Sunday, January 31, 2010

Author #12 - Dick King-Smith

He writes about animals - sheep herding pigs and musical mice.  And he writes about children.  Dick King-Smith's books are full of what he likes to call "farmyard fantasy".

A farmer for twenty years, King-Smith knows a lot about the animals who have made him most famous - pigs.  Babe,the Gallant Pig was turned into a very popular movie.  His picture book, All Pigs are Beautiful, illustrated by Anita Jeram, expresses King-Smith's affection for swine.

King-Smith doesn't restrict himself to writing about farm animals.  He has written about singing mice, (A Mouse Called Wolf), very intelligent guinea pigs, (Jenius ; the Amazing Guinea Pig), and a boy whose uncles leaves him a madly entertaining parrot, (Harry's Mad).

King-Smith's books are appealing to children in grades 3 and up.  Younger children will enjoy listening to the books, too.

Here are a few interesting facts about Dick King-Smith.  His first name is not Dick, nor is it Richard.  His name is Ronald Gordon King-Smith.  He has written 100 books for children.  And in the New Year's Honours of 2010, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.  That's SIR Dick King-Smith, to us all. 

This completes my 12 authors in 31 days challenge and I did not even mention some of my all time favorites; authors such as Elizabeth Enright, or E. Nesbit or A. A. Milne.  I decided not to profile my favorite American author, Lloyd Alexander, or even Susan Cooper OR Suzanne Collins!  Nor did I mention David Adler or Bruce Hale or Eva Ibbotson - how could I neglect Eva Ibbotson?  Or Patricia Wrede or Jill Paton Walsh or Ann Rinaldi or.... Stephen Krensky!!!???  I am just getting started. There are wonderful books on the shelves of the Parkland Community Library - or any public library.  Just borrow one or two- or ten - until you find YOUR favorites.  Let me know who you like best, please.

Author #11

Guess which Newbery Award winning author lives above an airplane hangar with her husband?  Betsy Byars, who won the Newbery Award for her novel The Summer of the Swans.  Byars and her husband are avid aviators and fly their own airplanes whenever they can.

Byars has written over 60 books, most about children who are navigating the treacheries of growing up.  Her Blossom Family series has recently been reissued in paperback.  The series chronicles the Blossoms whose mother rides the rodeo circuit and whose grandfather collects aluminum cans to recycle.  The first book of the series, The Not-Just-Anybody Family introduces Junior Blossom as he is about to "fly" off the barn roof as his older sister and brother watch from below.  The whole family, mother, grandfather, three children and dog, are fully drawn and their adventures are humorous tragedies of errors. 

Herculeah Jones is Byars' pre-teen sleuth, starring in four different novels.  Herculeah solves real crimes to the frustration of her Private Eye mother and her police detective father.

These two series just scratch the surface of Byars' impressive writing output.  Two of Byars' children, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, write books for children now, too.  So, the legacy will continue.

Check out for more information on this prolific author.  Then stop by the library and check out her books.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Author #10 - Jim Arnosky

Jim Arnosky is an author/illustrator who concentrates on wildlife and acquainting children and parents with the animals who share the world with us.  His alterego - or avatar - is a whiskered fellow in buckskin named Crinkleroot. Among Crinkleroot's many adventures, he guides readers through the season's in Crinkleroot's Almanac and searches for his pet snake in Crinkleroot' visit to Crinkle Cove.  

Arnosky's artwork is lifelike with a soft touch.  Although his animal's are authentic and realistic, Arnosky adds expressiveness to his creatures and humor to the events he chronicles.  Some of his books are scientific treatments to introduce young readers to animals in their habitats.  Others are picture books that give a snapshot of the lives of rabbits or armadillos or deer or black bears.  Occasionally, Arnosky tells a story from his own life, as in Big Jim and the White-legged Moosea song about Arnosky's run in with a moose.

Arnosky has written guides for older children and adults to photographing wildlife and freshwater fishing and guides to field trips near the ocean, in the mountains and through swamps.  His paintings are the next best thing to seeing the animals in person.  Look for his books in the next time you stop by the library.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Katherine Paterson - National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

The title, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, is only one year and a month old.  The first ambassador, Jon Sciezka, turned over his title to Newbery Award winning author Katherine Paterson, on Tuesday, Jan. 5th.

Paterson's most famous book is The Bridge to Terabithia, based on the actual death of her son, David's, good friend during his childhood.  The book was made into a major motion picture in 2007.  David Paterson worked on the screenplay for the movie.

Paterson won a Newbery Award for The Bridge to Terabithia and another one for Jacob I Have Loved, a novel that addresses conflicts between fraternal twins.

Winner of numerous other awards, Paterson's works include "problem" novels that deal with difficult subjects, such as death, social commentaries, and historical fiction like her look at textile factory workers in New England in the first half of the 1800s, Lyddie

Paterson is known best for her novels for readers in middle and high school but she has written original folktales that can be enjoyed by much younger readers.  Her The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks is a touching story of compassion and faithfulness with exquisite illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon.

This just introduces the wonderful writings of Katherine Paterson.  Her novels take place all over the globe and in many time periods, and they are always fascinating and challenging. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zilpha Keatley Snyder - Author of the Day

 Zilpha Keatley Snyder writes intriguing fantasies, mysteries, historical fiction and adventures.  The Egypt Game, a suspenseful story of crime with imaginative children as heroes, is a perennial favorite and a Newbery Honor Book. Snyder has had three Newbery Honor books in her prolific career.

The Headless Cupidanother Newbery Honor book,  introduces a series of books about the Stanley family, a family of siblings and step-siblings who experience weird supernatural events after their parents marry.

A more recent book, The Bronze Pen, is a loving portrayal of a young writer, Audrey, who struggles with the changes in her family and her own imagination.  A gift from a stranger, a bronze pen, may be the answer to Audrey's problems but it takes her awhile before she figures out how to use it.  Snyder leads readers on an adventure full of everyday happenings and worries and fantastic happenings to a feel-good ending.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder is still writing for readers in grades 4 and up.   Check out one of her books soon.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Daniel Pinkwater - Author of the day!

Imagine a girl with cat's whiskers, or Fat Men from Space, or lizards playing electric guitars.  Imagine a turtle that is the Universe, or a librarian that travels by dog sled, or polar bears who are B-A-A-D.

Daniel Pinkwater has already imagined those things.  Read about the cat-whiskered girl by visiting his website,  While you are there, look at his impressive list of published works and listen to his podcasts.

Pinkwater has been a pudding spokesperson, a dog trainer, a radio commentator and a host of other things but what he excels at is writing books that are long on humor and wild suppositions.  His audience spans all ages from the picture book crowd to adults who enjoy his comments on NPR.

Pinkwater's books are not the about the kid next door.  Well, the books might be about that kid, but the kid next door gets radio transmissions from aliens on his teeth, or has a family that relocates to Los Angeles just to eat in the Brown Derby restaurant, or has adventures with giant chickens in Hoboken, NJ. 

The picture book crowd will enjoy Bad Bear Detectives, about two polar bears who solve a mystery.  Slightly older readers can read I Was a Second-Grade WerewolfFrom there, readers can go to Fat Men from Space or Lizard Music or the more recent Neddiad  and Yggyssey.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Author , Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements made news with his novel, Frindle, published in 1996. He still considers it his most successful book.  Frindle tells the story of a smart boy who decides to coin a new word against the wishes of a domineering teacher.  Clements is good at getting into the minds of both children and adults and his plots revolve around the concerns of children today.

A prolific author, Clements writes for all ages.  He writes picture books and easy readers, such as Big Al and Shrimpy and Slippers at Home, and books that carry readers through grade school, and middle school such as Room One, Jake Drake, Teacher's Pet, and The Landry News. 

Clements writes for teens as well, most notably, his series about a boy who becomes invisible and his relationship with a blind girl; Things Not Seen, and  Things that Are.  Widely acclaimed, continually entertaining, Clements has a new series planned that will begin with the book, We the Children, due out in April of 2010.  Place a hold on that title today!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Author #4, and #5

Emily Jenkins is Author #4!  I just finished reading Toy Dance Party, the second book about the adventures of three toys, Plastic a red ball, Stingray, a plush dryclean-only stingray, and Lumphy, a plush buffalo.  These toys have to face that the Girl, Honey, is growing older and leaving them behind more and more in this book.  They also hold dance parties in the basement and support the Dryer in her need for extensive maintenance.  A new scary toy joins the ranks and earns two names.  Jenkins' toy characters are lovable, ingenious, and silly.  Both books, Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party are great for independent readers in grades 2 and up and even better when read aloud to youngsters of all ages.  Jenkins has written a number of picture books as well including What happens on Wednesday and Love you when you whine.

Emily Jenkins has a website where she lists her other accomplishments, including a bio and a couple of books for adults.  Check out some of Emily's books from the Parkland Community Library today.

Author #5 is E. Lockhart, author of splendiferously funny and/or thoughtful books for teens.  Her book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is full of pranks and philosophizing and stars a heroine who is smart, clever and resilient.  There is a heavy dose of feminism in Frankie's story but even more than that, the book shows how traditions begin and how quickly they take hold, especially in closed socieities, such as a privileged boarding school.  Read it for the fun pranks, though.  Everything else will fall into place days, weeks, even months after you put the book down. I hope another book about Frankie is in the offing.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book but I have yet to read The Treasure Map of Boys all written about Ruby and her affairs of the heart.  That book is going on hold for ME!

For more about E. Lockhart and her impressive writing history, check out her website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lunch Lady and Baghead - Author #3

When Jarrett Krosoczka visited the Parkland Community Library in 2003, right after his book, Annie Was Warned, was published, I was impressed with his artwork and his enthusiasm.  His book, Baghead, hit just the right chord as it told the story of a boy who wore a bag to hide his self-inflicted haircut.  Bubble Bath Pirates  makes a great storytime book and Krosoczka's other picture books are fun and colorful.

Now Krosoczka is writing for the Chapter Book/Graphic Novel crowd.  His Lunch Lady series will appeal to readers of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta series and to readers of other school-based books such as The Bailey Street School.  This is no ordinary Lunch Lady.  No, Krosoczka's Lunch Lady is a superhero of epic proportions and she always saves the day.  The fourth book in the series is due out in 2010.

Check out Krosoczka's website studio jjk to learn more about this versatile and talented author.  Krosoczka did a clever video about writing with appearances by several very famous children's authors and illustrators including Mo Willems, Jon Scieszka and Tomie dePaola.  The video is a lot of fun.  Click here to view it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

12 authors challenge

John Bellairs is Author #2 in the 12 authors in 31 days challenge.  John Bellairs wrote creepy supernatural mysteries for older readers - grades 6 and up - featuring one of three main characters.  In 1973, Bellairs wrote his very first teen novel, The House with a Clock in its Walls, starring Lewis Barnavelt .  This was followed by four more supernatural thrillers.  When Bellairs died in 1992, Brad Strickland, already a well-known author for teens, fleshed out outlines for 2 more Lewis Barnavelt stories.

Bellairs' most popular hero is Johnny Dixon, who first appeared in The Curse of the Blue Figurine, written in 1983.  Johnny has appeared in a total of 6 novels, 4 by John Bellairs and 2 by Brad Strickland.

Bellairs' third hero is Anthony Monday.  Anthony Monday's first appearance was in The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn,  a straightforward mystery with no supernatural elements.  When Anthony Monday returned in The Dark Secret of Weatherend, he was battling evil spirits, just like Lewis and Johnny before him.

John Bellairs' family has developed a very complete website,  Bellairsia, about Bellairs' life and works for teens and adults.  Bellairs' books are best for the strong-hearted reader in grades 6 and up.  The books are truly creepy without being too graphic.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cynthia Rylant

Cynthia Rylant is Author 1 of the new 12 Authors in 4 Weeks Challenge.

Rylant's very first book, When I Was Young in the Mountains was a Caldecott Honor book because of Diane Goode's illustrations.  What a wonderful way to start a writing career!  The story is autobiographical, talking of the time when Cynthia lived with her grandparents in West Virginia.

Rylant writes poetry, novels for teens and children, such as the Newbery Award Winning book, Missing May, books for beginning readers like the Henry and Mudge, The High-Rise Private Eyes, and the Annie and Snowball series.  She writes picture books, too, like her books about Little Whistle the guinea pig.  In all, Cynthia Rylant has published 100 books.

Most famous for her books for young readers, (Henry and Mudge,  and Annie and Snowball), Rylant's novels for older readers (Missing May, A Fine White Dust,)  delve into subjects as deep as grief and faith and are popular with teens and adults alike.

Rylant has written poetry, biographies, novels, picture books, board books (Everyday House and others) and an autobiography But I'll be Back Again : an Album.  

Click here to read what Rylant has to say about her life now.