Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inside Nan: This Blog is ended. Go in Peace.

I love reading because it is dangerous. The stories shake and dazzle me. The characters relentlessly inspire and change me. The information trips me and sets me flying, drifting, plummeting. The book. That doorway. I never could resist a doorway.
I am going to delete Anokaberry Annotated tomorrow. I'd do it right now but I want to give this notice so if any one has me on a favorites, Blogroll, RSS feed, or bookmarks you can let me go. Thanks for having me there by the way. This is post #967. You can find me at Buttonhole, if you want to keep in touch. Or Facebook. For now anyway. I've loved so many parts of this exercise: the discipline finding and booktalking the books, the illustrating of the posts, the sharing in the community of the Kidlitosphere. It has been exhilarating some of the time. The rest of the time I wondered about my sanity. The internet and all its applications is a tyrant. I am in my essence a monk on the path. It has been a joy to connect. Peace.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Andre Carrilho

Pokemon Adventures, Volume 1

Pokemon Adventures, Volume 1 by Hidenori Kusaka
Anyone familiar with children’s television has probably seen the animated version of Pokemon. This new series from VIZ tells the story from the start, without some of the bad jokes which fill the TV screen. The central character, known simply as Red in this manga version, is out to catch and train Pokemon, the strange wild creatures that exist in the world around him. From childhood, he had befriended one who had saved him from possible death. Now he has begun his personal quest, to become a skilled trainer of these strange creatures. Along the way in this first volume he encounters the friends and enemies who will make the story interesting. In this manga version, both are far more interesting than in the Americanized anime. Team Rocket are villains in the style of something from Tezuka’s work, rather than being comic relief. Pikachu, destined to become his best fighting Pokemon, is portrayed more in the tradition of the untamed creature who might someday be a friend. Even Brock and Misty have actual personalities… Some may question Red’s career choice, but not his dedication.There is cartoony violence in these stories, but no gore. Suitable for all ages.-- Nick Smith

Magic Trixie and the Dragon

Magic Trixie and the Dragon written and illustrated by Jill Thompson
Here's what the author has to say about her character Trixie: "Magic Trixie is a combination of all of my nieces and the children of my friends. She’s an homage to all of the little bits of business or surprising things they have done in my presence filtered into one little girl. I’ve also mined some of my own childhood memories. But she’s a work in progress. I’ll always be adding to her, bit by bit. I’ve given her my curly hair. I have a fondness for wild hair on little girls, mostly because I hated it when I was a girl. I wanted long, straight, blond hair that you could brush and comb...or braid in smooth plaits. My braids always looked like dreadlocks. I was one of the “no more tangles” generation, which did not work for me, I’m sorry to say. She’s also a bit elfish." Book 1 in this series is Magic Trixie followed by Book 2 Magic Trixie Sleeps Over.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TV Turn-Off Week: Tomorrow is Day 1


Puppet by Eva Wiseman
The year is 1882. A young servant girl named Esther disappears from a small Hungarian village. Several Jewish men from the village of Tisza Eszvar face the ‘blood libel’ — the centuries-old calumny that Jews murder Christian children for their blood. A fourteen-year-old Jewish boy named Morris Scharf becomes the star witness of corrupt authorities who coerce him into testifying against his fellow Jews, including his own father, at the trial.

Inside Nan: Today my Dad told me the story about the chickens....

To be fair, I asked him, to tell the story about the chickens. I remembered some about it and used my memory to help him remember. I call my elderly father (he lives in Michigan and will be 85 in June) every two weeks or so. Usually on a Sunday, and we talk until the batteries on my two cordless phones run out. This week I asked him about the chickens. This is what he told me. He and mom saw an ad in the paper that Little Brothers was giving away male chicks and they decided to go ahead take a box of 50 and raise them for chicken dinners. He built a coop on the back of the garage I remember a game we (there were only 3 of us then, my sister Janie, me and a baby boy, Timmy) had of running around and around the garage and climbing the coop and jumping off the roof, there were a couple of neighbor kids involved too - in the jumping off the roof game.... He made a little door into the garage so the chickens could go into a small partitioned area in there with a couple of light bulbs for warmth. He bought some chicken feed and fashioned a trough for the food. He put some water in a couple of bowls. And dumped the box of chicks in there. I asked him if any died. He said he didn't remember. He said he didn't remember to several of my questions. When they got big enough he began to kill them. I remember the foot-long, bloody piece of 2x4 and the hatchet. He just put their necks to the board and chopped off their heads. "They would run around the yard a bit", he said, "without their heads". He had a bucket of hot to boiling water ready, he plunged the body in there and then, holding it by the feet would pluck the feathers. "Took some effort but not too bad". He slit the belly and gutted the bird and then Mom baked it up for dinner.

Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change

Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change by Bonnie Burton
This guide for teenage girls explains why girls can sometimes be mean to each other, what to do if you are a victim of bullying, and the importance of treating other girls with respect.

Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown

Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengar, Jamel Akib (Illustrator)
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Tan, sienna, topaz, or tamarind? Poet Malathi Michelle Iyengar sees a whole spectrum of beautiful shades of brown. The author adds this note: "When I was a little girl in North Carolina, I hated waiting for the school bus. Every day at the bus stop a group of older kids would call me names and make fun of my brown skin, saying brown was a dirty, ugly color. I longed to trade my complexion for peachy-pink. I still remember sitting in the bathtub and hoping that if I just scrubbed hard enough the brown would go away. As I got older I began discovering wonderful stories and poems written by and about proud brown people. When I read their words, I didn't feel ugly or dirty anymore...Today, when I look in the mirror, I feel happy and lucky to see a brown face smiling back at me. Because, from tan to tamarind, brown is a beautiful color..."
My face.
Milk-tea brown.
I am brown. I am beautiful.
Your face.
Sienna brown
or cocoa brown,
café con leche brown or
radiant ocher brown.
Our hands, our fingers.
Cinnamon brown
or rich coffee brown,
sandalwood brown or rosy adobe brown.
Our ankles, our feet.
Nutmeg brown
or mocha brown,
dark chocolate brown
or tawny golden brown.
Our eyes.
Luminous topaz brown
or sweet cappuccino brown,
shiny sepia brown
or twinkling brown.
Our hair.
Spruce brown
or bay brown,
russet brown or
deep tamarind brown.
We are brown. We are beautiful.

A Friend

A Friend written and illustrated by Anette Bley
Examines traits of friends and how their acts make the world a better place in which to live.

Duck! Rabbit!

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tom Lichtenheld
Is it a duck or a rabbit? Depends on how you look at it! Readers will find more than just Amy Krouse Rosenthal's signature humor here, there's also a subtle lesson for kids who don't know when to let go of an argument. A smart, simple story that will make readers of all ages eager to take a side.

Top of the Order

Top of the Order by John Coy
Ten-year-old Jackson lives for baseball, but becomes distracted by the approach of middle school, his mother's latest boyfriend, and the presence of a girl--his good friend's sister--on his team. Read more about John Coy and his books here.


Earthgirl by Jennifer Cowan
Earthgirl follows the eco-evolution of sixteen-year-old Sabine Solomon, who is thrown into the fray one afternoon when she's riding her bike downtown to join her friends, and an idling minivan driver carelessly tosses leftovers from McDonald's out the car window, blindsiding Sabine and leaving her covered in plum sauce. When Sabine tosses the garbage back at the offensive driver, an altercation ensues that is captured on the videophones of her friends. In a technological blink, footage is posted on YouTube, and Sabine finds herself at the center of a heated eco-debate. A crusader is born.

The September Sisters

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor
Abigail Reed and her younger sister, Becky, are always at each other's throats. Their mother calls them the September Sisters, because their birthdays are only a day apart, and pretends that they're best friends. But really, they delight in making each other miserable. Then Becky disappears in the middle of the night, and a torn gold chain with a sapphire heart charm is the only clue to the mystery of her kidnapping.

Same Difference

Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
Feeling left out since her long-time best friend started a serious relationship, sixteen-year-old Emily looks forward to a summer program at the Philadelphia College of Art but is not sure she is up to the challenges to be faced there, including finding herself and learning to balance life and art.

Baseball Great

Baseball Great by Tim Green
All twelve-year-old Josh wants to do is play baseball but when his father, a minor league pitcher, signs him up for a youth championship team, Josh finds himself embroiled in a situation with potentially illegal consequences.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Melonhead by Katy Kelly, Gillian Johnson (Illustrator)
In the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Lucy Rose's friend Adam "Melonhead" Melon, a budding inventor with a knack for getting into trouble, enters a science contest that challenges students to recycle an older invention into a new invention.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior

Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford
Orphaned by a ninja pirate attack off the coast of Japan in 1611, twelve-year-old English lad Jack Fletcher is determined to prove himself, despite the bullying of fellow students, when the legendary sword master who rescued him begins training him as a samurai warrior.

Wild Orchid : A Retelling of the Ballad of Mulan (Once Upon a Time Series)

Wild Orchid : A Retelling of the Ballad of Mulan (Once Upon a Time Series) by Cameron Dokey
The Emperor of China summons a great army, and each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan, who can wield sword and bow and arrow as deftly as an embroidery needle, is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call. Visit the publisher's website to find out about other books in the Once Upon a Time series.

Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up by Marion Roberts
As the hot Australian summer draws to an end, eleven-year-old Sunny, content to be an only child with amicably divorced parents, finds her life getting much too complicated when her mother's boyfriend moves in with his two children, her best friend begins to develop an interest in boys, and she is contacted by her long-estranged grandmother.

The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System

The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System by Jack Prelutsky, Jimmy Pickering (Illustrator)
The nation's first children's poet laureate fills a galaxy with weird, scary planets: his 19 poems describe places and creatures you wouldn't want to visit.

Mighty Casey

Mighty Casey by James Preller, Matthew Cordell (Illustrator)
The Delmar Dogs baseball team is terrible, especially Casey Jenkins, but with a little bit of faith in themselves, they finally manage to win a game.

The Genie Scheme

The Genie Scheme by Kimberly K. Jones
When twelve-year-old Janna, who lives in a small house with her single mother, helps a homeless woman who turns out to be a genie, she discovers how interconnected the world really is.

The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm

The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm by retold by Laura Amy Schlitz illustrated by Max Grafe
A retelling of the Grimm fairy tale in which a despondent soldier makes a pact to do the devil's bidding for seven years in return for as much money and property as he could ever want.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Finder's Magic

A Finder's Magic by Philippa Pearce, Helen Craig (Illustrator)
After a mysterious stranger offers to help Till find his dog, they embark on a magical quest, interviewing various witnesses including a heron, a mole, a riddling cat, and Miss Mousey, whose sketch of a peaceful riverbank offers a vital clue. Read this short essay by Frank Cottrell Boyce in the Guardian about Pearce's final book. He says that this, her final book, is a moving farewell to fiction, family and life.

The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings

The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings by Alan Gratz
Follows the fortunes of a German immigrant family through nine generations, beginning in 1845, as they experience American life and play baseball.

"...He looked for it again now and there it was, all around him. The kind of day where a little dirt on his hands felt good, where the high blue sky was just right for catching fly balls, where grounders always bounced into his outstretched glove. It had been that way all along, but it hadn't belonged to him or to anybody else. It was baseball's day..."/Eighth Inning: The Perfectionist, page 262

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Roar

The Roar by Emma Clayton
In an overpopulated world where all signs of nature have been obliterated and a wall has been erected to keep out plague-ridden animals, twelve-year-old Mika refuses to believe that his twin sister was killed after being abducted, and continues to search for her in spite of the dangers he faces in doing so.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems

The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, Stanley Fellows (Illustrator)
A joyful primer on the pleasures of bird-watching merges haiku, notes for identifying species, and exquisite watercolor illustrations.In spare and graceful words, poet and birder Michael J. Rosen captures the forecasting call of the mysterious cuckoo as well as essential characteristics of more than twenty commonly seen North American birds. This artfully compiled field notebook — enriched by the evocative artwork of watercolorist Stan Fellows — captures the excitement of recognizing a bird, whether a darting kingfi sher, a wandering wild turkey, or a chirpy house sparrow.

A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout

A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka
A collection of lively rhymes and tricky tongue twisters, poems for more than one voice, bilingual poems--from classic Shakespeare and Lear to anonymous rhymes to contemporary riffs on everything under the sun.

The Problem with the Puddles

The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer, Tricia Tusa (Illustrator)
The Puddle parents cannot seem to agree about anything, but when their dogs go missing the whole family embarks on an unlikely quest that eventually answers many unasked questions.

Flight Volume Six

Flight Volume Six by Kazu Kibuishi
Flight is a full-color anthology of short stories by some of the hottest creators in the field. The artists range from top animators working at Pixar and other major studios, to emerging web cartoonists and established comic book and graphic novel creators. Each contributor's story in the anthology represents a labor of love, and that fact shines through in the overall quality of the anthology. It's no wonder Flight has ascended so rapidly, developing such a rabid following.

The Shadow Door: Elsewhere Chronicles Book 1

The Shadow Door: Elsewhere Chronicles Book 1 by Nykko and The Shadow Spies: Elsewhere Chronicles Book 2 by Nykko
Four friends discover a movie projector that opens a passageway into a world threatened by creatures of shadow, where their only weapon is light.

Inside Nan: Honestly, we are talking about more than just a book here: Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl by Susan Campbell
Journalist Campbell's funny, sweet, and yet biting memoir recounts growing up in a fundamentalist church and "dating Jesus." She offers a look into a world that many will find alien; her explanatory footnotes will help readers who may not have grown up in the Bible belt or be as scripturally literate. Campbell writes of trying to be good and gain heaven, but even as a young girl she revels in small acts of subversiveness and continually asks questions that are never answered satisfactorily. She feels about her childhood and youth that, "like a sword, fundamentalism was plunged into [my body] and then it got broken off in [me] so that [it] will never heal." Campbell knows her subject well and hopes through this book to keep a dialog open about such issues as the role of women in the church and in the world and to refocus attention upon the teachings of Christ-unfiltered. She notes that Christ's teachings are truly egalitarian in their attitude and "downright revolutionary."-Nancy Richie/Library Journal

Read Susan Campbell's blog here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Inside Nan: Baseball and Life

This is the first blog I followed. 37 Days. That's not how long I followed it, that's the blog title. I still follow it, sometimes it is so real I can't, but mostly I do. I'm talking about it today because I am thinking about prison and crime and mistakes. Back in 2007 Patti Digh of 37 Days wrote this post: Explore Your Prison Cell. Not long after I saw the Point of View (POV) film "What I Want My Words to Do to You" by Eve Ensler. The film goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, consisting of 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Here's that photo of Rush City Correctional Facility again -- notice the baseball diamonds on the grounds. Now I'll try to explain about this post -- Baseball and Life. Yesterday was opening day for the 2009 Baseball Season. My home town team the Minnesota Twins lost 6-1 to the Seattle Mariners. Today in my request stack at the library was James Preller's new book "Mighty Casey". James can tell you about baseball. He's a little league coach. And James can tell you about Life. The capital letter Life. Read Six Innings. Anyway, here's the last line in the dedication for Mighty Casey. "Bases loaded, two outs, I'm rootin' for ya." Thanks JP. Play Ball.

Inside Nan: Volunteer Tuesday

This is the prison in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It is the only maximum security prison that I ever visited. The young man I visited there for the first time three years ago has recently been transferred here to Rush City Correctional Facility. I'm not on the Visitor List right now for my friend. It is a limited list and it is full now with family and young friends so I am content to write to him. He is the same age almost exactly of one of my sons. The college junior who turns 21 in a few weeks. My friend has been in prison since he was 17 when he and a buddy murdered the buddy's mom and dad. He is serving a life sentence for first degree, premeditated murder. He is the reason I have a presence on Facebook. He is the reason for a lot of the things I do and for many of the things I think about. Today I spent time with Travis, my Tuesday reading buddy. We read about the death of Bartholomew Badger and Dominic's thoughts as he leaned on the shovel after digging the grave. "The moment he stopped being busy, he felt his heart quake. He had to cry. Life was suddenly too sad. And yet it was beautiful. The beauty was dimmed when the sadness welled up. And the beauty would be there again when the sadness went. So the beauty and the sadness belonged together somehow, though they were not the same at all..."