I am officially entering the blogosphere today with this blog, Sagging Bookshelves. With the help of an awesome JMU student who goes by “J,” I think I can manage the behind-the-scenes work skillfully enough to make the blog worthwhile. I have a lot to say about children’s and YA books and I hope you find what I share useful and helpful. My plan is to blog on Wednesdays and Sundays and talk about new books, author appearances, children’s literature conferences, and trends in the field. In short, everything about children’s books that I can think of!
Today is a great day to begin because I just came from a talk Lois Lowry did here in Charlottesville at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Kathy Erskine, noted author in her own right, interviewed Lois Lowry to a packed audience at the Culbreth Theater at UVA this afternoon. Because Kathy is an author herself the questions were insightful and fun. One of the fun facts was that Lois Lowry was a contestant on Jeopardy (ages ago she says) and remains a fan of the show. Kathy then did a Jeopardy of her own by holding up three different items and asking the audience to name which book it represented. The first was a green notebook and my young friend, Cecily Wilson, identified it as coming from Anastasia Krupnik. What can I say, she comes from a family of teachers and readers. Go, Cecily!!! 🙂 The next was a necklace with the Star of David which was readily identified as from Number the Stars. One of my favorite pieces of children’s literature ever. The last was an apple and someone answered that correctly by saying it came from The Giver. Lowry was so articulate (no surprise there!) and interesting. The event was a huge success and I was particularly proud of Charlottesville for turning out to support both children’s literature and the Festival of the Book.
BEST BETS FOR THE CLASSROOM
I will be posting all of my Best Bets for the Classroom from years past as well as the most current one. I was moved that so many people came to my sessions at VSRA to hear the list and by all the emails I get requesting it. How cool is that? I will get those up on Wednesday.
I will try to keep my enthusiasm down to slightly under unbridled, OK? I want to mention a novel from 2013 that I just loved and know you will too. It is called Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell and her editor gave me an early copy last year and I absolutely loved it. I have talked about it everywhere and named it as the best read aloud of the year on my Best Bets for 2013 titles. I ran into a teacher friend, Bob Wilson, today and he said he loved it and is reading it to his 4th graders and they’re hooked. It also ended up on the Capitol Choices list which is always a good sign. Rooftoppers is like a cross between Roald Dahl and Mary Poppins. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? It’s the story of Sophie who, as a baby, is found floating in a cello case after ship disaster. She is taken in by Charles, a wonderfully absentminded professor, and the two of them become two peas in a pod. Sophie remains convinced that her mother is still alive and when social services decides to remove her from the home they head to Paris in search of her mother. There she meets Matteo, a boy who lives on the rooftops of Paris, a magical place if ever there was one. Sophie, Charles, and Matteo join forces to find her mother in the City of Light and the adventure is a treat to read. Phillip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass, said this is “the work of a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and a wild imagination.” He hit the nail on the head. Read this one – you’ll be glad you did.
A must read picture book is Sparky! by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans. It is hilarious. A little girl desperately wants a pet but Mom will not budge on this. Finally she says that if she can find a pet that does not need to be fed or walked she can have it. The next thing you know, a sloth arrives in a box. And, best of all, Mom can’t say no! The sloth, however, does not really fit her conception of a pet given that a sloth is, well, slothful. This funny story will tickle the funny bones of kids who know what “pet” means and know what “sloth” means.
Some other sloth books include A Little Book of Sloth (Cooke, 2013), Lost Sloth (Siebold, 2013), and from the wonderful Eric Carle, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth (2002).
Stay tuned for Wednesday’s installment….
lastly, check out this awesome site!