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November 2005
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January 2006

Sisters Grimm Contest

If you're 14 or younger, you can enter to win $1000 and a trip to New York City plus tickets to Wicked, among other things, by writing an original fairy tale -- or an adaptation of a story you love. Before July 1, 2006.

It's part of a Sisters Grimm promotion, and all the details are here. There are lots of other prizes as well (mainly money) and even if you don't win, you'll have WRITTEN A STORY, which is way cool.


Andi Buchanan's Boyfriend List

Its_a_boyAndi Buchanan, managing editor of Literary Mama and editor of a collection of that same name plus Mother Shock: Loving Every (other) Minute of It, is on the GCC with me. Her boy book is rather different from my own.

Mine: The Boy Book (out in October) Ruby Oliver's continuing adventures in kissing, social leprosy and the horrors of high school.
Hers: It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons (out now) Essays on aggression, teenagers, and the relationships between mothers and boys.

Interesting, right? Her website has notes about the essays inside, plus links to like a zillion blogs on parenting and the like which reviewed her book.

Andi also has a fun and interesting blog that's good reading not just for mothers but for anyone interested in balancing domesticity and feminism, work and play, sexuality and ambition. (Not that those are all opposites!)
And she wrote us this educational and pithy boyfriend list!

Thanks, Andi!


What I Learned From My Boyfriends
by Andi Buchanan

The comedian
Timing is everything. Also, once you analyze the comedy, it's not funny anymore.

The basketball player
Work on your three-point shot.

The musician
When someone says he's a tortured artist who's no good for anyone and can't be saved, believe him.

The one that got away
When someone says he likes you and thinks you're smart and talented and beautiful, believe him.

The secret one
Love is possible, even when you are sure it's not, even when you least expect it.

The one I married
Love is choosing each other, again and again, every day.

Dear Reader

If you're stopping by my site and you haven't read The Boyfriend List, you can get free excerpts mailed to you on email over the next week, by signing up for The Dear Reader Teen Book Club.
Then if you like it, you can buy it or get it from your local library! And you get the fun of reading it at the same time as everyone else in the club.

Thanks to Alex Flinn for the head's up! Alex is the author of Nothing to Lose, Fade to Black and the upcoming Diva. You can get a sneak peak at the cover of Diva and read an excerpt, here.

More on the Mackler Ban

The uber-cool Carolyn Mackler, author of Vegan Virgin Valentine, Love & Other Four-Letter Words and The Earth, My Butt and Other Round Things, send me these links to TWO msnbc stories about the banning of her book in Baltimore.

The main article:


I've read all Mackler's books and they are smart and thoughtful and funny. They aren't remotely exploitative when they touch on sensitive issues, and they've won lots of awards. Support her books in your school library! Buy them for your friends! Don't let institutions censor what you read.

Book Meme

15 things About Books: a meme

I was tagged for this by Cecil Castelluci about a week ago and only just now finished it!

It's just 15 things about BOOKS, and if any of you reading this want to, consider yourself tagged!

1) I love cookbooks. Cookbooks with pictures, especially. I like to read them and turn down their pages and spill food on them and plan menus. I just got The Gourmet Cookbook as a birthday present and made the most delicious soup from it. Soup from a book!

Rackham2) Old illustrated fairy tale books with tipped-in color plates: I have a small collection, many inherited from my mother. Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Kay Neilson – artists like these. I look at them relatively rarely, but I am glad they are there.

3) Books of literary theory that I never read in grad school – or that I read and painfully underlined and never want to read again. These were calling to me from my shelves and making me feel guilty about not reading them. So I put them in a box on the street and marked it "Free Literary Theory" and people took them home and I was glad to see them go. The bossy old creatures.

4) I love P.G. Wodehouse. The world is sunnier because of his writings. And that is no small thing.

5) MFK Fisher, the food writer. Reading her helped me learn to savor life in a different way.

6) Some books have opened my eyes, but these books are often painful to read. Backlash, by Susan Faludi, for example. Or books about animal rights.

7) I have wanted to write books since I was seven years old. It started with Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren.

8) Tolkien. I do like some fantasy, but he has never caught my interest. My mother read me The Hobbit when I was only five and I was desperately bored but couldn't find the heart to tell her, because she was enjoying it so much, herself.

9) Iris Murdoch. The Good Apprentice. What a fantastic book.

10) I tried for several years to write a stage musical of the Betty and Veronica comics . Lost the rights, in the end. But I loved those comic books, and still do.

11) Picture books. I love them. Looking for holiday gifts for the small fry in your life? Something they don't already have? This was a fantastic year for picture books. I say run right out and buy Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems, Traction Man is Here! by Mini Gray, The Hello-Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Rashka. Wet Dog by Elise Broach and David Catrow, or the new dinosaur pop-up book by Robert Sabuda.

12) I have rather severe book storage problems.

13) An example of my random tastes: next to my desk there is a pile including Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier, Worlds of Childhood : The Art and Craft of Writing for Children, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, Great Expectations by Dickens, and A Girl Like I by Anita Loos.

14) I dog-ear the corners of books. I like them that way.

15) I even love books on audio. Am presently in the middle of L'Affaire, by Diane Johnson; and before that Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani.

Happy Holidays!


When Jeff Comes Home

Catherine Atkins, author of Alt Ed and When Jeff Comes Home, writes this in her weblog:

"I was interviewed Wednesday by a reporter for the Dallas Morning News about the challenge to When Jeff Comes Home in the Irving School District. The superintendent is requiring middle school parents to write permission letters if they want their students to be able to read the book. Librarians at the school have appealed the decision, so the matter has gone to the school board, which is reading the book now and will cast a vote in January. Stay tuned."

When Jeff Comes Home is the story of a teenage boy who returns home two years after his abduction at the hands of a psychopath. Booklist said, of what is presumably the controversial material: "the scars on his back are but surface hints of the guilt, fear, and self-loathing he feels because of what Ray forced him to do. Leaving those details to a few horrifying but not explicit flashbacks, Atkins paints a compelling picture of a crime victim desperate for help but trained to reject it."

I've read it, and I agree. The material is handled with zero sensationalism and great subtlety and sensitivity.

It won the following honors: ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Booklist Top Ten First Novel, IRA Young Adults Choice, Nominated for the Garden State Book Award, Nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Book Award.

I believe that supppressing what children and teenagers read at an institutional level (libraries and schools) is wrong and inhibits the freedoms our country is based on. Check out the AS IF! weblog for more on similar issues.