Saturday, May 31, 2008

July/August 08 stars

The following books will receive starred reviews in the July/August issue of the Horn Book Magazine:

Minders of Make-Believe (Houghton) by Leonard Marcus

Little Brother (Tor) by Cory Doctorow

Well Witched (HarperCollins) by Frances Hardinge

Would You (Lamb/Random) by Marthe Jocelyn

Skim (Groundwood) written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Way Up and Over Everything (Houghton) written by Alice McGill, illustrated by Jude Daly

Duel!: Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words (Walker) written by Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrated by Larry Day

No Choirboy (Holt) by Susan Kuklin

Lady Liberty: A Biography (Candlewick) written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares

It ain't all Demi

Claire looks at Buddhism and Hinduism in her ongoing series of booklists on world religions.

A semi-related question: people who went to college a generation after I did swear that Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is the greatest book they ever read. Is it hard?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The People Have Spoken

. . . and we have changed the order of the Narnia books on the Horn Book website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chronologist or Publicationist?

We got an email this morning objecting to the way we sequence the Narnia books on our website. Is there any consensus in re whether the books should be read in the order they were published, or in the order that the events chronicled take place? Was Lewis just being nice when he told a young fan that, yes, it made more sense to read The Magician's Nephew before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Was HarperCollins messing with a good thing when they re-ordered the books per Douglas Gresham's instructions? I'm no Lewis scholar but sense there is a seething hotbed of fan rage beneath these questions. Small stakes always make for the most drama!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Does J. K. Rowling get less respect than Philip Pullman because she's a she?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kids and the Kindle

I don't see it. While I'm having a fine enough time with the Kindle myself, I think its lack of a backlight and color, rudimentary display of pictures, and plethora of steps and button-pushing will cause most anyone under twenty-five to dismiss it as being for The Olds (and the really Olds, like me, who love the way you can create a large-type edition at the push of two buttons). But things don't look good for the long-term prospects of the device.

But take a look at this planned successor to the OLPC XO-1, the one-laptop-per-child machine. That's promising--and on the cheap, too. And has anyone read Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age? Its heroine has the the ebook machine of my dreams.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tips for Teens

I'm really loving Cory Doctorow's Little Brother (Tor), which Jonathan Hunt is reviewing for the July Horn Book. It's rare--always has been--to find YA realistic fiction that engages the political dimension, especially one so enthusiastic about disturbing the status quo. And it does so contagiously--I totally want to go out and hack something now.

And now, I can! Doctorow has compiled some how-to's for such plot points from his book as encrypting Gmail, starting a flash mob, blocking an RFID chip, and getting over a barbed-wire fence. Also included: "What to do when the police stop you."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teaching Little Fingers to Play

Despite my memories of the very tense Sr. Irene Marie (who, probably to everyone's lasting relief, "jumped the wall," as we used to call leaving the convent in the 1960s), I'm immensely enjoying Tricia Tunstall's Note by Note: A Celebration of the Piano Lesson (S&S). Noting that "there are very few occasions when a child spends an extended period alone with an unrelated adult," Tunstall's observations flicker between her own childhood piano lessons and those she now gives as an adult. There are plenty of parallels for those of us who go mano a mano with child readers, so check it out.

And, fellow survivors--what can you still play? I still have "Lightly Row," "Spinning Wheel" and "The Juggler" in my fingers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Five Cents a Dance

Well, it's not like we wouldn't do this if we thought we could get away with it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Be funny for money

Britain's children's laureate Michael Rosen announces a new award, the Roald Dahl Prize, for funny children's books.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mind Games

Gawker has a story up about games the D.C. Metro has dreamed up to entertain commuters and/or distract them from suicidal thoughts. My longstanding subway game is less complicated: I pretend I'm an extra in a movie scene, and I have to pick out the one other person on the platform or in the car or who is the star of the film, and decide what the movie is about. It's quite diverting.

I also have a new game inspired by my allergic reaction to the title of Jerry Spinelli's latest book, Smiles to Go. It got me wondering why children's book titles seem to tolerate more sugar than do books for adults, and that got me thinking about what adult books with children's-book titles would be like. For example, Tuck Everlasting is surely a Jan Karon novel, last in a series, about the picturesque town of Tuck, itself tucked away in the timeless foothills of the Piedmont. And The Chocolate War is by John Le Carre and involves Colombian narco-terrorism. Charlotte's Web? Linda Fairstein thriller about an internet-adept serial killer in stilettos. If you're as easily amused as I, add yours in the comments.

Craigslist or Freaky Friday?

Missed Connections: leaving Stony Brook station around 6:00 PM yesterday. Me, tall middle-aged man in a bowtie listening to iPod. You, medium-height young woman reading the Horn Book.

Any authors out there ever similarly catch a reader unawares?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


It's not just George.

Opera Chic led me to Gramophone's (my second-favorite magazine in the world) plan to sell CDs and downloads on their site. Gramophone is primarily in the business of reviewing classical music CDs; if they (to employ the British usage!) are also selling them, it raises the question of editorial independence--presumably, a glowing review in the magazine could lead someone to buy the CD under review, which Gramophone will also sell to you for its own profit. See the problem?

I understand the temptation, though--we could probably pick up some change if our online reviews linked to, say, Amazon, but the perception that we were trying to profit from two contradictory impulses wouldn't be worth it. Plus, I really wouldn't want to piss off the Children's Book Shop's Terri Schmitz. (Neither would you.) The fact that the Horn Book, like all the review journals, solicits ads from publishers is already tricky enough.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New and new

The new Notes from the Horn Book should be in your inbox.

And Claire's latest list--Summer Reading--is up on our site. I think I should confess that I am hooked on Beach Blondes, wherein Summer has three hot dudes vying for her attention and a possible fourth who may be her long lost big brother. For me, it's the kind of book that goes great with a sandwich but is completely stultifying if I'm not simultaneously chewing.

More overheard passersby

On my way to the subway this morning, I pass a man and a woman walking, smiling, hand in hand. Man to woman: "I just think you're playing with fire, this close to the wedding."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Reading disobedience

If you are attending the Massachusetts Library Association conference in Falmouth this Thursday, come hear Simmons College library school professor Maggie Bush and me talk about the intersection of parents, children and libraries in the question of equal access to library materials.

Let's say Janie wants to read the Harry Potter books. Let's say Janie's parents think the books are Satanic how-to manuals. Whose interests should the library serve? The standard professional answer is that if Janie's parents wish to restrict her reading they should accompany her to the library and put the kibosh on her reading or checking out any material they don't want her to have. But should we encourage them to do so? What about our obligation to provide Janie with the information and reading materials of her choice? How can we best help Janie exercise her right to read what she wants? That's what we will be talking about.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Expensively back from Chicago

Pay very, very close attention to your dates when you get a paperless ticket, he says $350.00 dollars later. I mistakenly booked myself to return from Chicago TODAY instead of YESTERDAY. Apparently you can't fly standby when it's the day before, either. But I had to get back to you. (Now that Cyndi Lauper/Celine Dion song is going to be in my head all day. Is that all right?)

Mordicai Gerstein delivered a fine Sutherland Lecture, which will see its way into the Horn Book early next year. I believe it is the first time we had to eject a drunk from the event--Chicago had some kind of celebration going on, and a couple of revelers found their way into the library. But at least they went quietly. Otherwise, I got to spend time with my old CPL friend Ellen and college friend Ruth, who, God bless her, helped me find some shoes I can wear to Richard's son's wedding in June. Hammer toes are hard to fit. But lest I be accused of stealth marketing again, I won't tell you where I bought them.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Holding Out for a Hero?

Claire's got a whole bunch of them for you.

And speaking of which, was that show (Heroes) canceled or what?

Join the Cool Kids!

We're on Facebook now. Really, I have no idea what this means. But come play with us!