The Horn Book » Out of the Box http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Fri, 17 Oct 2014 22:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Dilemma, dilemma… http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/dilemma-dilemma/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/dilemma-dilemma/#respond Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:03:56 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41997 This week has been so busy — and we’ve posted so much great content — that it’s been terribly difficult to decide what to feature just today. See for yourself! 2014 BGHB ceremony timeline 2014 Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium timeline Five questions for Cary Elwes Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life Horn BOO! 2014 Viva […]

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indecision Dilemma, dilemma...This week has been so busy — and we’ve posted so much great content — that it’s been terribly difficult to decide what to feature just today. See for yourself!

2014 BGHB ceremony timeline
2014 Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium timeline
Five questions for Cary Elwes
Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life
Horn BOO! 2014
Viva Frida
Stuck on Post-Its

Come on, how are we supposed to choose? We’ll be cycling through these posts on our main page through the next few days to make sure they all get some love!

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Five questions for Cary Elwes http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/five-questions-cary-elwes/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/five-questions-cary-elwes/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:15:43 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41825 On Friday, October 17, 2014, at 6:00 PM, Porter Square Books is hosting (at the Brattle Theatre) David Valdes Greenwood, in conversation with Cary Elwes, author of As You Wish. A Princess Bride screening follows the talk (screening begins at 8:30 PM). We asked Mr. Farmboy himself our Five Questions, to get in the “sexy […]

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As You Wishcover Five questions for Cary ElwesOn Friday, October 17, 2014, at 6:00 PM, Porter Square Books is hosting (at the Brattle Theatre) David Valdes Greenwood, in conversation with Cary Elwes, author of As You Wish. A Princess Bride screening follows the talk (screening begins at 8:30 PM).

We asked Mr. Farmboy himself our Five Questions, to get in the “sexy fairy-tale” spirit. We will refrain from quoting lines from the movie. Though we could. All day long. (NB: Roger has never seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable, right?!)

1. My childhood best friend and I saw The Princess Bride in the theater and we can still quote long passages from it. What from the experience still resonates most with you?

CE: The whole experience resonates with me which is why I decided to write this book, but if I had to pick one thing it would be a person and that would be Andre.

2. Princess Bride fans must stop you all the time. What are some of the weirdest, funniest, or most memorable things they say?

CE: I met a family once who named all their children after the characters in the film.

3. Have you watched the movie with someone who’s never seen it before? (The ROUS scene is fun!)

CE: I have not, but I am looking forward to sharing it with my daughter in the near future.

4. Celebrity today is not what it was in 1987. How do you think your life would be different if The Princess Bride came out in 2014?

CE: I have no idea…

5. You’ve written a book about a movie that was first a (wonderful) book. Are you a reader?

CE: Of course. I read the original book of The Princess Bride when I was thirteen and I thoroughly recommend it as a companion book to mine!

 

James Lipton, you can have your job back now. Though it’s been fun to chat with movie stars.

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Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/authors-illustrators/interviews/raina-telgemeier/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/authors-illustrators/interviews/raina-telgemeier/#respond Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:00:25 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41691 Raina Telgemeier took home a 2010 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor for her graphic novel memoir Smile. The just-released follow-up Sisters is receiving a starred review in the November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine. On October 3rd, Raina talked about Sisters and answered audience questions (“Do you still keep in touch with your friends from Smile?” […]

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raina telgemeier Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated lifeRaina Telgemeier took home a 2010 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor for her graphic novel memoir Smile. The just-released follow-up Sisters is receiving a starred review in the November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine. On October 3rd, Raina talked about Sisters and answered audience questions (“Do you still keep in touch with your friends from Smile?” “Do you still keep in touch with your brother?”) while doing a drawing demonstration. Afterwards, she sat down with reviewer (and mother of two daughters) Jennifer Brabander for a short interview.

Jennifer Brabander: Your memories of this epic road trip are so detailed — did you keep journals as a kid?

Raina Telgemeier: I did keep journals as a kid. In fact, I kept a comics journal. I used to draw a comic about my day, pretty much every day from the ages of 11 to 25.

JB: That’s even better than just a print journal!

RT: Yeah. I threw most of it away when I moved out of my mom’s house, because a lot of it was really personal and embarrassing. It would be like keeping your diaries. I didn’t want to take them to college with me.

raina projection Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life

a scene near the end of Smile

JB: So you didn’t even have them to consult to remember…

RT: No, I haven’t seen those in years. But we have photographs, and because it wasn’t just me having this experience, a lot of other members of my family are like, oh, and there’s the time when this thing happened... The trip was so insane, we still talk about it. That helps to boost the memories.

JB: From the fighting to the bad weather to the van breaking down — did this road trip experience put you off long car rides for life?

RT: No, I still really like long car trips. It wasn’t such a bad experience. I liked being in the car and I was the navigator, so I would get asked every so often, Raina, what city are we in? How many miles do we have to go? I was always a maps person, and now I’m the person who’s the point guard for trips. People are like, Raina, how long is it going to take to get there? and Where are we going to stop? So I still exhibit those same qualities today. But it was the last one our family took for quite some time.

JB: I bet!

RT: We also got a new car shortly thereafter.

Katie: With no snakes in it.

RT: With no snakes in it, thank goodness!

telgemeier sisters Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated lifeJB: The sibling rivalry in the book is so intense. You and your sister are so different and you have that big age difference, but you both like art. Which could’ve been a real connection, but — of course — she keeps “stealing your thunder.” Did that art competitiveness ever morph into something more friendly?

RT: No. Every teacher I had, she tended to have a few years later. They already expected her to be an artist because I was an artist, so the question was: “Are you an artist like your sister?” She was an even better artist than I was. They would be like, “Oh, Raina was talented, but Amara is so talented!” She was also a little bit more advanced than me developmentally; I think a lot of second kids are. Maybe it’s because they have an older sibling challenging them. But she was smarter and more clever and witty than me, so I always felt that she was sort of upstaging me. I’d enter a contest in fifth grade and get honorable mention. “Here’s a ribbon, Raina!” And then she’d win first place and get her art on the bus. And then she’d get a $200 prize, and get to go to the Great America theme park nearby and stay in a hotel. So I felt like, oh geez, the things I could never achieve, she has achieved in my stead. But now our careers have led us in different directions. She’s not also publishing graphic novels for a middle-grade audience.

JB: Thank goodness. Because really.

RT: We were competitive when we were small, but I don’t consider it like that anymore.

amara cookie Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life

an Amara-decorated cookie

JB: You were saying in your presentation that a lot of the annoyance that your little brother Will was doesn’t come up in the book, where he seems pretty easygoing. Did you and Amara ever fight with him, or did the two of you just fight with each other?

RT: They mostly fought with each other. My brother’s nickname now is “Chill Will,” because he’s just so chill. He’s just a laidback, easygoing guy. That’s always been his personality. He’s always been very comfortable in social situations — my sister and I are not like that at all — and because Amara and Will are closer in age, they got pitted against each other a lot more than me and Will did. Will and I are eight years apart. We didn’t have a lot to fight about; he was a kid and I was a teenager. And my sister and brother had to share a bedroom for a while. After I got my own room, the two of them had to share the bunk beds, and they hated it. I think Amara probably got the worst of that. She had one on either side to bug her.

JB: I was so happy for you when you got that room!

RT: I was happy for me, too!

raina with drawing Raina Telgemeier: An illustrated life

multitalented Raina draws (by request) her younger self with a cat while answering audience questions

JB: I’m guessing that you had to leave a lot out to streamline the story — was there a memory or an event you wish you could’ve kept in the story but it had to go?

RT: There were a lot of details that for legal reasons we had to leave out. For example, the record that my sister’s listening to in the story is the Bambi soundtrack. I wanted to include the lyrics to the Bambi soundtrack — in fact, we tried for weeks and months to get permission to do so, but they would not give us permission. And there are a lot of brands of snacks and things that I had to change — kind of in the eleventh hour — because there was a concern that I would come under fire for it. Not that I’m trying to make any money off of including a Twizzler’s reference.

JB: Right! Isn’t that good for Twizzler’s?

RT: There were a lot of pop-culture references in Smile, and kids love that. So I took the chance on a couple of brands that they felt like I could let slide in Sisters. For authenticity!

JB: Your depiction of that family reunion is so spot-on, from the fighting adults to the cousins who aren’t so friendly. We learn at that reunion that you weren’t much of a metal fan or a pop music fan. What were you listening to on that Walkman?”

RT: Mostly Boyz II Men. At the time I was into hip-hop and R&B. Smooth jams. Slow jams.

JB: In the snake scene at the end, things are already so tense. You’re worried about your mom and brother, and talking about whether your parents will split up… and then out comes the snake. That’s such a perfect climax; it brings everything from the story together. Are you still afraid of snakes?

RT: Yes. I don’t want them anywhere near me. If they’re on television I can handle it, but if they’re in my life I don’t want to be near them. Even a snakeskin — there’s no snake, it’s just the skin that’s left… No no no no. Gross.

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We get the best mail. http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/get-best-mail/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/get-best-mail/#respond Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:20:31 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41969 Look what arrived today from Kevin Henkes!

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Look what arrived today from Kevin Henkes!

henkes mail We get the best mail.

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How I Became a Pirate ebook review http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/became-pirate-ebook-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/became-pirate-ebook-review/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41687 So, we missed Talk like a Pirate Day this year (September 19*). No matter. For the next eleven months (and in time for this year’s Halloween) kids can practice their pirate sneers and snarrrrls with Oceanhouse Media’s ebook version of Melinda Long’s picture book How I Became a Pirate, illustrated by David Shannon (July 2014). […]

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how i became a pirate menu How I Became a Pirate ebook reviewSo, we missed Talk like a Pirate Day this year (September 19*). No matter. For the next eleven months (and in time for this year’s Halloween) kids can practice their pirate sneers and snarrrrls with Oceanhouse Media’s ebook version of Melinda Long’s picture book How I Became a Pirate, illustrated by David Shannon (July 2014).

While at the beach with his family, young Jeremy Jacob sees a pirate ship on the horizon. Next thing he knows, a contingent of hapless pirates has rowed ashore. They’re led by Captain Braid Beard, who enlists Jeremy as a new crew member: “I didn’t think Mom and Dad would mind, as long as I got back in time for soccer practice the next day.”

how i became a pirate screen How I Became a Pirate ebook review

It’s a silly, entertaining pirate yarn, enhanced in the ebook version by some animation (lots of zooming in and out of scenes, plus pirate pillow fight and a booming, flashing thunderstorm) and vocabulary support. Tap many of the items in the pictures and the word appears onscreen (piratebandana, parrot, etc.); in the “Read to Me” setting it’s also read aloud (there’s a “Read It Myself” option with just the printed words). Users can even record their own narration.

Grab some grog, sing a sea chantey, don’t eat your vegetables, and batten down the hatches — then head back home to soccer practice or out for trick or treat.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 6.1 or later); $3.99. Recommended for primary users.

*Pirate joke: What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
Answer: You’d think it’s R, but it B C.

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Nicola Davies on Tiny Creatures http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/authors-illustrators/nicola-davies-tiny-creatures/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/authors-illustrators/nicola-davies-tiny-creatures/#respond Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:30:30 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41578 In the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Danielle Ford asked author Nicola Davies about Tiny Creatures. Read the review here. Danielle J. Ford: What was your starting point for tackling a topic that might be hard for young kids to visualize? (Because what you’re talking about is essentially invisible!) Nicola Davies : With young […]

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nicola davies Nicola Davies on Tiny CreaturesIn the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Danielle Ford asked author Nicola Davies about Tiny Creatures. Read the review here.

Danielle J. Ford: What was your starting point for tackling a topic that might be hard for young kids to visualize? (Because what you’re talking about is essentially invisible!)

Nicola Davies : With young children you get to “unfamiliar” by going via “familiar.” The key concept in Tiny is the minute scale of microbes. Although the existence of life forms so much smaller than us is unfamiliar, the size difference between ants and whales isn’t, so that’s where I began. Remember, children are asked to visualize all sorts of things they’ve never seen, so their imaginative muscles are in better shape than adults’!

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/b-j-novak/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/blogs/out-of-the-box/b-j-novak/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:15:21 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41589 On October 2, the Harvard Book Store hosted B. J. Novak (from TV’s The Office, Saving Mr. Banks, and many others; also a Harvard University grad, thank you very much) reading his new picture book — The Book with No Pictures — at the Brattle Theatre. He invited kids on to the stage for a […]

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novak photo B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview On October 2, the Harvard Book Store hosted B. J. Novak (from TV’s The Office, Saving Mr. Banks, and many others; also a Harvard University grad, thank you very much) reading his new picture book — The Book with No Pictures — at the Brattle Theatre. He invited kids on to the stage for a rollicking reading of his hilarious book. At least I thought that was rollicking, until I saw him read again the next day in front of about two hundred first-through-third-graders at a nearby elementary school. Pure kid bliss, complete with Q&A at the end (Kid: “Did you write books when you were little?” BJN: “Yes! Spooky books for Halloween, stories about the beach when it was summertime…”) and an invitation to send him story ideas (um… Uncle Shelby, anyone?! If you don’t get that reference, read on). We spoke afterward about standup comedy, childhood rebellion, and metafiction.

(BTW, as @RogerReads asked: “Is @bjnovak ‘s THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES still technically a picture book? I hope it makes the Caldecott committee squirm.”)

novak bookwithnopix B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview EG: How involved were you in designing The Book with No Pictures?

BJN: I was extremely hands on — I think I drove everyone crazy.

EG: Who were the editor and designer on this project?

BJN: I worked with two designers: Lily Malcom at Penguin and Kate Harmer, an independent designer I’ve worked with before, with Hum Creative in Seattle. The editor was Lauri Hornik. My approach is always to ask a million people for advice.

talking B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

B.J. Novak at the Brattle Theatre.

EG: Were kids involved in that part?

BJN: Not knowingly, not wittingly. I would observe kids as they were read to, not just by me. I would ask parents to read so I could watch what they would naturally do. My original draft of what we call the “mayhem spread,” with all those crazy syllables, was very intimidating for a parent to read, I found. I mean, kids loved it. I showed my original black-and-white version to a two-year-old, and he started cracking up as soon as he saw the page. It had a lot of Hs in it, a lot of silent letters — I wanted it to look complicated. And while kids were delighted, I thought a parent would give up. So I simplified a lot of those syllables. That was a combined design/editorial decision.

EG: Who reined this book in? Because for all of its wackiness, it is very controlled and subtle. It could have gone crazy…

 B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

His head is made of blueberry pizza.

BJN: Yeah, controlled rebellion. That was my approach. I looked at the original copy I made — I bought an 8 ½ x 12 moleskin journal and printed out pages and paper-clipped them in, with the font the size that I pictured and typewriter font. I glue-sticked a cover onto the journal so that a little kid would think it was a real book, so I could get a real reaction. It took like fifteen minutes per book, so you can’t just give them away, but I would carry them around places. And when I looked at that original paper-clipped version recently, it is almost identical to the finished book. So when I first had the idea, the tone of it was part of the idea. It was something that’s very rebellious for a three-year-old but actually not that edgy. “I am a monkey who taught myself to read” is very unedgy. “BooBoo Butt” is about as borderline as we get. A kindergartner once asked if he could whisper something in my ear so the grownups couldn’t hear, and he whispered, “I liked when you said BooBoo Butt.” He thought it was extremely rebellious and transgressive that I had said that. Controlled rebellion is the key to enjoyment because it makes a kid feel safe. And I’ve noticed that since I was a kid, trying to make other kids laugh, which I did, that younger kids — and especially, I’ve found, younger girls — can be scared of a book that is too wild. And a way to combat that is to keep assuring a kid that this is silly. This is ridiculous, what’s going on here. So the book repeats many times, “This is so silly,” which is partly to make a kid feel safe. Nothing too crazy is going to happen.

EG: It’s not Sendak.

 B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview

The mayhem spread, mid badoongy-face.

BJN: Yeah, who I loved, but whose work can be a little scary — you don’t know where it’s going. So with this book I wanted kids to feel safe in this rebelliously experimental environment.

EG: Was “preposterous” in your original draft?

BJN: No, “preposterous” I added later because I had said “silly” and “ridiculous” too many times. I was working on the movie Saving Mr. Banks, which was about the making of Mary Poppins, and I was enamored of the way kids learned certain words aspirationally. And I thought it’d be nice to have one word in this book that kids don’t recognize, that sounds funny, and it would be nice if they went around saying “preposterous” because they knew it from the book. So that was the one word I added to give a little… aspirational vocabulary.

EG: The Horn Book’s winter company outing last year was to see Saving Mr. Banks.

BJN: Well, I definitely identified with P. L. Travers, because I had written this book that I had intended to cause nothing but easy joy, and here I was being pretty much a monster the way P. L. Travers was. “No, no, that color is all wrong. This font is ridiculous. You can’t have pictures in the book.” I said no picture of me on the flap jacket. I even asked, at one point, if we could take off the little penguin logo on the spine of the book.

EG: They said no?

BJN: Well, I actually changed my mind on that. I think the brand is so wonderful and inviting that I decided technically the jacket isn’t the book, the jacket is the cover. But I was really a monster in the P. L. Travers mold.

EG: Had you read Mary Poppins?

BJN: I hadn’t, but then I read it when we started making the movie. What I was struck by is that the book is so sweet and clever, that I can only imagine how stunned the Sherman brothers must’ve been to meet this sour, negative person. You’d expect it to be a breeze. It’s not like she wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

EG: Or Where the Wild Things Are. Were you a reader as a kid?

BJN: Yes. My very favorite was Matt Christopher who wrote sort of wish-fulfillment sports books. The Kid Who Only Hit Homers I loved. Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen.

EG: Do you know the story about how librarians used to pencil in little diapers on the kid?

BJN: I think they had a point! Reading it again recently I thought, “This is insane.” But at the time I thought it was spooky and exciting. I loved Amelia Bedelia, Harriet the Spy. I was caught under my covers reading Harriet the Spy with a flashlight. My mom was very angry because I had promised I’d go to bed. Danny, the Champion of the World. Roald Dahl in general but especially that. And Shel Silverstein I really liked. As I write both for kids and adults, he’s someone who comes up, for me, as a role model. Even the way he maintained his aesthetic, so deliberately, with black and white and a certain font.

EG: Do you read those books differently now than when you were a kid?

BJN: Actually, I probably read them the same. I flip through the Silverstein poems, I never read them in order. My book for adults, One More Thing, is influenced by that, too, the different lengths and playfulness, the black-and-white cover.

EG: The slightly transgressive nature… or more than slightly.

BJN: The important thing for me about The Book with No Pictures, and Shel Silverstein embodied it well, and Dr. Seuss embodied it extremely well too, is that it does encourage kids who will inevitably be rebellious to think of books as their allies. I was very lucky to grow up thinking that every time I was sort of angry and ambitious and didn’t fit in and wanted to do something cooler, I thought of books as the place where you’d find that. As a teenager it would be Jack Kerouac and Bukowski. And as a little kid it might be Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was never on the side of your parent or the authority. He seemed completely anti-authority. And even though he’s so rightly accoladed for his educational books now, when you’re a kid you think: this is the opposite of learning. You think: this is freedom. And that, to me, is an extremely important decision that gets made in a kid’s mind, whether books are the ally or the enemy when they are feeling certain feelings. And I think that what excites me about something like The Book with No Pictures is making kids feel words are on their side, not their parents’ side. Words are this incredible code that can make people do things that they want them to do.

EG: It’s really a performance, reading this book, in a way that some picture books are not. You really have to, as a grownup, embody all of it.

BJN: On the one hand you do, on the other hand you don’t. Performers really take to this book, and I’ve especially found it to be good as a dad book. Dads often want to be a little more wild and rowdy with sons, and a lot of picture books are very gentle, so this is a rowdy book. But I’ve also found people who are not performers, who are shy about picking it up, get wonderful reactions, too. A shy or more quiet parent saying these things, even in a flat, straightforward voice, can be especially funny to a kid, because they’re not the type of parent who would normally say, “My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named BooBoo Butt.”

EG: Is the experience different reading to groups rather than one on one?

BJN: Well, I love groups because of all the years I spent as a standup comedian. You just want an audience. It’s a universal truth that comedy’s better with an audience. When I was growing up watching Seinfeld with my family we would all laugh, and now when people tell me they watch The Office on their laptop or on Netflix it’s a little sad. I think that’s why there’s so much activity on Twitter and Facebook about TV shows because you want to be watching this with everybody.

EG: You’ve really thought about all this.

BJN: Yes.

EG: It seems like many projects you’re involved in have this sort of meta quality to them.

BJN: Yes! Nice observation. What else?

EG: Well, even Punk’d is kind of meta. The Office goes without saying. Saving Mr. Banks — a movie about a book about the making of a movie. It’s just that you’re really smart, right?

BJN: I think it’s taste. My friend Mindy Kaling, equally smart, has no patience for meta.

EG: Some of it is really poorly done.

BJN: There seems to be a really sort of clever-teenage-boy drive toward the meta. I loved Mr. Show because it was meta. I loved early Simpsons. And when I was a teenager I loved Borges for being meta. So, yes, that’s always been my taste. The Book with No Pictures — even that title is meta. It’s commenting on itself, its own existence as a funny idea. So I’m always drawn to that. The conceptual, the meta.

EG: Could you write an article for us on gender and meta?

BJN: Interesting. Well, it’s a very small sample set, but I’ve tended to find that equally smart, equally literate people of opposite genders — meta is a dividing line, often. That and Bob Dylan.

EG: You are not a typical celebrity author.

BJN: I think the crazy thing is that I’m a celebrity, not that I’m an author. I’m an author by nature. My father is an author. I went to Harvard and studied literature. I was an ambitious and successful television writer. And then I started doing stand-up and acting, and for years I think the quiet nudge from my friends was, “Are you sure about this acting thing? You’re so clearly meant to be a writer.” And so now I actually take it as a compliment when people are skeptical about celebrity books. I’m like, “Really? You think I’m a celebrity? Wow! No one ever thought I could do it.” No one ever doubted I could be an author growing up, they doubted that I could be a celebrity.

EG: Do you have both these introvert and extrovert sides to you?

BJN: I’m very much both, in the way that very many comedy performers are, famously. And really this is my ideal career. Most of the time I love being alone, writing, in my own mind, no one bothering me, dreaming up things, like a teenage boy in his basement laboratory. Plotting about how the world is going to crazy with excitement about what he’s writing.

EG: Sounds like your next middle-grade novel.

BJN: And then I want to go out and show it to the world and see people’s faces. So I really feel that what my real goal is, and always has been, is to be a public author. There was an era in which Mark Twain was America’s author. Everyone knew he was a writer. Dickens, too, performed live. All these guys performed their writing live and were public personas as writers. And in Europe there’s still something of a public persona as a writer. But it’s not really the case in America. You’re an author or a celebrity.

EG: Although now with Twitter, John Green and people like that…

BJN: Yes! I think it’s changing somewhat. And I would like to be that. What John Green is for his audience and his genre, I would like to be for mine. Which is meta comedy, I suppose. I would like to be the representative of it. Someone who is a hero of mine that I also want to be like is Rod Serling. He presented his writing, looked like his writing, embodied his writing. He wasn’t an actor, he was a public writer. So that’s what I want to be.

EG: So, picture book is your niche? Or are you going to come out with a YA — what was that toilet zombie book the kid suggested during the Q&A?

BJN: My first book, the short story book, is very personal expression. And this book is an expression of what I want to write for kids. Yeah, I would like to write YA as well, and middle-grade…

EG: See, you know what the words “middle-grade” mean. That’s great.

BJN: Well, again, I’m not a celebrity. That’s our secret.

Liz (the school’s hip librarian; cameo appearance): HA!

EG: He knows “middle-grade.” He used it in conversation! Oh, Shel Silverstein… Liz sending you all the kids’ story ideas… it makes me think of Silverstein’s ABZ book.

BJN: Yes! I loved it as a kid.

EG: As a kid you read it?

BJN: My father gently introduced me to it with the explanation that this is a fake kids’ book. I got the joke, I loved it…

EG: “L is for lye…”

BJN: I remember: “Steal your parents’ money and mail it to Uncle Shelby.”

EG: So there weren’t any books that you weren’t allowed to read as a kid? Was everything up for grabs?

BJN: Everything was up for grabs, in fact probably more than for most kids because my father had a library at home of all the books he would do for research. He had written a book on marijuana use. There were books on heroin in our house. There were books on Iran-Contra. Books on all kinds of things. And he never stopped me from reading any of that. I think he was secretly quite happy. Again, if your rebellion comes… look, rebellion’s going to come, for every kid. And if it comes in the form of literature, you’re much better off than if it comes in opposition to it.

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Endless Numbers app review http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/endless-numbers-app-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/app-review-of-the-week/endless-numbers-app-review/#respond Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:32:27 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41478 Regular readers of this blog will recognize the name Originator — I’m a big fan of the developer’s Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader apps. Endless Numbers (Originator, March 2014) continues this great series of concept-learning apps. The app opens with an image of a Ferris wheel, full of the now-familiar cute monster characters. Each number-labeled […]

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endless numbers menu Endless Numbers app reviewRegular readers of this blog will recognize the name Originator — I’m a big fan of the developer’s Endless Alphabet and Endless Reader apps. Endless Numbers (Originator, March 2014) continues this great series of concept-learning apps.

The app opens with an image of a Ferris wheel, full of the now-familiar cute monster characters. Each number-labeled Ferris wheel car shows a thumbnail preview image for that number’s page; touch any car to skip to that specific number, or proceed chronologically from 1.

Each brightly colored, monster-featured numeral is introduced on a graph-paper-printed background as a pleasant narrator gives its name; then the monsters knock the numeral askew. Users drag the numeral into its correct place (first in counting chronology, then in a simple addition problem) marked with a faint outline.

endless numbers counting Endless Numbers app review

Finally, the monsters star in a brief animation offering a humorous contextual scenario for its numerical value. The animation for “1,” for example, shows a monster wobbling along on a unicycle; the narrator explains, “It is hard for Little Blue to ride a unicycle because it only has 1 wheel.”

The numeric concepts are subtly reinforced in a variety of ways throughout the app. Each monster-fied numeral has the corresponding amount of eyes and other appendages; many other elements of the animations (e.g., four monster babies with four arms each in a four-wheeled stroller) also relate to the featured number. Tap the screen during the animations for a fireworks-like shower of the correct numeral.

endless numbers 4 Endless Numbers app review

This is a painless and entertaining way to introduce basic number value and counting concepts. And — a smart choice — the app requires no reading, making it suitable for very young users (and not overwhelming those who are learning to read with too much information at once).

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 5.0 or later). The free preview offers numbers 1 through 5; download the 6-20 pack for $5.99 or the 6-100 pack for $11.99. Recommended for preschool and early primary users.

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World Vegetarian Day reading http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/recommended-books/world-vegetarian-day-reading/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/10/choosing-books/recommended-books/world-vegetarian-day-reading/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:00:09 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41372 Today is World Vegetarian Day! (High-five to all my fellow veggies out there!) These veg-approved books — some classics, some brand new, and all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide — remind us all to be kind to all creatures (and to eat our vegetables). Any favorites you would add? Don’t miss author […]

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vegetarian icon World Vegetarian Day readingToday is World Vegetarian Day! (High-five to all my fellow veggies out there!) These veg-approved books — some classics, some brand new, and all recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide — remind us all to be kind to all creatures (and to eat our vegetables). Any favorites you would add?

Don’t miss author Jennifer Armstrong’s 2010 Horn Book Magazine article “Eating Reading Animals.”

Picture Books

choi new cat World Vegetarian Day readingThe feline protagonist of Yangsook Choi’s New Cat helps contain a fire in Mr. Kim’s factory one night when she knocks over a bucket of tofu while chasing a mouse. Characterized by rounded shapes and solid black outlines, the illustrations of Mr. Kim’s cat (and best friend) include one that slyly mimics Asian cat statues believed to bring their owners luck by inviting in new customers and friends. In both business and friendship, Mr. Kim’s luck couldn’t possibly be better. (Farrar/Foster, 1999)

christensen plant a little seed World Vegetarian Day readingFrom its handsome title-page introduction of fourteen vegetable-garden plants to the useful facts and tips arrayed on seed packets on its last page, Bonnie Christensen’s Plant a Little Seed is an inspiring celebration of planning, growing, and enjoying the results of a community garden. A boy and girl with comfortably muddy knees are the gardeners. Vividly colored illustrations invest the whole cycle, from catalog to harvest, with energy. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2012)

drescher hubert the pudge World Vegetarian Day readingHubert, a pig-like horned “pudge,” escapes from Farmer Jake’s Pudge Processing Farm, but he can’t enjoy his freedom until he liberates his friends. In Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale, author/illustrator Henrik Drescher’s entertaining if thinly disguised animal-rights manifesto, the happy ending rests on the commercial success of tofu hot dogs. Visible line strokes and heavy texturing define the wildly humorous colored-pencil and ink illustrations. (Candlewick, 2006)

ehlert eating the alphabet World Vegetarian Day readingFrom the endpapers’ bright-colored flat representations of fruits and vegetables to the rollicking invitation, “Apple to Zucchini, come take a look. Start eating your way through this alphabet book,” Lois Ehlert’s gastronomic tour of the alphabet is unique and filling. A worthy successor to Ehlert’s earlier books Growing Vegetable Soup and Planting a Rainbow, Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z presents up to twelve fruits or vegetables — often as common as banana or pumpkin and occasionally as obscure as xigua and jicama — for each letter of the alphabet. (Harcourt, 1989; new editions 2003 and 2013)

lin ugly vegetables World Vegetarian Day readingIn Grace Lin’s The Ugly Vegetables, a young girl is disappointed with her family’s Chinese vegetable garden because the other gardens in the neighborhood are like “rainbows of flowers.” Her mother reassures her that the ugly vegetables are better than flowers; sure enough, the aromatic vegetable soup her mother makes brings the whole neighborhood to their door for a taste. The simply told text is well matched with the lively, color-saturated paintings. (Talewinds, 1999; new edition 2001)

10+hungry+rabbiuts World Vegetarian Day readingWhen Mama Rabbit announces her plans to make vegetable soup, her ten children — each wearing a different color — gather ingredients: one purple cabbage, two white onions, etc. The color and number concepts of Anita Lobel’s 10 Hungry Rabbits are reinforced in multiple ways through words and pictures. Best of all, with its engaging characters and rich language, the book can be read just for the fun of it. (Knopf, 2012)

martin piggy and dad World Vegetarian Day readingThe idea of going fishing with Dad for the first time is exciting, but Piggy learns the reality is another matter in David Martin’s Piggy and Dad Go Fishing. Piggy finds a couple of details about the sport (skewering worms and fish) troubling; Dad wisely doesn’t force the issue. Frank Remkiewicz’s summery watercolor-and-pencil cartoon illustrations clue listeners into Piggy’s emotions and create a bit of tension in the nicely paced story. (Candlewick, 2005)

moore lucky ducklings World Vegetarian Day readingWhen Mama Duck takes her five ducklings for a walk, they fall, one by one, through a storm sewer. Three firefighters and a bystander work together to rescue the ducklings, and the brood continues on its way. In Lucky Ducklings, author Eva Moore’s expert use of pattern and repetition is nicely echoed in illustrator Nancy Carpenter’s charcoal vignettes, making this a good choice for reading aloud. (Scholastic/Orchard, 2013)

sayre rah rah radishes World Vegetarian Day readingRah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre offers energetic rhymes accompanied by color photos inventory veggies at an indoor farmers’ market: “Head for cabbage. / Greens for sale. / Fall for fennel, / Swiss chard, / kale!” The variety and arrangements of good-looking produce will get kids pointing to vegetables they see on trips to the market (next step: eating!). A brief appended note tells more about veggies. (Simon/Beach Lane, 2011)

Fiction

One and Only Ivan World Vegetarian Day readingIn short chapters that have the look and feel of prose poems, Katherine Applegate’s Newbery Medal–winning novel The One and Only Ivan (illustrated by Patricia Castelao) captures the voice of a captive gorilla who lives at the “Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.” When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan realizes they deserve more than their restrictive environment. Ivan’s range of thoughts and emotions poses important questions about kinship and humanity. (HarperCollins/Harper, 2012)

fergus ortega World Vegetarian Day readingAfter special surgeries allow him to learn to talk, the titular gorilla of Maureen Fergus’s novel Ortega is raised to function as a human. When his social, emotional, and intellectual skills are similar to that of an eleven-year-old, he is sent to public school. People’s reactions to him raise moral questions about animal rights. A fast pace and excellent characterizations make for intriguing science fiction. (Kids Can/KCP Fiction, 2010)

watkins what comes after World Vegetarian Day readingAfter her father’s death, sixteen-year-old Iris goes to live in North Carolina with her mean-spirited, abusive aunt and violent cousins in Steve Watkins’s What Comes After. When Iris, an animal lover, sets the farm goats free, her relationship with Aunt Sue comes to a violent head. Endearing characters and poignant themes populate the story, as Iris comes to terms with her loss and her passion. (Candlewick, 2011)

 

Nonfiction

ancona garden 300x257 World Vegetarian Day readingFrom spring planting to winterization, George Ancona’s It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden chronicles a year in the life of an elementary school garden in Santa Fe; full-color photographs show students composting soil, watering plants, and sampling the edible delights. While green is visually ubiquitous, the real star is the white space, which keeps each spread from becoming crowded. Ancona’s no-nonsense text is perfectly suited for newly independent readers. (Candlewick, 2013)

gourley first garden World Vegetarian Day readingFirst Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew, Robbin Gourley’s discussion of Michelle Obama’s creation of a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, is framed by a brief history of other gardens at the White House. Loose-handed watercolor illustrations depict a place that’s full of life. A foreword by chef Alice Waters and a series of recipes are included. (Clarion, 2011)

katzen salad people World Vegetarian Day readingMollie Katzen’s cookbook Salad People and More Real Recipes: A New Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up is attractive, creative, and easy to use, with an ingenious format: printed recipes for adults and pictorial directions for preschoolers. The twenty vegetarian dishes are nutritious (low-fat and low-sugar) yet kid-appealing (“Sunrise Lemonade,” “Counting Soup”). Healthy eating, enjoyment of the cooking process, and parent-child togetherness are all promoted here. (Tricycle/Ten Speed Press, 2005)

katzen honest pretzels World Vegetarian Day readingWith recipes ranging from basic (scrambled eggs, tossed salad) to more involved (homemade salsa, apple pockets), Katzen serves up a reader-friendly vegetarian cookbook for primary-aged children in Honest Pretzels: And 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Cooks Ages 8 and Up. Designed for kids to take the lead in the cooking process, the large, well-laid-out instructions place each step in its own numbered box, visually cued with Katzen’s colored pencil icons. Safety is strongly emphasized throughout. (Tricycle/Ten Speed Press, 1999; new edition 2009)

laidlaw on parade World Vegetarian Day readingAnimal rights advocate Rob Laidlaw exposes backstage conditions of animals in entertainment, from live animal shows to circus acts and movies in On Parade: The Hidden World of Animals in Entertainment. The admittedly agenda-driven text’s examples of neglect and abuse combine with photographs and sidebars to underscore the message that animal lovers have an obligation — and the ability — to create change; suggestions for action, FAQs, and an “Organizations to Contact” list provide tools. (Fitzhenry, 2010)

laidlaw wild animals in captivity World Vegetarian Day readingAccessible text and often heartbreaking photographs of elephants, great apes, and other animals juxtapose their behavior and lifestyle in the wild and in captivity in Laidlaw’s previous book Wild Animals in Captivity. The author’s own feelings are clear, and his approach offers readers empowerment: what to look for in zoo animal quality of life and ten ways to help (e.g., contact animal protection agencies to report poor conditions). (Fitzhenry, 2008)

rabinowitz boy and a jaguar World Vegetarian Day readingA Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz is an unusual picture book autobiography of an animal scientist who began his lifelong interest in big cats when he found he could communicate more easily with animals than with people due to his stuttering. Rabinowitz’s commitment to petitioning for wildlife conservation has helped him communicate more comfortably. This accessible story, with quietly emotive, impressionistic art by Catia Chien, will help children understand both concerns. (Houghton, 2014)

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Garth Nix on Clariel http://www.hbook.com/2014/09/authors-illustrators/garth-nix-clariel/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/09/authors-illustrators/garth-nix-clariel/#respond Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:25:38 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=41353 In the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Katie Bircher asked Garth Nix about Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to his high fantasy trilogy Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Read the review here. Katie Bircher: Do you think the walker chooses the path, or the path the walker? Which is it in Clariel’s case? Garth Nix: This […]

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nix clariel Garth Nix on ClarielIn the September/October 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Katie Bircher asked Garth Nix about Clariel, the long-awaited prequel to his high fantasy trilogy Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. Read the review here.

Katie Bircher: Do you think the walker chooses the path, or the path the walker? Which is it in Clariel’s case?

Garth Nix: This is one of those questions that doesn’t have an answer, or the answer changes all the time. In Clariel’s case, she chooses her own path, but there are definitely forces at work that both influence her choice and limit her selection of paths. Neither predestination nor entirely free will, but a mixture of both…

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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