Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday

Happy Friday to One and All!

Today's Poetry Friday roundup will be held at Big A little a. Leave your links in the comments, and I will roundup throughout the day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poetry Friday

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura Purdie Salas. Head on over and leave your links!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Poetry Friday

Anastasia Suen is hosting this week's Poetry Friday at Picture Book of the Day. Head on over and leave your links!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Poetry Friday!

This week's Poetry Friday roundup and the October-December calendar will be posted here. Please leave your links in the comments!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poetry Friday

This week's Poetry Friday will be held at Becky's Book Reviews. Head on over and leave your links!

(The calendar finally will be posted Friday evening.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Poetry Friday here!

This week's Poetry Friday will be hosted here. I'll have two posts tomorrow morning--a Poetry Friday entry and a Fall Schedule post. You may leave your links in the comments to any post and I'll roundup throughout the day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poetry Friday: Time for a New Schedule

It's that time again: Time to schedule Poetry Friday hosts!

We need volunteers for September, October, and November. Available dates are listed at the end of this post--just leave a comment here or at Crossover with your preferred hosting slot. I'll update throughout the weekend.

Today's Poetry Friday is up over at The Boy Reader.

September 4:
September 11:
September 18:
September 25:
October 2:
October 9: Crossover
October 16:
October 23:
October 30:
November 6:
November 13:
November 20:
November 27:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Update

Hi Everyone!

As I mentioned in my late Poetry Friday roundup, I am finally online again and ready to blog. Here's what will be happening:

1. I'll be keeping Poetry Friday updates and hosting schedules at Crossover. (And, at Big A little a, for the time being.)

2. I'll be reviewing crossover books at Crossover. (Next up: Exposure, by Mal Peet.)

3. Grandma's Picture Book reviews will be posted at Big A little a.

I'm back on both blogs and back on my e-mail account ( If I owe you an e-mail, I'll be in touch this week.

Super-late Poetry Friday Roundup and Other News

Three weeks ago I was to be the host of Poetry Friday. And, I'm sorry I let you all down: I experienced a massive computer failure.

Fortunately, my hard drive was saved and, after 10 days or so, I was back in business and buried under makeup work. Now I'm eager to get back into the blogging here and at Big A little a.

First things first: Today's Poetry Friday is being held over at Becky's Book Reviews.

Now, on with the June 26 roundup:

Sylvia Vardell shares fascinating news from Germany (where's she served as a Fellow at the International Youth Library) at Poetry for Children.

Elaine Magliaro shares an "ironic" poem from an anonymous friend at Political Verses
. Don't miss it!

Laura Purdie Salas contributes an abecedarian called "Shooting Star" this week

Diane White shares a lovely sunflower poem this Poetry Friday.

And, speaking of sunflowers, our poetry stretch master, Tricia, shares Frank Steel's "Sunflower" at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Julie Larios also contributes some super-cool abecedarian works this week at The Drift Record.

Laura Shavon offers up "Bus-ting Out: Field Trip Poem," a sneakpeak from her MG We Rule the School: A Fifth Grade Yearbook, at Author Amok.

Laura Purdie Salas is back again with commenter poems inspired by a close-up photo of salt grains. Don't miss them--they are so much fun.

Diane May discusses a site called 3 Lights Gallery--a haiku experience--at Random Noodling

Kurious Kitty (Diane Mayr) contributes "Selecting a Reader," by Thomas Kooser, at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet.

Andromeda Jazmon also contributes an abecedarian poem--"Blessed are the Broken-Hearted"-- this week at A Wrung Sponge.

Andy discusses a piece by Walter de la Mare over at The Write Sisters. Thanks, Andy!

Betsy Bird reviews City I Love, by Lee Bennett Hopkins, at A Fuse #8.

The Stenhouse Blog shares a beautiful poem by second-grader Ellen called "Peace."

Carol celebrates thunderstorms in Denver with "Rain in Summer," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, at Carol's Corner. (I hear you, Carol!)

Stone Arch Books shares "Vacation," by Rita Dove, at their blog.

Kelly Fineman, who can talk poetry like no one else, covers Shakespeare's Sonnet 106 this week.

Little Willow shares a quote from Chris Evangelista's The Fatima Sisters at Slayground

Laurel Snyder contributes one of her (and my) favorite poems--"Why I am Not a Painter," by Frank O'Hara.

John Mutford reviews René Fumoleau's Here I Sit at The Book Mine Set

Jama Rattigan shows us (mmm...) all that is poetry in lemons at Alphabet Soup

Oh, and one of my favorite writers, Jim Danielson, makes lemonade from the lemons at Haunts of a Children's Writer.

Sara Lewis Homes shares a poem from Rilke's Book of Hours at Read Write Believe".

Susan contributes "Camden, New Jersey," by Kate Rushin, at Color Online.

Priya brings in "Morning Monster," by Jaqueline Jules, at Book Crumbs. (Thanks for participating, Priya!)

If I missed anyone in my deliquent Poetry Friday roundup, please do let me know!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Poetry Friday Apologies!

I am so sorry I missed the Friday roundup! Another summer, another computer crash.

I'll post an old-school roundup this (Monday) evening.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Poetry Friday

This week's Poetry Friday will be held at Carol's Corner. Don't miss it, and have a fabulous Friday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Solace of the Road, by Siobhan Dowd

Solace of the Road
By Siobhan Dowd


I’m still traveling with the kids and the parents in Scotland and am following my goal of reading a number of books on the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize longlist. The one book I was most eager to read was Siobhan Dowd’s Solace of the Road. It was not easy to find up here in the Highlands, but I finally found one lone copy in Aviemore’s Waterstones. And, thank goodness, really. Solace of the Road is a book worth reading—for teens and for adults.

On the surface of things, Solace of the Road is a simple tale: Holly is a fifteen-year-old English foster child who decides to run for it and find her mother in Ireland. After years in a group home, she’s finally found placement with Fiona and Ray, a middle-aged couple whose comfortable lifestyle and quiet comportment rankles after the chaos of the group home. Holly questions whether or not Fiona and Ray even like her, or will the slightest infringement send her back to the home. In heading out on her own Holly convinces herself she is postponing the inevitable.

Solace of the Road becomes a road novel as soon as Holly takes a runner. She ‘borrows’ a blond wig from her foster mother and renames herself Solace, becoming an older, more sophisticated version of her 15-year-old self. She makes it all the way to Ireland—by bus and by hitching a ride with a number of strangers—before realizing her mother, in fact, would not be waiting for her on the other shore.

While runaway teens aren’t exactly a groundbreaking subject in Young Adult fiction, Solace of the Road is unique in its telling. Siobhan Dowd’s characterization nears perfection. Holly/Solace takes off with nearly forty pounds, but manages to blow it all on the first leg of her journey (Oxford), instead of squirreling it away carefully to last the entire trip. Holly’s judgments are split-second, instead of well considered and reasoned. When, for example, she finally decides to break her own moral code and shoplift, she nicks a pretty, floaty dress, instead of food. And, like most teens, her talent for denial serves her valiantly all the way to Ireland.

Solace of the Road distinguishes itself from standard teen fiction thematically, as well. While Holly meets one or two creeps on the road, most people who help her out do so out of human kindness—as would be the case in real life. This is not a dark teen novel, but rather one in which ordinary goodness shines through—to the reader and, in the end, to Holly as well. When back with Fiona and Ray at the novel’s conclusion, Holly realizes what she has experienced when talking with a therapist:

Other times I tell her [the therapist] about everyone I met on my travels. I show her the map and describe the good people on it who were like guardian angels because they did something to help me and asked for nothing back.

Chloe, who told me about Thule.
Kim, who gave me a sandwich.
The magnet man.
The boy on the motorbike, whose name I never knew, and Kirk, even, with his truckload
of pigs.
Sian, who said I had a figure like a dancer.

And Phil with his sad vegan eyes giving me the cake with pretend candles, and God is sitting in him still, I bet you, and he’s taking the scenic routes and chasing the white dividers in his cheese truck, planning his next move.

All these people—Phil the Vegan Truck Driver easily the best among them—help Holly on her journey, and only want the best for her, though they think she’s an eighteen-year-old off to elope with a sketchy boyfriend. Call me naïve, but I suspect this is what happens in the majority of similar situations, and level-headed realism instead of stylized darkness is refreshing to read in a teen novel. Enjoy this one on the road.

Solace of the Road
By Siobhan Dowd
U.K. edition
David Fickling Books
London, 2009
Copy Purchased


U.S. edition due October 13, 2009.

I have to admit I hate the cover. I am so tired of the back of teen girls’ heads. Can someone please put a stop to this? Please?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Poetry Friday

This week's Poetry Friday will be hosted by Brian Jung at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp. Enjoy!

Review: Missing, by Karin Alvtegen

By Karin Alvtegen


Missing, by Karin Alvtegen, is a psychological thriller published for adults that will entrance teen readers as well. Missing is perfect for teens for two primary reasons: 1) The central mystery alternates with flashbacks to the heroine’s teen years and 2) the heroine, Sybilla, resolves Missing’s unique mystery with the help of a 15-year-old schoolboy.

Sybilla Forsenstrom lives on the streets in Stockholm, a life she has chosen since escaping an emotionally-abusive mother, neglectful father, and a stint in a mental institution. Every so often, Sybilla cleans herself up, dresses in a professional suit, and charms wealthy businessmen into buying her dinner and a room of her own in a fancy hotel. One night her luck runs out: a traveling businessman, who treats her to dinner and books her a room in Stockholm’s nicest hotel, is murdered and brutalized during the night. Sybilla becomes the prime suspect and begins a life on the run.

Sybilla’s run from the police becomes more complicated as three more men are murdered—in locations she’d never visited. One night, while living rough in the attic of a school, she meets a schoolboy named Patrick, who believes in her innocence, only because the fourth man was murdered when they were sharing the same attic space. (Patrick wanted to experience “living rough.”) Together they figure out who really committed the murders and set out to clear Sybilla’s name.

Sybilla’s life on the lam is interspersed with vignettes from her childhood and teen years. The cold horror and loneliness of her childhood provide insight into Sybilla’s fascinating character and her choice to live on the streets as an adult. Missing moves along at breakneck speed and is perfect for a rainy afternoon or an (enforced) family trip.

(Cautions: There is one sexual encounter in Missing Sybilla is reluctant to participate in, but it is also one that makes sense within the context of the story and her life on the streets.)

By Karin Alvtegen
Translated by Anna Paterson
Felony & Mayhem Press (New York)
2009 paperback edition
Copy purchased.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Poetry Friday is Back at Crossover/Big A little a

First and foremost: An enormous thanks goes out to Mary Lee of A Year of Reading who helped me during my great blog crisis of 2008-2009. She organized hosts and kept Poetry Friday going when I was unable to keep track of things. Thank you, Mary Lee!

I'll be posting the schedule here, and at Big A little a, and on the kidlistosphere group from now and into the future. As a reminder, here's who's up next:

June 12: Brian Jung at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp
June 19: Carol Wilcox at Carol's Corner
June 26: Kelly Herold at Crossover
July 3: Tabatha Yeatts at Tabatha A. Yeatts
July 10: Jama Rattigan at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
July 17: Becky Laney at Becky's Book Reviews
July 24: Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading
July 31: Sylvia Vardell at Poetry For Children
August 7: Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
August 14: Andromeda Jazmon at a wrung sponge
August 21: Kyle at The Boy Reader
August 28: Kate Coombs at Book Aunt

Thank you all for hosting, and I can't wait to join in the fun again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Guardian Children's Fiction Prize: Longlist

I'm not going to be commenting on children's book awards often on this blog (with the exception of The Cybils, of course), but if there's one children's book prize that favors the crossover novel, it is the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

Here's this year's longlist of novels--a list populated by authors known for writing on more than one level to more than one audience.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
Then by Morris Gleitzman
Rowan the Strange by Julie Hearn
Exposure by Mal Peet
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

I'm heading to the U.K. in a week, and I hope to read as many of these as possible, but I can promise you that I will definitely read and review the Dowd, Gardner, Hearn, Peet, and Sedgwick.

Have you read any of the list? Recommendations?

In Case You've Missed It...Mary Sues

Gail Gauthier (Original Content) and Liz B. (A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy) take up Mary Sues in teen fiction.
  • I love Gail's concluding remarks, which pertain, in a way, to the mission of this blog: "If I stay away from romance, will Mary Sue characters stay away from me? If I don't write about anyone over the age of thirteen will I be safe? What if I use male main characters? Will that work?"
  • Liz asks a very important question: "So my question is, how do you identify a Mary Sue in an original book, when he or she is not in a fanfic context?" Liz discusses the wikipedia article in this context--one I'd never read before.
Interesting stuff, and don't miss the comments.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Twilight Discussion

Hey, great discussion on Twilight and its crazy crossover domination yesterday.

Most of the talk, however, took place over on Facebook, so I'm going to summarize here.

David Elzey (The Excelsior File) wrote, "the romance, the heroic boy and the damsel in distress, the simplicity. it isn't the vampires, it isn't the quality of writing, it's all very basic and LCD. never underestimate the popularity and power of the simple in all its forms."

So then I wanted to know--what about all those crazy adults?

David tied the phenomenon to economic uncertainty and distress: "okay, simplicity and escape for adults. when things get rough with the economy, when wars overseas continue without end, when people find so much distressing and depressing financial news around them they turn to escape, either fantasy or comedy."

Obviously a good point, but then I noted that Twilight came out (and readers began going nuts) before the economy tanked. I asked, "Maybe readers feel the onset of bad times?"

David answered:
  • "Twilight is a very post 9/11 book, if you ask me. perhaps history and perspective will better support that notion. harry potter's popularity with adults in this country didn't click until the third book, which was in 1999 at the cusp of the internet bust.

    readers may, indeed, be ahead of zeitgeist in terms of defining popular culture.

    n.b. ... Read Morevampires in popular American culture: 1930s, 1970's, now – all periods of economic distress. rats and plague ships and blood-suckers. must be a connection in there somewhere...
Kimberly Hirsh (lectitans) moves on to the character of our damsel in distress--Bella Swann, writing, "she is so calculatedly nondescript. (When I read Twilight, I was like, "Hey! My boyfriend says nice things to me too! WHEE!" I ate it up. Afterwards, I was like... Wait. That wasn't, y'know, good, actually.)"

[Ed: Kimberly's last comment made me laugh.]

Sarah Stevenson (Finding Wonderland) adds two more possibilities for Twilight: 1) Always going to be readers who like vampire books; 2) protagonists are upper-YA, nearly adult

And Eisha Prather (7-Imp) concludes with a very important point: "All flaws aside, I think Meyer is great at capturing teenage sexual tension, particularly the kind that comes from not quite being ready to go all the way, but wanting to very badly. That had a lot of nostalgic appeal for me, as an adult reader - such vivid recall of a time when even holding hands was thrillingly erotic."

Okay, now from comments to the actual blog (which you can read in full on the previous post):

Michele Thornton agrees, in part, with Eisha: "My opinion is that it's lots of lust and longing, but no actual sex, which makes it safe AND titillating. To Teens? Perhaps it's the brooding and inwardly focused Bella. To adults? No clue. I did read the first book, and confess that while I often rolled my eyes at Meyer's less than "beautiful" prose, I did keep turning those pages until the end. Why? She made me want to know what happened next, which is really the first job any writer should accomplish."

SAM agrees with Michele and adds, "The reason why the parents are [reading], in my opinion, is because it is something that they can share with their kids who want to grow up so fast in this day and age. It is for some one of the last few things parents can do together with their children.

Kelly Fineman recommends the Twilight books as diet aids (for real!) and gives us new insight into the Bella character: "What makes them work is the very Mary Sue main character, Bella Swan, who is the reader's proxy in the books. She's clumsy and awkward and whiny, yet still manages to charm all the boys, including Edward Cullen. And once she vamps out midway through Book 4, she vampires better than anyone else. She's living the dream - ordinary girl who attracts extraordinary things, and ends up being the Very Best Vampire Ever with Extra-Special Powers. "

Liz B. (A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy) and Monica Edinger (Educating Alice) talk about the younger kids Lee Wind mentioned reading the books too early. Monica says, "For most I think it is about reading something they know is "important" and about older folks and the page turning quality."

Finally, writer P.J. Hoover says nostalgia played a big role in her reading of the first book: "Twilight had that power that made me want to be 17 again. "

Anyway, a good discussion with many interesting ideas. I'll leave you with Sarah Haskins' theory (the bad boy) in Target Women.
Technorati Profile

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

Most of the time I'll be recommending or reviewing good crossover books to share with teens and adults on this blog.

But, I also want to understand the crossover phenomenon and how it happens--which books transcend age boundaries and why.

I'm not even sure we can begin discussing crossover unless we consider Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Now, I'll be honest. I haven't read these books and don't plan to. But I sure seem to know all about them. I know grown women type into Internet confession boards, admitting to "wanting my own Edward Cullen" on a daily basis. Lee Wind (I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I read?) wrote in this morning and says, "My daughter told me yesterday that on her school bus she saw a 3rd grader reading Twilight"

What makes Meyer's vampire novels appeal to third graders, to their intended teen audience, and to adult readers, too. All theories welcome.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mission Statement

is a new blog for my new life.

During this academic year I had to step back and just take care of the basics--my children, my courses, my students, my home. Blogging and all related activities (The Edge of the Forest, The Cybils, etc, etc...) had to take a backseat to real life.

But how I have missed blogging about books and my many real and true friends in the kidslitosphere. I am ready to return, but know I have to start small. So here are my plans:

1. This blog, Crossover, focuses on a rare breed of book--the adult book teens love, the teen book adults appreciate, and (very, very occasionally) that Middle Grade book adults read. I'm interested in reviewing books that transcend these age boundaries and understanding why these books are different.

2. Four times a year, a group of first-year college students will read and discuss just such a book for a post at Crossover. A written summary and a podcast will be provided.

3. Posts will include reviews of crossover books (or audiobooks) or considerations about the crossover phenomenon.

I can't wait for the conversation to begin!

Now...concerning Big A little a, my first love. It also will continue, with reviews of picture books and all other children's books I don't feel have crossover potential. I am discontinuing the weekend reviews (if anyone wants to take them up, please do!) and will only reference review articles on Crossover from now on if they concern a book with crossover appeal. I plan to participate in Poetry Friday on Crossover, as well.

Finally, I have to say that as of this moment I have declared an e-mail and reader bankruptcy. I am beginning with a clean slate, and I can't wait to talk books with you all again.