Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Love graphic novels?

Graphic novels are one of the most exciting book formats around today, attracting highly talented and creative artists and writers. Besides that, they are just fun to read - as many of our students will tell you!

However, it can become overwhelming trying to figure out which graphic novels are appropriate for which ages, as well as simply keeping up with all the new publications. That is where Graphic Novel Reporter comes in. It's a wonderful website packed with reviews, interviews and more (e.g. a manga glossary). This site covers fiction and non-fiction for all ages from early childhood through adult.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Reader's Bill of Rights

We all understand the value of reading, but I fear that sometimes adults can convey to children the sense that reading is good, but only if you do it the "right" way. This is partly why I love the Reader's Bill of Rights, which is a nice reminder that there are many good ways to read.

Readers have:
  1. The right to not read.
  2. The right to skip pages.
  3. The right to not finish.
  4. The right to reread.
  5. The right to read anything.
  6. The right to escapism.
  7. The right to read anywhere.
  8. The right to browse.
  9. The right to read out loud.
  10. The right not to defend your tastes.
—Pennac, Daniel, Better Than Life, Coach House Press, 1996.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mr. President

With the inauguration making the headlines, kids may want to read more about the White House, presidential history and other topics. Check out KidsPost, the Washington Post's children's section, for current news and historical information. Our White House, the companion site to a recent book from the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, is also filled with fascinating information.

Finally, check out some fun reads from the library! School Library Journal's article, The Road to the White House, is filled with great recommendations.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

David Macaulay: The Way He Works

Many of our students (and their parents!) are already avid fans of David Macaulay. His books perfectly mirror the intense curiousity about the world that is a hallmark of our school community. You will be delighted to know that from January 17-June 14, 2009, the Tacoma Art Museum will have a special exhibit of his work.

Those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of getting to know his books are in for a treat! Macaulay is not only the recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Genius fellowship, he is also a prolific Caldecott-winning author and illustrator of numerous books for all ages. Check out his website for more information.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A book review from Mr. Costello!

Running with the Reservoir Pups by Colin Bateman

Reviewed by Tim Costello

Scamming youth gangs, the kidnapping of babies, a protagonist who’s experiencing a terrible string of bad luck – with these overarching themes, Running with the Reservoir Pups is not your feel good, they all live happily ever after type of tale – which is exactly what makes it so appealing.

Irish novelist Colin Bateman’s first foray for middle readers, Running with the Reservoir Pups tells the story of Eddie Malone, who, as we learn in the book’s opening pages, finds himself in a new place with no friends after his mother informs him that his dad has left.

Living the nurse’s quarters of Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, Eddie has plenty of time to snoop around, and his snooping quickly gets him in trouble with both Bernard Scuttles, the head of hospital security and the rough and tumble gang, The Reservoir Pups.

Eddie's situation goes from bad to worse when his mother starts dating Scuttles. He believes Scuttles is behind a plot to kidnap Alison Beech, one of the richest and most revered women in the world. Beech is visiting the hospital to give a very generous donation, but it turns out that the problem is instead the kidnapping of babies. Eddie is the only witness, and apparently the only one who can save the babies.

Set primarily in Belfast, the book is full of fascinating and humorous colloquialisms and expressions, and is written with a crispness and efficiency that will delight adolescent readers.

The audience is definitely middle school and higher, although adults can get just as pleasure from this lively and witty tale. Vista Academy students will be drawn to the witty storytelling and non-stop action of this whirlwind adventure. Enjoy the ride.

I would highly recommend this book, and I think you’ll be eagerly anticipating Colin Bateman’s next installment in this compelling series, Bring Me the Head of Oliver Plunkett. He is also the author of 13 novels for adults.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reading Rainbow's Young Writers and Illustrators Contest

Check out the Reading Rainbow site for more information about this fun contest. Create your own picture book and submit it by March 12th for a chance to win!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Publishing children's writing

Over the years many students and their parents have asked about options for publishing children's writing. I wanted to bring your attention to two magazines that publish work by young people:

Stone Soup
Stone Soup is unique among children’s magazines — it’s the only magazine made up entirely of the creative work of children. Young people ages 8 to 13 contribute their stories, poems, book reviews, and artwork to Stone Soup. Since 1973, Stone Soup has provided inspiration to young writers and artists all over the world.

New Moon Girls
Our bi-monthly magazine is forty-nine pages of 100% advertising-free, highest-quality content for girls ages 8-12! You won't find diet advice or popularity contests here.New Moon Girls magazine is about helping girls discover and honor their true selves, engage in meaningful pursuits and dialogue, and express their voices in ways that matter.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Storymakers: A Creative Challenge for Young Writers

Attention middle schoolers! KCTS public television station is sponsoring a writing contest. Follow the link below for more information!

Storymakers: A Creative Challenge for Young Writers invites students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades living in Washington State and British Columbia, Canada, to submit their own original creative writing pieces. Entries can include fiction, non-fiction, poetry and prose not to exceed 1000 words.