Monday, November 30, 2009
The dog park was quiet when we got there, but after awhile a woman with five dogs - yes, five - arrived and the chaos began. Chaos being a dog named Zeus - a medium-sized, black dog with an attitude problem. The first thing Zeus did upon spotting Sadie and Kate was charge across the dog park at full-speed, stopping directly in front of Sadie, where he barked like his head was gonna spin off. Sadie hardly knew what had hit her before Zeus bolted (sorry, couldn't help it) away to torment some other dogs and people. Everyone was in an uproar. This Zeus dog was like a big bully entering a classroom at art-time and stealing all of the little kids' crayons. But Sadie wasn't having it. So, maybe it was from holding in all of her aggression over the weekend from being chased by Isabella, or maybe she was just determined not to let her perfect Sunday in the dog park go to waste, but the next time Zeus charged and barked, Sadie stood her ground. She put her mouth right up to his and barked even louder, and wouldn't ya’ know it, Zeus ran away and didn't bother us again.
This got me thinking; isn’t it funny what animals can teach us about life? Haven't we all encountered a Zeus or two before, or maybe dozens? I know I’ve certainly met my share, especially when living, working and riding the Subway in New York City. So I'm proud of my little dog for standing up for herself. And I’ll keep this weekend’s dog park episode in the back of my mind for the next time I come face-to-face with a Zeus.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Mr. Blake lives in South Kensington, and loves to cook fish. He says he spends his free time reading and will have upwards of 7 books on the nightstand near his bed, some of which he never finishes reading.
Blake started drawing at the age of 5, and did illustrations for the magazine Punch when he was 16. His interest in English, education and drawing, naturally progressed to illustrating children’s books, which he started doing in his 20’s. He worked with author Roald Dahl for 15 years.
Blake says that he enjoys both illustrating his own books, Clown (1995), and other authors' books like The BFG by Roald Dahl, because they are both interesting in their own way.
All in all, I think Quentin Blake is pretty darn cool and a great contributor to children’s literature. His illustrations just scream childhood and I love their whimsical and airy feel. What is your favorite Quentin Blake or Roald Dahl book?
So, with the leaves turning red and falling to the ground, and the weather getting colder here in Northern California, Sadie was in need of a nice, warm bed. I call this her "burping-clam bed", because after she drinks water really, really, really fast, she climbs in and scoots all the way to the back and then burps, and, well, it looks like a clam-shell...it's pretty funny and pretty sad how easily entertained I am...
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
If you're interested in joining the picture book marathon, it looks like another one is starting up in February of next year. Visit the website to learn more.
Some of my favorites, below:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In my head, are dozens of ideas brewing for stories written in the magical-realism genre, but today I came to the realization that I think I would like my next book to be based on something more ordinary. I don't mean ordinary as in boring, because really what is ordinary? But as I was trying to explain to a friend's mother-in-law the other day, I write mainly magical-realism only because I find it easier for my mind to go to a far out place, rather than regurgitate stories from my childhood. She didn't quite know where I was coming from and thought it was odd that it would be easier for me to create a story from the twisted depths of my mind, rather than what happened to me in 2nd grade. But my response was precisely that, it's not easy to grab a story from youth and turn it into something that will keep readers turning the page. So, maybe it's because I didn't have an ordinary childhood, or maybe because I like to see the quirks in people, but I've decided that my next novel may just have to be a "simple" book based off of my childhood. My mother remarried when I was seven and I had a rough time with it, especially because her new husband (my step-dad) made my sister and I eat jumbo-sized salads for dinner every night instead of the mac-and-cheese we were used to - sounds silly now, but wasn't then. And also because we had to move back and forth between northern and southern California because of his job. These are the events that may seem ordinary in the long run, but when you're 11 or 12 they can almost break you....you know what I mean?
Sorry if I'm rambling, and thanks to you who managed to make it through my midnight scribble, but if I have made a point, it's just that the ordinary is never that. Each of us must go through specific, sometimes trying events in life which get us to where we are today. And it's exactly those events which make us who we are.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
L. Frank Baum (b.1856-1919) was the legendary author of the Oz Series, the most famous of those books being The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the first of the series and originally published in 1900. Baum went on to write 13 sequels as well as other various works. The L in L. Frank Baum, stands for Lyman, a family name that Baum disliked and so preferred to go by his middle name, Frank, instead.
Baum had many interests, including a fascination with theatre, and wrote plays as well as performed under the stage names, Louis F. Baum, and George Brooks. Once, when Baum was touring with a theatre in Richburg, NY, it caught fire and destroyed not only the theatre, but the only known copies of many of Baum's scripts, including, ironically, Matches, the title of the parlor-drama playing there.
These are some of the illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Dorothy Gale looks quite different how she was originally imagined, compared to that of performer Judy Garland in MGM's 1939 movie.
Dorothy confronting the Wizard of Oz, and in a dreadful mess with the cowardly lion and the flying monkeys.
Friday, November 6, 2009
HarperCollins is reissuing three of the books with forwards written by author Meg Cabot, columnist Anna Quindlen, and crime writer Laura Lippman. Meg Cabot (think Princess Diaries), said in the NY Mag article, "In an age when teenagers openly discuss blow jobs, she found Betsy's concerns about, say, holding hands with boys oddly empowering. Plenty of girls today are freaked out about sex...these books allow them to slip back into a world where it wasn't expected."
Maybe it's a testament to getting older, but I find taking a step back to when things seemed simpler...refreshing. If you ask me, there are too many examples, be it with t.v. shows or current books, in which teens are having sex and drinking. Yes I watch the new 90210 sometimes, and even The Vampire Diaries, which I blogged about recently, but although I find them at times to be entertaining, it bothers me that they show kids hanging out at bars and drinking like they're adults - where is the innocence! When I lived in New York City a couple of years ago, I went to dinner with some friends one night on the Upper East Side, where very obviously underage kids (15, 16) were being served liquor. The waiters were happily bringing pitcher after pitcher of Sangria over to their table, and when my friends and I confronted our waiter about it, he simply turned around and walked away - we didn't get such great service after that...
So yeah, what you see in Gossip Girl obviously really does exist.
As Quindlen points out, "...the mores of the two girls (in Lovelace's books) may be antediluvian, but their goals are modern." The article goes on to say that the Betsy-Tacy books are currently quite popular, but I'm curious to know if the readers are older, nostalgic women who were fans when they were kids, or if actual teens-of-today are reading them? I predict that my two teenage nieces are about to get a package from Amazon...
(Pick up the Nov. 9th, 2009 issue of New York Magazine to read more. "Original Gossip Girls- The Return of Maud Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy Books", written by Alexandra Lange).
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I came across this artist by way of reading Publisher's Weekly, the Fall 2009 children's books edition, where there was an author profile on sci-fi/fantasy writer, Scott Westerfeld. His new book Leviathan, released in October, is the first of a planned four book series imagining a WWI fought with "hybrid creatures, living products of Charles Darwin's 19th Century discoveries about DNA and bioengineering."
Westerfeld discovered artist/illustrator Keith Thompson when he was surfing the web for inspiration and for artists specializing in Steampunk. Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy that denotes works set in a world where steam power is still widely used, usually the 19th century and Victorian England. It's also something I've been researching for my next book which I'll write more about in a future post.
Doesn't this just make your mind spin!? This is a giant bio-engineered whale kept afloat by microscopic hydrogen breathers, also featured in the book Leviathan.
I can't help but be inspired by these dark, otherworldly illustrations. In the PW profile, Westerfeld says "that the back-and-forth process of collaborating with an artist has invigorated his writing, allowing him to build on Thompson's equally inventive imagination."