Ringing in the New Year with The Wellingtons

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This song is in heavy rotation at our house these days. I first found this band on the music website The Sixty One. The site kind of makes me crazy, but I’m glad I found The Wellingtons. I love listening to my son singing along. It’s one of the few adult bands that he likes. Note that the drummer is wearing a Star Wars shirt. That helps, too.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – Book Edition

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Now that’s my kind of tree. Of course, I do not have the time nor the patience for something like this. According to the article where I saw this tree, “Librarian Jennean Kabat spent six hours with a couple of coworkers carefully assembling the decoration the day before Thanksgiving. It was an idea she gleaned from the Internet.”

You know you are looking to see what books are in the pile! Reference librarians in particular will recognize some of those titles.

Lane Smith

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I saw a lot of people walking around at ALA with bags for Lane Smith’s new book, It’s A Book. Needless to say I was very jealous. I saw this interview with him the other day and I have to say that I’m quite taken with his website. Are you straining to see the books on the shelf?  I love his review of Andy Warhol’s book illustrating how Mr. Warhol breaks several of the rules for children’s literature. First, isn’t it cool that Andy Warhol had a children’s book? But I love the idea of rules for children’s books. I’ve been meaning to post a list of Top 10 things children’s authors do that totally annoy me. Of course, that is coming from me as a parent and would be much more like complaining than this review which is more from the child’s perspective.

Check out this trailer for It’s A Book.

And as a total aside, if you haven’t seen the books Andy Warhol’s nephew has wrote about him, they are certainly worth a look.

Uncle Andy’s and Uncle Andy’s Cats by James Warhola

Making of a Book Cover

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I love book covers and I wish I could be on a market research panel for them, because sometimes I just don’t know why people think a certain cover is good. I know I am willing to give a book a chance, based solely on a beautiful or interesting cover. A bunch of people I know have really liked Gail Carriger’s Soulless. It has a pretty neat cover as does Changeless. While I was scrolling through American Libraries online, I found this neat post about the making of those covers and there’s a video version on Gail Carriger’s website.

Garth Stein Giveaway

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I’m very excited to be able to host a giveaway for a copy of Garth Stein’s Raven Stole the Moon. It’s easy enough to enter. Just leave a comment  and I’ll draw a winner at random. Because Garth Stein has a way of writing great dogs,  please leave the name of your favorite dog character from a book (this part is optional).  As I’ve said before, I try very hard to avoid books with dogs in them, because well, you know, something always happens to the dog. Never works! I always read them and suffer.  Where the Red Fern Grows was probably my first. Besides, Enzo and Oscar, Almondine from The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is probably my favorite. Can’t wait to hear yours!

1 out of 3 in 3

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I recently read an interview with Anna Lawrence Pietroni an author I admit to knowing nothing about. After reading the answer to the question what are your top five authors, I want to know more. Here is her response:

Your top five authors:

I have lots of top threes. Top three repeatedly read: Sara Paretsky, for the V.I. Warshawski novels; Cynthia Voigt, for Homecoming; Margaret Mahy, for The Changeover. Top three late-20th-century dazzling prose writers: Michael Ondaatje (for In the Skin of a Lion), Annie Proulx (for The Shipping News), Anne Michaels (for Fugitive Pieces). Top three writers of compelling tales: Sarah Waters, C.J. Sansom, Barbara Kingsolver (for The Poisonwood Bible in particular).

First off, I love that she didn’t answer the question with just five and that she had three different lists with different criteria. That is probably how I would have answered the question. But more than that, for each category she had two authors that I’ve never read mixed with one author that I love.

First, The Changeover. This was probable one of a dozen actual young adult novels I read when I was a young adult and I read it at least three times. I guess this is the root of why I’ve recently been drawn to urban fantasy/paranormal romances.

Second. For “dazzling prose writing,” Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of the Lion. Yes. A hundred times yes. I don’t care what the man writes about. It’s always luscious.

Third. Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. I love Kingsolver, but this was my favorite. Historical fiction, multiple points of view and a fascinating subject.

Farewell My Mentors

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It is with a heavy heart that I heard the news of first Howard Zinn’s death and then Lucille Clifton’s. I guess I’m getting to an age when my mentors are getting on in years, but it still leaves a little hole in my heart to know that they are no longer here fighting the good fight with us. I have seen both Lucille Clifton and Howard Zinn only a couple of times, at readings and rallies, but I still  felt like they were my mentors. I remember when I was a freshman in college going to dinner at the apartment of a senior that I knew. My fellow freshman friends and I combed her bookshelves for the books that would give us knowledge that we wouldn’t find in our classrooms. When she found out that we hadn’t read Howard Zinn, she was shocked and sent us home with her copy. It was the same year as the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America. Or not, as I soon began to find out. I read the first chapter with great zeal. Not only was the history not quite the same as what I had learned in high school, which made me angry, but I loved reading the “people’s” perspective from diaries, newspaper accounts and other primary sources. I admit, that I didn’t finish The People’s History of the United States until after I graduated college, but it changed my view of history from the first and appealed to that part of my nature that loves to see things from all sides.

My experience with Lucille Clifton was somewhat different, but she could be described as a “people’s” poet. I loved poetry from the time I first encountered it and wrote my own tragically awful poems. The thing that was liberating to me about reading Lucille Clifton was that her poems are beautiful and meaningful but with simple language. They are not simple poems by any stretch. Some of them are almost like haiku they are so short, but they leave the reader with that same profound feeling of a good haiku. Although her experience is much different than my own I still felt like I could relate to her poetry in a way that I couldn’t with many other poets. She writes about history, politics and religion, but she also writes about women and families and those were the kinds of poems that perhaps I had been looking for and not finding. As a budding young feminist, that was important to me. Of course, you don’t have to be a feminist to love the poem, “homage to my hips.” Is there a woman who doesn’t love this poem? I suppose, but come on. It’s a poem about hips! There is a sense of pride and also a sense of joy in some of her poetry that is infectious.

Nothing I write her does justice to either Howard Zinn or Lucille Clifton. They are much more than the few thoughts I’ve put down here. Just wanted to remember them. For more info:

Howard Zinn

He’s also the subject of a great documentary called You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train narrated by Matt Damon (remember the book’s cameo in Good Will Hunting?)

Lucille Clifton

She was also one of the featured poets in Bill Moyers PBS series The Language of Life.

I might have actually been in the audience for this reading and whenever I saw this replayed it filled me with hope and courage but now, it also makes me a little sad too.