Sunday, February 06, 2005

Last Dance On Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone

Last Dance On Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone (Knopf, 2005). It's 1878, and young Eva, 13, has lost Daddy Walter to tetanus and Mama Kate to consumption. All she has left is a name and address that lead her to Holladay Street, a half sister, and a biological mother from a house of ill repute. Desperate and indebted, Eva tries to make due as a dance-hall girl, which is still better than working upstairs. But is this the life Daddy Walter and Mama Kate would've wanted? A tender, thoughtful story of perseverence and loyalty. Highly recommended. Ages 10-up.

My Thoughts

Last Dance On Holladay Street is a tremendously affecting read with a strong moral center, a story about doing what's right and finding resources within yourself. It's about the angels you meet, and how some folks find themselves in surroundings they would've never picked. To those concerned about how the author handled the subject of prostitution, I assure you that it's with a careful hand, sidestepping any elicit-ness in favor of examining the dangers and indignities of such a life. Elisa Carbone's old Denver is vivid and compelling. Last Dance also vaguely reminds me of an excellent book for a slightly younger audience, Dust From Old Bones by Sandra Forrester (Harper, 1999); they're different, but I think Dust readers will grow into Last Dance fans.

Nifty Link

The YA Authors Cafe: interactive chats with the brightest voices for teens. Chat with Lisa Jahn-Clough on Feb. 8 about her first 'tween novel, Country Girl, City Girl (Walter Lorraine Books, 2004) and with YA authors Libba Bray, A.M. Jenkins, Catherine Atkins, and Mary E. Pearson on Feb. 15 about point of view.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee

Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books, 2005). It's 1978, and Indian-born Maya is the only middle schooler with brown skin in her small Manitoba town. A bully taunts her, Maya's ultra-Indian cousin Pinky attracts Maya's boyfriend, and Maya's embarrassing parents want to move to California! Maybe the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh, can make all her wishes come true. But is that what she really wants? Ages 10-up.

My Thoughts

Wonderful debut! I was a kid in the 1970s, just a few years behind Maya, and Banerjee's historical references absolutely boogie! I won't give away too much of this page-turner, but it's a welcome addition to those precious few multicultural titles with humor. Seamless integration of cultural info. Ganesh leads readers in unexpected and enchanting directions. The "exotic"-loving boyfriend is nicely offset by Pinky's enthusiasm for all things American, er, Canadian. Both Indian and universal; who doesn't think their family is weird? Excellent cautionary reference to Nair. When you're ordering your copy of Maya Running, also be sure to pick up The Broken Tusk: Stories of the Hindu God Ganesha (Linnet Books, 1996) by Uma Krishnaswami, which Banerjee references in her acknowledgements.

Nifty Links

Mary E. Pearson: author of A Room On Lorelei Street (Henry Holt, June 2005); Scribbler Of Dreams (Harcourt, 2001); and David V. God (Harcourt, 2000). Visit also Mary E. Pearson's Journal.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Scriptorium, Philip Pulman, Children's Book Press

The Scriptorium offers all kinds of products and things nifty for writers including some worksheets, such as: submission record; character builders (sketch and biography); and world-builder worksheets for fantasy and science fiction.

Articles of note include: "Writing A Picture Story Book" by Gay Ingram.

Features include: Scriptorium Scribbles: "the young writers resource WebZine."

The site also links to "Voluntary Service" by Philip Pulman from The Guardian (2002). It's an article about art, society, and the relationship and responsibilities of the artist to each.

Today's mail includes a couple of news releases from Children's Book Press. The latest titles are:

Antonio's Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio by Rigoberto Gonzalez, illustrated by Cecilia Concepcion Alvarez (CBP, February 2005), which is about a boy with two moms who's worried about how his classmates will react to his family; and

Moony Luna/Luna, Lunita Lunera by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Elizabeth Gomez (CBP, February 2005), which is a first-day-of-school book.

Authors Ruth Pennebaker and Roseanne Thong

I had lunch yesterday with Austin author Ruth Pennebaker at Roaring Fork, which is at the (relatively) newly remodeled Stephen F. Austin Hotel.

Ruth lives in my zip code (much like, say, Farrah and Tori Spelling live in the same building), so I sometimes run into her at places like Central Market or Waterloo Ice House. When I'm lucky, we run into each other on purpose for lunch.

Maybe it's that whole journalist-lawyer-author thing we have in common... Nah, it's probably her dark wit and good heart, but Ruth is someone I not only like but also look up to.

She's an amazing writer. Her books include: Both Sides Now; Don't Think Twice; Conditions of Love; and A Texas Family Time Capsule. The first of these three are YAs, which have merited BBYA, BookSense, and like honors.

Nifty Link

Roseanne Thong's site: learn more about this picture book author. She offers some cool info about Dragon Boats, Moon Festival, Chinese New Year and Wishing Trees on her fun page. Her titles include: Round Is A Mooncake, illustrated by Grace Lin (Chronicle, 2000); Red Is A Dragon, illustrated by Lin (Chronicle, 2001); Once Is A Drummer, also illustrated by Lin (Chronicle 2003); The Wishing Tree, illustrated by Connie McLennan (Shen's 2004), and has forthcoming books from Harry Abrams, Henry Holt, and Houghton Mifflin.

Roseanne reports that she was referred to me by author Uma Krishnaswami and that she mentioned my site when they both spoke at the National Book Development Council in Singapore. Imagine anyone mentioning me in Signapore. I feel so international!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Laurie Halse Anderson and Sharyn November

Laurie Halse Anderson and her editor Sharyn November (of the Artemis-like visage) have their own blogs. It's all good, so to speak. Ha! Speak? Get it?

Well, I find myself amusing anyway.

Children's Authors And Illustrators Too Good To Miss

Children's Authors And Illustrators Too Good To Miss: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies by Sharron L. McElmeel (Libraries Unlimited, 2004). From the blurb: "Who are today's must-know children's authors and illustrators? McElmeel's ready reference introduces you to some of the hottest new names in children's literature, and reaquaints you with established authors and illustrators who are just now becoming recognized for their contributions to the field."

My Thoughts

First off, I'm hugely honored to be included among those 45 authors and illustrators "too good to miss." I won't mention everyone featured (though you can check out the list and purchasing information for yourself).

Today, I'm also excited to have received an ARC for Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books, 2005).

Ready Or Not, Dawdle Duckling

Congratulations to author Toni Buzzeo on the Korean-language edition of Dawdle Duckling (Dial, 2003) and the publication of Ready Or Not, Dawdle Duckling (Dial, January 2005), both illustrated by Margaret Spengler.

I seldom find myself envying my various famous friends, but I must admit I'm turning green that Toni's Dawdle Duckling (Dial, 2003) was selected for Dolly Parton's 2004 Imagination Library.

May I just say, I adore Dolly.

I first saw her on an early elementary field trip to the American Royal Rodeo in Kansas City. Dolly was singing, and I thought she looked and sounded like a fairy princess.

(While we're on the subject, this author also looks like a fairy princess, though lighter on the wigs, makeup, and sequins).

But back to Toni, who is also quite regal, and will be appearing at the TLA conference in Austin this spring. While you're on her site, check out the bounty of author/illustrator school visit info.

Nifty Links

Interview With Children's Book Author Coleen Murtagh Paratore from Debbi Michiko Florence. Paratore is the author of The Wedding Planner's Daughter (Simon & Schuster 2005); it's her debut novel.

The National Council of Social Studies has put out its call for entries for the Carter G. Woodson Book Award for informational nonfiction books published in 2004. See the list of previous recipients.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Library uber goddess Teri Lesesne blogs: "Someday, I want to be Cyn."

I'm all aflutter!

Nifty Links

"Recent History In Threes: Fiction, Nonfiction, and the Web" by Marjorie R. Hancock (Book Links, September 2004). A PDF file. Book Links is a highly recommend children's literature journal.

"Great Lives For Girls--And Boys" by Jeannine Atkins from Children's Book Council. Her books include How Far Can We Climb: The Story of Women Explorers (FSG, 2005).

"On Poetry, War, Language, and Baseball: An Interview With Martin Espada" by Catherine Crohan and Lyn Miller-Lachmann from Multicultural Review (also highly recommended).

Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race In America

Author Pooja Makhijani has a new anthology out, Under Her Skin: How Girls Experience Race In America (Seal Press, December 2004), which is described as "essays by women that explore through a child's lens the sometimes savage, sometimes innocent, and always complex ways in which race shapes American lives and families." Though published for adults, this volume may be well suited to teen readers as well; read the introduction to find out more.

Also be on the look-out for Pooja's upcoming picture book, Mama's Saris (Little Brown, 2006).

In other news, I'm sending out get-well wishes today to Julie Lake, Austin SCBWI RA and author of Galveston's Summer of the Storm. Her site offers a cute article on "Getting Published" and another on research, "Digging Up The Facts."

And I'd like to offer congratulations to author Ann S. Manheimer, who writes with news that her book Martin Luther King, Jr.: Dreaming Of Equality (Carolrhoda, 2004) was recently selected as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People for 2005 by the NCSS and CBC.

Additional folks I've heard from lately: author Kathi Appelt (welcome home!), Rosemary Brosnan (my Harper editor), author/illustrator Katie Davis (whom I'm sure had great fun at Kindling Words), Lisa Firke (my valiant Web designer), mentee Debbi Michiko Florence, uber librarian Sharron L. McElmeel, and National Book Award winning novelist Kimberly Willis Holt (who has some picture books forthcoming). Speaking of Kimberly, you can visit the "When Zachary Beaver Came To Town" movie site (note: only works if you have "Flash").

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Cats Love Housecalls

My kitties--Mercury Boo, Sebastian "Bashi" Doe, Galileo "Leo" Gailei, and Blizzard "Blizzy" Bentley--received a home visit today from their new vet, Dr. Cecilia Burnside, DVM, of Cats Love Housecalls. We love our new vet! Being owned by multi cats, it's just too stressy to lug them to a clinic, and Dr. Burnside is excellent with kitty relations and treatment.

Good news: Bashi is responding well to the inhaler for his asthma, and Mercury has lost a pound (he's down to 18 now, at about a-pound-a-year loss, from an all-time high of 20).

Under the "small world" category, I'd also like to note that Dr. Burnside is the daughter of fellow children's author Pat Mora.

If you're an Austinite with kitties, we highly recommend Dr. B!

WLT Manuscript Contest

The Writers' League of Texas has expanded the eligible catagories in its Annual Novel Contest to include children's and YA (both long works only, such as novels, memoirs, etc.). Entries must be postmarked by March 1 (or dropped off at the league office by 6 p.m. that day); the "winner in each category will meet individually with an agent at the Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference, June 10-12, 2005, at Austin's Omni Hotel Downtown."

Nifty Link

"The Muddle Machine: Confessions of a Textbook Editor" by Tamim Ansary from Edutopia Magazine (November, 2004).

The Goddess of YA Literature

If you have not already done so, bookmark The Goddess of YA Literature AKA Teri Lesesne's blog. It's jam-packed with info and insights from Mount Olympus, and--on a personal note--mentions Greg's Tofu And T.Rex (Little Brown, 2005) as "a terrific follow-up to his first novel." She also calls T&T "humorous" and "a quick read."

While you're surfing, be sure to see what Greg himself is blogging about two new Texas-y picture books: Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How A First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Hein (HarperCollins, 2005) and Buddy: The Story Of Buddy Holly by Anne Bustard, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Paula Wiseman/S&S, 2005).
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