Authors & illustrators

Slightly spooky books are fun now -- and later

I'm the kind of adult who does not (emphasize not) like scary movies. I stopped reading scary books after I read a Stephen King novel that gave me nightmares.

So if you like the type of books that give you major creeps, then don't bother reading any more. But if you're up for not-too-creepy books to share with the children in your lives, you may find an idea or so here.

The gift of a thank you letter

I love children's writing. It can be fresh, fun, and unexpected. It can also be rare. E-mails just don't have the staying power of a pen (or pencil) and paper correspondence.

But recently I got a batch of thank you letters from a group of 4th graders at the grade school from which my son graduated. I had donated some new books to the school.

The librarians and teachers are always appreciative as their budget frequently doesn't allow them to purchase new materials.

Knowing what you see

A film critic's review of the film version of Where the Wild Things Are in today's Washington Post started me thinking. In it, the writer says clearly that the film adaptation of a picture book classic is not typical family film fare but that the film version "created a fully realized variation on its most highly charged themes."

A new Pooh or Pooh continued?

It's being released this month…a new adventure of Winnie the Pooh. You remember Pooh bear, I'm sure. He and his pals from the Hundred Acre Wood have been part of childhood since well, for the past 80 years. A.A. Milne, the author of Pooh (and more) died in 1956.

And now, the Milne trust has entrusted Pooh to another writer.

Building comprehension, one corpse at a time

A runaway train. A ticking clock. Two young kids on an adventure they don't even know about. Sound exciting? That's the premise of the first episode of the Exquisite Corpse, a new project sponsored by The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

From the Exquisite Corpse site:

An exquisite corpse?

Lots of people know the work of Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and illustrator Chris Van Dusen. But last weekend at the National Book Festival, a group of well known writers for children and young adults discussed their Exquisite Corpse.

Book to screen

Children's books have inspired creators of other media for a long time. You can probably come up with many television programs inspired by characters who first appeared in print: Rosemary Well's Max and Ruby; Angelina, based on the mice-children created by Katharine Holabird, and Marc Brown's ever popular aardvark Arthur are just the start.

A time to remember

The anniversary of 9/11 is here. The impact continues to be felt in subtle and not so subtle ways. One day changed our society and frankly, our world — the world of our children.

Older children and adults can grasp — to some degree at least — what caused these changes. But young children don't have the reservoir of experience to make sense of it.

When 9/11 first happened, my son returned to books in which the weak were able to gain power over stronger forces. To him, books provided a sense of control.

You can't let your failures define you

"You can't let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time." What an important and powerful message for students from President Obama.

What's in a backpack?

My son started school today. Even though he's in high school, some things never change.

He packed up his backpack neatly and with great care, filled with clean notebooks, capped pens, and uncluttered with superfluous papers.

That'll soon change — and has ever since my well-organized, basically neatnik son got his first backpack in 2nd grade.


"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio