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Saturday, February 28, 2009


It has come to my attention that there is a restaurant in Paris by the name of, giggle, snicker, Cul de Poule.

In other words: Chicken Butt!

Although - as you can see in the Moulin Rouge photo, above - I have already taken the chicken hat to France, it is clear j'ai besoin de revenir pour encore des photos tres fou. Maintenant!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln...

Scene: Doctor's Office

Nurse: Has your child been exposed to strep recently?

Me: I dunno.

My kid: No. Except for soandso, who sits next to me, and soandso, who sits across from me.

But other than THAT, nobody.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And the winner is: WING!

It is worth noting that those of us on the 2009 Cybils fiction picture book committee had our work cut out for us. The finalists included several stand-outs. We even discussed choosing “Honor” books – that’s how much we appreciated the books on our short list.

The book that we ultimately chose, though, was in a class by itself. Bob Graham’s HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN WING is accurately described by its publisher, Candlewick, as a “spare urban fable.” However, this deceptively simple book achieves so much more than telling the story of a boy who notices a wounded bird. By alternating single and double-page spreads with clusters of small panels, Graham creates almost a film strip of time passing. This technique lends both intimacy and urgency to the boy and his family’s seemingly (but hopefully not!) ill-fated mission. The text is commendably lean, supporting the book’s strong visual narrative. Graham’s signature style of almost cartoony watercolor-and-ink illustration is surprisingly well-suited for a tale that might otherwise have felt overly heavy and dark. We also admired WING for being a picture book set in a modern city, and for being an accessible story that offers connections for picture book readers of all ages. For all of these reasons, WING distinguishes itself as the rare picture book that speaks quietly, yet has volumes to say about courage, kindness, and hope.

Most importantly, we selected HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN WING because it was the book with “something extra” – the book that truly took our breath away. It is the kind of book you want to share with a child, tell all your friends about, and blog about… which, after all, is what the Cybils are all about.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two Scoops of News!

So much to report. Like what? Well...

At long last, CHICKEN BUTT! is coming! It should be in stores April 1, 2009 (no fooling!) and it is available now for pre-order. It is perfect for kids ages two "and up" (yes, college students are fans, too), perfect for parents, librarians and teachers, perfect for gift-giving (birthdays, and - of course - Father's Day), perfect for YOU. So get yer heinie in gear and get one while you can (get it? CAN? that's a butt joke, too).

And with a new book out, I'm going to be making the rounds. I'll be posting my schedule shortly, but Spring is definitely booking up, so if you want me at your school / library / book fair / agricultural fair (okay, I haven't done one of those yet, but it would be fun), let me know. So far, I'm headed South and North... with many stops in between. And schools should know that although my new book features That Word, it is in fact a fabulous book for classrooms. I'm doing some really fun activities with kids, making books together, riffing on rhyme, and getting them excited about reading and writing.

And right behind (yes, I can't stop with the butt jokes) this book is a totally different one. My first Young Adult novel, FOLLOWING THE NAIL is coming out from Knopf in Spring 2010, but sneak peeks will be available as early as fall 2009! I am SO excited about this book and I can't wait to share it. FOLLOWING THE NAIL is the story of fifteen year old Veronica, a shy, sarcastic, vintage clothing obsessed girl whose summer job at a secondhand clothing store lands her in the middle of a drama involving the older girls who rule the sales floor and the strange, secretive boy who mops the floor. No chickens in this book, which is strictly for older kids and teens. But perhaps a couple of other animals lurking here and there...

There's more, too... more books, a new web design, and lots more to unveil. Check back frequently and you'll see for yourself.

Cheers! Or, should I say, bottoms up!
(see, you knew I'd sneak one more butt joke in)


Friday, February 06, 2009

10 pm is the new 7 pm

You know I love the ABCs but right now they'll have to take a back seat to my newest obsession: ABDC.

No, not ACDC - though I love them, too - or CBGB's - RIP - but ABDC, otherwise known as America's Best Dance Crew. Its full name is actually Randy Jackson's America's Best Dance Crew, but that's a mouthful and frankly, not being much of an AI fan, I'm not tuning in because of RJ's seal of approval.

If you've watched, you know what I'm talking about. I like my reality shows to have raw talent and ambition as the entree course (see: Project Runway), not the after-dinner mint (see: any show that cribs from the Fear Factor or Survivor play book). This show delivers. Each week, the crews are assigned songs and challenges and they have to invent choreography that is fresh, tight, innovative and capable of showcasing their unique talents and personalities. Yes, I know I'm gushing, but the show is that good, possibly because it is at once ernest and self-mockingly cheesy (the same can be said for the crews themselves and the panel of judges, which includes former *NSYNC'er JC Chasez and "Lil' Mama").

My favorite crew, hands down, is Quest Crew. It's a team of about ten guys, all of whom seem to be asian-american (perhaps with a little latin derivation mixed in? hard to tell because the move so fast). They are funny, sharp and hugely talented. But all the other crews are so good, it is downright sad to see any crew leave. This week's loser crew was Ringmasters, who are a bunch of self-taught guys from Brooklyn that were doing these wacky (whacky?) bone-crush moves that often defied gravity and were almost impossible to understand. The entire set - judges included - seemed sad to send them home. If it were up to me, I'd just let them stay, stop competing and dance every week. But alas, reality TV isn't like that.

I was trying to explain all this to my kids this morning. They were understandably peeved at not getting to stay up to watch the show I've told them all about. What I don't understand is: why won't MTV run this show earlier? It is family entertainment at its best.

Yes, I know they rebroadcast it all the time (including at 11 after the 10 pm new episode each Thurs, which leads to me - oy! - watching my favorite bits again). And yes, I know this is why god invented TiVO and full streaming episodes on the internet. But somehow, those solutions don't quite explain why MTV decided ABDC was a good 10 pm show instead of a good 7 or 8 pm show (okay, they DO show ABDC Thursdays at 8 pm, but it is the previous week's show, not the new one).

It is a brave new media world, but I for one would love to see a return to the breathtaking reveal of a Sunday night Peanuts special or Wonderful World of Disney premiere of my youth. Interestingly, we now only see this in the world of kids books... The third Diary of a Wimpy Kid got a single day laydown (this critic, who actually counts the book's publisher as a client, couldn't snag an advance copy), just like Harry and Edward. Seeing as actual television broadcasting's vital signs are in critical condition, it might not be such a crazy idea.

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