Friday, February 25, 2011


FRONTIER WOLF, by Rosemary Sutcliff (Front Street 2008, orig. pub. 1981)(12+). In 343 AD, disgraced centurion Alexios Flavio Aquila is given one last chance to redeem himself and salvage his career. At the intervention of his uncle, he's sent to the wilds of northern Britain to command the "Frontier Wolves," sort of the French Foreign Legion of its day.

He begins to get the feel of leadership on the strange frontier, but when the tribes rise against the Romans, he's faced with the dilemma that cost him his reputation last time: stay and fight or retreat?

FRONTIER WOLF is compelling, richly-detailed, action-packed historical fiction. Flavios is engaging and sympathetic as he struggles with his new command and the conflict between following standing orders and on-the-scene judgment.

Sutcliff is also author of THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH, which was just issued in paperback as THE EAGLE by Square Fish/Macmillan in conjunction with the release of the movie based on the book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Uncle Beazley gets a facelift.

Who's Uncle Beazley? The Triceratops from THE ENORMOUS EGG, one of my favorite books as a kid. A couple years ago, I did a post on that and some other books I'd read as a child to see how well they'd held up. Here's the entry for THE ENORMOUS EGG:

THE ENORMOUS EGG, by Oliver Butterworth (Little Brown, 1956)(ages 8-12).

What I remember of the story: Nate Twitchell lives on a farm in rural New Hampshire. One of his hens lays the eponymous egg, which hatches into a live Triceratops...which Nate now has responsibility for...

The rest of the recollection: This is another that we owned. I thought this one was terrific -- the idea that Nate got to spend a month at the Smithsonian and spend a good part of it walking a live dinosaur on the Washington Mall was really appealing.

And now: This one has held up surprisingly well. The voice is still fresh and un-self-conscious. Okay, I don't quite completely buy the whole plot arc with the Senate, but the senator himself is (still) absolutely hilarious. The drawings are also still pretty accurate (although the idea of Triceratops posture has changed somewhat since 1956).

Altogether, a fun, sweet, and surprisingly sophisticated read.

So, anyway, I knew there had been a statue made of Uncle Beazley and that it had been on display in front of the National Museum of Natural History. I may even have seen it there when I was a kid, but it wasn't there when Cyn and I went for National Book Festival.

Apparently, Uncle Beazley's permanent home now is in front of a prehistoric garden at the National Zoo. A couple days ago, he was taken off for a much-needed facelift. He returns in mid-March.

Take a look at the pictures and story from NPR here. And here's the official press release.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Texas Swing!

This weekend is the Austin SCBWI annual conference, so writers and editors and agents are descending on the city. Of course, one of the fun things about people coming in from out of town is showing them the city.

Last night, Cyn and I had a great time with Anne Bustard and Janice Scully to happy hour at the Broken Spoke, an Austin institution (Cyn and I, strangely enough, had never been). Tony Harrison and Hot Texas were playing "hot Texas swing." Great music, singing, and stage presence! The band plays every Thursday night.

Later, we headed out to County Line for barbecue and had great conversation about life, books, and everything in-between.

Thanks, guys!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


TAKING OFF, by Jenny Moss (Walker 2011)(12+). It's late 1985 and Clear Lake, Texas, high school senior Annie doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. Stay in town and marry Mark, who loves her? Go to college? Or write poetry, which she loves, but has never told anyone, including her best friend Lea?

When Annie meets teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe, she's fascinated. So much so that she just has to go see the launch in Cocoa Beach...

Annie's story is compelling and should resonate with anyone who has faced the dilemma of "where do I go from here?" In sum, TAKING OFF is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that brings home the 1980s and the events of January 28, 1986, when seven astronauts "prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Guest review by Mercury.

MROWRR! Pardon the language, but my person refuses to open the food can until I finish this recommendation. I freely admit that this is manifestly a peril of lacking opposeable thumbs, perhaps the only evolutionary deficiency in Felidae (It's all I can do to type -- the can opener is much more difficult [composure grooming]).

WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU, by Lee Wardlaw, ill. by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt 2011)(ages 4-8 [human years]).

WON TON is the story of the eponymous cat -- a Burmese, I believe -- who meets his boy in a shelter. He goes to his new home and, at first and understandably, investigates the underneath of the bed and is unwilling to partake of the victuals. Nevertheless, in the end, he decides that, perhaps, the boy is worth keeping, although he is not a fan of the name the boy insists on bestowing upon him.

I will confess that I, myself, discovered my people at a shelter in Chicago. WON TON elegantly captures the experience, with just the right amount of feline insouciance (and I congratulate Won Ton for his mastery of haiku -- human rhyming metrical schemes are somewhat difficult for both Felis and Panthera, although the latter would never admit it.). The drawings are handsome and expressive and nicely evoke Won Ton's stoic appraisals of, and reactions to, his circumstances.

Thank you. Now I must eat.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cynsational BLESSED tour!

Despite the wintry weather, Cyn leaves tomorrow for the northeast on the BLESSED tour! Here's her schedule:

Sunday, 2/6/11

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Books of Wonder - reading/Q&A/signing to public with Another Pan author Daniel Nayeri (PUBLIC EVENT)

18 W. 18th St., New York, N.Y.

Monday, 2/7/11

10 a.m. to 11:34 a.m. Francis Lewis High School

6 p.m. Borders Bookstore - reading/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

Borders Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle, New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, 2/8/11

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. New Brunswick Free Public Library - reading/Q&A/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

6:20 p.m. to 9 p.m. Rutgers University -- guest lecture, "Materials for Young Adults" -- room 203

School of Communication and Information -- 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, N.J.

Wednesday, 2/9/11

10 a.m. NYPL Mulberry Branch - visit with schools

10 Jersey Street (Between Lafayette & Mulberry Streets) New York, N.Y.

8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. New School Creative Writing Graduate Class - guest lecture

66 West 12th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Thursday, 2/10/11

11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Professional Development Day

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine Party (with teens)(PUBLIC EVENT)

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Friday, 2/11/11

2:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School Visit

Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin HS, LREI

272 Sixth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

7 p.m. The Voracious Reader - "Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine?" event with Another Pan author Daniel Nayeri (PUBLIC EVENT)

1997 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont, N.Y.

Saturday, 2/12/11

1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mercer County Library Event -- West Windsor Branch (PUBLIC EVENT)

333 North Post Road, Princeton Junction, N.J.

6:30 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Cherry Hill, N.J. (Greater Philly area)(PUBLIC EVENT)

911 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

There'll be a cold time in the old town tonight...

Even by my raised-in-Chicago standards. It's going to get into the teens here for the next three days (of course, it'll be even colder in Chicago). The last time I remember it being this cold here was in December of either '89 or '90 when I flew up to my brother's graduation in Des Moines. Here, it was 20. There, it was 20 below. That 40 degrees made a difference :-). So, keep your pets indoors, wrap your pipes and your tropical plants, eat some soup, and stay warm.

So, last Saturday was the debut party for Cynthia's BLESSED and Mari's NIGHT SCHOOL. A couple of the giveaways are above. On the left is the whiteboard/specials menu that Candlewick produced; in the middle is the audio of TANTALIZE, and on the right is one of Mari's giveaways. The things that look like hypos are actually ballpoint pens...Check out Cyn's recap of the event here.

And check out these pictures of a flying Ankylosaurus and dromaeosaur from the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. It's the same dromaeosaur one you see here, but they're moving the things to storage while they expand. The new exhibit hall(s) open in 2012!

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