"If you want to grow up to be a wise owl, you must stay up late," said Papa Owl. "And besides, I don't give a hoot what time your friends go to bed. In this family, we stay up late. Rules of the roost."Little Hoot, an otherwise happy little owl, goes through the looking glass of human toddler tribulation at bedtime when forced to stay up and play. With very few lines, the illustrator communicates the many moods of our nocturnal nay-sayer: a slightly sassy eyebrow lift when disagreeing with mommy, the sedate visage while practicing pondering and staring (owl skills, you know!), growing sleepy on the skateboard, and the ultimate snuggly comfort of being tucked into the nest at break of day. My very favorite illustration must be Little Hoot playing on the jungle gym in the park, with a bat friend hanging upside down alongside. This author/illustrator team would be hard-pressed to out-do the Sweetness Quotient and the cleverness of their last escapade, LITTLE PEA, in which a pea has to eat all of her yucky candy before she can have broccoli for dessert, but with this latest offering, they proved they were just wise enough to do it. "When I grow up, I'm going to let my kids go to bed as early as they want," Little Hoot bemoans, but I'm afraid human children are going to be up later than ever, asking for repeated readings of what is sure to be a favorite bedtime story. (3 and up)
Also of interest:
COCK-A-DOODLE HOOOOOO! by Mick Manning, illustrated by Brita Granstrom (Good Books) A forlorn owl wanders amidst some deprecating fowl, but earns the honorary title of resident rooster after a deliciously politically incorrect (but naturalistically accurate) run-in with a rat. Particularly jouncy cartoon art add to the barnyard jubilance of this story of a stand-out who finds his place in the group. (4 and up)
Thanks to my former fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Schultz, for insisting in 1978 that I read Farley Mowat's classic OWLS IN THE FAMILY (Dell, 8 and up), despite my wheedling and fervent complaints that 1) "I don't like animal stories," 2) "this book has too many boys in it," and 3) I couldn't read words like "Saskatchewan." I know the trend nowadays is to present children with books that have characters and situations to which they can closely relate. While that is inarguably important, I consider myself very lucky to have had teachers who also encouraged me to read to meet others so very different than myself (even boys!), and to use reading to expand my world, not just to affirm it. Today, dear booklovers, in your effort to be a supporting character in a child's reading life story, recommend a book outside of the box, and send out a thank you to a teacher who did it for you!
On a personal note:
A huge thank you to young adult literature guru, author and blogger extraordinaire Cynthia Leitich Smith for awarding (or is it a-roar-ding?) The PlanetEsme Plan a "Lion Award" from the Shameless Lions Writing Club . The award is in honor of "those people who have blogs we love, can't live without, where we think the writing is good and powerful." Award recipients then give the award to five other bloggers. In fact, the best part of the award is that it did come from Cynthia Leitich Smith, who would have been first on my list to nominate. Her own website, Cynsations, is a gold mine of information, interviews and inspiration for anyone involved in the field of children's literature, and in fact, it is she who inspired me early on to recognize the internet as a potent way of getting the word out about the power of children's books. Though she is a professional cyber-mentor, privately, I enjoy her personal blog SpookyCyn; although she has lots of juicy insider writing stuff there and updates on her gothic fantasy TANTALIZE , I must confess I mostly bookmarked it because I savor her gem-like descriptions of meals she eats around Texas! Even a children's book maven like me needs variety on the menu, and Cyn's posts always hit the spot.
Well, it seems then I am at bat to recognize five more bloggers, which is hard to do when I consider my own blogroll of favorites, but here's a few I check regularly:
THREE SILLY CHICKS Created by children's authors Andrea Beaty, Carolyn Crimi and Julia Durango, this blog never lets us forget that kids wil keep reading if they are laughing. Regularly updated, it also features offbeat interviews and contests.
VINTAGE BOOKS THAT KIDS LOVE I believe the average children's book goes out of print in about two years. This lovely site, replete with sample illustrations, keeps books in our hearts for much longer than that.
MIMI SMARTYPANTS Not for kids. Oh no no no no no. But sometimes I want to read about being a grown-up, even if it's in a world that could clearly be better run by kids. Snarky voice, but voice with a capital "V." Plus lots about Chicago. Bless you and your bad, bad mouth, Mimi Smartypants.
BELLA DIA: SIMPLY HAPPY PRETTY THINGS I lurk here regularly to be reminded that life is about making stuff, and also that life, she-is-a-beautiful! Juicy, vibrant photographs, and sometimes there are crafts that tie into books. (Clearly a cousin to another favorite blog of mine, GROW WINGS by Laini Taylor.)
Just one more? Well, okay. It would have to be BIG A, LITTLE A, because Kelly Herold does a Herculean journalistic job of making sure anyone who wants to know about goings-on in the children's lit "blogosphere" stay in the loop every single week, and her blog contains links to all of my other favorites, including but far from limited to Welcome to My Tweendom and MotherReader and A Year of Reading and Jen Robinson's Book Page. (OOOooo, I know I snuck in a few other links there, sorry. That's just the way I roll.)
All right, bloggers, if you were pretty in pink above, congratulations on entering the den of Shameless Lions. Now it's your turn to "pick five." Thank you again, Cyn Smith...that was fun! I am practically motivated to read Blogger's manual-like how-to's of creating a permanent sidebar of links for the PlanetEsme Plan, a New Year's Resolution of mine. (I'll get to it, I'll get to it. It's only January.)
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