Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Kate DiCamillo on 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane'

Beth from Orange Splot reviewed Kate DiCamillo's forthcoming title, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and also posted the link to a recent Publisher's Weekly interview with the talented author. Interesting aside: Edward came to life through her pen before [The Tale of] Despereaux (my favorite of all her books). DiCamillo also talks about the stylishly dressed rabbit she received as a gift that was the inspiration for Edward Tulane.

Oh, and don't forget about Edward Tulane's website, where you can read the first chapter of the book and watch the video clip from another DiCamillo interview.

The book will be released on Valentine's Day this year. Happy hearts!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where did January go?

I haven't read much in the way of children's books lately, as I began the year fully engrossed in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), and have moved on to The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas). The Count of Monte Cristo is an undertaking I am probably making a bigger deal about than is deserved, simply because I have been wanting to read it for years but was intimidated by the sheer volume of the thing. So far, so good.

However, I did find the time to read Roald Dahl's Matilda a couple of weeks ago, and for the very first time.

We rented the (1996) movie version some months ago and loved it, but I always like to compare Hollywood's version of a story to the author's. Now that I've read the book, I can say that the film was fairly faithful to the original source, although I think the movie gave Matilda's unique powers a more "magical" touch (and explanation) than did Roald Dahl. The movie was well cast, well played, enjoyable. But the mean-spirited adults in poor Matilda's life were more shocking, and Matilda's resourcefulness more humorous, when read. In fact, the indifference of Matilda's parents and the brutal hostility that was the dreadful Miss Trunchbull were downright alarming, especially as each horrible episode was told in such a matter-of-fact manner. The movie was good, but the book was better. No surprise there.

Next on my list is I, Coriander. Maybe I'll read it before I finish Monte Cristo, but I generally enjoy immersing myself in one plot and one set of characters at a time, so it may just have to wait. Beside that, Mr. Husband and I are reading aloud the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. (That is to say, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--what in the world is this ridiculous new ordering of the series about, anyway?! Yes, I know he wrote something about reading the series chronologically in some letter to a young fan a number of years ago, but really!)

Meantime, we do have a stack of new picture books to look through, so if any prove worthwhile, I'll be sure to share them.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Read and read more

Jumping on the book list bandwagon, I posted lists of my own 2005 reads and 2006 reading goals to my non kid-lit weblog, because, as I was compiling them, I thought there might end up being more "grown-up" titles than juvenile/young adult. There weren't (well, of course there weren't!), but they're staying put anyway.


I just made an embarrassing discovery. When moved Once Upon a Story to Blogger, I selected "comment moderation" which I assumed was just a feature that made deleting unwelcome comments (spam) more convenient (perhaps a handy list of all comments in one place), even though I had already enabled that handy--but annoying--little word verification option as another anti-spam precaution. Surprise, surprise, "comment moderation" actually means that comments don't even show up on my blog until I have read and approved them. I doubt it will come as a shock to find out that I'm the kind of person who assembles things without reading the instructions first, and often skips the details when reading other useful information--like the Blogger description of enabling comment moderation.

All of this to say: my apologies to the three nice people whose comments have been pending since December 29th and onward. The settings have been changed so that comments will show up immediately from now on, as long as you don't mind contending with the minor aggravation of word verification.

Good thing that haven't enabled comments on my other weblog, or might be twice as red right now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Book: Once Upon a Time Map Book

The Once Upon a Time Map Book, by B.G. Hennessey and Peter Joyce, has quickly become a favorite in our home. My four-year-old, being a big fan of maps, from United States puzzles to the Rand McNally road atlas, loves this book and stubbornly guards it from being returned to the library. But The Once Upon a Time Map Book book will appeal to children who aren't necessarily map enthusiasts; The characters spring from familiar tales, and their home lands bloom with magic, humor, and even a few interesting things to hunt for during the guided tour--something that will delight kids who have an eye for detail and enjoy series like I Spy and Where's Waldo.

The book takes the reader on a tour of six magical storybook lands: Neverland, The Land of Oz, Wonderland, the Giant's Kingdom (Jack and the bean stalk), Aladdin's Kingdom, and the Enchanted Forest (Snow White). Following the instructions and tracing paths with your finger across the pages, you will trek North, South, Southeast, West, and all around these imaginary places; Over footbridges, beneath tree-canopied tunnels, across dangerous rivers, through an Indian camp, and up towering hills and peaks. To aid your journey, each land has a grid, a key (where distance is measured in "one giant step" or "50 white rabbit hops"), and a compass.

Joyce's illustrations are (to my best guess) rendered in ink and watercolor, given detail and rich color that bring them to life as magical, enchanted kingdoms--even on this very small scale. The illustrations pull you in, as each is like looking down on a miniature replica of the classic fairy tales from which they were drawn. The Once Upon a Time Map Book is similar to the Where's Waldo series, where two-page spreads are populated by miniature people--and in this case fairies, munchkins, dwarves).

Like Scrambled States of America, this is another book that stands on its own as a fun read, but sneaks in a little bit of teaching on the sly. The book is more interactive than most, and a good introduction to following instructions, learning directions (N, W, S, E), and, well--reading a map!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

This is why I love the Internet

... and especially the weblogging community. Thanks to Kelly of Big A, little a, I discovered MetaxuCafe, aptly described as a "litblog network". It boasts a great many literature centered weblogs, and growing. Content is broken down by categories, and topics include "fiction", "writing," plus every imaginable genre in literature (Kidlit has its own category.) What a find. Thanks, Kelly! Thanks, MetaxuCafe!

Through MetaxuCafe I found a Here in the Bonny Glen, the weblog of author Melissa Wiley, who finds time for her writing career in addition to parenting and educating her four children--no small feat! Her storytelling ability shines in Bonny Glen, especially where she relates her adventures in family life; the series she has written about Charlotte Tucker and Martha Morse (grandmother and great-grandmother of Laura Ingalls Wilder) promise to be a treat. Having grown up on the original Little House series, I look forward to raiding the library for these, just as soon as I can see over my current reading stack.