It's A Wondertime Life

More love for Henry at Wondertime. (Click on header for link - I'm on a Victorian-era laptop with dial-up internet and this is the best I can manage!)


CBC Radio Noon

Had a lovely time chatting about children's books on CBC Radio Noon the other day. Hit the title to link to the site.

Radio Noon's Children's book panel is back, and they've got some new recommendations just in time for Christmas.

Angus Byers, works at Babar books and is a freelance illustrator.
Sara O'Leary is an award-winning author of children's books. She also teaches creative writing at Concordia.

Here are some of their recommendations:

My Letter to the World by Emily Dickinson, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (KidsCan Press)

Jumpy Jack and Googily by Meg Rosoff, illustrations by Sophie Blackall (Books for Young Readers)

Chester's Back by Melanie Watt (KidsCan Press)

The Boy Who Ate the World (and the Girl Who Saved It) by Don Gillmor, illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Northwinds Press)

The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket, Illustrated by Brett Helquist

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrations by Dave McKean (HarperCollins)

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire by Derek Landy (HarperCollins)

Getting the Girl by Susan Juby (HarperCollins)

Brinsingr by Christopher Paolini (Random House)

The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson (Macmillan Childrens)


St. Martins Christmas Fair

I will be signing copies of Where You Came From at the St. Martin's Christmas Fair this Saturday. You know, if you're in the neighbourhod.


Euan's Broadcast Debut

My son won a local literary competition and read his holiday story on CBC Radio One's Home Run show here in Montreal.

Doesn't he look like a broadcasting natural?


A Lump of Coal

Over at Omnivoracious, the wonderful Lemony Snicket is giving advice for the holidays. Here's the plum I pulled out:

Dear Mr. Snicket: What is mince meat? Why do people seem to like it so much? Do I have to eat it?
--A Loyal Reader

Dear Loyal Reader: I am afraid to try mincemeat, as it appears to be made from the innards of ungrateful nieces and nephews, demanding hostesses, and concerned parents. Apparently some people like such things. One of the great things about the world, even at holiday time, is that you do not have to eat it.

My advice is to go check it out for yourself. And then, if you're not feeling sufficiently despondent, you might like to go and read the story A Lump of Coal which is published here.

Coincidentally, this is also the title of a book by our friend Mr. Snicket, which you can purchase here.


The First Day of December

One of the nicest things about the month of December is being able to eat chocolates for breakfast. But along with our traditional advent calendar, this year we are enjoying this:

With each passing day your child can add a decoration to the pop-up tree. We were keen on this one because it's a tie-in to Eric Carle's Dream Snow which on its last page has a lovely, tinkly little surprise.

I can't find an image of this pop-up fully popped but will try and add one later on when I make my way home again through our own not-so-dreamy snow.


The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming

When we read this one, Euan couldn't stop laughing.

You can get a slightly larger version at the Lookybook site here.



Congratulations to Stéphane Jorisch winner of the Governor General's Award for Illustration for his beautiful take on the Edward Lear classic, The Owl and the Pussycat (KidsCan Press). You can have a looky at the lookybook here.

KidsCan came up trumps this year as they also picked up the prize for Children's text with this year's award going to John Ibbitson for The Landing, which I've yet to read but it sounds promising. I'd also like to read his earlier title 1812: Jeremy's War.


Cybils Nominations

The 2008 Cybills Nominations (the children's and young adult bloggers' literary awards) have been posted. If you follow the link above you can see the lists. You might also want to note the appeal on the site from Anne Levy, Editor:

The links below will take you to the full list of nominations in each genre. If you don't see a book you suggested, it's likely on another list. We did a little horse-swapping behind the scenes as some books didn't quite fit the category where they'd been nominated.

Please consider using these lists for your holiday shopping. Is it too early to make an appeal? We could use the tiny commission we get off Amazon and other booksellers to buy a nice award for our 2008 winners.

Black Knight

You can buy this charming little fellow on a site called ThinkGeek which I popped in to visit because they are giving away a chainlink t-shirt in a contest. In case, you don't recognize this Pythonesque toy, perhaps this will help ....

This is hugely entertaining to me as I was being regaled by Black Knight imitations on the chilly walk to school this morning.

Looking around the ThinkGeek site I'm thinking it could be one-stop shopping for the coming season.


Trailer Envy

Look at this gorgeous Italian book trailer for Neil Gaiman's Coraline....

Produced by Bonsaininja Studio of Milan. Whoever you are, I love you. Can you make a book trailer for me, pretty please?

Found this by accident when I was looking at a youtube link my brother sent for Tim Burton's first stop motion animation short, Vincent.

Oh look, a little boy in a striped shirt to add to my collection.


Happy Hallowe'en from NYRB

Over at A Different Stripe, the blog of NYRB Classics, they have a very nice Hallowe'en gift for you. You can download the very scary "Casting the Runes" by M.R. James.

The story appears in this very covetable anthology:

Here's what you get for the exceedingly reasonable price of $9.07:

The Haunted Looking Glass is the late Edward Gorey's selection of his favorite tales of ghosts, ghouls, and grisly goings-on. It includes stories by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, M. R. James, W. W. Jacobs, and L. P. Hartley, among other masters of the fine art of making the flesh creep, all accompanied by Gorey's inimitable illustrations.

W.F. HARVEY, "August Heat"
CHARLES DICKENS, "The Signalman"
L.P. HARTLEY, "A Visitor from Down Under"
R.H. MALDEN, "The Thirteenth Tree"
E. NESBIT, "Man-Size in Marble"
BRAM STOKER, "The Judge's House"
TOM HOOD, "The Shadow of a Shade"
W.W. JACOBS, "The Monkey's Paw,"
WILKIE COLLINS, "The Dream Woman"
M.R. JAMES, "Casting the Runes"


Heart Rendering

University of Guelph has just created an online archive of their Lucy Maud Montgomery collection. I love this picture of her childhood bedroom.

(Lucy Maud Montgomery's old room in grandparents MacNeill's home, ca.1880's. Cavendish, P.E.I.)



Oh look, here's a very sweet blogger calling for a French translation of When You Were Small and Where You Came From.

When You Were Small Doll

My darling son has grown tired of waiting for someone to make a Henry doll to go with my books and has made one of his own.

Here he is in his little thimble hat.


We Are All Born Free

Oh, this is useful - Euan and I were talking just the other day about the Declaration of Human Rights, and now I have a snazzy little slideshow explanation complete with illustrations by John Burningham, Chris Riddell, Polly Dunbar and others, thanks to the Guardian.

Here's the scoop:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed 60 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly. We Are All Born Free is a version for young people, illustrated by stars from the world of children's books, which has been translated into more than 30 languages and is due to be made into a short film. The artwork is on display at Waterstone's Piccadilly until October 31.

The subject of the Declaration of Human Rights came up because we were reading the marker in John Humphrey Lane, which is not too far from our house here in Hampstead, Quebec. Humphrey, who was born in Hampton, New Brunswick, was the author of the Declaration. You can learn more about him here.


A World Less Ordinary

Places I want to visit:
The Incredible Book Eating Boy room created by Jennifer Ward of Minor Details and featured in Cookie Magazine. (Thanks to weheartbooks for the link). You can visit the room if you are in New York this month - check out the schedule and activities here.

Bemelmans Bar in NYC (Thanks to BookLust for the link) which features murals of Central Park painted by Madeline creator Ludwig Bemelmans. According to the hotel site:
Every Saturday, Bemelmans Bar hosts a delightfully playful afternoon and sing-a-long for parents and children alike. Enjoy Madeline's Childrens Buffet, afternoon tea, and an á la carte menu for adults while listening to songs from the Madeline Song Book with Tina de Varon.

And as long as I'm in the neighborhood, I would really like to stay at The Library Hotel. Don't you think they should offer special rates for writers?



Accidentally gobbled up The Graveyard Book much too quickly and then was very sad when it was over.


The Speaking of Verse

There's a very good piece by Daisy Goodwin in the Times about the value of teaching children to recite verse:

Learning a poem at an early age is an investment for the future. As T S Eliot said, you don’t need to understand a poem to enjoy it.

A seven-year-old might miss every nuance of Kubla Khan or Ozymandias — but, learnt young, the poems will stay in the head for life, adding lustre to the good moments and illumination in the bad. Memorising a poem means you own it.

The BBC is running a competition called Off by Heart which I think we should emulate over here ... CBC can you hear me?

And since I'm talking about poetry, let me take this opportunity to plug Kids Can Press's wonderful Visions in Poetry series.

I badly covet the latest addition to the series, Emily Dickinson's My Letter to the World and Other Poems with illustrations by Isabelle Aresenault.

I see from the Kids Can site that their beautiful Jabberwocky, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch is now up on Lookybook where you can have fine browse through it. You really should go and have a look.

My son learned to recite the poem from this edition, and every time I hear it recited by my very own beamish boy, it makes me chortle in my joy.



Since it's a Wednesday, I would like to announce a new prize.

This prize is called My Favourite Person That I Don't Yet Know. And the winner is Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of two of our household picture book faves: Little Hoot and Little Pea.

I have just been having a browse around on Amy Krouse Rosenthal's fabulous blog. There is so much here to get excited about. But I'll start with:

1. The sounds of motherhood

2. A nodcast

3. A short video narrated by one of her offspring.

Oh look, and there's a contest too:


Submission categories include: Music of all kinds / Bands/ Singer-Songwriters / Videos / Short films / Animation / Paintings / Drawings / Art / Illustration / True stories / Made-up stories / Poems/ Lists / Monologues / Plays / Dance / Inventions / Crafts / Photographs / Cell phone snapshots / Architecture / Design / Culinary creations / Journal pages / Collage / Sand castles / Everything

Please know that we are VERY open to all kinds of uncategorizable creations. As stated in the film,“Whatever it is you’re making, if it’s lovely, send it to us.”

Please submit whatever it is you’re sending via YouTube, email, or other electronic medium for review. If your piece is selected, we’ll ask you to submit the original, hi-res version (e.g. tape, large photograph, hi-res audio file, etc.) so please make sure to keep the originals of whatever you’re sending so we can have access to it if it is selected. Email is missamykr@yahoo.com PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME, AGE, AND COUNTRY. You may also send through standard mail: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 222 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60601

HUGELY IMPORTANT: You must take a look at this Creative Commons Attribution License. If your creation is chosen, this is the agreement we will refer to. It simply protects YOU and keeps things straight between us, ok?

Don’t worry if your creation/submission isn’t in a visual or film-friendly format. It will be our challenge and joy to find a way to bring it to life on the big screen.

About compensation: As we do not know enough yet about where this project is going, making any sort of monetary offerings or promises seems unwise and premature. This is a big whopping experiment, and we are just going with it. That said, if there is money to be made down the road, we would feel it only right to compensate the contributors in some way as a good faith gesture. For now, what we CAN promise you is this: All contributors will be credited fully and openly (with associated website/contact information when applicable) both in the final movie and on The Beckoning of Lovely website. Contributors would be flown in for the premiere and cast party. We would do everything we can to make this a rewarding, beneficial and super fun experience for you. Bottom line about this “collaboration with the universe”– it is our mission and intention to find the most lovely stuff floating out there, and if you are the creator/maker of it, we want the world to know about it and you.

LASTLY, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE AN “AMBASSADOR OF LOVELY” AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS PROJECT, email missamykr@yahoo.com. We’ll happily get you set up in no time.

Oh, yes, I do want to be an Ambassador of Lovely!


Trailer Hitch

My in-house filmmaker has offered to make a book trailer for my new book.

Trolling around for inspiration, we watched the trailer for Me Hungry! by Jeremy Tankard:

But that sort of animation is beyond our collective abilities.

As is this, for The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna:

And then there is this wonderfully bizarre trailer for Little Hoot by Amy Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace and featuring "The Body Part People."

Our search for inspiration continues. Suggestions (and animators) are welcome.

Where You Came From

There's a fun article in The Times in which children explain where babies come from here. I liked this bit: "Mummies have the baby and daddies get to choose the name. There are some differences between boys and girls. Boys have short hair and girls have long hair. Boys are tough and girls are girlie. Boys don't really like princesses. Boys and girls both have nipples. We don't really talk about things like this at school."


Updating the blogroll

Was just browsing a blog called Wagging Tales whose subtitle: Talking animals discussing rhyming books in passive voices cracked me up. I don't think that's actually a subtitle, but what is it?

And there is also a lovely new blog from Laura Miller which talks about her new book The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia and a myriad of other fascinating things including H.P. Lovecraft's hometown. Her site includes a very good list of recommended reading for Narnia fans and an interesting little opinion piece on critics and emotion.

I tend to use the blog reader over at JacketFlap as a way of having a quick browse around and would recommend signing up to anyone who hasn't already done so.

The Boy In the Dress

David Walliams -- Little Britain star and swimmer extraordinaire -- has written a children's book. I think this is brilliant news ... and the title bodes well: The Boy in the Dress. You can read all about it here. Oh and Quentin Blake has done the illustrations ... not too shabby. (Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the heads up.)


A bedtime story from Neil

Oh look, over at Mouse Circus you can watch/listen to a chapter a night from Neil Gaiman's new release, The Graveyard Book. The first chapter was uploaded today (October 1st). Get the milk and cookies and tuck yourself in, is my advice.


Too Many Words

There's a good round-up of writers talking about writing for children at The Guardian this week. (I see that Steph popped in ahead of me already - I hope this means we can look forward to a children's book from her soon.)

I was discouraged, I must say, by the following comment from the article by Meg Rosoff and Linda Newberry:

"Don't be misled into thinking that picture books must be easy to write because there are so few words."

That's exactly why I write them.



There's a peach of a review of the new book at CM: Canadian Review of Materials here. I have to say that I think Gregory Bryan is an extremely astute reviewer of children's books. And by astute, I don't just mean that the he liked the book (although he did).

The book has also received a very nice nod from Susan Perren at the Globe.

But the best review of all came from my friend Glenda who cried when she read an advance copy.


Buy Olympia

I was pleased to see that the new book is now listed at Olympia Books because they always do such a wonderful job presentation-wise.

In fact, I'm almost tempted to buy one myself ... but then again, maybe this is what I really need:

You can also buy Matthew Porter's books and other products there.


I've Been Adopted!

Perhaps at my somewhat advanced age this shouldn't seem like such cause for delight, and yet it does!

I've been adopted by Alex Moorshead, who is the Festival Director for the Word on the Street (WOTS) Festival in Toronto as part of a fundraising program in which people are invited to pay a hundred dollars to "adopt" their own featured festival author. Thanks so much, Alex.

I'll be reading in the Children's Reading Tent on Sunday afternoon at 1 PM. And I'll be ever so happy to see any friendly faces who have time to drop by.



Look what I found on my desktop this morning....

I think somebody's working on his Christmas wish list again.

In other (semi-related) news, we are intrigued by reports that Eoin Colfer is to write the sixth installment in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.



How lovely is this?

Sidewall: Oranges and Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clements; Designed by Dorothy Hilton; Manufactured by Jeffrey & Company; London, England, 1902; Machine-printed on paper; Gift of Empire Wall-Paper Company, 1946-97-2; Photo: Matt Flynn

From an exhibit called Wall Stories: Children's Wallpaper and Books. Thanks to Educating Alice for the link.


Touch Wood and Whistle

If you are in Vancouver this month then lucky you! You can go and see Julie Morstad's new solo show at Atelier Gallery.

Games 1, 2008
watercolour & ink on paper
13.5 x 11 in. $1450

Hoist the Flag, 2008
watercolour & ink on paper
20.5 x 25 in. $1900

Ambush 1, 2008
watercolour & ink on paper
22 x 30 in. $2100

Julie Morstad, Touch Wood and Whistle
runs September 4, 2008 - September 28, 2008.

Here's some info on the show from the Atelier site:

Touch Wood and Whistle will feature 10 new ink and watercolour drawings, exploring the theme of children's games.

Morstad's delicately rendered lines and assured sense of colour evoke an eerie nostalgia as she channels illustrations from children's books and exposes their underlying darkness. She states that when creating her whimsically wicked ink and watercolour drawings, "hazy memories of childhood fuel much of my recent work, and the narratives of fairytales and folklore are ones that I have drawn upon repeatedly. Being a child of the age of the commoditized and marketable fairytale, my drawings reflect both an unabashed delight in the preciousness of this narrative as well as a conscious subversion of the same."


Good Company

Look at the lovely company When You Were Small finds itself in over at Black Eiffel....

And what a wonderful site to spend the morning meandering around. Thank you, Rachel!


Susan Juby

Susan Juby, (author of the wonderful teen novels Alice, I Think, Miss Smithers, Alice MacLeod: Realist at Last, and Another Kind of Cowboy), has lately taken to giving out advice. And she gives good advice. Here's where to look for Ask a Juby.

And here's a sample:

Juby's new novel for fall is called Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance and Cookery.

I've just read an advance copy and would highly recommend it. Susan Juby seems to possess an eidetic memory of adolescent angst and just how painfully funny, and funnily painful it can be. In all of her novels she demonstrates an admirable way of writing about teen behaviours without either glamorizing them or averting her gaze. And she's funny - did I mention that?


We heart TD Bank

Over at the Canadian Children's Book Centre they've announced the finalists for the 2008 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award:

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting
by Hugh Brewster
with paintings by John Singer Sargent
Kids Can Press

by Kenneth Oppel
HarperCollins Publishers

Elijah of Buxton

by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada

Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His First Case

by Shane Peacock
Tundra Books

Please, Louise!
by Frieda Wishinsky
illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books


Choice Sophie

There's a very good interview with the wonderful Sophie Blackall over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

I've blogged here before about Blackall and her work with Meg Rosoff, including most recently the brilliant Googily and Jumpy Jack.

In this interview, Blackall talks about working on illustrating a story of her own for the first time. It's called Are You Awake, and will be published in fall 2009. There is a sneak peak at an illustration for the work-in-progress on the 7-IMP site:

Ooh, I do love a little boy in a stripe-y shirt. I'm looking forward to reading this one ... Blackall definitely has a sensibility all her own.


Enfant Terrible

Over at Babygadget, they are featuring the work of Tokyo graphic designer and author Katsumi Komagata ... you can see more of his work here.

You can buy the books - which sound fascinating - through a site called enfantterrible, which also features books by Bruno Manari, Enzo Mari and select others. They also have clothes that make you want to dream up a baby to put into them ....


Press release for WOTS Toronto

The Word On The Street is excited to be presenting six family-focused venues this year, including two new venues for kids!

New for Family Fun in 2008, the Little Readers Tent is geared towards families with children under three and will focus on the importance of early-literacy in a child’s life. Workshops and interactive storytelling, rhymes, and games will be on offer from the Toronto Public Library’s Ready for Reading Program and the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program. Featured storytellers include Theo Heras and Sally Jaeger and readings will be given by authors Marthe Jocelyn and Kathy Stinson.

The Word On The Street is thrilled to be presenting French-language programming for the first time in the festival’s history. Une ville, des mots/The City of Words Marquee is being presented in partnership with the Blue Metropolis Foundation and the Bureau du Québec. French-language artists and authors from Quebec and Ontario, including Francis Chalifour, Aurélie Resch and Caroline Mérola will be on hand offering readings, storytelling, word-play, and creative writing workshops for children 12 and under.

Our wildly popular Children’s Activity Tent is returning with interactive painting and drawing sessions by Charles Pachter and Jeremy Tankard, music by Little Fingers Music, crazy science experiments by Helaine Becker and Mad Science, live reptiles from Reptilia and much more.

Featuring a selection of Canada’s best children’s authors, the Children’s Reading Tent will see lively readings and illustration demonstrations from authors and artists including Shane Peacock, Kathy Stinson, Edo Van Belkom, Tish Cohen, Michael McGowan, Loris Lesynski, Sara O’Leary and Bill Slavin to name a few guests.

Back by popular demand, the TVOKids Stage will offer activities, music and fun with favorite TVOKids personalities.

For older ones, the IdeaSpace Young Adult Marquee, geared towards youth ages 12- 18, will present exciting workshops, readings and segments designed to get youth excited and involved with the written word. Segments include a travel writing workshop with young writers from Outpost Magazine, readings by Mariko Tamaki and Kristyn Dunnion, a street-style fashion show with Canadian Teen Girl Magazine and a panel discussion on world issues featuring Allan Stratton, Bilaal Rajan and others.

Every year, on the last Sunday of September, in Vancouver, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax, The Word On The Street unites the country in a national celebration of literacy and the written word. Annually attracting more than 200,000 visitors, The Word On The Street in Toronto is the largest book and magazine festival in Canada. The 19th annual festival takes place on Sunday, September 28th, 2008, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Queen’s Park in Toronto.



Postcards for Giveaway

My lovely publisher just sent me some more of these fab promotional postcards he had made in advance of Where You Came From hitting the stores.

I'm going to give some away to some of you dear readers - just post a comment here and I'll be in touch with several randomly selected winners.

Summer blogging schedules

For those who have been assiduously blogging, here's a little desk-side relief.

For the rest of us there's this by way of sartorial justification:

I saw this on someone else's blog, but I'm afraid I've been unable to re-trace my steps.


Age banding vs. age branding

I've been following this whole age banding hullabaloo with some interest. To be frank, I'm a little on the fence over the whole issue. Or perhaps just a little surprised at the degree of lather writers seem able to get themselves into over it. All that said, I've duly signed the petition at www.notoagebanding.org. Maybe just because I remember the years of my childhood where I did my best to storm the gates of the adult collection of my local library.

I've written a couple of books that would likely be marketed as for readers ages 3-8. And while I do think the books are very suitable for children of about that age, and if I am going to do a school visit or reading that is certainly the audience I would hope for, I do suspect the main purchasers of the book (soon to be books!) are childless, twenty-somethings who knit (and knit-witless as I am, I do love those readers.) So where does that slot into age banding?

So, in light of all this contretemps, I was amused to find at the village book fair a book very specifically titled Best Stories for Eight-Year-Olds by Enid Blyton.

I've dipped into it a few times, but frankly the resident eight-year-old is much more interested in this:

Richard E. Grant? Doctor Who? Colour us there! You can find the whole thing at the BBC site here.


Top Ten

There's a nice little thing in the Guardian archives with several very good children's writers listing some of their picks for children's books.

Jacqueline Wilson's list includes Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle which would definitely be on my list too (if anyone cares to know). She writes that she knows the first paragraph off by heart, which was excuse enough for me to go look it up. And here it is:

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen house. Though even that isn't a very good poem. I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it.


St. Martin's By The Sea

I think I've mentioned here that we have a house in the village of St. Martin's, New Brunswick.

What I may not have mentioned is that St. Martin's in the process of becoming a booktown - rather like Hay-on-Wye in Wales or Wigtown in Scotland. You can read more about it here at the St. Martin's Booktown page.

And there's a view of the village from the sky. We have not one but two covered bridges right in the village.

This week is the annual book fair. So if you are in the neighbourhood, do drop by.

Our house looks just as it does in the picture above - only minus the Victorian smithy shop and the paddock.


Free Willy?

I have been sadly remiss in posting here lately. Trying to write a new book seems to entail spending a lot of time avoiding my computer. I have read a number of books, though, and one day soon will post a number of reviews of said books.

In the meantime, I've been thinking about the subject of sex education books for children. For a long time I was hesitant about calling my latest picture book Where You Came From because it sounded so much like an earnest little pamphlet with pictures of cute little spermatozas swimming merrily along. Then I started to find that funny enough that I stopped caring.

I was talking about this with a friend and she said she'd gone out and bought a "facts of life" book for her son. Then she told me the title....


One for my friend Ezra

Here is Bill Martin Jr. singing the text from his book Brown Bear, Brown Bear:

Found over at weheartbooks.

I originally posted thinking this was the video of illustrator Eric Carle reciting the text, which is here:

I realised my foolish error while reading Fuse #8, which I am very happy to see back online.


A is for A beautiful book

I have this lovely and talented friend who knows how to make things - quilts, paintings, jewelry, gardens and other things beyond my imagining. Now popping in to her blog for a visit I find she has also made an absolutely beautiful abecedarium.

I've lifted a few pictures to show you here but you really should drop in and see for yourself: ABC here and DEF here.

The blog is called Desideratum and it belongs to Gwen Buchanan.


Two Bits Worth

You can now purchase an Anne of Green Gables quarter. If you really think you need one.

Heads or redheads, anyone?


Fireworks and other dangers

Mrs. Peterkin had always been much afraid of fireworks, and had never allowed the boys to bring gunpowder into the house. She was even afraid of torpedoes; they looked so much like sugar-plums she was sure some of the children would swallow them and explode before anyone knew it.
She was timid about other things. She was not sure even about pea-nuts. Everybody exclaimed over this: "Surely there was no danger in pea-nuts!" But Mrs. Peterkin declared she had been very much alarmed at the Centennial Exhibition, and in the crowded streets in Boston, at the pea-nut stands, where they had machines to roast the pea-nuts. She did not think it was safe. They might go off at any time, in the midst of a crowd of people, too!
Mr. Peterkin thought there actually was no danger, and he should be sorry to give up the pea-nut. He thought it an American institution, something really belonging to the Fourth of July.

"The Peterkins Celebrate the Fourth of July" in The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia P. Hale (NYRB).


The Red Tree

There's an article in The Australian about what sounds like a fascinating project: a musical collaboration based on Shaun Tan's fabulous picture book, The Red Tree.

The project brings together Richard Tognetti, Australian Chamber Orchestra artistic director, with composer Michael Yezerski, and the Gondwana Voices children's choir director Lyn Williams.

The performance will take place against a backdrop of illustrations from the book - a beautiful story about depression and hope.

Tan is best known as the author of The Arrival, but has a number of other wonderful books out there. There's a great interview with Tan by Elizabeth Bird at her School Library Journal blog.


Rattling On

Over at the wonderful Rattling Books site they are running a contest to find a caption for the Razorbill Cartoon by Jennifer Barrett which you see here.

Go to the site and learn how you "could win a yaffle of Rattling Books!" Yaffle?

And if you don't already know about Newfoundland's own Rattling Books you should have a good look round while you're there. They do all kinds of wonderful work - I'd particularly recommend the Mavis Gallant Montreal Stories.

I've just re-read "The Fenton Child" and was thinking about how Gallant's work fits into Steph Aulenback's category of stories "about childhood." Gallant has created some painfully knowing children.


First Book

I like the sound of this First Book program. They've just set up shop here in Canada and here's a bit of info from their site:

First Book is a nonprofit with a single mission: to provide children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 50 million new books to children in need.

Now qualified as a registered charity in Canada, First Book/Le Premier Livre stands ready to reduce barriers to book ownership by offering free and affordable new books to programs reaching the most disadvantaged children in Canada, ensuring every child is able to experience the joy of reading. First Book/Le Premier Livre is committed to providing wonderful stories by authors from Canada and around the world to children in need.

Here's a link for those who'd like to get involved and here's a link if you're interested in making a donation.


Kiddie Records

Oh this is too cool - found on Design Mom where Burgin Streetman was guest blogging: Kiddie Records.

I love the album cover art:

And there's a huge selection of old kid's albums to listen to. Oh, and look at this one!

And for your listening pleasure, here's the wonderful Manners Can Be Fun - you can download or stream.


Dolls vs. Action Figures

Okay, this is simply bizarre! A Hitchcock inspired Barbie doll:

Thanks to Maud for the link.

I was actually attacked by a murder of crows not too long ago and so won't be buying this one myself.

Perhaps, in honour of Canada Day next week I should be buying one of these instead: