Book News

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday, the 18th. However, for me it will be more like a 15-17 hour readathon. I don’t stay up late on Saturday night because it’s very worshipful to fall asleep in church on Sunday morning. So, I’m planning to be reading from 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning until maybe midnight, at which time I will turn into a well-read pumpkin. And the rest of the family is going camping, so I can read to my heart’s content.
UPDATE: I’m about to start my readathon at 8:00 AM, an hour late, since I had trouble sleeping last night. Excitement? At any rate, it’s off to the races with one of my Cybils nominees.

What will I be reading, you ask? Cybils Middle Grade Speculative Fiction, of course. We have over 100 books nominated, and I’ve actually read about 40. So although I’m pleased with how I’m doing so far, I have a lot more books to read.

UPDATE at 9:40 PM (CT): Well, I’ve read most of the day, and I’ve read two books for the Readathon, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani and Grave Images by Jenny Goebel. Both were enjoyable and solid, but not amazing. I also wrote my reviews for these two, and now I’m going to pick another book and head for bed. Happy reading to all who plan to complete the remainder of the readathon. Bedtime for me (with a little more reading)!

Have you ever wondered how the books for the Newbery Award and the Honor books are chosen? Abby the Librarian writes about what the Newbery Committee actually does, and she does so without sharing any “classified” information.

The Texas Book Festival takes place in Austin next weekend, October 24-26. I can’t go, but for those of you who will be there: hug an author for me. Or buy a book. Or something. Enjoy. Some of the authors who will be there and who would be recipients of at least a smile from me: Kathi Appelt, Shannon Hale, Trent Reedy, Chris Barton (Hi, Chris!), Molly Bloom, Jon Meacham, Jon Scieszka, Varian Johnson, Susan Goldman Rubin, Jennifer E. Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Deborah Wiles, Jacqueline Woodson, Annie Barrows, Nikki Loftin, and many more. (I met Chris Barton at KidLitCon last year in Austin.)

Book News

Need suggestions for Cybils nominations? Leila Roy at Bookshelves of Doom has some links for you. You have today and tomorrow to get those favorites nominated.

Purple Horse Press is re-publishing a couple of classic Kate Seredy books that have been out of print for quite a while:
A Tree for Peter is a Christmas story, and you can order now to get it in time for a Christmas read aloud with your family.
The Chestry Oak is a World War II story about Prince Michael of Hungary and his adventures in Nazi-occupied Hungary. This classic story will be available in January.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder, author of over forty fiction books for young people, died on October 8th in San Francisco. Three of Snyder’s books were named Newbery Honor books: The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid and The Witches of Worm. Her penultimate book, William S. and the Great Escape was enjoyed and reviewed here at Semicolon.

” . . . stories are things that have fascinated me since I was a very young child when, I am told, I wept bitterly when my mother’s nightly reading brought us to the end of a given book–Heidi, Peter Pan, whatever. Not because it was a sad ending, but because it was done. The story was over.”

Finalists for the 2014 National Book Award include the following that I plan to add to my TBR list:

Marilynne Robinson’s new book, Lila, which Eldest Daughter has already purchased and offered to loan to me. I’ll be reading it just as soon as I make it through the Cybils season, or maybe as a break from all the wonderful middle grade speculative fiction that is feeding my reading habit these days.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a WWII novel that sounds interesting.

Second Childhood by Fanny Howe, a book of poetry that might actually interest me.

And in the category of Young People’s Literature: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Noggin by John Corey Whaley, The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin, Revolution by Deborah Wiles, and Threatened by Eliot Shrefer. I’ve only read the nonfiction book by Sheinkin, but the others sound worthwhile and fun—again when Cybils is over. I predict Brown Girl Dreaming wins the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Links From My Blog Friends

Melissa Wiley: “Blog first. Blog freehand. Write it down today, while the thought is fresh.” I grok this post from Here in the Bonny Glen.


Cara at Little Did She Know:

“I would like to meet and marry someone lovely, but truly, I am seeking a companion with which to do life, someone to whom I can recount everything I ate during my day, my excitement over an email, and my concerns about road construction. I am looking for someone who will contact me first when you can turn on your phone after the airplane lands.”

So beautiful and vulnerable. I’m praying for Cara and for all those best friends who haven’t found each other yet.


100 Actual Titles of Real Eighteenth Century Novels. I found this list by way of Maureen at By Singing Light. Thanks, Maureen.
The Affecting History Of Two Young Gentlewomen, Who Were Ruined By Their Excessive Attachment To The Amusements Of The Town. To Which Are Added, Many Practical Notes, By Dr. Typo.
Socrates Out of His Senses.
The Three Perils of Man. Or, War, Women, and Witchcraft.

Rod Dreher writes about what he’s been learning lately from Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“All the damned dwell in eternal punishment because they let their passions overrule their reason and were unrepentant. For Dante, all sin results from disordered desire: either loving the wrong things or loving the right things in the wrong way.”

Mr. Dreher is working on a book titled How Dante Can Save Your Life.


Melody at Life in the Mommy Lane has a post about homeschooling, Why Homeschool?. I think she has a great perspective on the education of Christian children.

“I’m not too concerned with whether my son can read or multiply or if he ever goes to college; I am concerned with his soul and his character. Don’t worry, I do want him to learn to read, but it’s a secondary priority to the desire that he passionately and humbly pursue his Creator, that he lead courageously with mercy, defending what is true and just.”

Book Links

Classic Books Become London Benches. I want one of these to go in my front yard.

Be thinking about being a CYBILS judge. The call for judges will open on August 18th and close September 5th. You can ask to be a panelist (read LOTS of books and narrow down nominees to finalist list) or a judge (read five to seven finalists in one category and help choose a winner). Book nominations for Cybils Awards in multiple categories will open October 1, 2014.

Also, do you know about Kidlit Con 2014? It’s conference about blogging and children’s literature to be held in Sacramento, CA, October 10-11. This year’s theme is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?. Mitali Perkins will be the keynote speaker.

The 1963 Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle is being adapted for a new movie. (Madeleine L’Engle said of the 2003 TV movie that it met her expectations. “I expected it to be bad,and it is.”) Disney announced that Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed Frozen, will write the new Wrinkle in Time movie.

KidLitCon in Sacramento, California

Oh, I want to go to KidLitCon. What is KidLitCon, you ask?

The 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon, will be held October 10th and 11th at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, CA. KidLitCon is a gathering of people who blog about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers. Attendees share a love of children’s books, as well as a determination to get the right books into young readers’ hands. People attend KidLitCon to talk about issues like the publisher/blogger relationship, the benefits and pitfalls of writing critical reviews, and overcoming blogger burnout. People also attend KidLitCon for the chance to spend time face to face with kindred spirits, other adults who care passionately for children’s and YA literature.

This year’s theme for KidLitCon is: Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?

Last year the conference was held in Austin, TX, just up the road, so to speak. And I got to go for the very first time. But it’s not looking as if plane tickets to California are in the budget this year. We’ll see. Anyway, for those of you are nearby, or for those of you who can afford to fly across country, do consider KidLitCon. I can promise you a great group of people to hang out with and some great discussions of children’s literature and all semi-related topics.

And Mitali Perkins is going to be the keynote speaker!

Shannon Hale is expected to participate in the conference via Skype!

Charlotte Taylor of Charlotte’s Library is the program coordinator! (And she’s accepting proposals for presentations and panels now through the first of August.)

Leila Roy (Bookshelves of Doom) is planning to go.

Melissa (Book Nut) hopes to see us there.

Sarah Stevenson and Tanita Davis (Finding Wonderland) and Jen Robinson are helping to organize KidLitCon 2014, so I’m guessing they will be there.

It already sounds great. So, does anyone want to let me hitch a ride in their suitcase as you’re passing through Houston?

Quoting . . .

Will Duquette at Patheos: “Facebook is a good servant but a poor master. I’ve got to learn to keep it in its place.”

From “I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; to suffer. I signify all three.”
~Ulysses S. Grant (General and U.S.President), from a note written a few days before his death.

From Fanny Harville’s Homeschool Academy: “At a certain age, sometimes early, sometimes late, children make up their minds about their parents. They decide, not always justly, the kind of people their mothers and fathers are, and the judgment can be a stern one.” Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart.
(I rather agree. I think I decided a long time ago what kind of people my parents were, not a stern judgment, but a judgment nevertheless. I wonder what my children have decided about me, but I don’t suppose I’ll ever really know.)

Soldier finds lifeline in letter exchange with Vermont author. Soldier and author Trent Reedy (Words in the Dust) in Afghanistan, after reading Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terebithia: “I needed that reminder that there was still hope and still beauty in the world. At that time in my life there was none. There was nothing except guns and fear. I was really not at all sure that I was ever going to get out of that place. This book gave me a little bit of beauty at that time, and I needed it. Not the way I need a new app for my iPad. I needed it to keep my soul alive.”
Yep, I, too, need certain books to keep my soul alive.

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.” –Thomas Sowell

“Based upon what is going on in the Ukraine/Crimea, Texas should be able to vote and then secede from the U.S. However, we may have to endure some harsh words from Secretary Kerry and President Obama.” ~a friend on Facebook.
I don’t know where he got the idea, maybe from his own brain, but although I don’t advocate secession, the logic seems to me to be about right.

November 29th–A Very Good Day

Three wonderful authors, for whose work I am very thankful, were born on this date. Any of their books would make lovely Christmas presents.

1. C.S. Lewis
Lewis is the best writer and the most profound thinker of the three, the one whose work will stand the test of time. I predict that Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and Till We Have Faces, in particular, will be read and appreciated a hundred years from now. Because he died fifty years ago on November 22, 1963, he has been remembered with many, many articles and blog posts this month. Here are links to just a few from this year and from other years.
50 Years Ago Today, RIP Jack
Jared at Thinklings: Remembering Jack (2005)
Lars Walker at Brandywine Books: The Feast of St. Jack and The Great Man’s Headgear
Hope at Worthwhile Books reviews Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in Lewis’s space trilogy.
Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles writes about her appreciation for the works of C.S. Lewis.
Jollyblogger reviews Lewis’s The Great Divorce.

2. Madeleine L’Engle
Ms. L’Engle is the most likely of the three to have her work become dated. However, the science fiction quartet that begins with A Wrinkle in Time may very well last because it deals with themes that transcend time and localized concerns. And I still like The Love Letters the best of all her books, a wonderful book on the meaning of marriage and of maturity.
Madeleine L’Engle favorites.
In which I invite Madeleine L’Engle to tea in June, 2006, before her death last year.
A Madeleine L’Engle Annotated bibliography.
Semicolon Review of The Small Rain and A Severed Wasp by Madeleine L’Engle.
Semicolon Review of Camilla by Madeleine L’Engle.
My Madeleine L’Engle project, which has languished this year, but I hope to get back to it in 2009.
Mindy Withrow writes about A Circle of Quiet.
Remembering Madeleine: Obituaries and Remembrances from September, 2007.

3. Louisa May Alcott.
I love reading about Ms. Alcott’s girls and boys even though many people are too jaded and feminist to enjoy books that celebrate the joys of domesticity and home education.
Circle of Quiet quotes An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott on the wearing of blue gloves.
Carrie reviews Little Women, after three attempts to get though it.
Claire, The Captive Reader re-reads my favorite Louisa May Alcott novel, Eight Cousins.
Claire, The Captive Reader revisits Rose in Bloom, the sequel to Eight Cousins.
Sam at Book Chase reviews Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen.
Joyfuly Retired sponsored an “All Things Alcott” Challenge in 2010 where you can find links to many posts about Louisa May and her family and her novels.

November 29, 2007: To This Great Stage of Fools.

KidLitCon: What There Was and What I Learned

KidLitCon in Austin was smaller than it has been in the past, but since it was my first time to be able to come, I didn’t really notice until it was called to my attention. It was also a great weekend for connections and friendships, old, new, and renewed.

At first, since I believe most bloggers are introverts at heart, we all did the slow, careful dance of introvert intersection: the one where you carefully introduce yourself, see if the other person has any idea who you are or even wants to know, talk about the weather and the setting, and then slowly but surely circle around to the real reason you’re there, blogging and reading. Well, ALL is a slight exaggeration. Not all bloggers are introverts, and Pam from Mother Reader and Melissa the BookNut both rushed up and gave me a big hug and made me (and everyone else) feel so at home that I didn’t want to leave on Sunday morning. Thank God for extroverts.

Thank Him for the rest of us, too. I had wonderful, thoughtful conversations with Jennifer of 5 Minutes for Books who was so kind to provide my transportation from Houston to Austin and share her hotel room with me and share her love of books and kids and matching books with kids. (And she told me something about pictures that I didn’t know. I tried it on this post, and it works!) Then there were all of the other kidlit bloggers, who may or may not be extroverts or introverts, who did all the planning and the talking and the presenting and the socializing and the questioning. Thanks, everybody. (If you didn’t get to come, I’m sorry. You missed out.)

What I Learned at KidLitCon 2013 in Austin, TX:

51YjXKZS+mL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_1. Cynthia Leitich Smith (Cynsations) reads 300 blogs a day! She’s also Native American, or part native Americand (although, side note, I’ve never understood how any of us can really be “part” some ethnic or racial group), and she’s a really, really good and engaging speaker. She also has a picture book that I want to read called Jingle Dancer.

2. Author Chris Barton (Bartography) is a real person and a really nice person, and his next book is going to be about the world of video gaming for outsiders to that world who want to get in, maybe, a little bit. Sounds cool.

3. Jen Robinson (Jen Robinson’s Book Page) and Sarah Stevenson (Finding Wonderland) are good at analyzing burnout and providing some possible solutions, and Jen gave me a great idea for responding to blog posts that I like when I don’t have time to comment. She tweets a link to stuff she likes. Simple, but I hadn’t really thought about it. I’m going to do that.

4. Author Molly Blaisdell (Seize the Day) is a delightful and inspirational person, and I want to read her (adult?) book, Plumb Crazy, when it comes out in May, 2014.

5. Molly also taught us the Japanese word “otaku”, which is sort of a fan club or a group of influential geeks in any area of interest who wield influence in that subculture.

6. If I take notes on the back of a piece of paper, and I don’t remember what the paper was, I willnot have the notes to refer to when I write this post.

7. Katy Manck (BooksYALove) knows about lots of stuff, and she says I should be tagging my posts. I sort of, kind of, thought so, but she assures me that I should and could.

8. Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) are NOT the same person in disguise, but they are both authorities on fantasy and science fiction, and we can all agree that fantasy fiction about albino animals and mutant tennis rackets is not going to make the bestseller list or the awards lists anytime soon. Not to mention picture books with crayon scribbled illustrations. Maybe you had to have been there.

9. Leila Roy (Bookshelves of Doom) is not the same person as author Lena Roy. Embarrassment. Don’t ask. But Leila is a lovely blogger, and she and her fellow panelists (Jen Bigheart, Lee Wind, Sheila Ruth) gave me a lot to think about as they discussed the future of kidlit blogging. Suffice it to say that despite changes and evolutions, there is a future as long as we bloggers are committed to helping children and parents and others find books, and it looks good.

10. Camille (Book Moot) is as wonderful an advocate for books in person as she is on her blog. And she leads a book club for older adults at her church, and they read Wolf Hall over the summer, then Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt this fall. Now that’s a contrast. I didn’t make it through Wolf Hall—too much of a challenge for me. Camille says the key is to listen to it on audiobook. Then you can tell who’s who because they use different voices for the different characters.

I learned a lot more from and about a lot more people, but I was told that what happens at KidLitCon stays at KidLitCon. So, except for the few tidbits of tantalizing information I have already shared here, you’ll just have to read about the experiences of everyone else—and come next year to KidLitCon, place and date TBA. But I think it’s going to be in California. (And if I didn’t link to you, I’m sorry, and I probably will soon in another post. Or I’ll tweet your post or something. But this one is getting too long, and I have to go to bed.)

Sunday Salon: Links and Thinks

What does the fox say? Thanks, Bill. I got my horse/fox laugh for the day.

I love this poem by one of my favorite bloggers: On the porch with Liza.

It’s amazing to me how hung up and mixed up we can be about skin color and personal appearance, and it’s not just black and white. Watch this video at Mitali Perkins’ blog, Fire Escape, called Rise, Dark Girls. Discuss.

Danielle by filmmaker Anthony Cerniello. Another video worth watching. My girls responded to the aging process with “yuck” and “eewwww”. Clearly we have issues to address as far as “ageism” and the graceful response to aging that I want my family to have.

One of my family members has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so this new sitcom starring Michael J. Fox is of especial interest to me. What do you think? Can he pull it off? Will it be funny?