Friday, February 5, 2016

Little House on the Prairie Coming to a Theater Near You

Paramount Pictures will shoot a Little House on the Prairie movie. The story for this project comes from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved novels and the popular television adaptation
Little House (GalleyCat)
According to Variety, Sean Durkin has signed on as the director and Abi Morgan will serve as the screenwriter. At this point in time, no casting announcements have been made.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Little House aired on NBC from 1974 to 1983 and starred Michael Landon as the patriarch of a pioneer family living in the 1880s in the American Midwest.

The show was known for its wholesome values and was a loose adaptation of the classic series of children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, who based it on her childhood.”

Be sure to take a peek at the Little House on the Prairie TV Show Introduction Video below!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

#1000BlackGirlBooks Wants to Connect Black Girls with Relatble Books

Eleven-year-old Marley Dias told her mom she was "sick of reading books about white boys and dogs."

The sixth grader from New Jersey told The Huffington Post that she loves to read, but that she has a hard time relating to the characters in the required books she reads in school because she has nothing in common with them. 

I was frustrated... in fifth grade where I wasn't reading [books with] a character that I could connect with.

Her mom, Janice Dias, asked Marley what she planned on doing about it. At first, Marley said that she decided to create a book guide which would feature black characters, but she ultimately decided to take her idea a step further. So she initiated #1000BlackGirlBooks in November, a book drive where she collected books in which black girls were the main characters -- not the sidekicks or background characters.
Marley, who works with her mom's organization GrassROOTS Community Foundation, plans to collect 1000 books by Feb. 1, to donate to children. On Feb. 11, she'll travel to her mom's hometown, St. Mary, Jamaica, to host a book festival and give the books to schools and libraries. Marley said she hopes this book drive helps more young black girls read about characters they can relate to. So far, she's collected nearly 500 books.

I know there's a lot of black girl books out there, I just haven't read them.  So if we started this I would find them and other people would be able to read them, as well.

I write everyday," she said, in reference to her blog. Marley said she wants to become a magazine editor when she grows up and she hopes to maybe even write a book of her own for young girls like her one day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Calling All Favorite Teachers!

Here is a lovely way to salute favorite teachers brought to you by Barnes and Noble.  Middle school and high school students can nominate their teacher in the My Favorite Teacher Contest at Barnes & Noble.
myfavoriteKids are encouraged to compose essays, poems or thank-you letters describing their appreciation and admiration for a teacher. Follow this link for the entry form and official rules.

Participating schools must collect the essays and turn them in at their local Barnes & Noble store by March 1, 2016. Students who would like to nominate a teacher from a school that is not participating can turn in their entries directly to the store or mail in entries.

The contest includes for a variety of prizes for local and regional winners. Check it out:
Each regional winner will receive a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card and a NOOK by Samsung.   From the pool of regional winners, Barnes & Noble will name one teacher the Barnes & Noble National Teacher of the Year. The winning teacher will receive $5,000 and the title of “Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher of the Year.” The national winner will be recognized at a special community celebration at their local Barnes & Noble store, and the winning teacher’s school will receive $5,000. The student who writes the national winning essay, poem or thank-you letter will win a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card and a NOOK by Samsung device.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Terrfific Kids' Books of 2015

How does one pick "the best?"  Very difficult, as these decisions are so subjective.  I have chosen three books, one picture book, one middle grade novel, and one young adult novel.

Let us begin with the picture book, The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt.  The book is the sequel to the mega-hit, The Day the Crayons Quit by the same author.  This new book features crayons that have been misplaced, or had a rough time, or wanting adventure.  The book's interest lies in the emotion and personalities of the individual crayons, not to mention colorful!

For a middle grade book, I have selected The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.  A look at friendship, betrayal,  loss of life and, in some ways, innocence, this is a powerful story for middle graders to digest.  However, the thought and care put into this book redeems any notion that it might be too old for such callow readers.  I thoroughly recommend it for readers of this age!

The young adult novel that I have chosen is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  There are several important books about mental illness, always an important topic for this age group, but this one is pivotal, indeed.  Seniors Theodore Finch and Violet Markey run into each other on their school bell tower, both thinking about jumping.  They travel through Indiana looking for a geography project and fall in love.  While doing so, they deal with darkness, happiness, and possibilities of life.

All three books, so different in all ways but one, and that is excellence.  These authors deal with topics kids will love, or be intrigued by, or will fear.  But through it all, they will learn to deal with certain aspects of life and the challenges it is sure to provide.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have the Happiest of Holidays!

I wish the happiest of holidays to my readers the world over.  May the New Year be filled with peace and good will to all.  May this orb become free of war, and strife, and inhumanity toward our fellow humans.

May our children and grandchildren live on a planet whose inhabitants respect our environment, the dignity of animals, and the sanctity of the human spirit. 

This I wish with all my heart for each of us, as there is no other way forward.  Perhaps we can  lift our hearts together and hope for the goodness that is present in all of us to prevail.

The very best to you from my home to yours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Swiss Christmas

Please allow me the indulgence of posting an entry I wrote several years ago.  The vignette below is so special to me, and I hope you will find it to be so as well. 

pictures of switzerland christmasIt was Christmas week, and we were in Switzerland.  My family and I, along with our good friends, Ed and Michele Elliott, and a frozen turkey, traveled there for the holidays.  As we were living in London at the time, we crossed the English Channel on a car ferry and were soon on the way to the Swiss countryside.

Our three sons were not so sure about the plan.  “Were they getting as many gifts?  What kind of Christmas dinner would we have?  What about a tree?”   I was having many of the same thoughts but kept them to myself. 

As we drove higher into the mountains to reach the chalet lent by a friend, small delicate snowflakes danced around our two cars.  Shadows deepened, and lights began to glow in houses nestled here and there in the valleys below.  Magical.  A very good sign.  With darkness settling around the mountains, we arrived at our chalet.  Maybe this adventure would be fine.  These words became my mantra.
The next morning, we four parents and five sons explored the tiny village.  And there, propped in front of a miniature store, was our Christmas tree!  It was short, a little crooked, a bit spare of needles and one of the last ones left.  We thought it was beautiful.  The nine of us trudged along with our treasured tree and promptly set about decorating it.  We popped popcorn and made white garlands with the help of needle and thread.  We did the same with cranberries and wound scarlet sashes round the boughs.

 The boys found pine cones of different sizes and shapes in a sheltered stand of pines near our chalet.  These they tucked between branches of our now festive offering to Christmas, and an aroma of pine drifted through the room.  James, the youngest boy, fashioned a star out of paper and placed it on top of the tree. 

That evening, Christmas Eve, the nine of us again walked to the village.  Our feet made satisfying crunching sounds through the crusty snow.  The village church was our destination. Candles shone in all the windows, casting shimmering shadows on the icy whiteness.  It seemed the whole town was attending the midnight service.  We were greeted with smiles and greetings of “Willkommen.”  We were welcomed by everyone. 

 Christmas carols, all in German, but so familiar to us in every other way, filled the small church with happiness and joy.  The pastor’s message, all in German, made us feel the meaning of Christmas, as if we understood every word.

Next morning, as the boys opened their allotted two gifts apiece, no one complained.  Michele and I baked our now thawed turkey and completed all the usual trimmings, minus a pumpkin pie.  No one complained.  When it was time for all to help clean up from our meal, no one complained.  Again, magical.

As I reflect on that Swiss Christmas of more than a decade ago, what made it so extraordinary?  Was it Switzerland itself?  Was it being with family and wonderful friends?  Was it fulfilled expectations?
Yes, of course, it was all of that.  And, yet, it was more.  It was that intangible thing called hope.  It was recognition that we are more than ourselves alone.  It was the knowledge that we need one another and are here to help each other and to be selfless when called upon to be so.  It was the magic of Christmas that happened to be in a country called Switzerland.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Winnie-the-Pooh Sequel Coming!

A new Winnie the Pooh sequel us coming!  The book, which is entitled The Best Bear in All the World, will be an anthology of four stories, each by a different author, and illustrated in the style of original Pooh illustrator, E.H. Shepard.

Paul Bright, Jeanne Willis, Kate Saunders, and Brian Sibley, all of whom have authored several children's books, while the illustrations will be done by Mark Burgess, who also worked on the first authorized Winnie the Pooh sequel Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. The new book will be released in October of 2016 to mark the 90th anniversary of the release of the first Winnie the Pooh book.

Winnie the Pooh was created by English author A. A. Milne who based the bear on the teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne. Milne wrote two story collections about Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, as well as two poetry collections that include poems about the "bear with very little brain."

Although Milne died in 1956, Pooh and his friends have continued to delight children and adults well into the 21st century, either through the original books, or through numerous adaptations, including the popular Disney movies.

 It has been an absolute pleasure to work with four authors who have such passion and respect for Milne’s writing," said Nicole Pearson, creative director of Egmont Publishing, which will be releasing the anthology. "

Each really understood the wonderful characterization Milne brought to his books, his playwright’s facility with dialogue and his wonderful sense of humor.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Happiest Thanksgiving to you All!

My very warmest wishes to all my blog readers everywhere.  May your holiday be filled with the happiest of times to you and yours.  And I hope this holiday heralds in a peaceful Holiday Season for all of us across the world.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

We are United with Paris

Steven Yeh's photo.
The civilized world is grieving for and with Paris.  I felt that I had to address this staggering event in my blog this week.  One might ask why staggering? After all, it is only one country.  But it is more than that my friends.  Much more.  

What happened in Paris on Friday, November 13 struck a blow at all humanity.  This author is certainly not going to use this blog post as a political forum. 

But what I want to do is to showcase the poignant piece of art that I actually saw on Facebook.  We all know that our Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France in 1868.  I hope you find the relevance of this drawing as touching and freedom driven as I do.  And I hope we can all come together as a human community to put an end to this kind evil. 

Pray for Paris.  Pray for all humanity.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A New Golden Book-Grumpy Cat!

Random House Children’s Books has acquired the rights to the Internet meme Grumpy Cat for a series of three Golden Books. The first title, The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t, is scheduled for publication on July 26, 2016.

“The deal came together so quickly,” says Chris Angelilli, v-p, editor-in-chief, and director of license publishing, who is overseeing the program. “The acquiring editor, Christy Webster, is a huge Grumpy Cat fan. She reached out to Grumpy Cat’s agent, and he said ‘yes’ right away. He didn’t even have to think about it.” The deal was met with enthusiasm throughout the company, he adds, where many employees have Grumpy Cat calendars or captioned cartoons at their desks.

“Christy is such a huge fan and lives and breathes Grumpy Cat, so the story came together naturally,” Angelilli continues. “And the illustrator, Stephanie Laberis, who had been working on some original non-licensed Golden Books for us, accepted the job before she even heard the payment or the deadline. She loves Grumpy Cat.”

The frowning kitty, whose official and fan-generated images on social media are accompanied by captions such as “Good morning... No such thing” and “I purred once… It was awful,” has accrued eight million Facebook followers over the past three years and inspired an array of licensed merchandise ranging from swimsuits to Grumpuccino-brand coffee. Ongoing Grumpy Cat publishing includes titles such as Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book and The Grumpy Guide to Life from Chronicle Books; Dynamite Entertainment’s comics; and coloring, sticker, and paper doll formats from Dover Publications.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Tale of a Transgender Teddy Bear Goes Global with Bloomsbury

When her father Tina came out as trans about three-and-half years ago, Australian author Jessica Walton was inspired to write Introducing Teddy, a new children’s book that tackles the unique challenges faced by transgender people. It’s alreaady received massive amounts of praise.

Page from "Introducing Teddy" by Jessica Walton“When we were growing up Tina was so much fun,” Walton says. “She was such an involved, happy, really down to earth dad.”

The story focuses on the shifting dynamics of Tilly’s relationships as she begins coming out to her pals.

Walton wrote the book for her son Errol, noticing the lack of children’s books that look at transgender issues. Illustrated by Dougal MacPherson, it’s Walton’s first effort, self-published through crowdfunding. (Walton and MacPherson raised $20,000 on Kickstarter.) Following loads of positive press about the story, independent publishing house Bloomsbury will publish the book globally in June 2016.

“What’s really nice with little kids is when you read them a story that reflects your family, you know that they’re able to identify themselves in that story,” says Walton, who was scared of showing Tina the book for the first time. “Tina has been there for me so much while I’ve been writing this book. I was really nervous of showing her the draft of the text the first time because I thought I want to get this right.”

Tina, of course, loved the book.

“I just cried happy tears,” Tina said. “It was wonderful, such a wonderful thing and such a beautiful positive book. It’s a book about difference and about accepting difference and I was so proud of her when I saw it, and it’s illustration is beautiful and the story is really appealing. I think at some point you need to be honest with yourself and acknowledge the things that you hide or you feel shame about and just come out and be who you are and stand up and be proud.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

Non-Threatening Zombies? Yes!

Monsters don’t always have to be scary. In a new children’s book series “Yay, Monsters!” the monsters are simply misunderstood. 

Yay, Zombies!” the first book in the upcoming “Yay, Monsters!” series by author J.R. Simmons and illustrated by J. Brent Hill, is an entertaining story that encourages children to overcome their fears of the unfamiliar and refrain from judging too quickly.

“These zombies love to play, and when they get hungry, don’t run away quite yet,” explains Simmons. “The creatures in 'Yay, Zombies!' aren’t hungry for brains. All they want is grains!”

Illustration from the book "Yay, Zombies!" a book by Ogden-area author J.R. Simmons, illustrated by J. Brent Hill.“After giving an assembly to the youth, I had a signing that night. Many parents asked if I had books available for younger children. I felt bad watching them turn away when I did not,” Simmons said. “I vowed from that day on, I would have books that children of all ages could read and enjoy. ’Yay, Zombies!’ is my first — but definitely not last — children's book.”

“Yay, Zombies!” is a fun book full of beautiful watercolor illustrations and clever rhymes. The zombies are not hungry for brains, but rather grains. Once they have been fed, they become the best of playmates.

“The message of ’Yay, Zombies!’ is that we should not judge people (or monsters) on their outward appearance alone. If we give people a chance, they will usually surprise us,” said Simmons. “’Yay, Zombies!’ is also a way for parents to share their love of monsters with their children in a safe and nonthreatening way.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Teen Read Week (October 18-24) Discuss a Book with Your Teen!

Teen Read Week  is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually in October the same week as Columbus Day. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.

The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has launched its 2015 Teen Read Week website,  This event nationwide is a perfect forum to spotlight teens and the books they can learn from and enjoy as well.

The theme this year is Get Away @ your library and will be celebrated Oct. 18-24, 2015. The theme encourages teens to escape to the library to enjoy novels from genres such as fantasy, adventure, sci-fi, travelogues and many more.

Teen Read Week is an opportunity for libraries to showcase to their communities all of the great literacy related resources and services that are available to teens and their families.

Anyone who joins the free site will have full access to a variety of resources to help them plan their Teen Read Week (TRW) activities.
Resources and incentives include:
  • Forums: Discuss and share TRW related resources and experiences;
  • Grants: Teen Read Week Activity Grant and Teens’ Top Ten Book Giveaway;
  • Planning and publicity tools;
  • Products: Posters, bookmarks, manuals and more;
  • Showcase: Share your planned events;
  • Themed logo (site members only): Downloadable low-resolution theme logo;
  • Webinars (site members only): Free access to a live webinar to help you prepare for TRW, as well as archived webinars.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Raggedy Ann Turns One Hundred Years Old

Who of us does not recall having a Raggedy An or Andy doll as children?  I, for one, do and wish I still had it to this day.
Raggedy Ann Turns 100With her button eyes, triangle nose, candy-striped pantaloons and orange yarn hair, Raggedy Ann is one of the most recognizable dolls around. This famous redhead has gone through a only few updates in her 100 years.

Ann’s 1915 patent shows her with very long thumbs, a teardrop-shaped nose, a puffy dress, and a floral bonnet with her namesake on a ribbon.
While much folklore surrounds her creation, we know that Raggedy Ann’s creator Johnny Gruelle, actually created Raggedy Ann (and later Raggedy Andy) for the pages her of children’s books.

According to family lore, his young daughter, Marcella, stumbled upon a well-worn, faceless rag doll while exploring her grandparents’ attic sometime before 1914. Gruelle and his wife, Myrtle, spruced up the doll for Marcella, giving her facial features and inscribing the message, “I love you,” within the doll’s newly drawn heart.

Set in his daughter Marcella’s nursery, Gruelle’s first book, The Raggedy Ann Stories, introduced the doll who embarked on a series of adventures: raiding the pantry, rescuing the family dog, and teaching tolerance to the other dolls in the nursery. But tragically, their daughter died of an illness at age thirteen.  

Raggedy Ann’s popularity soared when the P.F. Volland Co. published Raggedy Ann Stories in 1918. The author patented a doll version of Raggedy Ann and a doll based on Raggedy Andy, who made his first book appearance in 1920.

So much happiness has happened around the Raggedy dolls and books.  It is quite a legacy, and long may is continue, so that other kids will have the opportunity to heap lots of love on their personal Raggedy dolls.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

And on the Topic of Banned Books...

A young adult novel that has come under fire in its author's native country will be making its way to the U.S. Ted Dawe's Into the River, which earlier this month became the first book in more than two decades to be banned in New Zealand, has been acquired by Jason Pinter at Polis Books.

The award-winning coming-of-age novel, published by Random House New Zealand in 2013, has become a target of the conservative group Family First. According to CNN, a representative from Family First said the book's "strong offensive language" and "strong sexual descriptions" drove the organization's complaint. The group said it also took issue with the fact that book "covers serious things like pedophilia and sexual abuse."
Family First asked that the country's Office of Film and Literature Classification—which generally deals with ratings on things like movies and video games—look into the title, which won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Award in 2013. The result has led to the book being pulled from retailers, schools and libraries.

Author, Ted Dawe
Targeted at boys 15 and older, the novel follows a Maori boy whose life is upended after he wins a scholarship to an elite prep school in Auckland. Te Arepa Santos's struggles to fit in, as he deals with issues of assimilation, are at the heart of the novel. This process, Pinter explained, forces the character to "turn his back on the culture and history that helped shape him and his ancestors."

The banning of Into the River has stirred a number of authors to speak out, with many criticizing the government for what they perceive as a blatant act of censorship. Among those taking up the issue are Man Booker winner and The Luminaries author Eleanor Catton, who said of the ban: 

appalling and shameful...says nothing about the pretext and everything about those who are enforcing the ban.

Pinter acquired North American rights to Into the River, as well as Dawe's earlier novel Thunder Road (the sequel to Into the River), directly from Random House New Zealand. Polis is aiming to publish Into the River, in both hardcover and e-book, in June 2016.