Links, I have some!

Oh, my poor little neglected blog…. at the very least, I can manage some random links!

Some things just shouldn’t be board books. Like Shakespeare and Jane Austen.

Wait another eight or nine years at least, and then give them some of these thirty-nine graphic novels kids can’t resist instead. (Awesome round-up, SLJ! Yay!) Or go check out why we still love picture books.

And also, Adam Rex on An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks it Must be Easy, Writing Kid’s Books.

Also-also, Shaun Tan answering interview questions with wordless cartoons is pretty awesome, too.

So much Discworld news!

Okay, so I’m a few days behind the curve, but that does not diminish my excitement!

Discworld Pratchett Gives Thumbs Up to Discworld Cop Show! From March 11th here:

The main focus of the series will be set in the bustling, highly mercantile, largely untrustworthy and always vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork and will follow the day-to-day activities of the men, women, trolls, dwarves, vampires and several other species who daily pound its ancient cobbles (and, of course, Igor in the forensics department). Terry commonly refers to the City Watch police force series as “the jewels in the Discworld Crown.” These richly developed and highly compelling characters will feature in a ‘crime of the week’ episodic storyline. As each weekly adventure unfolds, viewers will be taken on a ride through Pratchett’s genius imagination, with the author overseeing the creation of the series, where wild and exciting encounters with werewolves, dragons, dwarfs, trolls and golems and the classic heroes and villains, are an everyday occurrence… and where many of these characters even make outstanding crime fighters!

ALSO, scroll down to March 1st for:

There has been one hell of a lot of rumours regarding a Good Omens adaptation over the past few weeks, mostly started by me at the SFX Weekender. So, ladies and gentleman, I can hereby exclusively reveal that – YES – Neil and myself have shaken hands and received groats from Rod Brown sealing a TV deal. An official announcement from Prime Focus will follow in a couple of weeks time. However, I can reveal right now that Terry Jones (yes, the Python) and Gavin Scott (not a Python, but he gets it) are already on the job. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s looking good.

AND, there’s a new Discworld book coming out this fall!

The new Discworld novel from the master sees Sam Vimes investigating a countryhouse murder, and is Terry Pratchett’s fiftieth book.

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.

But not quite all…

Now I need to finish rereading the first three Tiffany Aching books so I can get to I Shall Wear Midnight

On a snowy solstice night

I have been a remiss and distracted book blogger as of late. Work and home life have not left a great deal of time for just about anything else. Also, I am teaching myself to knit. It’s remarkably hard to read and knit at the same time, I’m just sayin’.

But tonight, it is clear and cold and crisp, and all silver in the moonlight. Very shortly, I’ll be bundling up in jacket and mitts and toque and scarf to go stand outside and watch for the lunar eclipse.

I’m sure there’s something new and shiny and thematic that would be a great related title, but the book I found myself reaching for (metaphorically speaking) is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.

I know from life at the library that it’s a favourite with teachers, but for now, ignore curriculumn tie-ins, ignore related activities, and just sit down with your favourite person who likes (longer than toddler attention span) picture books read to them, and soak in the quiet beauty.

And it’s not even Banned Book or Freedom to Read Week yet…

… which are in October and February, respectively. (ETA: Banned Books Week starts Sept 25, oops…. But Freedom to Read Week is still in February.) This week, I have been talking to people upset about sexual information on our library’s shelves, especially considering its proximity to two high schools.

Somebody’s always trying to ban something. But it’s not always quite as sickening as calling the rape scenes in Speak pornographic. Laurie Halse Anderson speaks eloquently on the matter. More here from the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom blog (You know what also made me feel marginally better? A line by line grammar critique of the letter from the individual who wishes to ban the book. Contains strong language, as the situation warrants.)

Also on the slate of books-some-people-don’t-think-teens-should-read, Sherman Alexie’s Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. I KNOW. GAH. An editorial also has links to past articles, to give you a pretty good picture of the whole sordid affair. For some perspective on the awesomeness of the book and Sherman Alexie, From Wellpinit to Reardan: Sherman Alexie’s Journey to the National Book Award from the ALAN Review.

Over at Booklist, Pat Scales (also of SLJ’s Scales on Censorship column) takes on the Common Sense Media organization Weighing In: Three Bombs, Two Lips, and a Martini Glass

If you had asked me a year ago what bombs, lips, and martini glasses have in common, I would have answered, “A fraternity party.” Now I have a different answer. It’s called Common Sense Media. This not-for-profit Web-based organization is in the business of using a “rating” system to review all types of media that target children, but their “ratings” of books are especially disingenuous. They claim that they want to keep parents informed. Informed about what? What their children should read or what they shouldn’t read?

And for a total change of pace, you can find improv everywhere, including reenacting Star Wars scenes on a New York subway car.

The Secret of Grim Hill by Linda DeMeulemeester

Time for something on the spooky side of things…

Cat Peters hates her new school. She’s in trouble from the first day at Darkmount High, for everything from not knowing the dress code and wearing the wrong sort of jeans to the total lack of any sports teams for her to join. She desperately wants to go to the private girls’ academy on Grim Hill, Grimoire School where her mom is working as the school secretary, but there’s no way her recently-divorced mom can afford the tuition. So when she hears that the prize for the winning team at the Halloween soccer tournament is a full scholarship, she jumps at the chance. And when she makes the team, she becomes a local celebrity.

However, her next door neighbour Jasper and her little sister Sookie are sure there’s something strange going on at Grimoire, but Cat doesn’t want to listen—not even when bad things start happening to anything that would stop the soccer team from practicing. Her teammate Amarjeet has Punjabi school Saturday mornings… until the school burns down. Mia needs to attend rehearsals for her sister’s wedding, until the engagement is called off. Emily spends the weekends with her dad, until he gets transferred out of town. But the only thing that would keep Cat from practice is babysitting Sookie… Cat needs to figure out what forces are at work behind the mysterious school and how it all ties into a diary from seventy years ago, before she loses everything.

This is a great mid to upper elementary series for budding fans of mysterious-type fantasy stories. The build-up is nicely ominous and creepy, and I am such a sucker for folklore elements!

You can read the first chapter on the publisher’s website, and check out the whole series. Other reviews in various places: Wands and Worlds, a blog for fantasy and science fiction for children and teens, the Montreal Review of Books

It’s also been a nominee for various reader’s choice book awards like Red Cedar, Diamond Willow, Hackmatack, and was the winner of the 2008 Silver Birch.

New Things I Want to Read

Lots of good stuff on the horizon…

Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments series will continue with a third book Empire of Ruins, in January 2011. Click for the cover art!

It would not not surprise me to learn that Jill Maclean’s third book, Home Truths, follows The Nine Lives of Travis Keating and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy. I’ll find out once we start reading for next year’s RMBA shortlist, I suspect…

As much as I like Nancy Werlin’s psychological thrillers like The Killer’s Cousin and Rules of Survival, I am thrilled that her latest book, Extraordinary is along the lines of her last book, Impossible, a modern spin on the traditional ballad “Scarborough Fair.”

Yay! New book from Cornelia Funke, Reckless is coming in September: “The story is about Jacob Reckless, who escapes to another world behind a mirror, where witches haunt the forests and fairies and dwarfs roam. It’s also a world locked in a deadly war. Jacob’s secret is safe until one day his younger brother, Will, follows him-with disastrous consequences. The brothers are forced to race against time to find reverse a curse before one of them is lost forever.”

And getting to some of my favourite authors…

Woo-hoo! New Tamora Pierce! A short story collecton this time, Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales.

Also cause for anticipation, new Terry Pratchett in October! I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth Tiffany Aching book.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to hear that there is a new Bordertown anthology coming out! Not convinced? Check out the line-up: “Terri Windling’s groundbreaking urban fantasy shared world is back in an all new Borderlands anthology, WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN, to be edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, featuring new stories from many of the original writers including Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Midori Snyder and Charles de Lint, as well as new work by writers who were inspired by the original series, including Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Link and more.”

Over on the adult fiction side of things, a new Newford collection from urban mystic fantasy master, Charles De Lint, Muse and Reverie.

Mmm. New book anticipation.

The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence

giant slayer cover The last place Laurie Valentine’s father would ever want her visiting was the polio ward. It’s 1955, and he’s part of the team trying to find a vaccine for the epidemic, and because of his fear for her safety, Laurie leads a very sheltered life. Her only real friend is her neighbour Dickie. When she sees the ambulance outside Dickie’s house, she is sure the worst has happened—and it has. Dickie has polio, and her outgoing, rambunctious friend has been confined to an iron lung. Laurie’s father forbids her to go anywhere near the polio ward, but Laurie can’t abandon her best friend. She sneaks away while her father’s at work and goes to visit him. She can’t give him a healthy body back, but what she can do for him is tell stories. Before she knows it, Laurie is making regular visits to Dickie and the other iron lung patients. Because Laurie’s life is only half the book. The story she tells, of Jimmy, a boy wished into being small forever by his selfish father, a swamp witch, a giant and a destiny foretold, will have a profound effect on all the children who hear it. And when Laurie is prevented from finishing the story, her listeners take up the threads themselves, determined to find the best ending they can.

This is a fantastic book to lose yourself in on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Iain Lawrence, you rock my socks! On one level, you’ve got a tale of peril, adventure and fantasy, on the other, you’ve got a complex, nuanced coming of age story. It would also make a great read-aloud, at home or in a classroom. It’s on the shortlist for this year’s Rocky Mountain Book Awards, and the question came up, will it appeal to kids who’ve never heard of polio before? I think it will. It also has adult appeal too–one committee member talked about the memories of his school being closed through most of his grade one year because of polio. Laurie and Jimmy are both strong, appealing protagonists and I think the combination of historical fiction and fantasy will broaden the audience for the book.

Further reading: try Peg Kehret’s autobiography, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, In the Clear by Laurel Anne Carter for a sports story take (quintessentially Canadian–it’s a hockey story!), or a new one from Kathryn Lasky,, Chasing Orion.

There’s an interview with Iain Lawrence at Through a Glass Darkly, and you can also visit his own website and blog.

Reviews in the Globe and Mail, from Book Ends (the Booklist blog), and many, many book blogs: Eva’s Book Addiction, kidsread.com, Buxtolicious Blog O’Books, Kiss the Book, YA Books Central, Lindsey’s Library, Classroom Book of the Week, Book Trends…