Monday, November 30, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Nubs, the True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle

Nubs, the True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, assisted by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. Illustrated by photographs. NY: Little Brown, 2009. Available now.

This story of a dog in Iraq has touched the hearts of millions of people.
He was the leader of a pack of semi-wild dogs near a fort in western Iraq on the Iraq/ Syria border. U.S. Marine teams visiting the fort made friends with the dog and named him Nubs -- because his ears had been cut short and all that was left was little nubs of ears. But his special friend was Major Brian Dennis.

Then came the day the Marines stopped by the fort, only to discover Nubs had a deep painful wound. When the Marines left this time, Nubs dragged his wounded body 70 miles south to their home base and jumped into Major Dennis' arms, licking frantically and wagging his tail off. (I have to say that the map of his journey needs an arrow, pointing the way the dog traveled. I'm a good map reader and when I originally wrote this, I had everything reversed. The moving map on Nubs' website helped straighten me out.)

Soldiers are not allowed to have pets at the outposts. What do do? Major Dennis adopted him, got him a passport and got him transferred home to San Diego, California where he lives today. (Major Dennis is now stationed at Camp Pendleton there)

Who paid for the dog's plane ticket? Many, many people donated money -- both local soldiers who knew the dog and many friends of friends back in the states.

Naturally, when the book talked about the Nubs loving the Dog Park and Dog Beach, I immediately remembered that my San Diego Granddog, Lance, also loves to run and play at those places. Hmmm, I wonder if the two dogs have met? (note to self -- ask my daughter)

Is it easy-reading? For a second grader, probably. The typeface varies from large to huge, but the best part of the book is the photographs -- actual photographs of Iraqi countryside and American soldiers interacting with the dog. (you think of Iraq as being a hot, hot desert -- but winters must be cold. People are bundled up and there is snow.)

This book is getting a lot of press and surely will be considered for the Sibert Award. (I'll not attempt to predict how the committee will vote.)

Watch a video of Nubs here. Nubs also has a website.

More Nonfiction Monday reviews are over at the Book Nosher.
-wendie Old

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two birthdays to celebrate becoming a tween

I don't think it's fair that kids get two birthdays and I only get one.
They get the 'weekend' birthday that their friends are invited to.
Plus, their birthday in the middle of the week for family.

The weekend birthday is nice.
The soon-to-be 10-year-old and her friends go to someplace interesting (interesting to kids -- for adults, not so much) and have an hour or so of fun, have cake and ice cream (or icecream cake like we do) and go home with a goody bag of funny toys. (This year we gave everyone small parasols, bubbles, and a ratchety noisemaker.) A lot of gifts are given to the birthday girl. Toys, dolls, and some really neat t-shirts that are too small, and some really neat t-shirts that actually fit.

Her favorite gift was actually three gifts from her best friend.
1, Three cats done by paper folding, representing cats now and those long dead.
2. A Puffle. (ask any 8 to 10 year old what a Puffle is. And then take a visit online to the Club Penguin village where they live.)
3. And a pair of Pajamas exactly like best friend's. Which both of them wore Saturday night while best friend and she had a sleep-over.

She's also looking forward to her 'family' birthday on Wednesday. Her Aunt Jen and Uncle Michael sent a padded package with a gift in it. What can it be? The suspense is killing her. (plus we have a few things planned for the big ONE-OH birthday.)
Double digits! She can't wait to become a tween.

In case you are wondering -- did I get any writing done this weekend?
Not much.
Chose a publisher and composed a cover letter for a manuscript. But my printer ran out of ink. Once I get the new ink cartridge, I'll be good to go.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!
We're cooking a fresh-killed turkey. No, not a male turkey, like the picture above -- a fat female one. Every year I order a turkey from the nearby Weber's farm. I ask for the smallest they have. (with only 3 adults and 1 child, who needs a big one?)

Every year they give me --
a large one.
This year it was 23 pounds.
They claimed that it was the smallest they had.
Now, just what am I going to do with that much turkey?
It's going to take 8 hours to cook.

I'll send half home with my husband's brother, but I don't know what I'll do with the rest since the almost 10 year old doesn't especially like leftover turkey and neither do I. (I keep swearing that next year I'll do a ham. I mean it this time.)

I went to find a nice roasted turkey picture from Google images, but got stopped dead by what GOOGLE was using for their nameplate today. Here it is:

Isn't it great? Turkey and pie and everything. (no, it's not a link, sorry)
Well, off to check if my pies are done. Good thing I have a double oven. I can do pies and the turkey at the same time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Inside-Outside Dinosaurs

Inside-Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Munro. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2009. Available now.

Well, I asked the person who processed new books in our library branch for a new, limited vocabulary nonfiction -- and that's certainly what I got. Limited, yes = only three words per double-page spread. Easy-reading, not necessarily. Well, adults have problems with those dinosaur names, but not kids. Put this in the hands of a dinosaur-loving kid and they'll rattle off the names likity-split.

It's an interesting concept.
Double page spread of a set of dinosaur bones put together.
LARGE spelling of the dinosaur's name on the upper left hand side. (all caps)
Slightly smaller, but still large print (all lower case) translation of the dinosaur's name into English in the lower right hand corner.

For example.
lower right = "arm lizard"
Turn page

The next page shows a scene, in full color, with the Brachiosaurus front and center, with other dinosaurs nearby -- flying, chasing prey, eating, etc.

(note to self -- check to see if all these beasts lived in the same Jurassic period. I just have a sneaky feeling that that armored one on the right lived quite a few centuries earlier -- in another epoch, as a matter of fact.) (Ah, The reason I'm confused is because the Gargoyleosaurus shown in the picture looks much like the Ankylosaurus from the Cretaceous period shown a few pages later.)

In the back of the book, there is a little more information about the main dinosaurs featured on a page. However, there is no information (except for the names) of the other dinosaurs pictured.

Seeing these pictures first with skeletons and then in full color, we can often see right off how they were named. The 'crested lizard" has a huge crest. The "plated lizard" has plates sticking up from its spine. And my favorite, the Triceratops or "three-horned face" does have three horns.

But the "arm lizard?" That still confuses me.
I'd better find a 5-year-old to explain it to me.

Jump on over to the Practically Paradise blog to check out more Nonfiction Monday reviews.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How many times did you revise that manuscript?

A Maryland writer of fiction for upper elementary and YA readers, Mary Amato, has just posted a video she made, tracing the amount of work she did on her latest book, Invisible Lines.
All the revisions, the decisions, etc.

She aimed the video at teachers and students to illustrate the process writers go thru when writing a book. And everything she says about the long writing process is so true for all us writers -- of nonfiction as well as fiction.
(except, she doesn't go into the research aspect much.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poetry Friday

Last week I explained Nonfiction Monday.
(which sometimes comes on a Tuesday on my blog)

Today (Friday) the Kidlithosphere celebrates Poetry Friday.

There is a good explanation of Poetry Friday over at Chicken Spaghetti's blog.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

What are you writing? they ask

I heard from some of my writing friends the other day.
Just touching base.

"What are you doing?" one asked.
They all had writerly tales to tell.
"I'm working on my YA novel. Whipping it into shape."
"I'm gathering recipes (and trying them out and tasting them, yum) for another cookbook."
"I'm almost done with a magazine article about things long ago."
"I sold a book."
"I got an agent."

And I didn't know what to say.
I don't write YA.
I cook with old family recipes.
I haven't written a magazine article in a long time.
nor sold a book
don't have an agent.

What could I say?
(I don't remember what I said.)
Just the day job.
Just the family stuff.
I felt very un-writerly that day.

But later
things came to me.
Writerly things.

I had completed a first draft
and had worked on some things that were still vague ideas.
I had queried some agents.
(Ignored by some/ very nice rejection notes from others)
I had submitted manuscripts to editors.
I had organized my writing expenses.
(Well, filed them away. Does that count?)

I HAD done writerly things.
They had simply been tucked here and there
within the day to day,
minute to minute,
stuff of life. -wendieO

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

12 Pumpkin Pies

November is Pumpkin Pie month.
No, it's not a nationally recognized thing -- it's just at my house.

How many pies?
Let's see --

The first week of November I made two pumpkin pies. One for my husband to take into work for their early Thanksgiving celebration, and one for the family to eat.

Last weekend was my husband's birthday. He doesn't like cake. He only likes -- pumpkin pie. Therefore two more pies, one decorated with candles. The second for the family to have, because one is never enough.

This week end I have to make more pies, because I'm having a Pumpkin Pie, Oh My! storytime at my library and, of course, I have to bring pumpkin pie -- enough for the program and for the staff too. And another (or two) for my family to eat.

And -- the Wednesday after that program is the day before Thanksgiving. Pie baking day. I always have to bake four pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. One for Thanksgiving Day. One for my brother-in-law to take home. And two more to eat later. (not to mention apple pies, etc.)

The final week in November? More pies, of course. It's the 9-year-old's birthday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- About Penguins

Nonfiction Monday came on a Tuesday, again. (Which is what happens when I have a program at the library on Mondays and come home too tired to type.)

About Penguins, a Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill. Illustrated by John Sill. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree, 2009. Available now.

I knew that Peachtree did luscious picture books, but I didn't know they also produced easy reading nonfiction with luscious illustrations like this one. Evidently part of a series. (The "About" series.) I'll have to keep my eye out for the rest of them. Evidently, John Sill is a prize-winning wildlife artist. It shows.

Double page spreads having the illustration on one side and the words on the other can often look very textbooky. (yes, Mr. spellcheck. I do know that's not a real word.) But the illustrations here are so photographic that the whole thing works. Not only that, but each illustration is labeled with "Plate #..." This refers to a section in the back of the book which gives more information about the penguins pictured there or what they are doing. Early readers will be satisfied with the simple sentence on the page. "Penguins are seabirds that cannot fly." Parents or advanced readers can learn more in the back section.

The product description on the Peachtree website says:
"Cathryn Sill uses simple, easy-to-understand language to teach children what penguins are, how they look, how they move, what they eat, and where they live. Illustrator John Sill introduces readers to a variety of penguins (17), from Adélie to the Rockhopper, to Emperor."

This week’s Nonfiction Monday Round-up is at Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Wow, she's created a whole new Nonfiction Monday symbol in my favorite color -- green.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What's happening this week?

This past Wednesday the library was closed for Veteran's Day.
I spent the day this way:

1. Researching agents, again. Made note of some and actually sent a picture book manuscript to one.

2. Digging through papers to find all the legal stuff we'd have to bring to the post office on Saturday to get a passport for granddaughter number 2. (The family she's living with is going on a cruise next March.) Discovering that several items were not in my files. Contacting the other family to see if they had the right papers. They were missing some, too. Between the two families, we came up with all the right papers and brought them to the post office today. All the adults who had joint legal custody of our granddaughter had to be there to sign her papers in front of the post office representative.

All this searching resulted in two bags of papers headed to recycling. In another day or two, I hope to winnow my piles of paper down and fill another couple of recycling bags.

3. Plus -- did a little revising of another picture book -- which might be turning into a short middle grade book.

After the signing today, granddaughter number 2 came home with us to have an overnight with granddaughter number 1. She was eager to see her sister play soccer. But with the pouring rain soaking the playing fields this week, there was no soccer today. However, granddaughter number 2 will be able to watch granddaughter number 1 play soccer tomorrow before she has to return to her family. Unfortunately, it's at noon so we'll have to skip church. Both granddaughter love going to the church meeting together and sitting at the meditation circle afterwards.

(added later, on Sunday) Darn. Soccer cancelled again. And this was to be their last game, so no more soccer for the 9-year-old. Soon she'll begin gymnastics as her Saturday sport. We went to church instead, where the kids met for Sunday School outside on the picnic grounds in the warm, 60 degree sunshine.

Oh -- and we survived Friday the 13th with no problems. How was your Friday the 13th?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What the heck is Nonfiction Monday?

Recently, someone asked me to explain "Nonfiction Mondays."

I replied:
The bloggers who participate in Nonfiction Monday are a group of librarians/ writers/ readers/ bloggers whose main interest is promoting Interesting Nonfiction for Children. (In fact, one group who blogs together named their blog exactly that. They call their blog:
I.N.K .
Interesting Nonfiction for Kids

We bloggers take turns hosting the links to the various blogs that are participating in Nonfiction Monday each week. Last month, readers of my blog discovered that it was my turn to be the host.

Do click on the link on my Monday blog to reach the master file and then click away to enjoy the various styles of Nonfiction Monday blog messages. And come back on other Mondays.

I enjoy doing these short reviews every Monday. But since I'm a full-time children's librarian and also write books in my 'spare' time, I limit myself to reviewing picturebook nonfiction -- nonfiction for preschoolers or early elementary.

As you wander through the blogosphere, you'll find other days set aside for more joint projects. ( Poetry Friday, for example)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nonfiction Monday -- Never Smile at a Monkey

Never Smile at a Monkey and 17 Other Important Things to Remember, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009. Available now.

Oh my. Steve Jenkin's cut paper illustrations for his nonfiction books only get better and better. Clever librarians will place this book on display with both the front and back covers showing, because it's a two-parter. The words before the "and" are on the front with a perfectly normal monkey face. Take a peek at the back cover and don't drop the book -- as a monkey face seems to attack with all teeth showing, ready to chomp a chunk out of you.

There are many animals that don't seem dangerous -- but they are. Jenkins discusses one per page (Okay, some are double page spreads) using clever titles like "Never corner a cassowary," "Never pet a platypus," or "Never clutch a cane toad." (I do love alliteration.) You'd never believe it, but most of these things can kill you -- or at least create pain and agony.

For those who would like even more information, he includes additional paragraphs at the back of the book along with illustrations showing the animals in their attack modes, plus a short reading list.

When I checked to see if I could capture a back cover for you to see (they didn't have it), I discovered that Betsy Bird (writer of A Fuse #8 Production blog) already did one of her marvelous reviews of this book, way back in September. The only excuse I have for being slow to notice this book is that it didn't arrive in my library branch until now.

More Nonfiction Monday books are listed at Abby (the) Librarian.
-wendie old

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Notes from a Children's Book Editor

Every so often I'll post a link to various blogs that I think are especially good. One of them is Editorial Anonymous, the blog of a working Children's Book Editor. She usually posts about once a week and each message is dead on for people writing in this field. Click on her name to reach this week's message. Also -- Note what Rachel Stark says in the comment field about writers needing to practice their craft just like concert pianists do.

Or, as I remember Jane Yolen saying at a reading in New York City -- "How do you get to Carnege Hall? Practice. Practice. Practice."
-wendie Old

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween in California

Here are a couple of pictures of my son-in-law at the Dia de la Muerto polo game in Del Mar, California, this past weekend.
Yup, they played the game dressed in costume.
He says, ". You can't quite tell but I had two pistols, an ammunition belt and a big red heart pinned to the costume. It was great fun to play polo with a big sombrero hat on (though a little hard to see)!!!"