Friday, February 22, 2013

NPR and Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now

Hey, Kids!

I just heard that Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now is going to be NPR's next Backseat Book Club selection!  WooHoo!  I know, too many exclamation points, but how exciting is this?  What a great way to share this amazing book with a whole NATION!

Gary has long been one of my favorite authors and Okay for Now is just a brilliant book about friendship and abuse, being lost and being found, and knowing that heroes are made in the simple act of getting out of bed and setting a foot to the ground.  Sometimes, just facing another day like the last one is the bravest thing you can do.

Gary came to the Pacific Northwest in 2011 where we welcomed him to Third Place Books.  He held the adults in the room firmly in the palms of his hands.  Tears were shed, gasps were heard, books were signed.

Then next day, I got to watch him work his magic with school libraries filled with kids, most of whom were familiar with his work, all of whom were mesmerized by his stories.

There are a couple of blog posts with more information about Gary's trip to Seattle here and here if you'd like know more about him and his books.

I am thrilled to be a small part of sharing Gary's books with more people.  I was asked to encourage you all to submit questions for the interview with Gary on NPR's All Things Considered which will air at the end of February.  NPR's website is and you can leave questions or thoughts there.

NPR will be tweeting about Okay for Now between now and the end of February, sharing your favorite moments and quotes from the book at hashtag #OK4NOW.  Okay for Now's Twitter handle is @HMHKids (and NPR's is @NPRBackseat).  The publisher will be offering books for giveaway, the paperback edition is on its way! 

If you haven't read anything by Gary Schmidt, especially The Wednesday Wars and the Okay for Now, please run out to your bookstore or library now and bring one home to read.  Share it with your kids.  You won't be sorry you did and you can be a part of the Gary Schmidt book community!  Hey, this is like being part of a national book read, like the all-city reads so many towns have started.  How cool is it that we can all be a part of a NATIONAL book group!

Okay, get out there and read, people!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Picture Book Love

Sunrise was at 7:27, sunset will be at 5:21.

7:45 am Getting off the ferry on BI with a rare sunrise appearance
It's been lighter earlier in the mornings and lighter longer in the evenings.  I got off the ferry last night at 5:10 or so and, even though it was raining, the sky was brighter.  Don't we just live for these days?  The tips of branches are breaking out in little lumps that will one day be leaves.  My beleaguered daphne plant has tiny little pinknesses on what will eventually be blossoms.  The bulbs are pushing through the mulch and dirt. Lots of  spiky little crocus and meaty tulip leaves appearing out of the dark.

I was in New York City for one full day this week and the first thing I noticed was that the sun was up at 6 am and the windows up higher than my room on the 14th floor were gleaming in the rise.  That's when you really know that Seattle truly is a lot farther north than most of the rest of these United States.  Weird, though, how much colder that part of the continent is even though it's farther south!  Yes, I know it has to do with the Atlantic ocean and the attendant weather associated with it.  Jet streams, gulf streams, the shape of the earth; just something to amuse me when I have nothing else to do.  By the way, Seattle is at 47 degrees latitude, New York is at 40.  I read that each degree of latitude is about 69 miles apart from the other.

Anyway, spring is on its way on this side of the continent and I, for one, am happy to see it come.  As happy as I am to head out of the gray and cold, I have wandered through the picture book shelves that line the wall  behind me and found some winter stories to share with you.  I think one of these books is out of print but they are wonderful books.  Aren't we glad for libraries?

A Winter Place, by Ruth Yaffe Radin, illustrations by Mattie Lou O'Kelley, is a lovely little book about a special place hidden in the hills "beyond the town with the brownstone buildings with fairy tale trimmings" where the kids and parents can skate on a frozen pond until the sun starts to go down.  The illustrations are reminiscent of Grandma Moses but a bit brighter.  Ages 3 and up.  Little Brown.  Out of print.

White Snow, Bright Snow, by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin.  I love this book.  It's a look at a small town, the farmer, the policeman and his wife, and all the children who wait for the snow to fall.  "Then just when no one was looking, it came".  It's a quiet book filled with the feel of slower time, where when snow falls, children gather to play and everyone stays home to look at the snow-humped cars and rabbit tracks.  I love that the policeman's wife's big toe hurts so she knows that it's going to snow and that she needs to get a cough mixture for the medicine cabinet.  This is definitely a book those of us of a certain age will remember.  Ages 3 and up.  Lothrop (is there still a Lothrop?).  $17.99.  This was a Caldecott winner..

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr.  One of my favorite books of all time.  A little girl is finally old enough to go out in a full moon of winter to find an owl with her dad.  They walk through the snowy woods silently because, "If you go owling you have be quiet, that's what Pa always says."  She holds in all her words until an owl answers their call and they "watched silently with heat in our mouths, the heat of all those words we had not spoken."  There's something a little brave about this girl being out with her dad in the deep night of a full moon, not talking or complaining about the cold or her short legs hurrying to keep up.  The art is all in white and blue grays, shadow shades, except for the red stripes on the girl's scarf.  Just a wonderful moment in time. Ages 4 and up.  Philomel.  $16.99.  Another Caldecott winner, this one is still in print.

A Perfect Day, by Carin Berger.  I immediately fell for this wonderful look at winter filled with brightly dressed children playing in the snow.  After "It snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed" all the children come out to play.  Each child does something a little different:  Emma makes the first tracks, Otto gets lost in a drift, Willa climbed up a hill and then, all together, they made snow angels.  As dusk falls, they go home to hot chocolate and warm hugs, "the perfect end to a perfect day." Exquisite collage paintings on old white-washed ledger pages filled with half-seen words under dome shaped hats and trees, blue gray shadows, and sharp noses, illustrates exactly what a perfect winter day of snow and fun should be.  Ages 4 and up.  Greenwillow Press.  $16.99.  This book is new this year.

Best enjoyed on a cold day, curled up in a window, with a cuppa something to sip while reading.


(As always, no remuneration was received for mentioning anything in this post.  Please shop at your local bookstore!  Let me know if I can help you do that!)