Friday, October 30, 2009

They are all boy! Kegan is sitting on big brother Michael's back. Wish they lived closer so I could see them all dressed up for Halloween. I need to remind Mary she needs to take pictures of all three kids in costume.

Too bad today is not trick or treat day as we are supposed to have temperatures as high as the low 70s today. It is already 65 this early in the morning. But, then it will get cold and rainy. Perhaps a duck costume! I love Halloween and have the Today Show on because they are all dressed up as characters from Star Wars. Al Roker said he saw Star Wars three times in the same day when it first came out. In some ways it is difficult to watch this as Mic was an avid Star Wars fan and had just about every figure and prop there was. Sadly, we sold them at a garage sale when we left Alaska. I would love to have all of that now. Hindsight is always 20/20. No matter what generation you are from you know recognize the major Star Wars characters. Yoda is my favorite.

We had a wonderful chat with Suzanne Crowley last night. It was very clear she had done her research for The Stolen One  and we were all intrigued by the details. Imagine an entire warehouse next to the wharf to store Queen Elizabeth's close to 2,000 gowns. Many of them were encrusted with real jewels. Not Halloween costumes I'd like to wear though I love the elaborate costumes of Tudor England. It is unusual for an author to have input as to the cover art for their books, but Crowley chose the dress and even got to keep the gorgeous necklace. She has begun to collect pears, which do have a role of their own in The Stolen One. Wild red-haired Kat never met her parents, but she knows she isn't ready to settle down as the wife of a local farmer. She escapes to London, taking her less than willing sister along, playing the role of her maid. Soon Kat is one of the Queen's maids of honor and a confidant to Elizabeth. The rumors swirl through court that she is the illegitimate daughter of the Queen. Kat is in more danger than she realizes. Fans of historical fiction will be right there with Kat due to the lush descriptions of the settings and the wardrobes of the characters. When booktalking this novel, I wouldn't even say it is historical fiction - I'd focus on Kat and her quest to find out why her adoptive mother will not talk about her birth parents and the dangers she faces at court. Booktalks with teens is all about finding an element of the book that relates to teens today and that can be done with any genre, including historical fiction. There are plenty of teenage girls who will relate to feisty Kat.

Crowley's family history suggests that she is a descendent of Lady Jane Grey who was beheaded. Ann Rinaldi's Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey  would be a good compliment to The Stolen One. Offer it to the readers who bring back Crowley's book and want to read more about the Tudors. Jane Grey lived during the reign of Henry the VIII and lived in his court, developing a close relationship Katherine Parr and playing with Elizabeth and Edward. The intrigue of the Tudor court is fascinating and to think that if Elizabeth had been crowned queen instead of Jane Grey, and beheaded just days after being crowned queen, the future of England would have been drastically changed. I read Rinaldi's book when it came out in 2005 and I was fascinated by the intrigue and how the members of the court could start a rumor and destroy a life.

All of the cool costumes on the Today Show has me thinking of costumes for kids. A great book character Halloween costume would be Olivia, from Ian Falconer's delight series of books about a vivacious and imaginative young pig,  There are several picture books and board books to introduce your own vivacious little girl to Olivia. My granddaughter McKinley would be a very good Olivia as I can see her drawing all over the walls and trying on every outfit in her closet as she gets ready for school. Falconer used red as the only color in the first Olivia title and focuses on a different color in each book. A great set of books to introduce colors to preschoolers.

So, when I saw the cover of Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell I immediately thought of Falconer's books as it is illustrated in a very similar minimalist style and has a very feisty piglet main character. We now have a little boy piglet book for the boys who don't want to been seen with the Olivia books. Ruben is bored because it is raining outside. Mom tells him to go play with his little brother Julius and his cars. He proceeds to be a very loud ambulance and mother asked him to be quieter. But that doesn't deter Ruben for entertaining himself, if not Julius. His red Superpig cape does not keep him from landing with a THUMP! on a small couch pillow when he leaps off the arm of couch. Julius, in his round frame glasses, just quietly sit by and watches his older brother's antics. Of course, Grammy had an answer - GUM! Ruben teaches Julius how to chew gum with a smak, smak, smak while laying down, balancing on his head, etc. And, of course he swallows it. Mom said no more but Grammy reminds her that she too swallowed her gum when she was a piglet so Ruben was given another piece. Ruben's further antics will elicit giggles and even a few snort laughs from you and the youngsters you share this book with. And, of course there is a bubble disaster with Ruben delightfully shouting, "GUM!".

That's it for me today. I need to get the Crowley chat transcript sent to my students.