Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29 Sunday Brunch

Information and opinions on children's books old and new, delivered Sunday Brunch style.


A few years ago, soon after the publication of Gary Schmidt's THE WEDNESDAY WARS (his second Newbery Honor, after LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY) the Michigan-based author had a speaking engagement/booksigning at a local library. As I've frequently mentioned on this blog, I am in awe of all my favorite writers -- and very much starstruck. Couple this with my natural shyness and you are not going to see me asking questions from the audience or making smalltalk with an author while my books are being signed. I can't do those things! However, when I attended that event (which was wonderful) I had a question I was just dying to ask Gary Schmidt. So I did what any other shy person would do in that situation: I begged my friend to ask the question for me!

Here was the question my friend asked: "Mickey Mantle appears in your novel but comes across as an awful person. Was the scene based on something that happened in real life? If not, weren't you concerned about depicting a real person so negatively in your novel?"

Gary Schmidt said that the scene in the book was completely fictional, but since stories of Mantle's cruel streak were legendary, he had no qualms about depicting the famous Yankee player in such a bad light. Later, someone who worked on the book sent Mr. Schmidt a note saying that scene rang true because they had once witnessed Mickey Mantle's bad behavior in person.

In the years since THE WEDNESDAY WARS, Gary D. Schmidt has continued publishing outstanding novels such as TROUBLE and last year's OKAY FOR NOW, which was nominated for the National Book Award and recently won School Library Journal's Battle of the Books.

This past week, Gary Schmidt was in town again for a presentation/signing. Because this event was sponsored by a school system and a big turnout was expected, I did not attend. (Plus, if I had gone, I would have had to leave work early. Besides, I was even more in awe of his talent since reading OKAY FOR NOW and probably would have made a fool of myself if I were there.) Fortunately, my bookseller buddy was providing books for the event and kindly offered to get my copies of OKAY FOR NOW signed for me.

This past Friday I picked up the books and was thrilled to see the inscriptions.

My first copy is very rare -- a large bound manuscript that was released even before the ARC (advance reading copy):

Here is how he signed it:

You are probably wondering how I've cost Mr. Schmidt a "boatload" of money. Apparently he sometimes reads my blog (pausing here to do a little happy dance) and has gotten tips on older books he wants to add to his collection. The interesting thing is that Mr. Schmidt has cost me some money too. If you look in the upper right hand corner, you will see that that bound manuscript cost me $12. ...But as he said, "It's all worth it." I treasure this unusual copy of his book.

Next is the ARC of OKAY FOR NOW:

and this great inscription:

Again, who knew he read this blog? I was both thrilled and nervous. Thrilled because I'm one of HIS faithful readers. And nervous because, well, he's a college professor who probably cringes at all my grammatical and punctuation errors.

Finally, he signed my hardcover copy of OKAY FOR NOW:

with this nice inscription:

Just when you thought I was about to add these volumes to the shelf with my other Gary Schmidt books and move on to the next blog entry....

...I'll adopt the voice of a TV infomerical pitch man and say, "But wait! There's more!"

A day or two before the signing, my bookstore buddy received this ARC in the mail:

She said that even Mr. Schmidt was surprised to see she had it, since the book won't be published till September. My friend had just started reading it that day, but asked him if he'd sign it to me. Here's the one-in-a-million inscription he wrote inside:

How cool is that? Even if this book goes on to sell a million copies, I've got the very first copy the author ever signed!

I am not, however, the first person to ever read this copy.

My bookstore friend spent the last couple days reading the novel before telling me to drop by the bookstore this morning and pick it up. I asked what she thought of the book, but she did not want to influence my opinion. So she simply said, "You'll have to read it yourself."

And now I can!


Just bought a copy of Walter Dean Myers' latest novel, ALL THE RIGHT STUFF, and noticed a silver sticker on the cover:

Here's a closer look:

This is the first time I've seen this sticker on a book. Was the same seal used on books by former Ambassadors Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson?

Is the sticker used only on books published during the author's tenure as Ambassador, or does it go on all of his previous books? It's great to see this honored acknowledged, but do you think this sticker will draw readers to the book? Or, more specifically, draw young readers?


In the history of young adult fiction, can you remember a narrator ever complaining about his prostate problems? I can't. But then most YA protagonists are somewhere between the ages of thirteen and eighteen...not sixtysomething widowers like the unnamed narrator of Aidan Chambers' new novel, DYING TO KNOW YOU.
Chambers is known for writing lengthy, complex books about big themes: identity, sexuality, death, religion. Though his latest has a less intricate plot than the Printz-winning POSTCARDS FROM NO MAN'S LAND and tighter prose than the doorstop-sized THIS IS ALL, the novel still touches on many of Chambers' familiar themes and offers thought-provoking insights into human behavior, communication, and the artistic impulse. Eighteen-year-old Karl Williamson first approaches the narrator, an elderly author, for help in writing a letter to his literary-minded girlfriend. As usual with Aidan Chambers, style is important as content, with the author employing pages of ping-pong-like dialogue, letters, instant messages, a random footnote, and traditional narrative techniques to show the slowly developing relationship between the younger and older man -- in many ways, two versions of the same self, and both carrying secrets. Smart, mature, and sometimes funny, DYING TO KNOW YOU presents a fascinating portrait of a teenage romance observed through the eyes of an old man while simultaneously exporing a uniquely-memorable intergenerational friendship.


Aidan Chambers is known for breaking with convention in his books for young people. His use of an adult narrator in DYING TO KNOW YOU got me wondering if there are many other books for children and teenagers that employ older narrators. Of course there are many cases where the protagonist is a grown-up looking back on experiences from his or her youth. But I'm thinking of something a little different here. I'm thinking of books FOR and ABOUT young people that are related by an adult who also appears in the story. The only ones that come to mind for me at the moment are two novels by Scott O'Dell. In KATHLEEN, PLEASE COME HOME, at least part of the book is narrated by the mother of a teenage runaway, while CHILD OF FIRE is told by the parole officer working with the book's teenage protagonist. Perhaps FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER would also qualify as a book with an adult narrator, although she only speaks in the first person during the framing device at the beginning and end of the novel. Can you think of any other books for kids with adult narrators?


Many years ago I happened upon this paperback copy of Helene Hanff's 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD at a local bookstore:

Late that night I picked up the book, planning to read a few pages before bed. Instead I read the entire (short) volume in one fell swoop. The next morning, before even getting out of bed to brush my teeth, I read the entire book again!

THAT's how crazy I am about this epistolary "love story" between a New York writer and a London bookseller. Since then I've read the book dozens of times, won a first edition for $25 at a library auction, went to see the stage production during a blizzard, and have seen the Anne Bancroft/Anthony Hopkins movie both in an empty theatre and at home on video. Throughout those years I have shared the book with many special friends.

I think anybody who loves books would love 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD.

Author Helene Hanff wrote several other books including UNDERFOOT IN SHOW BUSINESS, THE DUCHESS OF BLOOMSBURY STREET, and -- a real favorite -- LETTERS FROM NEW YORK.

In all these books, Helene herself pops off the page: larger-than-life, warm-hearted, gregarious -- the kind of person you would want as a friend. (Indeed, many readers felt so attached to her that they'd visit her in New York and even call her up on the phone.) Despite having such a "presence" on the page, Ms. Hanff was rather mysterious and private and no one seems to know much about her personal life. That's why I was thrilled when I recently came across this "biography" of the author:

I just finished reading it and almost speechless.

HELENE HANFF : A LIFE could well be one of the worst books I've ever read!

I'm assuming this book was self-published -- and points out the importance of those often unsung heroes and heroines of publishing: editors. You don't realize how important they are until you read an unedited book like this one, filled with typographical errors and copy-editing mistakes. On one page Helene is described as attractive, on another she's homely. One minute she hates fiction, the next minute she loves novels. We're told that Helene doesn't drive and then, a little later, she hops into "her small red sedan" to visit someone. An relative listed as MIA in World War II is referred to as both her second cousin and her brother.

But beyond that, the book is poorly-written on every level. The chronology is off. Huge events, such as Helene's romance and engagement are described and then dropped (we see her trying on her wedding gown and packing her bags, then her fiance leaves town on a short trip and -- this romance -- is -- never -- mentioned -- again!) Other scenes -- complete with much dialogue, inner thoughts, and plodding descriptions ("Once in her apartment Helene took a long shower and feeling hungry decided to eat a big piece of pumpkin pie and to drink a glass of milk. She started reading some notes on education while she ate but was soon very sleepy so she went to bed for a short nap") -- are so odd that they feel completely fabricated. For example, I have always understood that, as depicted in 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD, Helene Hanff moved to a new apartment on E. 72nd Street in 1956 and remained there the rest of her life. What to make of this biography's description of a homeless Helene living pretty much as a bag lady until a connected friend gets her a job outside New York City as a postmistress and librarian? I didn't believe much of this book. However, if you are a fan of the author -- hungry for more info on her life -- you'll still be interested in this awful volume for the little glints and glimmers of the author's life that might be true.

And I do admit I liked the appended bibliography that lists all the books in Hanff's famous home library. She even owned a few children's books -- classics by Carroll and Milne, as well as, most intriguingly, a copy of THE DARK IS RISING by Susan Cooper. That last one really surprised me, as Hanff was known for her strong dislike of Tolkien.

In 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD, Ms. Hanff makes reference to writing several children's history books during the 1960s. I've seen a few of them and they are typical of the dreary informational "book report" volumes you frequently saw in libraries back in that era.

This new biography also tells about a young-adult book she was commissioned to write in the 1960s, about the political radicals of the time:

I knew about that one, but must admit I did not know that she also wrote two picture books in the 1960s.

Published by Harper in 1964, TERRIBLE THOMAS is the story of a kid running rampant in a NYC apartment. Shades of Eloise. Kirus Reviews described it as a "tedious tomfoolery."

Then in 1969, Parents Magazine Press released BUTCH ELECTS A MAYOR, which Kirkus called "pretty feeble."

Anyone know it? Many Parents Magazine Books were released through their book club and are remembered very fondly today. Is this book remembered as fondly as other book club titles such as MISS SUZY, JELLYBEANS FOR BREAKFAST, and OLD BLACK WITCH?


While Helene Hanff's children's books may be long-forgotten, her best-known work, 84, CHARING CROSS ROAD is so beloved that a commemorative plaque has been placed at the former location of Marks & Co., the bookshop that inspired her memoir.

Perhaps even more unusually, Ms. Hanff's former NYC apartment has been renamed "Charing Cross House," with a plaque outside containing a quote from the book.

This got me wondering if there are any building plaques that honor children's books and authors.

I did a quick internet search and found several in Europe. Here's one honoring Erich Kastner, author of EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES, in Germany:

The location of the sweetshop recalled in Roald Dahl's BOY also merited a plaque:

as did a former home of Kate Greenaway:

and this one marks where J.K. Rowling wrote the early part of Harry Potter:

Can you think of any comparable sites here in the United States? Leonard Marcus wrote a book called STORIED CITY, which contains working tours of famous children's book sites in the Big Apple:

Maybe someday we should all take this tour and stop to put up plaques (or at least post-it notes!) at each location.


Thanks for visiting Collecting Children's Books. Hope you'll be back!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Big Crunchy Sunday Brunch

Today's Sunday brunch focuses on Pete Hautman, Dick Clark, Little Golden Books, and other random children's book info.


This was my second and (sad sigh) last year serving as a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the category of Young Adult Literature. It was a blast. A couple months ago, fellow judges Cindy Dobrez, Angelina Benedetti, and I spent a spirited Saturday morning narrowing a long list of possible finalists down to five books: BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray; THE BIG CRUNCH by Pete Hautman; A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness; LIFE : AN EXPLODED DIAGRAM by Mal Peet, and THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater.

This past Friday night, at a star-studded ceremony in California, author Cornelia Funke announced the winning title:

THE BIG CRUNCH by Pete Hautman.

Here is how we described the book in our recommendation:

"An ordinary boy meets an ordinary girl in a novel that is anything but ordinary. Wes and June’s relationship mirrors the magnetic pull of an unfolding universe. Against a backdrop of the four seasons a series of brief, often understated, vignettes alternate between the perspectives of each teenager, highlighting their sometimes shared, sometimes differing, perspectives on young love: the physicality, the confusion, the euphoria, and even the occasional moments of disconnect. It’s rare to discover a love story this elemental in its telling, this balanced in its point of view, and this honest in emotion. Pete Hautman’s The Big Crunch redefines and re-energizes the “teen romance” genre for twenty-first century readers."

Big Congrats to THE BIG CRUNCH and its four extremely worthy fellow nominees!


To honor Mr. Hautman's big win, I've compiled a list of ten things you may or may not know about him:

1. SCHOOL DAYS : Pete Hautman attended the same Minnesota grade school as comedian/writer/senator Al Franken and filmdom's Ethan and Joel Cohen.

2. HE WRITES FICTION FOR ADULTS : Hautman entered the field of fiction with several books for adults, including DRAWING DEAD (1993), SHORT MONEY (1995), and THE MORTAL NUTS (1996) and has continued to publish adult novels such as RING GAME, MRS. MILLION, RAG MAN, DOOHICKEY and THE PROP during his career as a young adult author.

3. HE HAS A PSEUDONYM : Under the name "Peter Murray," he has published nearly 100 nonfiction books for children, on topics ranging from dinosaurs and kangaroos to juggling, paper airplanes, and chocolate chip cookies.

4. IT SOMETIMES TAKES HIM A LONG TIME TO WRITE A BOOK : According to his website, the author wrote INVISIBLE in just six weeks, but many books take longer because "I often get stuck when I'm writing. Rather than brood about it, I'll set a book aside for weeks, months, or years and work on something else. I usually have several projects underway." And some books take an entire lifetime to write. For example, GODLESS originated with a conversation Hautman had with some friends as a teenager; decades later he wrote the book and won the National Book Award for it. Of his latest work, "The Klaatu Diskos," Hautman says, "I've been thinking of this trilogy my whole life."

5. SWEETBLOOD AND THE SPOOKY COINCIDENCE : Hautman's vampire novel SWEETBLOOD took twenty-five years to write. He conceived the story in 1978, long before today's vampire craze began, developing the offbeat premise that vampire legends from the middle ages could simply have been cases of undiagnosed diabetes. The book would not be published until 2003. In the interim, Pete Hautman himself had been diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

6. HE'S GOT A CO-AUTHOR : Hautman shares his life with writer Mary Logue, who write poetry, adult mysteries, and children's books (DANCING WITH AN ALIEN.) Together, they've teamed up to write a series of mystery novels for kids including SNATCHED (2006), SKULLDUGGERY (2007), and DOPPELGANGER (2008.) They also started writing Hautman's new book, WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT, together but abandoned the project when Pete became (his word) "pushy." He later finished the book alone, but credits Mary with some of the best lines in the first four chapters of the published book.

7. HE'S A BIBLIOGRAPHER'S WORST NIGHTMARE : Writing across genres, writing solo and with a partner, using a pseudonym...we can deal with that. But having the same book published under three different titles will confuse the best of us:

8. DUSTJACKET DISASTER : Then, to confuse us even more, his publishers made a major goof with the dustjacket of THE BIG CRUNCH. If you've read the book, you know the female protagonist's first name is JUNE. Unfortunately, the dustjacket flap consistently refers to her as
9. HE'S MAKES FILMS : Pete Hautman has also been known to make "trailers" to promote his books on Youtube. Here is the one he made for THE BIG CRUNCH.

10. HE'S GOT TWO BOOKS COMING OUT THIS SPRING : It's pretty rare for an author to have two books released in the same publishing season, but Pete Hautman has accomplished that this spring. His romantic comedy WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT was published a few months back by Scholastic and Candlewick just released THE OBSIDIAN BLADE, the first volume in the "Klaatu Diskos" trilogy. And we've got reviews of both book below!


One of the most engaging aspects of THE BIG CRUNCH is its exceptionally evenhanded exploration of boy/girl relationships. That balanced view of love and romance is also on display in WHAT BOYS REALLY WANT, a novel told in the alternating voices of high schooler Lita
and her best friend Adam. Lita is a wannabe writer who is working on a novel and writes an anonymous blog about relationships, but it's not-reading, business-minded Adam who actually sits down and writes WHAT BOYS WANT, a book that tells "the truth about what real boys are thinking, saying, and doing when it comes to sex, love, and romance!" Though neither shallow, oblivious Adam or snarky busybody Lita are particularly likable characters, their humorous dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny. While the text could have been tightened by a third, the breezy story will likely have both male and female readers nodding in recognition at Adam and Lita's insights into what boys and girls really want from each other when it comes to romance and love.

THE OBSIDIAN BLADE is the first volume in a new science fiction/fantasy series titled "The Klaatu Diskos." An enigmatic opening relates how a "discorporal Klaatu artist" from far in the future created a series of portals that opened into important historical locations.
The story then moves into the present as thirteen-year-old Tucker's father, fixing a loose shingle on the roof, tumbles through one of those portals -- or diskos -- and returns some time later with a little girl ("She is from...Bulgaria"...yeah, like the Coneheads were from France!) and a complete loss of religous faith -- particularly troubling since Tucker's dad is a minister. In the months to come, Tucker's mother has a breakdown and then both his parents disappear, leaving the teenager in the care of a hip uncle he's never before met. Soon Tucker himself is traveling through the mirage-like diskos floating in the air -- finding himself atop the World Trade Center on 9/11 and viewing the crucifixion of Jesus. Though filled with stunning moments, the novel becomes increasingly abstruse as it continues. By the final chapters -- in which Tucker has mysteriously aged, his mother has returned home years younger, married to another man, and not recognizing her son, and Dad is now an aged, evil religious leader -- many readers may be as confused as I am. I'm not sure what to make of the "Klaatu Diskos" at this point, but will trust that Hautman knows what he's doing and that the disjointed and confusing plotlines will seamlessly converge and make total sense in future volumes.


I've often said that my book collection, not to mention this book-collecting blog, would be pretty dull if I didn't get a lot of help from friends.

That was proven again this week, when two east coast friends went out of their way on my behalf.

First, my New York friend, who planned to attend the annual Newbery/Caldecott event at Books of Wonder, volunteered to take my first editions and Advance Readings Copies of winner DEAD END IN NORVELT and Honor Book BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE to the store to have them signed by Jack Gantos:

and Eugene Yelchin:

Meanwhile, my Connecticut friend recently told me expect a package in the mail. It didn't arrive and, instead, took a little trip back and forth across the country, until it finally arrived in my mailbox this week.

It was an ARC of one of this season's most talked-about children's books:

personally inscribed with a meaningful statement by author Barbara Wright:

That particular friend is currently out of the country on vacation, so I have not written her personally to thank her for the wonderful surprise. Maybe she'll see it here first. In fact, maybe both of my friends will see this posting and know how grateful I am. Thank you, guys!


Dick Clark died this week at age 82. It's a sign of his longevity in the entertainment business that every generation remembers him a different way.

Today's young people probably know him best from "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and the American Music Awards.

People of my generation knew him from hosting game shows. On our first trip to New York, in 1979, my brother and I watched a taping of THE $20,000 PYRAMID hosted by Dick and starring Joanne Worley and, of all people, David Letterman. (Children's book connection: THE $20,000 PYRAMID also plays a role in the Newbery-winning WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead, a novel set in 1979!)

And of course people from an earlier generation new Dick Clark best from AMERICAN BANDSTAND, the show which earned him the title "America's Oldest Teenager."

Did you know that Dick Clark also wrote a few books for teenagers?

There was YOUR HAPPIEST YEARS, which was published both in hardcover:

and in paperback:

Then there was TO GOOF OR NOT TO GOOF, also in hardcover:

and paperback:

He also wrote a few books for adults. I am somewhat skeptical whenever an entertainment personality is credited with writing a book. I know there are times when the famous individual really does write the volume, but there are other times when their only contribution is allowing their name to appear on the front cover. I don't know which was the case with the above YA books by Mr. Clark, but I assume this oddity -- apparently passed out as a bowling lane freebie -- is an example of just lending his name and image to a publishing package:

I think the following novel may be my favorite memorial to Dick Clark. Published in 1959, TV BANDSTAND is the story of a teenage girl who gets a make-over and joins the cast of "TV Bandstand, the popular, daily record hop at the television station." According to the dustjacket, "Here's a story as fast and irrepressible as rock 'n' roll itself. All teen-agers, especially those who enjoy 'American Bandstand,' will acclaim it true to life and one of the most exciting books they've read."

Published when the author was only twenty-eight, TV BANDSTAND has been long out of print, but it's apparently quite well-remembered by former teens. It's in demand among book collectors and, the few times a copy turns up, it often sells for between $100 and $200.


There are just a few more days for kids to vote for their favorites in the fifth annual Children's Choice Book Awards.

According to a recent article in School Library Journal, over half a million kids participated last year and this year's goal is one million.

This year's finalists -- selected by the Children's Book Council -- are:

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year

BAILEY by Harry Bliss
DOT by Patricia Intriago
THREE HENS AND A PEACOCK by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole
ZOMBIE IN LOVE by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Scott Campbell

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year

THE MONSTROUS BOOK OF MONSTERS by Libby Hamilton, illustrated by Jonny Duddle and Aleksei Bitskoff
SIDEKICK by Dan Santat
SQUISH #1, SUPER AMOEBA by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year

BAD ISLAND by Doug Ten Napel
HOW TO SURVIVE ANYTHING by Rachel Buchholz,illustrated by Chris Philpot
LOST & FOUND by Shaun Tan
OKAY FOR NOW by Gary D. Schmidt

Teen Book of the Year

CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
PASSION by Lauren Kate
PERFECT by Ellen Hopkins

Author of the Year

Christopher Paolini for INHERITANCE
Rick Riordan for THE SON OF NEPTUNE

Illustrator of the Year

Victoria Kann for SILVERLICIOUS
Brian Selznick for WONDERSTRUCK

Kids (and, hey, no cheating!) can cast their votes here!


I imagine that it's now been beaten out by boy wizards and teenage vampires but, as recently as 2001, THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY headed Publishers Weekly's list of "All-time Bestselling Children's Book."

This modest little volume by Janette Sebring Lowrey was one of the first twelve volumes published by Little Golden Books in 1942.

Today, Janette Sebring Lowrey remains virtually forgotten (to see how Ursula Nordstrom tried to nurture her talent over decades, get a hold of DEAR GENIUS, edited by Leonarad Marcus) but Golden Books are still going strong.

Here's an interesting article about the Little Golden Books that just appeared on ABEbooks site. Just seeing the pictures of those old book covers brought back a flood of memories, plus I enjoyed the comments from readers recalling their own favorite Little Golden Books from the past.

If you have an interest in Little Golden Books, the best place to start is with GOLDEN LEGACY, a history by Leonard Marcus:

You might also be interested in this bibliography of all the Little Golden Books published between 1942 and 1985, compiled by Delores B. Jones:

And book collectors will appreciate these identification and price guides by Steve Santi:

Though once criticized as cheap, commmercial "supermarket" books, the Little Golden Books frequently feature prose and art from creators who would later become famous in the world of children's books. And no one can deny the impact these books have had on the childhoods of millions.


Considering her huge output of children's and young adult books, it's somewhat surprising that I only have one book by Andre Norton on my library shelves. It's a paperback copy of her 1947 book ROGUE REYNARD, which was re-issued as a sixty-five cent Dell Yearling paperback in 1972.

I probably never would have bought it, except I was collecting Yearling Books at that time. However, I ended up loving it -- which is why I still own this volume while most of my other Yearling books have been lost, given away, or upgraded-to-hardcover over the past forty years.

Strangely, my love of this book did not make me an Andre Norton fan. The public library had dozens of her science fiction novels, and every now and then I'd check one out...but never made it past the first chapter or two. Science fiction just wasn't my thing, and I could never get past all those impossible-to-pronounce names of characters and planets. Later in life I did read and enjoy a couple of Ms. Norton's fantasies such as LAVENDER-GREEN MAGIC (I'm not a big fantasy reader either, but those stories were grounded enough in the "real world" to keep me interested) and at least one of her science fiction epics, THE JARGOON PARD (see what I mean about funny names? What's a "jargoon"? What's a "pard"???)

However, I've recently decided that -- as someone who writes about historical children's books -- I really do need to read at least a couple of Andre Norton's science fiction novels, just so I can have some perspective on the matter.

I asked one Norton fan what book would be a good starting place -- a readable title that will keep me interested and isn't overwhelmed with characters named Pker and Hslan living on the planet Xtrobilia.

This fan recommended Norton's SOLAR QUEEN.

Unfortunately, our copy is checked out of the library at present. While I wait for its return, can anyone recommend other favorite Andre Norton titles that might turn me into a fan?


This weekends LA Times Book Prize Awards were presented as part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a weekend celebration full of speeches, discussions, events, booksignings and other fun. I particularly liked this huge banner that public was invited to sign:

Wouldn't it be great if every city had one of these hanging for the public to sign. What a great way to advertise books and show that reading is fun!


Thanks for visiting Collecting Children's Books. Hope you'll be back!