• How the Heather Looks


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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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, […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



Our greatest advantage … it’s free … and it’s disappearing

The pub­lic library is the most pow­er­ful and cost-effec­­tive wealth-tran­s­fer mech­a­nism ever invent­ed. Instead of sim­ply ame­lio­rat­ing prob­lems, libraries cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ty.” Now the librar­i­ans and library patrons in New York City are get­ting mad. Maybe that will inter­est the news media enough to pay atten­tion. The City of New York is about to cut the […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



Shoe books

No, not the books by Noël 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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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, […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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 […]



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. […]



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. […]



A Writing Tip

In Leonard Mar­cus’ inter­view with author Bev­er­ly Cleary, which you’ll find while read­ing one of this mon­th’s Chap­ter & Verse Book Club selec­tions, Fun­ny Busi­ness: Con­ver­sa­tions with Writ­ers of Com­e­dy, she pass­es along a won­der­ful tip for prompt­ing kids (and oth­ers) to write. Q: In the Ramona books, Beezus wor­ries about not hav­ing enough imag­i­na­tion. […]



Everything We Know

Syn­chronic­i­ty. We mark its occur­rence by say­ing the word out loud, not ful­ly grasp­ing its pow­er but under­stand­ing that we are hon­or­ing a con­flu­ence in our lives. There are three con­trib­u­tors to my con­flu­ence: Ani­ta Sil­vey, Wen­dell Minor, and Kather­ine House. Last fall, Ani­ta Sil­vey’s book Every­thing I Need to Know I Learned from a […]



Bank Street’s 2010 Choices

We eager­ly await the annu­al list of books cho­sen by the Bank Street Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion as books that work well with chil­dren from birth to age 14. Each year, the Chil­dren’s Book Com­mit­tee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accu­ra­cy and lit­er­ary qual­i­ty and con­sid­ers their emo­tion­al impact on chil­dren. It choos­es the […]



Monday Morning Round-Up

From Wen­dell Minor comes this news (applause, please),  “It′s offi­cial: the orig­i­nal art from Look to the Stars will be includ­ed in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of The New Britain Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art, and the orig­i­nal art from Abra­ham Lin­coln Comes Home will be includ­ed in the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of The Nor­man Rock­well Muse­um. Watch […]



Free Comic Book Day

Tomor­row. May 1st. At a com­ic book store near you. Zowee! Have you been made aware that May 1st is inter­na­tion­al Free Com­ic Book Day? Fly like a super­hero to this web­site for all of the details. You can enter your zip­code in the left­hand col­umn to get a list of par­tic­i­pat­ing stores near you. […]



2010 Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards

What a plea­sure it is each year to dis­cov­er which books the Jane Addams Peace Asso­ci­a­tion has cho­sen to hon­or. Since 1953, the Jane Addams Chil­dren’s Book Award annu­al­ly acknowl­edges books meet­ing stan­dards of lit­er­ary and artis­tic excel­lence, pub­lished in the U.S., with themes or top­ics that engage chil­dren in think­ing about peace, jus­tice, world […]



Hitting a Home Run

It’s still April and I’m still feel­ing crazy about base­ball. The first Ron Koertge book I read was Shake­speare Bats Cleanup (pub­lished by Can­dlewick Press in 2006). He tried sev­er­al tricky writ­ing tasks in that book and I fin­ished it with a sense of admi­ra­tion for his skill as a writer. Koertge hit a triple. […]



Aliens and Nature

My thanks to Kather­ine House, who sent word that illus­tra­tor John Schoen­herr passed away on April 8th at the age of 74. I have admired his work in two fields for many years—I am sad­dened by the loss of this prodi­gious and pio­neer­ing tal­ent. Born in 1935, Mr. Schoen­herr (he was known as Jack) grew […]



Monday Morning Roundup

Bar­bara O’Con­nor’s book How to Steal a Dog is a real chil­dren’s favorite. This book about a home­less girl’s plan to save her fam­i­ly by steal­ing a dog has, to date, been nom­i­nat­ed in twen­­ty-one states for a chil­dren’s choice award. We’ve recent­ly learned that the book is a win­ner in three states, receiv­ing the […]



Celebrating Earth Day

How did you cel­e­brate? How about your class­room? Your library? Your fam­i­ly? We went to Joyce Sid­man’s pub­li­ca­tion par­ty for Ubiq­ui­tous: Cel­e­brat­ing Nature’s Sur­vivors (Houghton Mif­flin), illus­trat­ed with linoleum block prints by Becky Prange, who lives in Ely, Min­neso­ta, and was trained as a sci­en­tif­ic illus­tra­tor. When Joyce explained how Becky cre­at­ed the amaz­ing time­line […]



Baseball Crazy

Yup. I admit it. I am base­ball crazy. I have been since my mom took me to games at Met­ro­pol­i­tan Sta­di­um in Bloom­ing­ton, Min­neso­ta, to see the new­ly arrived Min­neso­ta Twins. And this year the Twins have out­door base­ball for the first time since 1982. It’s no won­der “base­ball aware­ness” is height­ened at this time […]



Jordan Sonnenblick

Some­times it’s about being behind in my read­ing. I’m final­ly get­ting to the lev­el in my read­ing pile occu­pied by Jor­dan Son­nen­blick­’s Drums, Girls, & Dan­ger­ous Pie. In truth, I’ve moved the book down a few times, not feel­ing strong enough to read a book about leukemia. I’m sure you understand—there are cer­tain times when […]



Best Read-Aloud Picture Books

Read­ing out loud is a low-cost, high-pay­back activ­i­ty. It ben­e­fits both the read­er and the lis­ten­er. Life­long bonds are often formed between peo­ple who engage in this activ­i­ty. Make read­ing out loud a can’t‑miss half hour in your home, class­room, day­care, place of wor­ship, library, or work­place. The results may sur­prise you. “Best Read Aloud […]



Award winners, award criteria

Summer isn’t over yet, the next part … Read­ing Ahead 1 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, […]


Libraries are Essential

This is Nation­al Library Week. It’s a great time to reflect on how much libraries mean to each and every one of us. Pub­lic libraries are the only place where every­one in the U.S. can access infor­ma­tion for free … with help from a knowl­edge­able librar­i­an. School libraries offer a safe and won­drous refuge for many of us.… more


Controlled vocabulary

These two words always make me shud­der. I know there are sound ped­a­gog­i­cal rea­sons for this con­cept, but it arous­es images of fences and cat­tle prods and all mat­ter of uncom­fort­able con­straints. Vocab­u­lary is the last thing we should con­trol. One of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries is walk­ing around the house repeat­ing a word over and over (sor­ry, Mom) because I loved the way it sound­ed.… more


Humorist, screenwriter, biographer, magician, novelist

I’ve just fin­ished read­ing Sid Fleis­chman’s new biog­ra­phy, Sir Char­lie, Chap­lin: the Fun­ni­est Man in the World. It’s due to be pub­lished in June by Green­wil­low Books. I nev­er had the hon­or of meet­ing Mr. Fleis­chman, but through his books, par­tic­u­lar­ly his biogra­phies, I have a sense of the man. His inter­ests were wide, his obser­va­tions keen, his humor at once gen­tle and broad, his sense of the world embraced won­ders that attract­ed read­ers like a mag­net.… more


Monday morning roundup

Hey, Joyce Sid­man, your new book, Ubiq­ui­tous, has done the Most Unusu­al … five starred reviews! In 2009, only 13 books received five starred reviews (if you’re curi­ous, check out the See­ing Stars 2009 doc­u­ment, stored on Radar, the CLN mem­bers’ home page). Book­list, The Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, Pub­lish­ers Week­ly, and School Library Jour­nal all think so high­ly of this book, illus­trat­ed by Beck­ie Prange and pub­lished by Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, that they’ve giv­en Ubiq­ui­tous the cov­et­ed star.… more