Monday, May 30, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by History with a Twist.

My selection is "Through Georgia's Eyes" by Rachel Rodriguez with illustrations by Julie Paschkis.

Rodriguez traces the influences and development of Georgia O'Keeffe's art from her childhood in Wisconsin to her early exhibitions in New York to New Mexico where she found much of her inspiration. Rather than trying to create an exhaustive study, Rodriguez shares the details she found most expressive of O'Keeffe's life, her work and her influence as an artist.

Paschkis beautifully translates O'Keeffe's artwork through the use of cut-paper collage illustration.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Poetry Friday

My selection is "A Child's Introduction to Poetry" written by Michael Driscoll and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton.

Driscoll's anthology is a two-part collection. Part one, The Rhymes and Their Reasons, provides examples of twelve poetic forms -- nonsense verse, limerick, ballad, haiku, and free verse to name a few. Part two, Rulers of Rhyme, Legends of the Lyric and Superstars of the Spoken Word, introduces twenty one poets from Homer, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost to Carl Sandburg, Lanston Hughes, Octavio Paz and Maya Angelou.

The tone is lively and humorous and it is clear that Driscoll is eager to share his joy in word-play with his readers. The writing is clear and the information is educational without losing a sense of fun. An accompanying CD provides readers with an opportunity to enjoy the music of the spoken word by following the cues to the sixty-four tracks containing the verses that are read aloud.

Hamilton's light-hearted watercolors bring a quirky sense of fun and whimsy to each page turn.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Frank, wiener, sausage or hot dog -- Sylver takes a light-hearted look at how this popular favorite has been known by many names and appreciated in all its forms. She traces the history from Homer's Odyssey to the twenty-first century with an emphases on how the hot dog became an American staple of sports events and cookouts. Sylver flavors her writing with quotes, recipes, and information about regional differences in hot-dog preparation and consumption. The book is stuffed with fun facts and plump with humor. Smith's retro cartoon-style illustrations add just the right zest for this tasty tome. A bibliography, websites and further resources are included.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Poetry Friday

Here is a collection of poems on topics as varied as bowling, gymnastics, soccer, surfing, badminton and Frisbees. Low digs into the history of athletic endeavor and the origins of specific sports in a fun-filled style that is both entertaining and educational. Factual notes, interesting trivia and a timeline round out the book. The humorous tone is echoed by O'Brien's larger-than-life ink and watercolor artwork.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

The focus for today is writing for the Middle Grade and Young Adult audience.

I'm taking the day to work on plotting a new manuscript, but here are some posts that are well worth your time --

You'll find 5 Rules for writing YA posted by Chuck Sambuchino at Guide to Literary Agents Editor's Blog.

Salt Water Taffy has a post entitled: Middle Grade Reading: the secret to Writing MG Fiction by Eric Delabarre.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Simply Science.

My selection is "Soar, Elinor!" by Tami Lewis Brown with pictures by Francois Roca.

Brown tells the story of a remarkable aviatrix whose life spanned the golden age of flight. Brown's narrative focuses on Elinor Smith's stunt flying -- On a dare, nineteen-year-0ld Elinor flew her Waco 10 under all four of New York City's East River Bridges.

Brown, who interviewed Smith, provides additional biographical notes about this remarkable woman who took her first flight in 1917 when she was six and earned her pilot's licence at 16 becoming the youngest licensed pilot in the world. She went on to become a test pilot and eventually "flew" NASA'S space shuttle simulator at the age of 88. During her lifetime, she set records for altitude, endurance, and speed and was named the "Best Woman Pilot in America" shortly after her twentieth birthday.

Brown captures Elinor Smith's passion and determination in this beautifully illustrated book.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Poetry Friday

For all your Calef Brown fans, I've selected "Dutch Sneakers and Flea-keepers: 14 more stories" by Calef Brown.

Here is a follow up to Brown's 1998 "Polkabats and Octopus Slacks: 14 stories." Once again, Brown has collected a fun and clearly bizarre cast of characters to inhabit his verses and artwork. Sir Dance-a-lot, a knight, gives up dragon slaying for ebullient terpsichorean delights. There's a pirate with a rabbit instead of parrot who relies on a carrot rather than a sword and Grandma who sports a magical electric guitar. If you're in the mood for wacky fun then dive right in.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today by Shelf-employed.

This 2011 offering compares and contrasts the youthful artistic attempts by artists from Michelangelo to Picasso with one of their most recognized adult works. Short biographies are readily accessible and include photos or self-portraits of the artists. The discussions of their work are accompanied by full-page reproductions that invite the eye and provide opportunities for study.

Today's aspiring young artists will enjoy the opportunity to view early works such as Klee's pen and ink drawing of his bedroom and perhaps find inspiration and encouragement from the childhood examples by some of the great masters of art.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Scrub-a-Dub-Tub.

My selection is "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast" illustrated by Alan Aldridge with verses by William Plomer and notes by Richard Fitter.

The fact that the illustrator, Alan Aldridge, is credited first will give the reader a sense of the visual impact of this book which is oftened described as "magical." The multitude of woodland creatures in attendance are beautifully rendered and their whimsical costumes are worked in exquisite detail to match the sumptuous setting.

Plomer's verses are equally rich and imaginative. British novelist and poet William Plomer is the recipient of numerous awards including the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry and (with Aldridge) the Whitbread Award in Children's Literature for "The Butterfly Ball and Grasshopper's Feast." Richard Fitter, a well-known British naturalist provides factual notes about the creatures found within the scenes. The book concludes with remarks about Aldridge's career.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writer's Wednesday

Writing for Beginners...

  • "I've always dreamed of being a writer."

  • "I've got this idea for a book."

  • "My friends/family keep telling me I should write down some of the great stories I tell."

Sound familiar?

If that's you then it's time to stop procrastinating and get to work. It's the only way you will ever know if the life of a writer is what you really want. I don't know if you'll succeed, but you'll never find out until you make the attempt.

"You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the work done for I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality." Ray Bradbury.

Be prepared to invest your time and energy as you learn your craft.

"As a younger man I wrote for eight years without ever earning a nickel which is a long apprenticeship, but in that time I learned a lot about my trade." -- James Michener

It won't be easy. Take a class. Find a mentor. Join a workshop. And don't give up.

"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties." Bonnie Friedman.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Nonfiction Monday

Just for the fun of selection is "Chocolate: a sweet history" written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Charise Harper.

Markle collects a wealth of detail about chocolate -- from its history among the Aztecs to its economic importance as a modern African export -- nutrition facts -- even a tasty recipe and organizes it all in an easy-to-read style fashioned like a student's school report. Colorful illustrations add to the light-hearted feel of this informative book.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer