Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Let it never be said that fantastic female illustrators are a new phenomenon. Margaret Bloy Graham’s attention to detail and delightful characters back in the day resulted in this lovely tale about a filthy animal. The illustrations themselves are a perfect marriage for the story that Zion writes. The book isn’t making any intentional social commentary, but I did love the variety of places Harry got into. He is everywhere. Construction zones, a railroad, a coal shoot. It is nice to see jobs in a children’s book that aren’t all posh upper middle class desk jobs, especially when I look at other books coming out of this time period. (Harriet the Spy, Abel’s Island) Zion is wise in using a subject matter that will not date itself either, for animals are always a good place for characters and inspiration. Although I already stated, children do not necessarily learn moral lessons from picture books, but parents themselves may applaud the virtues of keeping clean.

On Serious Literature by Ursula LeGuin

"Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it."
— Ruth Franklin (Slate, 8 May 2007)

Something woke her in the night. Was it steps she heard, coming up the stairs — somebody in wet training shoes, climbing the stairs very slowly... but who? And why wet shoes? It hadn't rained. There, again, the heavy, soggy sound. But it hadn't rained for weeks, it was only sultry, the air close, with a cloying hint of mildew or rot, sweet rot, like very old finiocchiona, or perhaps liverwurst gone green. There, again — the slow, squelching, sucking steps, and the foul smell was stronger. Something was climbing her stairs, coming closer to her door. As she heard the click of heel bones that had broken through rotting flesh, she knew what it was. But it was dead, dead! God damn that Chabon, dragging it out of the grave where she and the other serious writers had buried it to save serious literature from its polluting touch, the horror of its blank, pustular face, the lifeless, meaningless glare of its decaying eyes! What did the fool think he was doing? Had he paid no attention at all to the endless rituals of the serious writers and their serious critics — the formal expulsion ceremonies, the repeated anathemata, the stakes driven over and over through the heart, the vitriolic sneers, the endless, solemn dances on the grave? Did he not want to preserve the virginity of Yaddo? Had he not even understand the importance of the distinction between sci fi and counterfactual fiction? Could he not see that Cormac McCarthy — although everything in his book (except the wonderfully blatant use of an egregiously obscure vocabulary) was remarkably similar to a great many earlier works of science fiction about men crossing the country after a holocaust — could never under any circumstances be said to be a sci fi writer, because Cormac McCarthy was a serious writer and so by definition incapable of lowering himself to commit genre? Could it be that that Chabon, just because some mad fools gave him a Pulitzer, had forgotten the sacred value of the word mainstream? No, she would not look at the thing that had squelched its way into her bedroom and stood over her, reeking of rocket fuel and kryptonite, creaking like an old mansion on the moors in a wuthering wind, its brain rotting like a pear from within, dripping little grey cells through its ears. But its call on her attention was, somehow, imperative, and as it stretched out its hand to her she saw on one of the half-putrefied fingers a fiery golden ring. She moaned. How could they have buried it in such a shallow grave and then just walked away, abandoning it? "Dig it deeper, dig it deeper!" she had screamed, but they hadn't listened to her, and now where were they, all the other serious writers and critics, when she needed them? Where was her copy of Ulysses? All she had on her bedside table was a Philip Roth novel she had been using to prop up the reading lamp. She pulled the slender volume free and raised it up between her and the ghastly golem — but it was not enough. Not even Roth could save her. The monster laid its squamous hand on her, and the ring branded her like a burning coal. Genre breathed its corpse-breath in her face, and she was lost. She was defiled. She might as well be dead. She would never, ever get invited to write for Granta now.

Coming Soon: 6/29 - 7/5

Clique Summer Collection #4: Kristen by Lisi Harrison
Kristen sets sail on the Love Boat... With the rest of the Pretty Committee scattered across the globe, Kristen is stuck in summer school at OCD, making good on her scholarship commitments. No sleepover horse camp, no Hawaiian spa, no Spanish vacation, not even a trip to Orlando. But when Kristen scores a job looking after hang-ten hottie Dune Baxter's eight-year-old sister, Ripple, Westchester suddenly doesn't seem so bad. It looks like Kristin is about to ride the wave of first love. . . .

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again. All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me. Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison
Time to gird the loins and pucker up. Blimey O'Reilly's trousers! Three maybe-boyfriends is a lot for any girl to handle—red-bottomed or not. What with Robbie the Sex God back from Kiwi-a-gogo land wanting to "get coffee" and whatsit, Masimo the Luuurve God saying things like "Ciao, Georgia, see you later" (the good see-you-later or the bad see-you-later??), and her mate Dave the Laugh snogging her in a pond, it's enough to make any girl mad. Good thing she has the ace gang to keep her sane. Ish. But now that she has tearfully eschewed Robbie the Sex God with a firm hand, Georgia is left with two potential snoggees to choose from, and it's high time she left the cakeshop of love for good. This time with a gorgey Italian cakey. Or a nip-libbling Dave the Tart. But certainly not both. Maybe.

Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes

Grimes is a talented storyteller, using poems rather than prose to tell her stories, and it works. Her verse flows freely with grace and beauty, not hindered by rhyme or haiku. The line breaks at times felt a little forced, as Grimes tried to stress a point, which worked well throughout most of the story. She speaks with a powerful voice to reveal the heart and strength of both of the boys, along with the growth and hope they achieve. This book gave me the shivers as it flowed quickly through my hands. Given its religious content, I am glad to see that Grimes did not shy away from that aspect in Sam’s story, embracing the cultural as well as religious aspects within the intertwining stories. It made, what could have been a simple story into a deep, emotional, and powerfully relevant story for many youth today.

Illustrator of the Week

Ruth Sanderson has illustrated over 70 books including some of the most beloved childrens tales like Sleeping Beauty, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Cinderella. Sanderson studied art at Paier School of Art in Hampden, CT and graduated in 1974 and has been illustrating ever since. She had won various awards such including the National Science Teachers Award for Five Nests, Young Hoosier Award for The Enchanted Wood, Irma S. Black Award for The Enchanted Wood, and Texas Bluebonnet Award for The Golden Mare, The Firebird, and the Magic Ring.

Sanderson grew up in Monson, Massachusetts, a place of great creative inspiration for both her and her brother and sister. She found the woods of New England to be an enchanting place and it was made evident when she illustrate The Enchanted Wood, a self-proclaimed tribute to her childhood. Sanderson painted her first oil painting at the age of 13, and her parents realized very quickly that she had a natural artistic ability. They nurtured this ability through painting lessons. For the first few years in and out of college, she did a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but always knew she wanted to work on children's books. Her first real children's book was Heidi, and she decided that since her deadline was a little longer than working on textbooks and advertisements, she would paint it in oils. As her illustrating progressed, Sanderson even had a chance to write & illustrate her own book, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, the first of many original works and retellings. Since 1999 she has been painting the occasional personal painting, mostly on themes of nature.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Dahl has an interesting way of using fantasy. Instead of creating mythical worlds separate from any known reality, Dahl chooses to expound upon the world we are in. He demonstrates the fantastic possibilities, which gives Dahl’s work a surrealistic quality that can be both fascinating and disturbing. But more than the world Dahl creates is the language he uses. He is fond of nonsense words as in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory where he uses words like snozwanger, vermicious knids, gobstopper, etc. In The BFG, Dahl uses this same gimmick. It is interesting that in a book written for ages 7-10, where they are still working on their grammar and spelling skills, Dahl often misspells words, uses nonsense words, and twists phrases. This not only makes the book humorous for young readers but also allows them to fix and replace the phrases with correct ones in their head. One of the many teaching gimmicks that Dahl uses. Another gimmick is that in the guise of a fantasy Dahl can talk about many topics in a roundabout way such as prejudice, kindness, respect for life, and even politics.

Forgotten Author of the Week

I stumbled across Dan Elish one day as a teenager on a quest for a good book to read. I ran across The Worldwide Dessert Contest as was completely enchanted. A little bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with a dash of Homer Price's donut maker, this novel pays homage to the longstanding rapport between children and sweets. John Apple longs to win the Worldwide Dessert Contest, but all his delicious desserts have a penchant for changing into something else at the last minute. The way he overcomes this difficulty and takes first place involves a search for the greatest chef in the world, the defeat of the thieving title-holder of the contest and a run-in with a judge who has, thanks to John, a caramel apple bonded to his cheek from their last encounter. Elish writes with a sure hand of this sugary world, his tongue squarely in the area of his sweet tooth. For his ability to praise desserts in an endlessly original fashion, he deserves a blue ribbon.

Dan Elish is the author of the novel Nine Wives (St. Martins Press, 2005) and The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld, published in April 2008. Dan is also the author of Born Too Short: Confessions of an 8th Grade Basket Case, which was picked as a Book for the Teenage 2003 by the New York Public Library and won a 2004 International Reading Association Students' Choice Award. He has also written several other novels for young adults including, The Worldwide Dessert Contest, Jason and the Baseball Bear, and The Great Squirrel Uprising, all edited by Richard Jackson. Currently, he is working on a musical, 13, with Tony Award winner, Jason Robert Brown, that was produced at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in the winter of 2007 and is currently slated to come to New York in 2008. In his career, Dan has also written non-fiction books for young adults, scripts for kids' TV shows (in particular Cyberchase (PBS)), music and lyrics for six musicals, funny corporate videos, and played piano for various Off-Broadway productions. He has received fellowships and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and is a member of the Dramatist Guild. Dan lives in New York City with his wife and young daughter and son.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

When "The Snowy Day" first came out, it was considered groundbreaking. Unprecedented. Here, at last, was a picture book in which the protagonist is black. It's not an overtly political book, mind you. Just a nice story about a kid in the city playing in the snow. Having heard about this story for a long time, I decided now was the moment to see how well this book has stood up over time. Ezra Jack Keats has long passed from idle picture book author to a somewhat god-like figure of the children's book world, so does this early work stand out even today? If it was introduced for the first time now, would it be considered as good as it is? Yes and no. The book is both a fabulous creation, and a very simple, very normal, tale that everyone on one level or another is familiar with.
In this book, Peter wakes up to discover that snow has covered the city in the night. Delighted, he pulls on his bright red (and now world known) snowsuit and plunges into a day of exploring and playing. He makes fun tracks, and hits snow off the branches of trees. He constructs a smiling snowman and slides down steep mountains of snow. At the end of the day his mother gets him out of his wet clothes and gives him a nice hot bath. The next morning the snow is still there, and an ecstatic Peter calls up a friend to do the whole day over again.
When I was a child I loved (and still do) stories that took place in the big cities. Keats never draws an inordinate amount of attention to Peter's surroundings. So while you won't see skyscrapers or taxi cabs, there's a distinctly urban feel to the lay of the land. The text is nice and easy for the youngsters to understand. As for the cut-outs, they're a delight to look at. Picture books featuring cut-outs may be remembered best as belonging to such artists as Eric Carle or Leo Lionni, but I consider Mr. Keats to be the granddaddy of the art form. Aside from the beauty of the landscaping in this pictures, I loved the papers used in the book. The section in which Peter sits on the snow, a snowball embedded on his chest, the black sky is a-swirl in greens, blues, and browns. When Peter slides down a snow covered embankment, the sky is then a delightful twisty series of white smoke-like curlicues. And Peter's home itself is eloquently rendered. From the wrought iron bed frame to the multicolored wallpaper and tiles that enhance the setting, the book is the best possible combination of elegance and realism.
If it came out today, "Snowy Day" wouldn't garner an overly enthusiastic response from publishers and critics. Which isn't to say that it's unworthy of the praise already received. As I've tried to show, the book is a wonderful amalgamation of text, pattern, and emotion. One of the finest books written for children, and a great evocative story.

Tasha Tudor, beloved children's author and illustrator dies at 92

By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer June 20, 2008

Tasha Tudor, a children's book illustrator and author whose delicate and dreamy artwork was featured in about 80 books, including a 1944 edition of "Mother Goose" that was so successful it enabled her to buy a farm and create a lifestyle rooted in the early 19th century, has died. She was 92.Tudor died Wednesday of complications related to old age at her home in Marlboro, Vt., her family announced.Long admired for their charm, her books were filled with sentimental yet realistic illustrations of quaint New England settings, intricate floral borders and often-barefoot children whose clothes reflected the 1830s, her favorite time period.After publishing her first book, "Pumpkin Moonshine" in 1938, Tudor illustrated a number of classics, including 1962 editions of "The Secret Garden" and "The Night Before Christmas." Her final book, "Corgiville Christmas," published in 2003, reflected her passion for the Welsh corgi dogs she surrounded herself with and also featured in the book that was her favorite -- "Corgiville Fair" (1971).Twice, she was a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal, in 1945 for her artwork in "Mother Goose" and in 1957 for "1 is One," her book of verse.With the royalties from "Mother Goose," Tudor purchased a rundown house from the 1790s in New Hampshire that had no electricity or running water. On 450 acres, she raised four children, who sometimes posed for illustrations in period garb. Her chosen lifestyle came from "nostalgia for a day and time that was more peaceful and slow," Tudor told the Chicago Tribune in 1991. When she went to town, her children "were very careful to walk a good 10 or 12 feet behind me so that they wouldn't be associated with . . . a rather different-looking woman."Later, she figured she must have done something right when three of her children adopted her lifestyle as adults.She credited the commercialism of her art to the need to earn a living after divorcing her husband, Thomas L. McCready, whom she married in 1938. An author and suburbanite, he was not cut out for such a rural existence."If I had married a man who could have supported me I would have ended up making paper dolls and gardening. But the wolf at the door is very good for people," Tudor said in the Tribune.The nearly 40 books she illustrated for others often featured popular fairy tales, nursery rhymes, prayers and Scripture. Her artwork also appeared in books written by her former husband and in others by a daughter, Efner.Reviewers often praised the 44 books Tudor wrote and illustrated for evoking the beauty and ideals of an era long past. Often working in watercolor and pen and ink, she had a style that critics called peaceful, that showed an appreciation for family life, animals and nature. Painting at her kitchen table, she wore handmade, ankle-length dresses that were fashionable in the early 1800s. In 1971, she moved to Vermont and lived in a replica of a house from the mid-1700s that was built with hand tools by her son Seth, who lived next door. "I ask people how old they think it is, and they always guess 150 years, if not more," Tudor said in the Boston Globe in 1994. "It's lots of fun to fool them."She grew most of what she ate, kept a menagerie of animals, and spun and wove flax into fabrics. Her main concessions to modern convenience were a telephone and a car.In the early 1990s, Tudor announced that she was quitting public appearances, partly because it was hard to find someone who could watch the house and knew how to milk a goat.Unconventionality was a hallmark of her life. She was born Starling Burgess on Aug. 28, 1915, in Boston, the daughter of yacht designer William Starling Burgess and portrait painter Rosamond Tudor. Her father called her Natasha, after a favorite literary heroine. She later legally changed her name to Tasha Tudor.After her parents divorced when she was 9, her mother opened an art studio in New York but didn't want to raise her daughter there. Tudor was sent to Redding, Conn., to live with close friends, a rambunctious family that emphasized imaginative play, Tudor later recalled.Her formal education ended in eighth grade, but she had already begun selling small drawings to classmates for 25 cents apiece.Over the years, Tudor created hundreds of Christmas cards for the Irene Dash Greeting Card Co. that became collectibles. Several of her books showcased her gardening, crafts-making and cooking. Her work has been shown in museums, including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Va.After the first of three coffee table books about her -- "The Private Life of Tasha Tudor" -- was published in 1992, interest in her books increased. People realized her art was not fiction but came from her life."I believe in moderation in all things," Tudor once said, "except gardening and antique collecting."Tudor's survivors include her four children, Bethany Wheelock, Seth Tudor, Thomas Strong and Efner Strong Tudor Holmes; and her grandchildren.,0,1086704.story

Coming Soon: 6/21 - 6/28

The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
It’s time for Sophie to learn the second elemental magic: Fire Magic. And there’s only one man who can teach it to her: Flamel’s old student, the Comte de Saint-Germain—alchemist, magician, and rock star. Josh and Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope—if they don’t turn on each other first.

Warriors: Cats of the Clans by Erin Hunter, illus. by Wayne McLoughlin
Hear the stories of the great warriors as they've never been told before! Cats of the Clans is chock-full of visual treats and captivating details, including full-color illustrations and in-depth biographies of important cats—from fierce Clan leaders to wise medicine cats to the most mischievous kits, as well as loners, rogues, and kittypets.

Gone by Michael Grant
"If Stephen King had written LORD OF THE FLIES, it might have been a little like this...Excited to see where [Grant] will take [the reader] with this new series." (VOYA)

Talent by Zoey Dean
When thirteen-year-old Mac Armstrong witnesses newcomer Emily Mungler’s stellar lying-to-gain-entry performance during a movie premiere party at the Roosevelt in Hollywood, it dawns on her that her own talent is to discover it in others! So Mac and her BFFs set out to prove it by turning fresh-from- Cedartown-Iowa Emily into a box office bombshell. They’ll make deals, throw parties, crush on boys, all on the way to discovering that no matter how famous or important you are, friendship always comes first. Well, almost always.

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" by Suzanne Weyn
The year is 1880, and Bertie, having just arrived in New York with her family, is grateful to be given work as a seamstress in the home of textile tycoon J. P. Wellington. When the Wellington family fortune is threatened, Bertie's father boasts that Bertie will save the business, that she is so skillful she can "practically spin straw into gold." Amazingly, in the course of one night, Bertie creates exquisite evening gowns -- with the help of Ray Stalls, a man from her tenement who uses an old spinning wheel to create dresses that are woven with crimson thread and look as though they are spun with real gold. Indebted to Ray, Bertie asks how she can repay him. When Ray asks for her firstborn child, Bertie agrees, never dreaming that he is serious....

Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Ever since Julie Marchen helped defeat the fairytale world of the Wild, life’s been pretty much back to normal. That is, as normal as life can be for a girl whose mom is Rapunzel. Yes, that Rapunzel. Then the Wild mysteriously releases Zel’s prince (Julie’s dad!)—a rescue-minded hero who crashes full-speed ahead into the 21st century! (YOU try teaching a 500-year-old prince to use a seatbelt.) Julie’s over the moon, but when a wicked Fairy Godmother kidnaps Sleeping Beauty and reawakens the Wild, Julie and her dad set off on an action-packed adventure to save the distressed damsel… and the world. If they can’t, they’ll spend eternity in a fairytale.

Feed by M.T. Anderson

The language of this book spews like a rapper and slams into you as if you've taken a left turn into a mosh pit, but the profound messages are clearly cautionary. It is a cautionary tale of the future that will make you wonder if our obsession with the internet, will lead to something like what Anderson imagines. Often as writers we are cautioned not to use coloquilisms, especially ones that no one would understand, but Anderson seems to ignore this completely and uses words such as null, unit, decision flux, upcar, meg, etc. Although this narrative style could distance some readers, it also sets a tone for the story in an original way. The story itself reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, another cautionary tale of rampant consumerism. The most interesting part of the book for me was how Anderson chose to end the story. As is the case with much science fiction, the author is dealing with ethical problems facing humanity and technology, and he chooses to end the book with the caution but no hope in sight. Did the characters learn anything from this or is it enough that the readers did? Although Anderson is not the first nor will he be the last person to create an open ended story, I did feel that the story lost some of its power by not show how the events in the book changed the characters’ lives.

Illustrator of the Week

Jon J Muth

"Michael," said Karl. "There's a really big bear in the backyard. " This is how three children meet Stillwater, a giant panda who moves into the neighborhood and tells amazing tales. To Addy he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration. With graceful art and simple stories that are filled with love and enlightenment, Jon Muth - and Stillwater the bear - present three ancient Zen tales that are sure to strike a chord in everyone they touch.

Jon J Muth's highly acclaimed picture books are beloved around the world and have been translated into more than ten languages. He was born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He drew and drew and drew and drew, and painted. His mother was an art teacher and she took him to museums all over the US. He had his first one-man exhibit of paintings and drawings at the invitation of Wilmington College when he was eighteen.He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England and he was an English major at SUNY, New Paltz. But most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with two fine artists. His comic books have been published by DC/Vertigo, Eclipse Books, NBM, Donald M. Grant Publishers, Inc. and in Japan, Kodansha.For BBC educational television, in 1991, Muth created a short graphic story for which he also produced the music and narrated. In comics he has won the Eisner Award for excellence in painting. In 1994 he was commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to paint a portrait of music director, Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Two books about his paintings, Vanitas : Paintings, Drawings and Ideas, 1991, and Koan, 2000, have been published.

"My work in children's books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father," states Muth. "I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one's place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate. In 1995 I created the comic strip IMAGINARY MAGNITUDE for a Japanese magazine and that was where my work began to express the very real delight I find in being a parent."

All of Muth's work has received awards and critical acclaim. Zen Shorts was named a Caldecott Honor Book and spent 41 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The art for his first children's book, Come On, Rain!, written by Karen Hesse, won the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 1999. Gershon's Monster by Eric Kimmel, was an ALA Notable Children¹s book, winner of the Sydney Taylor Award, as well as a National Parenting Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Stone Soup also won a National Parenting Book Award. The Three Questions was a Book Sense book of the Year finalist and a NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Muth also did the illustrations for Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, written by Douglas Wood, and I Will Hold You 'Til You Sleep, by Linda Zuckerman.

Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children, where he spends time "chasing the clouds from his brushes."

Forgotten Author of the Week

Janet Louise Lunn (1928-)

Janet Lunn is one of Canada's most famous children's writer. She moved to Canada to attend Queen's University where she met her husband. In 1968 Lunn published her first book, Double Spell, and then began working as a children's book editor for Clark, Irwin Publishers. Her books have won numerous awards and praise all over the world.

Of all her books, perhaps her best and my favorite is The Root Cellar. The story is about twelve-year-old Rose who is unhappy in her new home, where she'd been sent to live with unknown relatives, she probably would never have fled down the stairs of the ordinary looking root cellar if she had been happy. But if she hadn't, she never would have climbed up into another century, the world of the 1860s, and the chaos of Civil War--
This book fascinated me as a child, and blended together both magic and history and a way that believable and fun. This book is a must for any young adult library and still in print.
Among Lunn's other book is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Amo's Sweater, Shadow in Hawthorne Bay, The Hollow Tree, and many others.
For more information, visit Janet's website where you can find a full bio, online readings, more books, and contact information.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien

One of the great delights of returning, in adulthood, to the literature that enchanted us in childhood is the discovery of the great themes and subtexts to which we were oblivious then but which are so obvious now. Mrs. Frisby is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon. When you are young you are captivated by the animal adventure tale and easy identification with the lowly mice. But read it now and one begins to see the Biblical antecedents of the story, how the rats of NIMH, like Man, are given the gift of knowledge by their creators and how this awakens in them a sense of morality. We recall that the rats have determined to go off and live on their own, but it's all too easy to forget, or never to notice, that the reason for their decision is that they are determined not to live by stealing. Seeing clearly this additional component, that the rats have become moral creatures, makes their struggle even more heroic and adds a depth to the story that makes it easy to see why this novel has endured and struck a chord with readers, young and old, and even though young readers may not pick up on everything in the book, it shows that O’Brien chose to make a book with true relevance and meaning for all ages. This is what makes a book a classic.

In the Beginning

The purpose of this blog is simple. To share my thoughts, feelings, reviews, interviews, and information about children and young adult books with anyone who cares to read. This blog will be more about the writing aspect of the books and their content rather than simple reviews.

A little about me. I am a grad student at Hamline Unversity where I am studying Writing for Children & Young Adults. I have a BA in Publishing, and have worked for Candlewick Press as an intern, and am currently doing freelance work while looking for a job in Publishing.

I love to read. The one constant throughout my life has been my absolute obsession with books. I am always in the middle of a book, and it is usually a children's or young adult book. For years I have considered putting reviews as well as any interviews and information I have about books with the world, and now that I am in grad school, and I am forced to do this already, I might as well publish my findings here. I hope that you, the reader, enjoy everything you find here.