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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | Reading Ahead

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Written in code

Having just finished a terrific new book called J.R.R. Tolkien, by Alexandra and John Wallner (Holiday House), I was reminded about codes. I spent a good number of hours during my junior high days fashioning notes in Elvish and leaving them in my friends’ lockers. The runic writing fascinated me and, of course, the idea […]

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Monkey see, monkey do

As early as I can remember, my mother clipped recipes from magazines and newspapers, finding ever-more-elaborate methods of filing them. Recipe boxes, giant clips, and plastic bags are stuffed to the gills with recipes in her house. I’ve had fun in recent months digging through those treasures. Food styles change! I feel like a History […]

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Sparking the flint

Children aren’t the only kids who get bored during the summer. Teens are looking for something to do in more subtle ways. If they’ve got the writing bug … or if they don’t have it yet … you might tempt them with one or more of these books. You’ll find something for every taste, with […]

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No need to be bored!

Although I remember my puffy pink diary with the curious brass clasp, I don’t recall writing in it much. Age nine, I may have experimented with writing on the first page. Something like, “Today was my birthday. I had a party. Nothing else happened.” If only I’d had books about writing stories … I loved […]

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Free, Playful, and Courageous

Call me crazy, but my family knows very well that traveling to a new city means visiting one site in particular: the library. It’s best if we have time to go inside. I like to see the walls, the signage, the special rooms. I look to see how the books are arranged, not only Dewey […]

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Approaching the last day of kindergarten …

Kindergarten. It’s not peculiar to the USA, but the States took up the movement toward early childhood education after Friedrich Froebel introduced the concept in Bad Blankenburg, Germany, on June 28, 1840. “Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community […]

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Thoreau at Walden

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” I’m re-reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; or Life in the Woods. I do this once each year in February, when it’s dark and snowy and cold here in Minnesota. […]

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A Book is a Book is a Book

I always looked forward to packages under the tree that were a certain rectangular shape and thickness, heavy and not resilient … I knew they were books. But which book? I enjoyed receiving fiction and biographies and books about foreign places and history, so in that moment before carefully removing the tape and turning back […]

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Holiday reading

My favorite gift of all time was the paperback boxed set of The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien that my mother gave me when I was fifteen. I still vividly remember lying on my bed at my grandparents reading the first few chapters late on Christmas Eve. There was an overhead light in […]

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Musings of a lifelong reader, part three

When I was in college, working on a project for one of my library science classes, I wrote a proposal for educational reform. Thirty years ago (gulp) it seemed to me that school didn’t work very well … at least not for me. I was certain I couldn’t be the only person to feel this […]

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Musings of a lifelong reader, part two

Why do we have books without illustrations? Only in the last few years has the concept of a “visual learner” become familiar to me. By all definitions, and pedagogical controversy aside, this describes the way I absorb knowledge. I wasn’t aware of a name or theory when I was learning to read, or actively engaged […]

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Musings of a lifelong reader, part one

In a community of readers, the dialogue will occasionally drift to “do you remember learning to read?” Do you? I don’t. I have an early memory of sitting on the floor in the bedroom at my grandmother’s house turning the pages of The Poky Little Puppy. I remember the illustrations. I don’t remember the words. […]

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It’s not just one or the other

Music has played a key role in my lifelong learning. Introduced to the classics by our elementary school music program, the entire school was bussed once each year to hear the Minnesota Orchestra at a young people’s concert. I fell in love with Mr. Tweedy, the timpani player. He added drama to the music. My […]

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All is not lost

I read a lot of books written for young people. Lately, as we prepare for mock Newbery and Caldecott discussions, it has been one or two each day. One novel and one picture book seems to be the pace. Our choices will be announced on the CLN site on November 1st, so those of you […]

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Aiming at Good

I wish I were half as smart as my unconscious mind. When I’m working on a tricky design or trying to intuit a way to visually represent a person or writing a column, I’ve learned that it’s best if I don’t force myself to sit down and do it. Of course, that’s not always possible. […]

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A gentle nudge

Sometimes we get so caught up in discussing the literary merits of a book that we forget who the intended readers are. Sometimes we enjoy playing the game of who will win the awards so much that we forget there are all kinds of readers who are touched by books in many ways … and […]

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A Tyrant to Treasure

Reading my way in delight through the First : Second graphic novels has been a treat. I love a good mystery, adventure, thriller, romance, rib-tickler … and I’ve found all this and more in graphic novel form with this imprint. First up, the rib-tickler. That would come in the form of pint-sized, imperious monarch, Ethelbert […]

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Creative every day

The question authors are asked most often is, “Where do you get your ideas?” And many authors would answer that getting ideas is not a problem. As a graphic designer, I get ideas when my eyes are open and when my eyes are shut. I see color, type, focal points, negative space, texture, shadow, line […]

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A reading path from Japan to America

My exploration began when a young man, aged 7, recommended that I read Shipwrecked! the True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (Rhoda Blumberg, HarperCollins, 2001). The title sprang immediately to his mind when I asked him what he’d read lately that was good. Finding a copy, I opened it and began reading, realizing that this […]

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Declaration for the Right to Literacy

A document has been circulating around the country since it was drafted in 2009. Called the Declaration for the Right to Literacy, it currently has 30,000 signatures, but more support is needed to make a bigger impact when the document is presented to President Obama next month. You have an opportunity to show your support […]

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Life on the farm

It’s that time of year. Farmers’ markets are bursting with color, smells, and daydreams of splendid meals. People are putting food by … knowing that berries and cucumbers and tomatoes and corn will be hard to find in the winter months. A lot of people are putting in a big effort to make sure we […]

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How lucky we are

I’m in the midst of reading Lea Wait‘s books for children (she also writes mysteries for adults). I’ve finished Finest Kind, I’m in the midst of Wintering Well, I’m eagerly looking forward to Seaward Born, and I’m on the waiting list for Stopping to Home. The two books I’ve read so far are plumb full […]

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What’s got my dander up?

I can’t decide whether I’m angry or sad. When Steve and I travel around the country, we stop in at bookstores and public libraries and schools, observing the state of children’s books in those environments. We talk with booksellers, librarians, and teachers. Some people are aware of our connection to children’s books … some are […]

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Summer isn’t over yet, the next part …

For older readers, grades four through seven, there are great series choices. How many books do a series make? I’m thinking three or more—I have no idea if there’s an official classification. In July, I heard three excellent speakers on children’s literature, Anita Silvey, Judy Freeman, and Barbara Swanson Sanders. They couldn’t get their book […]

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Summer isn’t over yet …

There’s still more summer reading time, whether relaxing in your favorite lawn chair, next to a burbling creek, sitting in the middle of your garden, or soaking in a wading pool. When do I read? I always read before going to sleep. I read when I first get up in the morning—it’s a great way […]

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Joy-in-Words Day

Isn’t it about time for a holiday? It’s been three weeks since the Fourth of July and we won’t celebrate Labor Day for another five weeks. Well, I hereby declare July 25th Joy-in-Words Day. Help celebrate! What’s your favorite word to say out loud? What word gives you joy as it rolls around in your […]

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Our bookmarks are in … books recommended July 2010

Author Heather Bouwman is reading The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer, published in the US by Arthur Levine. “This book is one of the weirdest and best I’ve ever read. Post-WWII Netherlands, quirky characters, and a protagonist you want to root for forever.  I’d love to know what you think of it if you […]

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When author and illustrator meet, serendipity happens

On Saturday, July 10th, author Wendy Orr, from Australia, and illustrator Lauren Stringer, from the United States, celebrated the release of their new book, The Princess and Her Panther, together. Not only does this not often happen, but it happens even less across continents. Wendy joined Lauren at the Red Balloon Bookshop in Saint Paul, […]

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Coffee, coffee, coffee

I’ve been spending a good amount of time in coffee shops lately, working. It’s ironic for me to be grabbing Wi-Fi juice in these ubiquitous icons of contemporary society—I haven’t ever tasted coffee. The whirring and smells and steam and dedicated caffeine hunters make it a challenge for me, but I’ve always been comfortable with […]

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What is there to dooooooo?

It’s after the Fourth of July. The anticipation of parades, fireworks, and picnics is a distant memory. Now summertime thoughts turn to … boredom. There’s nothing to do! Wait a minute … Here’s an idea … or 130. In Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars (Workman Publishing Co), author Sharon Lovejoy offers sparks of imagination with […]

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Treat yourself to this book of poetry

I have fallen in love … with a book of poetry. Candlewick Press has published a paperback version of Classic Poetry: an illustrated collection, selected by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Paul Howard. Rosen was a Children’s Laureate of Britain, well-known as an author, poet, storyteller, and broadcaster. Paul Howard is a children’s book illustrator […]

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Out of this world

We’ve been attending a family wedding in another state, catching up on the news that no one commits to e-mail, seeing faces, remembering names, and learning relationships as an entirely new family comes along for the ride. What this really means, of course, is that Steve and I are given the opportunity all over again […]

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Writer’s honor

I’m reading Heather Vogel Frederick’s newest book, Pies & Prejudice (Simon & Schuster), the fourth book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. The girls are fourteen in this book. Their book club is reading Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice this year and a number of exciting plot developments make this a page-turner. Near the end […]

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More summer reading

A little bit of old, a little bit of new … these are series so that the reading experience can go on and on. Today’s selections are primarily fantasy with a little bit of science fiction around the edges. The Invisible Detective series by Justin Richards. They’re very popular in England. The Invisible Detective can […]

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Thinking about grief

The city of Minneapolis is mourning an increased number of homicides this year, just when city officials were feeling good about how low the homicide rate had fallen. Those are numbers. I can’t help but think about the people who mourn the loss of those lives. There will be a big hole in their hearts […]

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Our bookmarks are in …

Members have written to tell us about the books they currently have bookmarked … From Nancy Carlson: I am reading The Hunger Games (Scholastic Press, 2008). Very good! From Sarah Lamstein: I just finished Jeannine’s Atkins’ Borrowed Names (Holt, 2010), a brilliant book of poetry about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madame C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and […]

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Tales from a Finnish Tupa

Originally published in 1936 by Albert Whitman & Company, Tales from a Finnish Tupa has recently been reissued by the University of Minnesota Press. This collection of Finnish tales includes stories of magic and humor (“Droll Tales”) as well as fables or pourquoi stories. I can remember reading the “Color Fairy” books when I was […]

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Shoe books

No, not the books by Noel Streatfield, but slice-of-life books that I think of as “walking in someone else’s shoes” books. They’re written in a convincing, ready to assume the loafers or tennis shoes or flip-flops manner that allows me to become the main character from the front cover to the back cover … and […]

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More summer reading

Future Self to Vicki: You’re going to read a novel about playing bridge … and you’re going to enjoy it. Vicki: Not going to happen. My mother tried, on several occasions, to raise some enthusiasm for bridge in my body and soul. I love to play cards, board games, guessing games, trivia games … not […]

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Summer reading

Every good intention of posting every weekday … and then a vicious flu attacks and all plans go astray. Flu trumps blog. Now I know. One good thing to come out of having a week-long flu: my to-be-read pile isn’t as high as it once was. In fact, it brought back memories of a perfect […]

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It’s All about Advertising

In eighth grade, my English teacher, Ms. Anderson, spent several weeks teaching our class about persuasive language by examining advertising. This accomplished several goals. We learned how to write persuasively. We learned the different ways people or organizations could persuade us. We learned to apply critical thinking and a healthy dose of skepticism. Decades later, […]

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Fairy Tales Can Come True

Once upon a time, an author wrote three books about a fourth-grader named Ida May who had friendship troubles. One friend moved away, leaving Ida May feeling unhappy and untrusting. That story is told in My Last Best Friend. An intriguing and adventurous girl moves to town and Ida May is excited about My New […]

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Where Lifelong Readers Begin

When my second grade teacher took our classroom to the school library, I thought I had discovered the greatest place on earth. A room filled with books, more books than I had ever seen in one place. I remember that room well. Suddenly, moving from my small hometown in Wisconsin to the overwhelming big city […]

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Monday Morning Roundup

We’re a little behind time today. CLN has entered the world of cloud computing … Steve spent the weekend moving all 25,000 pages, photos, blogs, and photos to the CLN Cloud. Doesn’t that sound restful? For you, we hope it means the pages will load faster, videos will run more smoothly, and you’ll enjoy hanging […]

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The Nature of Humor

I’ve been pondering the many questions I have about the nature of humor as the Chapter & Verse Book Clubs prepare to discuss next week the book Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus (Candlewick Press). Wherever we go, teachers and librarians—and parents—ask for more funny and light-hearted […]

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On Your Bedside Table

Members have written to tell us about the books that are currently on their bedside tables. I’m in the midst of five books, so it’s good to gather more titles. Who knows when I’ll run out of something to read? (Is that the ground level question of the bookaholic?) From Laura Purdie Salas: After Ever […]

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Punctuation Pastiche

In one part of my life, I am an editor (no pulse quickening, please—not for children’s literature). Punctuation makes me happy. I cannot read a book without noticing the punctuation: how it’s used, how it’s misused, and how I would have done it differently. I have New Yorker cartoons about punctuation hanging over my desk. […]

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Monday Morning Roundup

A CLN welcome to author Cynthia Cotten, our newest member. Cyndy lives in Virginia. Her books include Rain Play (illus by Javaka Steptoe, Holt), Abbie in Stitches (illus by Beth Peck, FS&G), and Snow Ponies (illus by Jason Cockcroft, Holt). I’m looking forward to the Ramona and Beezus movie due to release on July 23rd. […]

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