Monday, September 29, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Nic Bishop Spiders

Nic Bishop Spiders, written and illustrated by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Nonfiction, an imprint of Scholastic), 2007.
ALA Sibert Informational Book Medal honor.
Mentioned in the previous post.

I've gotta tell you, even tho I couldn't bear to look at the slides he showed about his spiders, I was enthralled hearing the background story of his adventures photographing spiders. This cover spider is a dancing spider -- but he only shows off to female spiders. So Nic had to also have female spiders on hand during his photo shoot.

If you know kids who are are fascinated by unusual web crawlers, this is a good book on the subject. (Just don't ask me to look at the cover as I hand it out. In fact, when I discussed this book at our librarian's meeting, I carried it to the meeting covered in papers/ carefully slid the paper off the front cover while I talked about it/ keeping papers over the huge spider picture on the back of the book -- this guy used every surface he could to place his photographs.)

More links to Nonfiction Monday messages are here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spider month


September is Spider month in Maryland. (and with global warming, October will be, too.)
Don't expect me to show up anywhere near where a spider has been. (Have you walked into any webs lately? Double yuck!)

Who is going to change the program announcements on the library's outdoor sign?
Not me. Not during Spider months. Luckily I'm on a team and others 'volunteer' to do it, then.

Periodically, my writing income pays for housecleaning. The nicest thing the cleaning ladies can say to me is to total up the number of spiders (and spider eggs) they have removed. My heros! A spider-free house for a few days!
So, I'm in the bathroom, feeling great after they leave because there are no spiders around -- and what do I see?
(smash! whipe up spider mess. Throw out the tissue that has wiped up the mess. )
Oooh, that gives me chills.

Anywho -- do NOT expect to see any reviews of spider books on this blog. And there will not be a picture attached to this message folks. There is no way I'm going to search through spider pictures to find the perfect one for my blog. No way.

I even have problems weeding out the old spider books from my library's collection -- and don't you dare show me those new spider titles that have come in.

Did you know that a SPIDER book won a Sibert Informational Book Medal honor at ALA? Nic Bishop Spiders, written and illustrated by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Nonfiction, an imprint of Scholastic) I had to sit at that award ceremony while he showed slides of his favorites. Yes, it's interesting that the cover picture is actually of a teeny tiny spider and he's quite beautiful -- but did you have to reproduce him so large?


Saturday, September 27, 2008

This week

Too busy to blog -- that's me.
In fact, it's been so long that Blogger has forgotten me and I had to go through that whole sign-in routine, again, just to get here.

This week I'm trying to digest the things my Vermont College advisor told me about my packet of stories, and essay, and bibliography of picture books. She said one story was ready to go! Yeah! And others need work. And that I'm thinking like a librarian and not a writer. Oh-no! Gotta correct that part.

Also, it was the week we sent our revised stories to the picture book Forum for the group (and our advisor) to critique. Thank heavens it was deemed, 'improved.'

On the Library front -- I'm working on weeding the J Fiction, while trying not to use my left arm. It's amazing what you automatically use your left hand and arm for. I always thought I was right-handed with a little bit of ambidextrousness, but these past few weeks have been quite a shock -- to find out just how much I actually use that left hand/ arm. (especially when I'm not supposed to. Most of the bruises from my fall have healed, but that rotary cuff is still bothering me.)

I put up a Pirate display (complete with pirate tattoos. One of the Vermont College graduates gave a lecture about the history of pirates and had a lot of leftover tattoos after her program. She let me have some to give to the children at my library.)

Today I had a Flower Fairy Festival at the library and then put the leftover fairy books where the Pirate books had been.

Tomorrow, the 8-year old and I will go to the annual Greek Festival, put on by the local Greek church. I go for the food and to watch the dancing. The 8-year old goes for the dancing and the games and crafts. Last year we both got Jingle scarfs to wear around our hips, so we'll probably wear them this year, over our skirts.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nonfiction Monday = Walk-around Tacos

Walk-around Tacos and other likeable lunches by Nick Fauchald. Picture Window Books, 2008. Part of the KIDS DISH series. Available now.

Can't think of anything for the kid's lunches? Here are some ideas -- and easy to make, too. hmmm. I'm afraid not too many are suitable for school lunchbags, but they make great so-it-yourself treats for weekends. Especially if your kids have friends over. They can make it a group project. Fun.

An -- nice. The Glossary of cooking terms (and tips on how to do things easily) is in the front of the book. Handy. Then pictures of "kitchen tools."

You say HERO and I say SUB and they're both the same thing -- so this book calls them: Super Hero Subs. Smart.

What IS a Walkaround Taco? You get you 4 small bags of corn chips. You add your taco ingredients to the bag and -- boom! You have a Walkaround Taco. (Remind them not to throw the fork away when they toss the empty bag.)

Other Nonfiction Monday book reviews can be found here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Winnie the Pooh Tea Party

Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne. Dutton Children's Books, various publication dates. The original Pooh collection is actually a four volume set which includes two poetry books (When we were Very Young, and Now we are Six) But the popularity of the bear has led to many other Pooh books for younger children relating to Time and ABC and other novelties. (Not to mention the Disney-fied versions)

The strange thing I've discovered about Winnie the Pooh is age related.
Parents know about the Disney version -- and think that Pooh is only for preschoolers. Yet when I do Pooh Tea parties at my library, I insist on school age children, grade K and up. (and K is stretching it downwards, I do believe.)

I've discovered that younger kids will sit and listen when the original stories are read to them -- but they are completely blank. No real reaction or understanding of the stories. They just don't get the humor of the real stories. (Even my own kids when I'm reading one-on-one.)

Yet, when I read them to first grade and up, they giggle and giggle.
They "get" it. They funny loooooong titles.
The ridiculous situations. (tracking a woozle?)
Finding a Heffalump? (not)
The search for the North Pole? (and finding a stick and declaring it a pole. Pole?)
Living "under" the sign of Sanders?

It's so satisfying to parent and child when the child thinks these references are as funny as the adult does.

When I have more younger than older kids at a Pooh event at the library, I always tell "Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place." But do the very younger ones 'get' the sentence where Pooh requests, "would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness?"
and then I show the classic Pooh video (when will they bring it out in DVD?) of "In Which It Is Shown That Tiggers Don't Climb Trees. The kids watch the video. The parents suddenly notice that I'm showing the pages of the BOOK that match that story, while the video plays. (which does create a demand for the "real" Winnie the Pooh books.)

And, of course, there's nothing like an English Tea. (using apple juice and real glass punch cups) to finish off the program.
Butter sandwiches on crustless bread. Cucumber sandwiches. little pastries (boughten) and fresh scones that the kids can dribble their very own honey on. (onto?)

(surprise -- the first time I did this, I discovered that scones are just biscuits. Which you can vary by adding a bit of sugar. Children prefer them plain -- no currents or other flavoring -- so they're easy to make.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- Bookcart Drill Teams

Yes folks, there really is such a thing as Library Bookcart Drill Team contests.

Just click on the link and you'll not only see videos of last June's action (at the American Library Association Annual Convention) but you'll hear the blow by blow action commentary by none other than Geisel winner and Caldecott honor author/ illustrator Mo Willems. (link is to his blog, so enjoy reading the rest of it, too.) The other voice you hear is Jon Scieska -- another wild and crazy guy.

How does linking to a fiction writer count as a Nonfiction Monday entry on this blog?

Well -- I kinda thought that, since the videos really truely happened, it was live nonfiction in action.
Plus -- I don't have time to post a real review of a book because my Vermont College packet is due and I still have to write more book annotations for it.

For the rest of the REAL Nonfiction Monday book reviews, click here.
-wendieO (posting this in the middle of the night because her left shoulder still hurts and it woke her up)

Friday, September 12, 2008

What does the Main Character want?

I am so excited about my writing progress today.
Because of my accident (and then losing three days to drug-induced sleep and not being allowed to use my arm for over a week) I abandoned one of the picture books I was working on for my September packet. It just wasn't going to get done.

What to substitute?
I took Wednesday afternoon off to organize, plan, and write. I played with a couple of stories. Then I pulled DARK out again.

DARK had been discussed in the workshop part of my stay at Vermont College in July. Everyone agreed that it needed major changes. I was devastated. Only one person in the workshop "got it." And even she suggested changes. I had not done a good job presenting the story.

During the past few months I tried several approaches to the story. Nothing worked.

I must have been thinking about this story pretty hard back there in my "back brain," because suddenly last Wednesday I had an idea. I wanted to go back to my first way of presenting it -- first person with no indication as to whether the speaker was a boy or a girl. Because this is an "everyman" type of story.

I loaded it onto my laptop and brought it to the 8-year old's gymnastic class. Got a good third of it re-written. Today is my usual day off. (We get Fridays off when we work Saturday at the library.) About 2:00 in the afternoon, I settled down with the laptop and plowed into the story, again.

The basic revision is done. And it responds to most of the criticisms it got in the workshop.
(The most important thing I was directed to think about is -- WHAT DOES THE MAIN CHARACTER WANT? And -- does he get it by the end of the story? I think the answer now is, yes.)

Now to figure out how to put the rest of my packet together -- it's due Monday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Halloween quiz/ prizes

Ah ha!
Did I get your attention with the word, Prize?

First HALLOWEEN Question:
How many cats are in my halloween book: The Halloween Book of Facts and Fun? (available at your library or your local bookstore -- crossing fingers and toes.)

Yes, the cover counts.
No, the webkinz cat that I take to school visits and book signings does NOT count.

This is a case where the illustrator goes off on her own and adds her mite to the book by including something NOT mentioned in the text. (at least it's not mentioned very often.) Good illustrators do this. Paige Billin-Frye is very good.
Cats here, cats there, cats everywhere. (to paraphrase the wonderful book, Millions of Cats.)

The person who tells me the exact number of cats in the book (by putting their guess in the comments section of this blog) will win a signed copy of the book. (book not necessarily signed by my cat.) (maybe I should get a cat's paw stamp? hmmm?)
-wendie O

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nonfiction Monday -- 10 Things I Can do to Help My World

10 Things I Can do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh. Candlewick, 2008. Available now.

The subtitle is -- Fun and Easy Eco-Tips.
Fun and easy they are. It's a flip-book! My favorite type of flip book -- half pages revealing more information when they are flipped.

In fact, the flipping fun begins when you open the book.
"I remember . . ." (with picture of lightbulb shining down on some bugs. A lovely expanding ray of light leads you to turn the page and
The lightbulb and its rays are cut-away on the right hand side. Turning it exposes the rest of the sentence on black paper and only the eyes of the bugs shining at you. A second sentence outlines the turned-off lightbulb.

Wow! What a start. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Well, what happens next is that every second page is like this. Because the background of the underlying page matches so closely to the page you are viewing, you don't realize that you've hit another cut-away until you try to turn the page and discover, again, that you are turning another 3/4 page, exposing the other half of the sentence.

Really neat stuff.

The publisher recommends it for age 3 and up.
Do remember that up means UP! People up to age 103 will enjoy this book. (and if they have to grab a kid to read it to, to justify reading it, that's fine, too.)

This is filed in the 363.7 area of the library, so you will have to hand-sell it to customers. Or maybe put it on display in April for Earth Day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Watch this Space

Sometime soon
-- maybe even the middle of this week
-- the first Halloween question will appear.



Friday, September 5, 2008

What happened this week?

(actually -- not well)
I fell last weekend in the library's staff room and landed on my left side. You should see the huge bruises on leg and arm. My left arm swelled up like a goose egg, so I went to Patient First, thinking that I had broken the arm. After X-rays of my shoulder, arm, and hip area, they determined that nothing had broken -- I just was badly bruised.

Unfortunately, the medicine they gave me caused me to sleep the rest of the 3-day weekend. And made me too groggy to stay at work on Tuesday. I went home after only a half day's work.

Wednesday, I saw a bone doctor. He agreed that the medicine they had given me was too strong. (It just goes to show that you aren't a drug addict. If you had been -- your body could have resisted that medicine better.) Since then, i've gone back to my usual Excedrin during the day and 8-hour Tylanol during the night and I feel much better.

The arm is recovering nicely, thank you. I didn't even need the sling at all today at work. I'm getting back to my speedy touch-typing self. And the 5-inch in diameter bruise on my leg is a work of art.

We spent the week at the library weeding the holiday books and correcting some mismarking on them. Now our holiday collection is nice and loose on the shelves -- all ready for the new holiday books to show up.

The 8-year old had decided she loved, loved, loved her new third grade teacher -- just in time for the school to add a new teacher and move her and 20 other kids into a new classroom. The funny thing is -- this teacher has the same name as her 2nd grade teacher. So, on Monday she begins again with a new teacher. I do hope the original teachers share the school supplies we parents bought for the three classrooms with the new teacher and classroom.

Gotta go take the 8-year old's best friend home before the rain from hurricane Hanna grows too strong. And get more milk. We're almost out. (Two 8-year olds will do that to your milk supply.)
Bye. -wendieO

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nonfiction Monday Guest Blogger

This Nonfiction Monday we have a guest blogger -- Kelly Milner Halls. She is the author of Albino Animals, Tales of the Cryptids, Mysteries of the Mummy Kids and 20 other nonfiction books.
Her website/ blog is

Our online nonfiction group was having a conversation about why writer's conferences didn't offer more workshops about writing nonfiction. This was her response:

Sadly, even our fellow writers look down on our work. I love the ReaderGirlz campaign, and it got a lot of attention/press -- mostly Washington State authors. But when they approached me to write about them as a freelancer, I asked why they hadn't included any nonfiction writers. Frosty response...not what we're about.

It was as if the concept of girls loving nonfiction was impossible to grasp. It was not even considered, which I think is a shame.

No wonder girls don't step into the high paying realm of careers in math and science. The "cool kids" won't even let girls that love facts into the reader fold. Girls who love nonfiction are discounted as geeks.

But...there IS a slim model for nonfiction's potential. Look at the overwhelming response to 1) Grossology and 2) Magic School Bus. Those were properties that proved my point. There is a hunger for fun, well crafted nonfiction. Why not encourage writers to answer the call? Why not give kids the chance to love even more exceptional books? Why not embrace all kids and
all readers?

I don't have the answers, beyond just trying to write more compelling nonfiction myself. But I hope, someday we'll escape this stepchild status.

Guess we'll have to wait and see, or take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves. It has crossed my mind.

For more Nonfiction Monday, check out the list here.