If you, like me, are stumped about what you'd most like for Christmas this year, may I suggest that any of you who are writers (and many of you who arIf you, like me, are stumped about what you'd most like for Christmas this year, may I suggest that any of you who are writers (and many of you who are not writers) put Views from a Window Seat: Thoughts on Writing and Life by Jeannine Atkins on your list? Next to Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing, this is the book you want for inspiration, motivation, and support. I am completely and totally serious. And yes, Jeannine is a friend of mine (one I've actually met in person in addition to online, no less!), but this book is a thoughtful exploration of the writing process and writing life. Each essay is a gem, its truthfulness beaming at you from the page. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking and utterly beautiful. And if you are a writer, or are interested in the lives of writers or the creative process, you need this book....more
The FedEx guy made my day this morning. He dropped off my contributor copies of the anthology Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, a project conceiveThe FedEx guy made my day this morning. He dropped off my contributor copies of the anthology Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, a project conceived and edited by Jill Corcoran, and illustrated by J. Beth Jepson. I am thrilled to be a part of this project, which features some of the very best children's poets writing today.
The book is swoonily gorgeous, y'all. For serious. Jill asked pairs of poets to submit poems about "people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world." Each pair of poems includes one that is biographical and one that's inspirational, and each two-page pairing includes a short prose bio about the person or people discussed. Subjects include well-known historical figures such as Anne Frank and Jonas Salk as well as contemporary figures including Father Gregory Boyle, a priest who works with gang members in L.A., Ashley Bryan (beloved author/illustrator), Temple Grandin, and the three guys who invented/founded YouTube: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen & Jawed Karim. (I've put a full listing of subjects below, in a bid to be a full-service blogger.)
Those last three guys were the inspiration for the pair of poems written by Laura Purdie Salas and me. I wrote the biographical poem, "A Place to Share", about the creation of YouTube, and Laura wrote her inspirational one, "Just Like That", a terrific poem about a kid getting inspired by the videos he sees online.
The illustrations throughout the book are gorgeous. My very favorite spread is probably the one that goes along with the pair of poems about Ashley Bryan, a rather questionable-quality photo of which is above. In person, when you're looking at the BIG pages (40 of them total - measuring 9 x 12 each), the art is that much more impressive. And the poems are breathtaking. Here's the complete listing of who wrote what, and who the poems are about. (The first and last poems, by Jill Corcoran and Bruce Coville, bookend the collection and are about the importance of dreaming big and taking action.)
"Dare to Dream" by Jill Corcoran "The Child" by J. Patrick Lewis and "The Archaeologist's Dilemma" by Alice Schertle (Sylvia Mendez) "Nicholas Cobb" by David L. Harrison and "Under the Bridge" by Jane Yolen (Nicholas Cobb) "G-Dog" by Joan Bransfield Graham and "By Some Stroke of Heaven" by Ellen Hopkins (Father Gregory Boyle) "This Moment" by Georgia Heard and "Faith of a Mustard Seed" by Hope Anita Smith (Anne Frank) "Jonas Salk Poem" by Elaine Magliaro and "My Polio Shot" by Janet S. Wong (Jonas Salk) "Jean-Michel Basquiat's boyhood song" by Curtis L. Crisler and "word from the wise" by Denise Lewis Patrick (Jean-Michel Basquiat) "Gold" by Joyce Lee Wong and "The Other Truth" by Jacqui Robbins (Michelle Kwan) "The Greater Sum of Parts" by Julia Durango and "Grace" by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Ashley Bryan) "Temple Grandin" by Lisa Wheeler and "Cussing at Cows" by Hope Vestergaard (Temple Grandin) "Martha Graham Charts A Path" by Carol M. Tanzman and "Dance" by Stephanie Hemphill (Martha Graham) "Painter" by Lee Bennett Hopkins and "Cloudscape" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (Georgia O'Keeffe) "Journal of 73 Seconds" by Joyce Sidman and "And Then There's Air" by Marilyn Singer (Christa McAuliffe) "Alien" by Rose Horowitz and "Projecting Greatness" by Alan Katz (Steven Spielberg) "Just Like That" by Laura Purdie Salas and "A Place to Share" by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman (Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim) "Ripples" by Bruce Coville
At present, the book is available exclusively through www.usbornebooksandmore.com, but it is expected to have a general release in coming seasons. It will not, however, be available at Amazon, because Kane Miller and Usborne have decided on principle not to sell through them. (B&N has it available for pre-order, and seems to think it will be available on September 1st of this year.)
"Zip! Zup! Zoom!" It's time to celebrate the release of Tammi Sauer's wonderful new book, PRINCESS IN TRAINING, comically illustrated in comic-book st"Zip! Zup! Zoom!" It's time to celebrate the release of Tammi Sauer's wonderful new book, PRINCESS IN TRAINING, comically illustrated in comic-book style by the wonderful Joe Berger - a PAPER BAG PRINCESS for today's generation.
I am very pleased that the good folks at Harcourt sent me a copy of Tammi's new book, since I've been a fan of her work since (before) her very first picture book (COWBOY CAMP) came out back in 2005. Of course, this has tipped you to my disclaimer, which is that I am a BIG FAN of Tammi's work. Still, I think this book is brilliant, and I'd like to think I'd say so even if I weren't someone who watched Tammi put Ranch dressing on her homefries at breakfast once upon a time
Speaking of COWBOY CAMP (were we not?), I couldn't help but notice that PRINCESS IN TRAINING shares some of the same territory, both emotionally and otherwise. Both books feature a kid who goes to some sort of training camp: Avery goes to cowboy camp, whereas Viola Louise Hassenfeffer goes to Camp Princess. Avery doesn't excel at the things at Cowboy Camp, since he's allergic to horses and not quite as coordinated as the other kids. Viola Louise Hassenfeffer is actually GOOD at a lot of stuff, but it's all non-princessy stuff like karate-chopping and swimming and skateboarding. She goes to Camp Princess where she turns out not to do particularly well at the princess skills, like the Royal Wave, the Frills of Fashion, or Dance Lessons.
Avery manages to effectively deal with a bully who shows up at Cowboy Camp, though, and so does Viola Louise Hassenfeffer . . . only the bully she deals with is an actual dragon, and all those non-princessy skills come in handy after all. (I mentioned the parallels to Tammi last week, and she said she didn't notice the similarities until recently!)
The text is wonderful and the illustrations are marvelous as well. My favorite may actually be the page where they're learning the Royal Wave, if only because one of the other princesses is dressed like Princess Leia from Star Wars - white gown, side buns, and all (but sadly, I couldn't find it online to share with you today).
The cover is colorful, as you can see above. I like that the Princess Viola Louise Hassenfeffer is wearing a pink gown (and the glitter behind the title portion of the cover and inside the stars holding Tammi's and Joe's names), but I also like that the orange starburstiness of the cover (and her skateboard) clues you in from the start that this isn't a girly-girl sort of princess - a relief to those little girls ( like Riley) who don't see why they always have to buy "pink stuff".
Well done, Tammi and Joe!
A must-get for anyone with a little girl who likes princesses AND the other stuff - martial arts, skaeboarding and/or swimming & diving included. And I'm pretty sure their brothers won't mind it, either, since it's got so much action. ...more
Many of you are aware that I've been learning tai chi for the past ten months or so, and it's something I enjoy quite a lot, both for its meditative aMany of you are aware that I've been learning tai chi for the past ten months or so, and it's something I enjoy quite a lot, both for its meditative aspects and for its health benefits.
And just recently, it was the lunar new year. In fact, this past Saturday, I attended a Chinese New Year's celebration sponsored by the Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization, which included a traditional Lion dance, a variety of martial arts demonstrations, and a ten-course Chinese banquet. It was a pretty terrific evening.
All this is related to my enthusiasm for today's book, Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene, a review copy of which I received from Candlewick Press. (Thanks, Candlewick!)
You see, Crouching Tiger tells the story of an American boy named Vinson (aka Ming Da) who learns tai chi from his Chinese grandfather. At first, Vinson finds the study of tai chi boring, since he has to start with quiet meditation. At first, he also finds his grandfather to be a bit of an embarrassment. When his grandfather uses his tai chi training to avert a serious injury to a stranger, however, Vinson begins to appreciate both his grandfather and his grandfather's martial arts training a bit more. Vinson practices what his grandfather teaches him for quite some time, and the book culminates with a celebration of Chinese New Year in which Vinson plays an integral role. Compestine manages to include within the text a non-pedantic introduction to some of the customs and traditions related to Chinese New Year (woven into the basic story line) as well as a basic explanation of tai chi. An author's note at the end provides additional information on both.
The entire story is illustrated with wonderful art by Yan Nascimbene, who not only provides illustrations that aid the text, but also includes at the bottom of each page of text a small illustration in which the child character demonstrates various tai chi moves or positions. For instance, at the bottom of the spread below, the child is demonstrating a move called "Single Whip":
In my opinion, this is a must-share book for adults who are involved in the martial arts who want to introduce the idea to their children or grandchildren, as well as being a perfect book for all children to explore Chinese New Year or tai chi, and for families dealing with cultural differences between older and younger generations. I am extremely glad to have it as part of my picture book collection at home!...more