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In Memoriam: Maurice Sendak May 9, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Analysis.
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I’m still trying to process the news that Maurice Sendak, a giant of children’s literature, passed away today. What is a world without Maurice Sendak? He created so many icons of childhood and children’s literature, from the Wild Things to Pierre, whose attitude I still see in my students on many days. His character Rosie, from The Sign on Rosie’s Door is one that I regard as an alter ego. I will try to write a better appreciation when I’m feeling more coherent; in the meantime, some words from the rest of the world:

Appreciation from School Library Journal here.

Obituary from the New York Times here.

Appreciation from the New York Times here.

The absolutely marvelous interview with Stephen Colbert from earlier this year, here and here.

Because We Love Him… May 8, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Nerd Line.
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Neil Gaiman talks to the NYTimes Book Review about his reading habits this week! Find the article here. If there is something more enjoyable than reading what a vastly entertaining and thought-provoking author thinks about books and reading, I don’t know what it is. Well, aside from the obvious: a new book by said author. Hint, hint.

Gaiman drops a few names that he often mentions, including Hope Mirrilees, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. I’m intrigued by his description of the non-fiction book he is currently reading Just My Type. I’m now slightly worried about my teacherly love of Comic Sans. I am excited that he is planning to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern(which Ana and I haven’t reviewed, despite the fact that we both read it back in January and enjoyed it very much) and I am curious to hear his thoughts on it.

My favorite answer in this interview is when Gaiman gets asked about books he didn’t like or put down without finishing. He discloses that his second year judging the Arthur C. Clarke Awards, he “…read a lot of first chapters and took delight in hurling books across the room if I knew I would not be reading the second chapter.”

Shame wins in the end though. “Then I’d go and pick them up again, because they are books after all, and we are not savages” he admits. And this why we love Gaiman. Because he is not a savage. Because he not only loves books, he respects them as well.

Review: Outside Your Window May 5, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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I’ve been a fan of Nicola Davies for awhile now. When I started looking for non-fiction books to use as read alouds in the classroom, I noticed that a lot of recommendations were for books in the Read and Wonder series, published by Candlewick. As I tracked each of them down, I realized that many of these poetic, informative and engaging books about animals were by the same author–Nicola Davies.

Davies maintains a lovely balance between science and poetry–she’s a zoologist, in addition to being a writer–and nowhere more so than in this new book, Outside Your Window. Subtitled “A First Book of Nature,” it mixes poems about the natural world with instructions for activities like building a den and baking a berry crumble. I can see people reading these poems at night before bedtime and also working through all the different activities with their kids. The book is structured around the seasons and focuses on lots of little details–seagulls, moths, cherry blossoms–that will fascinate young children. Davies is British, and some poems made me wish I could take a trip into the imaginary English countryside and pet lambs or keep chickens.

Mark Herld’s collage illustrations almost deserve a post all their own. The combination of cut paper, linocuts, crayon and paint is amazing. Children will delight in the little details, especially when they are reinforced by lines in the poems. My favorite parts of this book are when the text and pictures interact, such as the little backward swimming shrimp in a tide pool poem, the lovely drape of baby silver “spiderlings” and the perfect match of word and image in “Patchwork Pigeons”: “Patchwork pigeons, made of sky/catch the rain clouds when they fly.”

Find this beautiful book, share it with your class, buy it as a baby shower gift (no one needs another copy of Pat the Bunny anymore) or for a young child interested in the outdoors. This is a treasure of words and pictures that will make anyone appreciate this Earth a little more.