Thursday, October 29, 2009

Texas Book Festival '09

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday) is the Texas Book Festival. As always, the event is free and will be held on and inside the Capitol and around the Capitol grounds. Check here for the complete schedule.

Some panels of note to the youth literature community:


2- 3 PM, Saturday, October 31, Capitol Extension Room E2.2012: Deals with the Devil: Writing about Faustian Bargains, featuring Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal; and Daniel and Dina Nayeri, authors of Another Faust. Moderated by April Lurie.

10:30 - 11:45 AM, Saturday, October 31, Capitol Extension, Room E1.012, Badgerdog: Youth Voices in Ink, featuring Rene Saldana Jr. Moderated by Melanie Moore.

12:00 - 1:00 PM, Saturday, October 31, Capitol Extension, Room E1.012, Small Town Girls with Jill S. Alexander, author of The Sweetheart of Prosper County; Heather Hepler, author of The Cupcake Queen; Jacqueline Kelly, author of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate; and Diana Lopez, author of Confetti Girl. Moderated by Sarah Bird.

1:30-2:30 PM, Saturday, October 31, Capitol Extension, Room E1.012, Everybody Needs a Hero, with K.A. Holt, author of Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel; Aaron Starmer, author of Dweeb; and Rene Saldana Jr., author of The Case of the Pen Gone Missing. Moderated by Joanna Nigrelli.

3:00 - 4:00 PM, Saturday, October 31, Capitol Extension, Room E1.012, The Texas Book Festival UIL Fiction Writing Contest. First Place winners will receive their awards and read their compositions. Moderated by Lila Guzman.

Picture book readings will be in the Read Me a Story tent on 11th Street all day. Additional panels of youth literature note will be all day in the Family Life Center at 1300 Lavaca.


3:30 - 4:15, Sunday, November 1, Capitol Extension, E2.102, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book, with Anita Silvey. Introduction by Gillian Redfearn.

1:00 - 1:45, Sunday, November 1, Capitol Extension, E1.004, The House of Night Series,
with authors Kristin and PC Cast. Moderated by Nettie Hartsock.

2:00 - 2:45, Sunday, November 1, Capitol Extension, E1.004, Michael Scott, with Michael Scott, author of the Nicholas Flamel series. Introduced by Topher Bradfield.

3:30 - 4:30, Sunday, November 1, Capitol Extension, E1.004, Ouch! That Hurts featuring Libba Bray, author of Going Bovine; Jessica Lee Anderson, author of Border Crossing; and Sara Zarr, author of Once was Lost. Moderated by Varian Johnson.

In addition, picture book readings will be in the Read Me a Story tent on 11th Street all day.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Texas Memorial Museum

Texas Memorial Museum (Austin, TX)

This small museum on the campus of the University of Texas, built in the 1930s, is now exclusively a natural history museum, featuring displays on evolution, Texas wildlife, and vertebrate paleontology.

The basement houses the Shoal Creek plesiosaur, the Onion Creek mosasaur, several dinosaur skeletal fragments, and various Paleozoic and Cenozoic animals (including the giant "armadillo," glyptodont, below). Majestically soaring over the main hall is the Texas pterosaur, quetzalcoatlus northropi (above).

Outside, you will find a small building housing a section of the Glen Rose dinosaur trackway, and a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of a smilodon (sabre-toothed cat).

Nearby are the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Lyndon Johnson Library and Museum, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, and the Capitol Visitors Center.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Austin doesn't have quite the level of museums of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, but Cyn and I recently discovered the Austin Museum Partnership, a consortium of most of Austin's museums, and decided to check out and/or revisit some of them.

Last weekend, we hit the Austin Museum of Art's Laguna Gloria Art Museum and, just down the street, the Texas Military Forces Museum.

The Laguna Gloria is located on the former estate of Clara Driscoll. The Italianate mansion and grounds are absolutely gorgeous and almost overwhelm the artwork inside. The new Art and Nature exhibition is well worth seeing, though. The AMOA also runs classes out of new classrooms and studio space on the grounds; and the facility is available for rental and weddings.

The Texas Military Forces Museum, located at Camp Mabry, is not nearly so prepossessing. The museum is, however, in the process of implementing a new master plan. Its collection is extensive and impressive. Particularly noteworthy, I thought, are the tank display outside, and the exhibits on Texas cavalry, Texas Medal of Honor recipients, the USS Houston, and the 36th Texas Infantry Division (including the 442nd Regimental Combat team).

Next up: The Texas Memorial Museum and the Harry Ransom Center.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


TREASURE ISLAND, by Robert Louis Stevenson, ill. by John Lawrence (Candlewick 2009). This handsome, over-sized (it's 8 1/8 in. x 11 13/16 in. and tips the scales at 2.5 lbs.), unabridged edition, illustrated with Lawrence's trademark woodcuts, brings the classic tale of adventure and piracy to life.

Jim Hawkins works with his parents at the Admiral Benbow Inn, where a strange drunken sailor named Billy Bones, but who usually goes by "the captain," has taken up residence. A mysterious series of odd personages/cutthroats comes to visit, followed shortly by the captain's death. When Jim and his mother find a map in the captain's belongings, the local squire and doctor immediately conclude that it leads the way to the hidden treasure of the notorious pirate, Captain Flint.

So they outfit a ship (the Hispaniola), take Jim aboard as cabin boy, and hire a crew, including the charming and villainous Long John Silver.

And along the way, they find treachery and mutiny and mayhem...

This is an absolutely gorgeous volume. The woodcuts are bold and striking, the pages are thick, and the font is old-fashioned-seeming, yet easy to read. Sure, you can get the text of TREASURE ISLAND in paperback or download it onto your Kindle, but this edition is a work of art from and for people who appreciate the difference.
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