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Friday, November 23, 2007

Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems)

Author: Park, Linda Sue
Reading Level: 3rd to 6th grade

Pages: 48
Publisher: Clarion
Edition: Hardcover

I am absolutely delighted and pleased by the collection of Sijo poetry (a traditional Korean form of short poems) paired with playful and often surprising illustrations. It will be fun to see children and grownups trying their hands on creating this kind of poems!

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Passion and Poison: Tales of Shape-shifters, Ghosts, and Spirited Women

Author: De Negro, Janice
Reading Level: 4th - 6th grade

Pages: 64
Publisher: Marshal Cavendish
Edition: Hardcover

I really enjoyed the tone of these narratives but found the seven mostly familiar (or with familiar motifs) tales in this slim volume not scary or eerie enough. There exists always a promising build-up but the readers are left short of truly gruesome, horrific, or surprising endings. The cover design is quite effective, with raised blood-red title print, but the interior illustrations are uneven and less than accomplished in many cases. The very good cover art is done by Vincent Natale, but the illustration copyright is attributed to Marshall Cavendish, the publisher -- and the quality of the illustrations definitely feel like work-for-hire jobs.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Drink, Talk, Be Merry, and Eat Cookies!

Last night, a dozen or so child_lit contributors gathered at long-time list member Monica Edinger's apartment -- one floor above the festivities of a New York City "neighborhood" Halloween Party (read: in the lobby for the kids in the huge apartment building on West 111th Street.)

Philip Pullman and wife Jude were the honored guests for the night. We chatted about the "lineage" of our child_lit involvement.. from the creation of the list by Michael Joseph, who was there with Constance Vidor, his lovely partner, and Head Librarian at Friends' Seminary. We thanked Michael for creating a space in the cyber world for us to exchange ideas and forge otherwise unlikely friendship. GraceAnne DiCandido, Kirkus reviewer and my Library School teacher, was responsible for the two reviews of His Dark Materials' 2nd and 3rd installments. Other child_lit pals who came to help celebrate the occasion were Waller Hastings, English/Children's Lit. professor from South Dakota, now visiting professor at Rutgers this year, Pooja Makhijani, writer at Children's Television Workshop/Sesame Street International, Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic, John Peters, Supervising Librarian of NYPL's Donnell children's library, past Newbery Chair, and prolific reviewer, Uli Knoepflmacher, English Professor at Princeton University and expert on Victorian and children's literature who just recently joined child_lit, and Kerry Mockler, 4th-year PhD student and teacher of children's literature and baker of a host of His Dark Materials inspired butter cookies. They were incredibly yummy. My students in the sci-fi/fantasy club thanked her for this gift (the next day, while sharing the story Mimsy Were the Borogoves)!

Our dinner was 3 pizzas from, some salad, wine and champagne -- but the main ingredient was the non-stop conversation around the room: all about children's books and once in a while some weird child_lit history surfaced.

Here are just three pictures to mark the evening for me:

This is me talking to Philip. (I didn't quite wash off all my zombie make-up from the day and had to do a little photoshop-doctoring before posting it on the Journal. Haha.)

This is the tray of cookies waiting to be revealed...

This is a picture of Kerry and Philip. We were all so pleased with this perfect ending for a perfect evening. Yeah for Kerry!

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