetic, Gus finds that he has a gift for music, both playing it and composing it.

9/11 is such a huge national and international tragedy that it’s sometimes hard for us to realize that for thousands, it’s intensely personal as well. Friedman gives the rhetoric a miss and focuses instead on the terribly painful story of the people who were left behind.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not a Box

I’ve been thinking for awhile that I should start talking up some of my favorite preschool books. I talk about chapter books and teen fiction all the time, but I come across so many amazing picture books that I decided I had to start sharing.

Book: Not a Box
Author: Antoinette Portis
Published: 2006

Why are you sitting in a box?
It’s not a box.

Of course it’s not! Anybody can clearly see that it’s a racecar. But apparently the narrator is blind, because he keeps asking the bunny protagonist what she is doing with the box. The bunny answers, increasingly irritated, that it’s NOT a box . . . it’s a mountain! a burning building! A balloon! An elephant!

Okay, I have to say right here and now . . . I love this book. While it may not be the most eye-catching spine on the shelf (cardboard brown), the boldness and simplicity of the front cover make it a beautiful display, and the story inside is just about as interactive as you could wish. Portis’s art clearly delineates the real from the imagined, but also emphasizes the richness of the bunny’s imagination.

The androgyny of both narrator and bunny (the pronouns I used above were strictly for the sake of clarity) also makes this as broad-appeal as possible.

And by the way . . . it’s not a box.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Changes for the Bibliovore

I've spent the evening fiddling with and tweaking my blog, and I'm proud to announce it's almost as good as it was before I started.

No, seriously, my BlogRoll over there was getting moldy, it was so old. I pared a few old links, added a bunch of new ones, and created a separate BlogRoll for the author blogs I read. Additions of note:

The YA YA YAs - All YA, all the time
Apparently I am way overdue to start reading this blog.

Cuentesitos - Recommendations on Latino YA and Children's Literature
I definitely want to start reading some more Latino kidlit. I mean, there's Alma Flor Ada and Pam Muñoz Ryan, but there's more out there, I just know it.

Worth the Trip - Queer Books for Kids and Teens
I like the Retro Reads feature, which digs up well-known and not-so-well-known GLBTQ books from the past. Their first one, John Donovan's I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth the Trip, was where they got the name.

Annietown - Annie Choi's Blog
I haven't read her Happy Birthday or Whatever yet, but if she writes like she blogs, it'll be a scream.

Mo Willems Doodles
Dude! Did you know Mo Willems had a blog where he regularly posts original artwork and talks about the Pigeon and . . . oh. You did?

I've also started putting the picture books I read into my LibraryThing. Because I happen to read so many in the course of my job every day, I thought it would be too much work to keep track of them. Then MotherReader asked for the Best Books of 2007 (So Far) and I went to my trusty LibraryThing to jog my memory. It worked peachy keen from High School on down, until I hit Picture Books and screeched to a halt. I realized . . . I have no idea when all those picture books I read were published. I have my favorites, sure, but nothing published in this year immediately leaps to my mind. Ugh.

So a lot more picture books should be appearing on that LibraryThing widget, and maybe when MotherReader asks for Best Books of 2008 (So Far) I'll be able to tell you.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sad News

Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light has died at the age of 88.

ETA: Sorry about the brevity of that earlier version. I was writing it in the last thirty seconds of my lunch break. Along with the rest of the kidlitosphere, I'm in mourning here for an amazing writer. Her books opened my mind to ideas about science and the universe that it otherwise might not have run across until all the amazement portals were closed. And I was always delighted to read of things she talked about in my science textbook.

Yesterday, I had a girl from one of the classes that regularly visits my library run up and tell me that she was doing her book report on the book I'd handed her: A Wrinkle in Time. Hearing the news today, that's all I could think of . . . that we lost a fine human being but she's left a legacy.

Thanks for some really great reads, Madeleine.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Cybils Are Coming! The Cybils Are Coming!

It's almost time for the second annual Cybils! Just in case you lived under a rock last year, these are the awards that kidlit bloggers give out to their yearly favorites. Nominations are open October 1. Hurrah!

Can I get off this horse now?

Thanks to Wands and Worlds for the heads-up.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Best Books of the Year (So Far): Elementary School

The Best Elementary Book of the Year (So Far):
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo Cabret is convinced that his clockmaker father left him a message in a clockwork man. But it needs to be fixed first. He lives secretly in the walls of a Paris train station, stealing bits and pieces from a toymaker to repair his father's legacy. However, Hugo's not the only one with secrets around here . . .

Possibly the neatest thing about this book is its design. Half traditional novel, half graphic novel, Selznick riffs on his silent-movie theme by interspersing chunks of wordless illustrations with regular narration. Illustration, in fact, may be the wrong word, because that connotes words that explicate the text, and that's not the case here. Instead, the storytelling medium moves gracefully from words to pictures and back to words, trusting in both to tell the story.

It could just be a gimmick book, except that Selznick's got the storytelling chops to draw us into this story of 20th-century Paris and the world of silent film. In the end, we barely notice the transition because the story has enveloped us.

This one might be a hand-sell for librarians everywhere because of its intimidating bulk (550 pages!), but I guarantee, the minute you flip it open to the first of Selznick's black-and-white illustrations, that book will be out of your hands and on the checkout counter.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Best Book of the Year So Far: Middle School

Looking at my two picks tonight, I realized I had two distinct types represented: "Suitable for Middle School Readers" and "Tween."

The Bibliovore's Best Middle School Book of the Year (So Far)
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry

I must have heard about this book from six or seven different bloggers. I thought for sure it couldn't be that good. I was wrong. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. (No pun intended.)

At thirteen years old, Stephanie has inherited an entire house. Unfortunately, the person she inherited it from was murdered . . . and she might be next. Lucky thing she's got the walking, talking skeleton on her side.

Tongue firmly in cheek, Landry takes us through a roller-coaster adventure with a sensible, gutsy heroine and a seen-it-all-and-done-more hero. Possibly the best example of why this book was so much fun can be contained in this quote from Stephanie, after Skulduggery Pleasant gives a long-winded and confusing explanation of something or other.

"Wait, I think I almost understood that . . ." The car went over a bump. "No, it's gone now."

I hope this blog isn't the first place you've heard about Skulduggery Pleasant, but if it is, run out and pick up your copy today.

Honorable Mention
The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt

Devon Delaney's in trouble. See, while visiting her grandmother over the summer, she told her new friend Lexi all about her wild popularity and her cuter-than-cute boyfriend. Only problem? It was all a lie.

It seemed safe enough when Lexi didn't even go to her school, but guess who moved just before school started? Watch the feathers fly as Devon scrambles to make the facade real. The harder she works, though, the more she wonders if it's all worth it.

Tween books are strange animals. (Almost as strange as tweens.) There's a temptation to dismiss them as watered-down YA, but they are about a very specific period in a kid's life, not so much an age as a dividing line between child and teenager. Most kids trip over it. The best tween books, like The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney, show the trip, the splat, and the getting up again in brilliant 3-D.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Best Books of the Year (So Far): High School

Hey, I'm back! It's been a wild summer, but I lived through it, and they tell me they can take the straitjacket off just as soon as I stop talking to my toenail clippings.

Anyway, I thought my first real review back should be a good one. I have many saved up, but not one quite special enough. What to do? Then MotherReader, who is the champion of kidlitosphere challenges, offered up another one.
If you want to join in, starting after Labor Day, post your "Best Books of 2007 (So Far)" in any or all of the categories: Picture Books, Early Elementary, Elementary, Middle School, High School. Mix in your nonfiction or graphic novels by the age categories.

Well, okay then. I'm starting today with my pick for best High School book of 2007. Drumroll please!

The Bibliovore's Best High School Book of 2007 (So Far): Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

I've already blogged this, so I'll just point you at that entry: Story of a Girl Bibliovore Review

Honorable Mention: The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This was a photo finish, folks. You should have seen the wailing and tearing of hair here at Casa de Bibliovore. This sequel to Dairy Queen, which I also blogged last year, is the second story in the life of D.J. Schwenk, where Catherine Gilbert Murdock takes on all the untold stories from the first book. We get to know both the estranged brothers (Win and Bill) better, and DJ's relationship with Brian Nelson takes some unexpected turns. Murdock continues what I loved about the first book: DJ's frank, colloquial voice and the focus on interpersonal relationships. Without giving too much away, she diverges from the obvious story and talks about what's really going on in this family and this young woman. More, please? Maybe?

Coming tomorrow: Middle School!