It's not every day that a King's bones are dug up. So let's celebrate with some bones we dug out of our non-fiction collection today!
Preface: I've been in my department head position for almost a year and a half. I made a conscious effort not to kick off any big weeding projects until I had been on the job for a full year so I could get a good sense of our patrons and what the community was digging. Now that I have a sense of things, we're off to the races! While my colleagues do a brilliant job of all the nitty-gritty work, I take a quick pass through everything before it goes out the door. I present to you the top casualties of the day.
And, finally, the book that gave this post its name:
I am in love with this book. My favorite excerpt:
Don't hook this book
My young whippernap,
For nickels and dimes
It cost-ed my pap.
Don't know if that qualifies as a whimmy-diddle or not.
I think it's also worth noting that the author, a Mr. James Still, has a bio in the back of the book that says "Critics have hailed his verse and fiction for its beauty, humor, and integrity."
And keeping with our old bones theme, I give you my favorite Grade 7 slow dance jam.
One of the greatest joys I find in starting a new book is the task of selecting a new bookmark. I have developed a rather strange habit of collecting various colours of paint chips that I can then match to book covers. It's kind of like accessorizing. Behold (I have also included some super articulate reviews in the captions):
A lovely use for my sea foam green chip:
Dark navy goes with a lot, but this was a particularly good match:
I knew I was going out on a bit of limb picking this stormcloud lavender but it found a good home:
The best thing about this hobby is that it gives you something to do if your significant other is putzing around at Home Depot or some other ghastly place. There is also the added fun potential of seeing if the name of the colour on the paint chip corresponds at all with the plot of the book. Martha Stewart paint chips are the worst for this as she has really boring names for colours like "Spanish Moss" or "Azurite" (all Martha chips are displayed here). Benjamin Moore is usually a bit more expressive.
How many pink, adorable birthday books by wonderful female illustrators can the market handle?
Apparently two - and one a month at that! I had a deja-vu moment tonight when I read a review for Jennifer Larue Huget and LeUyen Pham's The Best Birthday Party Ever. Looking at the book cover didn't help me either.
Did I order that book? Yeah, I think I did.
But I hadn't. I had ordered this:
That's The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lana Kittie). Now, they're clearly not identical books and the illustrators have completely different styles. But you have to admit that there's some definite similarities in titles and colour schemes. Also, they were released a month apart. The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lane Kittie) was released January 4th and The Best Birthday Party Ever was released February 22nd, which makes me feel a bit less like a dunce for being completely confused.
About ten minutes later, I had another confusing moment when I was checking to see if I had ordered Arthur Geisert's new wordless wonder, Ice. We already had two books titled Ice on order but they were a little different:
Warning: snark alert.
But seriously, doesn't this "Daisy Meadows" gal grind your gears some days? Am I the only one who thinks "What the crap - they're really reachin' here!" when I see some of these gals? Behold:
Flora the Fancy Dress Fairy: That ain't no fancy dress! That's a mermaid costume, lady.
Carrie the Snowcap Fairy: A snowcap? Is that even a thing?
Grace the Glitter Fairy: Okay, I know that the chidlers who read this series probably aren't concerned with mutual exclusivity, but don't all these fairies qualify as glitter fairies? Aren't they all glittery? Or is Grace merely the most glittery of them all?
Imogen the Ice Dance Fairy: I'm picking this purely because of the name "Imogen." Far out, Daisy. Interesting to note that the new version features the name Isabelle instead. Also, ice dance is lame, with the exception of this.
Megan the Monday Fairy: No one likes the Monday fairy. And that skirt looks much more appropriate for Saturday.
Abigail the Breeze Fairy/Evie the Mist Fairy: Like snowcap, I think that the breeze/mist are not consequential enough to require their own representatives in the fairy world.
Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy: This is the one that fans picked in some vote a while back, so I probably shouldn't make fun of it. But really, I can't help but imagine the Bridesmaid fairy as one who carries around a lot of vodka and broken dreams and insists that she's not married yet because "She's putting herself first" (also, wasn't this book made into a terrible movie with Katherine Heigl?)
Paige the Pantomime Fairy: Because every child is concerned with pantomiming. And why the dang is she classified as a "Christmas Fairy" on the website?
Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy: No fascinator? Girl, please.
During the last ten minutes of my shift, I always like to walk through the Children's area to make sure all is right with the world (and that no icky book has somehow ended up on display).
Tonight I had a horrible realization. We don't have Alice in Rapture, Sort Of !!!
If I could fire myself, I would. In my defense I've only been at this job for five months. But still. STILL.
Part of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's epic Alice series, Alice in Rapture, Sort Of is one of my top ten favourite books of all time. Actually, probably top five. I LOVED it is a kid and I still LOVE it. I love it with a passion that makes me weepy. No other book so perfectly captures middle grade romance. My stomach gurgles just thinking of it. From the Lift Up Spandex Ahhh-Bra to Alice's cute new bikini to the country club date with Patrick. There's nothing better! I still haven't finished the series because I can't bear for it to be over. And I can't stand the thought that Alice might not end up with Patrick! (don't put spoilers in the comment field or I'll cut you)
Well, I busted on over to Amazon to get the ISBN to order it from ULS and saw that most of the Alice books have had a makeover. A seriously dern CUTE makeover. Now, the series has had several incarnations but I think this is the best yet. Here's Alice how I knew her in the 1990s:
And here she is now:
Here's another version. I'm not crazy about photos of kids on covers but these kids are pretty legit:
And another. Quite vague and stock photo-y:
But I do have to say that I think this newest look is the best. Here are some of the other titles all spiffed up:
I think there is something delightfully vintage about these covers and I like that Alice actually looks her age. But does this look too vintage? Are my 1950s/early 1960s tastes atypical? I think real live 9-11 year olds might be into this - it's sort of reminscent of Charice Mericle Harper's Just Grace books but less cartoony.
I do think that the images could have incorporated a bit more humour. Alice is a klutz and is quite funny, and she looks quite sweet and a wee bit saccharine here. But overall, I think I'm sold.
I'm rarely happy with cover makeovers as I form pretty intense attachments to the originals. But I can't wait to re-read the new beuts on Capri Island this summer when they are released in early May.
The YA collection at my library looks like it came from bottom of a coal mine. Black. Black. Black. And it's not our fault. With the paranormal explosion came the black/dark cover explosion.. I wonder how Jerry Spinelli is doing these days as the turquoise wonderfulness of Stargirl literally shines out from the charcoal abyss.
Since fangy and wingy dudes are supposedly on the decline, I'm hoping that colour might come back. Especially because colour can still be edgy. I got to thinking about this when I saw the cover of a new Simon and Schuster book, Choked.
Despite being a dark, murder-y , mystery-y type deal, it's pale pink. Yes, there's some black on there, but using it sparingly actually has the effect of making the book look darker and creepier than if the whole thing was drenched in Dracula's favourite colour (I assume Dracula's favourite colour would be black. But actuallly, now that I think about it, it would probably be red, hey? Like a deep, deep red. Whatever. Just go with it).
Here's hoping there are more pink (and red and turquoise) covers coming our way.
Oh, and here's the inspiration behind this title's blog post (at the 2:05 mark, but you should really watch the whole thing because it's hilar).
Awhile ago, I posted in anticipation of Scholastic's new I Am Canada series. I had a few reservations. My feelings about the name remain (a bit beer commercially), but I'm won over by the prettiness.
The first two books are Hugh Brewster's Prisoner of Dieppe and Paul Yee's Blood and Iron. Both these authors are natural choices for these topics as they've already done their homework: Brewster's Dieppe: Canada's Darkest Days of World War II came out last year and no one should ever forget about Paul Yee's Tales From Gold Mountain and Ghost Train.
The I Am Canada website, as is the case with the Dear Canada site, is stellar. It is also imbued with a healthy amount of testosterone and perfectly reflects the books in all their navy blue glory. I'm really impressed with the cover design - it has enough in common with Dear Canada with the photo and the weathered paper, but also stands alone, too. These boys and girls sure look smart together, don't they?
It's interesting that the I Am Canada books seem available only in paperback (correct me if I'm wrong here). Perhaps because of the maxim that boys prefer paperbacks? If so, very interesting.
While I think boys might be reluctant to read the Dear Canada books (there's a picture of a chick on the front, plus the hardcovers have a ribbon for a bookmark), I can see gals partaking in I Am Canada.
Next up is to give these new boys on the block a read and see how they measure up. But with authors like Brewster and Yee on board, I suspect the final verdict will be... Shannon: 0 I Am Canada: 1
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that silhouetted book covers and evolution have been mad played out lately. Behold, this image I constructed with Microsoft Word and a screenshot program (Photoshop is beyond me) that I posted a few months ago to illustrate what many others already know:
Sidenote: I am introducing Half Brother author Kenneth Oppel (along with some other very talented authors like Richard Newsome and Richard Scrimger) at the Vancouver International Writers Festival next month. Lots of swooning to follow.
I snarikly tweeted some time ago that Lo Bosworth of The Hills has a book coming out that features some testicular-looking cherries on the front. But it seems she's not alone! Alexandra Diaz's Of All the Stupid Things also has the same testicular cherries, complete with matching heart stem!
Diaz's cover was first, so Lo is officially getting sloppy seconds. If I find a third cover like this (three cherries - very Vegas slot machine), methinks it will officially be a trend.
Oh man. Shannon angry.
Yesterday the Summer Reading Club chidlers got to pick a free book as props for cracking the covers all summer long. While herding the chidlers and handing out stamps and "Congratulations!" and "Awesome!" I noticed something truly horrifying in the selection of books:
What the crap!?!
It seems that Brett Helquist is re-illustrating the three Scary Story collections compiled by Alvin Schwartz and originally (and brilliantly) illustrated by Stephen Gammell.
HarperCollins, I love you. Brett Helquist, I love you too. But there's no excuse for this.
Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell are like peanut butter and chocolate. Or Jay-Z and Linkin Park. Or James Marshall and Harry Allard. Together, they are perfection.
I don't know how on earth I missed this. It seems that More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was re-released at the end of August, right when I had a terrible case of food poisoning. In hindsight, my body was likely reacting subconsciously to this loathsome event. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was re-released at the end of July. I don't know what I was doing then, but it must have been important. Scary Stories 3 will be re-released in January 2011. I'll need to find a tree to chain myself to or something.
I've book talked the three Scary Story books more times than I can count - both to groups of kids and in the stacks. Gammell's illustrations always sell it. The thing is, when you tell kids you've got something scary for them, they just don't believe you. I think it's because kids have come to learn that a trusted adult's version of scary usually equals lameness.
But Gammell's style perfectly straddles "safe scary" and "creepy scary." Actually, cancel that. They're just a bit too scary. But just the right amount of a bit. You can't take your eyes off his work. Each drawing is like a perfectly disastrous car crash - you are physically unable to look away. And when you read one of Schwartz's tales out loud to a group, and then reveal Gammell's deliciously scary visual interpretation, the result is gold. We're talking audible gasps, mouths agape, the whole nine.
I'm not saying that Helquist isn't talented. He's mad talented. But in my opinion there was no reason to mess with perfection - even if Stephen Gammell said, "You can't use my pictures anymore. They are too awesome for you to use." If that happened (and maybe it did - what do I know?), there should have been a worldwide moment of silence for these books before they went out of print.
I know there are probably people out there who are in support of this and think it's good to give the ol' books a facelift. I'm sorry, but I am too blinded by anger to hear you out right now. Maybe after I've mellowed out with several glasses of wine and some George and Martha, we can talk.
A couple months ago, I got a Facebook friend request from Kenneth Oppel. Kenneth Oppel! This was exciting for several reasons:
- Kenneth Oppel is a big deal, especially in Canada, where we don't have the arsenal of kidlit superstars like they do down South.
- In addition to being popular, he's a dang good writer.
- Even though I knew it was probably his enterprising assistant or a hired social media/PR firm, it somehow felt more personal than getting a friend request from, say, Pepsi, or even a big publisher.
- Perhaps not as important, Kenneth Oppel is, as Zoolander would say, really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking. I went to one of his readings and literally had to fan myself with my copy of Silverwing.
But, I digress.
I immediately accepted the friend request and then proceeded to snoop around his profile to see if there were any indiscretionary photos of him in Cabo or at some wild Toronto party (there weren't). What I did find was lots of information on his upcoming book, Half Brother (great review of it here by my fellow MACL almnus and Scholastic author, Vikki VanSickle). With a striking cover in the same vein as The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and Charles and Emma, and a terrific premise, I'm stoked to read it.
The thing is, if Ken (I can call him Ken because we're friends now) hadn't friended me (or if his assistant hadn't friended me) I probably wouldn't have known about Half Brother until the reviews started coming out. But now it's very much on my radar, and has been for months.
Authors having Facebook pages is nothing new, but this is the first time a big time author (or his assistant) has ever sought me out and friended me, not the other way around. And the puzzling thing is that they (Ken and/or his team) found me at all - how did they know I was a kidlit person? I don't have a public Facebook profile and my profile picture is usually something dumb, like me wearing a colander on my head. I am on Twitter blathering away about young people's literature, so I suppose someone could have stumbled upon me that way.
The thing is, they didn't only find me - they found over a dozen of my other friends who are involved in the kidlit world in some way (librarians, teacher-librarians, writers, Master of Arts in Children's Literature students). Most of these folks don't have public Facebook profiles, tweet or have websites. How'd they find them!?
I don't know. How did David Copperfield do this? I don't know that either. And the logistics of how it was done isn't really the point (although it would be really interesting to find out). The point is that this was a super smart promotional move. In addition to letting fans keep tabs on Ken and his new books (and getting the chance to win ARCs and such), it creates a direct connection between an author and a reader - an author-initiated connection which is somehow more special than a fan-initiated connection. It's like Mr. Henshaw writing to Leigh instead of the other way around. Nifty.